Monday, December 24, 2012

Thank You.

Home from our holiday, just in time to get Christmas morning party-times ready for the little ones. But before I finish wrapping presents, and eating Santa's biscuit, and ignoring the washing-up on my way to bed, I want to say thank you to this blogging community that I love so much. Thank you all for your support and friendship this year.

This year has been tough, perhaps our toughest yet, as I have struggled to cope with the demands of parenting three kids and keeping a household running. I have wobbled under the heavy backpack of motherhood, I have staggered, and I have lost my footing more than once. I have fallen in puddles, and my pants have fallen down, and I have made my snotty, ugly cry-face, and I have felt overwhelmed and exhausted and  panicky.

But I have also felt elation and incredible joy.  I have felt a deeper connection to humanity in all its forms - somehow, motherhood has bound me all to all mothers everywhere - and a sense of inching closer to the bravery of knowing myself,  warts and all.  I feel changed. I am locked to these kids and this man for my lifetime, and the massive, incredible, wondrous idea of this family of ours is at the centre of who I am.

One foot in front of the other, one snotty ugly cry-face at a time, we step into the future together.

Thank you for sharing this year with me.


Monday, December 17, 2012

The Disappearing Woman (or Emotional Postcards from a Mother on Holidays)

I burst into tears today, for the second time these holidays. The first time was 2 days in, when I realised that I would not be leaving the housework behind for two weeks, but rather increasing its scope by being away from my normal systems and equipment and adding three naughty parrots to my feed-and-water-and-worry-about list.

Today I cried after a little jaunt down to the shops. Basically, I keep failing to learn my lesson that a mother of three kids under seven should not leave the house. And several citizens decided to let me know that this morning.

It was hot. Georgie was grumpy. Ted switched between running headlong at full pelt and dragging his heels in slow-mo. All I wanted was a coffee before we got to the park. In fact I was likely imbuing the coffee with the impossible task of turning my whole morning around.  I tried and failed to find Georgie a sun-hat, while preventing Ted from spinning the hat-display at warp speed. Public shouting happened. Then Ivy spotted a wishing tree covered  in labels. There was a box with pens and string, and so I let her write a wish while we waited on the footpath. George tried to fight her way out of the stroller and Teddy got under the feet of every passerby, but I stood my ground. I often feel, with three kids, that mothering involves meeting the needs of each, one at a time, while the other two wait, frustrated, for their moment of warm and intimate attention.

Ivy wrote this note: 'I wish I was grown up so I cood be a acstronart'.

Then, some wrinkle in the universal fabric had three senior citizens, one at a time,  stroll past to disapprove of my parenting. Each of them did the same trick, where they speak only to the baby, and not me. 'Oh, you're very hot, aren't you darling? You want to get out of this sun, don't you?' Quick sideways glance at the bad mama, and off they trot. Three! In a row!

Fuck off, grandma, I thought to myself as we pushed sweatily off down the road. I bought all three kids a 'natural' ice-block, which distinguished itself from its'unnatural' counterparts by being twice as expensive and half as big. We headed to the park and stopped at the cafe outside for my coffee, the one shining moment of the morning, the one aspect of the outing that was based around my own needs, and while I waited, the big kids sat at the pinball machine. I watched them a bit nervously - ice-creams and all that - but they were fine. Nearly finished. No dramas.

'Small latte,  no sugar' called the barista. 'That's me, ' I said, but my 'thank-you' smile froze on my lips as he added loudly, playing to the crowd,  'Now get out before they melt everywhere.'

At the park, the contempt in his voice repeated in my head as I tried to manage the kids with a hard little lump of shame in my throat.'Now GET GET OUT'...' It was a hopeless outing. George is obsessed with the swings, and as much as I tried to lead her back towards the dog bowl at the tap (her other love), she fought out of my arms and staggered like a lemming towards the swings, both of which were in use.  I had to chase her, scoop her out of the way of flying feet, and carry her back to the dog bowl, where she struggled out of my arms and then ran to certain death once more. She already has a bruised, swollen and bloody nose from a fall yesterday; this independent baby that will not hold my hand.

Finally I called an end to the madness. Teddy wiled about the unfairness of life all the way back to the car, and I burst into tears when we got home. Being in the moment is overrated, I thought wildly.  The good parts of holidays with kids lie in the planning, and the reminiscing later. The present sucks!  In the moment, the baby is running into the surf, and the big kids are falling off the slippery dip and making an obscene amount of mess and there is no milk and somebody is whinging 'I'm hungry.' In short, I am constantly battling with my own selfishness: where is my holiday, dammit? 

It's nothing original. Any woman's blues, you might say. In fact I think mums all over the country might be having this same little meltdown right about now.Keith is working half the time while we are up here, holed up at his desk writing code and doing....physics....thing (trails off ). When he's off duty,  he is full of energy for the beach and the babies. He's a great partner. But I've lost my mojo. I am going for a massage this morning to tackle the pain in my body, and I might ask if the massage therapist can do a little adjusting of my attitude too.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Accidental Party Babies

This column was originally published in Practical Parenting Magazine, November 2012

      A long time ago, Keith and I got kicked out of a nightclub to which we had inadvertently taken our newborn baby. It sounds like something you would only do once, but recently, we sort of did it again. We took all three kids to a late-night music concert.  By accident.  

      On the whole, we don’t like leaving the house, but the Holly Throsby kids show sounded like a fun family night out. We love her CD. Unfortunately, this show wasn’t for kids.  Nope, it was an adult gig, in a drafty hall, featuring two interminable support acts and uncomfortable chairs. You might imagine that by ten pm our three kids under six were getting a little ratty.

      I had stuffed up, big time.  We really had to exit, but even then, Keith and I pushed things just one step too far. ‘Two more songs?’ we mouthed to each other. During the next number things were going beautifully. The baby was asleep in my arms, the sweet faces of the big two gazed at the stage as they curled up against their dad, and people in surrounding rows were glancing and smiling at us. I felt like a total funky hipster mama.  But we were on borrowed time. As the notes for the second song began, it all fell apart dramatically.

       ‘I – haffa -go-hoooome!’ said three-year-old T-Bone suddenly, and burst into noisy tears.  He woke the baby, who started to cry too. Keith and I looked at each other in horror and quickly started to gather our obscene pile of possessions – slings, nappy bags, snack packs, handbags, hats, and jackets, while the wailing rose in pitch and volume.  Eventually Holly Throsby had to stop the show. She made a few gentle jokes, and the whole audience watched as we wrangled our weeping, stumbling pile of children down the aisle.

       ‘Worst parents ever,’ I joked weakly in apology. ’Coolest parents ever!’ shouted one kind and deluded bastard down the back.  Thanks, buddy, I thought.  I’ll hold that close to my heart tomorrow as I fold washing and listen to Radio National in my fluffy bed socks.

        And then, there was the incident of the baby in the nightclub.  When our eldest daughter Peanut was born, she preferred screaming over sleep.  Breastfeeding was difficult to establish, and the whole experience was a massive shock. When Peanut was three weeks old, my best friend had a dinner for her birthday. Keith and I decided it was time to discard our stained tracksuit pants, and take the baby on her first night out.   
Unfortunately, the restaurant turned out to be a cocktail bar in Kings Cross. 

        After parking, we had to walk the main strip with tiny Peanut clutched to Keith’s shoulder.  Strip club bouncers heckled us as we passed, and things went from bad to worse when we found the bar and went inside to tell my friend Lucy that we couldn’t stay. The bouncer followed us in and tapped me on the shoulder. ‘You can’t have that baby in here,’ he said slowly, looking carefully into my eyes as though he was talking to a psychiatric patient. ‘Yes, yes, of course,’ I said, ashamed. We retraced our steps, back past the hookers and the winos and the bikers, home to the lounge room, where we put our tracksuit pants back on, ate a pizza and toasted our tiny daughter, who had just gotten kicked out of her first nightclub. I only hope it’s not a portent of the future. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Rancho Relaxo.

Here we are, in Lennox Head; parrot, chicken and guinea-pig sitting.

Keith, Ivy, Teddy and George are fast asleep, it's raining heavily, and the grass outside is an intense, psychedelic green. The rooster is crowing, the parrots are squawking grumpily and a cow just wandered past the front gate. She's looking for higher ground. We were going to swim today, but instead, the weather is dictating DVD's and books and toast and Miles Davis. Maybe a little rainy drive into Byron Bay or Bangalow this afternoon.

George has discovered the chickens water bowl, just hours after she became obsessed with the dogs water bowl at the park. She thinks life could not get better. 

Ivy is beach-shaggy and loving sleeping in a big girls top bunk. 

 Keith, exhausted from the last year, is sleeping as much as he can and he has, over the last five years, learned how to sleep through ANYTHING. 

Teddy has found a book that combines two of his great loves: cooking and Winnie-The-Pooh. 

Late yesterday afternoon, Keith and I sat out on the grass drinking wine while all three kids chased rabbits in the nude. Teddy fed peanuts to the parrots, Ivy practised skateboarding and Georgette, always happiest outside,  pottered around and babbled noisily.

As for me, I'm enjoying the personality of these parrots, determined to find where the chickens are hiding their eggs, reading the gorgeous cookbooks in the house, looking forward to watching Anne Of Green Gables with my big girl and feeling the holiday vibe creep into my bones...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Lotsa Action, Less Pain.

Oops, I think I worried my mother and my sister with that last post. I am fine, I tell you. Nothing permanent or serious happened, just a bad couple of days with no opportunity to pause and recover. It's the crazy season. Everybody's losing it! And pain sucks. And also,  this blog is a built-in self pity platform when it is all getting a bit too much. (Thank you for indulging me.)

The days roll on in constant activity.

Our trip up the coast (house, parrot and chicken-sitting) is only two days away and I am nothing more than an epic to-do list. Teacher gifts are made and wrapped, suitcases are nearly packed, road-trip fun-bags are fully stocked, and Christmas is almost wrapped and carded and hidden away (we arrive home on Christmas Eve).

Right now I am downloading The Wizard of Oz (read by Anne Hathaway) onto CD for the long car trip ahead, as well as Keith Richards autobiography Life (read by Johnny Depp, thank you and goodnight) for Keith and I to enjoy during those long, peaceful hours while all three kids sleep. (Delusional you say? I prefer 'optimistic'.). We've got Serge Gainsborough and ABBA and the Cat In The Hat and sticker books and Cut The Rope on the phone. I think we will just limp over the finish line to hit the road, and soon after that, the beach.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Spirit Willing: Flesh Weak.

I'm in recovery this week after a trip to town for the last of this mega-series of 40th birthday parties. Crushingly, during three out of four of them I have had to retire injured, and my inner party animal is having to face some painful truths.

This last party was 1972 themed and my friend Emma-Jane went all out with spectacular vintage Woman's Weekly finger food, including a bowl of curried Nutri-Grain. It was so revitalizing to see old friends, so good for the soul to have catch-up conversations and belly laughs and cocktails.

But I started to fall apart half-way in. The problem is that I live out of town so I'd had an evil 3-hour traffic-jammed trip in, and my body betrayed me. There was a terrible moment, when I had to sing for the crowd to  start off our sort of flash-mob birthday performance and an hour before, I was fully up for it. I was ready to commit to an earnest, nobby delivery that would have Emma feeling painfully worried for me, before the crowd burst in to save me from social suicide.

But when the time came for the speeches, I felt awful. The grinding pain in the middle of my back was making me feel sick, and the humidity was intensifying my queasiness. I felt trapped - I couldn't engage in conversation, but I couldn't exit the party. I can't sing, I thought. Fuck, I can't not. I have to sing.

Do. Not. Spew, I told myself as I climbed the little stairs, and got through the song. It was more shaky than comedic, but I didn't throw up. After that I lay down in Emma's room for an hour or so, and rallied again to chat and hang out at the end. I was so happy to talk to old friends, but I felt, and still feel, a seething, angry emotional reaction to the incident. Part humiliation,  part anger, part fear of the future.

Sometimes having a bad back - or any kind of chronic illness, I imagine - is like being trapped in a tiny room with an obnoxious relative. One minute, you're hanging out the washing, or baking a cake, whistling quietly to yourself and thinking about peanuts, when bang! You're in the stinky, airless, uncomfortable closet again with Uncle Trevor. You are stuck. You cannot un-have a relationship with them.  You cannot get out.  You just have to wait until they move a little further away from you, and give you a little space to breathe.


To breathe.

Soon, I hope.

I wish you all the same. x

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sons Are Lovely.

This conversation between a mother and her son with Aspergers is so very sweet. Gosh I look forward to these conversations with my thoughtful and curious Ted. Thanks to Mamamia for the link.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mint-Crusted Lamp Chops

They are nay fancy. But they be delicious. And when you find organic lamb chops on special, you should go for it, because those babies will eat a chunk out for your food budget unless they are half-price. Also, you should feed them only to the adults in the family, and act like you are doing the kids a big favour by serving them baked beans that night.

You can fill in your Mother Of The Year application later.

Find a little jar of mint jelly lurking at the back of the fridge. Mix a couple of big spoonfuls up with about half a cup of breadcrumbs or panko, and lots of salt and pepper. Bake them for half an hour at 180.

Oh yes.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Ambulatory Glory

One for my mother-in-law Liz - Georgie walking (and already musical!). This baby is so adorable. I must capture her more. She changes every day, and grows more and more herself: noisy, independent, affectionate and full of fun. We could not love her more, this little courgette. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Hints Of Mortality

You know you are getting old when you run into a friend in the supermarket health food section. She is carting six boxes of gluten-free flour and your child is eating organic dried apples. You used to be wild, and so did this friend. As in, proper wild. As in, she can tell you a story featuring skis, a European black run and hallucinogens.

So far, so middle-aged.  But then you try and read the fine print on a packet of carob buttons and you both fish your reading glasses off the top of your heads.

Autumn years, I feel your gentle beckoning. But how will it all play out, I wonder?

Like this?

 Or like this?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Delicious Absurdity

Teddy has left me his 'sleeping feather', which requires sticky-tape repairs. He likes to stick this feather out of the side of the little desk next to his bed and says that if he needs to, he can rub his head on it in the night. Something about crocodiles?  He also saw that I had the sewing machine out and asked me to make him a pink sarong.

Last week, he had his pre-school orientation.  He has taken to wearing all his clothes backwards, and so he trotted into preschool with a backwards t-shirt and jeans on. There is some logic to his sartorial craziness. He likes the back pockets at the front. But they don't stay up well, so at group-time, one by one, when the four-years old got up and popped bubbles in front of the group, Teddy basically did a strip tease. George was having a moment, so I couldn't get to him in time to yank up his trousers.

Never mind. He was perfectly happy, cavorting about popping bubbles joyfully while his entire bum winked at the crowd. Later, changing for day-care in the afternoon, he insisted on wearing a sandal on one foot and a boot on the other.

Four is such a creative age. 'My brain hurts, Daddy,' Teddy said the other day. 'I think either a leech is in there eating on my brain or my stomach has sent a vacuum cleaner up there to suck it out.'

Teddy is our nut-case.   But I don't think he's nuttier than any other four-year olds. I think they are all delightfully cracked, and their madness is biology's way of throwing parents a bone to make up for all the naughtiness and mess.

In the meantime,  I will repair his feather, and I will make him a pink sarong.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Just a Stroller. (Without The Stroller).

Keith has taken both the little kids off shopping for hardware, so I'm just home from the most leisurely, pleasing wander around the shops. Not a real shop, just a hunt for offbeat items like coconut oil and sketch pads and baby bottles. The kind of slow, thoughtful larking about that is very hard to do when a small baby keeps fighting to stand up in the trolley baby-seat and shout 'Ta-da!'

I've been chatting to checkout chicks and shopkeepers, jumping in and out of the car without wrestling with straps and small people, just living the glorious life of the flaneur.  Now I'm home, in the quiet, about to tackle the washing up and listen to the Slate Culture Gabfest.



I'm into my second week of quitting sugar (and gripped with sinus detox issues) so I hunted down some raw cacao nibs, which the Internetz say are the bomb. The packet cost me twelve thousand dollars and I ripped it open with unseemly haste. They are bitter! Bitter! I honestly thought they were going to be some yummy get-out clause.

I shake my fist at you, bitter raw cacao nibs.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Long Term Love, And Hanging Tits Around Your Neck (Unrelated Points.)

The Mamabakers posted this picture today on their Facebook page. Who are these two? I don't know. But they thrilled me. 

Are you guys down with Mamabake? They are domestic crusaders, warrior women,  the keepers of the pot on the stove. Go here to check out the Manifesto. Also, if anybody knows where I can one of these scarves, email me. It's nearly Christmas and I'm getting my list together.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Two Days In Bed Saved By 7 Minutes In The Closet

Holed up in bed with the bad back, again. Some anatomical bit that should be nicely tucked away is sticking out of my spine and walking around is causing me to yelp like a castrato. (I'm two out of three so far, in terms of bailing out early on 40th celebrations on medical grounds.) So boring and stupid.

However, in unexpected bodily malfunctions,  as in many parts of life,  there are little hidden blessings.

Last night, I was idly surfing my computer for something to distract me, when I came across this show Seven Minutes In Heaven. Have you seen it? It is so, so funny. Comedian Mike O'Brien  interviews actors and comics in his closet, and each episode is only a few minutes long (but not seven, notably.) Tina Fey and Jeff Goldblum made me cry with laughter. It was so good for my mood.

Good husband Keith took over all duties last night, and will again today, so he had to be given a leave pass for soccer training this morning. I hung out gingerly with the little ones. I was OK to sit and play carefully but unable to multi-talk like usual; with one eye on the Uno game and one hand in the washing up.

I ignored the debris everywhere and played with the kids. It had many charms. Georgette staggered around, stiff-legged and proud of herself like all newly ambulatory humans. Ivy read to me in her expressive, hilarious way, and wrote me a letter. (I Like You Mum. Do You Like Me? Love Ivy. ) Teddy played my doctor, and treated my broken arm by telling me he would have to send me on to the 'party hospital'. Considering my current doctor was wearing smeared red lipstick and had recently wet his pants, I I was afraid of how much wilder the party hospital would get. We sang 'I know a song that will get on your nerves' in a lengthy loop of silly voices and then the big kids showed me how to play the swinging game 'Ready, Spaghetti', the rules of which are Dadaesque.

Now, they are off over the road pretending to fish with Dad off the big rock while Georgie sleeps. Fingers crossed my bony bits will be back in place tomorrow. I have too many projects on the boil for my unruly spine to interrupt my plans. Writing to write! Painting to paint! Cooking to cook!

Come on old bones. Do what Mummy says.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Activated Almonds Bring Out The Best And The Worst In Us

Chef Pete Evans may be regretting sharing his diet in the Sunday Life Magazine feature 'Day On A Plate' last weekend. His complex and fascinating diet - he refers to it as 'nutrient-dense' - included emu meatballs, alkalised water and (notoriously  now) activated almonds.

Me, I am basically nosy. I love that 'Day On A Plate' thing. I could read a whole book outlining the details of what people eat. So the diet of a hipster celebrity chef was like a fabulous anthropological journey into the mind of a high flying, money-no-object, health fanatic on the cutting edge of food fashion.

Sugar-free? Paleo? GAPS diet? Bah, so five minutes ago. Alkalising water, activating nuts and culturing veges is where its at, folks. Who knew? I laughed, I marvelled and I Googled once or twice. Interesting stuff.

In the unpredictable manner of the online hive-mind, however, the whole thing struck a massive nerve.   The Twitter hashtag #activated almonds went nuts (apologies), with Twitter comics cracking wise for hours. This, I love about Australians. We are expert at skewering and satirising pretension and treat earnestness like a juicy target. No question, Pete's diet was ripe for comedy.

But it wasn't all funny. Pete's diet got people hopping mad too. Many took his wacky menu as a personal attack. Sorry Pete but I feed my family fresh fruit and veges and they do fine, thanks.  Pete, you pretentious wanker, I feel sorry for your kids. Pete, you are a complete dickhead. This, and more, when all the guy did was eat some funny food.


To me, the whole thing summed up the best and the worst of Australians. We have a great sense of humour and a keen satirical instinct. But we can be really small-minded,  mean and suspicious of difference. Why is it so threatening when somebody takes different, even eccentric, life choices? Why must we take it as a comment on our own choices? Perhaps we have always been like this, over the back fence and at the school gate, but now we have a  medium that easily allows for a group all-in insultathon.

It's as though 'Pete Evans' is not a real, live person but a cipher, a symbol for people to play out their own psyches against. Flex Your Fingertips and Test Your Wits In The Emu-Meatball Quip Contest! Not Feeling Funny? That's OK! Why Not Wallow In The Stagnant Pool of GroupThink? (It's Stinks! But You'll Have Company!)

In the end, I hope Pete's fame, fortune, happy family life and and smoking-hot bod helps to soothe some of his pain. God knows, he in unlikely to comfort himself with a family-sized Violet Crumble.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thinking and Foiling

Feeling a little tired and sore at the end of another busy week of cooking and washing and sorting and  negotiating. Tired and sore but happy.

Feeling jazzed about the  holiday Keith is taking from work for the next fortnight. He's been working into the night most days, establishing his business and building his website. He's been so busy. It's been a big year. We have so many projects and plans for the next two weeks. All home-based and all excellent. 

Plus lots of this. 

Feeling excited about heading into the city for a darling mates 40th at a swanky bar. Date night with the K Dog and some of my favourite old buddies! Canny wait. 

Thinking about my plans to get up early every morning and write. 

Thinking about giving up sugar.  

Thinking about what to do with this blog...  

Happy weekending my friends!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Teddy's Hospital

I played hospitals with the T-Bone today. This young doctor had a curious bedside manner. No matter what the ailment of any stuffed animal visiting his facility, the treatment remained the same.

1. He rubbed his doctors hat (which in a sort of cruel joke was in fact a jesters cap) on the patients belly until the bells rang.
2. He tried to wrap bandages inside their mouths
3. He squirted 'medicine' at their faces and then
4. He performed a 'go to sleep' dance.

In fact he found his rounds so tiring he had a little lie down himself in the middle of the ward. His assistant looked on, unimpressed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Three Years Hitched And Still So Happy.

Here is Keith, trying to remember the words to Big Red Car while he holds up the Pass The Parcel at Ivy's birthday party.  Look closely. The children are not impressed. (The one in the sheriff hat is actually yelling 'This sucks!')

Keith is hilarious. A cracker of a person in every way. We got married three years ago today and, man,  I am glad I kissed all those frogs.  

Happy anniversary Cakes!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


This column was originally published in Practical Parenting Magazine, October 2012. 

Last week I found myself looking at my baby Pudding and realising that while I had been busy elsewhere, she’d shape-shifted from a little baby into a crawling, babbling, feisty toddler. You’d think it would be hard to miss such a big change.  She’s with me every minute of the day, after all. I'm constantly feeding or cleaning or changing or entertaining or settling her.

But she’s my third child. There’s just no time for the kind of intimate monitoring that I did with my first and even my second baby. These days, there are two big kids to get to school and soccer and swimming lessons.  Washing must be hung, shopping put away and dinner cooked. I need coffee.  Screaming sibling battles must be negotiated while the lunch is packed. The phone rings. Somebody wets their pants. Oh my god. I need more coffee. Are those head lice? Or rice bubbles? The pace is brisk, and one task trips on the heels of the last.

Sweet small Pudding, eleven months old, crawls at my feet as I cook, fold laundry and help with homework. I carry her around when she gets demanding, and the rest of the time she makes her own fun with old biscuits and blocks and dust bunnies. She is adorable and she is adored, but her schedules have to fit in with the rest of the gang.

Last Thursday I found myself driving loops of the neighbourhood for forty five minutes while Pudding refused to go to sleep in the back seat. I had a complex morning of errands and shopping to get through, and all my plans required the baby to sleep in the car first. The problem was that Pudding’s plans involved chewing her socks and throwing her dummy on the floor and shouting ‘Bah!’

I had a lot of time to think as I drove in circles, mentally crossing items off my to-do list as the minutes ticked by. Frustrated, I kept glancing back at my chubby, cheeky baby in the backseat. Why wouldn't she sleep? Why? Hang on, I finally thought. Didn’t this happen yesterday?

The next day, I didn’t bother with a morning sleep. I took Pudding and three-year-old T-Bone to music class at the library instead, where we had the most wonderful time. T-Bone danced and sang while Pudding crawled around the room, banged tambourines and shouted joyfully.  I watched them both with that familiar bittersweet pang that my husband Keith and I call ‘anticipatory nostalgia’ –that sensation you feel when a childhood moment is so sweet and heart-warming that you know you will always remember it. 

Pudding did her thing and I just watched. I wasn't cooking or writing a list or disciplining a sibling. I wasn't distracting her with a wooden spoon or placating her with a handful of sultanas. I wasn't with her while my head was in four other places at once. I was just there, and so was she, and instead of thinking about my next task, I thought about Pudding. She’s really social, I realised. She’s not anxious at all about this crazy crowd. And man, doesn't she love the music? I gave silent thanks for that little sleep rebellion. It forced me to stop and look, and notice that a child was beginning to emerge from the baby I had grown used to.  I’d hate to have missed such a beautiful moment. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Busy Weekend with Dr Jones.

I should be tackling the last of the washing up but I'm out of juice this Sunday night. Instead, I'm listening to Keith play Chopin on the piano and waiting for an episode of Danish crime thriller The Killing to finish downloading from iTunes. We've got a date on the couch very soon, but right now, Keith is drinking a beer with one hand and doing trills with the other. He is a happy, happy man.

It's been a busy weekend.

For Ivy's 6th birthday she decided she wanted an Indiana Jones party. Indy is her new hero. She calls him Dr Jones and says that if she met him, she would kiss him. (You and me both,  Ivy Cakes.) My dad thought I said Ivy wanted an Alan Jones party, which still makes me cry laughing.

So twenty-five kindy kids in Indiana Jones gear. ...Throw the ball at Indys head. Face-dig for treasure in the flour bowl. Treasure hunt. Pass the parcel. Rolling death-ball. Treasure chest cake. A week in the planning, two intense hours in the execution.

We ran the hell out of the kids and the went home to have another party for my brother-in-laws 44th, where we watched the Princess Bride and added another layer to the mess in the house. Adrian stayed over and hung out until today.

It's been much busier than we like it, but we've had the most lovely weekend. My sister and her kids surprised us by driving five hours to get to Ivy's party, and my sister-in-law came on her own with both kids. And then my sister-in-law Deb came over for Adrians party loaded with food. I am ridiculously blessed in sisters and sis-in-laws. And the kids are besotted with their cousins, and got to play with all of them on one weekend! Cousins, cousins everywhere. Saturday afternoon, they roamed the house, and all Sunday morning, they played at the beach together.

This afternoon, all the socialising behind us, we hung out, just the five of us. We tackled a little of the worst mess, but mostly we just had a good time. I gave Ivy a lesson on her birthday-present guitar. We pulled out the clarinet. I watched a little Nigella in bed with the kids. We played Uno Stacko. We had a lounge-room dance party to Tim Buckley's 'Get On Top Of Me Woman'. Then we turned to Jeff and I tried to work out 'Lilac Wine' and failed, but we rocked out the family band with 'Hallelujah'.

Tomorrow, the housework!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Binary Universe of My Little Teapot

Most mornings, Teddy crawls into bed beside me and pats my hair while Keith and I mumble 'five more minutes' as many times as we can get away with.  'Good mama, ' Ted croons, patting, patting, breathing hotly and getting his fluffy hair up my nose.  But when he is displeased with me, lately, he has taken to shouting 'Bad mama!' complete with accusatory pointing finger.

Rapid-fire, he hammered a series of questions at me yesterday. 'Why can't my hair talk? How do my legs know how to walk? Are there buttons inside my tummy like a computer? No? Then how does my body know how to eat?'

When he is sent to his room in disgrace, he stomps around, wailing and recounting his woes out loud. 'It's not fair I never did and it was an accident and I didn't and then Ivy did and she always has a million of them and I don't have any and oh my god, why hast thou forsaken meeeeeeeee?' Aftyer a while he gets it all out of his system and pops back into the big room. 'I'm happy now!' he announces.

Yesterday I had to instigate a specific reward system to stop him repeating the phrase 'put poo on Daddy's head.' It had become like a tic, a compulsion. He could not stop saying it, morning and night.  For a week or two  it was fine, sort of weird, but funny. We invented a hand gesture for it. We wrote a little song about it. But in the end, I hit the wall. 'Put poo on Daddy's head' was going to send me to an early grave. It was time for that particular over-firing synapse to go to re-education camp. The 'put poo on Daddys head' rewards chart.

Oh, that it should come to this.

It's a day of extremes, the day spent with a four-year-old. One minute, you are helping them make a dog out of a milk carton. They call the dog Mummy, carry it everywhere and teach it how to use the swing.

Good mama.

Then you are taking their dessert off them because they refuse to stop wildly swinging a toy metal fry-pan around the baby's head despite your escalating screeches of panic.

Bad mama.

And then you have gotten a dirty novelty song stuck in your head and inadvertently taught it to them because it keeps slipping out of you in bursts. 'Ar - sol, ar-sol, a soldier I will be, two piss - two piss, two-pistols on my knee....'

Bad mama.

But you have, thus far, stopped yourself from accidentally teaching them the last section, which sings about 'fighting for the queens country', with an unfortunately, yet hilarious, pause between the fifth and sixth syllables.

Good mama?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

In Which I Pull Up My Emotional Socks, Slightly

Thanks for your words of support and advice on my rant o'horrors.

Today I tried to shake off my malaise and embrace the life I have chosen. The life I love. Yes, one of the shocking things one must come to terms with on having children is that your right to be gloriously lazy is curtailed FOREVER, and replaced with a proximity to poo that you never dreamed possible. Yes, housework disappears like smoke, like it never happened at all. Yes, stepping on Lego hurts like fuck.

But I breathed in as I stood on the deck this morning and thought hard about the coffee in my hand, the  healthy children squabbling inside, the friends down the road always ready to make me laugh, and the life in my lungs, which I take for granted way too often.

Today after school the kids and I started learning clarinet via YouTube. After dinner the whole family danced to Loudon Wainwright. And in the bath tonight, I ate chocolate while I read Julia Child's memoir about life in 1950's Paris.

Life, it's full on. It's  sublime. It's ball breaking. And if you're lucky, it all just keeps on rolling in.

Monday, October 8, 2012

On Raising Flying Schizophrenic Cats, Especially During School Holidays

School went back today, and instead of feeling rejuvenated, I am like a broken old donkey, saddling up for another round of ploughing the potato field. Having three kids is not like herding cats, I've decided.  It's like herding schizophrenic flying cats. Using Apple Maps.

 Right now, this life is asking more of me than I have to give. Or rather, I am giving what I can, and wishing I was closer to the kind of mum I would like to be, the kind of life I would like to create. In my daydreams I am cooking, sewing, writing, creating, playing with the kids, and wearing nice outfits. In reality, this year,  I am failing to wax my legs, feeling exhausted and muttering 'oh for fucksake' a dozen times a day under my breath.
I've come to realise that I can do something fun and  creative with the kids, or clean the house, or have a rest, on any given day; but I cannot do all three. The bare bones of life take all my moments - banging out fifteen covers a day from the short-order kitchen; keeping the laundry-pile under control, sweeping the floor under the high-chair, stocking the cupboards with nappies and lentils and wallpaper. Any task or project I take on outside of the basics - spring-cleaning, baking, car-cleaning - requires some kind of withdrawal from the limited funds of the domestic  time-bank that will need to be paid back later with a sinkful of washing up or a bedroom that has over days become so utterly carpeted in toys and clothes that is is very difficult to find exactly where the smell is coming from.

My back, by the end of a shift of carting the baby and driving the school-run, is angry and ready for rest. But once the kids are in bed, the hours are precious, and slip away so fast. I am straight in the bath when I can clock off and after that - I can blog, or read, or sew, or ctach up on the phone, or watch a show with Keith, or go to bed, or even - god forbid - put in the final couple of housewifely hours that are required to have a house that is actually all clean at one time, rather than in patches. But it's not much time. It's not enough time to do anything well. So there's a lot of feeling half-assed in every area. My mojo has flown the dojo.

I have done a little sewing lately, because after two weeks of feeling like a service industry, a black cloud was beginning to drip over my head and the dark mama was playing the woman's blues inside me.   I knew I had to find myself some moment of domestic joy, some creative release, something with a longer life than a good leek tart or a fresh set of sheets. When you are losing sight of the joys in home life, and yet you are absolutely shackled to it for some years to come, you are in trouble. I really do not want to travel down some bitter path to Resentment Land, where, I'm pretty sure,  at 6 pm you slam down a plate of grey eggs and snarl at your family 'Eat up, assholes. I'll be in the other room. ' I want to stay living in the place where we eat a good meal, and we laugh , and talk about our day, and raise a glass to celebrate that we are together in our little patch of sunshine.

But school holidays have kicked me in the face. It's my first crack at it this year, and I am on the whole, failing at it, I think. I shall regroup and come at the summer ones with a better plan. But you know, I feel a little better just releasing this rant and letting it fly free. Thank god for the cathartic powers of the Hinternet.

Any ideas on managing three schizophrenic cats under six gratefully received.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

For Theodore Fox, on the Occasion Of His Fourth Birthday

My darling Teddy Bones. 

You are four! 

It's been a big year for you, and not always easy with a little baby in the house and a big sister starting school. Mummy's busy, and Daddy's working... Sometimes it's tough for the boy in the middle to squirrel enough attention.

But you are having a lot of fun being four, Teddy. You wake me up crawling into my bed and whispering 'Mama Time!' and then tucking your fluffy hair under my nose until I'm driven out of bed to make your breakfast. (Jam toast on the weekends.) At lunchtime Daddy School, you can read 'Teddy is four! Teddy is big! Teddy has a big bum!' on the Etch-a-Sketch. Then you and Dad go and roll down the hill. At dinner, you are happiest when it's a sausage day, and you love to go off to bed in your room with Ivy and listen to stories as you go to sleep. Often you make loud, strange remarks in your sleep.

You are so affectionate  Ted. Sometimes violently so.   Like last week,  when you tried to re-enact the gamewhere I put a nappy on my head and nod it off onto George. 'Look at this nappy here, Bubba,' you said, as your sister gazed up at you trustingly, before you miscalculated the distance and head-butted her on the nose.

Stuff like that happens to you a lot Teapot. You live more in your head than in your body, we think.

 For your birthday, you insisted I make you a castle cake, and you were so happy to find it when you ran out in the morning.

At four, you adore your big sister Ivy. What she loves, you love. So your favourite colour is pink, and you love fairies and princesses and flowers.  

You love to cook and  read magazines, and to watch Hi 5 and Peppa Pig. You love listening to 5 Little Ducks and ABBA on the little CD player in your room. You love to live pants-free.  

You are a thinker, Ted. Among your recent questions - do houses have skin? How do you say 'slippery' in Spanish'? Can we plant the seeds from my sandwich and grow a bread tree?  Last week, you grilled me for specific details on eye-piercing. You couldn't believe the horrors of the 'piercing gun' and made me promise not to pierce 'any of your things'. Also, you insist that 'Gimme Gimme Gimme a Man (After Midnight)' is a Wiggles song, even though I've tried to explain that it's an unlikely choice for them. 

But mostly, you are obsessed with the phrase 'put poo on Daddy's head', which is your default answer to so many questions. 

One day soon, I am sure you will stop presenting your bum for poo inspections and having crazy attacks of wild boy energy when you haven't gotten out of the house enough. The frazzled and exhausted part of me looks forward to a calmer future. But you are such an adorable and eccentric little creature that I can't help feeling that I will miss your madness when you start to grow bigger. 

 I love you Ted! 

Thanks for another wonderful year, 



Saturday, September 29, 2012

Paddle Pop Plans.

We are, in minutes, off to the country for my sisters 40th this weekend.

Mondo excited!

School holidays a constants blur of motion so far. Next week, I am planning much more of this kind of fun - Paddle Pops on the  front steps, dirty knees and sunshine.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Parenting Olympics

This column was first published in Practical Parenting Magazine, August 2012

Olympic sportsmen and women are thrilling, it’s true. They are incredibly impressive athletes. And yet, I wonder.  Can these heroes catch a projectile vomit in their bare hands? Leap across a couch in time to stop a baby choking on a googly eye from the craft box? Shriek at a naughty child in a pitch so high that the dog runs away? Every day, I feel,  domestic Olympics are staged in homes across Australia. And the time has come to claim our shiny medals.

Mount Washmore Laundry-to-Drawer Relay
This degree-of-difficulty rises with this sport at each step of the laundry process. Placing the washing in the machine and switching it on is quite satisfying, but each step following becomes harder. Athletes must hang the washing out, bring it in and fold it on the dining table. The final act of actually placing the clean, folded items in their proper cupboards is beyond many domestic athletes. Gold goes to the competitor that manages to do so before the folded piles have become so sullied over time that all items require re-washing.

Weightlifting: massive toddler division.
Raised on beef, dairy and sunshine, the average Australian toddler is the size and density of a sack of potatoes, and yet ‘Mummy, up! Pick me up!’ they beg all day long. Gold goes to the mother who has maintained enough physical strength to parent a two-year-old without simultaneously funding their osteopath's extended summer tour of Tuscany.

Synchronised breakfast ballet
While Partner A makes toast, holds a baby and punts cheese sandwiches into school and work bags, Partner B plaits a squirming child’s hair. Partner A showers while Partner B dresses the toddler, then they change places seamlessly.  The routine builds in speed and intensity as the minutes pass.  In a rapid-fire conclusion they coordinate sunscreen, hats, nappies and daily plans. Gold medal to the pair that manage to achieve this balletic performance without leaving the kitchen  in almost irreparable disarray.

Gymnastic Guilt Juggle  Olympic sportsmen and women are thrilling, it’s true. They are incredibly impressive athletes. And yet, I wonder.  Can these heroes catch a projectile vomit in their bare hands? Leap across a couch in time to stop a baby choking on a googly eye from the craft box? Shriek at a naughty child in a pitch so high that the dog runs away? Every day domestic Olympics are staged in homes across Australia. And the time has come to claim our shiny medals.

Mount Washmore Laundry-to-Drawer Relay
This degree-of-difficulty rises with this sport at each step of the laundry process. Placing the washing in the machine and switching it on is quite satisfying, but each step following this becomes harder. Athletes must hang the washing out, bring it in and fold it on the dining table. The final act of actually placing the clean, folded items in their proper cupboards is beyond many domestic athletes. Gold goes to the competitor that manages to do so before the folded piles have become so sullied over time that all items require re-washing.

Weightlifting: massive toddler division.
Raised on beef, dairy and sunshine, the average Australian toddler is the size and density of a sack of potatoes, and yet ‘Mummy, up! Pick me up!’ they beg all day long. Gold goes to the mother who has maintained enough physical strength to parent a two-year-old without simultaneously funding their osteopath to take an extended summer tour of Tuscany.

Synchronised breakfast ballet
While Partner A makes toast, holds a baby and punts cheese sandwiches into school bags, Partner B plaits a squirming child’s hair. Partner A showers while Partner B dresses the toddler, then they change places seamlessly.  The routine builds in speed and intensity as the minutes pass.  In a rapid-fire conclusion they coordinate sunscreen, hats, nappies and daily plans. Gold medal to the pair that manage to achieve this balletic performance without leaving the kitchen in almost irreparable disarray.

Gymnastic Guilt Juggle                                                                                 
In this event, parents must weigh up whether to finish the washing-up or do puzzles on the floor with her pre-schooler. If she doesn’t finish the kitchen, the house will remain mired in chaos. But if she doesn’t play with the toddler, she will later regret those ‘lost moments.’ Housework! Playtime! There is no way for the stay-at-home parent to do both well. And so every day she must perform gymnastic feats of reading books, colouring in, discussing the Wiggles and building towers while simultaneously chopping vegetables, sweeping the floor, and feeling completely over whelmed. There is no winning this event, and there is no prize.
Spew-Flu Marathon
When everybody is the house is struck with gastro, Mum must still manage to feed and look after her small charges, even if all she wants to do is lay her head on the cold tile of the bathroom floor and beg for the salvation of death. Athletes must crawl into the lounge room, switch on the television and lay a packet of Weet-Bix out on the coffee table.  Prize: gold medal, packet of Lomotil and the loss of two pesky post-baby kilos. 

Overall Good-Humour Gold
This medal, the most prestigious of all, is awarded to the athlete who manages to spend a day at home with small children and retain a sense of humour. This requires staying twenty minutes ahead of the meltdown curve by presenting snack, games and naps in the perfect order to keep toddlers, pre-schoolers and babies happy and well-behaved. Winners receive a gold medal, a cup of tea and a nice long sleep in front of Masterchef. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Lately, this blog has been a chronicle of woes. A platform for my whinging festivals. A little brochure from Self-pity Land,  Population: me. It's about time I turned my gaze to the sweet and lovely aspects of life and gave them a little oxygen. 

Today, we hung out on the deck after lunch, trying to remember some of our old repertoire. 

The kids played outside for hours.  

And the old Keithmeister and I did some satisfying work starting to rabbit-proof the vege patch. 

I hope your Sunday was as sweet. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Mini-Man Is So Hot Right Now.

Little Georgie is sick. She's hot and whimpery and congested and pale. She's been having intensive cuddle therapy for two long days and we've been very house-bound. Today we made it out to do the school pick-up and hit the supermarket. Teddy was jumpy after such a quiet day in, and Ivy was full of school-holiday brio.

I strapped Georgie on (so happy that my back is feeling up to the Ergo this week for the first time in months) and we did one of those random, fill-in shops that are all condiments and no vegetables... we're making ice-cream for a birthday party tomorrow so I picked up a whole lots of chocolate and cream, and Keith's watching the footy, so I grabbed him some chips, and then Jupiter Bars reminded me of childhood, so I bought a couple to celebrate school holidays.

On the way out. Ivy and Ted would not stop doing Mini-Man, where they squat down and frog-walk, talking in a squeaky voice. 'Mini-Man says I love you!' 'Mini-Man says I cannot go any faster!' 'Mini-Man is so hungry!' Mini-Man is the game sweeping kindergarten this term.

'Could you just save Mini-Man until we get home?' I begged. 'Mini-Man says no!' they squeaked. Georgie was heavy in the sling. It had been a long day. The bloody Mini-Men started getting under my feet and in front of the trolley. 'Enough Mini-Man!' I barked eventually. And then I used a phrase I find myself saying at least once a day at the minute: 'Can't you just... be normal?'

Also, I'm sure people must have looked at the sugar-party going on in my shopping trolley, and the candy bars clutched in the hands of my noisy children and thought 'Come on, lady.'

I'm a bit over Mini-Man. Do you think I would regret it if I try and get them to learn this dance instead?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

PMT. It's Dynamite.

Last Saturday morning I woke up with the devil in my veins. Premenstrual lady-madness doesn't descend on me often, but when it does, dogs howl and bananas turn black in the bowl and smart men run for the hills.

The PMT rage.

You know the one.

The house.


The house is a never-ending behemoth to conquer. Like Sisyphus I wash up the dishes and pick up the toys and fold the uniforms, while my tiny army trot steadily at my heels, creating new chaos in the wake of each path I clear. On a good day, it is satisfying. Incrementally pleasing. The smell of bread and eucalyptus oil and clean sheets and dinner cooking. The chaos just becomes the warm clutter of family life.

On a tough day, like Saturday,  when the kids are whinging, and everything is filth, and I feel like a drudge, and a failure, and ye gods, a failed drudge, even... life feels dark.

 In every direction my mad eyes scanned, there was housework to be done, or a dirty nappy, or a child with cranky pants on. My blood was fizzing. I texted friends along these lines: I am going to punch somebody or cry or cry while punching somebody HELP ME. 

They had excellent suggestions. Leave the house. Go for a walk. Get a leave pass and have a coffee. Source alcohol and drink it. My favourite suggestion was this: 'Buy a packet of ciggies, go down to the beach and hide behind a rock while you cry and smoke cigarettes one after the other until you feel sick. Worked for me 2 weeks ago.'

I didn't do any of these things in the end. I went to the $2 shop and got myself a new pair of reading glasses. (All mine are one-armed, one-lensed or lost entirely, thanks to Teddy who likes to wear them around the house and George, who has a fierce grip and a curious mind.) Then I picked up Ivy from a party, went home and took to my bed for a couple of hours. When I got up,  Keith and the kids had cleaned up and increased the range of personal space they were allocating me. I felt a little better but still detached and exhausted and overwhelmed.

We had friends over to stay that night, so I hit the red wine hard during a session of the  'Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus' board game and disgraced myself in a novel way. I can't bear to go into details but lets just say that my dignity remains slightly bruised.

Hangover from hell on Sunday.

But business as usual today, i.e:  4pm: George has given herself a blueberry porridge facial while Ted sits below. He has taken bites out of three apples from the fruit bowl and is now required to eat them all in punishment.

PMT. Urgh. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In Memoriam

My Aunty Josephine died on the weekend. It was sudden, and terribly sad, but not unexpected.

I have many memories of Josephine and her rambling old house on Sydney Harbour, the site of frequent childhood gatherings and masses. My cousins and I would run around, inventing games and interrupting the gossip of the adults, before escaping down rickety stairs to the foreshore to have adventures in the lush greenery and secret tiny beaches of McMahon's Point.

But my most enduring memory is much more recent, and it has made me smile many time over the last few days. When my cousin Kate, Josephine's youngest daughter, got married a couple of years ago, Josephine preceded the bride down the aisle. In a flowing red gown, accompanied by rousing classical music, Josephine danced down the centre of the church, waving regally and beaming with joy.

The word 'eccentric' seems insufficient to describe the powerful life-force of a woman like Josephine. She wore so many hats.  Mother of six, fiercely devoted wife to Bill, staunch Catholic matriarch, and sharp legal mind, Josephine created her own style of living, and attacked life with vigour. She was a lover of children and of literature and of a laugh. Grieving for her are six children, two grandchildren, seven siblings and countless nieces,  nephews and friends.  The world is a less colourful place this week without Josephine.

May she rest in peace.


Monday, September 10, 2012

A Word From The George

This baby. 

She has a lot to say. 


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Swimwear for Wobbly Laydeez

Ladies, spring! It has sprung!   This morning I spent an hour at the park with Ted and George, letting the baby empty my handbag as I pushed my boy wildly down the flying fox and high up on the swings, watching him with new eyes and marvelling at his four-ness. (Birthday post for T-Bone is belated, but marinating.) Four! He's strong and quick and unafraid to hurl his body at a challenge. My body didn't fight me either. We had a great time.

In other news, the temperature is rising, my thoughts are turning tropical, and I am coming to the terrible realisation that I really, truly must wax my legs before the old-growth forest lurking there starts to sprout mushrooms.

Because: swimming season.

Hence: swimming costumes.


My body has baked and presented another person since I last bared it to the elements, and I am in need of a new cossie. As luck would have it I ran into old friends a couple of weeks ago who are swimwear designers, and who specialise in creating swimmers for Real Wimmen, who are totally ready for their own jelly but maybe not ready to show share their jelly with a whole beach.

This is their online store.

Ooh, I like this. 

                                                 And these too. Lovely sleeve detail. 
This is not a sponsored post. I just got so excited to see this swimwear that I had to share it. The way I see it, friends help friends to avoid post-partum swimwear shopping trips: hairy legs, winter-white skin, and the sunken eyebags of exhaustion. Glorious! God bless the online experience.

And vive le spring!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fathers Day

Fathers Day came and went. Happy Fathers Day, Dad! Thank you for being such a great example of practicality, generosity and love. And also a medical marvel. How did you break all your fingers again exactly?

As for the K-Dog, I really wanted to write down some of my favourite Keith stories here. But life, Game Of Thrones season 2 and a little dose of the spew-flu for the small girls has sucked away my time to update this here blob.  So I won't elaborate on the time Keith fought off a Swiss Ball he thought was a home intruder, or the Bitterness Log he filled in every night in bed for a time, which had me worrying for our marriage, but was actually his scientific record-keeping  approach to a health problem, or even my favourite Keith story, which takes place when Keith was nine and living in France, and his mother invited the cool American kid Dino in to the bathroom to watch Keith's Olympics game, which involved him in the bath, allocating different country status to little boats, and then racing them around a whirlpool, and scoring the results in an elaborate notebook. (A scientist from the outset.) Keith's mum Liz didn't really see that that the display could be a little embarrassing. She was just so proud of him, you see. And now, I share it with you and the world, because I am just so proud of him too. The crazy bastard. 

On Fathers Day he gave Ted some riding lessons in the sunshine. 

 Showed Ivy how to cane it on a tricycle. 

Started the morning reading the papers in his in-laws caravan (Thanks Mum and Dad!)

Had his face kissed off by his loving woife

 Got up on the roof and fixed the gutters

 And hung out over the road with the kids on the rock they call Row Your Boat

A great day for a great Dad.