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.

xx

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

Sweetness.

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.

OH MY GOD 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.

x

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Word From The George

video

This baby. 

She has a lot to say. 

x

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.

Eeek.

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. 

x