Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Great expectations

Pic: Chase and Harmonie, a few months after we coaxed Harmonie into the world

Sam at temporarily me ( is overdue, poor lamb. In an attempt to show female solidarity my twitter mate Karen ( has put in the call for blogging mums to share their stories.
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

Confessions of a very naughty Mumma

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).

Sometimes I pretend I'm working, but I'm actually surfing the net, reading newspapers online, or doing Facebook or Twitter.

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

Absolutely embarrassing!

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!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Specials strike again

I dropped into the supermarket this morning to pick up milk and a couple of bottles of fizzy water.
Look at what I ended up carting home (above)!
Yep, my special fetish has reared its ugly head yet again.
I love a bargain. And this morning, there were plenty of temptations.
Steak, from the butcher we like, $7 off. We're having a barbie tonight, so that went into the trolley.
Then I spotted some bones for the dogs. They deserve a treat, so I snapped them up too.
I dutifully piled in the water and milk. Then added fresh bread rolls for the snags tonight. Oh, then croissants were reduced. Chase loves them with ham and cheese for breakfast, so I tossed them in.
Quiches, less than half price. I grab two, one for the fridge, one for the freezer. They're great when friends or family drop in unexpectedly for lunch.
A ham and pineapple pizza - Chase's favourite - for $3.50. That will be great for school lunch tomorrow.
Then tofu, mince, hair conditioner, and broccoli, all drastically reduced. Then remembered we were out of apples, so I grabbed a few of those.
Finally, at the checkout, I noticed Woman's Day magazine (who I used to write for) had a bonus bag of freebie samples. So of course, I had to add that too.
So $77 later, here we are.
It's lucky we don't run out of milk and fizzy water very often!
So am I sucker for specials, or have I actually saved money here?
The supermarket's slogan is 'You'll Love Coles'. But right now, I'm not sure whether I should love them or hate them!

Dung, poo, and other stories

Pic: Chase's dung beetle, complete with dung.

This week, Chase's class has been studying insects and bugs.
One day, they were asked to create a plasticine figure of their favourite bug. Most of the students created the most beautiful lady bugs, ants, and caterpillars. Chase, with his obsessive interest in everything faecal, chose to create a model of a dung beatle. Complete with dung for it to eat. As you do.
It gets worse though.
Show and Tell this week was to share some amazing information with the class which they probably hadn't heard before.
Chase enthralled them all with his talk about our visit to the Deep Space Communication Centre at Canberra recently. Did he regale them with news on the current expedition to Mars? Or the moon rocks on display? Perhaps even the noises from space we heard?
No. The major topic of discussion was how astronauts go to the toilet in space. To better illustrate his talk, Chase had helpfully, without my knowledge, smuggled a fake poo into his school bag. All the better to aid his talk about how some poor bastard has to actually study the astronaut poo when they've returned from space.
And tomorrow I have to show my face at school all over again...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Free divorce - a winner, or just a booby prize?

Pic: My divorce book, Happily Ever Parted

Lately, people have been asking me to comment on the latest controversial competition to come from the makers of trashy men’s magazine Zoo Weekly.
The magazine is offering its readers an Australian first – the chance to win an all-expenses paid divorce.
The Zoo’s editor Paul Merill says that one reader will win everything they need to unleash themselves back to the glory of bachelorhood – including their solicitors’ fees (paid up to $5,000); their divorce application fee ($639); a cleaner for two months and a plasma TV (in case their other half grabs theirs). The prize also includes a three-tiered divorce cake; a divorce party with Zoo girls; a PS3 to fill the long, lonely hours; and a year’s subscription to the magazine.
“If a marriage fails it’s sad, but what’s sadder is being stuck under the same roof as a woman who’s just slept with your best mate,” says Paul. “Our lucky winner will get to escape and start a whole new life. We’ll help him at every stage – from buying him a new plasma screen and throwing him a party, to finding him a new girlfriend.”
To get the prize, readers simply must write in 100 words or less, why they deserve to be divorced from the woman of their dreams – er – nightmares.
And of course, the competition has divided Australia. Are they promoting divorce? Is a free divorce really something readers will aspire to – or is it just a booby prize? (Pardon the pun). Okay, here are my thoughts.
Firstly, Zoo Weekly is not known for its insightful articles, or tasteful photographs. It’s known for smutty stories, leery girly pics, and lots of sexual innuendo. And we already know that in an attempt to boost circulation, they ran another competition giving a reader’s partner a free boob job. So we shouldn’t really be surprised they’ve come up with this competition as a marketing strategy. And it’s obviously working. Internet forums are full of men and women railing at each other, and the do-gooders are up in arms.
From my point of view, a free divorce isn’t exactly a bad idea … but hear me out … there must be a few provisos.
To be ethical, the mag really should be offering the same amount of money and benefits to both parties – male and female. Often, money is a sticking point in a divorce, and it’s unethical to allow one party access to a solicitor and all the rest, without giving the same opportunity to the other person.
Two, why is there no mention of counselling here? Even if the winner fails to take it up, counselling should be an option. Again, it’s expensive to get counselling, and sometimes the people who most need it – that is, people in the middle of a divorce – just can’t afford it. Counselling is far better than just talking to a family member or friend, because they’re qualified to give advice, they’re objective, and they’ll tell you what you need to know – not what you want to know.
Three, What is the magazine expecting of the winner in return for the pound of flesh on offer? Are they going to be wanting a tell-all interview, giving all reasons why the marriage ended? Photos? The Lot?
Again, this isn’t on. It’s not fair to the other person – who may not want to be involved in media coverage – and if there are kids involved, it’s actually evil. Divorce is hard enough on families without bringing it into the media. That just gives every man and his dog and child a reason to comment – Shane Warne anyone?
Four. The person wanting the divorce must be truly sure they know what they are doing. Ideally, they’ve been separated for some time and have set all the processes in motion. It can’t be just an easy get-out. They must have at least tried to make their marriage work, and know that this is what they really want. Otherwise, it’s making divorce just too easy.
Five. Offering the chance to date is just crazy. In this industry, everyone knows that a divorce is like a death, and you need time to come to terms with your loss, the end of the marriage, and to learn who you really are and what you really want.
This isn’t just girl-talk, it goes for men as well. Jumping from one relationship into another without taking time to breathe is a recipe for disaster. And it’s trivializing the relationship you’ve had before, and the time you’ll need to get over it. Sure date – eventually. But allow yourself time to be comfortable with yourself before moving on.
Six. Don’t think that just because you’ve been given an easy ride, and the plasma TV, that divorce is going to be easy. It’s not. Yes, a paid divorce will take some of the financial concerns away, but it’s still going to be tough emotionally. And when all the Zoo girls have gone home, you’ll still be facing a new life, alone.
But apart from all that, if you’ve already set divorce plans in motion, and you’re certain this is what you want, go for it.
The interesting thing is that though the editor has been lamblasted for being sexist for running the competition, it's not the first thing he's tried this tactic to boost circulation.Back in 1999, Paul was assistant editor at English WOMEN'S magazine Chat.
Back then he ran a 'Ditch A Loser With A Free Divorce' competition. To win a 500 pound prize, readers had to write in and explain why they deserved to leave their marriage. Sound familiar?
Here's what he said at the time: "Marriage is a sacred institution, divorce isn't, it's a good way of getting shot of your bloke if he's been messing around or treating you cruelly."
Obviously, the stunt attracted the same kind of attention in the UK as it did here. I'm not sure how that one ended up, but I do have advice to anyone considering entering for this freebie: Like a good marriage, a good divorce means a lot of hard work, and is an experience that will change your life forever.
And given that 49 per cent of divorcees regret the end of their marriage later, be careful what you wish for.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Chase and Harmonie show-off their yoga skills. Photographed for free, by me ....
Our kids are just too darn photogenic.
A few months ago, one of those photo places targeted me in the shopping centre. Usually, having been caught before, I avoid them like the plague. But this time, something in me weakened.

It's been ages since we had professional photos taken of the kids, and the roving salesperson - who after all, was only trying to make a commission - was offering me a coupon for $10 for a sitting, including photo.
We all know how this works. You get a cheap or free sitting plus pic, but end up loving all the photos so much you buy a whole collection. For hundreds of dollars you can't afford.
But I really wanted an updated photo of the kids to add to the collection on our walls.
I ran it past Kyle.
"Okay," he said. "But we'll just get the free one. We don't need the rest."
I agreed.
So after three failed attempts to get to the portrait place, we finally made it this morning. Kids in their hair-brushed, just-dressed, good-enough-to-eat best.
The photos were taken, and we were given about an hour to wander around the shopping centre while they got a slideshow of our session together.
"Okay," I said. "We're just going to take the free photo, right?"
"That's right," Kyle agreed.
But of course, in we go, and all the photos are so gorgeous, we immediately weaken.
Sensing victory, the salesperson suggests we take out any pics we don't like, to reduce the cost.
How can you take out pics of your own kids? But there are a few that look stiff, or not quite 'them'.
Once that's done, I tentatively ask the cost. $600.
"Are you kidding me?" I think, but say nothing. The pics are gorgeous, but $600 for digital photos? (Last time we did it, they were the old-fashioned version, so you'd think they would have come down in price.)
Kyle and I eye each other, warily, each silently willing the other to be the tough guy.
"You can take a few more photos out to reduce the cost," the sales lady says.
So we take a few more out.
"How much now?" I ask.
"Well, you're not actually buying a collection now, so the price actually goes up. To $649," the sales lady says.
Give me a break.
The next cheapest collection is $400 for half a dozen pics. I'm about to capitulate, when I catch Kyle's eye and remember our promise. Suddenly, sanity kicks in.
Yes, the pics are great. But we have a zillion great pics of our kids at home, and most of these aren't any better than we can do ourselves. Truly.
And the kids are playing up a treat, attacking each other with the free balloons they've been given while we're trying to decide how much to spend on perfect images of them behaving.
"It's so confusing, I can't possibly decide right now," I say honestly. "We'll just take the free one, and we'll think about the rest."
In the car, our decision makes perfect sense, and I realise we didn't really need a whole collection of photos anyway.
I hate these companies that prey on parents' love of their children.
"This is absolutely the last time we go there," Kyle says as we drive home.
I agree.
Until next time at least ...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Homework hell

We've read to the kids since birth ...

“I know the answers, it’s just that my brain can’t find them,” said Chase the other day as we were trying to get through his homework.
Probably a pretty good description actually.
Homework time is one of my least favourite times of the day.
I know good mothers should love doing homework with their kids, but most nights I would rather pull my own teeth out than take on Chase’s ‘bonus learning’!
You see, Chase has had loads of problems learning to read and write. We’ve gone down the occupational therapy road and had some success with that, and he’s getting fantastic support at school.
And having interviewed fabulous Australian author Mem Fox while pregnant, I know that reading to your child is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child.
So we’ve done that, religiously, since birth.
It never occurred to me that one of kids would have problems with reading and writing.
I write – and read – for a living. By osmosis – and older brothers and sister – I could read before I started school, and was always ahead of my peers in English and spelling.
So helping Chase has been a real eye-opener. I’m not a teacher, so I was stumped when it came to transferring my knowledge to Chase at home. Luckily, I’ve been given loads of advice and tips from Chase’s teachers, and I’m getting better at it.
But when it comes to learning sight words, writing sentences, and reading, homework time is still, well, like pulling my own teeth out.
Chase scratches, farts, takes toilet breaks, remembers he’s still hungry, realises he’s also terribly thirsty, and tries anything he can think of to prolong the agony.
Sometimes his sister sits beside us, doing her ‘homework’ (drawing and colouring), but she’s started recited random letters of the alphabet while he’s struggling with his spelling.
“ARSE” she’ll spell, as Chase is attempting to spell “broomstick”.
Next minute, he’s called her a Poo Head, she’s called him a Bum Bum, and they’re trying to kill each other.
I’ve found a way to relieve the pain though. After homework time, it’s bedtime for the kids. And wine time for me!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I smell a rat ...

These two wouldn’t hurt a fly – let alone a rat!

Well, actually I saw one. This morning. Outside our back door.
Sadly, for the rat, it was dead. I’m not sure how it died.
Certainly, I don’t suspect our dogs. They are labbie angels, who have killed anything in their entire lives. Even when the neighbours’ chickens and cats used to regularly visit our garden, the dogs would just watch them with interest and occasionally follow them around, sniffing at them. Our dogs also play with our cats and kids. It goes without saying, they are awesome. And to support my theory, Zac and Daisy ignore the rat and instead give us their usual effusive morning greetings.
Whatever. Something awful, apparently, occurred to the rat. Possibly a cat. Or a passing rat-killing ninja. Annyway, it’s gone to rat heaven and its fate immediately becomes this morning’s topic of discussion.
“What happened to him?” asks Harmonie, mournfully.
“Harmonie, it might be a girl,” says Chase. “Mum, is he a boy or a girl?”
Somehow, I manage to keep them from going outside to look, and we race through the usual morning routine. By ten to eight, the kids are ready – hair-combed, teeth-brushed, everything in place – when I realise I’m still in my PJs. So I leave the kids in front of the electronic babysitter, and run upstairs to shower and change.
Big mistake.
The kids use the 10 minutes it takes for me to do this to go outside, and perform a Rat Burial.
Donning plastic gloves, they scoop the rat up in a cup and place him in a lunchbox coffin.
Then they partially bury the rat in the garden. Partially, because before they can finish, the dogs take the opportunity to sneak inside and clean up the breakfast leftovers. Well, they are labbies!
And somehow, the back screen door falls off its hinges. Chaos reigns.
I come downstairs to screaming – though thankfully no one is hurt.
Chase blames the dogs. Harmonie blames Chase AND the dogs, which is probably the most likely scenario.
“But Mum, we just wanted to give Rattie a funeral,” says Harmonie.
“Yeah, we just want to be able to visit him every day so he doesn’t get lonely,” adds Chase.
Well, you can’t argue with that logic.
I quickly dust the kids over for rat germs and we leave, late as usual, for school.
Just a typical morning here then.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Show and tell

Pic: Harmonie at Cockington Green Gardens, where she purchased the ill-fated snow globe ...

I was pretty pleased with myself yesterday, when I remembered that it was Harmonie’s day for Show and Tell.
In the name of fairness, all the kids at prep get a turn at Show and Tell on their rostered day. Heaven help the parent who forgets, and sends their child to school with nothing to show or talk about!
When I asked Harmonie what she wanted to take to school, there was no hesitation: “My snow globe!” she said excitedly.
Harmonie’s snow globe is her favourite thing ever. She bought it at the gift shop at Cockington Green Gardens on our recent trip to Canberra, with her very own pocket money. It was a bargain - $5.50, down from quite a lot more.
With a cute green frog inside, it wasn’t the usual thing I thought she’d go for – she bypassed the fairies and cuddly animals she usually favours – but she loved it.
It’s a snow globe. It’s from Canberra (which the kids loved). She used her own money. She could afford it. So it's extremely special.
Since then, I’ve been paranoid about her breaking it – and have saved it from tumbling to the floor on more than one occasion.
But I wasn’t worried about it breaking at school. The kids give their precious possessions to their teacher on arrival, and she carefully looks after them and returns them at the end of the day.
So we reverently wrapped the snow globe in cloth and placed it in Harmonie’s backpack, which I usually carry into school (I know I should make the kids carry them, but the bags are usually so heavy that I worry about the impact on their little backs).
Just before we left though, Harmonie brought me a little Dora The Explorer handbag Nanna bought her back from a visit to the US some time ago.
“Mumma, I want to put it in this, then I can show everyone my bag too,” she said.
We were running late as usual, so in my infinite wisdom, and in the name of getting out the door without a tantrum, I agreed. I figured the bag would protect the globe from any unexpected knocks or bumps. You know where I’m going with this, right?
We got to school. I’m carrying the backpacks, and helping to support Chase, who is throwing a wobbly – literally – pretending he can’t walk in his new sports shoes. (He is a terrible actor by the way!)
Harmonie spots a friend and runs ahead of us, swinging her handbag wildly in excitement.
“Harmonie,” I begin … but it’s too late. As if in slow motion, the bag falls to the ground and there is a sickening crunch.
Her little face crumpled into tears.
“It might be okay,” I say hopefully, as I pick up the bag and inspect it. Water spurts out of it, and inside, are shattered shards of glass.
“I’m sorry Harms, it’s broken,” I say, as Chase complains “Mum you’re getting water on my bag!”
Typical male. His sister's heart is breaking, and all he can think about is the effect on him! On the plus side, the drama has made him forget the fact that he supposedly can't walk.
Harmonie is inconsolable.
And to my shame, as we walk into school, I can’t help but admonish her. “Why were you swinging your bag like that?" I say. “You knew your snow globe was in it!"
Then I felt like a terrible mother. Harmonie wasn't being naughty. She was just being a happy little kid.
Guiltily, I stop, get down to her level, give her a big cuddle and tell her it will be okay, that we’ll get her another one somewhere else.
In class, her teacher is, as usual, wonderful.
“You know what Harmonie, I once did the very same thing,” she says kindly. “It’s okay, these things happen.”
I love the teachers at my children’s’ school.
By the time I leave, Harmonie’s tears are drying and there’s a hint of a smile.
When I pick her up at the end of the day, she’s happy again and the incident is forgotten.
“Did you have a good day?” I ask, as she skips ahead of me.
“Yeah,” she says. “Fun.”
And that was that.
It’s Chase’s turn for Show and Tell next week. Remind me not to let him take anything breakable!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

The art of Mother's Day

Today, being Mother’s Day, I was woken by a couple of excited kids and bemused husband.
The kids had spent $5 of their own money at the school’s Mother’s Day stall, and wrapped their pressies (very creatively) themselves. Of course, I had to pretend not to see the presents on a couple of occasions – eg, on the way out of school, when one of Chase’s gifts, a colourful soft flower in a flower pot, tumbled out onto the ground in front of me!
I was amazed at the amount of thought they put into their gifts though.
Apart from the flower pot, Chase had packed a couple of pens, scissors (probably because I’m always shouting that I can’t find any), a frame he’d found in the gift cupboard at home, into which he’d put a photo of himself, and the best thing: A book of coupons he made at school. They’re each good for things like a free foot rub, hassle-free homework evening, and room tidy. He’s also gone crazy making home-made cards. Gotta love his teacher!
Harmonie had purchased a gift-set of smelly goodies – bath crystals, body lotion, body butter, shower gel and sponge. Given they cost $5, I’m not sure what the quality will be like – but it’s the thought that counts. She also made a card, a magnet, and a placemat at school. Very cute.
Kyle had given me an early Mother’s Day present a few weeks ago, so I could use it on our recent family trip to Canberra – my digital camera. I also scored some cute cat earrings from Canberra’s Old Bus Depot markets, and a CD.
Afterwards, the kids excitedly helped set up for an outdoor barbecue breakfast. Nanna – Kyle’s Mum, joined us. The weather in the mornings is gorgeous this time of year. Warm, but not too hot. It was a bit more work than going to a restaurant, but so much more relaxing.
So we ate too much, and relaxed in the sun for a while. I was tempted to start the day with my favourite bubbly, but decided that sunshine plus wine so early in the day, may not mix!
We had a lazy day, during which time I rescued the kids from child-eating spiders, cooked lunch, cleaned up after breakfast, made a cardboard crocodile, and wiped a couple of snotty noses. Not too different to normal then!
This afternoon, we drove out to Paddington to take a look at a new coffee and chocolate place that had supposedly opened there. I was really looking forward to a couple of hand-made chocolates and a decent coffee. Guess what? It wasn’t there! Obviously, they’ve gotten a bit ahead of themselves on their website.
Very disappointing. We ended up having noodles on the way home instead.
The monsters fought like cats and dogs in the car, so they’ve now been banished to their rooms while I write this and Kyle plays Warcraft.
The silence is bliss – and maybe the best Mother’s Day gift I could have asked for!
I hope you had a happy one too!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Bedtime blues

Pic: If only they were always like this...

I hate bedtime.
Not mine – the kids'.
I especially hate it when their father is away, and the responsibility for getting them to bed on time – and having a crack at a decent day at school/prep the next morning – is all mine.
I am a crap mother when it comes to bedtime.
When Kyle is here, it’s easier to be tough. To ignore them longer, put on a TV show, or tell Kyle: ‘It’s your turn’ to soothe/placate/chastise/discipline or whatever.
But when he’s not … well, I’m afraid I turn into Girly Mumma.
How I let two little kids wind me around their fingers, I don’t know. But often I end up letting them slip into bed with me. Anything for a quiet life!
Part of it is that I’m always so damn tired.
Arthritis, plus the daily routine of a working Mum, really takes it out of me. Half the time, I’m falling asleep on the couch, waiting for THEM to fall asleep.
Sometimes, when hubby is away, it’s just easy to limp upstairs, climb into bed, and invite the rugrats to do the same.
They do tend to sleep well then. And I love that special cuddle time.
But my quality of sleep? That’s another matter.
My little girl Harmonie, loves nothing more than cuddling my feet as she goes to sleep. She slips into the bottom of the bed, grabs a foot, hugs it, and is out for hours. But that’s fine, because once she’s asleep, she barely moves.
Chase, on the other hand, is a real male. That’s because he sighs, farts, snores, burps, talks and wiggles – all night! I’m usually exhausted by morning. That's if I haven't gotten up in the middle of the night, insomnia-induced, and caught up on work!
So here I am, guiltily blogging, while I try to ignore the activity upstairs as I wait for them to finally sleep.
Who will win? Them or me?
Well, that depends.
I’m sure I have a bottle of wine here somewhere…

Monday, May 5, 2008

Canberra - just capital!

The kids making friends at Tuggaronong Beach ...
So, here we are, back from a week in sunny, but cold, Canberra.
I think I’ve mentioned before that my husband’s work often takes him away from home.
Well, as it happens, a lot of the time, he’s in our nation’s capital, Canberra
Because single parenting in a married household is not always conducive to a happy family home, this week, the kids and I packed up and spent a week with Kyle while he was working away from home.
To be honest, I wasn’t too fussed on the idea. At first.
Holidays for us tend to involve beaches. Sun. Surf. Sand. And the availability of both of us, to share the parenting.
Instead, we had Canberra. It’s cold. It’s full of politicians. And public servants. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…) But how much fun would it be for a family? And with Kyle working, how easy would it be for a lone parent, to entertain the kids?
It started with a two-day drive (and that’s a whole other story!) followed by a week of me playing tourist with Chase and Harmonie. Finally, we had to fly home again (thank goodness – I don’t know if I’d have managed another long-distance Road Trip) for a busy week at school.
But you know what? It was CAPITAL! (Sorry – I can’t help but make a poor pun).
Apart from the looooonnnnggg drive, which started with “Are We There Yet” (From Harmonie, less than 10 minutes after we’d set off), and more cries of “I need to go to the toilet” and “I’m hungry” than I can count, we made it.
While Kyle went diligently off to work each day, the kids and I did the sights.
Partly in the name of research – I’m writing a series of travel stories on family-friendly destinations – but partly in the name of educating the kids about their history and having fun too.
And there was much more to do in Canberra for families than I ever dreamed of.
Here are a few highlights:
- A tour of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). Initially, the kids weren’t interested in seeing where our elite athletes are trained. “Boring” said Chase, as I tried to find my way there in time for the tour. But after the tour – and an up-close encounter with members of the Australian gymnastics, water polo and volleyball teams – the kids gave their verdict: “Awesome!”
- The National Zoo and Aquarium. With an emphasis on animal rescue and conservation, our kids came face-to-face with King Cheetahs, Tigons, Lions, Giraffes, and gorgeous Capuchin monkeys. Also a sun bear, rescued from animal traffickers in Asia.
- Parliament House. The kids loved seeing where Daddy spends many working hours, and where important decisions are made.
- Questicon. The science and technology centre, which is hands-on for kids and turns learning into fun.
- The Canberra Deep Space Communications Centre. Where we were given details on current space explorations, and got to listen to sounds from space.
Getting around was easy too. The roads are mostly well-signposted, and not as busy as I'm used to in Brisbane. I did have to watch out for speed demons and mean drivers though ... Canberra drivers certainly didn't seem to be as courteous as those in Brisbane.
Restaurant staff seemed relaxed at having the kids there. (Unlike Brisbane, where turning up with kids can be like turning up with the devil’s spawn. Or maybe that’s just our kids!)
Just one we encountered didn’t cater to kids, but the chef happily offered to produce two of the normal meals in a half-size (and half-price) for the ankle-biters. And they lapped it up. As for me, I’d rather pay for quality, real food than mass-produced junk food, any day.
In the name of finances, we stayed at ‘Tuggers’, a nick-name which caused no end of mirth. It's actually the local name for Tuggaronong, about 20 minutes from the city centre, where we got a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment for the price of a room in the CBD.
Across the road, was a fabulous park – complete with a lakeside ‘beach’ – and a huge shopping centre, which included a cinema.
On the way home, the Qantas staff were surprisingly nice to our kids, even producing an extra kiddie-kit when one did not have all the inclusions of the other. (In the past, my family-flying experiences with Qantas have been less than stellar).
So we made it home in one piece. - glad to get home to our very-happy-to-see-us dogs and cats, and the warmer weather. But surprisingly sorry that our Canberra holiday was over.
And for me, that's always the mark of a good holiday.