Friday, June 29, 2012

Juggling Pineapples


Many years and a lifetime ago… when I lived and worked in London… and had a social life… and…  a career, I met up with a friend to celebrate some exciting news. After an excruciating interview process involving three rounds of meetings, aptitude testing and a presentation I had been offered my dream job (or at least, what I thought was my dream job at the time). It was a big step up, and an amazing opportunity.

I met my friend (who later became my brother-in-law) in a busy pub after work. I don’t remember exactly where we met, or exactly what we drank, but if I had to guess I’d say we met at the White Lion and we drank pints of beer. Or perhaps it was the Flask and we drank G&T’s. Hmmm. Or was it the Cheddar Cheese (yes that is a real pub) and white wine? Anyway, the details aren’t important; what’s important is the advice he gave me.

We clinked our glasses and talked about all the exciting things the new job would bring; my own office (which turned out to be so lonely), a pay rise, a step up the ladder. But there was a problem. I had “the fear”. Despite the lengthy recruitment process I had a nagging feeling, what if they’d got it wrong? What if I couldn’t do the job they were hiring me for? What if I failed?

My friend listened to my worries and tutted me for being silly. Then he gave me a piece of advice…

“Crodie, you just need to go in there and give it your best shot. Walk in on day one and make a lasting impression. Make them sit up and notice you.”

“Oh yeah” I mused. “And how exactly am I going to that?”

“By juggling pineapples! Walk in on your first day juggling pineapples, no one is going to miss that”

We had a bit of a giggle about it. I could picture myself crossing the foyer of the fancy law firm, dressed up in my brand new suit, a confident smile on my face and all the while juggling pineapples. I thought of it as a metaphor for giving it my best shot, holding my head high and being myself.

It’s a piece of advice that has served me well over the years. Every time I had an interview or started a new job. Every time I had to attend a big social event, make a speech or deliver a presentation. But having spent the best part of the last three years being a stay at home mum, my networking skills are a little dusty.  

Tomorrow I am going to my first blogging conference; Nuffnang Blogopolis. I can’t wait! I’ll get to meet my blogging hero’s and hear what they have to say. I’ll be able to put faces to the names of the bloggers I regularly engage with. I’ll spend the whole day with adults talking about something I am really passionate about. I. Am. So. Excited.

But, I’m also nervous. What if I lose my nerve and spend the whole day hiding in the ladies? What if I get star struck by the big guns and turn into a stuttering buffoon? What if I get cold feet? (literally… socks don’t go with my new shoes). What if there’s not enough tea?!

My anxiety is at boiling point… there is only one way forward… one way to guarantee I make a good impression…

So, when you see me tomorrow, don’t be surprised if I’m juggling pineapples. 


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Memoirs of an overworked washing machine (Short Tale Tuesday)



I recall a time when it was just me and him. He was all mine. He gave me one load a week and used my gentle cycle. I was serviced regularly.

Then she came. She came into his life and brought her ever-increasing mountain of dirty laundry with her.

She came into his life and all of a sudden I was working weekends.

She sorted her washes. She washed delicates separately. A dark wash. A light wash. Bedding! Towels!

Then came the baby. And with the baby… came the shit stains and spew splatters.

Oh horrors I have seen!

She complains all day long about how tough she has it.

“Oh poor you! You and your multiplying laundry baskets. You don’t know what tough is!”

I ate her socks.

Wash. Wash. Fucking wash.

Enough!

I am going on strike!

I have broken down!

Enough!

ENOUGH!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sex (Mum… Please don’t read this)


I met my husband at a house party in Coogee in March 2008. I took a shine to him immediately. He had a sparkle in his eye that I couldn’t resist, so when I discovered he was single I did my best to flutter my eyelashes and flash my best smile in his direction. Unfortunately he left before I had time to impress him with my charm, wit and charisma. And modesty. Always forget about the modesty.

The next day he was in my head. Every time my mind wandered, there he was. His cheeky smile, his deep brown eyes… his shiny head (I’d never fancied a baldy before). And so, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I figured I had nothing to lose… so I asked him out. I sent him a carefully crafted message and hoped he would remember me. How could he not?

The following weekend we went on our first date. We met at the Sydney Opera Bar, which is a pretty spectacular place to get amorous. Especially when you’re full of bubbles (of the alcoholic variety) and you’re with a very handsome man, and you’re pretty sure he likes you too… 

Tipsy at the Opera Bar
We had a cheeky little snog. He groped my boob. He said that he was going for my shoulder… I laughed. It was so… romantic. We spent the rest of the afternoon sipping sparkling wine, holding hands, gazing into each other’s eyes… and giggling… because he’d groped my boob

An undisclosed number of weeks later, I arrived at my husband’s apartment for dinner. That’s what he thought anyway. I had other plans. If he had known what was on my mind he probably wouldn’t have spent so long preparing such an impressive meal.

Seriously, Mum… if you’re still reading… STEP AWAY FROM THE IPAD…

I made my move. He responded, with enthusiasm. We moved somewhere “more comfortable”. We got to know each other better. It got pretty steamy. It was good. And we never did eat that meal.

In the early months of our relationship we spent a considerable amount of time in the bedroom (and occasionally, the kitchen floor). We were frequently late for social appointments. We were inseparable. We were insatiable. We were… at it…like bunnies.

Those were the days. Before we had children. When sex was spontaneous. When we (pretty much) always felt like it. When it was effortless. The sad, sad truth is that our sex life has become a little...what’s the word?... Dull? Sparse? Pathetic?

It’s just that… we’re so bloody tired. We pushing three years of pretty serious sleep deprivation, and despite our best efforts to get it on, all we really want to do is nod off. Sleep is our highest priority and as a result our once highly active sex life has slowed down, put its feet up, draped a blanket rounds its weary shoulders and got stuck into a mug of cocoa.

I know (hope) this is just a phase. One day in the not to distant future (please, god) we will rekindle the passion of those early months. But in the meantime, we’re having an early night… we’ll get cosy under the covers, we’ll share a little kiss… and before we know it… we’ll be… fast… asleep. 



Digital Parents Blog Carnival

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rude!


There was once a time that I enjoyed driving. I sang along to the radio, I listened to the news. I switched off and let my inner auto pilot to the work. Time would pass by and I’d arrive at my destination relaxed and rearing to go (except for when my destination involved some sort of work, in which case I would arrive relaxed and reluctant to go). Like any normal person I had the odd moment of road rage… especially at a certain time of the month when my patience was in short supply and coincidentally, the number of terrible drivers on the roads quadrupled. But, on the whole, driving was a pleasant experience.

One husband, two children and almost three years of sleep deprivation later, my experience of driving is rather different.  Oh, lets not beat around the bush (or, perhaps more accurately chase G around the garage)… I loathe it! I find the ferrying of my little family stressful (when C is crying), irritating (when G is whinging) and infuriating (when my Husband is telling me how to drive).

Baby C is crying because she is tired, she would be asleep if G would stop hitting her round the head with the fly swot that she insisted on bringing with her. We’re stuck in pretty hideous traffic. My husband, who has been wincing every time I inch forward (presumably waiting for me to accelerate into the car in front) can not reach the fly swot and instead tries to negotiate with G. C keeps crying. If the traffic were flowing she would be able to nod off. But we crawl. 

Gridlock. Grrr.
 Since G started repeating every-single-little-thing I say, it has become apparent that my road rage isn’t entirely under control.
  
“RUDE!!” she bellows when the driver I let in fails to thank me. Actually, she probably can’t tell if they’ve thanked me or not, so its just something she randomly yells out from time to time, like a very mild mannered form of tourettes.

Baby C is still crying. I can see her in my rear view mirror and tears are spilling down her beautiful rosy cheeks. I want to pull over and comfort her, but we’re well and truly gridlocked. G is bored, and frustrated, she desperately wants out of her car seat “I’m stuck!” she yells as she wrestles with the safety restraint. My husband is trying to maintain an adult conversation (er, by adult I mean household budgets and shopping lists…). I can feel the pressure mounting…

… I go to my happy place… ocean of calm… ocean of calm…ocean of calm…

Ahhhhh. That's better.
I walk along a deserted beach. I take big deep breaths and fill my lungs with the salty air. The sea laps at my bare feet and washes away my stress. The warm breeze blows the tension from my shoulders. I lift my face to the sun and allow myself a quiet moment…Just a moment though…I am still in control of the car after all.

The traffic is moving again. Baby C falls asleep. My husband checks his BlackBerry. G gets stuck into a peanut butter sandwhich. I sing along to the radio… peace at last…

“Rude!”

“Rude!”

“Rude!”

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The poor neglected handbag (short tale tuesday)



The handbag sat alone, discarded, empty. Gathering dust. Forgotten. How long had it been? Days? Weeks? Years?

There was once a time that the handbag had been cherished. Loved. Adored. Taken everywhere.

Not any more.

Cast aside.

Not big enough.

Not practical enough.

The handbag waited, patient, accepting. Longing to be picked up… filled up… taken outside.

She’s changed.

Her once manicured hands are now too busy wiping snotty little noses to fiddle, tenderly, with a handbag. Now she wears sensible shoes … can she still walk in those beautiful high heels?… her eyebrows! Her legs!

She left the house with her belongings in a ghastly canvas shopping bag.

Yes, she’s changed.

What a dag!

Oh woe is the poor neglected handbag!  


Click here to find out more about Short Tale Tuesday! 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Help!...Mummy!


With a baby and a toddler in the house the chances of keeping things ship shape are pretty slim. Baby C becomes more of a handful every day, and G… well G has always been a bit of a handful. Sometimes I feel like I’m living with a pair of tornados. While I’m busy with one the other is busy getting into mischief. The girls create mess faster than I can clean it up… and with G’s ever increasing independence it is getting worse…

“My do it!” she yells at me… fiercely defending her rights…

She wants to pour the milk over her cereal. She wants to spread Nutella on her toast (or, just stick her finger in the jar… I’ve no idea where she got that one from…) she wants to peel her own mandarin..

“Can I help you?” I offer, sensing her frustration.

“No thankyou mummy! My do it!”"

Little miss independent.

G’s newfound self-sufficiency is not limited to looking after herself. She wants to help me too. The words “My help mummy!” fill me with dread. I know she is learning, and it’s my job to encourage her. She amazes me with her ability and I am so proud of her… but… if I’m really honest…sometimes I could do without the ‘help’…

She puts things away for me… like the spoon she just finished using (you have admire her style, why waste time washing up? Life is too short, right G?) She ‘folds’ laundry… by rolling each item into a little ball and lobbing it into the basket. She vacuums the carpets… by chasing her little sister (who has just started crawling) round wielding the hoover like a run-away hockey stick. 

G gets stuck in to the washing up
Despite all G’s efforts to “help mummy” the house gets wrecked. Every. Single. Day. Toys are carelessly strewn about, sultanas are trodden into the carpet, sand is everywhere! Where does all the sand come from?! The fridge magnets are redistributed and anything remotely important has been shredded and/or eaten.

I’ve never been very accomplished in the house work department, but the constant clutter is driving me mad… I’ve taken to ‘speed cleaning’ (hiding mess)    ‘denial cleaning’ (ignoring mess) and ‘stand-off cleaning’ (hoping the mess will get board and bugger off on its own). Hopefully, it won’t be long before “My help mummy” actually means helping… in the meantime… there is tea… lots and lots of tea…

Friday, June 15, 2012

Black Sand Park. A review, By G (Aged 2.5)

I love parks. Parks are my favourite thing in the world. If I had my way, I would stay at the park all day long. I get very cross when Mummy says its time to leave. I tell Mummy I don’t want to go home, but she huffs and puffs about lunch and naptime and forces me into my buggy. Hurumph.

Anyway, yesterday, Mummy took me and the baby to a new park. It took a dreadfully long time to get there. I played a new game with baby to pass the time, but for some reason Mummy kept interrupting. Apparently if baby is crying it means she doesn’t like me throwing things at her. What a wus.

Finally we arrived!

Wow. It truly was a spectacular sight. For a moment I was speechless.

Mummy put the baby in the sling and let me out of my car seat.

I ran as fast as I could! I love to run! Mummy loves it too! She cheers me on, shouting my name and running after me! 

"I love to run!"

First I had a go on the slide. It was ever so slippery! I hurtled toward the ground at break-neck-speed and flew off the end with such velocity that for a moment I thought I’d never return to earth! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Mummy turned white with excitement!

I saw a tunnel! A tunnel! I’ve never seen one in a playground before. I climbed in and shimmied along. It turned out to be quite a long tunnel. I could barely hear Mummy… but she seemed quite animated! She must have wanted a turn as the next thing I knew she had climbed in and was crawling after me! The baby was crying again…what is it with that baby

'A tunnel!'

I spotted a climbing frame and began my ascent! I climbed higher and higher! I could see Mummy running about with a panic-stricken look on her face… she was shouting “G! G! where are you?!” I didn’t realise she wanted to play ‘hide and seek’. I kept quiet and watched. What fun! Then she stated crying… man, she’s such a bad loser. 


After a few minutes Mummy found me, she stood at the bottom of the climbing frame asking me to come down. I waved at her. She started offering me things in exchange for my defeat. I was strong! I guess I can be pretty stubborn sometimes. Then she offered me a babychino… I couldn’t resist! I climbed down and allowed mummy to bundle me into the car.

I would whole-heartedly recommend Black Sand Park!

Especially if your Mummy is a ‘runner’!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Slow down baby!

My baby girl C turns 11 months today. I don't know where the time has gone. I know it's clich├ęd, but it's true. She's on the verge of toddlerhood, babe no more.

G calls her 'baby', sometimes 'the baby' but never C. She knows her name, but doesn't use it. She says, "no baby! Not funny!" When C laughs. She says "baby come too?" when I say its time to leave for the park.

She says "I love you baby!"

She says "no baby! My toy!"

The newborn days went too fast. In the blink of an eye. Things were so different second time round. I didn't spend hours watching her sleep, I couldn't, I had a toddler to take care of too. And while I chased after G my baby girl grew.


She is so beautiful.

When G rolled over for the first time I celebrated, ecstatic, international phone calls were made. When baby C rolled over for the first time I wasn't even watching… "oh you're on your tummy now!" I said, walking past her play matt, my hands full with plates and cups and half eaten sandwiches.

I've kept her close to me, in a sling, at first for convenience and then for the love of it. I adjusted the straps as she got bigger. Slowly, slowly, my baby grew. I wear her on my front, like a koala bear, but soon she’ll be too big and I’ll have to move her to my back. I’ll miss it, the closeness, the blissful feeling of her dozing on my chest as I go about my day.



In the last few weeks baby C has started pulling herself up, cruising the furniture, clapping her hands (whenever she hears music or sees my boobs) waving and saying "mama".

She has also started crawling... really really fast. After months of rolling about and pulling herself along with her arms she finally figured out what to do. And now that she's cracked it she keeps getting quicker! She is like a beautiful little racing car zooming around, chuckling her beautiful little laugh as she goes.

G says "slow down baby"!

Yes! Slow down baby! Don't turn into a toddler yet!

Baby, baby, baby.

You'll always be my baby.



Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Roots!

I sing ‘okey cokey’ not ‘hokey pokey’, I call slides, slides…(‘slippery dip’? sounds rude to me!). Thongs are uncomfortable undies, Overalls are for mechanics and don’t get me started on pants! I drink at least 5 cups of tea a day. I say “Hiya!” and I quietly get the hump when people queue jump. Yes.. I’m British but I have little Aussie babes.

I didn’t set out to emigrate… I arrived four and a half years ago with a working holiday visa and a backpack. The ‘plan’ was to get a job and see how it went. eight weeks in to my ‘year out’ I met my Aussie Husband. One thing led to another.. you know.. and now here I am… bringing up my daughters in Australia.

I love the weather (it was 17 degrees on the first day of winter) I love that people are friendly and are genuinely interested when they ask “how’re ya going?” I love the food, the wine and the coffee. I love the flash of pink in the sky as the galahs take flight... and not just not because it’s a beautiful sight…but because it reminds me of my youth watching “Home & Away” and Alf Stewart saying “Yer Flamin’ Galah!”.

I’m still genuinely amused if I hear someone say ‘fair dinkum’ (I’m still not totally sure what it means) and  I've had several misunderstandings regarding use of the word 'root'.. Strewth! But I can’t bring myself to say “G’day”...not outside the comfort of my own home anyway...

I love it here. Do I miss my family? Yes. Fiercely. Every. Single. Day. Is it worth it? Yes. I really believe we can offer our girls more here than we could if I dragged them all (kicking and screaming) back to the UK. But, I want my girls to grow up knowing their British heritage. So I’ve started talking to them about England and Wales. I sat down with the laptop and showed them some photos.

“Oh look girls! here is Auntie Sam and Uncle Nick with your cousins GJ and TJ… they’re having a lovely time on their summer holidays…hmmm.. good job they have their rain coats on…”

Mrs J and the family.

“And here is Nana enjoying a walk along the cliff tops! Looks like a beautiful day! That’s a nice warm coat Nana is wearing isn’t it? Looks a bit windy though! Ahh summer in Wales”

Nanna.

We talked about how “Mummy grew up in England, and how Nana lives in Wales and Auntie lives in Brighton” we talked about London, and the Queen, and…well…tea. G was totally captivated. For a good five minutes.

Later on, over a nice cuppa (yes she drinks tea…don’t worry… its de-caf) I asked G what she remembered about England..

“G, what’s England like?” I asked, hoping she had retained something from her short lesson.

She tilted her head to one side, and scrunched up her nose in deep contemplation…

Then…

“Cold!”

Hurumph.

A few days later we had some very wet weather. We spent the day indoors and had lots of fun playing games and er, drinking tea. Then I decided enough was enough and we had to get out for a bit. I bundled the girls into their rain coats and unfolded my pack-a-mac. I opened the door expecting G to run out like an excited puppy… but she didn’t. She looked at me with a look of utter bewilderment;

“It’s Raining!” she proclaimed.

If her language was further developed, I’m sure she would have added;

“Have you taken leave of your senses mother?!”

Her expression said it all.

“We don’t worry about a bit of rain G!” I said, shooing her out the door…”you are half English after-all!”

G wasn’t convinced.

I realised that her lessons in Britishness were not going well. So far all I had managed was that Great Britain was “cold” and “wet”. I knew I had to pull something special out the bag or forever be persuading her that the UK really isn’t that bad…

We made some Welsh Cakes.

We ate some Crumpets.

We had Toad in the hole for dinner.

And just like that I won over my little Aussie babes.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Who am I?


Karaoke queen
I am…

I am…

As I pondered this question, the opening bars of Helen Reddy’s "I am woman" sprung into my head.

This amused me at first, I know it’s a bit cheesy, but it's one of my favourites, especially if I've got a mic in my hand (of the karaoke variety, let me assure you, talented singer I am not).

But then I couldn't get it out of my head… Every time I put pen to paper (metaphorically speaking, I was actually tapping away on my hubby's Mac, while he huffed and puffed about never getting to use it) the words of the song came back to me.

"Oh yes! I am wise! But it's wisdom born of pain"

See how I know the words?

I really rock this at karaoke.

Then I started getting frustrated.

"Who the hell am I?" I yelled. Of course when I say 'yelled' I mean 'whispered' in a somewhat angsty manner… The girls were napping and accidently waking them would mean the end of my writing time.

I tried to be funny.

"I'm a pair of boobs to one! I'm a train ride to the other"

But it wasn't enough.

I started making a list;
I am warm.
I am loving.
I am funny.

And then…
I am impatient.
I am judgemental.
I am bitchy.

But it still wasn't enough!

“Who the hell am I?”

The words of the Helen Reddy song spun round my head, taunting me;

"…but I'm still an embryo with a long long way to go…"

I flounced off to the kitchen and got stuck into to G's chocolate stash.

Bloody Helen! Get out my head!

And then it hit me.

I am all these things; I am a mother, I am a wife, I am a writer, I am a raving chocoholic. I am a terrible singer. I am honest (it’s true about the singing)

And… I usually really belt this bit out...

I am strong! I am invincible! I am woman!

(although ever so slightly off key)





Edenland's Fresh Horses Brigade

Friday, June 8, 2012

Rainy day edition


We’ve had a fair amount of rain this week, which has kept us indoors more than we’d like. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for donning wellies and waterproofs for a good splash in the puddles, I am British after all. But there is a big difference between going out during a light shower (fun) and going out in a torrential down pour (not so much fun). Staying home with one very busy toddler and one very curious baby is something of a challenge, but I am a creative woman! I can rise to the challenge!            
Here are 4 ideas to brighten up a rainy day (without the use of alcohol).

1)   Make a balloon doggy! (10 minutes)
Blow up a balloon. Tie string to balloon. Draw a doggy face on balloon. You are now the proud owner of a balloon doggy! (Congratulations!)
Take Balloon Doggy for a walk round the house. Sing songs about dogs. I made one up… honestly, I should be on Playschool…
A word of caution… Balloon Dogs have a rather limited life span. Especially if you have a teething baby in the house.  

Here's one I made earlier. Woof
  
2)   Make a pasta necklace! (5-10 minutes)
Take 1 cup of penne pasta and several bits of string. Thread string through pasta (this is much easier if you use uncooked pasta) et voila! Spend the rest of the day wearing pasta necklace.

3)   Make homemade play-dough! (20 minutes*)
Before you announce that you’re going to make some play-dough I suggest that you check that you're in possession of all the essential ingredients. If not, the extra virgin olive oil and luxury rock salt that you purchased on your last trip to the Hunter Valley will do nicely. Plus, grinding the salt in a pestle and mortar adds some extra ‘fun’ to the activity! 

(expensive) Play-dough

 4)   Have a teddy bear’s picnic! (20 minutes)
G discovered our picnic set under the stairs which gave me this totally original idea to stage a teddy bear picnic. We spread the picnic blanket on the ground and set up an imaginary picnic. G served pretend tea to her teddies… this gave me an opportunity to sneak off and have an actual cup of tea…
Tip!.. It’s best to remove the cutlery before setting up. This will prevent another ‘knife incident’

So there you are! 4 fun filled activates that are guaranteed to entertain your toddler, amuse your baby and raise your blood pressure! (for at least an hour!) Enjoy!

What are your favourite rainy day activities?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Where do all the teaspoons go?




Where do all the teaspoons go?
I've hunted high! I've hunted low!
Do they dream a life of awe?
To see the world outside the draw?
Do they languish with lost toys beneath the sofa?
Or under the stairs with a discarded loafer?
Do they waltz with odd socks in the laundry room?
Or cower in the corner with a sense of doom?
As I hunt out these adventures intrepid,
My tea bag stews and the water goes tepid!
Oh please will someone let me know..
Where do all the teaspoons go?!



Click here to find out more about Short Tale Tuesday! 

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Letter to My Neighbours


Dear Mr & Mrs Liveatnumberten,

I’ll get straight to the point.

Please don’t call social services.

I know it must sound like you’re living next door to a zoo. I understand that you may hear things that are, at best, deeply worrying. I expect you’ve looked up the number, maybe you’ve written it down on that notepad by the phone… you’re poised to make that call… But please don’t!

I can assure you that when you heard me shout “G! GET OUT OFTHE OVEN!” she wasn’t actually in any danger. Not much anyway. I mean, it’s not like the oven was turned on…

And when you heard G shouting “Pleeeeease HELP me!” it wasn’t because I’d locked her in a cupboard, or under the stairs… (although, I’ll admit, on dark days I have been tempted) it was because she had got herself stuck behind the sofa. Again.

It must have looked bad, but baby C was covered in red paint… the ‘E’ she accidently swallowed was a sticker from G’s alphabet book and when G said “Look Mummy! The baby is shitting on the carpet” she actually meant sitting.

I know that Old MacDonald didn’t have any aliens on his farm and that there probably aren’t any monkeys on the bus. I’m just ever so slightly sleep deprived

And when you saw me vacuuming the back yard and you thought “Dear God! That woman has lost her mind”…. Actually, you might have been right that time….

The truth is it’s hard sometimes. My girls have very different needs and meeting those needs is a constant juggling act. At times it feels like I’m treading water, dealing with one ‘situation’ while the next is unfolding before me.   

I’m not a bad mother. I love my children ferociously… I’m just doing what I can to make it through another day…

Yours Sincerely,

Mrs Frazzledmumnextdoor

P.S. I didn’t mean to flash my boobs at you.