22 August 2013

2 : Something New...

One Year Job Share - Half Time!
Today is 22 August 2013, exactly one year ago today I officially changed to working job share - half time in my role as a Paramedic!  It certainly wasn't an easy decision, losing half of your income clearly affects the family budget, however, for us it was about living and it was about family.
Having two adults working full time shift work back to back is exhausting, our shifts as Paramedics consist of working two 10 hour days followed by two 14 hour night shifts, then four days off.  Although you get four days off, which is fantastic, you spend at least the first and often the second recovering from your two night shifts.  Although our arrangement has meant we didn't use childcare it also meant that every single day, unless on leave, one of us was working!  When one was starting the four days off the other was just starting back at work.
There had to be more to life than just working, sleeping and paying endless bills.  It was time to make a stand.  We decided that I would keep my position but revert to job share, which meant I would work only 2 shifts every 8 days; working on the second day and second night of the 4 shift rotation.   This has given us our life and our sanity back, it makes life easier for both Andrew and I and for the children.
What a year it has been!  With a bit more time now to involve myself in some new hobbies I decided to convert our old turtle tank into an aquarium.  I put a lot of research and effort into working out how to do it right, then I became addicted to the art of aquascaping and keeping tropical fish.  Turns out I'm really good at it and, instead of giving up the hobby in less than 12 months as I once read that approximately 80% of people do, I now have 4 tanks!!!
After a minor set back with the turtle tank, turns out you can't keep tropical fish in a turtle tank.  It apparently can suddenly burst at the seams the very first time you go back to working a night shift, leaving your husband home to try and catch all the fish whilst trying to stop the barrage of water flowing onto your dining room floor!  That made for an interesting personal/family reason to leave work in the middle of the night!  I replaced this with a proper aquarium and then followed it shortly after with another tank to separate some of the fish.   There's nothing quite like planning and setting up a brand new tank and selecting the right fish to fill it, it's very exciting and fulfilling.  Ordering fish through the mail became a new hobby all of its own.  With much more research I began to find myself needing a new challenge, I read that keeping discus fish was difficult and they were considered to be the king of the aquarium.  Challenge accepted!  My early Christmas present from Andrew was a brand new 6 foot aquarium, now the centrepiece of the entrance to our home.  
I became an aquarist very quickly and have successfully kept my tanks in excellent condition, including the huge discus tank with 8 healthy discus in it.  I really enjoy aquascaping the tanks and recreating as natural an environment as I can for the fish, including live aquatic plants which is another challenge all of its own.  My fourth tank was originally designed as a small tank for keeping baby fish, fry, in.  I also keep dwarf corydoras catfish and cherry shrimp in this tank to keep it running when there are no babies.  I just spoilt myself with my newest tank purchase yesterday of a gorgeous new fluval chi tank.  This replaces my hexagon baby tank with a beautiful chi flowing pebble waterfall tank, complete with my new Half Moon Betta (fighting fish).  Now a new focal point for our kitchen.  Well at least I think it is!
Besides my new aquarium hobby I have been able to dedicate more time to writing novels, a plan I have had since childhood.  I have always known there was at least one book in me, I am slowly discovering there are many more.  This has been a long process of discovery which recently has picked up pace in some exciting new ways. 
During this journey I have travelled to New York, met some amazing authors, completed online writing courses and attended a training seminar in Melbourne by Hay House.  We have also now dedicated a room in our busy large home to writing, I call this room our Zen Den.  I have tried to create a soothing and positive atmosphere in this room.  We have purchased some beautiful furniture already, painted it and tried our hand at wallpaper for the first time.  The mahogany and leather desk, Thomas Kinkade collectors lithograph and tiffany stain glass lamps make the room an inviting  place to be.  The next big purchase will be a bookshelf lining one wall, followed by a matching set of leather chesterfield chairs; an office chair and chaise lounge.  This is a room for both Andrew and I to use when we can, where Andrew can paint and I can write, once complete it will also serve as a room to relax and unwind and listen to music.
Ethan has changed schools in this last year, changing from private to public where there is less pressure on him.  Having more time at home allows me to be there to help with reading and homework, take the kids to school almost every day, attend the many extra curricular activities and give us more time as a family unit.  Everyone is certainly getting used to the fact that mum is home more now and I spend much of my time taxiing the older boys around as well.
Our lives have changed so much this past 12 months in more ways than I could possibly have imagined.  The best thing of all has been our change in attitude and new appreciation for life and all that it has to offer.  Gone are the days when I found myself just wishing away the days until my next lot of holidays, forgetting to live in the moment.  Every day there is something positive to enjoy, you just have to learn to slow that rollercoaster of life down a little and learn to appreciate it.
I admit I am still learning to perfect this, time will always be a challenge ....
 Discus Display Tank
(8 discus, clown loaches, rummy nose tetras, pristella tetras, pearl gourami, cherry
shrimp, corydoras sterbai, peppermint bristenose, L168 clown pleco, siamese algae eaters)
 First Community Tank
(neon tetras, cardinal tetras, ember tetras, glowlight tetras, guppies, marble 
bristlenose, dwarf loaches, siamese algae eater, congo tetras, red line torpedo 
barbs, blue dwarf gourami, otocinclus, half moon betta, cherry shrimp)
Second Tank
(butterfly ram pair, blue dwarf gourami, anglefish, otocinclus, cherry shrimp,
dwarf loaches, khuli loaches, marble bristlenose and L168 clown pleco)
Newest Tank : Fluval Chi
(half moon betta, corydoras hastatus and cherry shrimp)
Zen Den

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