Saturday, December 27, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
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)?
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
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 http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10543815).
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 http://www.stopchildabuse.com.au/ in Australia, or http://www.everychildcounts.org.nz/ in New Zealand.
As the ACF says: Children cannot stop child abuse or neglect. Adults can.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
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
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
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Harmonie on the flying fox - another, non-animal, attraction at Queens Park
So this weekend, we took a drive to Queens Park, Ipswich. It’s a lovely grassy park, with a massive playground, huge trees, climbing frames, kiosk, and a nature centre.
Chase and Harmonie excitedly ran ahead as they explored the exhibit.
“Look Mum, Watermelons!” Chase exclaimed in delight.
Er no, actually they were Pademelons! (Note to non-Aussie readers: pademelons are cute furry marsupials, smaller than wallabies). I wouldn’t be eating a slice of those any time soon.
Further on, we came along to the wombat display. “Wow, look at the Furry Pigs,” Chase cried. People around us snickered, and I couldn’t help laughing either. I mean, it’s not as if the child hasn’t ever seen a wombat before! Or read about them for that matter.
Chase had the grace to laugh too, when I pointed out his mistake. “Well they look like pigs with a hairy nose,” he said. True.
It was like a recent trip to the country to see my family.
“Ooh, Mumma, big doggies,” said Harmonie reverently, face pressed to the window. Um, actually they were cows.
Maybe we need to get these city kids into the country more often!
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Poor Harmonie has been home sick this week, with a nasty bout of asthma.
Challenged with the onerous task of keeping her quiet, and running dangerously low on luxuries like eggs, milk and bread (these days, you almost need to take out a second mortgage to pay for them), I took her out for a spot of shopping.
We’d be dry and warm, I reasoned, and she loves nothing better than being pushed about in a shopping trolley as though she was still a baby, not a strapping 5-year-old.
Regular readers would know I would rather gouge my own eye out than go shopping with my kids … unless it’s with just one of them.
Shopping with one child is mostly a pleasant experience, with said child enjoying the attention, eagerly grabbing products off shelves, and generally charming the socks off fellow shoppers. And me! But together, they are Search and Destroy, running in different directions, irritating each other, fighting over who gets to choose the oranges/apples/bananas or whatever, and demanding expensive lollies and soft drink.
Anyway, today it was just the Princess, and an interesting experience it was.
It started as we drove to our local shops, after school drop off for Chase. Traffic was horrendous, it was pouring rain, and I was muttering naughty words under my breath at the traffically-challenged.
Suddenly, I realised my usual Chatterbox was quiet. “Are you okay honey?” I asked, fearing another bout of vomiting or breathlessness was about to strike.
“Yeah,” she said happily. “I’m being quiet so you can concentrate on the traffic.”
When we got to the shops, she climbed into the trolley.
“I kissed a girl, and I liked it …” she sang along to the music playing in the store. Hmm. Think I should be more careful which music I listen to…
When we reached the lolly aisle, she suddenly decided she wanted out.
“Can I have a lolly, ‘cause I’m being good?” she asked.
“Okay,” I said. “Just one.”
She came back with two.
“Just one I said,” I began.
“It’s okay, these are for Daddy,” she said, holding up a packet of fruity jubes. “They’re his favourite.”
Sweets for the sweet.
As we browsed the aisle, I was pestered constantly to buy. Not sweets. Not junk food. Not even fizzy.
But good, healthy food.
“Oh can we please buy this Mumma?” she asked plaintively, handing me a container of fresh ravioli. “It is so yummy and nice.”
And out-of-season cherries. “Oh please Mumma,” she begged. “I love cherries.”
You know what? I think it’s good occasionally to give into pester-power when it comes to kids choosing foods that are healthy and tasty. And when you take into account the outrageous cost of junk food – I could have spent $2 on a packet of chips, but spent it on cherries instead – it’s not scary at all.
On the way home, she sang along to the radio. This time it was the Pussycat Dolls, When I Grow Up. Thankfully, she doesn’t know all the lyrics yet, but unfortunately, she’s seen the video.
“The girls are standing up on a car when they sing this,” she says. “They’re naughty, hey?”
And as we pass a golf course, she says sternly: “Those people are naughty too, aren’t they Mumma? Going into the rain like that. I think they just want to catch a cold. Don’t you?”
Unable to argue with the logic of a child, I turn up the radio.
Monday, July 7, 2008
This one too, for that matter!
(Okay, maybe not all the words. You know, like “Poo-head”, “I did a Fart-Fart”, “I hate you”, and the perennial favourite, “Mum can you wipe my bum?”
But often, the kids unknowingly make me smile.
Like this morning, Harmonie was playing in the garden and said casually:
“God gave us two hands and two feet. For walking and for somersaulting.”
Here are few other pearls of kiddie insight that make me laugh
On Where Babies Come From
Chase: “Mumma, when did Daddy put his special seed in your mouth?”
Me: (Silently) “What the?” (Aloud) “What seed, honey?”
Chase: “The seed men put in women to make a baby grow”.
On being a Grown-Up
Me: "No Harmonie, those are for adults."
Harmonie: "Am I a Dolt yet? That’s not fair, I want to be a Dolt!"
Playing with the dogs, Daisy and Zack
Harmonie: “Mum, Zack is rubbing his penis on Daisy’s back, to massage her. And he’s riding her, like a piggyback ride!”
Chase: “Mum, I’ve got a boyfriend!”
Me: “Er, really?”
Chase: “Yeah, he’s a boy, and he’s my friend. Actually, I’ve got a few boyfriends …”
Friday, July 4, 2008
I can't believe it's been a week since I last blogged. This week's photos will explain why. It is school holidays here, and to celebrate, we took the kids to the country to visit my family.
They love catching up with their cousins, Auntie, Uncle and grandparents. Here are a few highlights from our trip:
Digging potatoes with Pa-Pa
Have a great week ...
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
B. Undergoing a strange and kinky medical examination?
C. Being probed by aliens?
Actually, the answer is None of the Above.
Always keen to jump on a Quick Fix when it comes to diet and exercise, I was trying out a unique form of exercise called Hypoxi.
To be honest, I’m always sceptical about magical solutions to weight loss. And Hypoxi sounded like some rare kind of medical condition. “Bronwyn’s come down with a terrible case of Hypoxi.” Or perhaps a trendy way to put someone in their place. “Now come on, that idea is completely Hypoxi!” Or even an insult. "Hi Poxy".
But my mate, media personality Bianca Dye swears by it, and with celebrities like Robbie Williams, Cheryl Cole, Anna Friel, and Jordan talking it up, I thought Hypoxi was worth a try.
So how does it work?
Basically, Hypoxi is much like riding an exercise bike, except your lower body is encased in a chamber from the tummy down – using the above-mentioned rubber skirt as a seal. The idea is that low pressure within the chamber forces fatty acid into the blood stream, where it is burnt up by the muscles during the exercise. The makers claim the exercise helps improve circulation; detoxifies; boosts metabolism, targets stubborn fat on tummy, butt and thighs; firms skin; causes weight and centimetre loss; and improves the appearance of cellulite and veins. Some women have been able to go down two dress sizes in just a few weeks!
I did my session at the Body Designers Mt Gravatt clinic in Brisbane (www.bodydesigners.com.au).
The personal trainer was friendly and positive, and didn’t make me feel like a Frumpy Mummy at all.
And once inside the chamber, I was surprisingly comfortable. With a telly on featuring the latest video hits, a glass of water at hand, and the personal trainer slipping in and out to chat, my 30 metres went by quite pleasantly. I basically cycled for 30 minutes, monitoring my heart rate to ensure it didn't work too hard, or too slow. Afterwards, I felt energised, as I always do after exercise. Plus, my lower body temperature had risen by 7 degrees, which meant my circulation had been given a significant boost.
I didn't expect immediate weight loss, and there wasn't. Apparently, at least 10-12 30-minute sessions (three per week) are necessary to show the best results.
My introductory session was free, but I’m impressed enough by the comfort, the testimonials, and the research behind it, to want to give it a try. Hypoxi is already popular in Europe and is much cheaper than liposuction or surgery. Plus, I have arthritis, and gentle exercise in a warm environment is much safer for me than, say, gym or running.
The down side? Hypoxi costs AUD65 a session, though there are discounts available for bulk purchases.
Even so, I’m seriously considering trying it in a few weeks, once school holidays are over.
Am I crazy, or should I go for it?
Let me know your thoughts – and tell me what kind of exercise has worked for you.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
It’s not their ginormous pay-cheques, stunning good looks, cool husbands, or designer wardrobes I covet … no, it’s their ability to walk in high heels.
Each week, it seems, new photos and videos of them strutting red carpets in fabulous outfits and even more enviable shoes appear to make mere mortals feel inadequate.
It’s cruel, I tell you!
Somehow, pushing two tiny human beings out of my Front Bottom, also dispensed with my ability to wear stilettos.
Pre-pregnancy, wearing high heels was de rigeur. In fact, in view of my height, it was a necessity.
Whether it was travelling to an interview, catching up with friends, or heading out to dance all night, stilettos, heels or FMBs were always the order of the day. They made me taller, gave me confidence, helped me feel sexier. I never fell over while wearing them – although I may have lost one occasionally, after a few too many glasses of vino. And there was the time when I unwittingly, left a shoe on an escalator – only to have a charming young man retrieve it, carry it back down to me, and present it with a flourish.
Ahh, happy days.
Flash forward to Pregnancy Number 1. Within months of finding out there was a Bun In The Oven, I had piled on loads of weight, and I quickly lost my centre of gravity.
Stubbornly persisting on waddle around in high heels, I soon discovered the error of my ways. After a few nasty incidents, usually involving lots of swaggering, and many gutters, my husband Kyle banned heels.
There was a brief period, in between babies, where I felt confident enough to try again. A day at the races, my brother’s 40th birthday party, Date Night with my man … but I was always happy to slip them off at the end of the day. My endurance had taken a tumble.
I felt I was pregnant again, before I knew it. I’d become clumsy again, had fallen over a couple of times, and had unbearable tummy pain.
A test revealed another child was on its way.
This time, I chucked the sexy shoes in the back of the wardrobe. I felt sure I’d be able to wear them after Angel Number 2 arrived, right? Wrong.
On the rare occasions since her arrival that I’ve donned my heels, I can usually be spotted falling, collapsing, and/or sliding down hills. Usually carrying a fresh-baked batch of patty cakes for a school fundraiser.
I don’t know what’s happened but my ability to walk in Seriously Sexy Shoes has been seriously challenged.
Nowadays, I still want to feel sexy, tall and powerful – but I don’t want to end up looking like an Eeejit.
That’s why I dislike celebs like Posh, Gwenny, and SJP.
Not content with being rich, famous, successful yummy mummies, they insist on rubbing their shoe-wearing abilities in my face.
It’s nothing personal, girls, you understand. It’s All About The Shoes.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Chase in a rare pose - sleepy and quiet. With all his special teddies.
Dinner with Dadda - right.
Harmonie is a real speed demon.
When Kyle gets home from his trips, Narnie Cat immediately goes and sits in his suit-carrier. Do you think she wants to go with him next time?
And here she is, catching up
on her favourite soaps.
See you next week!
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Yes, as a few of my mates have twittered and emailed to remind me, it has been a while since I updated my blog.
That’s why, I thought, this time I’ll write about why it’s taken me so long to drop by.
Here’s the thing: Life, as you know, is busy.
And for the past few months, my husband has been working out of town much more often than usual. Mostly, he gets home on weekends, but last weekend, he didn’t make it.
Now don’t get me wrong. Kyle is a wonderful husband, Dad, and is fantastic at his job. He works hard, and we miss him heaps when he is away – and vice versa.
And the kids and I still managed to have a really pleasant weekend.
But let me just say this: Single parenting within a marriage sucks!
Look at it from my perspective. While Kyle is away, he gets to eat out every night, stay in expensive hotels, hang out at airport lounges, and even see the occasional movie, all in child-free, pester-free peace. There are no lunches to make, homework to supervise, or permission forms to fill in. (All right, all right, I know he actually has to work while he’s away too!)
Meanwhile, as the one left at home holding the rather large ‘babies’, I get all the negatives of single parenting, without the positives.
No weekends off. No weeks-off or holiday relief. No dates, gym, or me time. And I still have to put time and effort into maintaining a marriage rather than being blissful selfish, as single people can.
Not that I mind all that. It’s the way our lives work, and most of the time, its fine.
But every now and then, I get a teensy, bit antsy about it all.
Case in point:
When Kyle arrived home the other day, it wasn’t long before he was tossing toys around, and marvelling at the laundry which had piled up on the lounge.
“How did this place get so messy?” he asked. “What did you do all week?”
Surprisingly, I didn’t kill him. Or poo on his side of the bed, as one of my Twitter pals so charmingly suggested as punishment for naughty husbands.
But Kyle, if you’re reading this, here’s a short list. While you were away I:
* Managed to keep up with my own work, mostly, filing a couple of travel stories and reviews
* Changed all the beds
* Cleaned the bathrooms
* Swept, vacuumed and mopped
* Did lunches
* Cooked and cleaned up afterwards
* Went shopping with the kids – without killing them
* Did the school run
* Attended school sports day
* Rescued dogs when they escaped during school sports day
* Bought bottle of champagne and delivered it to nice lady who kept the dogs at her place until I could get there
* Read to the kids each night
* Supervised homework
* Caught up with visiting relatives
* Washed dogs
* Fed, watered, clothed the animals
* Had a couple of play dates (for the kids, not me)
* Soothed green ant bites and asthma wounds
* Did a zillion loads of washing, and got about half of it put away
* Had kids home sick a couple of days
* Yelled. A lot.
I know the place was still messy on his return, but honestly, sometimes the Mummy Fairy gets a little bit tired.
On the odd occasion, when situations have been reversed, and I’ve been the one to go away, I always come back to find:
No housework, laundry or shopping has been done, and Nana and friends have been roped in to helping my exhausted husband out with the kids. Poor lamb.
But he and the kids are always gloriously happy, so I guess I will forgive him.
NB: No husbands have been hurt in the writing of this blog.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Our friendly neighbourhood kangaroos
Monday, June 9, 2008
On Saturday, Kyle rewarded my long stint of solo parenting by watching Enchanted with the kids, while I did some pester-free shopping on my own. While I was a bit Meh about having to miss some time with McDreamy, the chance to shop alone was too good to refuse. Oh, the bliss! I’d forgotten how wonderful it was to spend money without:
· Having to buy a lot of expensive crap
· Refusing to buy a lot of expensive crap and enduring the tantrums which result
· Chasing kids from one end of the supermarket to the other
· Lugging around a five-year-old when her legs get tired (which is every five minutes)
· Screaming like a fishwife when one of the kids plays up (which is every five minutes).
· Saying No. A lot.
The kids spent much of the day building and playing in a cubby in the front yard. The dogs and cats joined in the fun too, while Kyle and I pottered around in the background.
Next morning we headed to the markets for breakfast and let the kids spend the money they earned for sleeping in their own beds while Kyle was away. ($1 per night. A bit steep I know, but me getting a good night’s sleep? Priceless).
We didn't forget the dogs. They ended up with some snazzy winter coats. See?
Sunday afternoon involved art and crafts (below),
I rounded off the weekend, with a couple of glasses of red and the latest episode of Desperate Housewives, while Kyle caught up on WOW.
You know, in the old days, pre-kids, our quiet weekend probably wouldn’t have rated. But these days, a few days at home are just what the doctor ordered.
How do other parents spend family weekends? I’d love to hear what you get up to.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Left: And the culprit!
Right: Dizzy Daisy
More next week!
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
This morning, my tousled Little Princess padded into the kitchen and sleepily asked for a cappuccino.
Not her usual ‘hot chocolate’ (Milo and chocolate flavouring). Not a bubbacino. But a real cappuccino. “Like you Mumma”.
Guilty as charged. I can't start the day without a strong, skim milk frothy cup of heaven, and clearly, Harmonie has picked up on my addiction.
Okay, obviously I’m not going to give a five-year-old caffeine. Harmonie’s cappuccino is just milk froth with chocolate powder on top. But as I watched her sipping it contentedly, it got me thinking: Isn’t if funny how kids are influenced by their parents?
Recently, my son Chase was in the middle of a temper tantrum and couldn't seem to get himself out of it. I can’t even remember what sparked it: Probably something major like his favourite TV show not being on, getting told off for trying to kill his sister, or being denied ice-cream for dinner. Whatever the case, he was angry, teary, defiant and out of control.
I tried all the usual child-calming tricks. Time out. Cuddles. Threats. Bribes. Whispering. Shouting.
Look, I sympathise with kids when they're in Full Tanty Mode. Adults find it hard to calm down when they're in the middle of a dispute, so why do we expect kids to do it so effortlessly?Frustrated myself, and having counted to ten, I finally thought: What calms me down when I’m stressed and out of control? And I realised: Usually, a soothing cup of tea or a medicinal glass of wine (or three!) does the trick.
Clearly, the wine is an option for the Monkey Man! So I went over to him, and quietly asked if he would like a cup of tea.
He stopped, mid-rant, immediately, and looked at me with interest. “What did you say?” he asked.
“I asked if you would like a cup of tea,” I said calmly. “When I’m angry or stressed about something, I find a cup of tea makes me feel better.”
Chase has never had tea before. I see a sparkle come into his eye and know I’ve won.
Tantrum forgotten, we spend the next 20 minutes or so making the tea – Good Aussie breakfast tea, weak, topped up with soy milk, and a couple of sugars. Chase is entranced by the ritual, and I sit beside him, chatting, while he drinks it. “You’re right Mum, I do feel better,” he says when he’s finished.
As I watch him walk happily towards his colouring books, I smile. It’s rare in parenting – at least at my home – that it all comes together. Suddenly, I feel like Super Mumma! Peace is restored and I had something to do with it. Parenting doesn’t get much better than that!
Now, whenever Chase is feeling anxious, teary, or sick, he’ll come to the kitchen and ask for a cup of tea.
My husband thinks I’m crazy giving the Monkey Man caffeine, but honestly, it’s half weak tea, half-milk. He’d probably get more caffeine from a bar of chocolate!
And when Chase is drinking it, I always make time to sit with him and chat. Usually I have a cup with him.
I’m hoping it will turn into one of those family rituals that will help to bond us for life.
I just have to make sure my habits are relatively harmless - at least the ones they see. I don't want them coming home from school one day in the future and saying: Can I please have a wine, Mum? Preferably something with bubbles?"
Anyone else got any kid-wrangling tips to share? Or are there family rituals that enhance your life?
I’d love to hear them!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
And so I find myself thinking back seven years ago to the birth of Chase.
I was two weeks overdue and HUGE. Seriously, I looked like a bowling ball on legs!
My husband and I were impatient to meet our little guy, and I didn’t think I could take a minute more of cramps, aching pelvis, indigestion, and piddling. So we’d been trying for several weeks to help coax the little one out.
Walking – that just made my pelvic condition and my exhaustion worse.
Spicy foods – gave me indigestion
Sex – one of the nicer options, but apart from putting us both in a good mood, didn’t do a thing
Bumpy drives – just made me need to wee
Nipple stimulation – made me feel like I was in a bad porno
Frights – My husband would lie in wait and jump out in front of me. Made me cranky and brought on another urge to pee, but did nothing to bring on baby.
Raspberry leaf tea – Made me wee. (Does every non-medical attempt to bring on birth result in weeing?)
A midwife with Man Hands even did a particularly violent cervix exam, before telling me to go home and have a couple of glasses of wine to ‘relax’ the baby out.
The wine made me tipsy, but like everything else, did nothing to encourage our baby to make his way into the world.
Finally, when Chase was looking to be overcooked and my blood pressure was rising, I was booked in for an induction.
Now in the interests of not freaking out a woman who is about to push a human being out of her front bottom, I will not go into details.
Needless to say, my first experience of childbirth was a nightmare, which only ended after lots of swearing at my husband, a three-grade tear, and an episiotomy.
Thankfully, it also resulted in a beautiful blue-eyed baby boy!
But afterwards, I promised myself that I would never have an induction again. (At that stage, trust me, I wasn’t even going to have sex again!)
Flash forward two years, and I’ve clearly overcome my aversion to sex, because I’m up the duff, this time with little Harmonie.
About a month before my due date, my obstetrician began making noises about another induction. My blood pressure was high – higher than with Chase – and because of my arthritis and pelvic condition, I was in unbearable pain and could barely walk.
I was determined not to go down the intervention path again, and this time did my research more thoroughly.
I drank copious amounts of raspberry leaf tea, started acupuncture sessions aimed at making childbirth less labourious, and begged a midwife to divulge her no-fail way to bring on labour: Sex.
“Oh, we did that last time, and nothing happened!” I said dismissively.
She looked at me shrewdly.
“Did you lie down so the semen would stay inside you?” she asked.
“Er – no.”
And that was the trick apparently. For the prostaglandin-like substances in semen to soften the cervix, it actually has to stay there for a while. About 20 minutes, the midwife told me.
A few nights later, after a particularly uncomfortable day, my husband looked at me. “Are you ready to have this baby?” he asked. And I thought: Why not?
So, without going into details, we did a particularly nice doona dance, and this time, instead of jumping up and heading for the shower or the loo, we lay there and cuddled. In fact, I was so relaxed, I went to sleep.
Whether it was a coincidence or not, I will never know. But the next morning I bent down to load the dishwasher and my waters broke. All over the kitchen floor.
This time, because the childbirth was completely natural, I was able to keep pace with my body. This time, childbirth was the empowering, magnificent experience I’d been told about.
By 4 pm that afternoon, I had my little girl in my arms and felt that wonderful rush of endorphins and hormones that new Mums are supposed to get.
So I wish Sue all the best and hope she gets the birth she dreamed of too. And lots of nice sex too.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Sometimes I let the kids sleep in their school uniforms, so I don’t have to dress them in the morning.
In summer, if the kids go swimming after school they don’t have to take a shower.
I often put my husband’s expensive Japanese cooking knives in the dishwasher, because I can’t be arsed washing them by hand.
I hate volunteering at school (but do it anyway). Too much noise, and I never was good at crafts, sports, or entertaining children!
Some weeks, the closest I get to exercise is doing the school run.
Housework counts as exercise, doesn’t it?
Wine Time comes early some days. After school early.
When my husband is away, we often have vegemite sandwiches or cereal for dinner.
We’ve been known to cancel play dates and barbecues at our place because the house is too messy.
Once I wrote a note excusing my son from swimming lessons because he was sick, when I’d actually just forgotten to pack his togs.
My kids think I was a pirate before I became their Mum.
I would rather chew my own arm off than help my son with his homework (but do it anyway).
I use my husband's good razor to shave my legs - and don't tell him!
I give our really dirty dishes and saucepans to the dogs to lick clean first before putting them in the dishwasher. Well they don't call them dishlickers for nothing! And besides, there is a drought...
I regularly go out out wearing: kiddie sick, dog hair, cat hair, cat pee, kiddie snot, kiddie food smearings, and sometimes, a combination of all of these.
Anyone else got some Mumma Confessions they want to get off their chest?
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Left: Who would have thought such innocent faces could be behind so much trouble?
So there I was, innocently paying for my groceries. Grabbing my purse out of my handbag, it accidentally caught on a pair of handcuffs and they landed onto the counter for all to see.
“It’s not what you’re thinking!” I wanted to say to the open-mouthed checkout chick, and snickering teenager behind me. “I am not having kinky sex!” (Let’s be honest: I’m a working mother. I’m lucky if I have the energy to have any sex at all!)
Instead, red-faced, I stuffed the offending items back into my bag and tried to look dignified.
Of course, the handcuffs were not mine. They belonged to the police-loving seven-year-old, who has a penchant for dressing up as a cop. I’d had to confiscate them earlier, because he was trying to handcuff his sister to the trampoline.
I’d shoved them into the nearest hiding place – my bag – and promptly forgotten all about them.
As the mother of two mischievous monkeys, I should be used to being embarrassed by their antics by now.
Like the day I answered a phone call in the middle of Big W. As shoppers crowded past me, hunting for bargains, I fumbled in my bag for a pen to write down an important phone number I needed.
“Fuuuuuuurp,” went my bag. Or more correctly, the fart pen inside it.
“It wasn’t me,” I wanted to say, as shoppers looked at me in a mixture of disgust, amusement, and quite possibly, admiration. “It’s a bloody pen”!
But before I got the chance, the fart pen trumpeted again, this time longer and louder.
If you didn’t know fart pens existed, you obviously don’t have a son like mine. They’re shaped like a finger (the pens, not my son), and you pull the end of the finger to make it let rip with a variety of disgusting sounds. Get it? That way the kids can say: Pull my finger!
Oh, it’s hilarious! I don’t think.
I made a point of flourishing the finger as I wrote, but I’m not sure how many onlookers realised I wasn’t really the source of the sounds.
Then there was the day I took my five-year-old Harmonie to the family doctor, who sees all of us regularly.
“So Harmonie,” he asked, as he checked her ears and took her temperature. “How’s Daddy?”
“Good,” she replied casually. “He farts all night.”
As I cringed, our bemused GP admitted: “I think that’s a little more information than I needed to know.”
I guess that’s nothing compared to the days when we were toilet-training Harmonie, and she insisted on telling everybody she met that she had finally graduated from nappies.
“Guess what?” she’d ask – neighbours, friends, strangers, it didn’t matter. “I can poo in the toilet!”
Helpfully, she also went through a stage of describing her most recent achievements, just so others wouldn’t miss out by not having been there at the time.
“It was a snowman one,” she’d say. Or, proudly, “It was green!”
Then there was a time, my husband Kyle needed surgery to remove a lump on his breast. “Doctor pinched Daddy’s napple,” she’d tell whoever would listen. “Now Daddy only got one napple.”
Of course, bodily functions and medical dramas are always of interest to kids. Recently, I had a colonoscopy, thanks to a family history of bowel disease and as another delightful consequence of reaching 40. Not.
“Mum’s going to have a camera stuck up her butt,” Chase announced gleefully when friends dropped around. Is nothing sacred?
But it’s not so bad. I know in a few years time, when the kids won’t want to be seen in public with their mother, let alone acknowledge my presence, it will be my turn to embarrass them. And I’ll certainly be ready to make up for lost time!