Saturday, December 27, 2008

We've moved ...

Since I moved to Auckland, Dizzy Parenting has kind of morphed into www.aussiesinauckland.blogspot.
Visit us there for more of the same, plus an insight into life in New Zealand.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lunchbox love

My lunches rock!
How do I know this?
The other day, when I was putting the school lunches together, H. asked me not to put hers in a clear lunch box.
"Why not?" I asked.
"Cos otherwise the other kids see what's in it, and try to steal it. They're always trying to take my food."
How fabulous, I thought. Not that other kids want to eat my daughter's lunch, but that it actually IS good enough to eat.
It happened at her previous school too. In fact, H. is a slow eater - she's busy chatting, looking around, and taking in the surroundings - so one little girl used to pinch the tastiest morsels when she wasn't looking! Thankfully, it was all sorted out after a word with the teacher.
Granted, I do make an extra effort with my lunches.
I have horrific memories of the school lunches I used to get (sorry Mum). Usually it was a sandwich with luncheon meat and tomato sauce (gross) or a warm peanut paste sandwich. There was always one piece of fruit, and usually a homemade biscuit or cake. Plus water from the school bubblers.
The worst periods were when Mum went through health kicks and made us home-made rye bread (so chunky you could carve it), or home-made wheatmeal chapatis with salad, which were warm and soggy by lunchtime.
And we didn't actually have lunch-boxes, so they were usually squashed as well.
It's not all Mum's fault. She had four kids, and a husband to feed on one wage, and money was tight. Plus, I don't think I actually admitted I didn't like her food. I didn't want to get into trouble for not eating it! And as far as I remember, other kids had similar food, though with tastier toppings like jam or cheese and ham (except for the chapatis and rye bread. I was the only one with those, and no one ever wanted to swap...)
It was all so different back then. These days kids seem to enjoy a smorgasboard of offerings at lunch time.
And I'm guilty of it too, because I make sure there is an assortment of tempting foods in my kids' lunch boxes.
Usually sandwiches, yoghurt, fruit, vita-wheat and vegemite, and something like a homemade slice or biscuit. Occasionally they get treats like fruit bars or cheese and cracker packs, but only if they are on special (and nut-free!) Sometimes, if there is time, I cut the sangers into fun little shapes for them.
They always get a cold water bottle to keep it cool (frozen in summer), and to remind them to keep their fluids up during the day.
In these days where childhood obesity is a concern, I sometimes worry I'm sending far too much food. But the kids are growing and they play sport every day at school. Not to mention playing on monkey bars, slippery poles, climbing forts, and flying foxes at lunchtime and before school. I figure they burn up the kilojoules easily, and I don't want them to get the headaches I remember getting because I couldn't stomach my lunch.
Our school has a policy of sending all the lunch rubbish home, so we know what the kids are eating- or not. They're not allowed to throw them in the bin like I used to do!
And I'm pleased to see that finally, there are usually only empty wrappers and apple cores left.
I went through a stage where I tried recipes that kids are supposed to enjoy at lunch - things like cold salads, rice, quiche, savoury muffins, and chicken legs. But these are always unpopular, and come home uneaten.
I find the trick is to give them a variety of food that is quick and easy to eat, so they can run off and play as soon as possible.
Anyone else got some lunchtime tricks (or horror stories)?
Homemade weetbix chocolate slice - tastier and healthier than muesli bars, and nut-free!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In memory of Nia

I told myself I wouldn’t read it.
For weeks, horrifying details of the nightmare that was little Nia Glassie’s life, have played out in the New Zealand press.
Like the rest of the country, I’ve been sickened by the reports, yet somehow, unable to look away.
How could anyone not just hurt, but torture an innocent child? How could a mother stand by and allow her child to be tormented and abused and yet, do nothing? How could neighbours see some of the violence and fail to report it?
I know we always ask questions like these when incidents of child abuse and domestic violence are reported all too often, but the graphic report in this morning’s New Zealand Herald is haunting me.
With the court case over, and guilty verdicts handed down, the paper vividly catalogued the sickening assaults which eventually killed the three-year-old. Her world was a place where the people who were supposed to care for her put her in a clothes dryer, swung her off a clothesline, kicked her, threw basketballs at her, and made her life hell. Where her mother turned a blind eye to the abuse, and didn't even take her to the hospital to get medical treatment. Where a little girl was too afraid to cry, and would whimper instead.
(I can't go into more details, because I'm feeling physically ill even as I type the words. If you want a detailed account, go read
The statements to police by other children living in this house of hell, were particularly poignant.
Reading the stories, I cried. I felt angry. Sick. Helpless. Sad. I still do.
I don’t know what exactly blogging about Nia will do, but I guess I wanted to write something that might keep this poor little girl’s memory alive.
So that we will all think of Nia and say a prayer for her soul.
So that we will give our own children at extra cuddle and kiss when they come home from school this afternoon.
I know I will.
If you want to know more about preventing child abuse, go to in Australia, or in New Zealand.
As the ACF says: Children cannot stop child abuse or neglect. Adults can.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is it chocolate or poop?

I found this lying in the hall the other day.

We don't have a dog anymore.

Or a cat.

Just children.

They couldn't have, could they?

Muttering under my breath, I wrapped my hand in a plastic bag and, trying not to breathe, carefully picked the specimen up.

Suddenly H. appeared.

"Mumma you found my Milo Bar!" she shouted in delight.

Well, what did you think it was?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Why my daughter is traumatised

Like most kids, H. has a favourite toy she absolutely adores.

It was a Baby Amore dolly she got for Christmas last year. This doll cries like a baby, then stops when she is fed her bottle or given a dummy. She even 'breathes', with her chest moving up and down, as she sleeps.

Of course, H's baby had to come to Auckland with her, and she's spent many happy hours carrying her around and fussing over her.

This is what Baby Amore looks like usually...

Then H. dropped her on the floor, and look what happened ...

And in case you missed it..

You can imagine the tearing of clothes, gnashing of teeth, and tears at our house! I don't think even Daddy's going to be able to fix this boo-boo. I've had some experience in mending broken hearts - but any hints on how to mend a broken neck?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Secret Mums' Business

I have a confession.

Today I took secret pleasure in Another Parent’s Shame.

A woman about my age, with a boy and a girl about my childrens’ age, looked extremely harassed at the supermarket checkout.

She had flushed cheeks, angry eyes, a frown like you wouldn’t believe, mussed-up hair, and was wearing the uniform of stressed-out school holiday mums – tracky dacks and a stained baggy T-shirt.

As her children nagged her for lollies, gum and expensive kiddie magazines, they also fought, frolicked and touched Everything. Including Mum.

Mum had clearly had the misfortune of needing just a few essentials – milk, eggs, bread and juice – but having to do it with two antsy rugrats by her side. Throw in a speed-challenged checkout chick and she was losing her patience. (Apologies to checkout people everywhere – I know most of you are fab, but this one either 1. hated her job so much, she couldn’t summon even one iota of enthusiasm, or 2. loved it so much, she wanted it to last as long as possible. I like to think it was the latter.)

Anyway, for this Mum, a quick shop had turned into a Supermarket Challenge From Hell. (Forget Survivor – just have ten exhausted parents negotiate a normal family supermarket shop dragging a couple of kids around them without breaking into swear words … now that’s a reality show!)

Finally, as one child (the boy) swung the younger one (a girl) into the counter, who promptly burst into tears, Mum cracked. “Be quiet, stop fighting, shut up – and stop touching me!” she snarled. I almost expected her head to spin around. Everyone else’s in the vicinity did!

But my heart went out to her, it did. For there, but for the Grace of God, went I.

Just days earlier, I had found myself in the same situation. We’d spent a mostly delightful morning at the movies, but fuelled up on fizzy drink, popcorn, and the latest Hollywood offering, my kids were overstimulated and tired. A nasty combination.

Still we needed a few necessities at home, like milk and bread, so I bravely soldiered forward into the metropolis that is Foodtown. Within minutes, one child had stubbed his toe and claimed he needed to be carried (but is 7 ½, so that was SO not going to happen), and the other one decided to go out in sympathy, by wailing and trying to climb into the trolley and on top of the eggs. Like the aforementioned Angry Mum, we also found ourselves in a painfully slow check-out queue.

The kids whined, complained, fought, and begged for crap they know they’re not allowed to have. They both tried to climb me, like koalas up a tree. Finally, I felt my own Exorcist-style moment coming on.

“Stop it!” I growled, in a voice that I swear, I never knew I had. Time stopped. People stared. A few people sniggered, but most of them (thankfully) looked at me with sympathy.

The kids just laughed. “Funny Mummy,” Harmonie said. “How did you make that sound?” Chase added, his eyes wide with wonder.

At least my outburst had the desired effect (stopped their antics), and we made it through the check-out unharmed.

Hence my sympathy for today’s Mum.

For today, I was not her. Today, I had dropped my children at a fabulous school holiday program involving sports and lots of disgusting science experiments. Childfree at last, I immediately indulged in one of my favourite activities. Not drinking wine, not enjoying a spa, but shopping. Alone and Unhindered.

And it was bliss!

But seeing that other kids play up, and other Mums lose it in public too, somehow made me feel like I wasn’t alone …

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Undomestic Goddess Strikes Again

Since we've relocated to New Zealand, I've been playing housewife for a change.

That means as well as packing, unpacking, and schlepping kids across the city, I've taken on more of the cooking duties.

Normally, Kyle cooks the evening meal, and as my waistline proves, he's a dab hand at it too. But while I'm waiting for the net and phone to be connected (and therefore to start work), I thought I'd take over the cooking detail for a while.

Bad move.

My kids hate my cooking. Apparently, my spaghetti bolognaise, Japanese curry, and fish and chips taste nothing like their fathers. Even after I ring Kyle at work to double-check his methods, and follow his instructions faithfully.

"It's not like Dadda's sketti and meat," Harmonie pouts, throwing down her fork in disgust. "I want Dadda's sketti!"

Finally, she deigns to eat the pasta without the sauce, while Chase refuses to touch it at all. Do you think Kyle leaves out a secret ingredient, just to make sure his food is better? Or, (gasp), could it be that I am just a crap cook?

"It's okay Mum," Chase says kindly. "You're good at making Mac and Cheese, noodles and soup."

They all come out of a packet. Great.

Next time it's my turn to cook, I'm doing takeaway.

They love their food ... as long as I'm not preparing it!