Archive | October, 2011

I ‘heart’ MyNetDiary

27 Oct

I stopped working full-time a few months ago and it’s been really hard…and a huge relief. Instead of my stressful, juggling act I am now a (trying not to cry), full-time mum. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my kids, but I tend to love them more when I work part-time or even casually.

Anyway, since I stopped full-time work and my days lost their structure entirely, I have put on 6 kilos of “I’m not working” weight. I keep trying to manufacture more structure and lose the weight but I go back to comforting myself with food way too often.

My brother recently lost some weight and has been keeping it off. He swears by his weight-loss app. I spent weeks looking for the perfect one and MyNetDiary Pro is by far the one that works for me. I have been using it for a week and it is so fun looking at what I eat, how much and knowing without a shadow of a doubt I haven’t eaten too much that day. I don’t have to guess and I can schedule treats within my calorie allowance.

It’s such a comprehensive app. It even has my favourite obscure Italian pastry…sfogliatelli. These are very high in calories but I managed to have one on Day 3 (by replacing all other meals with coffee and vegetables!). It was the first time I’ve even eaten one of them guilt free. It was allowed and within my count.

This sounds obsessive, doesn’t it. Did I mention that I’ve finished full-time work and am manufacturing structure?

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi

Splish, splash

24 Oct

It’s easy for children to have fun when it’s sunny and there’s a tap in the backyard. Case-in-point…my kids this afternoon. It reached 37 degrees in my suburb. We were all hot so as soon as we felt a hint of a breeze we threw open our back door. The kids ran outside…I started cooking dinner. I could hear them squealing and having fun so I didn’t lay eyes on them for about ten minutes. When I finally did, they had taken off their clothes, had turned the back tap on and were jumping up and down in a resulting puddle. The smell of the water in the heat brought back vivid memories of my own childhood. My sisters and I used to play in a sprinkler. We had bindies all throughout our backyard but we would just yank them out and continue running through the mist.

Apparently the remainder of this week is cooler with rain and showers. I plan to buy a sprinkler and some water pistols for our next hot day. We will also need cossies and thongs. Today was a glimpse of the fun to come when summer well and truly arrives. I can’t wait.

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi

Pests or room-mates?

19 Oct

Whose house is this, really? I pay rent to live here but my family and I are outnumbered by various pests that have invaded our home…or perhaps they have been here all along. They don’t have jobs so they have all day to breed and they win the game of hide and seek every time.

Since moving into the house I affectionately refer to as ‘my crappy rental’, mice have made themselves known. This old house has several holes in skirting boards in cupboards and behind doors and despite my best efforts to get rid of them, they let me know they are still here and aren’t going anywhere. I have tried ratsak, foil in the holes, traps…apparently snake poo is a great way to get rid of them because they are deathly afraid of snakes and will run at the sight of it. The obvious question here is – do I want mouse droppings all over my home or big piles of snake poo? Doesn’t seem like much of a solution to me.

Cockroaches also enjoy living in my home. They play a game where they wait until I start walking down the hall and then they run across me to see if they make it to the other side before I step on them. Sometimes I jump back and squeal. Sometimes they trick me by going to run across me and taking a detour instead. Apparently if you spot one that means there are thousands in your home. The cockroach baits have definitely reduced their numbers but they keep coming back.

I also have moths. There are little holes in my clothes and carcasses all over my pantry. Apparently there are clothes moths and pantry moths. Well, I can confirm that I have both. Once again, moth balls and moth traps have reduced their numbers, as has my weekly habit of sweeping their nests of the ceiling and walls with a broom, but I really feel like I am fighting a losing battle.

An old house has so many hiding spots for pests. I’m not sure a pest controller can help me, short of burning the house to the ground and building me a brand new one. Some days I go through my pest control ritual of refreshing traps, cleaning, vacuuming and poisoning and some days I just throw my hands in the air in surrender. Maybe I should start leaving food and clothing out for them. They seem to rule this house. They just let me live here.

My breaking point came about two weeks ago. I left the house as usual to drop my son off at school. I ran a few errands and came home at midday – to a swarm of bees in my front garden. There were thousands of them, I kid you not. I could see them flying around from a distance but I didn’t identify them as bees until I was driving up my driveway and they swarmed the car. It was like a horror movie. My three-year-old started screaming. I beat a hasty retreat to my sister’s house where I starting ringing around for a pest controller who was available immediately. I couldn’t even get into my house. Where had they come from?

After being told by several pest controllers that there was no way there was a nest because they couldn’t have built it fast enough and to go back in a couple of hours and they would have magically disappeared, I found someone who believed that I had seen what looked like a nest on a branch of the tree in my front garden. He agreed to do the job for me. I just had to pay with a credit card over the phone and sit and wait.

I was right. A nest of feral bees had to be removed from the tree and the rest were ‘treated’ to an early grave. Apparently they had quietly built the next with little noticeable activity in the cold weather and then on the first warm day decided to dance all over my front yard. I came home to a missing branch on my tree and piles of dead bees all over my front yard. There were too many to count.

I suppose the moral of this story is that we can put up a good fight but we will always lose the war with pests. Because to them we are the pests who built a great big house on their turf and by golly, they are going to make the most of it.

La Dolce Vita (sort of) – Jo Abi


Tired, again

18 Oct

Cute, isn’t he? He’s also been awake since 3am with a sick tummy. I tried to tuck him into bed after each visit to the toilet but it still took him an hour to fall back asleep.

I then suffered from a condition I like to call ‘Post Baby Waking Up Insomnia’. I was happy he was asleep but I was now fully awake and thinking about the following – what desserts I would make for my brother-in-laws party this weekend, a job I am applying for, my uni degree, the laundry I want to do and what I am going to eat for breakfast.

So I have decided to make use of my time. I am watching the news and blogging. I am also clinging to the hope that due to his broken sleep he will have a nap today which means I will get a nap which means I won’t be grumpy when my husband gets home.

By the way…there is a tummy bug going around. It doesn’t cause pain, fatigue or vomitting but there will be quite a few visits to the toilet and some unusual night-time activity. And insomnia – let’s not forget that.

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi

Weight loss vs self-esteem

17 Oct

This is a book that every teenage girl must read. I bought this book after reading an interview about how Janet discusses her struggles with weight in it. I bought it because I wanted to read about weight loss. What I got was a much needed lesson on self-esteem.

I believe things in life come to you for a reason. I was a fan of Janet Jackson when I was a teenager but didn’t see past the songs I liked to dance to. I have been thinking about her ever since seeing her comforting her niece and nephews at her brother’s funeral. A month ago I attended my brother’s dance performance. The first song was Rhythm Nation and I could barely contain my excitement as I danced in my chair to the captivating, inspiring and funky sounding song that I had forgotten. And then this book came to me through the interview and I devoured it in one afternoon. I only wish I could afford tickets to see her in concert.

Janet Jackson has always seemed to me to be a strong, powerful, talented, beautiful and blessed woman. I have admired her music and her movies all my life. After reading the book I now know that she is all these things, but she is also a normal woman who struggled with exposing her talent, becoming a woman, striking out on her own and loving herself – curves and all. Her most unhealthy times when she dieted and over-exercised are the times of her greatest successes. When we see celebrities at their peak they seem confident, effortless, self-confident and everything else that we are not. It is both comforting to know that she is just like you and me and disconcerting that someone with so much still suffers. Isn’t success the cure for these things? Obviously not.

In a previous life when I was a radio announcer I was lucky enough to interview several celebrities and the vast majority of them were insecure and seem desperate for their most recent album/movie/book to do well. Despite any past successes they had they were constantly trying for future success. They could never stop, rest, say they’d done enough. It make me happy to be in my little life where small successes are so elating and failures are cured with a cuddle and a Mint Slice biscuit.

I have given this book to my sister to read and then I plan to read it again. I will give it to my daughter, my niece and my god-daughter as soon as they are old enough to read it and I will say the words to them that Janet needed to hear as a teenager. I will tell them that they are perfect just the way they are. I will tell them that true beauty comes from inside. I will remind them that health is more important than thinness. I will tell them there are loved, blessed and capable of anything. And as a thirty-five year old woman with a nasty, critical teenage girl taunting me in my mind, I will read it over and over again and keep it forever. I wish it were longer and I hope she writes another one. Thank you Janet. Thank you, on behalf of womankind.

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi


When Harry Met Sally

15 Oct

When Harry Met Sally came out in 1989. I was thirteen. I didn’t watch it until I was older, when my parents added a video shop to their corner grocery store and I found it in the weekly rentals section. I loved the movie from the beginning. As a teenager I was drawn to movies that showed people finishing tertiary education and setting up their lives. I was fascinated with Sally who wanted to be a journalist and made this happen for her by moving toNew York. Being successful and independent was a dream of mine. The bravery required to take real steps into adulthood impressed me repeatedly.

When I watched the movie again today, I found myself reflecting how I reacted to the movie as a teenager compared to how it affects me now. I always remember the scene where Sally is upset that her ex is getting married. She talks about how she’s going to turn forty someday and Harry reminders her that she isn’t turning forty for another eight years. I used to think thirty-two was so old. I couldn’t ever imagine being in my thirties. Now I am thirty-five, older than Sally when she experiences her crisis. But I am comforted by the fact that I am married with children already, where as she is still searching and doesn’t even know that in a moment she will realise her best friend is her true love.

Watching a movie as a teenager tends to leave you contemplating what kind of life you’d like to have. Movies can be inspiring in this regard and you will think of them often as you construct your life. When you watch them after you have set up some sort of life for yourself outside of your parent’s home, the movies make you reflective. You look back at what you thought you’d achieve and where you ended up.

Working Girl from 1988 with Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver is another movie that does this to me. I always wanted to be a smart and sassy working girl. Reflecting back, I think about the fact that I have never held a nine-to-five office job like I thought I would. All my jobs have involved irregular hours and could have been done in track pants. That’s the beauty of radio.

Movies play such an important role in people’s lives. Just as music can take you back to significant moments in your past, movies can remind you of dreams you had, hopes for the future and remind you of how far you’ve come or how life is all about change. Planning is impossible. Allowing dreams and ambitions to change and develop can lead you a life that is even better than what you imagined.

There is no room for regrets in life and life isn’t over until it’s over. I certainly ended up on a different path that what I thought I would and that’s not bad. And it isn’t over yet. Even though raising three young children hits the pause button on any plans I had for myself, I know I can still aim for the life I always wanted and appreciate the experiences I’ve had so far.

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi

The Money Diet

14 Oct

Today I’ve been thinking about patterns of behaviour. I have a distinct pattern of behaviour when it comes to dieting, spending money and parenting. The pattern is this – I am good for weeks and then I have a few bad days after which I attempt to be super-strict to make up for my deviance.

So when it comes to dieting, I will stick to my latest healthy eating plan for weeks and then with no warning will crave and consume copious amounts of junk for days, only to spend the remainder of the month dieting and exercising the resulting weight off.

With money, I stick to our budget religiously for weeks and then spend up for days, only to realise that I have to come up with a budget that fixes the damage I have done. Parenting is the same. I am the perfect mother for weeks and then have a bad day or two when I feel impatient and fall short of the being the kind of mother I always hoped I’d be. I then have to try to repair the damage I have done by apologising for getting cranky and try to make up for it.

The same can be said for my writing. I write earnestly for a week or two and then stop for weeks, feeling no energy or inspiration, even though I have grand plans for developing a writing career that is more successful that it has been to date.

I’ve always thought that identifying a problem is the first step to solving it but I’m thirty-five now and I still haven’t been able to figure this one out. Life is all about balance. Somehow I need to figure out how to live with balance. Because what I am doing now doesn’t make sense. Why eat well just to ruin it all in days or spend too much money only to have to scramble to repair our budget? Doesn’t it make more sense to eat well with regular treats instead of living with no treats and then treating myself for days? Or setting aside some money for dinner out with my family or saving for a new summer dress to wear to a get-together instead of spending too much and not even remembering where all the money went?

Perhaps my personality profile has something to do with rebellion? Am I rebelling against control, rigidity, planning? Am I rebelling against myself? Is that even possible?

When I worked in radio we interviewed a guest who specialised in mind-control and the highlight of his show was when he would hypnotise people and make them do strange things like cluck like a chicken when a particular word was spoken or eat an onion as though it was an apple. Before the interview he wanted to test us to find the best candidate for hypnosis. He had us close our eyes and relax and then he asked us to raise our left arm and lower our right, and vice versa. Without thinking about it I was doing the opposite of what he was instructing. I was rebelling against being told what to do. I was not the chosen candidate for hypnosis that day. I was relieved to be off the hook. The thought of being hypnotised freaks me out. I like to be in control of my life…until I’m not for a few days here and there.

I feel so happy to have figured something out about myself. I like to think I am getting better with age. Clearly I have a way to go. But taking the first step is still moving forward, right?

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi

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