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30.6.10

Free-range Tsunamis


You've no doubt heard of Lenore Skenazy of Free-Range Kids. I love her.

You know how sometimes you're absolutely sure of the rightness of something. When I heard about Lenore's quest to give her kids some independent breathing space, I just knew she was right. She's right that children deserve independence. She's right that being responsible is a necessary part of growing up. She's right that the world isn't necessarily any more dangerous than it ever was. She's right that parents today are so convinced that something is going to happen to their child that kids are growing up feeling like they've done something wrong.

And why wouldn't they? Many parents are so fearful of 'something happening' to their child they box them up inside their schools and homes like criminals. Leonore sites the example of a parent who won't even let her children collect mail from the mailbox in their own front yard.

It's not just the fear of abduction. Parents are fearful of their children getting run over, falling over, being maimed, trampled, bullied, getting lost, getting hit by a sniper bullet....  They watch their children every minute of every day and usually a few times during the night too. They schedule so many indoor 'extra curricular' activities that the poor child is surrounded by four walls from the minute they wake up until the minute they go to sleep.

Can you imagine living like that*?

I choose to believe that the world is a safe and loving place. Not everything in the world, but most of it. We've educated the Tsunamis from infancy about what is dangerous and what is not. We didn't 'babyproof' the house (although we're not unsafe: we used gates at the stairways before they got the hang of stairs and certain antics by The Badoo forced me to buy those plugs for the electricity outlet because, well, she's The Badoo). We practice crossing the road together safely every single time. We're quiet in the car when the traffic gets heavy. We would never go into a public toilet alone. We know that strangers are usually friends, but we don't talk to them unless a grown-up we know is also listening.

Now, marry Leonore's rightness with Richard Louv's Last Child in the Wood rightness and you've pretty much got our parenting style. The Tsunamis are lucky enough to live in a house surrounded on three sides by national park and reserve. They explore the reserve around our house and their own imaginations every day. They make mud pies and throw them at each other. They dig for worms and herd ants into houses made from sticks. Clambering over large sandstone boulders, climbing up swaying trees, reaching the top to call down to mum "you look like a barbie doll' (why, thank you my children). I let them roam. They're free-range, organic children with skinned knees and grubby faces - just the way nature intended.

Of course, every now and then I call out to them and they know they must call back immediately. If they don't Barbie will come tearing up that reserve so fast you'd swear she'd been shot from a cannon... Afterall, I'm free-range, not neglectful!



* Oh, wait a minute, I have a corporate job...

29.6.10

The things I (we? surely not just me?) do and say


On the train this morning, sitting in the vestibule (I would never sit in the actual carriage) I found myself thinking "why do I always sit in the vestibule? Why don't I ever sit in the actual carriage?" And, you know what, I didn't have an answer. At the back of my mind a little voice was saying "claustrophobia!" and "what if there was a fire?" and "terrorist!" but I ignored the back of my mind as it's prone to histrionics and I prefer to think of myself as a calm, rational sort of person.

It's just that every now and then I catch myself doing something slightly bizarre. For instance, if I'm walking down the footpath and the school girl chant "step on a crack, break your mother's back" pops into my head (as it does on occasion) I simply cannot step on a crack. So I go hopping and skipping along the footpath like an overgrown 5 year old. The back of my mind is saying "please, just don't break your poor long-suffering mother's back, especially not now that she's in her sixties and has osteoarthritis, the damage could be catastrophic!!"

Or if I have peas on my plate, I must eat the peas first before I can get to the good stuff. The back of my mind is silent on this one but my poor long-suffering mother's voice is clear at the front of it: eat your peas, young lady!

And just the other night I threw myself from the door onto the bed, making sure that no part of me touched the floor between... difficult one to explain this, but the back of my mind says "remember when you were younger and your little sister told you that people lived under your bed and they would reach out and grab your ankles if you came anywhere near your bed... imagine if they grabbed your ankles!"

Well, see, apparently they still live under there.

28.6.10

Pretentious wanker tosser types

[Source: Stella Pictures]

I know it's not nice to judge others and I reeeeally try not to. But there are certain choices that my fellow citizens of the world make that I feel are just so contrived and awful that they are begging for criticism. Begging.

Now, I'm probably going to offend some people, and for that I apologise. I want you to remember that good people make pretentious choices sometimes, so calling someone a wanker doesn't necessarily make them a bad person. My friend M is a really lovely, sunny, fun and kind person but she named her first born son 'Jet'. Tosser.

Kids in trilbies.

Buying designer clothes for 'the quality'

Adopting a hyper-sculpted beard with the ironic excuse 'I hate shaving'

Drinking designer water like antipodes or Bling H2O or Tap

Hungry models pretending they eat

Wearing earmuffs in Sydney

Men over 18 working the 'emo' look

Doing up your shoelaces under the tongue... because bows are so unfashionable?

But, really, it's hard to think of bigger wankers than people who fork out mega bucks buying designer clothes their kids... Exhibit A: "Shopping at a Sydney Bonza Brats children's wear store last week, Double Bay mother Anna Macri admits it is not unusual for her to run up $600 on her American Express card in one shopping session, collecting designer pieces for her four-year-old daughter, Francesca, and 18-month-old Gabriella. "It's expensive, but the stuff does last the distance," she says. "With the first one, you do go psycho spending, but now my 18-month-old is wearing the clothes." [Source: SMH, April 17, 2007] OOOOh, sorry, so you're spending $600 on kids designer clothes so you can hand them down? Because generations of families spending $10 on kids clothes have obviously not been able to do that. Noooow I get it.

What sort of stuff do you find frustratingly wanky?

27.6.10

Make me breakfast | Delish ricotta pancakes

Is there anything more scrummy than Sunday brunch and Sunday papers?

Just typing the combination makes me drool with longing. Back in the day, LOML and I had Sunday brunch every single week. Wherever we found ourselves (we did a lot of travel in our junior burger years) (warning: I use parentheses A LOT in this post) (even more than usual), we'd find the right cafe (nothing fancy with the eggs, everything fancy with the bread), select the right table (window, large enough for papers, no drafts) and order much the same thing. Sunday brunch is not for trial and error! Cosy food, cosy cafe and Sunday paper walls neatly tucking us into our own little world.

These days Sunday brunch involves a favourite child-tolerant (there isn't an eating establishment on earth without golden arches that is truly 'child-friendly') outdoor deli-cafe and three crazed Tsunamis running around high on life and banana bread. There is always some kind of epic spill involving 2 waiters, 38 napkins and a change of clothes (generally the waiters'). You can also guarantee that someone will insist on bringing their dog to the cafe, sending Maxi-Taxi screaming from the venue with a screech so terrifying that the majority of patrons prepare to evacuate due to fire.

So, you know, we tend to eat in.

Ricotta pancakes with yoghurt, banana and honey


1 cup (150g) self-raising flour (Wholemeal also works great!)
1 tsp bicarb of soda
Pinch of salt
2 tbs (40g) caster sugar
125g fresh ricotta
1 cup (250ml) skim milk (Buttermilk also yummy here.)
1 egg, beaten
25g unsalted butter, melted
1/2 lemon, rind grated, juiced (In all honesty, our lemon tree is such a dud that I usually leave out the lemons. They are missed, but only fleetingly.)
Oil spray, to fry
Sliced bananas, yoghurt and honey, to serve

Sift flour, soda and salt into a bowl and stir in sugar. In a separate bowl, combine the ricotta, milk, egg, melted butter, lemon rind and juice. Beat well until smooth. Gradually whisk this into the dry ingredients to form a smooooooooth batter.

Heat a heavy based, non-stick frypan, spray lightly with oil spray and pour in batter to form a 12cm pancake. Cook over medium heat until bubbles appear on the surface (about 3 mins), flip and cook for another 1-2 mins.

Keep warm while you cook the remaining pancakes. Makes about 8.

Serve hot with spoonful of yoghurt, banana slices and generous drizzle of honey. Yummo. The kids will love this one too.

Kids, what kids?


[Recipe: taste.com.au]
[Important note: my pancakes generally look not-a-patch on the Luke Burgess photo above. Nor does my photography.]


26.6.10

This Saturday I'm grateful for... fairies.

Saturday, what a day, grooving all week with you... oh, sorry. I was having a bit of a public Happy Days moment (go on, admit it, you have them in private all the time).

Here in Maxabellaland, Saturday is traditionally a sport, shop, sort the clothes, sweep the floors, strangle the Tsunamis (insert other 's' words here - no pun intended) kinda day. But on Maxabella loves... I thought it would be grounding to make Saturday my 'grateful' day.

See, way back in January 2010, I decided that rather than commit myself to my usual 267 new year's resolutions (there's a lot to work on here), I would commit to just one:

Be grateful everyday.

And you know what, so far 20zen is shaping up to be one of the most content, most loving, most organised, most motivating, most happy years yet. Grateful for that!

I'm also grateful when...

1. Maxi-Taxi wears his school jumper the whole day when he has a cold and there are no snot marks on the sleeves. (Starting small here, people!)

2. The mailman brings my house porn magazines all the way up to the verandah instead of folding and squashing them in the mailbox slot so hard I need the Jaws of Life to release them.

3. The fairies* fold my clothes.

What are you grateful for today?


* Could possibly have been LOML, CCTV under review.

25.6.10

Things I learnt this week including the fact that bus scrolls are taking over the known world

Sadly, my Fridge Chronicles did not take the blogging world by storm as intended.* But, even though they chose not to participate, many seemed to love the idea so look out for July and - EXTENDED BY POPULAR DEMAND - you can still post for June. In any case, I've learnt a lot about blogging this week, among other things...

1. Stumbleupon is a site that lets you scroll through the web on topics that interest you. It's likely to also be a great way to drive traffic to your blog if you're interested.

2. It's possible for a female, droney-voiced, rather smart redhead to become prime minister of blokey, over-excited, rather, um, cerebrally-challenged, tanned Australia. My thoughts on this are perfectly summarised in an earlier post.

3. It's estimated that dyslexia affects almost 10% of children in Australia.

4. You can't dabble in Twitter, it's an all or nothing place.

5. Kids library bags online cost over $30 (or are cheaper but so yuck)... unbelievable. Horrified, I rushed to Funky Fabrix and almost bought this lovely fabric to make my own.

6. At least 62.8%** of homes featured in Important Interior Design (IID) magazines (or 'house porn' as LOML calls them) must contain a whimsical destination bus scroll.

7. I just don't get Haiku (although Fluffy Bunnies does write some lovely ones...)

8. 'Passwords' is a really good way for Early Readers to learn their sight words. You stick words at every door in the house (hard ones at most used doors). When it's "passwords on" everyone has to say the sight word in order to get through the door. "Passwords off" means Mum gets a little break. Taking a leisurely evening stroll through the house in the same manner each night after bath is also a clever way to use the loci system for learning the words.

9. I would rather stand in line all morning than use the self-serve checkout at Woolies. It's just not right.

10. Pictory showcases the most amazing photography and the stories behind the photos. I just love it.


* Although they were not as big a bomb as that intelligent, witty, charming bastard Sir Ken Robinson.

** Please note: this statistic is made up. It means absolutely nothing and can therefore be used as a supporting fact in any argument as long as 8 glasses of wine have been consumed prior.

Flog your blog Friday

Thanks to the lovely Brenda at Mummy-time.

24.6.10

This is me not purchasing anything...

June is my 'get back on track' month for budgets. I don't know if it's the EOFY looming or just that most Mays (and Jans, Febs, Mars and Apes) I go a bit mental with the buying, but June has traditionally been the Month of Try Not To Spend As Much On Stuff You Don't Need.

So, I still shop for groceries and important things. But I wind the pantry stocks down by making weird recipes involving all those cans of soup and curry pastes that gather in Woodstock proportions over the course of the year. I also let the car blink its pesky fuel lamp at me for as long as possible (what a rush). And I cleverly delay paying any bills that come in that month. So canny.

Now, if I was buying this June, which I am not, I would definitely be getting one of these gorgeous Naomi Murrell brooches.

23.6.10

Do schools kill creativity?



Maxi-Taxi seems to be struggling a bit with learning to read and write. We're doing OT and the 'D word' has been tentatively raised, but it's early days for him and I'm expecting the best.  I have a tendency to do that to my detriment, but I'm hoping this is not one of those times. He is such a bright, charming, imaginative little fellow that I can't help but feel that he will find his way through. I will be patient.

His struggle has also got me thinking about the way we learn to learn. In particular I keep going back to an amazing TED talk I viewed a few months ago by Sir Ken Robinson on creativity. He instantly struck a chord in me and I realised just how important it is to nurture creativity - in whatever form it takes in each individual.

How easy it is to credit rote learning, when it really isn't learning at all. It's like getting good grades for memory retention. How this leads to giving merit to the kinds of subjects that allow for rote learning, thereby setting children on a lifetime of judging 'the arts' as somehow inferior to 'the sciences'. I'm sure Leonardo would disagree. And I know what kind of thinking and doing and living brings me the most happiness in my own life.

You really must take the time to watch this 20 minute talk. Sir Ken is goofy and funny and just so right about so many things. I'd be interested to hear what you think.

22.6.10

The Winter Solstice: love in a cold climate


Determined as I was to start the Fridge Chronicles* yesterday, I completely forgot to honour the Winter Solstice in my blog. On the pagan calender, the 21st of June is the point that marks the return of the sun's light and warmth. Which is very appropriate here in Maxabellaland because 14 years ago it's the date that I met LOML at the Strawberry Hills Hotel in Slurry Hills.

We were each there to see a jazz band called Andy 500. There was me, my sisters and everyone I know and there was LOML, gorgeous, giant and solo.  I boldly sauntered over and asked him to join us. He said, simply, abruptly, devastatingly 'no'. He claims he thought I was asking if he had a cigarette. Hurumph. Rejected, embarrassed but true to my belief that if you want something badly enough you've got to go out there and make it happen, I drank 11 more glasses of wine and asked him again.

Fourteen years of sheer happiness has followed. It's annoying, but it's true. He has been my own light and warmth that I carry with me wherever I go. Pure love, simple and renewed.

So fitting that we met on the Solstice. Oh, and so fitting that Andy 500 played at our wedding.


* It's a monthly chronicle and you can still join in for June - just go to the post below.

-----------------------------
I rewound this post on 22.1.2011

20.6.10

The June Chronicles: What's on your fridge?


On Sunday as I gave my fridge a half-hearted swipe with a wet cloth, it occurred to me that in most households, the fridge door is a very dynamic, revealing chronicler of family life. Mine changes almost daily as artworks, notices, shopping lists and snippets come and go. I thought it would be fun to record and share what's on our fridges once a month. You can do it with photos on your own blog (linky at the end of this post, open for a week - I've never done this before so I hope it works...) or by comment below. I would love to hear from you either way!

The June Chronicles


There's a cute picture of friendly teeth that Cappers drew for the dentist but I forgot to take last visit. The sweet postcard is from Ivy Designs (customised with grey Cappers 'paper sculpture') and you can get these cute little loveheart magnets from kikki k.

There's a little cartoon that I've had since Maxi-Taxi was about 3 months old. It says: 6.07am. Only 12 and a half hours until Ned's bedtime. I related then. I relate now.
There's a picture of Kingston, whose 'education' we are sponsoring in Malawi through Plan International. This is the photo we received when we started sponsoring him. He's must be at least 23 now so I assume he's in about 5th grade.

There's a print-out of the 'five minute skirt' instructions from Angry Chicken that I was going to make next weekend last April.

There's an Elk postcard that I just like.

 And there's a picture of my beautiful nephews and niece, children of MultipleMum at And then there were four (make that 'and then there were four under four'... if you've ever struggled with finding the patience for your own young 'uns, you need to read this blog!)

That's my fridge for June. What's on your fridge right now?

Lunchbox loving | Super-scrummy muesli bars

Cappers, The Badoo, LOML and I are in love with these little bars of happiness. I can't say I managed to persuade Maxi-Taxi to love something so healthy (it's got 'green bits in it'). But next time I'll probably leave out the pepitas and add more oats and tanis and hopefully that'll win him over.


Homemade museli bars

1 cup rolled oats (use the 'quick' chopped up variety so the bars aren't jawbreakers)
1 cup desiccated coconut
3/4 cup wheatgerm
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup sunflower kernels
1/2 cup pepitas
1 cup sultanas
125g butter
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar

Lightly grease and line 3cm deep 16cm x 28cm baking pan with baking paper.

Toast oats, coconut, wheatgerm, sesame seeds, sunflower kernels and pumpkin seeds in a frying pan over medium heat, stirring for 8 - 10 minutes until golden. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool. Once cool, stir in sultanas.

Cook butter, honey and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring for 3 -4 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer on low. Simmer without stirring for around 7 minutes. (Here the recipe called for some complicated thing involving small balls forming when you drop a little of the mixture in ice-cold water, but I didn't bother.)

Add caramel mix to dry ingredients and stir until combined.

Spoon mixture into pan and use a large metal spoon to press down firmly. Press and press and then press some more. Allow to cool and then unlike in the photo above, I cut them into 3cm by 1.5cm little bars, wrap each in al foil and then into an airtight container. They keep for over a week this way and I can't see any reason why you couldn't freeze any extras.

Recipe is adapted from one at taste.com.au and I used the photo from there by Steve Brown as for the life of me I can't find my camera (cue panic!).

19.6.10

Winter Joy


Flannelette pyjamas. Icy cold feet. Stacks and stacks of cushions. Look out!

Posted by Picasa

18.6.10

Things I learnt this week, including the mother of all lentils

A bit of a slow week I'm afraid. You will note that I kind of ran out of learnings at about point 7, but pressed on regardless...
1. Storybird is a really sweet site where you can create storybooks using existing artwork and themes. Delicious.

2. After singer/songwriter Lori Lieberman saw Don McLean singing his composition "Empty Chairs" in concert, she wrote a poem titled "Killing Me Softly with His Blues". Which became the basis of Roberta Flack's hit "Killing Me Softly with His Song." Thank you Don.

3. Drinking one bottle of water has the same environmental impact as driving a car for a kilometre, which is interesting considering that a litre of bottled water generally costs more than a litre of petrol.

4. For some parents (not naming any names here) it's practically impossible to stick to the 'no children in our bed at night no matter what' rule. Which sort of means that that parent (identity protected) really shouldn't make sweeping statements such as 'no children in our bed at night no matter what', especially to said children.

5. Environmentally-friendly laundry detergents (EFLD) do not offer the same hospitality to your clothes. I have yet to find one that actually cleans. If you know and love one, please recommend and I will try.

6. I am feeling particularly bad about my inability to find an EFLD because I learned this week just how much in love I am with my (new) dryer. It is the king of Dryer-Person relationships and I have never been happier.

7. Clinical Psychologist Lyn Worsley has developed a programme called "The Resillience Doughnut" which helps to build resillience in children. The programme uses the formula "if something is working, do more of it" and Lyn dictates an insightful, common-sense approach that is easy for parents to apply straightaway. I found her talk amazing.

8. It's not just beans. Too much fruit will make you toot.

9. Making a statement like 'too much fruit will make you toot' instantly lowers people's perception of your intelligence level.

10. Trying to pass brown lentils off as 'baby chickpeas' doesn't work. It results in not a single lentil being eaten and you will also find yourself having one of those conversations involving questions such as 'how old are the chickpea babies?' and 'are they brothers and sisters?' and 'where is the baby chickpeas' mother?' (stuffing her head into the gas oven, most likely).


Did you learn anything new to share this week?

[Colourful lentil image: allproducts.com]

17.6.10

All this and high-heels too?

This morning I got dressed for work. Involves changing clothes (usually), washing and moisturising face ($12.95 pump-pack Cetaphil convert), putting hair in (signature?) ponytail.

Then I chased the Tsunamis from one end of the house to the other getting them ready for school / preschool / Nonnos. Clambered artlessly onto chair to get something down from impossibly high kitchen cupboard. Did a quick once-around with the vacuum after The Badoo broke a string of beads. Raced up and down the stairs about 4 times because I am naturally forgetful and it's the only exercise I get somedays.

Bolted out the front door and down the front steps with The Badoo under one arm, computer under the other, Cappers backpack on my back and my handbag balanced seal-like on my nose. Landed a smooch on LOML as I opened the car door with my foot. Drove Maxi-Taxi to before school care (at the school). Walked up the steep path to school and down the steep path to school.

Drove to the train station. Ran from car to station. Fled up station stairs. Fled down station stairs. Leaped onto train. Skipped merrily from train station into work (as you do). And landed, seal-like at my desk.

Now, how would I have done all that in a pair of high-heels?

Or with manicured fingers?

How?

16.6.10

Everything's comin' up...


There are two mottos that we live by here in Maxabellaland (thanks Jess!).

1. This too shall pass.

and

2. Just do it and it's done.

My day yesterday was not so good. My day today is much better. A good night's sleep (it's true, the Tsunamis do occasionally get with the programme) and a lovely cup of tea at a fellow school mum's house and everything's coming up roses.

Which is really why motto number 1 exists. Just when you think you're at breaking point, you take a deep breath, repeat the motto and somehow endure. And this, too, passes.

Motto number 2 is an attempt to beat our natural urge to procrastinate (see here for details). Every now and then, when something's hanging around that we've been talking about doing for ages, we repeat the motto and just get the bastard done. And it's done.

I know they're not the most inspirational mottos in the world, but they help me get through life feeling a little bit better about most things. Do you have mottos like these that you live by?

15.6.10

If I'd known it was a 24 hour posting... part two.


This afternoon, this is me. I don't want to bleat on about bloody annoying colleagues, so I won't. But I would just like to point out that the last time I had a decent conversation at work, Howard was in government. Maybe the two are related, maybe they're not, but I am postal.


Any new suggestions for reigning in wayward colleagues?

If I'd known it was a 24 hour posting, I might not have signed up...


Today, this is me. I don't want to bleat on about sleep deprivation, so I won't. But I would just like to point out that the last time I had a good night's sleep, Howard was in government. Maybe the two are related, maybe they're not, but I am tired.

Any new suggestions for reigning in wayward sleepers?

13.6.10

Children's bedroom lust (the acceptable kind...)



I have a secret passion for decorating children's bedrooms. This secret is so well-kept that even if you visited my actual children's bedrooms, you would not realise this passion exists...




Although, let's be real here, people. There is absolutely no evidence that a child has ever set foot in any of these magnificent bedroom showpieces and even if they did they would be instantly chastised for leaving marks on the air.

 

 

I think sometimes I am just too practical and stingy to be a truly good decorator. Cappers bedroom is a lovely space, but she wanted pink, pink, pink and that's what she got (note absence of pink in stylish rooms above). There was a reasonable blue ticking roman blind on her bedroom window when we moved in and I managed to convince her that it was permanently glued to the wall. Turns out that blind saves the room from looking like a particularly messy marshmallow.



For The Badoo's room, I made about 60 colourful printed butterflies (that's right, 60 of the little devils - see WMG for only possible explanation) and strung them back and forth across her room. They look beautiful and as a newborn she was fascinated, but that was the beginning and end of decorating The Badoo's bedroom. Make that practical, stingy and lazy.



Maxi-Taxi's room is huge so the lonely bunting I hung in the window is the equivalent of hanging one balloon and calling it a party. But, you know, boys are hard work to decorate for if they're not especially nautical and oh my, have you seen the price of kid stuff these days? Besides, I have a book to read. Practical, stingy, lazy and unmotivated.

But I'll continue to dream that I'm none of the above. That I have both the capacity and desire to furnish my home in a manner that is individual, appealing and effortlessly chic. And practical. Oh, and cheap.

12.6.10

The tic tock of a boy's life


Yeah, so Maxi-Taxi has developed a new nervous tic.  He's had tics off and on since he started school in January this year. Mostly on. He brushes his hand down his face and then the back of his head. Or he quickly touches both ears and then his chin. Or sometimes he touches each shoulder and opens his eyes really wide. He's very busy. Sometimes when he gets tired there's so much activity going on that I'm tempted to throw him in the bath with the washing.

The fact that I can make a joke like that shows just how far we've come. When the tics first started, we were horrified, baffled and frightened. Ahead I saw a lifetime of over-clean hands and shouting out fuck at old ladies on public transport. He was just so little and so new and we saw this tic business as just another overwhelming thing for the poor lad to have to deal with. We contacted the school counsellor who assured us that tics were relatively common children prone to nervousness start school. I googled the life out of it, of course. 6-8% is reasonably common compared to other weird (0.5 - 1%?) stuff kids get up to. Anyway, to reassure us, the counsellor met with Maxi-Taxi and gave us a call following their meeting.

"He's fine," she said. "Actually, he's beyond fine. He just described anxiety in the most articulate way I've ever heard."

He said: "T he world is a very big place and doing this makes it feel smaller."

My goodness. Were these funny little rituals the reason why my usually anxious little fella was coping so beautifully at big school? Indeed, they were Maxi-Taxi's comfort and friend and while I can't say we also became besties, I suddenly saw the tics in a whole new light.

Since those early days, they've slowly been reducing in number and frequency and they stopped altogether for a day or two over the school holidays. We can assume that they're probably just a temporary thing. With the threat of total life malfunction behind us, these days they're just something he does.

That said, I mentioned there's a new one. At football training on Wednesday I found myself saying, in reply to a direct question: "no, no he's been totally nit-free for a week.  He's just scratching his head constantly as a comfort thing."

All eyes on Maxi-Taxi. Doubt in those eyes. Heeeeelllloooo Nit Boy.

[Image found here]

11.6.10

What I learned* this week including the benefits of procrastination


In a week of redheads, sister-lovin' and afternoon teas, here's my top 10 things to know.

1. Some people just aren't that nice, including (shock!) in etherspace.

2. Since "mede-tai" means happiness in Japanese, sea bream ("tai") is traditionally served at weddings. (For more utterly fascinating things to know about Japan, contact Maxi-Taxi whose class went Japanese for the 'World Cup Week' at school.)

3. It's possible to like OTT bitchy, gay males after all. Michael K over at dlisted is hysterical and not too annoying.

4. Not that I really care, but I when I learned that "Kendra Wilkinson believes her sex tape will make her a better parent" I had a little chuckle. Especially when she goes on to say "We're not going to have kids just because a sex tape came out. That's just stupid." Gold.

5. The kids clothes at Ivy Design are fall-in-love beautiful. Look out for The Badoo in the little number above come Springtime.

6. 'Jedi' is an official religion, with over 70,000 followers in Australia. A little concerning, maybe it could be the new Scientology?

7. LOML is a saint. (We really should get around to The Badoo's christening!)

8. Fancy hairdressers charge obscene amounts of money to essentially do something that Cappers does well. Cut stuff. Maybe Cappers can cut my hair next time...

9. Venus is the only planet that rotates clockwise. Thanks for jamming my head with this fascinating fact, Mirg. I especially appreciate the lecture about Venus not fitting in with the entire rest of the universe while Mars is fitting in just fine.

10. Companies such as 3M and Google have cottoned on to the amazing creative power of procrastination. A portion of every employee's working day is set aside to 'work on anything they like' (apparently most of the geeks play chess) and the distraction alone is often enough to get their creativity firing again. 3M estimate that this 'bootlegging hour'  produces up to 40% of new innovations for the company. Breathe again.

What did you learn this week?

[Image: Ivy Design]

* There's been some debate about whether this should be 'learnt' or 'learned' and I admit I've spent countless sleepless nights tossing and turning it inside my restless, weary mind. I think 'learnt' is old-school correct, but either is acceptable these wanton days. Mum? Anyone?

10.6.10

It's called a deadline, people. Dead. Line.

I'm tired. Dead tired. I'm tired because the Tsunamis won't sleep. And I'm especially tired because people are really bloody annoying.

I work for a large corporate in a glamourous advertising role (yeah, right). There are lots of projects so that means there are lots of timelines which means there are lots and lots and lots of deadlines. I'm cool with that. Aside from being a flaky, wishy-washy creative type, I'm rather efficient and organised and I thrive on structure.

I seem to be the only one.

I can't tell you how much of my day I waste chasing people.  They're all business as we set up a job, promising the world. But then, do they do what they say they'll do when they say they'll do it? Absolutely not.

I understand procrastination, I really do. On the home front, LOML and I have been getting around to selling our car for 2.2 years, buying a flatscreen for 1.5 years and baptising our third born into the (parental, Italian Catholic) faith for 2. The towel rack in the bathroom fell down 2 years ago and I've been meaning to buy an extension cord for the vacuum cleaner for about 5 years (we have moved house in the meantime).

So, I get the procrastination thing.

But not at work. Surely not there. Not when they're paying you and not when there are so many more interesting things we could all be doing if we just get the job done and go home. Oh wait, that's me. I forgot I work for a large corporate where working into the night is a lifestyle choice for some. Because if I'm really efficient I might get my work done on time and then what would I do? Go home to my family and friends? My colleagues are my friends.

Like, I said, people are really bloody annoying.

9.6.10

The three sisters


Today I'm thinking about sisters. Yesterday I borrowed the idea for my redhead post from Life in a Pink Fibro (now that I think about it, most of the people who read my blog are Al's friends, so I kinda borrowed them too). And then there's MultipleMum commenting away about Chewbacca (yeah, thanks Coo). And it all got me thinking about how especially wonderful my sisters are.

I'm on dangerous ground here. Unlike myself, my sisters have a sub-zero tolerance for anything they consider sentimental, corny or, gasp, soppy. Best they look away now

It's interesting, though. Because the word 'sister' is attached to so much about 'women's relationships' these days. 'Sisterhood' has become a symbol of belonging and girl power and I really buy into that. But what of my 'real' sisters?

Well, no one in the world can irritate me the way they can. But they've been by my side through thick and thin. Speaking of thick, they're the first people to gently tell me when I'm missing the point, getting it wrong, being generally stupid. And speaking of thin, they're the first people to not-so-gently tell me I'm getting waaaaay fatter than is strictly tolerable. Like I said, thick and thin.

I love my sisters because I spend so much time with them and yet sometimes I feel like we've barely skimmed the surface of things to talk about. I love that a raised eyebrow speaks volumes. That there are code words that remind me of a whole era of my life (Frozen Food, Al?). Sometimes it feels that if I don't tell them that something happened, it didn't really happen.

I love them because we each take a completely different route to reaching the exact same conclusion. I love them because they're very caring and very wise (and opinionated, so very opinionated).  I love them because they're witty, interesting and huge amounts of fun. They make me feel good about myself, but they wouldn't dream of letting me get away with anything. If I confessed that I'd murdered someone, they'd help me hide the body but I'd be in for a 24 hour lecture on both the moral wrongness of the whole thing plus a few pointers on how I could improve my technique.

The lecture alone would make me rethink the whole murder thing.

I wonder if I just scored a couple of really good ones or if it's something to do with being sisters? Could 'sisters' officially be the most complex and best relationship in the world?

[Image: The Three Sisters, Blue Mountains]

______________________________________________

I rewound this post on 19.2.2011

8.6.10

An aside...

Further to my earlier rude red post, a friend sent me this Edward Monkton image which made me want to do a little happy dance of my own.

The trouble with reds

My dear sister at Life in a Pink Fibro wrote a fantastic post about redheads today. I started writing a comment on her site and realised it was getting longer and longer and longer. So I decided to do a redhead post of my own. I have a lot to say on this topic!

I'm red. Mum to reds. Sister to red. Cousin to red. Niece to red. Red, red, red. I'm sure other hair colours aren't quite so life defining.

Mum to reds. On hearing 'it's a boy' after a 40 hour labour and emergency CS, first words out of my mouth (croaking, manic, some weeping): 'has he got red hair? HAS. HE. GOT. RED. HAIR???'

No, no, they soothed, no red hair.

They lied.

Ranga, Ginga, Bunsen Burner. Ginger, Rude Red, Flame Thrower. Blue, Rusty, Fireball. Carrot Top, Big Red. Woody, Cherry, Fanta Pants. Ronald McDonald, Strawberry, Duracell, Little Orphan Annie. Ginger Ninja, Bozo, Sunset.

Heard 'em all.

Let's face it. Carrot tops are an acquired taste. They have to be really, really gorgeous to even be in the ballpark. There is nothing more unattractive than an unattractive redhead. Conversely, there's probably nothing more stunning than a really lovely redhead. People either love 'em (like crazy, beware the redhead loving male (RHLM)) or loathe 'em. And boy, do they loathe them.

The irony is that it's probably not even the hair colour that makes Ginger Ninjas so outcast. It's all the bits that go along with it. The pasty white skin, the spotty freckles, the lack of eyebrows and eyelashes. The red pubes. I'm just saying.

Do I like my children's red hair? Do I like my red hair? Do I like red hair in general?

Maybe. I dyed my hair a darkish brown once when I lived in England and I really missed being a ginga. I hadn't realised how much it puts you in the spotlight and I missed the red light when it was gone. I felt, well, ordinary. I had failed to appreciate how nice it is to be regularly complimented on my hair or what a great conversation starter it was. I had failed to appreciate that being different, standing out, not fitting in, is not such a bad thing at all. Truth is, being a redhead is a major part of being me.

That said, I think my children are attractive DESPITE the rude red. They got lucky in the gene pool because EVEN THOUGH THEY GOT MY RED HAIR, they also got their Italian daddy's dark eyes and lashes, non-glow in the dark skin and (thank god) eyebrows. I hope this will see them through. I hope they'll be okay. I hope they develop a fast sense of humour about their rude redness. Otherwise, the playground is a remarkably dangerous place for those wearing Fanta Pants.

7.6.10

Afternoon tea | Lemonade scones


The Badoo's Birthday afternoon tea. I've never hosted an AT before but I highly recommend it. Yummy things to bake and yummy friends to bake them for.
It was wet outside, but we were cosy and content by the fire (note artful picture of kindling above.) The Tsunamis and their friendly Cyclones went nuts in the bedrooms (why oh why do they have to get EVERY toy they've EVER owned out of EVERY cupboard when the Cyclones come over?). Lots of fun stuff to tidy up later.


 
For godsake, it's a SHOE birthday cake, okay?
Zia knows her niece so well. Sparkle shoes. Matching. The Badoo is in heaven (wore them to bed last night.)

My first ever batch of scones. I always thought scones were beyond me (they give ribbons for good ones at the CWA), but I found the simplest recipe for Lemonade Scones and I highly recommend you give them a go. Delish.

Easy-Peasy Lemonade Scones

2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup thick cream
1/2 cup lemonade
2 tbs milk

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Lightly grease a baking tray.


Place the flour, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl.

Add the cream and lemonade and mix to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured workbench and knead lightly until combined. Don't knead too much - the less handling you do with scone dough, the better.

Press the dough flat with your hands to a thickness of about 2cm. Use a 6cm round cutter to cut out 8 scones, place on baking tray so they are almost touching and brush the tops with a little milk.

You can reform the remaining dough and cut another couple of rounds. Then, in the interests of not wasting precious lemonade scone dough, I make a 'runt' scone with any remaining dough (omit the runt if you're baking for the CWA.) Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. Serve warm with your favourite jam. And butter. And chantilly cream now that I think about it...

6.6.10

The Badoo is two


My little one is two today and she's cheeky, mischievous, loving and mostly reasonable. She's come a long way.

Pregnant, she was breech and 'stuck'. Constant worry gnawing away and extra ultrasounds to confirm that she was still okay in there. It was so uncomfortable with her enormous head (and it turned out that head was actually pretty large) stuck in my diaphragm 24/7.

Planned CS delivery. The worst possible way to have a baby, if you ask me. And I've done them all. Maxi-Taxi: 40 hour labour, 30 without pain relief (I pity tha fool), epidural (sweet lord, the life), emergency CS. Cappers: 8 hour labour with epidural (must have had, oh, 2 contractions this time around), 'natural' delivery. And The Badoo. Planned, clinical, mean. She came out looking like a large grey slug.

The Badoo wouldn't breastfeed. Third baby in and I'm learning about sterilisation. I sobbed my failure to our kindly old Paediatrician. "She's probably French," he said firmly. "None of those French babies breastfeed and so far the French have done pretty well."

At 10 weeks, she still hadn't smiled much. Back to the Paediatrican. "Has she smiled at all," he asked. "Yes? Well, I'm sorry, it's personality, not developmental. She's grumpy."

He was right. From birth to 18 months she smiled about 1% of the time and whinged, groaned, sobbed, growled, screamed, screeched, whined and stared darkly the other 99%. Then, like a beam of light piercing a storm cloud, she suddenly found her smile. And she's been smiling (and whinging, groaning, sobbing, growling, etc) for 6 whole months now. Oh my, she's a demanding, wriggly little handful, but we wouldn't have her any other way.

You made it, Badoo. You're a whole two!
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