Thursday, 21 November 2013

When your child isn't as nice as you'd always hoped.

Issy is NOT one of these I'm afraid.

I have a nasty feeling Issy may not always be a lovely child.

I don't think the situation is as dire as last year when I thought she called another child a name commonly given to a small sightless burrowing animal.   You can read that harrowing story here.

But sometimes she's not very nice.

Example 1.

Two weeks ago she came home with a new Beanie Boo.  Now a Beanie Boo (BB) is a smallish stuffed toy with freakishly large eyes. They are the current Kindy and Year 1 craze.  Girls and sometimes boys are frequently seen sitting in a circle, BB's in laps, discussing their various attributes, changing their names umpteen times and inventing role plays.

Sounds nice and lovely doesn't it?  Unless you:

a. Don't have one.
b. Have one but want two.
c. Have two but want three etc
d. Have a pink one but want a blue one.
e. Have a bear but want a dog/turtle/cat...
f.  Have one but left it at home.
g. Have one but your Mum stole it to wash it because it's disgusting.

In any of the above cases, playing with BB's is a cause for angst, agony and a lot of whinging at home.  So much that any existing BB's are at great risk of ending up in the bin.

Issy has one white (now a nasty grey) BB.  When she came home with another very similar BB (even down to the dirt) I was surprised.  She assured me her friend G had said she could have it for the whole night.  So the new BB slept over and went back to school the next day.

I had reason to be up at Issy's class that day and happened to see G.  I thanked her for letting Issy borrow her BB for the night.  G, who is not a shy child, said crossly to me.

"I DIDN'T say she could have it for the night.  I SAID she could just have it for the afternoon and she took it ANYWAY."

Oh dear.

I apologised profusely, said it would never happen again and confronted Issy that afternoon.  She looked suitably sheepish.  She said she would apologise the next day.  I reinforced the importance of listening to your friends and not just doing what you want all the time.

I don't think she listened.  I think as far as she's concerned, what she wants to do is right and fair and good and other people and their feelings are just pawns in her game of life.

Example 2.

It's mufti day at school.  She picked out a very conservative (for her) pair of flowery board shorts and a blue tshirt to wear.  She is very conscious of the sun safe rules after many, many arguments over tank tops and dresses when she was younger.  At the last minute, disgusted by my desire that she wear runners, she put on a pair of cowboy boots and a denim jacket.

You know, even at 6 years old, that kid knows how to rock an outfit.  After years of fashion fear and faux pas of my own I am totally enthralled by her ability to dress.

Up at school her good friend T was wearing a beautiful long stripy flowing dress.  Issy would have been jealous because it was beautiful, and exactly the kind of dress I would veto.  It really was beautiful.  The other thing she also noticed and announced to me in a loud voice was that it was a tank style and therefore not sun safe.  I told her it didn't matter and she wasn't say a word.

Of course she did.  As soon as my attention was diverted I saw her swan up to T, and say something.  T, who up until that point had been laughing and playing, visibly slumped.  Another friend took her hand and they went to sit near their bags.

Issy the biatch strikes again.  Goodness knows how she actually phrased it.  I dread to think.

You know that feeling when you've made an effort and you're feeling pretty, and someone says something totally deflating.  We've all felt it.  I just watched someone feel it.

Even at 6.  It's possible.


Looking at that smile, you wouldn't think it possible...

I am devo.

Over I went, grabbed her arm and took her straight to T and made her apologise.  T, who is quite spirited herself, took a while to come around.  But she is a good sport and they were friends again by the time they went upstairs.

I need to get across to Issy, that if you do that sort of stuff to people, after a while, they stop forgiving you.  They'll find a friend who builds them up not brings them down.  They'll find a mate who listens instead of ignoring their wishes.

She's only 6 and she has a good heart.  I really don't think she sees how hurtful she can be.  But she is so touchy herself when her siblings tease her.   A classic case of happy to dish but can't take.  

I'm her mum and I love her so, but if these are just two incidents I've seen, goodness knows what she's getting up to when I'm not there.
One thing I know, I had a tough time at school, and I'm not going to EVER let my child be the cause of another kid's tough time.  I can see some battles ahead.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Pelicans and Fitbits and family love.

For my birthday I asked for and received a Pelican.  

I so love this bird. 
His name is Peli (imaginative...not) and he will guard our house from the front when it is done.  For now though, he will sit at the back where he is safe.

He is very beautiful.  

I also asked for, and received a Fitbit.  

It's a tiny black bracelet thing that sits on my wrist and measures my steps so I do 10,000.  And it helps me track my calories and water intake so I can be healthy.  

Because when you're 42, you need to be healthy.  

So, far it's 8:56 and I have taken no steps.  Today may not be a good day to start my fitness thing.  

We are going out to brunch with my gorgeous sister and nephew which will be awesome.  I only plan to walk about 25 steps from the car to the cafe.  Not good for the Fitbit.

The table at the cafe.  Before we messed it up.  
Then tonight I am being taken to the revolving restaurant in the city.  Not the Centrepoint one, the other one.  Because I am a retro loving dag from the 80s and that's what I wanted to do.

I think the kids will get a kick out of it.  And I will get a kick out of them getting a kick out of it.  Except I'm sure they think it's going to whirl around like something at Luna Park.  Must remember to adjust their expectations. 

My poor, poor husband works in the same building as the restaurant  and is a bit sad he has to go there on a Sunday night.  It's like torture for him.  When I asked to go, the potential trauma he might suffer at having to return to his workplace on the weekend didn't really occur to me.  Now I feel bad, but not bad enough to give up going to a revolving restaurant.  

I hope he will be OK.  

I have been brought the perfect cup of tea by a one armed 10 year old.  I have been sat on by a very affectionate 6 year old.  And I have been given the third degree about how a Fitbit works by a very inquisitive 8 year old.  

The kids gave me amazing and very beautiful dangly green earrings.  I gave myself a little hand held purse that fits money and a phone.  This I can take up to school 

Sarah has made me a one armed, heart shaped chocolate cake.  I have been cuddled and kissed and stroked and patted and feel very, very loved.  

I love birthdays and I love all my people.  You know who you are.  

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Transformations and falling off the Jim Beam.

My house is transforming.

No longer can I say to new visitors.  It's the big red brick monstrosity.

As of this morning I can say: It's the big grey brick house.

Because with the new colour and the fancy pants new front window, it looks quite nice.

In fact, to me, it's amazing and beautiful.  I keep going outside and looking at it.

Of course, there is still a great deal of scaffold but you can get the gist.

At the back, the large conifer crazy hedge that has dominated our back garden since we've owned the house and who knows how long before that, has been ruthlessly trimmed.

It's hard to explain, but to see our neighbours roof and that much sky, is amazing.  
We can see our neighbours houses and roof.  From the top floor we can see water.  And there is so much more light.  I always knew they were ugly, overgrown, horrible trees but never realised how much sun they stole.

They're gone.  Well mostly gone.  My back deck is a new place entirely.  

Transformed I tell you.

And finally.  On a less cheerful note.

Last night I got the much dreaded, come and pick your wounded child up from gym phone call.  Sarah had taken a nasty fall off the balance beam and landed on her straight arm.  She was in SO MUCH pain.  Every bump in the road to the hospital was torture for my poor baby girl.

Still smiling.  She did like the wheelchair.  
On the wise advice of a mate with a recently broken armed daughter, we drove to Royal North Shore, were quickly triaged and X-rayed and even though they couldn't find a break, decided, based on her level of pain and how far she fell, to put it into a cast anyway.

Can I just say, Royal North Shore's new emergency department is fabulous.

Apparently due to swelling or growth plates or fluid in the joints, breaks don't always show up clearly, especially on elbows.   And you don't mess with elbows.  The relief she felt once the plaster was on and the joint immobilised was massive.

We left hospital, were home just after 11pm and put her to bed.  She...wait for it...went to school today!  Talk about your stoic.

All in all, to someone who was having nasty visions of pins and surgery, getting away with a wrist to shoulder cast was almost a reprieve.

Maybe that is a transformation? From potential disaster, to not so bad?  I certainly feel like we've been let off lightly, although the poor chick is missing her State gym comp, swimming, tennis, touch football, and numerous things I've probably forgotten...talent quest?

She may not see things quite the same way as I do.  After all, I'm not the one with the cast.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

What not to do. According to me. From my vast experience.

I have a lot of wisdom to share.  Much of it trivial.  Here's what I've learned NOT to do in the last 7 days.

Don't try to spend an afternoon at Melbourne Cup on the champs, skip breakfast the next morning, drink a large coffee and then do lots of head down poses in your yoga class.

Don't put 7 red touch rugby shirts into the wash with the white tablecloth.

Don't pretend your back doesn't hurt when it does, because after a week of acting like nothing's wrong, it will just hurt more and you will be bent in a nasty S shape surviving on Nurofen Plus.

Currently keeping me mobile.
Don't ever, ever think you will do a grocery shop and successfully purchase everything your family needs for a 7 day period.  You will be doing an emergency run to the IGA within 24 hours.  I'm thinking of requesting a designated car park outside the IGA I'm there so often.

Don't accept cake baked by your lovely neighbour thinking you'll just give it to the kids for afternoon tea.  You will end up hiding it at the back of the fridge and giving it to yourself for afternoon tea.

Innocuous foil wrapped parcel.
Conceals delicious lemon tea cake.  No way I'm sharing. 
Don't think that the perfectly good sequinned leotard and skirt worn at the dance concert will cut it for the school disco with a 'sparkly' theme.  Prepare to be hit up for trips to the shops so the ideal costume can be sourced.   Don't worry, I'm holding firm on this one.

It swirls, it sparkles.  It's not enough. 
Don't think you know anything about driving into town at peak hour just because you drive that way occasionally on the weekend.  Even leaving your own suburb between the hours of 7 and 9 can become a 40 minute mission.

Don't think when the Wilson Parking sign in North Sydney says "starting from $3" that you'll actually pay anything close to that amount for parking.  That is a joke for new players.

Right, that's it.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Weekend mission impossibles. Whether you choose to accept them or not.

This weekend was a series of impossibilities.  But we are still alive and kicking...weakly.

Mission 1: Josh's Cricket Match

Mobilise a family of 5 to be at Terrey Hills for cricket at 7:45 am on Saturday morning.

Ha!  It was never going to happen.  I drove Issy (unfed in pyjamas) and left Sarah at home (unfed in pyjamas watching tv) and drove Josh (fed and dressed) and Mike (just dressed- luckily) up to the match and left them there.

One day I will stay for my little son's entire cricket match.  Just not one where we have to be there at stupid o'clock at stupid o'place.

Mission 2: Issy's Dance Concert

Get Issy to stage door dressed with high ponytail, headband, costume (black sequinned leotard with blue fringy skirt), socks and jazz shoes.  Apply basic makeup to someone who never stays still.

Redo ponytail 4 (yes 4) times due to fiddling.  

Complication: She was at a skateboarding party until an hour before she had to show up at the stage door.  She was overexcited on far too many fronts.

She danced, she pranced.  She does all the time anyway.
We got Issy there on time and left her backstage with her fellow blue frilly friends.  She danced and looked gorgeous (as did her mates).  She is still at point in her dance career where her teacher stands off stage at the front and does the dance facing them so they don't forget their moves.  Her teacher did this maybe 6 times (ie. for six different acts of frilly pastel sequinned madness).

Their teacher is no spring chicken, yet she is the second fittest woman I know.

After the last dance it looked like she sank to the floor and kissed the stage in utter relief that it was over.  I think she was just hoisting herself up onto the stage for the finale but I wouldn't blame her for being glad.

Watching the tiny tots dance is a highlight.  I laugh, I cry, I grab poor Josh sitting next to me and bury my face in his hair so I don't laugh out loud.  Many of Issy's mates and family friends are there, so there's someone we know in every dance.

We even get to see kids more Sarah age and older (and therefore quite accomplished dancers) doing solos and ensembles to fill out the program.   It does make a relief from the madness of the tiny kids dances.

Well, that's over for another year.  Woot!

Mission 3: Sarah's Masterchef project + host friends for Sunday lunch.

Mmmm raspberry macaroons.
Film Sarah and her mate as they create respectively, choc raspberry cake and choc macaroons, taking both still shots and short videos to give Sarah (the editor and producer of the final product) enough rough material to edit herself into a reasonable project she and her mate could present the next day.

Josh helped.  Mainly by eating the leftover cooking chocolate.  
I did all the filming and still shots while simultaneously preparing to have friends over for lunch.  Friends we really wanted to make an effort for as they had done for us in the past.  

Consequently when they arrived our kitchen bench looked like this.  Utter shambles.

When you have a big kitchen bench, you can fit a lot of shit on it.  
And our friends looked quite frightened.  As well they should.  I felt frightened myself.

Thankfully after a couple of champagnes, I was much less frightened.

Later in the afternoon Sarah busied herself with creating her project out of the photos and filming we'd done earlier.  I'd told her she was on her own.  And she took it in her stride.  

Honestly, the technology these kids have access to is amazing.  My 10 year old can now make a short film.  With the much appreciated help of one of our visitors, a very tech savvy 10 year old herself, Sarah put together a pretty decent 3.5 minute result.

After getting over their initial fear at the mess our house was in, I think our friends enjoyed themselves.

This morning I looked at our calendar for next weekend.  No less busy.  Although slightly less kid centric for once.

Got to love November.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

What Melbourne Cup and Halloween have in common.

Is Melbourne Cup to me and my peers, like Halloween is for the kids?  A philosophical discussion.

My kids start counting down to Halloween months from the date.  They ask me how many days, they talk about costumes, they make me decorate the house and dust off the decorations.  I roll my eyes, and occasionally gnash my teeth at this OTT display of dedication to the collection of sweets and the wearing of grotesque costumes.

With a mask like this it's hard to eat lollies.  
Mostly I roll my eyes at their devotion to it.  And after some nagging, I purchase and carve a pumpkin.

George II.  My own creation.  I'm very proud.
She is not cute, she is very scary.  Don't forget it. 
But wait.

I booked my kids into after school care ONE FULL YEAR before Melbourne Cup 2013.  Ie.  The day after MC last year, when I vowed never to be sitting in my car at 3:05 ever again.

Talk about costumes?  I bought a new frock.  I spoke to my friends about their frocks.  We discussed the weather and how it would impact our frock choices.  When we met on the day, we all had a big frock discussion.  Shoes, fascinators, bags and hair do's also provided conversational fodder.

Two weeks ago we went on a special shopping trip to buy Halloween decorations to hang from the scaffold.

And then last Sunday, we went on a special shopping trip just to buy my fascinator.

Ok so it's not the best shot but it's the only one where I'm alone and not subjecting anyone else to unwanted publicity.
Ok this is starting to become eerily similar.   Just to be certain, here are 5 more similarities that ring true for Halloween if you're 12 and under, or grown women if you have a Melbourne Cup lunch planned.

1.  It is anticipated with a ridiculous (unreasonable some would say) level of excitement.
2.  It's totally no fun unless you're with your friends.
3.  What you wear is fundamental to the entire event.
4.  Overconsumption of the traditional fare can be bad for you.
5.  The next day you might feel a bit wobbly from too much of 4.

It was so exciting and so much fun I want to do it all again next year.  

So I laugh and scoff at the kids dedication to and excitement about Halloween, and yet get completely beside myself at the opportunity to dress up and dine and drink champs with top chick mates.

Hypocritical yes?

The kids don't laugh at me at all, they just take it in their stride.  I really need to take a leaf out of their book.  They are much nicer than me.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Melbourne Cup Day and the beginning of the end of the year.

Since having kids, I've spent most Melbourne Cup days going about my usual business.  As we all know only too well, the unfortunate timing of the race coincides precisely with the end of school.

I've listened to the race alone in the car many times.  Poor me.

In QLD where I went to school the lack of daylight saving meant the race was at 2:05 not 3:05.  The teachers would wheel in a TV on a stand and we'd watch it.

Since having kids I've been to the occasional lunch at someone's house.  Had a glass of bubbles and some canap├ęs while the preschoolers played around us.  I even hosted a lunch a couple of years ago.

And many times prior to kids I've been at work.   Every year no matter where you work it's the same, the sweep, the 10 minutes off for the race, the platters of questionable sandwiches, dips and chips and a plastic cup of warm wine.

I'm not much of a racegoer.  But I do like wearing a nice frock and a pair of heels.

When I was growing up my Dad used to put us in his work sweep.  Every now and then we'd win and he'd bring home an envelope with cash.  It is very exciting when you are 10 and win $30.  Not much of a racing man himself, he still liked to study the form and tip a horse for the Cup.  Every year I would ask him and always bet on his chosen nag.  Never, ever have I won a cent as a result.

I don't care.  I wish I could still ask him.  

This is my first MC day with all three kids at school.   This heady freedom is making me socially excited.

I love my fascinator.  
A bunch of us are heading to a nearby restaurant for lunch and the race and post race celebrations of our luck, or lack of it.  The kids are sorted for the afternoon, I have frock, fascinator, shoes and a good attitude all ready to go.

The girls helped me choose my headgear.  They threw themselves wholeheartedly into the task.

Fashionistas of the future. 
Melbourne Cup Day seems to signify the beginning of the Silly Season.  From here on in its a series of catch ups, lunches, dinners, birthdays (mine!) and end of year celebrations.  Not to mention Christmas shopping. Time seems to go twice as fast as normal.

It's totally fun but I feel like the year is slipping away...

OK maybe I'm being a little melodramatic but you know what I mean?

Clown of the future? 


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Watching him walk away

Today Josh had his orientation at a new school.  We were running late and I was driving, so I threw he and Mike out of the car outside the front gate and went off to find a park.  No ceremony, no heartfelt farewell for his four hours away in a new environment.  

If he wished I'd been a little bit more formal in my goodbye rather than shouting 'Get out, we're in a no standing zone!' he didn't let on.  

Mike said as soon as they walked into the assembly area, he was swooped upon by a year three teacher who took Josh away.  He didn't hesitate, just went with her, not a backward glance.  

First day of pre-school.
He's not always been this together, he's had his fair share of wobbly moments, but as he gets older he's getting better. At cricket practice, he just jumps out of the car and runs off to his mates.  Not even a backward glance.  

Now he even goes on sleepovers.  

First day of school in 2011.  Look! No scaffolding.
Once he goes to this school next year, he'll be at it until he finishes year 12.  This is where we'll watch him transform from a boy into a young man.

Next year on the 28th of January, he starts.  That's 3 months.  After I picked him up he was pretty quiet.  Then on the way home in the car he told me that he didn't want to go there, but he knew he had to, so he would.  

Talk about your heartbreaker.  But I agreed with him.  Right then and there I wanted to go and hide my head back in our local primary with his sisters.

He asked if we could go to a cafe and have lunch together.  While we ate, I told him he'd make new friends and we'd keep in touch with his old ones.  I told him it was ok to feel sad, and excited, and scared all at once.

He was so stoic about it.  On that first day, he will walk away, just as he did this morning, because that's the kind of guy he is.  And as he moves through that school, he's going need us less and less.

And doesn't that just bring a tear to my eye.

Monday, 28 October 2013

2005: The year I got Joshie and went on Weight Watchers.

The first time I fell pregnant, I ate for Australia.

And after Sarah was born, she ate for Australia.

The result, by the time she was 8 months old, we looked like this.

The offending boardies.
So when I fell pregnant with Josh, I did it again.  But more.

And even though he ate loads, all my extra nom noming didn't melt away the way the extra kgs did with Sarah.

It was 2005.  The year of my sister's 50th.  We had a trip to QLD planned for early October.  I went to try on my old pink board shorts because I knew I couldn't face wearing swimmers without some type of cover up.

Come to think of it, why didn't I buy a kaftan?

Anyway I didn't, I tried on my old pink board shorts.  They were size 14.  They were so tight I popped a button on them.

I looked at my darling breastfeeding boy and knew I couldn't go on any crazy diet thing while he needed me for his entire menu.  And it had to be slow and steady and sustainable.

It wasn't about exercise. Since Josh was 6 weeks old I'd been swimming 2km 2-3 times a week and walking with the kids in the double pram.  It was about the cakes for morning tea and the chocolate after lunch and the big servings and the dessert every night.

Sure, I was feeding a hungry boy, but this was ridiculous.  I needed me some motivation and education.

At Clontarf, while busting out of my size 14 board shorts, I met a friend of a friend who had lost 10kg on Weight Watchers.  She looked awesome.  Our mutual friend (my next door neighbour) and I made a pact to do it ourselves.  Our other side neighbour said she'd do it too.  She had a set of scales. We would weigh in every Friday.

I made my sisters 50th in QLD my last hurrah.  I ate everything I could.  Once I got home, I was going to be serious healthy.

Weight Watchers sent me lots of stuff, told me how much extra I could eat because I was feeding Josh. I made wraps with lean meat and salad veges, I made vege cous cous, I measured meals.  I found lots of delicious dishes which weren't packed with fat and carbs.

Mike was fully into it and very supportive.  Although he wasn't happy when I told him he'd have to do a half marathon to work off a big bag of Kettle Chips.  I was full of handy bits of info like this.

When the three of us who were weighing in together joined forces for our regular Friday afternoon get togethers (aka Friday drinks), we ate carrot and celery sticks.  No more brie, no white castello, just home made salsa and guacamole.

We still drank wine.  Some things never change.

I started just after the October long weekend.  I think it was the 11th.  I was 72kg.

Look at those chubby cheeks.  Mine!  
By Christmas I was 61kg.   Those pink board shorts were a distant memory.  They fell off me.

On our way to a Christmas function.  I grew my hair at the same time.   
By the end of Jan I was 57kg.  I could hardly believe it.  My whole attitude to food had changed.  I ate carefully, my portions were smaller, I didn't need as much.  Instead of having one chip/choc/lolly and then eating a whole packet, I'd just not have the first one.

Since I was 10 I'd been a 'fat' kid. Then I'd been a well padded adult. Now I was at my goal weight.  Weight Watchers sent me a little badge.

Of course, after all those years of struggling, I'm still fat on the inside, and occasionally lose the plot and creep back up to 60.  I still have to force myself to try on the small rather than the medium.  In fact I still buy a lot of medium.  Just because I'm within cooee of a healthy BMI doesn't mean I don't have unfortunate bulgy bits that aren't best covered with a flowing shirt or frock.

So that's my story.  I'm not telling it because I want to be congratulated.  I'm just telling you because it's a story that's a massive part of me.  It's still massive.  I will never be relaxed about it.

I think I wasted most of my teens and 20s worrying because I was overweight and hating how I looked.  My wardrobe was dowdy, my style was nondescript.  I just wanted to blend.  

I want my girl's story to be different.  I'll do everything in my power to make them see themselves differently to the way I did, to revel in being young and strong and gorgeous.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

This I don't know for sure.

Thing I know 1.

Scaffolding is an excellent medium to hang Halloween decorations from.  We now have a bat, two spider webs, a tattered curtain and an inflatable skeleton hanging from the front of our house.

George II is still a pumpkin.  He needs to become a Jack O Lantern and fast.

Part of the scaffolding on the middle level is below my head height.  I have a lump on my head to prove it.

Thing I know 2.

Josh is a curious lad who asks a lot of questions.

I had to do canteen on Friday and Josh was still fairly sick (although whoop free thank goodness).  He came out and watched me cut and wrap finger buns for a little while even though he was banished to the back room for most of the time. He wanted to know about the finger buns, and how I knew how many I needed, and was the bell going soon, and did I used to eat finger buns at school and so on.

Answering Josh's questions is sort of automatic.  Mostly I just try to answer as best I can.  It really doesn't bother me unless I'm trying to reverse park or send a text that needs careful wording.
For a moment we were oblivious to the other ladies in the canteen, until I looked up to see all three of them staring at us.


Thing I know 3.

Game of Thrones.  Is Awesome!

Just discovered it on Apple TV.  Still watching first series.  But my oh my.  It's a bit graphic but beautifully done.

Mike and I are a bit slow on the uptake with this program.  But we're catching up at the rate of two episodes a night.  Watch out.

Thing I don't know 1.

I spent more than 12 consecutive hours in bed last night.  I wasn't asleep for all of them, but I was reading, resting and regenerating.  And I still felt tired.  Am I just really tired or is something wrong with me?

Thing I don't know 2.

My big girl.  She is growing up.  Sometimes I worry about her.  Who am I kidding? All the time I worry about her.  Her happiness is still something I can influence, but not for long, I can feel it.

Thing I don't know 3.

Will my reno ever be done?  I think I'm suffering mid reno slump.  I have absolutely nothing to complain about regarding how things are going but right now it feels like we've always been renovating and will continue to do so forever.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

No longer a Halloween humbug

George I.  Note ragged old curtains and old window.  Gone.  All gone.  
Halloween is coming, and I'm strangely excited.  I normally hate Halloween so I'm not sure what's going on.  I'm not even in denial.

Tomorrow my Halloween related plans include

1. Going around all the Kindy and year 1 classes dressed as a ghost to advertise the upcoming Halloween School Fun Day

2. Buying a pumpkin to roll as part of the Fun Day obstacle course

3. Visiting the $2 shop to buy large skeletons to hang off the scaffolding

I've been through the Halloween box of stuff.  Cleaned all the building detritus, found the green hairspray, a pitchfork and a super sized spider web, complete with massive fake spider.

Last week I bought a sign that says zombies crossing.

This Sunday our school is hosting a Halloween Hunt fun day.  It's going to be awesome.

I live in hope that this Halloween will be better for Sarah than the great whooping cough debacle of 2012.  
Last years loot and whooping cough infected zombie. 
I also hope the pumpkin survives being part of the Fun Day and we can carve it out and create    George II.

I'll be prepared with oodles of (individually wrapped) confectionary to hand out.  I'll take the kids down the Halloween street in our suburb.  Then we can come back and hand out some more.

I'm genuinely excited.  It's so much easier and more pleasant than dreading it.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Babies are easier to take care of than older children. Discuss.

I think newborns are heaps easier to take care of.  I'm not saying they're easy overall, just easier.  

I first realised this when I held my tiny, sleeping newborn boy in my arms and watch my seemingly enormous but in fact, still very tiny 22 month old walk in to the hospital room, fall over something, get up, climb the couch, climb the bed, pat the brother, ask for a biscuit, kiss me, drop crumbs on the brother, drop crumbs everywhere, and throw the mother of all tantrums when she had to go home.

My heart ached for her, but my goodness, she seemed such hard work compared to the small, velvety suckler/sleeper I was holding.
See!  Double trouble and little velvety quiet bundle.  
Apart from anything else, he couldn't talk and ask why 50 times a day!  Sarah talked early and often and why was one of her first and most favourite words.

Same thing happened when Issy was born, except there were two of them rampaging through the hospital room and Issy seemed so tiny and peaceful.  Although a bit too yellow as it turned out.  Ultra violet crib time.

These days I often maintain three simultaneous conversations, ranging from subjects as simple as the location of a pair of shoes, to detailed negotiations over lunchbox items, all the way up to what a condom is and what happens when it breaks (thanks Grease the Musical).

Babies don't invade your headspace.  And you don't have to get into theirs.  As long as they're fed, milked, warm and cuddled, you don't have to worry about what they're thinking.

I'm finding parenting much, much harder now, because I'm taking care of their minds, not just their bodies.  The feeding, watering, clothing part is easy.  Now I have to help them grow from beautiful babies into beautiful adults.

And I mean on the inside.

So, Josh had a moment on Saturday.  Playing tennis, as a reserve, in a comp game for the first time since May, his serves weren't going in and he was rattled.  He's not a great server at the best of times, but it was a singles match of four games, he was down by 2-0 and about to lose the third.

 He's OK at tennis but he lost his mojo.  I know now, part of parenting is mojo restoration.  
In his level you get two chances to serve and then a donkey drop.  Poor Josh had worked himself into such a state, he couldn't even get his donkey drops in.  I could tell by his body language that he was struggling.  I got up and stood next to the fence, so he knew I was present, not reading the paper or chatting.  

He looked at me, blue eyes full of tears and shook his head in a hopeless way.  I knew he wanted to stop, forfeit, go home, give up.  The look on his face made my heart hurt.

But I couldn't let him give up.  And as his Mum, it was up to me to convince him not to.  Abandoning all hopes of not being a helicopter parent I went onto the court (parents often do this but I'd always said I never would which of course, means it's only a matter of time) so I was right there where he could see me.

I coaxed him to stay and finish the game.  He came for a quick hug and said he couldn't breathe.  He was panicking.  Poor little dude.  He is 8 and it's an orange ball tennis comp, not the Australian Open.  Mike and I have never put pressure on him  and he's always done well enough and been quietly confident.  But he was desperate not to let his team down and had got himself into a state.

His teammate H is Josh's oldest mate and a close family friend.  He was awesome in support.  He stuck with Josh, acting as his ball boy through his last service game and encouraging his every move.

Between us, H and I coaxed Josh to a win in the last game, leaving it 3-1 and Josh then had a breather until his doubles match.  He sat on my lap and begged not to go back.  He wanted to quit, wanted to go home, couldn't serve, wasn't good.

It took all my powers of persuasion to keep him from leaving.  That and the fact that he couldn't drive.

I told him that while he might feel short term relief if he walked away, he'd feel bad about it soon enough, and regret it.  But if he stayed and saw it through, and maybe even won, he'd be glad always.

And anyway, Christensens don't give up.

And do you know, he went back on, and they won.  By one game.  He got a few serves in, his mojo came back in a rush and he played well (not brilliantly) for the rest of the match.

I am so proud of him.  And I'm so pleased he could experience what I meant about how you feel when you see a tough situation through.

I know my newborn experiences are now gently shrouded in the warm and fuzzy mists of time but that was a tough gig.

So, what's the hardest stage to parent? Newborn, primary school child?  Or is it the dreaded teenage years that are the hardest?

Can't speak for the teenage part yet but it's coming at me like a freight train.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

What's with the helpless optimism?

I'm an optimist.  I've always been proud of it.  It's got me through some hard times.
Is this wine glass half empty? Or half full? 
When you're waiting for something, a delivery, a taxi, an exam result, it's always easier to think it's just about to arrive than thinking it's never going to come.

When you have a shocker, lose your purse or your phone, it's easier to find a bright side.  You know, lucky it didn't happen last week when I had more cash in it, my contract was about to expire anyway, you can cheer yourself up in no time.

Another example: every single day, I make a cup of tea when I get up.  Over 2 weeks here's what happens to it:

Drunk before leaving the house: 3 times.
Left on the bench, heated up in microwave and drunk before midday: 5 times.
Left on the bench, heated up and drunk by school pick up: 4 times.
Poured sadly down the sink at dinnertime: twice.

Why do I bother?  Based on those stats, it's clearly not worth it.  But I have stupid faith in the three times I do get to drink it.

Although sometimes I think optimism can go too far.

Like when I made a cup of tea this morning at 6:20.  I knew I had to leave the house at 6:25.  I was never going to drink the damn thing.  But it's so comforting to sip hot tea before going out into the world.  I sipped at it until I got a text message telling me to hurry the hell up.

It was unforgivably rude on my part to keep others waiting while I tried to inhale a hot drink.  Why is my cup of tea worth more than other people's time?

It's not.  And I'm sorry.  I just got lost in the sipping and optimism of the moment.

On Friday, my undrunk cup of tea took on a sinister role, when it was tipped over right next to my laptop (by a fridge door hitting a cupboard door and it could have been any of us opening the fridge).

Most of the cup went on the bench (the wireless router and the Sonos speaker copped it a bit but after a good drying and cleaning both remain in good form) but the keyboard was liberally splashed.  I know from painful experience that this is a very bad thing for laptops because they keep their brain just under their keyboard.

I stayed calm, and it seemed to be ok so I took the kids to school, went for a coffee with the girls and returned home to work.  It was only after spending a few hours on an important project with a deadline that afternoon that I realised it wasn't charging and was down to 20%.  Possibly (certainly) due to the fact that a river of tea flowed past the charger connection point that morning, no doubt killing it forever.

I went mad with the back up disk, saved a pile of things to dropbox and sadly closed the lid at 5%.  By that time it was too late to get to the Mac shop (yes I should have taken it earlier but it seemed OK!).  I took it first thing Saturday morning (that is, first thing after cricket, in the small gap before tennis).

The young (goodness they're getting younger), man at the shop said it didn't look good.  But he said I might get away with just getting a new something board, or maybe a new thingummy, but we would have to wait for the technician to come in on Monday and look at it.  He checked his files.  I had 20 (count them) days left on my warranty.

See! At least I didn't spill tea on it on the 9th of November!  Optimism!

And I'm staying hopeful.  Why?

Because it's not nearly as much liquid as this time last year when I tipped an entire glass of sparkling mineral water right into the keyboard.  (It died, immediately and a new laptop was the result)

Because it kept working beautifully all day long and I only stopped because it was about to run out of charge.  So it can't be that bad?

Because the kids have a laptop identical to mine, which I have appropriated and on which I am typing right now.  Sure, they're a little put out, but too much screen time is bad for them anyway.

Because I am foolishly, helplessly and unstoppably optimistic.

The twelve year old Mac expert said I'd probably made it worse by working on it all day.  I tried to look like I didn't care.

Tomorrow will tell whether I'm really an optimist, or just a fool.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Honk if you like scaffolding

Phase 2 has begun.  The top floor.  In order to avoid tramping through the pristine haven they have created for us downstairs, they have built a rather complex scaffold situation.  

It has levels, it has stairs, it has corners.  It encloses the house on three sides.  

I wonder where my house has gone...
 Then, they built a platform over the stairwell.  Then they nailed us in.  We can no longer go upstairs.  And more importantly for my cleaning efforts, the dust will find it harder to come downstairs. It will still come.  It's sneaky stuff.

New temporary platform.

The ending at the top of the stairs.  My new floor is very dustified. 
Once the plywood went on we lost internal access to upstairs.  Now we need to climb the scaffold to get to the top floor.  You need nerves of steel and a head for heights.  And a key.

Just before the final board went into place, I took a photo of upstairs, mainly the floor.  
Now the builder can approach me on his terms, it's no longer possible for me to pop down to see him and ask questions 40 times a day. I have to climb the scaffold which I'm (just quietly) a bit scared of.

I reckon I'm going to text him instead.  That will shit him to tears.

I'd show you pictures of upstairs, which is almost totally ripped up already, but I can't get up there.

They even found the worlds biggest ants nest in the window seat/cupboard in Mikes and my old room. I think there may have been a billion ants.  At least a million.  It was revolting.

The labourer was so freaked out he snatched the Mortein from my hand and sprayed the bejeezus out of them until they were all dead.  He used half the can to do so.  The builder and I just stood there, mesmerised by the revoltingness.


Phase two has begun.  The final phase of my final renovation.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Feeling Slimey

Yup, there it is...
Ever heard of Slimefest?  No? Lucky you.  Keep reading to hear all about it...

We went to Slimefest.  Me, Sarah, Josh, Sarah mate, her brother and their Mum, my mate M.

We were last minute entries due to the inability to attend of M's friend.  When she asked me, I didn't know what it was.  But the kids did.  The squealing and begging was hard to resist, and I love hanging out with M cause she is tops.  So off we went.

M assured me about 50 times that I would not get slimed, that I was away from the slime, that I would stay warm and dry and non green.

So, Slimefest.  Put on by the Foxtel channel Nickelodeon, it's a concert of fair to middling performers doing 1-2 songs each, totally biased towards the tween and early teen market, and (totally bizarrely in my opinion) interspersed with intervals where the entire mosh pit audience is sprayed with green slime.

Note: I have no idea what it's made of but it if it dries on your skin, you have to scrape it off.  It is, according to the hosts of SF, non toxic.  It comes out of clothes in a normal wash.  I know this now.

Big orange balloons full of?  Not slime, thank goodness.  Glitter. 

There are several ways to be slimed:  

From above
Over the audience is a big whirly thing that looks a bit like the dough hook in a mixmaster.  At various points during the 90 minute show slime comes spraying out of it.  A siren goes off first.  At this point, all the kids run into the middle of the room and try to stand under it.  All the adults run to the sides of the arena and stand with their backs to the wall, eyes closed, trying to get to their happy place.  

From the front
At other times during the show, people come out onto the stage with enormous, industrial sized super soakers and spray slime from the front.  Usually the hosts and any nearby performers cop it too.  The B grade celebrities who also appear as bit players in the heavily staged events, get totally slimed.  They look like they're having fun.  Maybe I would too, if I was being paid for it.

Incidental sliming
This is the scariest because it's so unexpected.  This occurs when your slimed child forgets that he or she is covered in green goo and gives you a hug.  Lightening fast reflexes are your friend here and if you're quick you can grab them by the shoulders and keep them away from you, while still finding a slime free spot on their head to kiss.

When we arrived we joined a queue (actually we queue jumped, M is a shameless and very talented queue jumper and within seconds had struck up a conversation with the person she pushed in front of, rendering the situation completely neutral).  Then she discovered that we were in the wrong queue and general admission entry was elsewhere, we were in the line to get into the allocated seating.

No allocated seat?  General admission?  This was starting to sound scary.

If you look closely you can see flying green strings of the stuff. 
And it was just as scary as I feared, we quickly found ourselves heading downstairs and onto the floor of the arena.  The mosh pit.  Yep.  I was in a mosh pit.  Packs of crazed teens cruised around trying to find entry into the heaving crush of kids pushing towards the stage.  Our four kids made a couple of attempts to get through the crowd to the front and returned, failing to find a way in.

From our position on the edge of the GA area we could see we weren't going to get slimed.  Unless we wanted to.  The slime only happened in the middle of the floor and the sides were slime free.  I was still very nervous.  As we stood watching the madness, a massive camera on a boom swung down towards us, with kids jumping and screaming and trying to get in front of it.  M and I instinctively ducked out of it's way, even though we were far from it's target market, we didn't want to be the 'horrified parents' shot.  

Eventually Sarah and her mate managed to disappear into the throng.  By crawling through people legs and thanks to the kindness and tallness of the older teens in the crowd they managed to get themselves right to the front.  Not to the stage but to the edge of the Slimepit.  Oh yes, the Slimepit.

A much coveted and quickly sold out position where you can enjoy uninterrupted access to slime and get yourself right up to that stage to scream and wave and be high fived by whoever was performing at the time.  Imagine?  No, I can't.

So the girls hung on to the edge of the slimepit and were slimed many times over.  Josh worked out when to run towards the centre and came back soaked with the stuff.  He was so happy.

He was beside himself with happiness.  What can you do?
Guy Sebastian was awesome.  Justice Crew was fabulous.  The overtly sexual fourteen year old performer who gyrated her way through two songs was not my favourite (old lady me).  And Big Time Rush, the final, much awaited act from the USA was mediocre.  By the time they came on, everyone in our group had been slimed about five times and one of the kids was feeling sick so we left.

Oh so slimy Sarah.  Don't touch me!!!!!
In the throng outside, some people had so much slime on them it was flowing off them as they walked to the carpark.  I have no idea how they cleaned themselves up enough to get into a car.

I am grateful for the opportunity.  I'm glad it's over.  Now I know what Slimefest is.  And that's enough for me.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Luna Park with Looney Parent

In the holidays, as part of our attempt to circumvent the utter chaos of our home life, we went to Luna Park.

It was an excellent way to spend some (albeit distracted) time with my sister and little nephew.

Each child took a friend to Luna Park.  Issy's friend came in the shape of her cousin who is five.  The other two were allowed to bring a mate.  Josh (my LP expert due to a couple of lucky invitations) assured me he was now the right height to wear a yellow wristband.  Yellow wristbands allow you to go on every ride in the park without an adult.

Now Josh is not a tall fellow, and I assume his mates are all either the same size or slightly (sometimes much) taller.  And he is.  Except for the mate we took with us.  Who, by the way, is awesome.

When measured, Josh's mate was officially a Green wristband.  This had far reaching effects.

1.  I could no longer stand outside rides, smugly waving at them as they were thrown around in space.

2.  I had to invest in a wristband of my own, so I could accompany my green wristed friend on any rides that demanded he have a companion.

3.  I had to GO ON SCARY RIDES.

I'd had so many plans.  For waving at them as they inched their way further forward in the queue and then, what seemed like hours later, wave at the blur I thought was them when they made it onto the ride and were taken up/down/round/back/spun.  And meet them when they came off.

Luckily (for me), Josh's mate was not incredibly adventurous.  He was happy to go on the Ferris Wheel, the dodgems, and through Coney Island, for which he needed minimal assistance.

Clowns are universal.  Any size, any height, the same crap toy can be yours. 
I did have to go on the dodgems with him.  I love the dodgems.  I am a bogan at heart.

Me (on the dodgems): 'Just pretend I'm not here mate'.
Him: 'OK'.

He then proceeded to drive like an utter maniac.  Far better than his supposedly more competent mate (driving alone) who spent most of the time driving backwards.

This is what I don't get.  Josh's mate is far more composed than Josh.  I would say, more mature.  Just shorter of stature.  So why on earth can't he drive his own dodgem?  Sure, I get that Issy can't, she can't even reach the pedals.  But I was just taking up space in that dodgem.

I took Issy on the dodgems next, she is in charge of the wheel and I am in charge of the pedal.  Occasionally I'm allowed to touch the wheel if she gets into a pickle.

So far, Luna Park was low key and very enjoyable.

Which brings me to the Flying Saucer.

The boys decided they fancied this.  It looked like a Ferris Wheel, but on it's side and faster.  It didn't look fun.  But I had to take it for the team.  Also, it fit quite a lot of people on one go so the line was short.  We walked straight on.  We stood inside a little cage.  We started to revolve.

This is not the Flying Saucer, this is the Rotor.  But this is how it felt.  Blurrrrrr... 
I shut my eyes.  Keeping them open would have been disastrous.  For about a century, we kept spinning.  Then we slowed down and stopped.

Josh' mate looked slightly green about the gills and said he might not go on any more spinning ones.  I high fived myself very quietly inside my own head.

Then I looked up at the ride as it took off again.  My heart nearly stopped beating as I realised what I'd been unable to sense with my eyes shut.  The fucking thing rose up out of it's horizontal position and whirled around vertically (like an extremely fast and demented Ferris Wheel).

While I was on it, I never realised this was happening.  Thank goodness.

While I was still contemplating what I'd just been through (without knowing), Sarah and her mate appeared, having gone on about 50,000 spinning rides, demanded fairy floss and disappeared again towards another nasty bone shaking monstrosity.

They went so fast down the slide that I kept missing them in the photo.  
My sister and I herded everyone into Coney Island where we enjoyed the relative calm of the giant slide and the thing that spins until one kid is left.  Issy nearly won this about 5 times but it was Josh's mate who eventually took victory for our group.

Issy, spinning and spinning. 
Finally we waited for what seemed like hours for the Ferris Wheel and then, when we finally got on, Issy began having hysterics and insisted she get off.  Immediately.  Which was not possible.

Navy Ship Central
Apart from all the screaming, the view from the FW was awesome, and it was two days before the Navy Review so the harbour was pumping with boats of all shapes and sizes.

And so, after such a day I would like to thank Joshie's mate who only made me go on one scary ride.  I would have gone on more if I'd had to.  I'm not sure if he was just being kind by not asking to go on any more, or if he was too embarrassed to be seen next to a shrieking middle aged Mum of his friend, or whether he really didn't like those kinds of rides much either.

Honestly, what use was I on the Flying Saucer?  In what way did I improve his ride or make him feel safer?  He was the one next to me, reassuring me it would be over soon.

Talk about your role reversal.  Josh had to take my hand and lead me off.  He was very kind.

Any Luna Park experiences to share?