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More on being a bit weird

Almost a year ago I wrote a post about what an odd person I am and it turned out that I wasn't really so odd after all. We all do weird things.

Like, I've come to terms with the fact that every time I wash the dishes I get an excruciatingly itchy nose but I can't scratch it because my hands are wet because I'm washing the dishes. A little bit of torture each and every day.

And I'm okay that the few times I've managed to get my act together to go on twitter, my conversations are remarkably brief for a talker like me because every single time I'm suddenly busting for the loo. Once I've been, I forget I was ever twittering in the first place.

The other day I nearly gagged when I realised that I'd started to eat my steak before I'd finished all my vegetables.

There is no way I could fall asleep in a room with a cupboard door open.

If I kill an ant, I worry for days that millions of ants are coming to get me. This actually happened to me just this week as my pantry is full of ants and I'm pretty sure I stepped on one last Monday. I can hardly sleep because they've infiltrated the house and they are obviously coming to get me.

Before the ants can get me, I will probably get myself. I can't drink more than three glasses of alcohol without fretting that I'm going to wake up in the morning and wonder what happened the night before. This comes from experience, sadly, but at the age of almost forty and after a mere three glasses over an entire evening, you think I would have gotten over my paranoia. But I am coming to get me.

Finally, I will leave you with this random oddity. I can't sit with my back to the door. What am I, Vito Corleone? The Feds are after me? It's particularly embarrassing at work because they just move you anywhere they want you and I fret that my new desk will be the one where my back is to the door. I made my colleague swap once (thank you, Johnny), but so far no one else has noticed this odd little habit of mine. If anyone caught on, it may go some way to explaining my amazing punctuality at meetings. Every meeting you go to, there I am, the chirpy early bird facing the door ready to brightly welcome you to the room.

Like I said, I'm odd. But we all do weird things, right? Right?

[For my image we've been paid a long overdue visit by the lovely Suse Bauer from Revoluzza]

Not visiting, drowning

I'm writing, I'm posting (always writing, always posting), but I'm just not getting around to visit many blogs right now. I hope you will accept this lovely picture I've found as my apology. It depicts myself as I perform graceful acrobatics whilst slowly drowning under my work load.

As soon as I can find a spare second in my crammed life, I will be over to catch up with yours'.


[Image found here. Please let me know if this is your image so I can credit your loveliness.]


The trampolining nudist

A little while ago the Tsunamis and I went for one of our 'little walks' where we just head off for a wander and talk around the neighbourhood. We were passing by one of Maxi's classmate's house and they all begged to go in for a visit. I had reservations because as much as I love a 'pop in' (I'm a country girl after all), I wasn't close to the mum and didn't know if it was appropriate. I figured we could just knock on the door and I could say 'we were just passing by and if it's not convenient we'll head straight out'.

Which is exactly what we did. But the minute she opened the door, I knew it was a mistake, she looked frazzled and caught out and not at all impressed to find us on the doorstep. I made to leave but she insisted that we come in and wouldn't hear of us going. I felt trapped by her politeness and annoyed that I hadn't thought the scenario through properly. This is the city, people, and city people just don't do the pop!

So we sat down for a cup of excruciatingly polite conversation while the children went outside onto the trampoline. Between helium-light exchanges about work and school and babies we could hear the children outside having enormous amounts of fun. Ah well, I thought, it's worth it if the kids are that happy.

Then the cry went up: "Ha, ha! Maxi's got his pants down, Maxi's got his pants down".

Oh dear, I thought. There he goes again.

Maxi-Taxi is a born naturist. Ever since he was a baby he's loved to get his kit off and let it all hang out (so to speak). He is famous for his after bath 'rudey nudey runs', which even at seven he still proudly does for Gran and Pops when they come to visit. They are thrilled, as you can imagine.

My companion looked concerned. "Did they say his pants are down?" she asked. "Underpants?"

"Oh yes, probably Maxi's alwa -" Before I could finish the sentence, she had shot out of her chair like a gun going off, the chair falling backwards and clattering to the floor with an almighty bang. She raced across the room and flung herself onto the balcony that overlooks the backyard, her face as white as a sheet. Oh my god, I thought. Did I miss something? I leapt after her at speed.

The scene below was a nudist carnival. By this stage all six children had their pants down and were jumping up and down, chanting their new favourite song, the "pants down on the trampoline" song. It was a merry sight indeed.

"Oh my god!" my companion screamed over the balcony. "Get your pants on! Get them on! Dear god, put them on!"

"Oh, come on, they're only children," I soothed. "Just having a bit of fun."

"Fun!?" she screeched. "Fun!? My daughter has been exposed to a Penis and you call it fun?"

Uh oh. She used the capital P word. Uh oh.

She turned back to the romping festival and her voice carried across the treetops all the way to China. "GET THOSE PANTS ON NOW YOU FILTHY LITTLE CHILDREN. NOW!"

Well, that was certainly the end of the "pants down on the trampoline" song. All children immediately stopped jumping. Except for the Badoo, who continued on her merry way and started to take her top off for good measure. Bless that Badoo.

"I hardly think they're 'filthy', um, that's a really strong word," I ventured, terrified of the moral indignation that was all white eyes and flaring nostrils beside me. "They're too young to know about such things."

"Not too young, never too young. My daughter needs to be Protected, can you not see that?" She glowered at me, repulsed by my lazy assessment of the situation. Her eyes shot bullets at this loose, moral-desert she found before her. "No wonder your child is Exposing Himself to his school friends!"

Whoa, Miss Nelly, I thought. But, you know, in life there are some battles that you just know will kill you so I elected to bunker down in the trenches. I resisted the urge to flash her my boobs and simply called "Get your pants on, kids. It's getting dark and we have to be getting home."

Amidst the inevitable "Oh mum, we just got heres", I bustled them over to the hedonistic freedom beyond the front door. 

"Righto," I said. "We're off. Thanks for the cup of, ah, tea."

"Oh, you're going?" she purred, all traces of righteous anger washed away by the sight of fully-clothed children. "That's such a shame. You know, we hardly ever see you. We really should get together for a family barbecue. Are you free next weekend?"

"Next weekend? Well, we do have that family Nudist Convention on," I said blithely. "But maybe the weekend after?"

Ha! Not true. I mumbled something about checking my calendar and got the hell out of Dodge. Shaken, stirred and downright offended. What the hell happened there?

Do you think children pulling their pants down on the trampoline and singing about it is morally repugnant?
Is it common practice for people to serve up a cup of righteousness along with their tea?
Is it wrong that I still laugh out loud when I recall this Perfectly bizarre moment in my life?

[Image via weheartit]


They didn't want my Pops

My sister and I have always been suckers for hidden pathos. I've never properly investigated just what makes a moment heartbreaking, but I think it mostly has to do with someone going to a lot of trouble and it just not working out for them. The unacknowledged care is what is so heart wrenching.

The elderly fellow sitting alone on a park bench holding a little sack of seeds he's brought from home but the ducks are off scoffing some kid's Wonder White.

The market stall owner who has lovingly handmade every single item in her shop but has sold almost nothing at the end of a busy day.

Candlelit tables and apron-smocked waiters in an empty restaurant at dinner time.

Every time the tears well up a little. All that effort and no one seems to notice or care.

I had my own mini-moment today. I was asked to make some things for the school fete cake stall and instead of just making a carrot cake / caramel slice / lamos combo, I had to go to that extra bit of trouble, didn't I? I spent ages making chocolate dipped cake pops with little sticks and ribbons. And chocolate wholegrain biscotti lovingly wrapped up with string like a gift.

Well, when I left only one of each had been sold. It was so stressful watching them sit there while boring old glad-wrapped fruit loafs got snapped up smartly. Nobody seemed to want my little creations. I know it's probably because they were all thinking 'what the hell is a cake pop?*', but still.


I wish I'd just made the cupcakes.

* Not you too? You can find out what a cake pop is here. I think I am an early Aussie adopter of this Bakarella phenomenon and they're just not taking off here in the way I expected...


This week I'm grateful for... the laughing cry

Some days you've gotta laugh or you'd cry. I like to do both at the same time.

All week I've been mental at work. I'm making approximately fifty five decisions an hour and everyone wants a piece of me. Just so busy that my head spins.  I'm getting through it on a carefully planned schedule and good old fashioned humour. So, don't fret, I'm okay.

But this morning my work crisis went straight out the window.

The Badoo's usual Friday routine is that LOML drops her off on his way to work in the city ("Dad", as she calls him, never "Daddy" or "Dadda" as the older Tsunamis do) while I do the school run because I work from home on Fridays, but today we only had one car, so it was me.

On the school run she seemed a little quiet, she complained of a sore tummy. No, she didn't want to go to the toilet, no she wasn't feeling sick. She wasn't hot, she wasn't miserable, just 'sore'. So I decided to drive her over to Nonno's on schedule and maybe I'd still make my 9 o'clock meeting.

By the time we arrived, she was miserable and crying from the pain. She indicated that she was 'really, really sore' lower in her abdomen. I freaked out (as you do). I thought 'something she ate', I thought UTI'.

I really thought 'appendectomy'.

I gave her a hit of Panadol to help quell the pain and drove her to the medical centre. I made calls on the hands free all the way there to rearrange my busy working day. Little Badoo was crying out how much it hurt by this stage and I thought 'maybe they'll see her first since she's so little'.

I really thought 'Emergency, stat'.

By this stage, everyone in the waiting room was freting for this poor child who was obviously in incredible pain. I had already mentally rearranged the next week of my life ready for the hospital stay. A number of kind people came over to us to say that the Badoo could take their place if they were up next. I was beside myself with worry over my darling little Badoo who was by now a huddled, cuddled mess in my lap. Then she sobbed, "I need the toilet".

I raced her to the toilet, ready for the projectile vomit of blood and almost in tears because I should have taken her directly to the Emergency department for her apendectomy requiring a week's stay at the hospital.
Then she weed. And weed. And weed. And, dear god, weed some more.

When she had finished pissing Niagra Falls, she said, "I'm all better now." And smiled. And skipped back to the waiting room where the doctor came out immediately and called "The Badoo". Of course she did.

Surprisingly, there is no treatment necessary for a child needing to do a wee. The doctor humoured me by performing a tummy squeeze here and there, but with the Badoo singing nursery rhymes at the top of her voice and giggling because the doctor was 'ticking me', we both knew there wasn't really a whole lot to say.

So, this week I'm grateful for...

130. The laughing cry - those silly moments when life is just so superbly sweet and sour all at the same time that as much as you want to cry, you simply have to laugh.

131. The crying laugh - when you are laughing so hard that the tears are streaming and your laugh rattles your bones. My favourite kind of laugh.

132. Any old laugh - the more then merrier. How else are we ever going to get through it?

So, what's making you smile today? Add your I'm Grateful For post to the list below (and please, we love you, but it really does matter that your post is a Grateful one and not just a random), add the button (grab the code from my sidebar and paste it into your post) andpretty-please add a link back to me.  Then pop over to visit other bloggers who are spreading a little sunshine. 

You can also link up with our British cousins over at Michelle's Reason's To Be Cheerful and maybe make a new bloggy bud. They're doing 'new blogs to find' this week too, always fun.

[Image via weheartit]


Blogliciousness: the {tiny} satorialist


Blogliciousness v Desirable, yummy, inspiring and/ or entertaining blog. A potential new blog to love.

Anyone who knows me knows I can't stand kids in grown-up clothes. I see a kid in a fedora and I just feel the bile start to rise. Skinny jeans, biker boots, high-heels on tots... no, I'm not a fan of the 'fash for kids' pack one little bit.

Which is why I was extremely surprised to fall in love with Marshall Ace. Marshall Ace and the clothes he wears is the sole preoccupation of the {tiny} satorialist. This tot is so cutely attired I can't help but want to see more, more, more.

What is it about this blog? There really is just something about Marshall Ace...

Do you have a new blog find to share? And what are your thoughts on 'trendy kids'?


Feted, not jarred

I'm nuts about school fetes. The cake stalls, the white elephant, the dinky games involving hacky sacks and tin cans. The sheer old-school at school fun of it all.

I've been busy getting creative with jars and stuff to make jars for the 'Jarbola'. I didn't even know what a Jarbola was until Cappers carefully explained that it was when you get a jar of pasta sauce and you eat the sauce and then you put stuff in it but you have to clean it first and then you get a ticket on it and the winner of that ticket gets that jar.

Oh, like a bottle raffle. With clean jars. I get that.

The Badoo and I created six jarbolas to take in tomorrow. A jar of soliders; a jar of glow-in-the-dark dinosaurs; a jar of hair thingies (all pink, this is the Badoo in charge after all!); a jar of sherberts (pink); a jar of mini-chuppa chups (mostly the black ones because we don't really like the black ones around here); and a jar of pretty jewellery (pink, pink, all pink). We made little tags to add a bit of school fair festivity.

If I could fill my fantasy Jarbola jar, I would fill it with Benefit Benetint in rose, Eve Lom Cleanser, Creme de la Mer and Moroccon Oil.

What would you put in your fantasy Jarbola jar?

I'm linking up to Our Creative Spaces this week. I know filling jars with stuff isn't exactly creative,
but I'll take what I can get!


A nostalgic Breakfast

When I was a teenage misfit in my beachy-country-westie hometown, I got really into Cold Chisel in a big way. (Okay, so maybe not such a misfit after all.) Their music grabbed me at sixteen and it's still grabbing me today.

I think when I was a squeaky-clean youngster it was all about the promise of a life that seemed so grown-up and a bit grubby. It appealed to my Vader Side - that reckless, wandering side of me that has always been there and would later be brightened occasionally by hard drink and loud music and late, late nights.

These days it's just that I know their music so well that I think I'm in the band.

What music makes you nostalgic for your youth?

[Image via weheartit and previous to that lost somewhere on one of those tumblr sites full of shoes and teenage angst]


Click Clack

There is just one skill that I have that I want to pass on to my children*.


Back when I was a junior in an advertising agency they paid for me to do a speed touch-typing course. Which I hated. Mostly because I suspected they had already written me off as a really shite copywriter and were funneling me into the typing pool.

But I was wrong.

Even in 1990, back in the dark ages before the internet or email was even a twinkle in a fax's i, those good folk seemed to know that typing skills were going to come in really, really handy no matter where my career led me.

They were so bloody right they were almost left.

To this day my 100+ WPM (with about 6% accuracy, but let's not go there) touch typing skills have been the backbone of everything I've accomplished. Whether it was hammering out a 7,500 word essay through the night before a due date because, yes, I'm that big a procrastinator; or racing against a deadline at work to get an important email out the door whilst simultaneously watching Oprah on the flatscreen; or visiting and saying hello to over 100 blogs in the space of about 2 hours all up the other day; my speedy gonzales typing has always seen me through.

I'm fully intending to enrol those Tsunamis of mine in a touch typing course as soon as they can... ah, write. Soon we'll probably all be using that (very long promised) voice recognition typing thingy anyway, but I don't care. A typing course will always be an important investment in their future. They won't look back. They'll be so 99.9% accurate they won't need to!

How fast do you type? 

* Oh, okay, that's probably selling myself a bit short but then again...

[I found this image here  ages ago but the credit no longer clicks through...]



I won't link to the author just now as I'm not sure she wants the debate to rage on for her, but last week a loving Mum wrote a post about her frustration with her three year old and mentioned in that post that she smacked her daughter on a day when things just became all too much.

The debate, yes it raged.

Smacking is one of those polarising parenting issues. The only other parenting choice that I know of that sees more negativity is bottle feeding. They are both 'dark ages' parenting styles that the more 'enlightened' are very quick to judge.

I can't believe I'm wading into this murky debate - and god knows I'm really over having the 'judging is so wrong' conversation - but I did want to tell you about my experience and what works for me.

I never wanted to smack. Before children I once saw a mother in a shopping centre smacking her child on the bottom saying "Don't hit your brother!"

That was all I needed to know right there.

I also knew that I didn't want to be the kind of parent that talked endlessly on and on to (at?) her young child about their naughty behaviour but did nothing to actually discipline the child. I didn't know what the middle ground was, but I was going to find out what it was and be that parent (you know how we are before children...)

I absolutely wasn't going to be a smacker.

But once upon a time when Maxi was three almost four and I felt like everything else I was doing just wasn't working any more and I was at my wit's end, I did try smacking on the advice of a few trusted people. I did it twice and each time felt extremely uncomfortable, I felt like I had failed. Mostly because, like many parenting things, I sort of stuffed up and used a wooden spoon, not my hand. Seriously, I really didn't get it, did I?

Many would think that my using a wooden spoon as a 'weapon' was tantamount to abuse immediately, not worrying about how hard the smack was or where it was. And, to be honest, I would probably agree with them. Not the 'weapon' bit, because that's just ridiculous, but the abusive bit... well, maybe. No, I don't believe I scarred Maxi for life with a couple of smacks. But I definitely believe that I hurt him and scared him and disappointed him. And I hurt and scared and disappointed myself. Because if I was that uncomfortable after one smack, why on earth were there two?

Parenting is hard.

Fact is, I didn't think the smacking approach worked any better than the 'time out' approach I had been using. I suppose immediately after the smacks the 'threat' of the wooden spoon might have saved me from the, oh I don't know, bother of a time out or two, but it didn't last long and fear of the wooden spoon certainly destroyed any hope Maxi might have had to be a chef one day.  Sorry, bad joke.

Anyway, I realised that I had done the smacking when I felt like I didn't have any other options. When I'd exhausted the techniques that I had learned and that had worked up until that point and beyond that I didn't have a plan. Smacking was reactive. I felt panicked, overwhelmed - not 'out of control' but certainly not 'in control'. How trustworthy is a mother in that state? How trustworthy is a person in that state?

What I didn't realise was that none of it really mattered anyway. This, too, shall pass. Those moments, when I was at my wit's end with my super-naughty, super-defiant, super-willful son, just... passed. I can barely even remember what they were like. New frustrations took their place, certainly - he was and still is the same super-naughty, super-defiant, super-willful child, plus, YAY, I have two more just like him - but I was different.

I never smacked again. We started to use the 1,2,3 approach* and it has worked for us for years. Partly because we're 100% consistent with it, but mostly because I have never again let my children's behaviour get under my skin the way I did in those exhausting early days. Because those moments of utter 'what am I going to do with this child'  despair, well, in the end they just don't matter enough.

So, these days, when I feel like I'm getting to that point where I'd rather quietly slit my wrists in the bathroom than hear my child defy me again (ie, most days, many times a day), I don't even think that a smack might sort that child right out. If it's not an option, it's not an option.

No, these days I always, always have a plan.

Just when I'm on the verge of losing it completely, I think 'it's time to lighten the f up before you lose it completely' and then, in the middle of a burning hot parent-child moment, I remember to take the high road. I remember that 'winning' doesn't really matter in the end and I use humour to diffuse a potentially combustible situation.

So, well, I put on my Cranky Pants. Yep, I pretend to put those babies on and I announce in a mock super-cross voice "Right then, the Cranky Pants are Going On". And noooobody likes it when the cranky pants go on because then Mum does the most insane cranky pants dance that is so unhinged and so silly that it's embarrassing even to a three year old and then it's really, really funny and then we're all laughing and then we're suddenly friends again AND THEN, then I say "so, do you think you could do X for your crazy mumma after all?'

And the answer is invariably... "yes". Yes, Mumma, I could do that, stop that, try that, help that, pick that up, put that down, move that... be that.

Yes, Mumma, I really, really could.

What techniques do you use to get yourself home safe under heavy fire?
Does a smack work for you? Have you, like me, ever been ashamed of something you've done as a parent? You can be Anonymous if you want. I really respect, and would love to hear, alternative views to my own.

* If you're keen, I can do a post on 1,2,3 but your mum will know this discipline method. 1 is a reminder of the behaviour we expect. 2 is a warning that if they don't change their behaviour, there will be consequences. 3 is the consequences. Certain behaviours skip the 1 and 2 and go straight to 3 (hitting is, unsurprisingly, one of them). These are all agreed as a family and are listed on our board. It is rare these days that we get all the way to 3, most of the time a 1 reminder is enough. That took a lot of work, but it's been that way for ages and I feel like we're mostly on top of things most of the time. x


Edited 23/5

Louisa is comfortable with me sharing her post that inspired my post. You can read it here.

[Image by the uber-talented Elisabeth Dunker details a much better use for the humble wooden spoon]


This week I'm grateful for... reflection

I've had a week of quiet contemplation, one way or another.

Firstly, I had to really get a grip on myself earlier in the week because I was spazzing a bit about the Kidspot Top 50 Bloggers comp. Seriously, how many shades of sad and needy can I turn? Don't worry, I slapped myself around the face and I woke up to myself and I wrote this post and I feel much better about the whole darn thing.

Secondly, I've been reassessing those juggling balls again this week. I'm taking on too much again and it's eating into my important sitting down time.

Thirdly, a few work things have been shaken up a bit and... I'm shaken up a bit. Rolled, but not rattled, so to speak. All is well, but I'm having to find my feet AGAIN and it's getting harder and harder to roll with the punches, to be honest.

And just today, a blogger that I love included me in her post in a way that I am very comfortable with, but... it's made me think once again about the heavy power of words.

So, this week I'm grateful for...

127. Reflection - taking the time to stop for a minute and think about the way things are.

128. Expression - I am so glad that I seem to be able to express my true meaning and have others understand what I am trying to say (for the most part, god knows there are some doozy exceptions!) Many people struggle with this so much so it's an ability that I am very grateful for indeed.

129. Remembering - where we've come from, what plans we had, the map we followed and how far along the road we are.  My sister has a linky on Saturdays that perfectly reminds us to do this with our blogs. Come join in!

So, what's making you smile today? Add your I'm Grateful For post to the list below (and please, we love you, but it really does matter that your post is a Grateful one and not just a random), add the button (grab the code from my sidebar and paste it into your post) andpretty-please add a link back to me.  Then pop over to visit other bloggers who are spreading a little sunshine. 

[Image by Rebeca Cygnus - you must check out her amazing, dreamy, lush work!]


Something new to add about blogging?

Back when I was thinking about doing my 'first birthday' blog post, I was wracking my brains for some interesting blog-type tidbit to pass on and darn if I couldn't think of anything unique to add to the discussion.

But I think I have something new to add after all!

Because I have lots of lovely, engaged 'followers' (man, I hate that word!), I often get emails from new bloggers asking me how I built my community so quickly. I generally respond with the 'big three':

1. Enjoy visiting lots of blogs and leave comments when you can
2. Write at regular times so people know when to find you
3. Ask questions in your post if you are interested in a response

Like I said, the usual suspects.

But I think I have something new to add after all!

I had a little bit of time to browse on Tuesday and I did something I haven't done for a long time. I 'hopped' from new blog to new blog to see what's out there. I'm sure we all do this, usually clicking on links we've never been to in the blog rolls on each blog we visit. Standard stuff.

But I think I have something new to add after all!

Because what I did, and have always done without realising what it meant, was read the comments on posts that interested me and then I clicked on a comment that interested me and then I visited that person's blog and if I liked it, I left a comment and if I really, really liked it, I followed. That's how I built my community, you see, by finding out about the blogs of people who are already commenters.

You see?

We all know stacks of great people who read many, many blogs but don't tend to leave a comment. Which is just fine (although I don't know how they do it, I can't shut up myself). But if you want some engagement and interaction on your site (which, I don't know about you, but for me is the best bit about blogging) then look to make friends with the commenters.

That's all. Probably not so revelationary after all now that I see it written down (which is so often the case, isn't it!), but it was a big 'jump in the air' moment for me when I suddenly realised what I was subconsciously up to. Do you do things like that?

And now, in the true spirit of blogging, I invite every single person who is reading this post to leave me a comment to say hi. Even if it's just a 'hi' or even a dreaded :) and even if you stay Anonymous.

Just so I know you're there.

[Image originally found here]


School Run: Half-Marathon

It's Wednesday afternoon and I'm on the tools.

School Pick-up.

Pram wheels whizzing in front, six kids trailing behind; a slow caravan of feet-dragging, backpack-heaving, high-spirited blue. And a Euphonium.

Keep up Slowest Boy in the World, don't make me come back there.

No we can't play in the playground, Flygirl's got to get to art class.

Hold onto the pram, Cappers, we're crossing in a minute. Yes, you do need to hold onto the pram. No, you're not old enough to cross by yourself even if I watch you very carefully and you look right and left and left again. And, by the way, it's left then right then left again - that's why you can't cross the road by yourself.

No you can't come out of the pram, Badoo. You wanted the pram, you got the pram, I hate the pram, I'm not pushing an empty pram. And a Euphonium.

Okay, I'll carry your heavy bag, Sambochips. Load it on top of the pram. Really, Cappers? I have to carry yours too? And Max - okay, just put all the bags onto the pram and I'll put these two on my back and, okay, Badoo, you can get out of the pram now. Please, Badoo, you wanted to get out and now I need you to... oh, forget it. Maxi, just balance yours on top of the Euphonium. Just call me 'pack horse', no problems.

Well, honey, a pack horse is usually a donkey or mule or, oh, just forget it. Forget I said anything.

Maxi, leave the birds alone, we're about to cross.

Slowest Boy in the World, leave the birds alone, we're about to cross.

No, really, Cappers, don't worry about what a mule is. Really. Don't. Worry.

We cross. Six kids, six backpacks, a pram, a sagging mumma. And a Euphonium.

Okay, everyone into the car. Seat belts on. There you go, Badoo. Forgodsakes, bend, Badoo, BEND. Yes, you have to wear a seat belt. Yes, you have to wear a seat belt. Yes, you have to wear a seat belt. Just put the seat belt on, Badoo.

Everyone else got their seat belts on? Seat belts? Put your seat belts on. Seat belts! Cappers? Flygirl? Sambochips? Maxi? Slowest Boy in the World? Oh come on, SBITW.  Maxi, help the kid out would ya?

I'll explain what a mule is later, Cappers. Don't worry about it right now. Just forget about it. You can, you  really, really can.

Right. Six bags into the boot. Pram into the boot. And a Euphonium.

FuckmedeadthisbloodyEuphoniumhowthehelldoIgetthisintothecar. @#%$^ beep &$%* ^&%$$# beep beep #$%!$@!



We're in. I can drive with half a Euphonium on my lap, no problem. What do you mean you're hungry and thirsty? You're not the ones who've just lugged six kids, a pram, six backpacks and a freakin' Euphonium up the goddamn hill. Here, share this mouthful of water amongst yourselves and here's six crumbs left over from this morning's toast. Enjoy.

And, seriously, Flygirl. Seriously. What in god's name is wrong with the flute?

What's 'pick-up' like for you?
Do you love it as much as I do?
Do you hang around the gate and chat to the other mums? 
Do you get there early or are you always running late?
What's your baggage allowance like?


This post has the wrong title

My post is supposed to be called "Win a New Ford Territory for a Year and $5,000." I really, really wanted to call it that because that's the rules in the Kidspot Top 50, but something in me drove me to say


I don't want to call it that.

This is my problem, you see. I can't do the rules. You say go left, I instantly want to go right. They say do this and, you betcha, I'm doing that. Most of the time I wake up to myself and manage to tow the line, but sometimes...

I think I think too much. I don't want to be a wolf, but I'm not too keen on being a sheep either.

I can't just accept things at face value, I have to ask a million questions and run a few thousand scenarios through my head. It drives LOML to distraction at the best of times and dunks me in some hot water at the worst.

Outwardly I must seem like a nice, normal sort of person, but inwardly I'm a kind of anti-establishment, boot-wearing F You Mo Fo kind of gal. I'm not sure why that is, but it is. 

So that's why I'm saying that as much as I'd love to drive around in the latest Ford Terror for a year with a tasty 5K in my back pocket, I just can't have a headline like that on my blog. It's just not what I do around here.

Don't hate me, Ford and Kidspot. 

And, pretty please with maple syrup on top, vote for me if you haven't already. I clearly need all the help I can get!

With thanks to Kidspot and Ford for supporting the somewhat-unhinged Australian blogging community.

* Disclaimer: Just so you know (and not that I couldn't use a free one!), I am already the driver of  a seven seater Terror. See, I'm just soooo anti-establishment! It's the only car that would fit three car seats across the back seat when Badoo was born.  It's easy to clean (number one important car criteria), has lots of storage (number two) and comfort-wise (number three) it's like driving around town in your Jason Recliner. On the not-so-sucky-up-to-Ford side, it guzzles fuel like Charlie Sheen AND his two girlfriends on a bender. That $5K would definitely come in handy for the winner... x

[Image from here]

Maxabella Hearts Life too

Yesterday (yes, YESTERDAY) the lovely gals at We Heart Life asked me over to play. I can't believe I forgot to link up with them. Carly interviewed me about the things I love and it was so much fun talking about myself. You know how it is...

So, please, head over and say hi. We Heart Life is a great site full of positive vibes and great advice.

I need you to visit so they don't think I'm a bad bloggy friend. C'mon gang, let's rally!


[Image via weheartit]


Heelllo Autumn!

Fears that Autumn had passed us by were put to rest on the weekend. What glorious weather! We went for brunch at our favourite cafe and then across the road to a secret little neighbourhood park that no-one ever seems to go to but us.

Crunchy leaves under-foot soon become a mist of confetti.

Leaves in the mouth, leaves in the ears and, oh, what's that! Leaves in the nose!?

Washed down perfectly with a sunny orange and a little Cappers cheer.

One day you'll regret your refusal to pose for a picture, Badoo. When you come all sad to Mumma saying "why are there more pictures of Maxi and Cappers than me?" I will remind you of this day.

Can't I just get ONE decent photo of all three of you? Just one?

Ah well, two outta three ain't bad.

Are your children willing models? Or do they go crazy and refuse to comply like mine?
Any tips for getting them to be 'nice'?


Putting those balls down

No, this isn't a man-hating post (har, har, I crack myself up... I hope you read my title, otherwise I'll just be looking like a total nutter right about now... maybe still?) ANYWAY.

No, this is a post about putting down the 'juggling balls' of motherhood. I hate to tell you this, but I'm SO sick of that expression that I just want to scream. The hysteria-inducing media talks about the 'juggle' of motherhood, my friends talk about 'keeping all the balls in the air', my friendly bloggers blog about 'dropping the balls'... if we stepped back and took a good look at our society right now, you'd think that mothers belonged in the circus.

Ask any real juggler and they'll tell you that juggling is lots and lots of fun but also the most stressful thing they'll ever do. Well, I only know one actual juggler, and that's what he said. "Juggling more than three balls is like trying to give 100% concentration to more than one thing at the same time," he said. "Yes, I know, that's impossible, but somehow you just make it work. But it's beyond stressful trying to focus on one ball while you're looking at another. The satisfaction of 'the catch' is solid, but gone in an instant. You catch, you feel the thud, then you throw it straight back in the air again."

"The satisfaction of the catch is solid, but gone in an instant" - how many of us can relate to that? We are only barely finished with one accomplishment before we're moving quickly onto the next. Our lives become moments of fleeting satisfaction, barely acknowledged.

Is it just me who thinks 'No freaking way. That's not how I want to live.'

If you feel like your life is a constant juggle, I think you need to put down the balls for an evening and really take stock of what you're doing with your life. While those balls are on the ground, you could give yourself a nice little foot massage with them while you think about things like:

What am I doing that doesn't really need doing?
What am I doing that I could be more efficient at?
What am I doing that someone else could be doing?
What do I need to do to make that happen?

I did this task many, many years ago. I was a juggler. I felt out of control. I had just gone back to work (in a new job) after my maternity leave with Cappers. I was terrified of all I needed to do and in a state of constant momentum. I didn't feel capable of being a wife, a mother of two under 2 who didn't want to sleep, a friend, a boss, a colleague, a daughter, a sister, an aunt and CEO of my own messy house. I felt physically sick from being wired on adrenalin 24/7.

I didn't make many changes. I'm still all those things, but I made small changes that helped me get a handle on it all. I still do those things today.

Things like not going to every social occasion I am invited to. Maybe not even going to any if I'd rather be at home doing something quiet with my family. Things like watching only one or two television shows a week instead of 4 or 5. Things like reading less books so I have a bit of time for blogging. Like building up a support network of people - both paid and friend - that works like a dream. Like hiring a gardener to help me keep on top of a space that's important to me. And doing my own cleaning because if I go hard for a couple of hours, that's a clean house and a work-out right there. Not reading silly women's magazines (okay, sometimes, but not always!); not seeking a promotion at work so I can contain my obligations there; not going on time-sucky and sometimes just plain sucky Facebook; spending as much time as I can outside; working really hard to not feel guilty about any of my choices if I know I did the best I could at the time.

The number one change I made, though, was the decision to not compare myself to what anyone else was doing. I don't want to keep up with those over-indulged, vacuous, aggressive Joneses any more. They can live the way they want to live, and I'll just be doing my thing over here.

You've got to let some of it go, because if you're living in a constant state of stress, something has to give. You can't sustain it. If your body manages to withstand the constant pressure, your mind certainly won't. You won't be happy, you can't be happy if you're constantly stressed to the max. When you're sitting there, taking stock, think about how many of those balls are weighted with other people's expectations. How many are ones you juggle to please others or to maintain a standard. They're probably the first ones you can get rid of.

This is your life, not a circus show. So, please, put down the balls.

Are you a juggler? Does it make you happy? 
What could you change in your life to make things easier?

[Image by toypincher]


This week I'm grateful for... Monday night drinking

Aha! Blogger is back!

So, where was I? That's right...

I can’t remember the last time I went out drinking on a Monday night… maybe I’ve never done it? Monday drinking just seems so… committed. And foolhardy. That’s certainly how I felt when I woke up on Tuesday and realised that I’d somehow come down with a terrible virus overnight. Isn’t it funny how that happens? And then the realisation: oh my freakin’ god, it’s only Tuesday.

Of course it was the crazy, social world of blogging that had me out on a school night. For the first time ever I mixed my URL with my IRL* and met a whole bunch of bloggers at the Kidspot Top 50 Bloggers** launch party.  Highlight was definitely knocking back a couple of contraband ciggies in a back laneway, in the rain with Woogsy, BabyMac and Lori. Hardcore. Felt like I was eighteen again. There were so many fabulous bloggers there that I can’t mention them all, but a quick shout out to ChantelleKirrilyFox in Flats, Kellie  KerriFarmer’s Wifey, Clare, Caitlyn and, of course, that gorgeous gal PPMJ.

So, this week I’m grateful for…

124. Monday night drinking – ‘cos it’s just so great to invest in shaking things up and doing new stuff, even if you have to pay for it the next day. I actually think the majority of my hangover was mainly due to the 227 cigarette I smoked (I haven’t been a ‘smoker’ in about eight years!) and the 1768 shelled peanuts I ate at the laneway bar we washed up in. Couldn't have been those,oh, 3 wines I drank... right?

125. IRL – I’m so glad I now know some of our lovely bloggers IRL.

126. URL – But I’m equally as glad that I still love them (and so many, many more) in URL.

So, what's making you smile today? Add your I'm Grateful For post to the list below (and please, we love you, but it really does matter that your post is a Grateful one and not just a random), add the button (grab the code from my sidebar and paste it into your post) andpretty-please add a link back to me.  Then pop over to visit other bloggers who are spreading a little sunshine. 

Happy weekend to you!

* This rather magical term was coined by MultipleMum at the AMB. Love your work, Aunty Coo.
** You can vote for me here. Don’t be shy

[Image via weheartit]


Removing the hurdle

Every now and then the responsibility of being a parent king-hits me right between the eyes. More than the usual 'am I doing this right?' angst. More than the permanent worry that one of my children might turn out to be 'that kid'.* More even than the constant quest to get the right kind of nutrients into those little bodies. More than that.

Yesterday was our school's K-2 cross country. A lap around the back oval with the long-jump pit thrown in for the 'country' bit; run to much fanfare. Neither of my children was remotely interested in participating, Cappers is quite nervous about doing anything that will be judged in front of a large group - more on that another time for this is Maxi's story.

Maxi moaned and groaned about having to actually run and come in last place because "that's just the way I turn out every single time." Very matter-of-fact, but a catch was there. A sigh.

It breaks your heart to hear your child talk like that. You can tell them time and time again that it "doesn't matter where you place, just that you finish the race." But I guess deep down we're all thinking, yeah, right. Even at seven they know that that's not really how the world works.

Well, yesterday, I learned that while that might be true, it's still, thank god, not the way that happiness works.

See, it's me with the problem.

I'm the one who's been a little bit ashamed that my son isn't the superstar sporty type. That he's the kid inspecting the grass while his team scores a goal. That's he's the one trailing behind all his friends as they race into the bush to look for treasure. I get slightly panicked about what he'll do when sport is everything to his peers and not to him.

It seems that deep down I'm a little bit ashamed of his lack of prowess and a whole lot ashamed that I feel that way.

The thing is, until yesterday, I hadn't even realised that I felt shame. I've never acknowledged it. If someone had asked me about Maxi's sporting abilities or lack thereof, I would have made a little joke that showed how proud I was of him regardless. And I was always proud of him - my beautiful, strong, lit-from-within son; but now I realise that there was a big, fat 'but' attached to that pride.


Yesterday, my non-sporty son felt the fear and did it anyway. He started that race with a smile and a slap on the back from a mate and he ran that race with a smile and he finished in last place barr one (kid fell over) with a smile that would light up the moon.

Watching him run around that field, wind at his back, joy in just the doing of it, I thought my heart would leap out of my chest with pride. This was what pride without the buts felt like. Just enormous, gushing pride and so much joy in his joy and no thought about what it meant for me or about me.

It's not about me. It is never about me. None of this parenting business is. My children's achievements are their own, just as their hurdles are their own. It's about them and their place in the world and it's up to me to stand back and let them find that place, even if it's last place. To get out of the way with my ego and my pride and my little ideas about what they should and shouldn't be doing.

To just get out of the way already, and let those sweet kids run their own race.

* You know that kid. Every school has that kid. We all remember that kid.

[Image by tallthinguy]


Seriously, a dwarf?

I'm not entirely sure how we got around to the subject, but Mum and I were talking about midgets the other night, as you do. (Is the term midget acceptable? I apologise if not). I work with a woman who is a person of small stature and I was telling Mum that Leona's* young children are 'normal sized children' and taller than she is. Again, not sure how it came up, but chats with my Mum tend to cover most things.

So, on Saturday Cappers had a 'morning tea' date at her friend Sam's to make cupcakes. Which left Maxi and The Badoo alone for the first time in... well, probably forever. I said to Max, "what do you think you'll do all day without Cappers?" and he said, "I'm going to play with The Badoo for the whole entire day. She's all mine."

Fabbo, I thought.

I stopped in to see how they were going a little bit into their morning. "What are you playing?" I asked.

"Mums and Dads. The Badoo is the Mum and I'm her son."

"Sounds great, but The Badoo is a really small mother." (You can see where this is going.)

"Yes," he said, quick as you like. "She's a dwarf and I'm her normal-sized child."

Ah, I see. I don't even know where he got the term 'dwarf' from, but it was probably from the kind of dreadful person who uses the term midget.

What conversations have your children eavesdropped on lately? Incidentally, don't feel bad about sharing. I still can't get The Badoo to stop saying 'For Fox Sake' every now and then and now Maxi has introduced dwarfism into his role playing. Must be more careful!

* Hi Leona!


Let's talk about toilet paper

From secretly appreciating those odd little toilet paper arrows in hotel rooms, to being faintly nauseated by the sight of a used roll*, I've always been a little bit weird about the humble toilet roll. The paper has to go over the top of the roll, it has to be white, I'm (shhhh) just not that into the recycled stuff and for the love of god, don't call it 't.p.'. In addition, I cannot enter into discussions about folding and scrunching... I just can't. And, please, take your patterns elsewhere, I cannot look.

In Africa and the Middle East and most of Asia, toilet rolls are few and far between. To be honest, those Italians aren't that big on keeping the toilet well stocked either. In all these places, I went, I saw, I walked around with an entire toilet roll in my pocket, just in case. I did. Big pockets.

99% of the time, wherever I am, I am the one to change the toilet roll. Doing a roll changeover appears to be my life's work and I'm no shirker. Nothing riles me more than seeing two mangy squares still attached to an otherwise empty roll. Seriously, what is that? Is toilet paper so laborious to change that we have to fake a full roll, just to get out of changing it? The two-sheets-left act is just so calculated, so stingy. It says a lot about a person... but what, I'm not exactly sure.

Too much?
Where do you stand (sit) on toilet paper? White? Patterned? Recycled? 
Any odd little habits you'd like to share?

* Even used rolls used as beautifully as in the Yuken Teruya artwork pictured here. Even them!

[Toilet roll tree by Yuken Teruya]


That biker guy

So, that biker guy won the People's Choice award over at the Sydney Writer's Centre. Ah well, I can't compete with motorsports. I have enough trouble with that at home.

Does your husband watch the Grand Prix? LOML is its number one fan. Or actually, he's probably like fan number 1,156,789 owing to the fact that he goes down to Melbourne each year for the practice and qualifying sessions, takes 1,156,789 photos, laps up the noise (like my pun) and then comes home for the actual race and watches it on TV. You don't get to be Number One fan if you're going to do stuff like that.

Anyway, I kinda digressed away from the purpose of this post, which was to grovel for you to vote for me in the Kidspot 50 Top Bloggers awards. I'm pretty sure that biker guy isn't nominated this time, so I might just be in with a chance. Mind you, there is an incredible line up of blogs nominated. I think I'm a follower of every single one of them, so really, you can't go wrong! Good luck to everyone.

Click on the image to go through to the voting. Thank you! I promise this is the end of Maxabella's Awards Season. I think I've only got one more rejection left in me.

[Image from here. I kinda get the feeling that biker guy wouldn't like my choice of pics...]


Harry Potter party for Maxi-Taxi

Harry Potter party

Whoa, Nellie! Happy Mother's Day to me (and to you too, if you're a mumma). I've spent the day cleaning up after Maxi-Taxi's 7th birthday party yesterday. My sister-in-law Lucia, LOML and I went Harry Potter mad and had a fabulous time at Hogwart's schooling 10 little Harrys and 4 Princess Harryettes.

The invitation to attend Hogwart's school of Witchcraft and Wizardry was despatched by owl delivery.

Harry Potter party

The students arrived at Hogwart's Castle and were requested to knock three times to be considered for entry.

Harry Potter party

Once their name was checked off the roll, they were invited to change into their uniforms.

Harry Potter party

Harry Potter party

Harry Potter party

And sign up for the House Competition and Potions Class.

Harry Potter party

Harry Potter party

The Sorting Hat decided who would be a Gryffindor, a Slytherin, a Hufflepuff or a Ravenclaw. None of the Harrys wanted to be in Gryffindor so it was decided the Harryettes would be the snakes. Each student received a house badge to wear on their robe.

Harry Potter party

Then it was time for the house competition. It was a treasure hunt race to see who could find the quidditch snitch first. Each team had a different set of clues that sent them on a hunt all around the house and garden.

Harry Potter party

Gryffindor stumbled on their final questions, mistaking the white wishing chair on the front verandah for the lounging lizard chairs on the back verandah (it's a common mistake). Their error cost them the snitch and they limped home in fourth place. The medals went to the Ravenclaw boys in first place followed by the lovely Slytherin girls and the Hufflepuffs in third place.

Harry Potter party

Harry Potter party

After the excitement of the competition and a bit of mad free play involving rock climbing in the Forbidden Forest...

Harry Potter party

... it was time to use their wands to burst the floating bubbles...

Harry Potter party

... followed by a flying lesson on the trampoline.

Harry Potter party

A refreshing drink of Butter Beer saw everyone ready to settle down for class where Professor Lucia taught them all how to make their own Minstry of Magic memo owls.

Then it was over to the chocolate fountain to coat breadstick wands with chocolate and dip them into cauldron pots of surprise sprinkles. The wands were washed down with a magic potion drink (two drops of food colouring dried on the bottom of the glass, covered in ice, lemonade turns coloured in the glass!).

Harry Potter party food

Following dinner of Oozy Parcels (sausage rolls) and Goblins Fingers (mini-hot dogs with tomato sauce), we hit the dessert table for the real food!

Hedwig Owl Pops (raspberry cake pops decorated as owls)
Harry Potter party food

Dragons Eggs (left-over easter eggs!)
Harry Potter party

Quidditch Balls (cheezels)

Goblins Boogers (popcorn)

Wizards Hats (cakes with mini-ice cream cones filled with marshmallows)
Harry Potter party

and Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans (jelly beans).
Harry Potter party

Stuffed to the tips of our wizards hats, we settled in for Professor Moody's Potions Class.

Harry Potter party

Professor Moody showed us an amazing dragon's egg that was lit red from within, a volcano in a bottle explosion, a breathe capture and firework's in a jar. We cracked open some glo-sticks and danced around while the volcano exploded.

Harry Potter party

The sparkler-ladden cake made it's entrance and Maxi barely got a look in as the candles were blown out by his over-excited friends just as the final school bell sounded.

Harry Potter party cake

Hogwart's lessons were over for the day, which was just as well as the Professors were absolutely exhausted!

Harry Potter party

Lessons learnt: 
1. You can never have too much fun at a child's party. 
2. You can never have too much fun preparing for one either. 
3. But, oh no, the clean up! And the sore feet! And the sheer exhaustion! Argh!

Harry Potter party