I had Big Plans for my time here. Looking, as I do, on this time as a gift – a truly luxurious gift – with both boys at school six hours a day, with no committees or boards to meet with, no activist activities, no reports to edit or write, with no responsibility beyond remember to collect my boys at the end of the day, I had Big Plans.

I packed all manner of good intentions. The sewing machine I inherited from my mother but have never properly used, the flute I haven’t played for about ten years, books of poetry from which to learn by heart one poem per week, recipe books, cross stitch linen, dictionary of ethics…you get the picture. Plus the ingredients for zillions of worthy activities for children, because I was worried that living in a two bedroom apartment there was too much chance of resorting to too much television. Also, I was going to learn Arabic and possibly brush up on my Spanish and French (you know, because that’s all they need, a bit of brushing up – ha!).

I have (re)learnt Judith Wright’s ‘woman to man’, but I think that’s cheating really, because I studied it in year twelve (though year twelve is further back in the distance than I thought it would ever be). Ditto the Shakespeare sonnet (shall I compare thee). The flute hasn’t come out of its case. Ditto for the sewing machine. We’ve perfected our post-school smoothie and eldest boy and I can make origami cranes without looking at the book now. A fair chunk of knitting, but I always knit so that’s no great achievement. I did make a rather marvellous gallette for last evening’s evening meal, and Monday’s risotto was also wonderful.

I am very pleased that the boys don’t seem to have noticed they watch no television at all – they haven’t asked whether they can. They did watch Survivor with us the night before we went back to Australia, but that’s because it was ten o’clock and they were still awake because they were sooooo excited. But that’s all they’ve watched.

But all in all, the thing I seem to be spending the most time doing is faffing about on the internet. I have found lots of blogs that I haven’t read before (for example, just this morning, I read this amazing post by writing maternity, and added how to shuck an oyster to my blog reader (on which note, I have moved from bloglines to google reader)), so that’s all good. And I’ve been twittering which is fun. And there’s really a lot of online journals got really a lot of online articles out there. But then, in a sign that I am not honouring this gift of time in the way that I should, I have started a loooooot of games of wordtwist.

If I have learnt one thing it is that life really is short, and if I have learnt another thing it is that life and time really are gifts. And I know myself well enough to know that if I get back to Australia in two years time with nothing more than an ability to type in by heart the names of one zillion websites (I can’t get my firefox update to remember where I’ve been) then I am gonna be really, really, really mad at myself. I also know myself well enough to know that I am totally capable of squandering this time. I’m a lazy person with a conscience and sometimes my conscience gets lazy too.

So I need to do that thing of making myself a vow. You know: from now on I’m going to be more productive, I’m going to write more, read more in a more sustained way, go to a yoga class and get the sewing machine out. I will finish the cross stitch gifts that I started last year, I will make bread twice a week, I will learn the Arabic alphabet. I’m going to work out how to make that fucking origami jumping frog if it’s the last thing I do.

I will do all of this starting on the eleventh of April, because the boys have got Spring Break next week and Thursday is the last day of the working week in these parts which means that school finishes at twelve tomorrow and there’s assembly at eight, so that’s tomorrow gone, and I can’t start today because I need to clear that backlog of wordtwist games, and next week I’m planning an overnight trip to Dubai to take the boys to wild wadi water world so that in years to come when they work out they haven’t been watching television I can say, Yeah, but how many kids went to wild wadi water world. But, yeah, come the eleventh of April in this apartment it’s all Renaissance World.