Wednesday, 2 July 2014

What would Future Bec say?

See! 5 to 2.  That's it.  So simple yet so hungry. 
So all of Term 2 (9 weeks) I've been doing the 5:2 diet.  Can I call it a diet? I'm not sure if we are supposed to call it a diet.  Not when I'm supposed to be telling my kids it's just about eating healthily all the time.

So, if my kids ask, I've been doing the "5:2 eat more healthy all the time not diet".

Many people are doing this diet.  You discover this when you mention it in your local cafe and about 5 people turn around and nod.  Usually they are in the cafe over-eating because they fasted yesterday or they are eating a big lunch in preparation for fasting tomorrow or they are in collecting their small skim coffee and getting the hell out before they accidentally eat all the food in the joint.

I have spoken to people who have lost buckets of weight.  Plus, regular fasting is supposed to repair your damaged cells (brain? liver?) and do all sorts of wonderful things.  But I, after 9 weeks of abstinence on Mondays and Wednesdays, can only offer you two measly kilograms.  And my short term memory is still shocking.

That's a lot of starving for not a lot of result.  Unlike the great Weight Watchers success of 2005 which changed my life.    And I'm not doing that again unless I really blow out hugely.

So WHY?  Why does it work for Richard Glover and my friend's Dad and at least two of my girlfriends from school and not for me?

Well, the only reason I can think of is that I eat for Australia on the other 5 days, completely negating the effects of the fast.

So as I sitting here, writing and starving, with really cold feet (poor circulation due to advanced age or a fasting side effect?) I have to ask myself, why?

Well I'm excited to say I think at least part of the answer lies in an article I read recently, found on Kelly Exeter's blog.

It's by a guy called David Cain and it's called 'The elegant secret to self discipline'.

The major premise is that with every action your present self takes, you are either making life harder or easier for your future self.

For example, Present Bec drinking too much Champagne on Saturday night (because she's having such an awesome time) has the potential to make Future Bec a sad lady on Sunday.  Now that's a short term example, but there are decisions you can make now which will affect the you that are years in the future.

Sometimes it's worth it, sometimes not.

So every time I spend a day fasting and wanting to gnaw my own hand off, I think of Future Bec.  Will she be glad I did this?  And a few times a week I go for a run or a boot camp class to make me stronger and fitter.  I thought I was doing it so I could do up my jeans, but I now realise I'm also doing it for Future Bec.

This girl is clearly thinking of her future self.  Otherwise she'd be eating a Mars Bar.  
And I guess, if it's a case of Future Bec being able to get around in her advanced age better because she isn't gigantic and she can remember her own name, then I'm willing to sacrifice 1500 calories once or twice a week.

Plus I have to make up for all the times Teenaged Bec and 20's Bec spent not giving a f**k about poor old Future Bec.   I've got my work cut out for me.

Photos courtesy of tungphotos and stockimages

Monday, 30 June 2014

School holiday rules and advice for my children.

Aren't they lovely? Aren't school holidays fun? 
Dear children,

The school holidays have begun.  I know you know this.  You have been counting down the days.  So have I, but in a different way.

We now get to spend lots of time together, which I love and also don't love completely all the time.

I do love that you see me as a bottomless pit of knowledge about the location of your clothing, toys, the finer points of the soccer world cup, the rules of rugby and the exact location and availability status of your friends.  Sadly it's simply not true and I know very little about these things.  I appreciate that you think I do though, it's very flattering.

Furthermore, I don't really like being asked questions about the above subjects continuously from 6:35am until 8:05pm every day.  Just occasionally please think of this and perhaps ask me how I am feeling, or would I like a cup of tea.

Apart from you making me cups of tea, I have decided that holiday kitchen hours are to be strictly enforced.  Once the bench is clear it stays that way until the next meal.  The fruit bowl is always available, so knock yourselves out.  Going into the pantry and stealing muffin bars will only cause you to lose access to TV, or your device, or your next playdate.

Believe me, all the above punishments are just as painful to me as they are to you, so just stay out of the pantry.

We are going to spend the larger parts of several days in a car together next week.  For the love of god, please don't ask "are we nearly there yet?" while we are still in Sydney.  This has happened every time we've ever driven to Brisbane.  The earliest this question has been asked is while we were driving through St Ives, which is 15 minutes from home and 11hour and 45mins from our destination.

To assist us all in getting along, I have put together a few other requests for the next two weeks.  They are simple and achievable, and if followed, will do a lot to make the holidays a pleasant time for all.

1. If you can stand anywhere else but directly in front of the TV screen, blocking it from all other viewers, please do so.

2. If you can choose between giving your sister a headlock as she walks past, and not, choose not.

3. If you really think Issy has hypnotised me into letting her have her own way all the time, please don't tell me.  It just makes me shouty and it's not true.

4. If you ate breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack 15 minutes ago, please don't tell me you're hungry.

5. If possible, please understand that being 'ready to go' means you are wearing appropriate footwear and a jacket (not thongs and a tank top), because WINTER.

6. If you really think that holiday cereal means everyone gets their own box of Coco Pops then I'm not sure which family you've been living in before this?  Because it's never happened and never will.

7. If you want me to play a game with you, please do not suggest Game of Life or Snakes and Ladders because they drive me mad. I will not play imaginary games but will happily help set up a cubby made of sheets.  I will also happily play UNO, Kerplunk, Yahtzee or Monopoly and I will help cook baked goods because I like eating them.  

8. If I tell you to turn off your device, please don't turn on the TV and vice versa.  Non screen time will be strictly enforced so you don't all turn into zombies.  This includes my non screen time.  I know I can be as bad as any of you.

Right, that's it.  A plan for the next 15 days.  May the force be with you all.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Does this count as a parenting fail or is it all in my head?

This.  But more animaly and colourful.
Over the years I've had to prepare and send my kids to many, many activities.  Notes come home, calendars are updated, essential items purchased, tasks are ticked off and we move on to the next.

When they were younger I found kid related activities, especially performances and concerts, very daunting.  It always seemed like a miracle when we arrived at the right place at the right time with the right stuff.

And mostly we did. Of course, there have been a few hairy moments.  

I remember receiving my first note about an end of year dance concert (Sarah was 4 (tiny tot), Josh 2 and Issy a newborn blob who spent a lot of time in her capsule).  I read and reread the instructions about hair, makeup (!) and rehearsal times.  I still managed to stuff it up, and with my 2 year old and newborn, arrived 45 minutes late to collect her from the dress rehearsal at the theatre.

Luckily a kind and very organised mother (her youngest (of 4) was the dancer, so she was all over it) had stayed with Sarah until I arrived.  She didn't make me feel bad at all.  But I was guilt ridden for days.

Over the years, we've done many more dance concerts, band performances, violin recitals, gym comps, choir showcases, sports carnivals and assemblies.  These days I am used to the drill, and on most of these kinds of occasions, I'm hard to rattle.

And after one epic excursion failure a couple of years ago, I've also nailed the school excursion.  And even band camp, which is two nights away, but in early autumn and just up the road, holds no fear for me.  Any forgotten item can simply be lodged with a parent going up for their volunteer shift and all is well.

But now, we have upped the ante.  It's time for school camp. A proper one, far away with no recourse in case of forgotten items or homesickness.

Sarah left this morning for 3 days away.  She is going to Mogo which is very far south, and allegedly very cold.

It's fecking cold here so it must be freezing down south.  I'm a Queenslander, so when it comes to cold, I am a very delicate, sensitive flower.

We took the list supplied by the school.  We packed according to it.  It optimistically suggested we could fit a sleeping bag, pillow and towel, plus warm clothes for three days and toiletries into an overnight bag.  Once the first three items went in, the overnight bag was full.  So we moved to a rolling suitcase.

This allowed Sarah to add her onesie, ugg boots and a stuffed dog.

Because it's cold way down thar, we were also instructed to have beanies, scarves and gloves and a warm jacket.  On the weekend, Sarah and I found a half price jacket/raincoat at Kathmandu we were very happy with.  We then bought a fetching green stripy beanie.  It was also half price.  Bargain hunters.

So at 6:25 this morning we set off to pull the suitcase 50m to the school gates.  10m up the street I ran back for the travel sickness tablets.  20m further on we realised she didn't have a brush or hair elastics apart from the one she was wearing.  I sacrificed mine for the cause.  She wasn't worried and said she'd borrow a brush.

We arrived at school to find UTTER INSANITY.  Children ran and screamed in the half darkness.  Suitcases fell over. Children fell over fallen over suitcases.  Sarah waved at a few friends, but her particular cronies were not there so she stayed with me.  She's like that.  The madness swirled around us and as it did I realised many (not all) of the girls were wearing beanies with animal heads and dangly sides.

Probably half of them had this style of beanie.  Suddenly Sarah's black and green stripy number looked a little dull.

For a moment I was back at a school camp where EVERYONE had green army pants except me.  The feelings of not fitting in all rushed back.  My eyes darted around, counting animal beanies and funky earmuffs.  At least half, maybe a small majority.  Enough for a kid without to wish they had one.

I very briefly considered running back home for Issy's crazy earmuffs.

I also thought about driving to the (closed) chemist.  I wondered if the neighbours kids might have one.

I knew it was pointless.  Sarah (the stoic) pulled on her green stripy beanie, looped her colourful (thank god) scarf around her neck like I'd taught her and said hi to another quiet little soul standing near us.

More animal headed children whirled past.  The teachers started to call for order, Sarah kissed me and went to her line.  She seemed utterly unphased.  I was a mess.  Internally of course.

I kissed her and left.  There was nothing more to do.  She had everything she needed.  There were enough kids with boring hats on.  And she had her onesie so at night she'd fit in with the crowd.

You see, I have PTSD from my camp experience and I think that's what threw me.  But I don't think Sarah cared.  The way she acted, she certainly wasn't going to let a little thing like a boring hat ruin her first camp.

I got home, got on the treadmill, watched last nights Australian Story and cried and cried.  Partly because it was a very sad Australian Story and partly because I simply can't do everything for her like I used to.  And my baby was going awaaaayyyyy...

I really think it was me who was upset about the hat thing.  She may not have given it a second thought.  I won't know til Thursday night.  And by then she'll be so full of news and excitement about her three days away that it will be forgotten.  I hope.

I can tell you this, when Issy goes to Mogo in four years time, she shall have a silly animal beanie with dangly sides.

And no doubt be the only kid wearing one.

Images courtesy of imagerymajestic

Thursday, 19 June 2014

'That parent' strikes again...

What better bridge to use?  I hope Sarah's looks exactly like this one.
So today I became 'that parent' again.   The last time I think was just before Issy started school.

'That parent' hides in all of us.  In fact, some people don't even hide theirs, they're out there all the time.

Now I am not pushy.  It usually takes a stick of dynamite to make me face any type of conflict and when I am forced to, I'm in shock for days, even weeks.

In nearly 7 years at the school, I've probably approached a teacher with an urgent problem five times. And that's for all three kids.

I'm not saying the way I operate is good or bad.  It's just how I operate.  And today it happened again.

This morning is our school's yearly Information Morning.  All the prospective parents for next year come and have a little tour of the school, meet some teachers and watch some of the kids do their thing.  It's very lovely and I remember coming when Sarah was 4 and at preschool and being blown away by the stuff the kids could do.

This year the Concert Band and Senior Choir were performing.  Sarah is in both of these.  She is a big participator our Sarah.  Not a trace of the lazy cynic in her.  I can't believe we actually share DNA.  

Sarah also has Science on a Thursday morning. The science teacher has created much excitement by giving the kids a project to build their own bridge out of craft materials.  Sarah was to build hers this morning.  First thing.  While simultaneously playing in the band.  

To add complexity to the situation, where normally I'd force her to rummage through the house for stray bits of potential bridge material, I'd been at Spotlight the weekend before (disco party purchasing).  So she got lucky.  I was able to purchase her entire wish list of required items.

She has a glue gun with spare sticks of glue (oh what fun!), balsa wood, cardboard, pipe cleaners and goodness knows what else, I may have got a bit carried away.

The squeals of excitement when she saw what I had bought made me feel a little better about what I had spent.

(We also now all have our own set of knitting needles and are knitting scarves.  No scarf has yet made it past two lines before needing to be unravelled. Don't you love Spotlight?)

As I write this I'm realising that I was already financially and emotionally invested in this bridge, which may account for my actions this morning.

(Maybe I should have been a psychologist?)

So, the terrible clash of the science project and the compulsory band and choir performances at the information morning was a situation I was blissfully unaware of until this morning when Sarah came downstairs looking very crestfallen.

In her tragic, seldom used (and therefore very effective), nearly crying voice, told me she wouldn't be able to build her bridge because she had to play in the band and sing in the choir at the info morning and now she'd never get to do it and she'd been looking forward to it soooo much.

Then she sat at the kitchen bench and a single tear rolled down her cheek.  Just one.

Well didn't that just break my heart.  Trying so hard to keep it together because she is a big girl, but still utterly devo.

And out came my inner tiger.  She WOULD build her bridge.  Mummy would make sure of it!

Yes I know many of you are wanting to tell me to 'build a bridge...and get over it'.  Someone has already said it to me.  Yes, everyone is a comedian.  I tried to say it to myself too but I wasn't listening.  I had become 'that parent'.

Up to school I marched.  Saxophone in hand because Sarah couldn't carry her bag, bridge materials and a sax.  And because I'm surgically attached to the bloody thing.

Sounds good but very heavy.  Unless compared to a Euphonium or a Tuba.  
I found her teacher.  She was sympathetic.  They had only learned about the band obligation yesterday.  Science had been planned for weeks.  I said I totally understood.  Was there anything that could be done?  There were at least 5 kids in this situation.

She was totally kind and said they could build bridges in her class after morning tea if they so wished.  She suggested I also saw the science teacher.

So off I went to the science teacher.  Who said they could build bridges with her other year 5 class in the afternoon.

Two very feasible solutions. 'That parent' went back into her box (just a shade annoyed at how little she was needed).

I found Sarah peeping out of the after school care/warm up band room.  Told her.  Face lit up.  Brow still slightly furrowed but that's normal.  Sarah is mostly carefree, but always slightly worried (does that even make sense?)

.  People who have known her since she was a baby will know this face.

Job done. I marched out of school.  I have no idea if any other kids were even worried.  I have no idea if Sarah's class teacher and science teacher think I'm an absolute nutter.

She doesn't carry on much, my Sarah.  So when something upsets her I take it seriously.  I know I have to let her sort stuff on her own, and I'm learning to be hands off with reminders for homework and bag packing.

But that tear just smote my heart.   And I became 'that parent'.

She's back in her box now.  Anyone else had 'that parent' come out lately?

Photos courtesy of M-pix, Simon Howden

Sunday, 15 June 2014

The sleepover party...tick.

Multiple animal cheers.
Sarah turned 11 last weekend.

Up until now, I have avoided the sleepover party.  I would think the reasons for trying to avoid a sleepover party are obvious.  But she has been invited to quite a few, and I knew my time was coming.

It was clear that despite sleepover parties being highly stressful and almost certainly sleep depriving, subject to hissy fits, homesickness and way, way too much sugar, it was my time.  It was Sarah's time.

Because, when she turned 8, I said she was too young.

When she turned 9, I said our house was too crap.

When she turned 10, our house was being renovated.

When she turned 11 I ran out of excuses.

I would just like to say upfront that I love Sarah's friends.  Many of them have spent many hours at our house, they have come (individually) for sleepovers.  They are a bunch of smart, funny, fabulous chicks, who are well on their way to becoming completely amazing young women.

Some are indeed showing a strength of personality that will serve them brilliantly throughout their lives, but can certainly be strenuous to manage on an 18 hour visit at my house.   Especially when at least 8 of those hours I wanted them to be asleep.

I know 10/11 year olds need more than 8 hours sleep but one must be realistic.

So at 3:30pm on Saturday, 7 little (but getting taller), fresh faced, very excited girls arrived at our house.

That morning I had spent 2.5 hours laboriously constructing a treasure hunt which I had fondly thought would take them at least an hour to complete.  They had to run around the school and local suburb, solving clues and completing tasks.

It clearly wasn't complex or long enough because 20 minutes later they were all back at my house, clutching their bracelet prize and looking at me with sparkling, sugar bright eyes, waiting for the next thing.

'Go and play'! I shouted (or should I say croaked because I have a cold and was losing my voice).  'Go downstairs and play and then you can do the chocolate game'.

They ran downstairs into the rumpus screaming.  Soon a lot of screaming from the back yard indicated they had chosen that as their screaming point.  A little while later the screaming moved across the road to the swings on the corner.

I counted down the minutes until we could leave for Teppanyaki dinner while hoping that everyone stayed happy and uninjured until then.  This was while intensely managing Issy who DOES NOT cope well when the attention is not on her.  She even had a friend over who I thought would dilute the situation, but she was relentless in her quest to follow the big girls.

Needless to say, they didn't want a bar of her.

Just before we had to leave they all came running and screaming back home to change for dinner.

Into their onesies.

Teppanyaki didn't know what hit them when 7 (8 including Issy) girls arrived for dinner in their onesies.  We had two owls, three giraffes, a panda, and two rabbits (I think).

With an almost unbelievable level of noise and enthusiasm, they caught their bowls, their eggs and their rice.  They ate their heads off, sang their lungs out and stuffed themselves with cake.
The cake.  With Onesies.

I was careful to prearrange the car seatings so everyone had a friend and carsick prone people were duly noted.

I made the bed up as one enormous mattress constructed of two pull out couch mattresses, Issy's old single bed mattress, lots of couch cushions and a cot mattress.  They all picked a pillow from the pile and settled into a possie.  There was no fighting about who was near whom because they were all sort of piled on top of one another like puppies.

I made a humongous bucket of popcorn which they devoured while watching movie 1.  

At about 8pm I lost my voice entirely.  The screaming continued but became intermittent, possibly during boring parts of the movie.

Midnight feast was requested at 9:30pm to eat during Movie 2.

At 10pm I went to bed, partly because I was exhausted from my extensive preparations, but mainly because I'd been out at school Trivia night til 1am the night before.  Self inflicted misery.

Needless to say they were all still wide awake at this point, so I asked them to stop screaming for the 54,321st time, and maybe to think about sleeping soon?  As I could only talk in a whisper I'm not sure if they heard me.

I asked Mike to stay up til eleven and speak sternly if he heard talking.  He was as tired as I so he may not have made it to 11.  I wouldn't know because I was already unconscious.  He said they were quiet(ish).  I suspect they just stopped screaming and started whispering.

We heard nothing during the night.  Not a peep, not a night visitor, not a scream.  We were two floors above them which was a very pleasant place to be.

According to them, they all talked for hours, like 3am or something.  Hopefully not the one who had a dance comp this morning.

By 6:30 they were all awake, there was a bit more screaming and they all ate pancakes.

And then at 9am it was over.  The screaming stopped.  I dismantled the enormous floorbed thingo.

I have been nervous about this party for weeks, but in hindsight I don't know what I was worried about.  They were beautifully behaved, they were polite, and kind to each other.  They have fabulous senses of humour and some of them are developing a clever, quick wit which I love (parents you may know this as talking back, but when it's not your own kid, you can't help but admire their debating skills).

I expect there will be some scratchy behaviour this afternoon.  And for that I am sorry.

I will be ready for my next sleepover in about 5 years.  Or maybe 20.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Dodging Bullets and Fighting Fires

Start dodging.
I was working in Josh's school canteen the other day...I know, how glamorous is my life?

Anyway, while I was there, several supply related issues in the hour leading up to lunch, which caused us to think we firstly didn't have enough rice, secondly we had enough but it was too soggy, thirdly we had too much rice and it was still too soggy and finally, we had slightly too much rice which was an excellent consistency.

This drama went on for about an hour.  While it was happening, it was quite stressful being in the canteen.  Being an expert in cooking rice for 5, I have no idea when it comes to cooking it for 155.  This allowed me to take a back seat in the drama and be assigned to making jelly cups.

After it was over, I said to one of the valiant and awesome canteen stalwarts how impressed I was with how they handled the potential disaster.  (Yes I know it's a first world problem but it was very real at the time).  She said, every day it was the same, dodging bullets and fighting fires.

Well didn't THAT ring true.

Dodging Bullets and Fighting Fires! I believe is what I do, and I suggest a large number of you do also. Every. Single. Day.  

If our lives were interesting enough to make a movie, this is what the movie would be called.

No milk in the fridge? Quick drive to IGA. Bullet dodged.

Birthday party in 20 mins with no present?  Raid present draw, add slightly used paper and homemade card.  Another bullet whizzes past with no damage.

Realise you have wrong number of car seats for the number of 6 year olds you must transport?  Next door has a spare, go and grab it.  Fire out.

And from this morning:
Come around corner to see Josh's school bus already nearly at the stop.  No other school kids there to wave it down.  Break into a frantic run and throw 9 year old onto it, tossing his blazer at him and grabbing his leaking drink bottle from him at the same time, shouting 'JUST DRINK FROM THE BUBBLER!".   Bullet and Fire at the same time.  Dodged and out.

Don't let it mesmerise you. Fight it!!  
Honestly the amount of these disasters that require evasive action before 9am mean that I'm a mess every morning until 9:30, at which point I have my first coffee.  

No matter how organised I am (or I think I am) the unexpected always comes and bites me in the bum.  I wonder, is there any point in trying to be organised at all?

Well, I've given it 5 minutes of deep thought and I think it is.  Because if we can control the things we know about, NEVER be complacent, and keep an eye out for the fires and bullets, we can expect a mostly peaceful life.

And then occasionally when things do completely go to shit we know we did our best, but there are some things you just can't prepare for.

Fought any fires or dodged any bullets lately?

Images courtesy of vectorolie and natara

Monday, 9 June 2014

Ice skating is a VERY dangerous sport. I shall not do it again.

So we have just experienced another weekend of birthday madness.  It happens every year, because we have somehow ended up with two girls born two days apart.

Four years and two days.  This year Sarah turned 11 and Issy 7.

My youngest child is 7! When did THAT happen?

As usual it ended up a bit mad.  We had my sister visiting from Brisbane which was lovely, we had family dinners planned, a quick birthday breakfast before her return flight, and we even squeezed in an impromptu lunch at Hugo's.

We occasionally sported an extra child which was considered extra fun by everyone.  In a bizarre twist, Issy had her mate at Sarah's birthday Chinese meal and Sarah had her friend with us for much of Issy's birthday.

Neither of them minded.  They're good like that.  They have named the 7th of June (the day between their birthdays) 'Sister's day'.  I hijacked this idea to have dinner with MY sisters.

Also, there were a few requests for activities by the birthday girls and who am I to refuse them?

So we went to the movies today (Monday).  And yesterday we went iceskating.

Iceskating is not my favourite.  I foolishly took Sarah one day when she was in Kindergarten and had a pupil free day.  Both the other kids had preschool/day care and we did have a fun day together.

Since then, every chance she gets, she asks to go.  And about 50% of the time we say yes.  Mike has also been caught out and spent two hours gliding less than gracefully around the ice rink at Macquarie.  Which, can I add, is not convenient to drive to AT ALL.

Last time I went, I took Sarah and two mates.  It was early 2013 and they were all 9.  They were all capable of staying upright and didn't need me, so I settled down smugly for 2 hours of fiddling with my phone and watching them fondly.

Oh foolish smugness.

Less than 10 minutes into the session, one of Sarah's friends was sideswiped by an inexperienced skater and hit the deck.  With her face.  Cue teeth through tongue, chipped teeth, possible fractured jaw.

The drive home was interminable.  Sarah and her uninjured mate tried valiantly to cheer their poor little injured friend up.  She was far too badly injured for that, and cried piteously for her Mum all the horrible 45 minute drive home.

I rang ahead of course, and by the time I got home, the emergency dentist was waiting for them and her Dad had managed to get home from work (he must have levitated he got there so fast), he opened my car door, tenderly lifted his wounded chick from the car and climbed into the front seat with her in his arms.  He was not letting her go, seatbelts be damned.  His wife was at the wheel, she screeched out of the driveway and they were gone.

Sarah and her mate waited 2 seconds of stunned silence before bursting into simultaneous floods of tears.  As did I.

After a bit of jaw wiring and a few weeks of soft food, our poor little ice skater made a full recovery.  And everyone is still talking to each other. Are good friends in fact. But none of us adults will EVER forget that day, or be able to think of it without shuddering.

So, nearly 18 months later, we were back at the place of terrible memories (for me anyway, Sarah has bounced back with the elasticity of youth).

Sarah- zooming with no nasty memories.
We paid, got skates, changed skates because the size was wrong, laced, relaced, changed skates again because they rubbed, and got out onto the ice.

Before the terrible injury.
And really, for about 40 minutes it was FUN.  But the evil iceskating fairies were out again.  I'd alternated taking Issy and Josh around.  Sarah and her mate were having fun, (although the mate had done the unintentional splits a few times),  I was just about to swap Issy for Josh when he arrived in a rush, and cannoned into me, falling to the ice behind me and taking me off balance.

At which point I lost my footing, and as I tried to rebalance, lifted my skate and put it down hard into Joshie's little shin bone.  He let out a scream, just as I realised what was under my skate blade and picked my foot up again, losing my balance properly and stacking it completely.

Josh was howling in agony, somehow we got him off the ice and lifted his jeans up to show a nasty scrape and a growing bump.

I thought I'd broken my boy's leg.  I felt sick.

And once again a trip to the ice rink was cut short by injury.  Although, thank goodness, not as serious this time. We were there for less than an hour.

Not everyone was sad to leave. Turns out Sarah's mate had done the splits one too many times and was ready to call it a day too.

Issy made me take her round once more (because it was her birthday).

This is also before the injury.  This is why we are smiling. 
By the time we had packed ourselves up, Josh had calmed down and could bear weight on his leg.  Thoughts of the emergency department began to fade.  Thoughts of a stiff drink began to take their place.

It takes more than an injured brother to keep this birthday girl down. 
I am NOT going iceskating again.  It is very dangerous.  Way too dangerous for my nerves.  I'd rather take them rock climbing.  I'll belay for hours if I know I don't have to watch my child (or someone else's) in agony with a skating related injury.

Yes I know it's just bad luck, but I'm not going to tempt the evil ice fairies again.  Sorry kids.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Democracy? dictatorship? Our family is a bit of both.

Good for countries, not always for families with small(ish) children.  
Is your family a dictatorship? Or more of a democracy?  Some sway more towards the democracy, while others are ruled by an iron fist of totalitarianism.  And as with most things in life, a middle ground is preferable.  Complete democracy gives far too much power to the offspring meaning the lunatics end up running the asylum, and dictatorship makes one person the mean, stressed out bad cop which is simply unsustainable.

(Can I just say, in my opinion, when you're running a country (as opposed to a family), a democracy is by far the better option).

Our home fluctuates between the two, although possibly with a slightly stronger leaning towards dictatorship.  I do sense democracy will come into its own as the kids get older and better at arguing.  And potentially, capable of cooking their own dinner if they don't like what I'm doing.  From what I understand of teenagers, they don't respond well to dictators, so I possibly need to improve my democratic style over the next year or two.

For now, I just shout a lot of instructions about shoes and lunches and musical instruments and count myself lucky if they respond without being asked more than 3 times.

Some situations lend themselves well to democracy.  I am quite willing to discuss birthday party ideas, cake styles.  They wear what they want (almost always).  I don't mind talking through potential playdates, possible sleepovers.  Heck, I'll even let them give me holiday ideas even if some of them are unlikely to occur.  Disneyland for 2 weeks?

There are times though, when I'm completely running a dictatorship.  Do as I say.  Do not argue, do not talk back, do not stall, don't drag your feet, pretend you haven't heard me or lie and say you've done it when you haven't (your teeth are yellow and I'm not an idiot).

Don't ambush me.  I do not respond well.  Especially not in public for something even slightly unreasonable.  Dictatorship.  Trouble will always follow the ambush.

Don't nag me.  If I've said no, I mean it.  I often say yes.  I'm not a big meany.  Benevolent dictator I am.

Here are a few examples of how our household sways wildly between ideological philosophies:

This is me dictating. 
Do NOT just pick up your device and start playing it on a weekday afternoon without asking first (BTW the answer is no).  You will lose it for 24 hours.  And no, just because you have to catch a bus to and from school doesn't mean you MUST have your phone every day.  Millions of children cope daily without this and so shall you.

Result: Dictator.

If you have been lucky enough to receive a generous joint birthday gift which has enabled you to purchase a rather nice piece of technology, don't stretch the friendship by continuing to request an ongoing membership related to this technology.  Or the technology will vanish.

Result: Dictator.

If you wish to play, watch TV, go to a mate's house and you haven't done your homework/music practice/speech/news.  DON'T EVEN ASK.  You are wasting your time.

Result: Dictator

Don't like the party ideas being suggested? Sure we can discuss.  I'm happy to delay a party (we have 1 autumn and 2 winters) to the warmer months so it can have a pool theme or we can go to Waterworks.  And while my default cake is your new age with some type of appropriate decoration I can be persuaded to look at the Women's Weekly cake book.  Just don't ask me to do the swimming pool again because I might have a nervous breakdown.

Result: Democracy

Don't fancy the dinner? If it's early in the day you can attempt to negotiate a change, although your chances may be slim.  I have been open to menu changes before when faced with sufficient convincement.  I know one of you hates tacos and another of you is firmly against spag bol but what am I to do?  Until someone other than me starts cooking the dinner I think I have higher voting rights than people who are merely eaters.

Result: Democracy than can quickly become Dictatorship if the wrong angle is taken.

Lunch box contents are available for change up until they go into a school bag.  As long as you don't try something insane like swapping your grapes for Oreos I'm usually responsive to requests.  But please don't tell me that thing you loved last week that I just bought three boxes of on special is no longer your favourite.  Just take it quietly to school and swap it with your mates.

Result: Democracy

At 7:30 on a Sunday night, after a weekend that included a birthday party for every single person in the house (including the grown ups), 4 games of sport played and one spectated, a Sunday of musical workshops, playdates and a long drive to Parramatta and back, don't come to me and say you have news on Monday which needs to be 2 minutes long with palm cards.  It will not be pretty.

Result: Madhouse, total breakdown of government, followed by a coup by the father.

So there you have it.  I still don't know which one I'm running.  It depends on the day, the time of day, whether I'm fasting (I'm doing 5:2 and not eating makes me grumpy) and how utterly ridiculous the request is.  Sometimes ridiculous requests are so off the wall I can't help but go for them, and other times they just make me all cranky pants.

Poor kids, they've got a madwoman in charge, I think that's the upshot of this post.  And poor Mike, who never knows what kind of government he's coming home too.

What sort of operation are you running?

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Girls weekends are a rare diamond of super awesomeness.

Enough said. 
Going away with your girlfriends is a treat.  Several days child free, lots of time to finish sentences, discuss important matters and (this is the best part) to only take care of yourself.

The only socks I picked up off the floor were my own.  That in itself, is a miraculous treat.

The only way a parent can properly switch off and achieve no sock picking up nirvana is by going away.  Far away.  Because you can't do it at home.  Even if we have an afternoon with not much on, I am needed to make a snack or break up an argument or negotiate screen time.  If I'm there, I'm completely essential for these things, of course if I remove myself, things rumble on quite nicely without me.

I'm not quite as necessary as we all think I am.  And I like it.

So having just spent a weekend away (far, like a plane ride away) I have returned refreshed, rejuvenated and needing just a little liver cleansing. Over the 3 days I noticed how much I love my mates, how they make me laugh, how they laugh with (at?) me, what we have in common that makes us friends, and differences in opinion and taste that prove we're all fabulous individuals.

Simply stunning scenery. 
Even though we do have a lot in common, it was fun discovering how differently we do certain things.  Not better or worse, just different.  Based on time available, our priorities, how distracted we are and so on...

The logistics of leaving.

Ranging from a 5 page manifesto printed and stuck to the fridge to a couple of lines on a weekly planner, this was an important part of the preparation.  You are leaving several children and a husband to fend for themselves for a period of time.  There is sport, there are parties, there are prearranged playdates and very likely spontaneous ones.

How you deal with this is up to you.  As the kids get older I feel that their ability to tell their father what they need to do next and to think about what they may need for it, means I don't have to be quite so hands on with the instructions.  Am I delusional?  Perhaps.

And we were away from lunchtime Friday to late Monday afternoon, so we had Monday's pre and post school to think about too.  As I write this on Monday morning, I know they are all safely at school but I have no idea if Josh's violin or Sarah's sax made it there with them this morning.

From where I sit, I don't care.

(The instruments did make it, by the way.  Issy's library bag did not).

How we packed

Packing is a function of time and weather forecasts.  If the place you're going to has very predictable weather and you have time, you can pack sensibly and cleverly, with an excellent selection of easy to care for clothes in tasteful neutrals, ready to be jazzed up with bright and funky jewellery and scarves.

Four girls, three days.  This is only 2/3 of the shoes we brought.
OR you can begin packing 1 hour before you need to leave for a place that should be warmer than Sydney but not that much warmer that could be experiencing the same freakishly summery weather we have, but may also get cool at night.  This is when the trouble starts.

Three pairs of ankle boots anyone?  How about 5 long sleeved tops, but just one measly t shirt for weather that ended up being over 25 degrees every day.

The last minute throw in of a couple of sundresses saved two of us from three days of uncomfortable overdressing.

We were never going to run out of scarves.  Or shoes.

What we forgot

There's always that "oh shit" moment when you realise you've left some completely essential item at home.  For me it's usually a toiletry and this time it was my talc (yes I'm a GRANNY).  But more distressing, I did not pack a bead of jewellery.  Not just me. Two of us completely forgot to put it in.  Any plans of jazzing up our sensible neutrals went out the window.  Luckily this disaster was quickly turned into a bonus as we shopped our little heads off for suitable adornments.

How we communicate with home

Each family had their own ways of communicating.  I liked to keep Mike up to date with my movements, sending quite a few photos of beaches and cocktails (and cocktails near beaches) by text.  He responded with the occasional text updates but no photos.  My compatriots were also senders and receivers of texts, with and without photos, although phone calls were also popular.

What was funny during the phone calls was as soon as a child came on the line, our voices changed, softened, went up at least half an octave.

"Darling!", we would gush. "Sweetie!", we cooed, "I love you soooo much and I miss you".

"You scored a goal/try/hoop?  A merit certificate? Girl/boy of the match? Awesome, you are soooo amazing".

"Yes I wish I could have seen it.  No I'm not coming back today.  Yes I do miss you, I do.  Very much.  Yes I'm having fun.  Of course I'll be back soon.  Yes I'll bring you a present".

Back on the phone to our husbands, we'd revert to normal voice and the conversation immediately became intensely pragmatic.  Instructions were made, suggested locations for lost items given.  An appeal for vegetables to form part of at least one meal.  A suggestion of washing?

We texted, we received texts.  We sent photos and received them back.  Several of the Dads dined together with 8 children at the local club.  Brave souls.

One thing was for sure, if things back home were going pear shaped, we didn't want to know about it.

The fun

We were very much on the same wavelength in this regard.  We were all predisposed to enjoy ourselves and very conscious of how lucky we are to be away in such a beautiful place with awesome people.  So we were quite good at making every minute count, without being stress bunnies about it.

We wined and dined, pre booked a bit, winged it a bit.  Stopped for a mid afternoon cocktail because we could, had brunch at lunchtime because we fancied some eggs and enjoyed a long lunch that started at 2pm and ended well after the sun had set.

The Caprioska is my cocktail soul mate.  Sorry Mojito, it's not you, it's me. 
And back at our lovely accommodation we snacked on soft cheeses and crackers purchased at Woolies.  We had sparkling water and French Champagne.  Some token fruit, tea bags and milk.  That was all we needed.

Maybe I should have had the vegetable conversation with myself.

Now, settled back into reality, I prepare for a day at canteen and think about what to cook for dinner.  Weekends like this vanish in the blink of an eye.

Been away lately? Was it super awesome?

Monday, 26 May 2014

Bearsy and other beloved creatures

Oh Bearsy, you are so awesome.
Oh Bearsy.

You are an old mate.  You have been around a long time.  And I love you.

You have provided enormous comfort.  Both to your owner and to me, knowing that if he has Bearsy, he's ok.

All three of my kids have had a toy they've particularly attached to.  The official term is a 'transitional object'.  The idea of which, is that if that have this object (usually a soft toy or piece of fabric), they may just possibly be less hysterical when you leave them when they are small.  We've had varying degrees of success with this in our house, sometimes hysteria was unavoidable.

Sarah has ducks.  Two of them.  The first one came in one of the gorgeous gifts we received when she was born.  At about 6 months old when she could roll over, she always rolled to the duck and grabbed it.

Her first word was Guck.

The duck in peak condition.
I quickly noticed her attachment and sourced another and carefully washed and interchanged them.  So when we lost one (and we did eventually) we had still had one which was acceptable.  I then ransacked Australia and found the last remaining duck in a bargain bin in Penrith.  He was marked down to $12.  I would have paid $400.  But I just paid postage.  So she still has two.  One is barely recognisable and the other only slightly better.  They never leave the house.  They don't even leave her bedroom.

Bearsy came about a little later in Josh's life.  Back in the days of weekly playgroup (OMG playgroup- nasty flashback of tantrums, disputes over rosters and the toy cupboard never closing) some lovely soul organised a Teddy Bears picnic.  As we reversed from the driveway that fine morning I remembered each child had to bring a bear . I threw on the handbrake, dashed into the house and picked up a duck (obviously) and this bear who had been given to us when Josh was born, sitting lonely on a shelf in the kid's bedroom.  Josh was 16 months old and had never shown interest in a particular toy.  He liked walking around clutching a Thomas or a Percy engine but that was it.

At playgroup we formed a circle (oh what fun!) and everyone sat around with their bear (duck).  I have no idea what the point of this exercise was, maybe we were going to sing songs or tell stories (hold me).

Anyway, Sarah noticed Josh had a bear and she had a duck and almost everyone else had a bear.  She attempted to remove the bear from her brother and give him the duck.  Josh went off like a packet of crackers until we gave him the bear back.  Even at 16 months that lad was NO pushover.

Bearsy in better days.
And that was that.  He started off as Guggy (Josh's first word for cuddle) and morphed into Bearsy.

At one time the question "Where's Bearsy?" was the one I dreaded most of all.  Because he was ALWAYS in stupid places (eg. on the windowsill behind the curtain, stuffed under the couch, thrown into the washing basket, wedged down the side of the car).  I tried to buy another Bearsy, he is officially a Teddy & Friends Clinton or Clancy or something...  But I never found one.  He's still here and not looking too bad considering his life experience.

So when Josh went to Bowral for the night last friday in preparation for his rugby game on Saturday (Under 9s rugby is so hard core you have to travel 2 hours just to play) he left Bearsy behind in the rush to leave.  And when I saw him discarded on the floor (his usual position), my heart sank.  But of course, Josh is 9 and a stoic, and he made not the slightest fuss when Mike told him.  Sure, he had a rapturous reunion with the old Bear the next day, but he went to sleep easily that night.

Oh Bearsy, you are loved, but not quite so necessary as you once were.  I know exactly how you feel mate.
The motley crew of transitionals.
Issy, by the way, has made her way through about 6 muslins. One was so decrepit it was renamed 'scrap of muzzy' before disintegrating.  She is currently shredding a green one which is in two pieces, soon to be three.  I would not like to leave this behind for a sleepover.  I doubt she would cope.  Seeing as her last three sleepover attempts have seen her returning to us at approximately 9pm, we still have a while to go before she is as cast iron as her brother.

Any 'transitional' objects at your house? Or should we call them most beloved friends?

Sarah's fourth birthday.  How cute are this pair? Sorry this has no relation to the post at all.  

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Riding in cars with girls.

At least this is still a few years off. 
I've written about riding in cars with boys.  Now it's time for the girls.

I think this just shows that I do FAR too much driving.

It's come to my attention that I'm harbouring a mini teenager.  And no, it's not Sarah.  It's Issy.  The 6 year old with the towering attitude.

Because both my girls do gymnastics, and gymnastics is located a stupid distance away, we have some decent driving to do on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

On Thursday we car pool with two other families.  Every second week (roughly) at 5pm I drive up and collect Issy and two mates. Josh has to come along for the ride (he finds this tedious but sometimes I actually manage to extract information about his life during these drives, so it's worth it).

Lately Issy and her mates have become very into the latest tunes, and at home during play dates they will hole up in Issy's room listening to music and dancing.  Some of the music they like has appalling lyrics if you listen too closely.  So I don't.  It goes over their heads mostly, and as for the young men singing about some girl standing in his 'American Apparel underwear', well that just makes them laugh hysterically and tell each other how they'd NEVER just get about in their underwear if a boy was there.

Amen to that I say.

In a continuation of this music appreciation, Issy and her mates love nothing more on the trip home from gym than to convince me to wind the car windows down, turn the music up as loud as I can stand, and sing and scream their way home.

They call this...The Party Car.

Hapless fellow motorists, cyclists and pedestrians are waved at, shouted at and sung at.   Most people seem to like them, and get a laugh out of it.  No-one has been offended that I know of.

Poor Josh sinks so far down in his seat he nearly falls off it.  There is zero chance of seeing anyone he knows but he can't bear the outrageous lack of self consciousness that six year old girls have (and he doesn't).

Now I know that once they ARE teenagers they'd never carry on like this in a parent's car.  But they think they are SO COOL and awesome when they're belting out the words to their favourite song (Jess Mauboy is a favourite at the moment as is Sia).

And even though the noise is deafening and Josh is embarrassed and lots of people think we're mad or delinquents, I still let them do it.  Because soon they'll stop and just sit and be monosyllabic and roll their eyes.

And I'll miss those crazy 6 year old rock chicks.

Photo courtesy of Boins Cho Joo Young

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Stop asking me to join your club. Call me Groucho.

My very own interpretative sketch of the situation.

When out and about doing my shopping I am often asked by staff at the retail outlets I visit (almost always young and eager) if I want to join the rewards program, or club. Because right now, no matter what shop, there is always a rewards program or club. Always.

They offer me discounts.  Or vouchers if I spend a certain amount.  Or early access to special offers.  Or a free gift if I've bought enough from their store.

Question: If you've had to buy a ton of stuff to get the free thing is it really free? I'm looking at you Smiggle.

Sometimes it's free to join, sometimes it's not.

Sometimes you get more benefits from joining the free one and the ones you have to pay for wouldn't even offer you a tissue if you sneezed.

Mostly I hold strong, and tell the eager person (who may or may not be on a bonus system for signing people up) that I don't really shop there that often.  Sometimes this is even true.

In any case, once you give in and hand over your details, you'll soon find more regular unwanted emails clogging up your inbox.  And you'll forget your card the every time you're at the shop so you'll never accumulate any points or stars or whatevers.

So I now just say no thanks.  To everyone.  Even the most eager, bonus induced keen bean, who is begging me to become a loyal member at the chemist near my Mum's house in Brisbane that I visit once a year.

Look, I'm not saying I haven't benefited from Loyalty programs.  Occasionally the reward scheme for frequent patronage of a certain shop does pay off and you reap the rewards.

I've had free shoes from Shoes and Sox.  A free Hoyts movie ticket.  And most underwhelming of all, a slap band from Smiggle. (Incidentally that slap band was the cause of more arguments between my children than any other item I've ever brought home.  No idea why.  It went in the bin.)

And I do like a Witchery voucher and the old faithful CR spend and save.

Other times I've said yes and really wondered why I bothered because no rewards have been forthcoming.

And I've lost track of the amount of times I've said no.  Bakers Delight, Adairs, Rebel Sport, Kikki K (although I think I said yes in the end), every chemist I walk in to.  And the list goes on.

I just can't be dealing with the increased email traffic, the questionable rewards, the continuous looking for the right card and the confusion in general.

EVERY retailer in the world is doing it.  Who's idea was the loyalty program anyway?  Frequent Flyers?

Enough.  Stop it.  Now.

This is the end of the blog post.  Unless you want to keep reading and hear a story.

It's a story of the time when I was the eager incentivised 18 year old staff member, encouraged by a major retailer to get unsuspecting people into debt.  Just to earn $5.

Back in the day, I worked for Myer.  I worked in the department that issued and took payment for Myercards and Laybys.

At the time (1989-1991) Myer used to offer people a credit facility called a 90 day plan.  They could purchase an item of decent value ($50-$300), and take it home, paying only a third of the price as deposit and then pay two equal instalments to clear the debt.  Way more popular than the lay-by due to instant gratification.

I think this credit facility's real name is Hire Purchase and I also think Myer had to scrap it after a while as too many people took out 50 of them at different stores and made off with the goods.  But I could be wrong.

It seemed a fairly sensible system and many a cash strapped youngster managed to pay off their new stereo or fancy jeans and jacket.  They had be 18 and pass a credit test first.

Now we uni students working in the department were incentivised to convince these small, new-to-debt fledglings to get a Myercard instead.  Which had the potential to be a lot more profitable for Myer (ongoing interest) and with a limit of at least $500 and high interest rates, a lot more troublesome for the user if they were a bit clueless.

Nonetheless for a $5 gift voucher every time I converted someone, and no care whatsoever for the future of the customers I was serving mean I often scored $30 a week above my pay.  In 1989 when I was barely 18, that was a LOT.

I feel terrible about it now.  But at the time it NEVER occurred to me the far reaching implications of what I was doing.  I, like the eager sellers of loyalty plans at every store I enter, are only doing what their boss has told them to do.

The difference being, these days I just end up with more crap in my inbox and another loyalty card in my wallet, but those I convinced to get a credit card, potentially ended up with a terrible credit rating and a large debt.

Shame on me yes?

Thursday, 15 May 2014

My annual (or less often) visit to the theatre and what happened there.

I went to the theatre.  A matinee of course.   I go sleepy byes at night time theatre.

I have never been a major lover of plays.  My simple and unsophisticated heart yearns for ultra daggy musicals with Cats being my all time favourite and Les Mis a close second.

But plays...all that talking.  No singing or dancing to amuse my teeny weeny attention span.  Not so much.

Especially since a terrible experience a few years ago when Mike and I decided to make an effort and accepted an invitation to a dinner and performance of A Long Day's Journey Into Night.

Yes it was, a long, long, long journey.  Four hours after it started, we stumbled out into the near midnight darkness and wondered at the time we'd lost and would never get back.  Yes we know the actors were excellent and the storyline was heart rending, but four hours? Really?

Since then, the only time I've stepped into a theatre is for the 13 Story Treehouse, Charlie and Lola and several of Sarah's dance performances.  None of these were over 1.5 hours.

I'd booked to go to this performance with a couple of mates way back in October 2013, so we'd all completely forgotten until Tuesday when the girl who'd organised it, (my top notch friend C) reminded us.  I ditched any plans I had for Wednesday, geared myself up for a long afternoon, and then thought to double check how long I was in for the play went for.

Imagine my joy when I discovered that this performance was only an hour. 60 minutes. 11am-12 midday.  A real play, just really short.  A perfect match for my attention span.

After experiencing unprecedented fullness in the car park across the road we realised we were dealing with a sellout.  And after experiencing some very strange parking antics by our fellow play attendees we realised we (in this case, comparatively only) were spring chickens!

We were at least 20 years younger than the AVERAGE age of our companions.  Seating took forever, and there were many rearrangements of seating as theatregoers who didn't bring their glasses were redirected to the right spots.

As we waited for the performance to start, my compadres and I discussed what our nana hairstyle would be? The bouffant? The groovy coloured pixie style? The curl and set? Then we started on fashion but had only begun on jackets vs cardigans before the lights went down and we had to stop.

Myra Hess- one clever and determined lady. 
FYI the play was about a lady called Myra Hess who was a famous pianist during WW2. She was behind the organisation of 6.5 years of musical concerts in the London's National Gallery, which went on throughout the war despite many, many risks, struggles and setbacks.  She was completely amazing.  The monologue parts were interspersed with a very talented pianist, playing pieces that were popular during the concerts.  He was totally awesome.

The performance was excellent, and starred Patricia Routledge (Hyacinth Bucket from Keeping up Appearances).  She's getting on a bit herself and sat down for the performance and even got to read from a book (although she looked like she was remembering an awful lot).  I reckon anyone would need a book.   I'd have no chance of remembering nearly 60 minutes worth of monologue.

Although I'm quite good at five minute shouty made up monologues at the kids.

It was an excellent role for someone who is 85, and Patricia Routledge was sensational.  It made me think of my Mum and how unfair life can be.  Mrs Routledge (all credit to her) can hold the stage on her own for an hour and be so articulate and polished and my Mum can't even walk anymore because her body has let her down.

It just made me feel a bit wistful, y'know?

As the play went on, the unmistakable scent of talcum powder, lavender and a faint undertone of naphthalene wafted gently around us.

At least one of my friends had a wee nap mid way through.  And we heard the unmistakable snorfle sound of an elderly gentleman who's drifted off and woken himself up with his first snore.

I'd turned my phone to mute but not turned it off, not realising how quiet a theatre gets during a play (I'm used to kids movies where your phone could ring forever and you'd never hear it).  The vibrate was still on so I had to sit on it to shut it up.  I was treated to a few disgusted sniffs and at least one disapproving 'humph'.  I so deserved it.

When it was over we escaped quickly, but not quickly enough to get caught up in some very strange departure shenanigans in the car park.

I know I've posted not that long ago about how I think I'm becoming a Granny, but this experience has proved it.  I had such a nice time, got my kulcha on and was back at my kitchen bench laptop position by 1pm with a cup of tea.

Myra Hess is famous for her arrangement of Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. I think it was originally made for an orchestra but Ms Hess did a version just for piano.  It's song I've always loved when I've heard it but never knew the composer or name of it until about 10 minutes ago.

You will know it too, and it may even lift your heart to hear it on this day.  Here is the link to a very talented girl playing it.

PS.  I know it's been a long time since my last post.  And while I live in hope of continuing regularly, I have discovered in 2014 that life is a bloody tricky thing and blog posting can sometimes fall by the wayside.  Please bear with me, and forgive me because I'm very unreliable.

Photo courtesy of Libby Foster (nee Hess) via The National Gallery website. 

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The embarrassment hot flush

This is exactly how I feel.  
Ever spent several days after an embarrassing moment writhing in agony every time your memory reminds you of it? I'm sure no one is immune to this nasty experience.

At least I don't think they are.  Actually I bet there are some totally brazen folk who never regret a word or an action.  Bastards.

When it happens to me, every time I remember my embarrassing moment I go red again and have a sort of a hot flush thing.

Is it just me? Surely not.

It happened the other day.  I was speaking to a new acquaintance, someone I respect and like but don't know very well.  They referred (a little obliquely and most unexpectedly) to a post I wrote on this blog and I didn't twig immediately to what they were talking about.  So instead of saying thank you, or making a suitable witty and intelligent comment, I said nothing and acted casual in the worst possible sense of the phrase.

In short, I just blanked them.  Changed the subject and walked off.  GAH!!!  You should see me now, I'm red as a beetroot just writing about it.

Later that day, I worked out which post they were referring to, and what an exciting thing it was that they had read it (although a bit daunting).  And I wanted to go back and explain my total hopelessness and thank them, and be clever and amusing and urbane.

But of course, it was far too late for that.  Instead I spent the next three days going red with shame every time I remembered my social ineptitude.

I wondered when in life this phenomena begins.  Based on a few early memories of embarrassment, I suspected it was early onset. So I checked with the kids and they said it happened to them all the time!

Issy said once she kept singing when everyone else in the class had stopped.  She said it was SO embarrassment.  So young and so vulnerable, bless them.  I do remember doing totally embarrassing things when I was little and feeling blushy for days.

And of course, back in my totally foolish youth I would regularly forget large parts of my evening, as part of my quest for being the stupidest, most inebriated, staying out latest university student or overseas backpacker I could be.

Oh yes, those nights certainly caused me some angst the next morning.  Luckily I spent them with people who also forgot large chunks of the evening.  And of course I NEVER behave like that anymore.

No, really, I don't.  Nights like those require some serious time and effort put into them.  You have to stay out past midnight for one thing, and I can tell you, that ain't happening.  I am a pumpkin by 10pm most nights, and very often before.

It barely happens at New Years.  This NYE just past, I was begging the kids to go home at 10:30 and they wouldn't let me.  I was asleep on my feet by the time the midnight fireworks were over, they had to push me up the hill to home.  Note: we were only 500m from home, if that.

So while I'm no stranger to that post embarrassing event, blushy feeling, it doesn't happen as often as it used to.  Partly due to the fact that I'm so very mature and confident now I'm in my 40's but mainly
because I just don't get out much.

But when I do meet someone new, who I want to make a good impression on (as I did with this person) I can easily become overwhelmed and do stupid things, like blank someone who's just trying to compliment me and be nice and make a connection.

So Mrs B if you are still reading my blog, I'm sorry.  You know who you are.  And to the rest of you embarrassment hot flushers out there, you have my sympathy, empathy and kindest regards.

Image by Stuart Miles, courtesy of 

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Apple? Pear? Fruit Salad?

I had an apple sticky note.  But I had to draw the pear.  Sorry. 

On the weekend.  I realised jeans season is approaching and flowy, sin disguising sundress season is about to end.

I wondered if I could even do my jeans up.

I decided enough was enough.  Enormous indeed were my decisions.

No more family bags of Maltesers were to enter the house.  Ever again.  Except when they're 2 for $7 because that really is a bargain.

No more family bags of M&Ms were to enter the house either.  Nor share packs of KitKats.  Except, as above, if the price was so good, it would be a travesty to ignore it.

And no Easter Eggs. None.  Nada.  Zip.  Maybe a small bag for the kids...

After dinner each night I was to have a small sweet eg.  2-3 pieces Cadbury or 1 x diet mouse thingo.  After that, if desperate, a cup of tea.

No pre dinner cashew nuts.  No no no.

No finishing off kids meals.  No no no no NO.

After making this decision.  I went onto the Michelle Bridges site for the 450, 000, 000th time.  I toyed around with the Join My Team Now! button, or whatever it says, Be Your Best Self! or Start Your Fitness Journey!

I didn't press it. She wants me to exercise 6 times a week while eating hardly anything.  And what at the end of 12 weeks?  Is exercising 6 times a week my future?  Eating hardly anything my plan for life?  Not likely.

So within another 12 weeks after that I'll just be back to normal.

Let's just take a quick look at my normal:

I like to keep my fat nice and close, around my belly.  This is (according to some expert, somewhere, or maybe many experts all over the world) a very very bad place to keep it.  I should, if I'm going to carry fat, make sure it's on my hips and thighs, or my bum.  This is (apparently) a much better place to keep it because it's further away from my heart.

I am not sure all those lovely ladies with extra fat on their hips, bum and thighs would agree with this.  And in any case, fat goes wherever it wants.  In my case, it fancies hanging around on my belly.

I have a close girlfriend who has a lovely flat belly, but her thighs and hips drive her mad.  In fact, I have several girlfriend like this.  If we are to resort to fruit comparisons, they are the beautiful pear.  My pear shaped friend laments that when she does get a grip on herself and exercises and eats carefully, the LAST place to lose the fat are her hips, thighs and bum.  Her face goes gaunt, her breasts start shrinking (gah!) but the other trouble spots remain troublesome.

To continue the charming fruit analogy, I am an apple.  This results in silly stick legs, topped by a round, comfortable, squishy middle.  When I am careful with my food and extravagant with my exercise my legs just get skinnier and my belly stays nice and pillowy.  My breasts also soldier on to the bitter end while my face goes gaunt.

Too much information?  Sorry.

My normal is annoying me.  And as I approach my 'ahem' mid forties, my shape is getting harder to manipulate with normal careful eating and moderate exercise.

I think it's time for DRASTIC ACTION.

And the answer is: 5:2.  Allegedly staves off Alzheimer's.  There's a fair bit of that in my family so I wouldn't mind taking evasive action.  I contemplated starting yesterday but the call of my Sustain with yoghurt and avocado toast was just too much.  Also I forgot, which brings me back to Alzheimer's.

I really need to get a grip.  Two days a week? It's not so bad.  I'm definitely going to do it.  Maybe I'll start tomorrow.

Anyone done it?  Your thoughts?

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Five signs I’m turning into a Granny.

Sure I know I'm getting older.  But I honestly think I'm having a quantum leap past middle age and on to the other side.  My priorities seem so removed from the young and frivolous that I fear I'm bound for endless Grannydom.  And I don't mean your Groovy Gran or your Nan who's totally young at heart.  I mean the grumpy kind.

Let's hope time proves me wrong and it's just a stage I'm going through.

Reason 1. On the weekend I drove past several groups of young girls walking to a music concert/festival thingo.  It was a warm, sunny day.  Every single one of them was wearing tiny weeny cutoff shorts and tank tops.  Much leg and midriff was showing.  And all I could think of, was, I hope those girls have put sunscreen on or they’ll burn to a crisp.

Granny anyone?

Reason 2. I love getting up at 6am and having a cup of tea.  I listen to the birds and watch the sun come up.  Sometimes I put out a load of washing. This is after going to bed as early as 9:30 after nodding on the couch for half an hour.  No stamina. 

Such a Granny.

Reason 3. I put warm sweaters in the kid’s schoolbags if the temperature looks like dropping below 23 degrees.  Come ON.  In many countries, everyone is out in t-shirts when it’s 15+ and over 20 degrees is like a heatwave.  Not here where a 15 degree day is the depths of winter.  I’m certainly not helping them when I tell them to put something warm on when it’s not even below 20. 

Just like a Granny. 

Reason 4. I always have tissues.  In the car, in the kitchen, in my bag.  I can always blow a nose, or wipe up a spill.  Except on Sunday when Issy sneezed massively twice (and Issy’s sneezes are to be feared) in church and I had nothing.  I think her shirt will survive the snot we had to wipe on it.  This was just before the thong blowout I wrote of yesterday.  I’ve now learned my lesson and popped a couple into my little wrist purse for just such a moment.  I think I only need to transition to keeping one down my bra or up my sleeve to achieve true Grannydom. 

And finally,

Reason 5. I have a flowery handbag.  It's made of material, not leather.  See!  And I love it and want to keep it forever. 

I love it.  I don't care what anyone thinks.