Monday, January 31, 2011

Steaming Slowly

First day of New System over, and all seemed to go well, although we've been slammed with a filthy heatwave, and Keith spends his working day inside a derelict caravan on the driveway. He's sitting in a little tin sauna. But at least we can ferry him out the occasional mercy icy-pole.

I think life will be good. Different good. For instance last week I left a joke message on Keith's work voicemail in a Kath and Kim accent, offering to give his latex underpants a press before our partner yoga-lates class. All standard nobby spouse-comedy, except that the waitress in my favourite cafe overheard me and gave a brief look of pity mixed with revulsion before she quickly re-arranged her features into a default bored, disdainful mode.

That won't happen any more at least.

The kids and I sweltered today. No air-con at the ranch. We ate watermelon and icy-poles, they jumped in and out of a cold bath, and we played a game on the deck we called 'Hello, Tippo' where we threw buckets of water on each other.

Later we had a cooking session where they helped to construct chicken schnitzel for dinner. But I'm out of hot-weather ideas. If anybody has some good gags, I'd love to hear them. The temps are going to be super-high all week.

I reversed the car into a pole at the library. Teddy is failing at potty school, big time.

And that's about it.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Doctor In The House.

After six years of commuting to Canberra every week for work, Keith has left his job at the university and is striking out on his own. I was nervous at first but he assured me that there is a living to be made in writing erotic historical romance.

Just kidding.

That's just his hobby.

No, he's striking out on his own. It's Lone Wolf Enterprises time. So if anybody needs a consultant in the field of characterisation and simulation of photovoltaic solar cells and modules, I can totally hook you up. His last day at the ANU was Friday, so as of Monday, the K-Dog trots out to his caravan a free man, with only the responsibilities of keeping his small family in cheese and blueberries resting on his handsome, nerdy shoulders.

It's going to be amazing having him home for dinner every night and and not tootling off for two or three days at a time. But I am a little worried. For six years I've had time on my couch every week to lie around and watch Eataholics without an audience. Minor adjustments to come, I'm sure.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hot Doggerol!

Hi fellas,

I've been slack and unposty in blogland of late. Many things are afoot. I'm hoping to get back into the swing really soon.

In the meantime, a little gift for you:

My friend Shelly has taken to writing poetry lately. It's sort of like literary crack for sarcastic-atheist-skeptic types.

She is too smart and funny for words. Enjoy!

Happy Thursday to you all.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Puppy Dog Tails

This piece originally appeared in the January 2010 issue of Practical Parenting Magazine.

Last week, one of Keith’s work colleagues said warmly ‘Tell me about little Peanut. Is she three? I bet it’s a pink and frilly Princess-land at your place.’ Not so much, Keith replied, as he tried to explain his daughter’s interests in blood, bones, death and dinosaurs. ‘Maybe she’ll be an anatomist,’ his colleague suggested. ‘Yes,’ said Keith. ‘Or a sociopath.’

When dress-up day at pre-school arrived, I suggested that Peanut dress up as a cat, but she had other ideas. ‘I’m the Black Ghost, Mummy,’ she cried. ‘The Ghost who might kill everybody in the whole world!’ I let the Black Ghost go to school, but as I watched the other animals, fairies and superheroes file in, I felt nervous and hoped that she’d keep her plans for mass murder to herself.

I admit that I’ve never been a very pink-sprinkly-cupcakes kind of mother, but I still don’t know where this tiny emo of ours came from. Family chat around the dinner table doesn’t tend to cover cremation or haemorrhage or surgery. I don’t put Peanut to sleep reading passages from the Tibetan Book of the Dead. She and two-year-old T-Bone watch Play School, not Invasion of the Body Snatchers, I promise. Peanut has always been the most independent of daughters and her Gothic leanings – like the invention of the Black Ghost, and her fascination with skulls - are her very own.

Plus, she’s three, and so all of her ideas have a slightly surreal, absurd bent to them. ‘Don’t eat hot poo, Mummy,’ she told me recently, in passing conversation. ‘It will deaden you.’ To what, I wondered? Contemporary social mores? Gourmet taste sensations? ‘You would die,’ she insisted, and two-year old T-Bone, her faithful sidekick agreed. ‘Hot poo! Die!’ he affirmed.

Lately, however, it’s all about dinosaurs. Peanut keeps a green clothes-peg marking her favourite page of the dinosaur book, where a Tyrannosaurus Rex is brutally slaying a Stegosaurus. Blood, bones and gore abound, but she can stare happily at this page for hours, re-enact it, and discuss it at length. ‘Let’s talks about the T-Rex, Mama,’ she likes to suggest. ‘He’s a meat-eater.’ Peanut combines this macabre interest with a naturally dramatic personality, so now every time she stubs a toe or squishes a finger, she moans ‘Oh no, I feel like I died!’

Often I try and understand what’s going on inside her little gothic brain, but it’s not always clear, especially when T-Bone joins the conversation. Playing Doctors last week, I called for my next patient. ‘What’s the problem, Miss?’ I asked. ‘A T-Rex bit my leg off,’ Peanut told me. ‘How does it feel?’ I asked. Predictably, Peanut replied ‘Like I died.’ I sensed a Teachable Moment. ‘How old are people when they die, Peanut?’ I asked. ‘A hundred,’ she relied knowledgably. ‘And what kinds of things can you die from?’ I asked, but Teddy knew that one, and he leapt in before she could answer. ‘Hot poo, Mama!’ he shouted with delight. ‘Hot poo!’ I give up. Mark another win up to the Black Ghost.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Adventures in Toilet Training #227

Me (hopelessly): 'Teddy, what is your nappy supposed to catch?'

Ted (hopefully): 'Fish?"

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Well, I Feel Better After This Rant. I Hope You Guys Are Doing OK Out There.

Life has been tough all over, it seems. My small stresses here at Ranch Mogantosh have been paling in comparison to the heartbreak suffered by those swirling in our orbit, who have lost lives or livelihoods in the floods, buried husbands or are supporting children through cancer.

I send all my best wishes to any of you suffering hard times right now.

Maybe it's a good time to offer a little cheer-up to all my buddies out there. Some of you will know that I write a monthly column for Practical Parenting Magazine. They posted this recent column on their website, and when I checked it out, I found 32 comments - some positive - but a goodly number absolutely CANING my parenting style, my writing style and everything that I stand for.

At first it was a little disconcerting, but soon I realised that the shriekers were largely nutty - and not in the fun way. In fact they were the brand of humourless humans I try my best to avoid. Soon I found it very funny, and I hope you do too.

I present you with:

The Best Of The Angry Shriekers That Hate Me.

1. Well, it just goes to show how many ridiculous people are out there posing as parents! Doesn't this woman realize that she has just made things worse for herself by giving in to her child? It's time some parents understood that you have to learn to say 'NO"! to your children. Before I took my three children shopping I made it very clear that they were not to ask for anything because not only could I not afford it, but they had to learn that they can't have it!

Well, shame she forgot to get to her irony lessons. But gosh, she sounds super fun to have a coffee with.

2. What a joke! 1. These stories are fantasy creations by the author. 2. Kids are NOT evil and if these stories were real, it was only from bad parenting. Kids need boundaries people! 3. The final story about the balloon: Yeah good one, reward the kid with a balloon for unacceptable behaviour. Reinforce the bad behaviour. The answer is in the story. And people listen to this?

Damn, observational domestic comedy wasted on this reader. And um..who said kids are evil? I think that was a voice in your head, weird internet shrieker. Not to judge you or anything.

3.No, I did not find any of the twaddle this woman wrote funny.

Brief and pithy. This writers name is Rodney. Somehow I imagine Rodney with a handlebar moustache and a safari suit, under which he is wearing lacy womens underpants.

4. Do any of these articles actually get approved or can any monkey write an article and expect us to take it as gospel.

Gosh, you should totally write one! I bet it would be lighthearted. But not as good as if an actual monkey wrote an actual gospel.

5. I honestly can't take anyone seriously who would call their children T-bone and Peanut. You're just asking them to be bullied. Also, I completely disagree with rewarding a child when they're doing the wrong thing. Far from helpful, I must admit the article was entertaining.

This is my absolute favourite. In these bacchanalian and godless times, I I love a reader who has led such a sheltered life that she's never come across a pseudonym. I only hope that she thinks the newspaper letters to the editor are really written by Disgrunted From South Melbourne.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thank You

Today I'm feeling grateful.

Grateful for good friends who take the kids under their warm and affectionate wings, feeding and cuddling them so I can rest.

Grateful for doctor buddies who are always on the other end of the phone if I find myself weeping in a car park.

Grateful for blogging friends who send kindness and support across the intertubes.

Grateful for codeine.

Grateful for a Mum and Dad who'll travel the countryside in their camper-van visiting daughters in need.

And above all, grateful for partners like Keith who pick up all the balls I drop on a week like this last one; taking over all the late-night kidwork, the cooking, the washing, the clutter-bombs, the squabble-wrangling; and bringing cups of tea, raisin toast and reassurance that everything will be OK.

Thanks, everybody.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

They Shoot Horses, Don't They? Oh and Happy New Year.

I've been neglecting this little blob. And also the washing-up, the laundry, the craft table, the menu-plan... Christmas has come and gone in a blurry round of parties and visitors and road trips, and with Keith on holiday, and all the kiddo activities on hold, we're out of the normal flow of things. Which should be really nice.

But is not.

Something has gone awol in my back. It feels, I could swear, like a small horse with a hard, pointy hoof KICKED me a good one right in the middle of my spine. I'm pretty sure this didn't happen. But whatever muscle is doing a spastic jig has sent me under, into the whingey, frowny, land of pain and hot baths and painkillers, and because of my dark past, into the Bad Place where my brain whispers 'This is it! The big one! The one where you have to recalibrate life so that you never have to pick anything up or bend over or carry small people! The alternative future that SUCKS!'

And when you live with delicious naughtiness like this:

the main requirement is ENERGY. Why is Teddy wearing undies on his head? Why is Ivy constructing a tower of hats? Why did this game require that all the clothes leave the cupboard for the floor? I can't even flip this photo sideways. Could you just turn your head to the side? and while you're at it, fold my washing?

Yesterday, I hit the wall and hit the painkillers. Today, I feel a little better and can sense a return to a normal persons feeling of general impending doom, rather than the imminent collapse of the fabric of my world. In the spirit of the old saying: Why hit yourself on the head with a hammer? Because it feels so damn good when it's over... I embrace the onset of 2011 with the fervent hope that it will be less painful than yesterday, and contain no phantom horse assaults.

And you, my inter-webby buddies, I wish for you the same blessed future.