Sunday, October 31, 2010

30 Days Hath Nerd-Vember

My buddies, the posts may be sporadic for the next month.

Keith starts a big 2-year project on December 1st, so he's taken the next 30 days off work. We are using the time to drop out of life. No parties, no dinners, no social happenings. No travelling, no visiting, no jaunts away.

It's time for us to embrace the life of full-time nerdy homebodies. SO EXCITED!

We are hanging out at the ranch, doing a few little reno's, playing with the babies and we are both going to write novels. At least, we are going to write 1000 words a day, pushing ever forward, on two heartbreaking works of staggering genius. Or ill-plotted collections of humiliating poo-poo.

Who knows?

Our novelist careers start tomorrow. Tonight, we've been out for a last hurrah at the Bowlo where Keith won Player of the Year in his soccer team and Teddy wore the full costume of a cross-dressing sailor.

I'll try and update, but if I'm sporadic, it's because I'm deep in another zone.

I'll be back.

Love youse all.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Joy Of Supermarket

This post originally appeared in Practical Parenting Magazine, October 2010

Lots of people really, really hate shopping with kids. Not me. I like to get out and about running errands with my two tiny buddies. Sure, it can take complex preparation, mild painkilling medication, and an injection of takeaway coffee (straight into the vein, if I can find a specialty barista.) But once I give over to the chaos, the supermarket is the last place left for this Mama to get a consumer kick. When you add people and subtract income from a family budget, there’s not much room left for days spent skipping blithely through a food court with boutique bags weighing down the wrist. A trolley full of nappy wipes and capsicums is the next best thing.

There are two factors that keep my shopping expeditions on track: preparation, and the art of Zen. I am armed heavily with snacks, and have come to terms with the fact that I left control of my life at the doors of the birthing suite. I’m ready for any situation to go in any possible direction, at any minute. Currently, I am prepared for this:

3. The kids will laugh in the face of logic.

Teddy doesn’t like me to place my hands on the trolley handle when pushing it through the supermarket. ‘No, Mama, no hands,’ he orders every time I try and move us along. ‘There are laws of physics, darling,’ I explain gently. ‘Mummy can’t move the trolley though my powers of mind control.’ ‘Stop HANDS, Mama!’ he insists. It is taking us a long time at present to complete a circuit of BiLo.

1. The kids will embarrass me in inventive ways.

Recently, searching the aisles for some random item, I spotted a young shelf-packer. ‘Excuse me, ‘I said, rolling up to him with Teddy in the toddler seat. ‘Do you know where…?’ Shelf-Boy looked up, and in that moment, Ted reached out and pulled my top down to my waist, exposing a full expanse of once-white bra. Time slowed.

I grappled with Teddy, simultaneously proud and horrified that he seemed to have developed the grip of a professional walnut-cracker. The moment was interminable. ‘Never mind,’ I eventually choked out and drove on, knockers out and waving in the wind, to the muted strains of Michael Buble. It’s true that Keith and I like to call the Canadian crooner ‘Swinging Bubes’, but on that occasion Teddy really took things a step too far.

2. The kids will win.

One memorable day, Ivy – aged two - threw the worst tantrum she’d ever had. It went for forty full minutes. In between shrieking fits, she did quiet moaning exercises, gathering energy for the next attack. I tried desperately to ignore it all, and as it wound down into small hiccoughing gulps, attempted some positive psychology. 'Ivy, you've done a good job controlling yourself for the last few minutes. If you can keep up this happy behavior you can have a balloon from the lady at the door.’ On the way home, with my Stern Voice on, I said ‘Ivy, that was very, very naughty, what you did at the shops. What was going on there?' Ivy was happy to talk though what she learned. 'I did cry and cry and cry, ' she said thoughtfully. 'And then Mummy did give me a balloon.’

Monday, October 25, 2010

2 Million Creationists Can't Be Wrong

Usually, I don't make a habit of taking advice from conservative Christian fundamentalists. But on Wife Swap yesterday, an earnest god-botherer was talking about looking after her house and family 'with joy in her heart'.

I had a pretty rough weekend, with some worrying stuff in it, and on Sunday, I struggled so hard to find my happy face. I shouted at Teddy 'Please just let me go to the toilet!' I wished that everybody would just Leave Me Alone. I was generally cranky and exhausted. So everybody had a not-so-good day.

And it was our wedding anniversary.


This morning I decided that the crazy lady from Wife Swap really talked a damn lot of sense. And I've decided to try and find the joy in my heart today. We'll try the anniversary again next week I think.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Little Buggers.

I've been having a poor mental health day. My sweet children have had their bodies taken over by sophisticated aliens programmed to wear away my will to live.

This is dinner.

This is some quiet painting I set up so I could hang out the washing. It took me an hour to clean up the children and the deck.

This is me on the inside.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

For Ivy Scout, On The Occasion Of Her Fourth Birthday

Dear Miss Ivy,

Both your Dad and I were pretty damn fiercely independent before you came along. It's probably hard for you to imagine that now, given that we don't like leaving the house, and we wear pajamas everywhere. In fact, in my heart, I know that when you turn fourteen and I say 'You know, Mum used to be pretty hip to what the youngsters got up to in the juice bars', you'll give me a look.

Any the how. We were independent. Happily, happily independent. We put off the settling down and breeding for a long time, but when we finally got down to it, we looked at each other in amazement and said 'Why did we wait so long?'

You, my sweet, eccentric, intense little bird, were an incredible gift to Daddy and me from the first minute we saw you. The most beautiful baby ever (swear! objectively!), you turned us inside out and upside down and squeezed our toes through our belly buttons. When we weren't weeping with sleep deprivation, we were teary at the wonder, the mystery, the beauty of you. You took us to the doors of psychosis, you put our raw selves on display, you threw unblinking, honest morning light onto our relationship, and you made us into parents.

This week, you turned four.


At four, you are fantastic. You are just Last month, one of Daddy's work colleagues said warmly ‘Tell me about little Ivy. Is she three? I bet it’s a pink and frilly Princess-land at your place.’ Not so much, Daddy replied, as he tried to explain your interests in blood, bones, death and dinosaurs.

At four, you are full of affection, and like to shout 'I love everybody in the whole world!' When you meet somebody new, you often still nervously stick out your tongue and lift up your shirt. I like to think it's your way of saying 'Look, man, I'm not packing.'

At four, you love to cook with me, and cuddle up to watch Junior Masterchef, our special show. This year, we've decided to start getting professional. I've bought you your own kids cookbook, and I'm going to be your soux-chef as we cook our way through it. (Teddy can be our dish pig, OK? We'll pay him in cake mix. )

At four your creative vision is inexhaustible, and you're not afraid of controversy. Your favourite character is the Black Ghost, who could kill everybody in the whole world. Often, he wears only a mask.

At four, you love to talk to your friend in the mirror. 'Hi!' you say. 'How are you? Fine, how are you? Fine, how are you? Fine, how are you? Fine, how are you?'

At four, you are smart and innovative. You don't need a lot of fancy equipment to make a cubby, or a shopping trolley, or roller skates.

At four, you are bursting with ideas and hopes and dreams for the future, but your happiest place right now is tucked, safe and warm, in the arms of your Daddy and your stuffed dog Dodo.

Happy birthday beautiful Ivy Cakes. You made me a Mum and I'm so grateful. I love you bigger than a Brachiosaurus.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Bloodied Fangs of Carnivorous Delight. Plus Chocolate.

My oh-so-nearly-four-year-old has recently entered the obsessive land of dinosaur love.

She has a favourite book that belonged to Keith as a child, and she can stare at the page where the T-Rex is viciously disemboweling the Stegosaurus for long, loving minutes. She marks this page with a green clothes peg so she can come back to it easily.

When she's upset she says 'I have felt this sadness longer than a Diplodocus.' And when we play Doctors she is invariably at the clinic because a dinosaur bit her leg off.

Birthday party tomorrow. I've been freezing tarts, constructing fairy cakes, wrapping parcels, shopping for stickers, and digging out the Best Dress. Okay, from the hand-washing basket. But it's been nicely aired.

Most importantly: today I've been working on the dino-cake. I hope he doesn't scare the other children, and I hope the bloodied pig doens't offend the vegetarian, but my aim is to make joyful the heart of my tiny emo, so I went for the bloody fangs of death.

Luckily I have a scientist at hand for pattern-making.

Poor Tyrannosauus had to step aside for dinner prep.

And I have my friend Jo to thank for the walnut-brain. A nice, scientific touch, I thought, to balance out all the sensationalist gore.

Too much?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Is Life. Is Good!

Enough with the self pity! I'm sick of myself.

1. Have you watched this? My ovaries! Ow, my ovaries. Wouldja stop poking me?

2. Amanda Soule has bought a farmhouse and designated a library for books, games and art. Ah.

3. I am a technical noodle but I had fun trying to change my blog around. I know it doesn't look good. But looks aren't everything. It tries hard.

5. Ivy's 4th birthday party is this weekend. I bought white Kit Kat chocolate to make some T-Rex teeth for her cake. 'Who would buy this awful chocolate for real?' I wondered. The answer is me. I have eaten it all and now I have to buy more.

4. Lastly, Grover has filmed his own version of the infamous Old Spice ad.

In conclusion: there is always hope, and unexpectedly good chocolate and interior design to dream about. And Grover is on a horse.

Pain, The Sucky Houseguest

Well, the clouds of despair hovering over this little ranch are parting a little, and some glimpses of a brighter future are, once again, possible.



Maybe just a leetle. But the codeine isn't working and theatrical self-pity is all I've got. The whinging, worrisome dramatics of the small sick sausage (she's all better now), combined with the incredible destructive capacity of the two-year-old (he only stops emptying buckets to paint with bananas) would be tough in an average cycle.

But this week I've had a really sore hip, resistant to all my usual pain-management tricks.

Looking after little people takes enormous energy, constant positivity, a lot of physical work, and an indestructible sense of humour. When my body fails a bit, all of these little luxuries go out the window.

Problem is, when I feel crap, I just want to withdraw; go silently into my little cave, and have a pity party. It's the best I can do to not be actively cranky. Being all energetic and fun? On top of food and housework? Engaging in craft, in music, in park-time? Sorry. Not so much. In my single days,a little painful episode was easy. Watch Sex and The City DVDS, turn off phone, apply chocolate. But there's no 'alone time' when you have children. They own you, all of you, all the time. Let alone respecting the privacy of toilet time - they're leaning into the bowl during proceedings and saying 'Big one, Mama!"

Thank God for the K-Dog, who has stepped up to the daddy-plate big time - giving me lots of time in the bath and constantly taking Ivy and Ted to the beach, or looking for bugs, or playing Mr. Fox.

Yesterday I started feeling better. I began picking up all the little threads of everyday life that I had dropped in my time-out. I spent ages cooking and freezing. Today I even managed some craftiness, and some Dr. Suess, and some spring-cleaning.

So, Pain, you bastard, thanks again for giving me some perspective on what a tough day really looks like, and big respect all there to all you Mums who are dealing with real pain and disability, and not letting it sap your mojo. And those Mums who are doing it alone without a partner to pick up the slack when they crumble. You rock, if you didn't know that already.

ps- babies! more babies! Welcome to the neighbourhood, Dusty Pearl. xxx

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Brief. And Pathetic.

In short:

1. A mama-daughter date at the museum gave my friend Shirin and I a chance to do some early work on the arranged marriage we have planned for Ivy and Gabe. It was a really top day, despite a festival of universal snafus that included car breakdowns, train trackwork, and a lot of piggybacking a small tired person around endless underground tunnels.

2. Said piggybacking may have contributed to the fiercely aching hip that is will not yield to my attempts to bomb it into submission with codeine, hot water-bottles and bath soakage.

3. Expedition may have precipitated the virus that wrapped it's steamy fingers around Miss Ivy's throat on Friday night and has turned the Black Ghost into a spluttering, feverish vomitron.

4. Note to self: Make sign for gate tomorrow. 'Unclean. Unclean. Pox be here. All ye who enter be warned.'

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Oh, My Nerves.

Today I drove a four hour round trip to pick up a pair of Ebay stools that were listed as having ‘some light rust.’ Unfortunately the lister forgot to specify that the light rust was merely a top-coat addition to the ‘base rust.’ Also they are too short, which I can only blame on my measurement guesswork, dammit.

I thought I was prepared for the mission. Snack packs, toy catalogues and Mary Poppins soundtrack for the outbound trip. Prepared for, but hoping not to resort to caffeine, Nurofen Plus and McDonalds on the way home.

Forty-five minutes in, Teddy started to throw up. After I had fed him cheese and prunes, what’s more. On the freeway. Then we got lost, and please, I can’t relive the rest. You can imagine. Tonight, he seems better; at least he managed a full afternoon of steady, thoughtful destruction and then told me ‘Mama, I want eat poo-bum all day.’

Buddies, set me straight. Why the cuss am I thinking about adding another baby to this party? I’m ninety six fricken years old! Keiths sperm will need a walking frame and my eggs will probably get a discount onto the Fallopian tubes when they show their Seniors Card.

Plus, what if it wants eat poo-bum all day?

My nerves.

My nerves.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Kangaroo Valley

A few pics from our short, sweet trip into the Kangaroo Valley, a beautiful part of New South Wales. Our little cottage had a swing out front, overlooking a field with two resident alpacas and a brown horse we called 'Brown'.

The first couple of days were beautifully sunny, and then the weather turned. Lucky for me. I had slightly obsessively planned for rain and man, I would have felt stupid if it never arrived, laden as I was with gumboots, paints and piles of puzzles. Vindication!

We called this alpaca Pancho. I've never seen alpacas before, but I think I'm in love. They look like stout dainty ladies with their rickety legs and big round bums. My friend Dr. Lucy says that they look like the aftermath of relations between an ewok and a llama.

We got some bush-bashing in before the rain arrived.

Bush-walk pirate treasure! (Snakes...ah, holiday rules. )

Closest we got to a family photo.

We played Farm School.

Had some highly stressful lunch hours.

And entertained crazy notions about water-colour painting inside. (Rookie mistake.) Of course Ted went all quiet and then we discovered him going impressionistic on the couch. We took it to the porch and tried some still- life. Ivy's was the best.

(Teddy's patch of naughtiness still visible. )

We made a nest on the floor for family movie night - The Fantastic Mr. Fox. It was the best film. Teddy's middle name is in honour of this very Mr. Fox, but Roald Dahl's version. So we were a bit nervous when we heard about a film being made. But hey, now Teddy is being played in glorious stop-motion animation and voiced by George Clooney! Nice.

The chickens laid eggs for our breakfast every morning.

We liked to feed the goats, even though they were very poo-stained. Teddy said to this one 'Where your nappy?'

On the way home, we stopped at an excellent little Pioneer Museum, where this mannequin was quite frightening. You can see my body language is protective.

And then we took our two sleepy bobos home.

Since we got back I've been washing and spring cleaning, trying to get things in order around here. Ted, never one to confine himself to a canvas, has discovered drawing on walls. Ivy has been wandering around naked but for her Black Ghost mask. And I punched myself in the face today trying to wrestle an attachment off the vacuum cleaner. So, business as usual.