Tuesday 16 December 2014

Too many Santas, not enough snow

Flamin' ho ho ho
Is it just me, or is Santa getting around a hell of a lot these days? Seems like there's practically one on every street corner ho'ing it up now.

When I was little there was so much mystery and excitement around the big guy, but now every man and their beer belly is jumping in the red suit. Shopping malls, concerts, carol nights, school functions, shops, parties, BBQs, you name it - and that's on top of all the drunk Santas on pub crawls.

The sentiment behind it is nice, but don't you think it gets a bit confusing for the little ones?

This is the first Christmas my boys are REALLY into the whole festive season. We've already been to see Santa at the mall so they could tell him what they wanted for a present (Lego obviously), and of course they're also expecting him to stealth in via the windows on Christmas Eve to deliver some presents.

But we also had a surprise visit from a geriatric Santa at a concert recently (handing out lollies which came from God knows where). And then at a friend's BBQ on the weekend one of the dads dressed up to hand out presents to the kids as well.

Suddenly Santa isn't so special, he's everywhere. And how come he looks so different each time?

My husband and I actually told our boys ahead of the BBQ that one of his helpers who looked a bit like him would be there to give them a present, just so they didn't get wise. They may be young (2 and 4), but they sure are cluey; and as they're only just getting into Santa I don't want them catching on before they've even had time to enjoy the magic.

It was a good thing too, because BBQ Santa ended up being boozed, shirtless and with ripped pants!

So maybe put the red hats down fellas, let's leave Santa to get his ho on himself.

Have you had enough of all the Santas?

photo credit: jesse.millan via photopin cc


Thursday 13 November 2014

Goodbye my dragon...

Nothing beautiful about this

"Goodbye my dragon...goodbye my friend. You've not been the one, not been the one for me...."

James Blunt has been singing in my head the last month or so (with doctored lyrics), every time I walk past that dreaded shelf in the living room. Darn those aqua dragons - or should I say dragon? I killed the rest of the buggers remember? And now.... the last one has expired.

Well technically, it probably carked it two months ago. I've been too scared to check so I'm afraid I don't have an exact time frame on its departure from this world. I do have a place though, my living room, under my care. Yes I'm responsible. I tried so hard to keep it alive and kicking, but I failed. Again.

Darn those dragons! And the people who are manufacturing and selling them, well they can really get effed. I can't believe it's something for children, talk about stressful!

They are the WORST idea since jeans you're not allowed to wash but can stick in the freezer instead. Seriously, I think the fashion industry is still killing themselves with laughter over that rort. What do you do if spill a whole can of soft drink down those designer denims? Chilled air is not going to cut it.

Anyway I just wanted to say that I've now washed the last aqua dragon down the sink, along with his compadres, and thrown away the container and all the feeding bits and pieces. I've learnt my lesson. Never again!

See you dragons, it's been real.... real annoying (and now you're real dead - sorry).


What other products do you think are shockers? Tell all!

Wednesday 29 October 2014

I've saved 60 lives!

I gave blood again today and am pleased to tell you that it was a MUCH better experience than last time - which you can read about here.

It did almost go pear-shaped though when a high-school boy managed to get in front of me (despite the fact I was actually next), meaning a delay that almost caused me to leave without donating. However, after explaining to one awesome staff member that I was going to have to leave and get my children they rushed me through the pre-donation process and got me all finished in time. A very surprisingly pleasant experience indeed. And I even got a Mars Bar. Hooray!

I also found out that today was my 20th donation, something I was surprised about as I thought I had donated a lot more than this. Thinking about it though, there was a big chunk of time when I was running my own business and then had children where I wasn't able to get there, so I guess that's why. It's also been a while since my last donation because of our last Bali trip, meaning I had to wait a bit before being allowed to roll up my sleeve again.

Anyway, get a load of this: 20 of my blood donations = 60 lives saved! Each time you donate you can save three people's lives through the blood transfusions they desperately need. I also used to donate platelets which is even more help for people, and was on the bone marrow registry; but I think somehow they've fallen off the bandwagon during my donation hiatus (that's next up on the to-do list).

So get giving blood people! You never know when you might need some yourself...

Go to www.donateblood.com.au for all the details. Now.

Photo credit: herstorynetwork.com

Friday 3 October 2014

My son has a friend (exhale....)

"You've got a friend..."
My eldest son who turns four next week has finally got his first proper friend - hurrah! I know it doesn't sound like much, but for my husband and I this is HUGE. We are beyond excited.

He used to be a really outgoing little boy, but over the last few years our son has become shy and not very confident (I'm thinking it might have been due to two hospital visits but who really knows). Anyway he hasn't made any friends yet - until now.

Of course he regularly plays with his brother (ok, mostly fights) and cousins, and hangs out frequently with the children of my friends - but it's not the same. This is forced friendship in a way, because he hasn't actively chosen to spend time with these children. Plus most of my friends have girls so he probably feels a bit left out in those instances.

I know it's quite normal though for young children to play by themselves a lot until they get to a certain age, but you still can't help worrying about it. I actually think having friends is a much bigger mental tick for your children than many academic or physical achievements and milestones, because in life friends are everything. They can make you happy, help and support you, give you confidence, and much more.

A little while ago my son did talk regularly about a boy from his kindy who he apparently played with, but I soon realised he was just telling me he played with him every day (I was suspicious and checked with the teachers). They learn lip service young.

I kept telling him it was ok not to play with anyone some days if you just wanted to be by yourself, and made sure I didn't ask too much about friends, but underneath I was really hoping he would make one. And now he has, and I'm relieved. The teachers were also really excited (it was them who alerted me to the friendship), and now I've met the little boy myself and witnessed the two of them spinning around together playing games which is so sweet to see.

Sure, next week he might not be friends with this kid anymore and then I may have another ball ache on my hands explaining to him why, but for now they're mates and he's asked him to his birthday party, and that's all that matters right now. Far out this parenting thing is hard sometimes!

Have you ever been worried about your child making friends?
Photo credit: Galleryhip.com

Friday 26 September 2014

Jump up jump up and get down

I'm what you call a jumper. Not the pullover/sweater kind, or a teleporter - I'm someone who literally jumps out of their skin and shrieks when 'startled' which is all the time, by almost anything. I don't need Kris Kross to make me jump, I just need my husband to walk into the kitchen and it's aaahhhh!

We live together and have done so for years now so you'd think I'd know it was him coming into a room and not an axe murderer (especially if we've just had dinner together). But no...aaaahhh! And sometimes we're even in the same room together and he'll come up beside me to ask a normal question like 'where's my wallet?' and suddenly I'm front row at a House of Pain concert screaming like a loon.

Not getting the idea? This short Catherine Tate clip will spell it out for you:

My husband thinks it's absolutely ridiculous, and it is. How can I get so surprised, all the time? It was even more stupid when we lived in a small apartment with one point of entry and absolutely nowhere for intruders to hide.

I don't even know if that's what I'm afraid of to be honest. I have no idea what sets me off. It doesn't even have to be a person, often it's just sudden noises. Our cat's even got me a few times! And now? It's the children.

I walked into the laundry the other day and when I turned around my youngest was right there and I let out a scream so shrill I almost scared myself. The look on his face was complete bewilderment and fear. I instantly hugged him and hurridly explained that mummy just got a fright so all was soon good again, but I felt so bad. It's not as if I didn't expect it, he's always trailing my heels wherever I go.

Maybe I've just seen one too many horror movies...

So if you're ever thinking of coming up behind me to cover my eyes and say 'surprise!' - I'd think again. I may just blow your eardrums out and punch you in the face.

Are you or do you know a jumper?

Thursday 28 August 2014

Being a god is harder than it looks

So seven gods walk into a bar...

I've been playing God recently and I've gotta tell you, that sh#t ain't easy.

What I'm talking about is AQUA DRAGONS. Nope, it's not some hip new indie band, they're actual real life aquatic creatures that were around in dinosaur times and are related to the crustacean family. Check them out here - also known as sea monkeys. You buy their eggs (which could be decades old and come sitting in a small packet off the shelf) from places like Australian Geographic, pop them in water, and hey presto just like Gremlins they come to life and start swimming around.

My sister's children were given them and she wasn't keen on the idea so I thought I'd give it a whirl. It seemed exciting, a bit morally questionable, but mysterious and exciting. The boys will love it! So we made a big song and dance about them, put the eggs in the tank with bottled water and waited.

After a day they hatched! We had successfully created life that without us may never have existed. I felt like Lisa Simpson with her mini universe. They could have just stayed eggs sitting in a packet, tossed in the bin and never to touch water and spring to life. The boys were pumped to see these minuscule things swimming around and helped out when it was time to feed them.

Good times! Good dragon times! That is until a few weeks later I suddenly noticed there were no more dragons cruising around. Were they sleeping? Where were they? Perhaps I had forgotten to feed them or let the water temperature drop. Damn it. The children wanted to see their dragons, and I knew they were lying on the bottom, tits up.

So the dragons got put up high on a shelf so I didn't have to deal with it. I just couldn't face getting rid of these magical creatures that I had failed as their creator. My husband couldn't either. It was so weird, we have a cat and are no strangers to animals moving on, but this was so different. We awakened these beings from a dormant state and brought them into the world. And then we stopped providing the essentials they needed to survive (ok maybe not we, it was me). We both felt so guilty though it was crazy. I bet my sister is glad now she gave them away.

Thankfully after a few months the boys stopped asking about them. Or so I thought until my youngest pointed up there the other day and said 'hatch!' with shining eyes.It was time. Time to stop ignoring the tiny prehistoric souls floating around in their watery grave while we went about our lives. So I poured them down the sink.

And then I went to the cupboard and got the extra packet of eggs. Ding ding! All gods please step up for Round Two!

Was I crazy? Yes, I think so. It's only been a week and heaps of them hatched initially but when I checked yesterday I could only see one of the blighters. I've even been taking it into heated rooms and putting a small towel around the container so the water temperature doesn't drop, but somehow I've failed yet again at this god stuff.

The only saving grace is I haven't told the boys about it again. I think I'll wait and see if old dragon balls makes it to week two. In the meantime though, perhaps Aqua Dragons should remain out of the shops. Being a god is HARD.

Ever played God? Ever successfully raised a colony of Aqua Dragons?!

Photo credit: South Park   

Friday 25 July 2014

Are you 'living the dream'?

This is not my arse (I wish it was). But it is my car.
A stranger told me this week that I was "living the dream" and now I can't get it out of my head.

Am I? What dream? When did this happen?

I can tell you one thing, she didn't tell me this last weekend when I was sat at the medical centre for two hours covered in hives, while my boys screamed the place down on the floor in a tantrum tornado.

Nope, she was a mum outside the kindy who spied me getting out of my car with the children for drop off. I have an old Mustang which I love, but probably should sell given we could really use the money and it's not the most convenient or safest of cars for travelling with children (not to mention he often needs a jump start and isn't very good for the environment!).

The woman was a Mustang lover and couldn't stop gushing about my car, to the point that I actually saw one of her children fall in the gutter trying to get into her car while she was too busy making star eyes at my coupe.

Her beaming face and parting words, "You're living the dream!" were so sweet, yet also really surprising (and a little stalkerish).

Am I living the dream? Well I suppose so if you happen to like Mustangs that is.

The strange thing is, I actually said the exact same thing to someone else a few days before this. I'd told it to a friend who is currently in the states for work, just chilling at Comic-Con and the Skywalker Ranch amongst other rad stuff as you do. So jealous!

You see I'm a massive film fan, particularly of legendary flicks such as Star Wars and Ghostbusters, and I am also bursting to travel around America. So I guess in telling my mate he was 'living the dream' what I really was saying was, you're living one of my dreams.

I have so many goals and desires it's ridiculous - both personally and professionally. Even if I fulfilled all of them right now, I'm sure another 50 would just sprout up in their place. Maybe I'm greedy, or just plain ambitious, who knows but I've got a hell of a lotta dreams.

In fact, I've got so many that I don't often stop to think about the dreams that I have actually achieved. Mustang Stalker Mum has opened my eyes on the matter because it's true, I did always want a cool car - tick!

I also wanted to be married and have children, and have a home on the Northern Beaches. And a cat. Ticks all round folks. And there's plenty more where that came from.

It's that age old wisdom isn't it? We're so busy focused on what we don't have, that we don't appreciate what we do have (it's kind of hard sometimes though when your children are always screaming in your face).

I am currently living the dreams of many people, including myself, yet have never really thought about it that way. Can certainly put a fresh spin on your life.

Anyway one thing's for sure, I'll be sure to remember this next time my car breaks down.

Are you living 'the dream'?

Photo credits: Photographer, Jason Ierace. Stylist, Emma Wood.

Friday 11 July 2014

When parents are the ones who need to learn

Where are the lasers?!

You know those mice in experiments, the really dumb ones who keep trying to get the cheese even though every time they do they get zapped? Well that's me this week.

Firstly I bought an instant pasta meal at the supermarket for dinner. I used to like this particular dish for a treat every now and then but went off it a few years ago because I think they changed the formula and it tasted wrong. For some reason though, this week I thought it would be a good idea to give it a whirl. Maybe they've got the old flavour back? Maybe I was wrong before? Is that cheese I see dangling in front of the aisle? Man, I was seriously excited about dinner and couldn't wait to smack my lips around that tasty sauce.

ZAP! It was disgusting. This was one meal I couldn't actually blame the kids for not liking. Only my husband liked it. I KNEW it was crap so why on earth did I think it would magically taste awesome again? Why did I buy it?!

My next 'mouse moment' came when I broke my 'no TV before bed during the week' rule and let the boys watch a bunch of British children's shows about neurons and other 'educational' things while I collapsed on the couch.

ZAP! All hell broke loose. Screaming and crying about the telly being turned off, fighting over who then would get to turn it back on again to once more be turned off for good, screaming every step of the way into bed, and so on.

I know TV right before bed turns them mental, so WHY did I cave?!

And then yesterday, I took the boys to one of their favourites parks (which is about a 30 minute drive)...and brought sandwiches in my bag.

ZAP! From past experiences I knew to leave them in the car so why didn't I?! As to be expected, within seconds of getting to the park my eldest sat down and demanded sandwiches even though it was 10 o'clock and he'd had cheese and crackers on the way there (on top of breakfast of course). When I explained that it wasn't lunch yet and that we hadn't just driven there to sit and eat, the meltdown commenced and his brother joined in on the caterwauling.

So I caved and gave them one quarter each only. They played for a bit and then went in for round two. When I refused and tried to lure them back on the slides and other playground action, the craziness really kicked off. Both were screaming like their arms and legs were on fire, tears pouring down their faces, writhing in the sand in front of strangers... It's no wonder I burst into tears myself.

We finally left after I couldn't take it any more and guess what? On the trip home one of them didn't even want his sandwiches anyway. Toddler insanity.

Anyhow the point is I knew how that situation would unfold, plus dozens of others involving the boys that happen on a daily basis. So why do I keep going for the cheese when I know I'm going to get zapped?!

As parents we all want our children to learn from their mistakes, but in light of my recent behaviour perhaps it's us parents that really need to learn.

Mmmm cheese...

How often do you keep getting zapped?

Photo credit

Tuesday 1 July 2014

How many children is enough?

Well hey there sexy readers! Unlike the title of this post suggests, no I haven't disappeared off the planet lately because I've popped out triplets and adopted two more babies from Africa to add to the pack - there's just been a few too many balls in the air than usual, so I'm afraid the circus had to shut the curtains for a while. Did you miss me?

I already know the answer (of course you did), but the question on my mind at the moment is a bit more of a challenge: how do you really know when to stop expanding your family?

This is a pretty hot topic right now amongst my group of friends and other mums I know who all have at least one child. And if it isn't already a daily thought swirling around in most of our heads, we're certainly reminded of it at least weekly at a BBQ, playdate or even the supermarket, when someone looks at your offspring and asks "Do you think you'll have any more?"

For some this can be quite a distressing question, especially those already struggling to conceive again, but I don't mind being asked. However what is quite amusing (annoying actually), is the amount of people (including complete strangers like taxi drivers and door salesmen), who assume I will definitely be going for a third because having two boys means I MUST be in need of a girl. I guess it's kind of like how parents with a boy and a girl, or a 'pigeon pair' as they call it (is that not the most ridiculous and annoying expression ever heard?); are always expected to shut up shop, cast off the ark, and stop procreating because Adam and Eve are in the house.

To anyone who knows me though, it's no secret that I really want a third (but I don't care what the sex is). I am one of three myself, love the family dynamic it brings, and have always wanted three children - despite my surprise at finding parenthood to be an insane rollercoaster ride. I realise having three loco amigos would mean my husband and I are outnumbered (a somewhat scary thought); but for me, adding one more cherub to the party would really complete our family.

Before you break out the Bonjela though, unfortunately for me the hubby isn't so keen. In fact, he's so unkeen that he's dying for the green light to go and get the snip. Hence the big question mark. Do I throw away all the baby stuff I've saved in case he changes his mind? Or should I accept that this is all of our family and start planning for future 'family of four' style package vacations? Whilst I am longing for another child (I think of names constantly and tear up at the thought of not being pregnant ever again), I have to also respect his thoughts on the matter, because we both have to be on board for such a big life decision.

Someone I know was in a similar situation recently but managed to completely change her husband's mind, and I also know several others where interestingly it's the father who wants more but the mum doesn't (who can blame any woman really when you think about the birth? Ahhh!). And then there are the friends who were convinced they were stopping at two and threw all the baby paraphernalia out, but now their youngest is getting older and their babymaking window is getting smaller, the question has arisen. And it does need to be answered because you can only put it off for a short time.

Most people are all for other couples having more children (in fact a little too keen sometimes, perhaps they want more families to be in the same boat as them?), but there are a few who blatently tell me not to do it (even though they don't have more than two themselves). I also sometimes think I'm being greedy for wanting a third child - I have two beautiful boys and love my family, so isn't that enough when there are people out there who can't even have one? And of course financially three will add extra bills to the table, not to mention the world is busting at the seams from over population.

It doesn't make the longing go away though. And it also doesn't help when two friends have both had a third recently, which begs another question, is how many children you have influenced by what everyone else is doing? I'd say in most cases yes, I mean no one wants to be the only octomum on the block, but for me I've always wanted three and envisaged this in my future.

And so another day passes pondering the question, is this it? Is this our family now?

Only time will tell if I will get my three musketeers (or Doc Brown after a quick trip in the Delorean). All I know is that I love rollercoasters, the wilder the better, so if the universe wants to up the anti, then I say bring it.

Is your family complete? Or are you still pondering the patter of more feet?

Photo credit: pnchydroponics.com

Wednesday 30 April 2014

Are modern mums just a pack of whingers?

I've said it before and I'll say it again - parenting is so much harder than I ever thought it would be.

Amongst the toddler joy and laughter there's the constant battles, questioning your decisions, debating with your partner over tactics, berating yourself when you do the wrong thing...the list goes on.

And like many of my friends, I've turned to my own mother for advice and to vent.

"Was I ever like this at 3? What about my sisters? I don't ever remember refusing to go bed, how did you get me to sleep? How did you cope?"

Frustratingly Mum apparently never went through half of the stuff myself and my sister (who has three boys) are currently in the thick of. Unlike me, she also had a husband who didn't cook, clean or wipe bums; and she didn't use modern conveniences such as disposable nappies, ATMs, online shopping or iPads to get more things done. Oh and she also did secretarial work for my father's business until 1am while we were all in bed, so she was a working mum too.

Basically she had a lot less help than me, yet seemed to get through the toddler wilderness years relatively unscathed. How, how I ask??!

Mum believes the reason is perhaps because my sister and I both have boys and she had three girls - because you know, "girls are easier". Bulldust! I have friends with daughters who pull their hair out on a regular basis just like me. So it can't be that.

A lot of my friends have asked their mothers too, who all seem to have similar memories of rearing their toddlers - "No I don't remember you doing anything like that."

So what gives then? Here are some of my theories:

The generation before just doesn't remember
Similar to how many mothers don't remember the pain of childbirth (unlike myself, I ain't never forgetting that!), I think they might have blocked out the bad memories and just can't recall how difficult it was. It was quite a few decades ago after all so who can blame them?

Children are more difficult now
When you consider the 'instant culture' we now live in, toxic chemicals in food and all around us, and constant stimulants thanks to increased technology devices; is this idea really that far fetched? I think not. Sure I was exposed to a bit of all this growing up, but nowhere near the amount that's around most kids today.

Modern mums are a pack of whingers
Society today not only allows, but wholeheartedly invites, people to share intricate details of their lives - mostly via technology. Exhibit A: here I am venting on this blog post to friends and strangers about my struggles with parenthood. My mum didn't have that opportunity - nor the luxury of flicking off a Facebook status, uploading a pic to Instagram, sending an email, texting a friend or even calling my dad in the car on the way home to relive the day's events. Parents of that generation didn't have the technology to whinge - by the time you might have sat down to write a long letter to your gal pal overseas the moment would have been long gone. And you most probably wouldn't have had the time or inclination to whinge either, because when things were tough back then you just shut up and soldiered on.

Talking to others about parenthood struggles can be extremely therapeutic and helpful, particularly when you feel like you're drowning and get great advice back. But perhaps oversharing about what little Johnny did every two seconds is the modern mum's downfall? Because when you constantly talk about something and people respond, the incident remains very much alive when perhaps it might have already disappeared into a distant memory (which might be what you actually need to battle through).

So what is it then that makes parenting seem so much harder now than before? Is it grandparents with selective memories, or that we're breeding wilder children, or that we won't shut up about how hard it is? Probably all of the above.

Throwing another option into the ring is that perhaps parents these days are trying too hard to be the parent they think they should be, instead of being guided by instinct and enjoying the little stuff. 

I had the pleasure of reviewing Angela Mollard's new book, The Smallest Things -  Thoughts on making a happy family, for stylem magazine recently. I asked the author why she thought modern mums found it harder than previous generations and this was her response:

"Our generation is being sold an image as confected as a cupcake. You can have it all, we are told, so we weight the various components and strive to present to the world the perfect version of ourselves. But like cupcakes - which offer only saccharine emptiness - it's a fraud. We cannot be everything to everybody - we can only focus on what matters to us."

Can I get an Amen?! (and a cupcake please).

Not forgetting to enjoy our children is the most important thing. So I think it's time to stop quizzing the madness and jump on the crazy train...

Do you think parents these days whinge too much?

Photo credit: hooping.org

Thursday 13 March 2014

The (Toddler) Hunger Games

Race you to the crust!

Currently my two boys are ongoing contestants in The Hunger Games - yes they do try and kill each other most days, but mostly they just pester me all day long for food and drinks.

I could give them a huge breakfast (e.g. two bowls of cereal plus fruit and water), yet it's not enough. They'll see me eating my breakfast and want some too. Then we'll head out to the park and they'll instantly demand sandwiches, because that's what they ate last time we were at the park.

We'll have just arrived at the library and while my back is turned for one minute they've rifled through my bag and found the lunch for hours later and devoured it. If we go to a play date at a friend's house, they'll literally camp out at the kitchen table and do nothing but eat instead of playing until it's time to go home. And going to the shops, well that's a joke. Any store we walk past that we ever bought an edible item from or is displaying something they're interested in consuming, they want it.

Why do they do it? Because toddlers are just darn annoying that's why.

It sure isn't because I haven't fed them enough. I give them breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus morning and afternoon tea at pretty much the same time every day and never skimp on meal size - I know they're growing boys.

They just associate EVERYTHING with food and use it as a way of either getting attention, delaying doing something, copying someone or asserting themselves.

I know I'm not alone here, many of my friends are in the same boat, and they all find it equally frustrating.

"We didn't come to the park just so you could eat!" I hear myself say over and over again. I know I shouldn't care, but it's pretty annoying. Especially as when we have to leave they then decide it's playtime.

Even though I don't cave ALL the time, I do often give in (sometimes not of my own choice though if they're on a pilfering mission). I know this is the problem and I need to stop it, but some days I'm just not in the mood for a public meltdown.

I used to be very hardcore with set meal times and nothing in between, but things started to slip when baby number two came along. You're out in public breastfeeding and your other child is screaming for sultanas he saw you put in there earlier as an emergency snack - what would you do? That's right, you give them the darn tarnis.

From there it's a slippery slope though and that's why now I'm slap bang in the middle of The Hunger Games.

I know I shouldn't carry food with me, the boys are old enough now that I don't need 'emergency snacks' - but they sure do come in handy when you're stuck in severe traffic or some other major unforeseen delay that prevents you from delivering a meal at its normal time.

One answer I guess is to make it harder for them to find snacks themselves. The food in our home is already under lock and key pretty much though - we have baby gates still for the kitchen and I can't even put a fruit bowl on our dining room table because my youngest climbs up and eats it all (yep, even munches through banana skins).

It's also particularly hard at other people's places where you can't control what food is easily accessible. My boys are like animals, seriously. If you've got food, they will sniff it out.

The other solution is to just stop giving in when I can with allowing them to eat when I don't want them to. Sigh. I'm up for this, but I guess my friends and the general public will just have to deal with some noise for a while.

Or... I could just wait until they're a bit older and disciplinary tactics such as threats and bribes might actually work. That is, until they become teenagers and turn into walking garbage disposal units that I have no control over.

Of course the irony of their little game at the moment though is at dinnertime they couldn't care less about what yummy meal I've put in front of them. Tonight's pork schnitzel and peas was thrown on to the floor in handfuls by my youngest. Not content with his own bowl emptied, he even helped his brother out and threw his on the floor too. Nice.

Maybe I should start taking dinner to the library instead.

Are The Hunger Games happening at your house?

photo credit: theloushe via photopin cc 

Sunday 23 February 2014

Oh crap, my baby has a tan...

Advertising in the 50s - wow.
Summer is officially almost over - boo. My very fair boys have loved swimming in the pool, going to the beach, running around half naked and all the other great things you do when the weather is nice. The biggest thumbs down of all though I think goes to me.. When changing my youngest the other day I realised he had a full on tan - his little white bum in contrast to his brown body as the stark evidence staring me in the face.

Crap. Where had I gone wrong?

We all know Aussies are like ants living permanently under a microscope and so need to cover up and wear suncream at all times - especially children with their precious, soft, undamaged skin. But I'm great at getting my boys to wear hats whenever they're outside, and always put suncream on them...don't I?

Well actually come to think of it...if it's cloudy, or it's late in the day, or if I've already put cream on them once...ok, sometimes I skip it. Especially when I know I'm going to have another crazy fight on my hands when applying it.

Is this really that bad though? I know the importance of 'slip, slop, slap,' but how much sun damage can they REALLY get at 4 o'clock in the afternoon?

Skin cancer awareness is so much higher now than when I was growing up (when sunburn was a summer staple and no one used the word 'sunscreen' - which I still can't get my head around by the way). But do we REALLY need to cover up like crazy if there are clouds ahoy?

Not really knowing the answers and feeling guilty about my 1 year-old's beach bum, I spoke with Vanessa Rock, Cancer Council NSW's Skin Cancer Prevention Manager, to give me the facts. Here's what she said:

Overcast days - how important is it to protect yourself from the sun?
It really is dependent on the UV level on the day. A lot of people assume that if it's not a hot or sunny day then they don't need to use sun protection measures. What we recommend is that people check the UV level that day and if it's 3 and above (moderate), sun protection measures need to be implemented. People need to think UV, not heat.

Early morning and late afternoon - the sun can't be that strong then so are hats/suncream still necessary?
Once again it really depends on the UV levels at those times. The sun's rays are strongest between 10am and 2pm (11am to 3pm during daylight savings), however we recommend people to check the UV level and if it's 3 or above, then sun protection measures need to be implemented.

Is it true that early childhood years are the most important for protecting skin from the sun?
Exposure to the sun in childhood and adolescence is an important factor in the development of skin cancer later in life. Sunburn in childhood is a particular risk factor, however, your lifetime or 'cumulative' exposure also plays an important part. Current scientific evidence suggest that the damage to cells is done in childhood but exposure to UV radiation in adult years triggers skin cancer.

How often does suncream really need to be applied? 
Suncream should be applied 20 minutes before going outside, to allow it to bind to your skin, and reapply every two hours, in case it's been wiped or washed off. Reapplying regularly also means you're more likely to cover any parts of the skin you may have missed. Apply generously. Unfortunately too many people don't apply enough and are getting a lot less protection than the stated SPF of their sunscreen. Most brands provide instructions on the bottle on how much to use for optimal protection.

Best sun protection tips?
Cancer Council NSW recommends that when the UV Index is 3 or above, you should protect your skin in five ways:
1. Slip on clothing that covers your arms and legs
2. Slop on 30+ broad-spectrum sunscreen
3. Slap on a broad-brimmed, bucket or legionnaire hat
4. Seek shade
5. Slide on wrap-around sunglasses

Ok, there you have it. Proof for what I knew all along. Basically I need to stop being lazy and get more diligent about slapping on the old suncream and covering up my boys and myself - especially in summer. After all, my skin needs all the help it can get and who better to set a good example for my children?

I have also never checked a UV level in my life - something else I'm now going to be getting jiggy with as well.

So as cute as it was, I guess there'll be no more tanned beach bums for this family!

Do you sometimes slip up with your 'slip, slop, slap' routine? Share in the comments below

For more info on skin cancer prevention and sun protection, visit: www.cancercouncil.com.au/sunsmart.

The UV SunSmart Alert is available here, in most newspapers or via a free downloadable app.

Photo credit: joannielsenmchale.com


Wednesday 12 February 2014

She stole my dough

Hands off my ball!

So I surprised my husband last night with an early Valentine's Day treat - pizza making classes at a cool Italian restaurant. It was great fun! I even won best pizza of the night. But...some lady stole my dough.

Yeah that's right, not money. Actual dough. More precisely, a dough ball. She stole my ball.

Here's what went down:

We rock up to the pizza making class.
I'm next to an annoying lady and her friend.
We all make pizza dough balls to take home.
The instructor takes one of mine to show some of the others.
He leaves it next to the annoying lady by accident.
She picks it up, pops it in a container.
Her friend snaps the lid down and puts the container in their bag.
I tell the lady she took my dough.
She laughs.
I'm confused.
My husband is angry.
I tell him to forget it.
We make pizzas.
I win the best pizza prize.
We eat pizza, drink wine and go home - minus one dough ball.

What the f#ck?!

I know my husband and I are cursed when it comes to getting ripped off in restaurants but this was something entirely new. Why on earth would that woman have done that? She wasn't young either, in her 40s at least or most likely older (let's make her an old hag for the sake of this story).

Ok I know it's just a pile of dough but that's not the point. Is this what the world is coming to? Move aside money, people are now out for your actual dough.

The Doors were right - people are strange.

Have you encountered any nut jobs lately?

Photo credit: The Food Factory

Thursday 23 January 2014

Why parents should stop caring so much


I'm not going to beat around the bush, I had what I guess you'd call a mini breakdown last week.

Normally I'm quite good at truckin' along with the daily whirlwind of children dramas, life and work; but one more insane tantrum from my three year-old stacked on top of serious tiredness caused by the 1 year-old not sleeping well the last few weeks, sent me completely into mumma meltdown mode.

I thought we had moved past the worst tantrums with our eldest, but obviously not. Our trip to Bali last year and the Christmas period seemed to bring them all back on again - which I'm convinced is because he's just plain tired all the time as he now refuses a daytime nap.

The kindy drop-offs in particular lately have been nothing short of a nightmare, to say the least. He's been going there for well over a year for only a few days a week, and has been really happy about it until a few months ago. Suddenly he's decided to act like a maniac whenever I have to drop him off, even though I know he loves it.

It's so distressing when your child is clinging on to the kindy gate, tears streaming and screaming he wants to go home. Without fail I walk away crying myself, questioning whether I should just give up trying to do work and have him back home full-time. It completely drains me and starts my day off with me feeling like the worst mum in the world. It doesn't help also that my youngest is furious he can't go to the same kindy and takes his anger out on me at the same time, pulling my hair and scratching my face while horrified parents and teachers look on.

So yeah, I had a mini breakdown caused by a gradual build up of daily torture from my children.

Hitting rock bottom can be quite a good thing though as it forces you to make a change. And so I did.

Toddlers are a beast of their own and there's not much you can change about their behaviour other than to ride it out, so I knew it was up to me to change the way I handled them.

And this is what I decided to do - simply stop caring so much.

Obviously I care deeply for my children and other loved ones, and I care about practical things like making sure we have food in the house, but everything else? Well it can go and get stuffed.

And guess what? So far so good. My low care-factor seems to be working...

Here are a few examples of all the things I've stopped caring about this week:

* My 1 year-old constantly climbing on to any table to perform Riverdance, eat unpeeled bananas from the fruit bowl and throw everything off its surface - I keep an eye out to make sure he's safe but now calmly get him when enough is enough instead of instantly flipping out.

* The boys pushing one another and pulling each other's hair while screaming - they can fight their own battles now, I'm not getting involved.

* Kindy drop-offs - dump and run, just like ripping off a bandaid.

* The boys taking my mobile phone - yes it's possible they might delete some important info or photos, or accidentally smash it on the ground, but it's just a phone and I will live. I can never understand how they manage to get it in the first place anyhow.

* What strangers and other parents think about me and my children - if people want to judge they can, I don't have time to worry about it.

* The boys faffing around at sleep time until all hours (we recently moved them in together) - sure they'll be absolutely knackered the next day and probably have about ten tantrums, but what can you do? Going in 20 times to tell them off clearly doesn't work so it's easier to just turn up the telly and ignore it. Eventually they'll stop doing it...right?

* The children not eating their dinner - there's always bread and bananas if they don't like what I made, or they can just go hungry.

Maybe I'll start caring more again next week, but for now I'm in a much better place for not giving a sh#t about so many things. And the children are better off for it too. Perhaps I should have been taking more leaves out of their books in first place anyway...

So how's your care-factor?

Photo credits: Heart of the Matter; Someecards


Thursday 16 January 2014

I never thought I'd be a war widow

Joey from Friends knew this wasn't the time to ask his mate how he was 'doin'

Ok, so I don't have a husband in the army and he is in fact alive and well at present. But I have lost him. I've lost him...to BF.

Nope - not best friend. Nope - not boyfriend (trust me he's as straight as a ruler). I'm talking about...BATTLEFIELD.

For those in the dark (where you should remain I might add), Battlefield is a game. A war game played on your Xbox, Playstation or computer (probably other mediums too but I can't be arsed to look them up). Teenagers play it, and so do men who are almost 40.

My husband has always been into computer/video games, but since a few years ago this one has slowly taken over the rest and encroached our lives. Not only does he play it most nights and sometimes during the day on the weekend, but he also looks at his BF game stats on his phone as well as videos on YouTube - that is, videos of people recording their games and doing 'hilarious' commentaries. Cough.

He also has a few mates who are BF nutbags as well, and they play together in teams online and talk to each other on headsets like NERDS. When those headphones go on he may as well be dead to me. He certainly can't hear a word I'm saying. We could have a home invasion resulting in the kids and I being abducted and he wouldn't have a clue.

One time he was part of a BF 'clan' (I'm not making this up, that's what they're called), where him and a bunch of strangers played together as their own army side against other 'clans' - and yes they were all family men in their 30s and 40s. There was even one player's wife who was in on the act, I believe her avatar was 'French Maiden.' Cough.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised though considering the average age of Australian gamers is 32 (source). With the advancement of technology, games are so much better now than they used to be (in terms of graphics, functionality, etc.), and the money pumped into the industry is nothing short of insane so it's no wonder older dudes (and chicks too!) are frequently gettin' their game on.

Anyway, I'm not sure what happened to the clan, but my husband's obsession with BF is still stronger than ever and now it's BF4 we're talking about - that's how many versions of the game they're up to now (no one plays the other BFs anymore, didn't you know?).

Let me be clear on something though - I'm not slamming games. I love games and have always been the kind of person who races to get Pictionary when friends come round. I even used to be into the handheld / computer type ones too.

I'm fully aware of how many tickets I have on myself when I say this, but yes, I am nothing short of AWESOME at Tetris (and can play a pretty mean Frogger too). We also have a sitdown arcade machine in our house which I sometimes play - let's not talk about the day I couldn't leave the house until I got to the final level of Galaga (and that's nothing compared to the time I cried because I couldn't get past a certain level in Double Dragon back on the archaic family PC).

Other than that though I'm afraid games these days don't get much of a look in (unless they're hide n' seek and playdough).

And speaking of the children, it's evident my boys are now following Daddy into war. My three year-old loves his toy soldiers ("just like Daddy's game!") and screams "medic" when any of his toys happen to fall over or get "boo boos." God help me.

Back to my husband though, even though it does seem crazy how into BF he is, he does love it (except when he's swearing at the screen because his team lost or the internet is causing lags). He does really love war history though, especially watching docos, so perhaps he was in the army in a former life and this is his instinctual outlet.

Who knows. All I know is it's not all bad being a war widow. I get to do things like watch my own TV programs and do uninterrupted work at night without feeling guilty.

And in years to come I know all the boys in the house will be off at 'war' (probably even the cat as well), and it will just be lonely old me at one end of house...playing tetris on the arcade with a bottle of wine.

Now that's my idea of awesome.

Also a BF war widow? Unleash your woes in the comments
Photo credit: gamerhub.tv