Monday, April 30, 2012

Beards and Dandys

I went for an MRI on my back last Friday. It's a horrible procedure. Shudder shudder.

Afterwards, I stopped to grab a restorative coffee in a little cafe in town. Mum had Georgette, so I was totally sans children, an unusual state for me. Freeeeeeee!

We live down the coast from Sydney, in a land where the bogans roam free, and so the groovy are drawn to particular parts of town where they can mingle with their own. It makes for some fascinating hipster-watching.

My usual only encounters with the worlds of fashion and beyooty are at the school drop-off these days. The mums are always effusive and complimentary when someone has made an espeical effort, knowing how hard it is to make it out of the house with two shoes on, let alone a face of slap.  'Your hair!' we cry, en masse. 'What have you done?' 'Washed it,' is the usual answer. 'Well, you did it very nicely,' we affirm. 'Conditioner and all, is it? Get you and your fancy ways!'

I felt like Attenborough, observing the hipsters in their natural habitat. All the men were bearded. They wore check shirts and skinny jeans. They had gentle manners. It was all sort of reminiscent of the 70's back-to-the-land movement. Except the women weren't allowed to be hairy and overalled; no, the waitresses (hipsters too) had very complicated hair and make-up going on. Unfair.

An office worker rushed in at one point, grey suit sagging slightly in the bum, and ordered a large cappucino with two sugars. The bearded dandy behind the machine raised one eyebrow just slightly. Poor office dude had no idea his coffee order was totally daggy.

And that is my report from the world outside the school gates.

Jack Passion, beard champion. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Bum-Washing Button

Small T-Bone is struggling with life a little. I'm writing this as I wait for him to pop out of his room again with another crazy request. He's just begging to get busted at the minute. He's having a three-year-old crisis, and showing his dissatisfaction with life through baby voices, random naughty attacks, and a good line in pants-wetting.  If I had the head-space I would think it through, like I did when his sister was this age. But George has recently begun screeching like a baboon every time I move more than a metre away from her, the washing pile teeters higher than my head and my back continues to give me the gift of daily pain.

I feel bad for my darling middle child. I know he needs more of everything. Attention, outdoor playtime, discipline, cuddles. But his decrepit ageing parents are time-poor and very, very tired.


At Nanna's today, he sat on the toilet describing the process of his poo to me while I gazed in the mirror at my grey hairs. 'Now wash my bum with water!' he told me after a little while.   Jesus, I thought. Have we come to this?

'I am not washing your bum with water, Teddy' I told him firmly. 'That's what the bath is for.'

'No,  the button,' he said. 'Press the bum-washing button!'

Ah. I pressed the flush and watched Ted push his little bottom down into the toilet with delight. We have a waterless composting toilet at our place. So he's come to his own conclusion about all these crazy flushing toilets he keeps finding.

God bless him. Especially when he's asleep.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hints To Young Ladies On Occasions That Require Them To Expose Their Genitalia Under Strong Lighting

a)  When your (young, male) doctor puts a big book up on the examination table, covers it with a paper sheet and says 'I like to do the procedure like this. It gives a better picture of your cervix,' it is OK to find the situation confusing and request clarification.

You are wrong to assume that the Pap smear protocol has changed, and the doctor wishes to sit in front of you on a stool.  While the doctor washes his hands behind the curtain, you should not take off your undies and then awkwardly straddle the book while trying to maintain a blase expression and keep up your end of a conversation about Lord Howe Island. He did not mean you to mount the book. He meant you to lie down on the bed and then rest your hips up high.

b) Do not allow your three year old son to play with your phone while this humiliating exercise unfolds. He will take photos. And video.

c) Change doctors.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Aeroplane Hi-Jinks, Flemish-Style

Keith is off to China tomorrow for a few days (sad face.) But those long flights can get so boring. As luck would have it, my friend Al sent me a link today to an amazing and hilarious artist who recently spent a long flight camped in the toilet taking self-portraits in the Flemish style.

Sheer brilliance.

About this project, Nina says 'While in the lavatory on a domestic flight in March 2010, I spontaneously put a tissue paper toilet cover seat cover over my head and took a picture in the mirror using my cellphone. The image evoked 15th-century Flemish portraiture. I decided to add more images made in this mode and planned to take advantage of a long-haul flight from San Francisco to Auckland, guessing that there were likely to be long periods of time when no one was using the lavatory on the 14-hour flight. I made several forays to the bathroom from my aisle seat, and by the time we landed I had a large group of new photographs entitled Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style.' 

I love her! Happy travels, K-Dog.

Happy Mondays

Hello, Monday morning!

We are all well at once, touch wood. My back is still giving me some problems, but luckily we humans possess the gift of perspective....last week is still so fresh in my mind that a little pain and yelping is a walk in the woods. I'm so happy to be up and around.

We had a wonderful, homey weekend with lots of house-sorting, cooking, resting time and a family dinner out - I really enjoy watching the kids in a restaurant and it's nice to get dressed up too. I did have an unsettling dream involving a giant rabbit later that night  though. Was it the Mexican food?

This week, I am planning a major health kick around this joint. Somehow, we are stuck in a loop of illness and injury. I feel like it's time to take some proactive steps towards immune-system and body-strengthening. Early to bed. Lots of broths and stocks. Blueberries and broccoli. Fish-oil. Vitamin C. Long walks. Yoga. 

Wish me luck.

Here is Ivy, hard at work with a magnifying glass trying to extract a tiny tick from Keith's armpit. (Joys of living in the bush.) I am holding the torch. I lost my job as doctor in charge when I spent quite a long time carefully pulling the top off a tiny mole. Good one, four-eyes. Luckily Teddy found a Wiggles band-aid to cover up the damage and Keith is a forgiving sort of a man.

 Sunday afternoon, some couch-time introducing the kiddoes to the beautiful writings of Ted Hughes. (Terrible husband. Wonderful poet.)

Breakfast, from Ivy's perspective. The colour cards on the pantry have been there for months, waiting for that painting job to rise to the top. What colour do you think?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sunshine On My Shoulders

Ivy and Ted are watching Shaun the Sheep from their nests on the lounge. They have established very specific territory and marked the boundary with a laundry basket. At this moment there are no disputes. George is strapped into a complicated, colourful baby jail and practising hersnorting noises.  Keith is sleeping like the zombie dead, and I am trying to power through some admin (answer long-overdue emails, enrol for next terms yoga, pay the vege box) before he emerges, I have a bath and we lock the computers in the shed so we can enjoy some overdue together time.

Man, it's been a week.

My back (bulging disc, pinched nerve, thanks for caring) is on the upswing, which is to say that now, when I am struck with a sudden pain, it is more like I am on the prison lunch line and a smelly lifer has poked me with his sharp, pointy fingernail, rather than shivved me with a sharpened toothbrush. Major improvement.

I can lift the baby, change nappies, work around the house and drive the car, even if I must do them with a bit of a Thunderbird style stiff-backed waddle. A few days ago I couldn't do any of those things, and it was hard to stem my internal panic about how to manage life if it didn't resolve. Keith was having to take a lot of time off work to help and then making up his hours at night. Thank God for my wonderful Mum. Hard to imagine what I would have done without her this week.

Today, the sun is shining, we are all well at once (huzzah!) and I am looking forward to addressing, one by one, all the jobs that have been left untackled, and then getting to a few of the projects I've been dying to tackle lately: new bread recipes, some soap-making, stripping and painting the dresser on the deck that has been waiting my attention for weeks.

Happy weekending, my friends.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Blah Blah Blah

I'm dreaming of happier times like this. Hanging out with the girls, and the girls.
(No original source for this image. I'm sorry, wonderful Japanese ladies.)

Christ on a bicycle. It's been days. Every time I get up for a while I get this stabbing pain. I feel like stabbing something myself. I'm bored with facebook and pinterest and blogs. I watched I Don't Know How She Does It and that didn't help with the urge to stab. Perhaps I will stab SJP. I myslef have not travelled much in the world of investment banking but I'm fairly sure that giggly, scattered, breathy enthusiasm, skipping, and a penchant for clasping your hand to your heart to indicate intense sincerity does not the successful financial high-flyer make. Get stuffed, Hollywood.

I've been trying to sort photos and write some stuff, but clicketing around on the keys involves sitting up and really I need to lie down. so i'm surfing, reading, and staring into space. Like Ivy sayys when she imitates me looking after the baby 'Hello George, it's ok, blah blah blah...'


I'm looking forward to getting back to the housework. Yes.


There have been some happy moments. This may be my new favourite blog. This Louis Theroux trip through India made me laugh. I so love Louie's nerdy enthusiasm. Sometimes his quirky shtick gets a little old, but in this episode he is on fire. At the end of his India adventure he gets an ashram singing hesitantly along to 'Karma Chameleon.'

I've been dreaming about interiors on Pinterest. I want this wallpaper, this kitchen, and I want to make this coconut body butter. Maybe I'll give it to my body as a present when it starts working again.

Blah blah blah.

Hanging Out

Ted keeps his friends close. And his cheese and crackers closer.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dear All The Things

Dear leek harvest

I know you have been been growing, despite neglect, for many weeks in the vege patch. I'm sorry that after Teddy and I picked you, my back went out and laid me up, unable to perform my usual culinary tasks.

Instead of being garden-to-kitchen in just a few hours, you are Tupperware-trapped, nutritional goodness leaching from you by the second. I would ask Keith to cook you, but it would involve a conversation like this: '
Just dice up some bacon don't forget to wash the dirt out of all the leeks blah blah blah make a bit of a white sauce but use the chicken stock instead of the milk it's in one of the ice-cube-trays in the freezer make sure you don't use on of the baby's frozen purees by mistake blah blah blah if it doesn't look like enough chuck in some broccoli and maybe some peas but not at the same time...' It's Esperanto. And his face would likely look like mine does when we discuss the finances. Outwardly composed, if blank. Inwardly, screaming STOP TALKING STOP TALKING STOP TALKING IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY WHEN WILL YOU STOP SAYING ALL THE NUMBERS?

Any the hoo, fresh young leeks, I'm sorry but Keith will probably forgo you for what we call the Horses Dinner around here, sort of a tasting plate; a tour de fridge, if you will. (Oh, say you will.) A Horses Dinner might feature cheese, carrots, grapes, broccoli and half a hot cross bun, squashed flat to fit in the toaster.


Dear Uno,

Thank you for being such a reliably good time. Even in the hospital last Friday, with Ted's asthma, you helped us pass the hours. You might be the best game ever.


Dear Nanna,

There you are, again, above, hanging out with T-Bone in the hospital while I walk the ward trying to get George to sleep. You are the best and I am more grateful than I can express for your help. Remember how funny it was on that drive in the emergency when Ted looked really sick and Georgie was crying and then I suddenly yelled as a stabbing pain got me in the back? I mean, not funny. The other one! Tragic.


Dear creaky old bones,

We have a problem. The bursitis in my hip from carting my sweet fat baby about has been difficult to manage, but I have treated it successfully thus far with Nurofen Plus and denial. But on Friday you took things to some new level. The hive mind on Facebook and my own internet noodlings lead me to self-diagnose with a trapped sciatic nerve. Is that my problem? What it really feels like is a tiny, invisible, nasty dog suddenly biting me above the hip every time I move about. When the public holiday is over and I see an actual health professional I'll find out which diagnosis they agree with.


Dear bending,

I miss you. I guess I just haven't really appreciated you since the last time I was in a third trimester.


Dear Easter Weekend,

Get stuffed.


Dear Uno,

Thanks again.


Dear Keith,

Thanks for picking up all the Mr Mum slack this weekend. You are a giant among husbands. I'm sorry I make that face when you do the finances.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sister. Teacher. Actress.

This post was first published in Practical Parenting Magazine, February 2012. (Thanks to Dr. Dog for the lady-boy gag.) Ivy had a massive after-school meltdown yesterday in front of Nanna, who talked her down, then said to me 'Just a piece of advice. I would not be sending this one to drama classes, Rach. '

I had a light-bulb parenting moment the other day. As much effort as Keith and I put into teaching and guiding these children of ours, they are just as likely to learn about life from each other. Perhaps even more likely.

Take three-year old T-Bone. His older sister Peanut is a wonderful playmate, an enthusiastic mentor and a champion against such slings and arrows of outrageous fortune a three year old may meet in his daily travels. But she is also, like all big siblings, something of an evil genius.

Playing a chase-and-shoot game with big cousins recently, Peanut crept around the backyard holding T-Bone in front of her like a human shield for an hour. He didn’t know he was being ill-used. Rather, he was deeply chuffed to hold a position of such unexpected importance in the game. If T-Bone annoys her, Peanut is partial to inventive punishments, like this one: ‘If you don’t stop right now, I’m going to send your most speciallest things to the op shop!’ Yesterday, she came up with another. ‘T-Bone!’ she shrieked as he poured out her jewellery onto the floor. ‘You stop that or I will put you on the half-boy list!’ The what? I asked. ‘It’s the list where you only get half your presents next Christmas,’ she told me firmly. Could be worse, I thought. At least it wasn’t the lady-boy list.

Most of the time, Peanut and T-Bone are the very best of friends. At Peanut School, for instance, T-Bone learns bingo and sums and letters. When they play Fetch It, where T-Bone pretends he is Peanut’s dog (named Dog), Peanut is encouraging and affectionate. In the clearly defined superior role of his teacher or his owner, it appears, Peanut is kind and gentle. But she’s also modelling behaviour that T-Bone is emulating. That’s not working out so well for her.

Peanut, you see, is a seasoned theatrical actress. As a toddler, she would bang her head on the floorboards whenever she was angry and at five, she has developed a restrained and subtle style of sick-acting. It works to get her out of eating dinner (especially since once, we stood firm and made her stay at the table until she ate her veges. She did. And then promptly vomited them up with the beginnings of a gastro bug.) She’s good, Peanut. This week she’s been working a ‘sore eardrum’ angle to extend her bedtime. She knows that ‘ear infection’ is one of those tricky illnesses that Mum can’t quite rule out. I tried to pass a sneaky hand over Peanut’s forehead to check for fever, but she clocked it, knew she had me, and then really turned up the drama. The jig was up when she forgot which ear was hurting. ‘Wasn’t it the other one before?” I asked as I held a cold washer to my patient, who was reclining luxuriantly in bed. ‘Um, it’s moving, ‘she said quickly. ‘I’m pretty sure it’s moving.’

T-Bone had been quietly watching this medical drama unfold from his bed across the room ‘My regg!’ he suddenly wailed. ’My regg is hurting!’ Peanut looked from him to me in horror. ‘No!’ she shouted. ‘That’s not real! Mum, it’s not even real!’

Ah yes, I thought. The day has come for the student to betray the teacher. ‘My regg!’ T-Bone moaned, waving both legs in the air. I looked at them both, and thought about baby Pudding, only five months old. I wonder, with this kind of education awaiting her, will she be the one to win the Oscar?