Friday, December 30, 2005

once upon a New Year's Eve

Once upon a time, many years ago, there was a gangly teenager called Jellyhead. She was a bit of a romantic, and was hoping that one day she would meet a real 'prince' of a man, with whom she would fall in love and live happily ever after. Indeed she did one day meet a prince, though he had a scary-looking mutant toenail, and he had a funny habit of poking his head in and out like a turtle whilst listening to music. He was definitely a prince, though. But that's another story, years down the track.

So anyway.... one New Year's Eve, Jellyhead and her friend Belly went to a celebration in a big public park near the river. There were going to be fireworks, bands playing, and there were even some Tall Ships docked at the wharves that were open to the public. Jelly and Belly had been given permission to go off on their own for a few hours, meeting up with their parents later.

Jelly and Belly were sitting at the water's edge, probably talking about boys, when a clean-cut dark-haired boy in a US navy uniform approached them. Jelly was an innocent young girl but not completely naive - she knew enough to be wary of 'sailor boy'. Yet Sailor Boy politely asked permission to join them, and proceeded to chat warmly with both Jelly and Belly... though Jelly felt instinctively that SB was attracted to her. This may have been complete rot, but she believed this, and it made her heart soar.

Sailor Boy was from Pennsylvania, USA. He told them his hometown, which was located near an Amish community. He was 20, studying science at university. His manners were impeccable; he was clever and funny and charming. He took both Belly and Jelly on a tour of the Tall Ship, and he asked a friend to take a photo of him with Jelly. Altogether Sailor Boy spent about four hours with Belly and Jelly. He never once laid a hand on either girl. He gave each girl a commemorative silver coin from his ship.

Jelly thought about Sailor Boy for months afterwards. She felt so sad that she could never get to know him - he had been like a mirage, a glimpse of something amazing that had disappeared before she could reach it. Mostly, she was not sure she would ever meet someone as honest and good and true as Sailor Boy had seemed to her that night.

For some reason, she has kept that coin to this day. Perhaps it's just a fond memory she wants to preserve. Or perhaps it's to remember that longing, that wondering about the future..... to remind her to always cherish her real-life love - a man who is honest and good and true to the core.
(Fatty - that's you!)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

chocolate, the food for all occasions

I stand corrected. After receiving some strong and decisive blogger feedback, I have reached the conclusion that chocolate is, after all, a breakfast food. Indeed it seems to be an all-day kind of food.

shellyc and her family ALL ate chocolate slice for breakfast today, in fact. How cool is that? While the rest of us are stealthily shoving peanut M&Ms from cupboards to mouths, this woman is completely open about eating chocolate for breakfast. She is forging a path for the rest of us chocolate-gobblers to hold our heads high. We are not alone!!

mackeydoodle is bravely not fudging the truth when she confesses her morning eating habits. I know I for one feel much better knowing I'm not the only one who's been passing on the cereal lately.

A steadfast and adoring husband, John Cowart probably despises chocolate, but out of love for his wife, Ginny, (who has diabetes), John gorges himself to prevent Ginny from being tempted. This man is a saint. A saint with small amounts of chocolate at the corners of his mouth. (Sorry John, I may have exaggerated that story a little)

Heather and Susan put forth the idea that there should not be premature reining-in of our chocolate appetites before New Years. Why did I not think of this? It's obviously way too early to be refusing chocolates. So 'sure, why not?' and 'pass the cashews while you're up will you?'

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to have a coffee. And yes yes yes I can't deny I may have just the tiniest piece of chocolate to go with it. Because it's not 2006 yet. And because you all told me it was OK.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

memo to self:

* Christmas is over. Stop eating chocolate as if it is a breakfast food.

* there is still wrapping paper under the couches. You know it is there. It is time to do something about it.

* do not complain that Fatty got up at 4:30 am today to go bird-watching. He could be staggering home at 4:30 am. With lipstick on his collar. Or a tattoo saying 'MOTHER' on his forearm.

* be kind to your patients at work tomorrow. Especially the ones that you find hard to like...these people are most in need of acceptance.

* go to bed - it's late.


I said now and I meant now.

If I have to come and get you....

Monday, December 26, 2005

post-Christmas post-mortem

It's Boxing Day, and we've spent the day at my mother's farm. Down at the creek that borders the property, we lolled about in the water and later came out dripping to eat ham sandwiches. After a post-lunch nap back at the house, we all wandered down to orchard, where there are fruit trees and chooks. We collected eggs, then ate purple grapes warm off the vine. Sometimes I wonder what I am doing living in the city, when those acres of Mum's are just such a balm to my soul.

I hope everyone had a good Christmas Day. Ours was very simple (salads and cold meat and fruit and plum pudding), and everyone brought food, so it was pretty stress-free. There were no arguments although my Mum did annoy my sister by giving her dog-parenting advice regarding my sister's new puppy! I've come to believe the puppy is going to be very good preparation for Sis, to ensure she can handle having children without having a meltdown (as it is, she wailed that the puppy had woken them at 6 am yesterday. Oh, the horror!). But truthfully, that's how I eased myself into the idea of becoming a mothering a beagle first. And it truly did pave the way. Because for all the night feeds and tantrums my children have thrown my way, they've never derailed me as much as that dog has. In comparison, the kids have been a piece of cake.

The gifts I gave my nearest and dearest were all big hits. Even Fatty, who typically has all the enthusiasm of a sloth on valium, opened his gift and remarked, " Ah... a book on bird photography! Very good. I like it, Jelly!". The scary thing is, I could tell he really loved this book. (Did I mention I have taken to calling him 'BIRDMAN'? He doesn't like it. This only encourages me.)

I was secretly horrifed, yet also strangely pleased with a gift from Fatty. He bought me a tight, fitted athletic singlet top, with some SHORT shorts that match. When I say short shorts, they are not barely skimming below buttocks or anything, I just mean they do not remotely approach knee length. And I'm afraid knee length is the ONLY way I do shorts these days. Even the tight top has a low, scooped neck. And low scooped necks are great if you have something to show off below your neck. Let me just summarise and say I don't do low scooped necks either. Yet my funny, lovely hubby has obviously completely failed to notice that if I wore the short shorts and tight top I would look not just silly but possibly quite awful. He hasn't noticed! I adore this man!

On that note of love, I'll close. Hope you've all had lots of love in your lives over Christmas - from whoever and wherever, as long as it's been love. :)

Friday, December 23, 2005

To any one passing through.......MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Our tree may be haphazardly decorated, lacking in a colour scheme, and undeniably synthetic... but my two kids had so much fun helping adorn the tree that I now display it to you with pride. Pride and an explanation as to why it is so messy!

I hope that everyone can have some fun and some relaxation over this festive season.

from Jellyhead

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

sisterly love

Christmas is a time of joy, giving, love..... but also of family bickering. Anyone out there who tells me their family never even has a whisper of dispute over the holiday period...well they're likely to be telling big fat fibs. Either that or their family is so emotionally repressed that all the negativity is stored inside their bodies, ready to explode one day in a huge, alienating war. (This is what I tell myself, anyway, in order to not feel like a horrible person)

My family get-togethers over Christmas are always a bit messy, as, like many others, I have divorced parents. This is not too much of a problem, though - just logistically a bit tricky sometimes.

It's more my sister-to-sister interactions that I find grate on me a bit. I feel guilty even writing this, but truth is like that - not always pleasant.

I am the eldest in my family. I guess I've always been a responsible, 'goody-goody' sort of person, as eldest kids often are. I find it hard to say no to anyone needing help, and will often overstretch myself to try to please everyone. I probably try to 'help' (also known as interfering) in situations where people want to be left alone, or don't need my advice or concern... it's a fault of mine. A strength of mine is that I'm fairly tough, and I don't quit easily.

My little sister is the baby of the family, and she is loving and straightforward - she doesn't analyse every social interaction like I do. She needs fewer people - she has a couple of close friends, but may go several weeks without talking to one of them... whereas I barely go a day without speaking to at least one of mine. I doubt if my sister would complain to someone about me - not because I'm perfect (ha!) but because she just takes me as I am, warts and all. I would like to be more accepting, like my Sis.

As the older sister, the older, hypercritical sister, I find my little sister frustrating when it comes to family duties. It's all about our different roles and personalities, I know. Here's an example.... when there is a family get-together to be organised, my married-with-no-kids Sis usually manages to weasel out of holding it at her place ( "I'm working that day" says Sis. Or, " I'm tired" or "We don't really have enough chairs here"). It drives me to distraction - firstly because in the past I have worked very long hours (pre-kids), and still managed to have everyone over here for a meal. Secondly, since having kids I have continued to entertain family and I know now that managing a function with a small baby and 2-yr-old is WAY harder than having people over when you're just a bit weary from work. You do these things, though, because you love your family, and you want to be with them.

Anyway, in a typical scenario, Sis drifts over to our house, takes a seat on the back deck, stretches her feet up onto a chair and moans, "I'm beat!", as I chop salad in the kitchen with one child asking for a drink and another calling from the bathroom for me to help turn the tap on. Do you hear my resentment here? Is it practically setting your computer screen alight? (yes, I am a mean ol' big sister all right)

You may ask why I don't talk to my sister about my feelings.. the short answer is that I have tried to, gently. I don't believe I have a right to be too hard on her about this when she puts up with me and my flaws. I don't want to upset her, or make her feel unloved. So I've talked about how I sometimes feel like I do more of the 'family duties'. Sis has taken the criticism quite well (which I know I wouldn't have), but has basically told me that often I make a martyr out of myself, and that she doesn't want to be like that. Which certainly has some truth - I sometimes do take on too much, and then feel overwhelmed. But life to me is all about people - being with them, talking to them, helping them, or being helped by them. So I choose overinvolved over underinvolved any day. Oh, and next time Sis comes over (hmm, that will be Christmas Day, at our place!), I'm going to call her in, tell her The Martyr has died, and put her to work chopping salad.

In the end, I realise Sis is not 'wrong', but nor am I - we're just different people with different ways of living. Which is probably the root of my frustration - she's my precious, adored sister, my flesh-and-blood - so why isn't she more like me?!!

Monday, December 19, 2005


Today, as I do every day, I got up and made myself a jolting cup of coffee. Coffee in hand, I checked all my favourite blogs.

My heart skipped a beat, and I felt sick, when I read the latest post of one of my fellow bloggers. Something very distressing had happened to her, and I could tell from her words how hard it was hitting her. I had tears in my eyes reading her entry.

I went to work feeling strung-out and worried. I wondered how I could explain myself if anyone noticed my mood. I imagined the conversation:

" Jelly, hi, how are you?"

"Um, yeah, OK".

" Just OK... what's up?"

"Well, something terrible has happened to one of my friends - well, to someone I know - well, not that I really KNOW, but just...I've come to know a bit about her, and I've come to care how she is".

(long pause, during which my colleague quietly assesses me)

There was no such conversation, luckily. But I was surprised at my emotional reaction to a faraway blogger's post. Because blogging is just a bit of fun, right? And you don't really ever spend time with the other person, you don't ever really help the other person in any practical way, so how can that be any kind of friendship? How can you build a friendship with someone you never see or touch or hear?

And yet.... I keep checking her blog to see how she is.

Maybe it should have it's own name, Blogfriendship. Not quite real life friendship but not just a 'bit of fun' either.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

this & that

Things that have happened today:

1) I got to sleep in til eight am!!! (did you get that - I said EIGHT am). Fatty took pity on me, because Benjamin had woken through the night with bad dreams, and I was the attending parent. I haven't slept that late in months!

2) I bought some beads and baubles and a silver, bell-dangling metallic Christmas tree centrepiece from a 'cheap stuff shop' this morning, to decorate our dining table on Christmas Day. Apart from the silver, stylised Christmas tree, everything else is rich blue and hot pink. Fatty is appalled. I think they look funky.

3) I bought some fairly expensive sneakers, lured by the canny salesperson into spending almost twice what I'd planned to. But WOW are they comfortable. My previous, ancient shoes, had begun to cause my right 3rd to 5th toes to go numb during exercise. That didn't seem to be a good sign. Hence new shoes.. and fully operational toes, hooray!

4) I ate trifle for a mid-morning snack. There was no-one to tell me I shouldn't. I love being a grown-up.

5) Fatty, who is such a good sport dad, erected our 5-man tent in the back yard, simply because the kids asked if he would. This is where I admire Fatty so much - he will go above and beyond the call of duty, just to please his kids. I would have thought it all sounded too hard, on a hot day, and would have said no, not today ( which as all kids know means probably never). In any case, there is now a large purple tent standing darkly in our backyard. The kids wanted to sleep in it, but they're a bit little to sleep unattended all night (and on this one, Fatty was strangely reticent to volunteer for overnight tent duty!). Maybe the beagle will flop there for the night.

Speaking of flopping for the night.... goodnight all. I hope you are having/have had (depending on where you are in the world!) a happy weekend.

:) Jelly

Saturday, December 17, 2005

waiting for relaxation

I really want to wind down this evening, but my children keep calling me from their beds... " There's a mozzie in here" (there was), " I can hear a funny noise" (a bird outside cooing) and "I'm a bit scared" (due to said bird). I can feel my nerves coiled up like a roll of barbed wire - each strand caught up on another so that spontaneous unwinding is unlikely.

The thing about small children is they just hang around their parents 24 hours a day. You can't shake them. They're always there. Sometimes the relentlessness of caring for them is tough, but far worse than that is the constant worry. I suspect I worry more than some, so maybe others reading this won't relate. On the other hand, maybe I'm not as odd as I think.

I find it hard to ever fully relax, even when Louey and Ben are fast asleep. If they cough, I worry that they're getting sick. If they murmur or mutter, I worry that they're getting sick. If they nightmare, I hit the ground running to get to them before the dream monster does. And if they actually are sick, I worry even more.

I'm sure if I would just listen to a relaxation tape, take a bath, or listen to some soothing music, I would feel a lot better. But before I calm down enough to do that, I need to relax somehow.....

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Beagle's predecessor

Everyone seems to be writing about memories, and posting old photos (myself included). So here is another tidbit of nostalgia...

One Christmas Eve, many years ago when I was a mere 8 years old, I lay tearful and lonesome at home in my bed. I was not alone, so there was no Macaulay Culkin-type scenario happening. I was just lonely because my mother was in hospital, having just had my little brother Bug. My father was at home, but I was always a bit afraid of him. He was quick to fly off the handle, so I could never be sure when I might get into trouble. Mum was patient, and rarely raised her voice at me, and I felt safe with her. I wanted her to come home.

I also wanted a dog, desperately. Dad was dead-set against it, so that was final. No lovely woofy creature would ever gambol through our backyard, licking children in its' wake. So I knew there would be no Christmas puppy in my stocking that year.

The next day, Dad tried to be jolly with me as we sat, just the two of us, and opened the presents under the tree. I opened one present - a Holly Hobbie sheet set. This was not looking promising, I thought to myself (see what an ungrateful child I was). I opened another - a pretty sweater in creams and blues. *SIGH*. I was resigned to the fact that this was going to be the saddest, worst Christmas ever.

There was one, final, lumpy package under the tree. Dad was smiling expectantly as he gave it to me, and I felt a small thrill - if he was excited about the gift, maybe, just maybe, it could be something NOT boring! The wrapping was hurriedly removed to reveal..... a stuffed-toy Pekinese dog! Well! This was definitely not boring! I was in heaven! I was in love! (with the dog, obviously). I treasured that substitute dog for years, only putting it away when I went off to University. I dragged it out today from our storeroom, for it's moment of photographic glory. What do you think? Can you see how worthy it was of my adoration? Or do you think it looks sort of scary, like it's considering taking a small bite out of someone? (that's what I'm thinking nowadays)

As soon as we had a yard of our own, Fatty and I bought a dog. When I say 'Fatty and I', you can read, 'Fatty came too but really he would have had to kill me to stop me'. Finally I have a real, live, licky dog. She sits next to me on the steps and I scratch behind her ears. She rests her head on my leg and I'm in heaven, second time around.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

when Jellyhead was Little Jellyhead

My fellow blogger, Sharon has posted a picture of herself as a child, which she'd recently received in the mail from a relative. I'm not sure if it's just the haircut, or the way she's smiling, but it reminded me quite a bit of someone... I realised I was reminded of me as a small thing.

So here I am, in a badly-prepared photo (had trouble with the cropping procedure blast and damn), with a facial rash I used to get from eating oranges. I also have blue eyes, whereas Sharon has brown. But if you erase the rash, change the eye colour, imagine a different angle - why we're practically identical twins! OK maybe my mind's been playing tricks on me. There's a slight likeness.

Anyway, here I am aged 3 or 4.

So I'm putting out the challenge to everyone else to show your child faces on your blogs!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

a cautionary tale

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a lady patient at work, who mentioned, casually, that she'd recently noticed a firmer area within her left breast. It wasn't an obvious lump, so she wasn't too concerned...but she wondered if maybe she should have the area checked.

I checked, and she was right - there was a thickened area. The other breast had a similar thickening, too. But in the left breast, there was a hint of something deeper than the thickening; an indistinct mass. Not a hard mass, but a hint of more dense tissue underneath all the overlying tissue. Nothing too worrying. I sent this lady, who is in her early 50's, for some imaging. I really wasn't terribly concerned - I thought there may have been a cyst, or just a prominent nodule within the breast.

After a week off work (with the visiting rellies), I returned yesterday to find the lady had already had breast surgery for an early breast cancer. It seems to be a small cancer, confined to the breast, with no spread to the glands under her arms. So her prognosis is excellent, thank goodness. But gosh, these cases are scary. What if she hadn't bothered to get the area checked? What if I'd been so arrogant as to assume the area was definitely what it felt most like - and hadn't ordered scanning? (this would have been negligent of me, but I'm sure this kind of thing happens at times). In either of these scenarios, it could have been a very different outcome.

So to all my female blog-friends, I suggest (pleadingly)
1) regular breast self-examination - if you're not sure how, ask your doctor or clinic nurse
2) regular mammograms/ultrasounds from the appropriate age, depending on family history and personal medical history - again if you're not sure what you should be having done, ASK. And *please* keep up-to-date with these checks.
3) if you find something that feels different to you, that feels like a lump to you (or if you notice visible changes) - get it checked by your doctor and, if your doctor doesn't order imaging, politely but firmly request it. Insist if you must, or see another doctor.

This now concludes my lecture. I will accept all rebukes for being bossy with good grace.

Goodnight and stay well :)

Monday, December 12, 2005

letter from afar

Today I got a letter from the National Climate Change Policy Division, London. It arrived at the medical centre where I work.

It says,

"Dear Ms (Jellyhead),

Thank you for your letter to the Prime Minister about climate change......BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.....

The government agrees with the views you express on the seriousness of the threat of climate change. .....BLAH, BLAH, BLAH....

With respect to your concern over the adoption of clean energy...BLAH BLAH BLAH".

The letter runs on for 7 pages.

I am thrilled to have received such a lengthy and detailed missive. Mr Edward Clark (of National Climate Change Policy Division) has done his division proud.

I am just a little perplexed. After all, I have never written a letter to anyone about climate change. If I did, I would hope to have the sense to address it to the Australian Prime Minister ('Dear Johnny Howard, our beloved and bushy-eyebrowed leader').

So the burning question is...who wrote a letter and signed it Ms 'Jellyhead'?

Maybe I have been sleep-writing. Maybe I suffer from amnesia (but have forgotten that I do). Or maybe someone is impersonating me (you know, dressing in fashions from 3 years ago, neglecting to sweep the kitchen floor until it makes a scrunching sound when walked on, and habitually scratching their scalp whilst reading).

It's a real life mystery. Go figure.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

All I Want For Christmas

I've been seeing a few Christmas/New Year wish lists on other blogs, so thought I'd attempt one.

My wish list for 2006 (and we all know I am the anti-Santa-woman who makes small children lose all the joy of Christmas by telling them SANTA IS A LIE, so this is not addressed to Santa) :

- for my family and friends to have good health and happiness ( I feel obliged to put this one in first, so as to seem like a Good Person)

- for Fatty to photograph a rare bird, not seen in the wild for years, until spotted by him. Perhaps he could be recognised for this find in a highly esteemed bird reference book.

- for my dear son to sleep past sun-up; for him to have bucketloads of fun AFTER 6 am and BEFORE 7:30 pm. There is to be no having fun any time outside the specified hours.

- for my sweet daughter to have plenty of friends next year when she goes to school; for her to work out a way of coping when she gets told by one of them, "I'm not your friend anymore". I've been thinking maybe I could wrap Laura up in bubblewrap and send her to school sort of mummified like that so no-one can hurt her. Physically, the bubblewrap would protect her, and if anyone said anything upsetting, she wouldn't HEAR it because of the bubblewrap. (Am I full of great ideas or what?)

- for my dog to stop climbing up on the kitchen table to eat leftovers whenever we leave the room. HA! Fat chance. Fat beagle actually.

- for my friends to know how much I cherish them, and for my family to feel adored by me.

- for all you lovely blog-friends to keep writing, and to keep letting me write to you. It's an unusual way to get to know other people, but I am finding it SO much fun!

I am very thankful that there is really nothing I need for Christmas. And despite this list, the main thing I'm wishing for this Christmas is just to spend it with those I love. May all who are reading this be blessed with a Christmas with loved ones, too.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

nobody's perfect (whew!)

You're all going to think I'm a lazy slacker, but I have to admit I was actually away for a few days earlier this the beach. YES, I know I was only just at the beach 2 weeks ago, but before that it was a year since I last beached it. We've had relatives staying, and they wanted us to all go spend time together at the beach (in two separate units, mind you. Six children and four adults in the one place might get a bit hairy). It would have been unpardonably rude to refuse such a demand.

So the best thing about going away for a few days with Fatty's brother and Fatty's brother's wife ('Blondie') and their 4 kids? Not the sun and surf, not the glass of Midori and lemonade Blondie and I drank on the balcony each evening. Not the giggling and whispering and muted shuffling of the children as they played that ancient game of hide & seek in the middle of the day. Not even the sea breezes blowing freshly through the balcony doors.

No. The best thing was - finding out that Blondie isn't an eternally-patient, eternally-calm mother like I thought. She's definitely patient, and she's calm considering what she has to deal with, but she's not perfect. Hooray, there's hope for me yet!

Blondie and I went out for provisions, and I noticed her husband was being very solicitous just before we set off. I wondered what it was about, until Blondie explained, " He's being extra nice to me now, because I just cried. It all got too much, and I cried". I offered that if I had 4 children, I'd probably cry every day. Blondie laughed and replied, "Oh, I find every second day does the trick!" I was glad Blondie felt comfortable enough to tell me this, and it also made me realise how reality is most often different from our perception. Who knows, maybe there are some who think I always have things under control (unlikely, but anything's possible!) The main message for me was - no one is perfect, and whenever we compare ourselves to others, it's important to remember that what we see is not always the entire picture.

I think I like Blondie even more now, and I certainly don't admire her any less. I like my heroes slightly flawed.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

let them eat cake

It was Laura Lou's birthday on the weekend. This is her 'fairy cake', made by special request. It could have done with a bit more smooooothing of the frosting, but overall I was pleased. Laura said, "Mummy, it's beautiful!", so that was all I needed to hear.

For some reason, I feel compelled to make fanciful birthday cakes for my kids' birthdays. It's like I'm not a decent mother unless I make some elaborate iced creation (don't worry, I don't extend this ridiculous expectation to any other mothers! - it seems to be something I apply only to me). I think it may all be traced back to my mother, who lovingly whipped up clowns, dolls and other edible artworks for my various birthdays. My mother was and is a very caring person, and put herself out in so many ways for me. Now I'm trying to be as good a parent to my children as my mother was to me. Cake is seemingly irrelevant here, but I guess somehow I take it as a symbol... that in this one aspect of my kids' birthdays, I'll go to some trouble, I'll take some time, I'll stretch my limited cake-sculpting abilities to breaking point! (again, please no backlash from those who buy their kids' cakes - this is my own bizarre, twisted, self-imposed rule. And I don't make Happy Birthday signs or hang lots of ballooons for when they wake up or hold lavish birthday parties).

The funny thing is, the first fancy cake I ever made, for Louey, aged 2, was a clown cake - just as my mother made for me at age 2. I bought the actual cake slab, then shaped and iced it. It looked pretty snazzy, but I felt like I hadn't done a 'proper' job, like Mum would have, because I'd bought the sponge from a bakery. When I sheepishly admitted this to Mum, she laughed, saying, "Oh, I always bought the sponge cake, too!"

I guess everyone has certain birthday rituals they have either created fresh for their children, or have followed, as was the custom in their childhood. Feel free to share your stories - I'd love to hear them (for those without ratbags/children/call-them-what-you-will... any special memories from your own childhood birthdays?)

Saturday, December 03, 2005

dishwasher I adore thee

I want you to all know I am still alive. I'm even still sane. This surprises me a little, as I usually get a bit tense having even a couple of guests to stay - just with the tidying up beforehand, the cooking, the cleaning up afterwards. But we have a family of 6 staying (my husband's brother and his family, for those who may not be regular readers), and yet I am perfectly pleasant. Positively perky. Possibly playful.

Anyway, the best thing about this visit is that we have a dishwasher (a relatively recent purchase - possibly the best ever). Dishwashers are very good. Dishwashers are our friends. I am so thrilled by the joy our dishwasher brings to my life, and especially now that we have visitors, that I have written a short poem in honour of this particular piece of whitegoods (to the tune of O Christmas Tree, so as to remain festive)...

O Dishwasher, O dishwasher
How lovely are thy wash cycles?
With tiny buttons and flashing lights,
with whooshing noises as you say goodnight
O Dishwasher O Dishwasher
How lovely are thy wash cycles?

(Pretty damn lovely, that's what)

Night night everyone.... it's bedtime and Fatty's just switched that beautiful machine on... I'll be lulled to sleep now with all the churning and gurgling...ahhhhhhhh

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

ho ho ho

Christmas is fast approaching, and I've noticed everyone is getting into the Christmas spirit with their blogs. Yesterday, the kids helped me string up some Christmas lights across the front of out house (I'm using the term 'helped' very loosely here. They did pass me string and scissors in between the giggling and the running around. Not running with the scissors of course). We did a quick 'trial run' of the lights last night, just to thrill Laura and Ben, but I think we'll switch them on in the evenings starting tomorrow...DECEMBER 1! I'm feeling Christmas-y already.

The reason I put up the coloured lights early was that tomorrow, Fatty's brother, his brother's wife, and their 4 kids arrive at our place. Descend upon our place. Come chatting and shoving and laughing into our place.
Fatty's brother is a gentle and kind bloke who seems a bit baffled as to how he ended up with so many children. Fatty's brother's wife (let's call her 'Blondie' - makes it a lot easier) is a smart, dryly-funny woman who is an incredibly capable mother and household manager. I have seen her host 8 guests at her home, when her youngest was 3 months old, and make us all a gourmet salad dinner without batting an eyelash. This woman is too cool for school. Yet she isn't arrogant about her skills, and is easy-going and down-to-earth. I love spending time with Blondie.
The kids are good kids. Laura and Ben are champing at the bit for "our cousins!" to come to stay.

So after tomorrow, I may not be posting or commenting so much for awhile. Or if I do, and I sound kind of frazzled, you'll know why (I'm afraid I'm not quite up to the level of the lovely and calm Blondie!). It'll be a happy kind of frazzled, though. Hope everyone else has only the happy kind of frazzled feeling in the lead-up to Christmas. HO HO HO!

(PS We haven't jumped the gun with our tree as well- this is a picture from last year)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

it's raining it's pouring (and this mother is boring)

It's a blustery, stormy afternoon and the thunder is so loud that even our unflappable beagle looked faintly perturbed and, trying to act casual, sauntered inside.

Can I just say that my kids are driving me crazy this afternoon? Maybe it's the fact we're housebound. Right now Laura wants me to play shopping (she's set up a 'shop' on our coffee table). I have already gone and bought bread, then baked beans, then creamed corn, then jelly crystals. I have feigned interest in the game. I have put on a funny voice and pretended outrage at the prices. But I've had enough. And I feel guilty because I know it would thrill Laura if I stuck at these games longer. But geesh! it's hard going, and I get so bored. Is that a politically correct thing to say? Does it make me a bad bad mother?

I adore my two kids, and we do a lot together. We go to the playground, I put out paints or playdough, we run around in the back yard, we go on the occasional outing on a bus, ferry or train, we play hide & go seek - all the usual stuff. I don't think I do such a terrible job. I just seem to have such a low tolerance for 'pretend' games. I last about 5 minutes and then I want out. I invent pressing chores, suddenly disappear to distant rooms, or on the weekends try to pass the buck onto my husband. Come to think of it, where is that dear, darling, love-of-my-life man..... "Oh Fatty! Honey! Come and see what a great game the kids are playing!"

Saturday, November 26, 2005

blogland has gone all quiet

There's a cheesy chicken pasta bake in the oven, browning. I'm sitting at the computer with a glass of white wine beside me. My kids are in the bath causing minor flooding in the bathroom. I thought I'd check in and see what's happening in Blogland, but all is quiet. Too quiet. I'm worried. Perhaps all the bloggers in the USA have Turkey Belly (a well known post-Thanksgiving ailment). Perhaps all the Canadian and Australian bloggers are in a state of pre-Christmas frenzy. At least my blogpal, Hiro, in Japan has been busily blogging. She even baked a banana cake from a recipe I 'sent' her, and posted a picture of it - how cool is that?! I was very chuffed.

So anyway, if anyone feels like a 'chat', you know where I am. And I'll be checking your blogs to hear your latest news. I mean, if you've had anything happening in your life more exciting than making a pasta bake, surely you can wangle a bit of prose out of that!

Dinner is calling me.

Friday, November 25, 2005

small things

I am easily amazed, and also easily pleased. Little things thrill me - simple outings, flowers in our garden, dewdrops on spider webs... it doesn't take anything complex to get oohs and aahs from me.

Some things in nature I find especially intruiging because they're just not natural. Or at least they don't look natural. Once, pre-kids, Fatty and I went to stay at a rainforest hideaway. Outside our cabin was growing the weirdest-looking blue flower. It was waxy and boardshort blue and was the best imitation of an imitation flower I've ever seen. We kept touching it to be sure it wasn't plastic. Even then, the only thing that convinced us it was alive and real was the stalk attaching it to its' plant.

My kids found these 'berries' (that's what they look and feel like) under a tree near one of their favourite playgrounds. They have not been painted, truly! (that's what Fatty thought when he first laid eyes on them - that they were some child's abandoned art project). They are the size of gumballs. Fatty says the tree above was covered in bright blue berries.

Laura Lou has taken them for show & tell, and Ben is packing them in his daycare bag today to display at daycare. I must just be a big kid at heart, too (perhaps destined to one day break my hip playing hopscotch, just like Sharon predicts for herself!), so here we are - Blog Show & Tell day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

ageing disgracefully

One of my favourite bloggers wrote today about an upsetting comment she received about her appearance. It got me thinking about how, despite the saying 'beauty comes from inside', we are still judged by others, and we still rate ourselves, on our exteriors. It shouldn't matter what we look like, but quite patently it does.

Even from childhood, we are praised for looking pretty or handsome. Then in our teens and early adult lives, we seek partners, and are often initially attracted by outward appearances (deciding to stick around if the person actually turns out to be nice as well as sexy!). And it's a powerful thing - this 'rating' of our own visual attractiveness. Maybe some of you can remember being taunted about some body part or another - I can recall unfavourable comments being made by parents' friends, schoolmates, fellow Uni students, my father, and my sister... remarks made about my nose, thighs, bottom and freckles and ears! (did they miss any body part there?!)

By the time I'd reached the age of 30, though, I was feeling quite comfortable in my own skin. I had accepted how I looked, and decided I was an attractive enough person as a whole. Fatty always treated me as if I was a beauty queen (believe me, when they say love is blind, they're not lying) - and he still does - so that helped.

But now... some years down the track... gravity and age are beginning to work on me. Dammit, I was just becoming content with this face and figure, and now they are both creasing and sagging and puckering before my very eyes! And I know that I am more than my external apperance, I know it is shallow and silly and vain to worry about such things when there are wars and famines and terrible things happening to innocent people worldwide, but does anyone know of a miracle anti-ageing pill? Because I want one.

Ahhh, I'm exaggerating a little. I know that there are many advantages to growing older. I also know that there will be a lot more wrinkles and other physical changes yet to come, and that this is just the beginning of watching my reflection age. I guess I'm just at that point where I realise that youth cannot go on forever, as you somehow believe it will when you are 20. And soon I suppose males will cease to 'check me out' in the street - not that this is an important part of my
life by anymeans! - but still I have noticed the decline. I have heard older women talking about becoming 'invisible' as they approached and progressed through menopause.... now I have begun to understand this concept.

So what's the solution to this unhealthy concern about aesthetics? I don't know (but I might try this one - mutter to self, 'at least you have 2 arms and 2 legs', and 'there are starving children in China' and 'beauty comes from within'). Any other suggestions?!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

my glass is half full

Yesterday, two things happened to snap me out of my self-pity, and get me feeling sparky again.

Firstly, the kind and wise words of Susan really helped...choosing to focus on the positive things in life really makes sense. Thank you.

Secondly, while I was at work yesterday, I had a young teenage patient's mother take the time to thank me for 'being so respectful' to her daughter. It was a bit odd for me to hear that - I thought being respectful was the first and most basic skill to master when dealing with sick or worried people. I presume the mother and her daughter had previously encountered doctors who did not treat them respectfully, which is unfortunate.

I think what affected me most was that the mother went out of her way to make such a lovely remark to me. Because although there are some truly horrible people in this world, I think most people are basically good. That's one of the aspects of 'blogging' that I have been thrilled to discover - that people who don't know you, and have no reason to care two hoots about you, will take the time to read what you've written, and make comments ranging from sympathetic or gently advising to amusing. So thank you to all my fellow bloggers - you really make my life brighter.

PS This kookaburra visited us one day on the balcony of our holiday unit. Being the keen birdwatcher and photographer that I am, I raced to get the camera and took this terrific shot. Alright so that's a lie. You know who took this picture.

Monday, November 21, 2005

vomit central

I really should have known not to make a statement that is just asking to be disproven. Examples of these statements might be..... 'my kids have never touched drugs', or 'I've never had the flu' or 'I've never been fired from a job'.

Just the week before going on holidays, silly jellybrained me idly said to a friend that my kids had not yet ever had a gastro bug. I tried not to put the mocker on myself by adding that I wasn't looking forward to when they did get ill with this distressing condition, but WHAT WAS I THINKING?? Adding pathetic little riders like that doesn't work. I should know this (anyone with kids remember when you said to someone, 'little Joey/Mandy is finally sleeping through the night'? Remember what happened the very next night? And it still happened even if you followed your first statement with a, 'he'll/she'll probably stop doing it now that I've told you about it').

So after both kids being sick early last week, I thought I'd paid my dues. Say something dumb, you pay for it. All over. But Saturday night Ben woke, whimpering, not feeling well. From 2:30 to 6:30 he was sick several times. I couldn't believe the poor little guy had another stomach bug, the same week. He bounced back really quickly, and was chirpy and playing by 7 am. But now I am just waiting to see if the whole family is going to succumb - that would teach me a lesson good and proper, wouldn't it?!

I'd better go get ready for work. May everyone else have a week completely devoid of vomit!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

hello again!

Hello, hello! I'm ba-ack!

It's a funny thing about holidays with kids.... they are terrific fun, but memory has a way of erasing all the tiresome things about family holidays. I had forgotten about the sunscreen-induced whining, the midday boredom, the minor husband-wife bickering because you aren't used to spending all that time together....need I go on?! I guess this holiday was extra-difficult for the first few days because Louey had fevers for a couple of days, then on the third day Ben had a stomach bug and threw up copiously, twice.

Despite these setbacks, we still had some great swims, some melty slurpy icecreams, a walk around the headland (kids piggybacked by Fatty and I most of the way due to the shortness of their legs and the slowness of their gaits), and a very 'chilled' BBQ with some friends of ours who were staying just nearby. See, my memory is already deleting any unpleasantries!

On a serious note... I've been reading some other blogs, catching up, and noticing that quite few of my 'blogpals' have posted about feeling overwhelmed or even clinically depressed. I always admire their honesty - especially because often it is easier to 'gloss over' our lives, and pretend that we have it 'all together'. I mean, at times that might be the case, but I don't think anyone really has everything under control all the time. So I just wanted to do my bit of confessing and admit that before this holiday, the day before we were leaving, I had this awful feeling of dread, thinking - sure, I'm going on holidays, but the week will pass quickly and then I'm back to the relentlessness of my life, and especially the relentless fear in my work - the constant nagging worry that I will do something wrong, such that someone will come to harm because of me. I felt a bit panicky. Then I felt panicky about feeling panicky! - just wondering how to get the feeling to pass.
I know I was partly just stressed getting everything ready for going away, and probably really did need a holiday from my job. It disturbed me, though, to feel a rising sense of 'it's all too hard and will never get any better'. Mostly because it wasn't a thought I was having, it wasn't a hare-brained idea I'd gotten into my head that I could just put aside. This was a gut feeling, a sickening sensation that told me there was no point looking forward to the break because it would be just as awful when I came back again. Which is silly, I know, but I couldn't shake off the feeling, bordering on despair.
I feel a lot better now - back to my usual fairly positive self. And I know that what I felt for a day was what others endure for days, weeks, months or longer. So I'm really not saying poor me - just saying that if everyone was to be brutally honest, we all probably have secret fears and anxieties - to lesser and greater degrees. At least through admitting them, hopefully others will feel less alone.

Friday, November 11, 2005

summer holiday

I've just returned from having some blonde streaks put in my hair. This is an important pre-holiday step as far as I'm concerned because 1) there will be many photos taken by the snap-happy Fatty, and I am a vain creature (not vain as in, 'good golly I'm gorgeous' - more vain as in, 'if I have to look at photos of myself, I'd like to at least try to look moderately attractive'-type vain), and 2) there is no chance of me achieving any kind of natural, sun-kissed look, when I am fair and freckly and must shun the sun like a vampire.

So why, then, am I about to go for a week at the beach? Because that's what you DO in Australia (besides, that's what suncream, hats, sunshirts and sarongs are for, right?!). It's what I look forward to all the rest of the year. There is nothing like a holiday by the water for soothing the soul. I love the waves - splashing with my half-frightened kids in the shallows, or going out further and half-terrifying myself with waves that are so big I must dive under them or be forced down & tossed about. I love the sandcastling and sandpool-digging. I love lying half-asleep on a towel (for short periods of time, so as to not become lobstery).Even better, though, than the beach itself, is just being near the beach. You can hear the soft crash and recede, crash and recede, especially in the quiet of the night. You can breathe that salty air. From where we stay, we can sit on our back balcony and survey that infinite blue ocean. It honestly is the happiest time in my life - each year at the beach.

So tomorrow I'm off for a week. When I return, I'll be so laid back I'll be horizontal. Instead of being a mildly-uptight harried housewife/worker, I'll be the quintessential laconic Aussie... stunning everyone with my lazily-delivered highly amusing prose. Just you wait.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

it's a jungle out there

Saturday night I went to a bar. I haven't done this for a long time. Bars are full of very thin blond girls with impossibly perfect legs. If I ever for some reason wanted to feel old and haggard, I would head for the nearest bar.

I had decided, though, that it was unfair that my friend, Chooky, and I always spend our time together having sedate cups of tea, or watching DVDs, or going for walks. Chooky is single (divorced), and is surrounded by dull marrieds. I figured it might be fun for her to actually get out, chat to new people, dance. Chooky was keen, so the evening was born.

We started by having a cocktail each, in a small Latin bar full of women out on a 'hen's night'. The bride-to-be wore an Alice band with 2 small flashing penises attached to it. Our cocktails were good, and we caught up on each others' news. Eventually, though, we hopped off our stools and went around the corner to another bar.

This bar wasn't too daunting, because there were men & women aged from mid-20's to mid-50's. We bought fresh drinks, but barely had time to start on them before a group of 4 thirty-something guys came over. They'd been at the cricket all day, and were a bit drunk, and a bit rumpled. One of them, Chris, was particularly chatty, and soon focused on Chooky. He flirted, he chatted, he was amusing and self-deprecating. We asked him about himself - he told us he was 37, a building project manager, and unmarried, with no children. He acted all hurt when he told us he was unmarried, saying, " I hate telling people I'm not married at my age; I feel like a failure". I'm sure you can see where this is going, and don't worry - Chooky and I were maintaining a healthy scepticism throughout the conversation with Chris (if that indeed was his name). When Chris went to the bathroom, we asked a few questions of one of the quieter blokes. Dale admitted that Chris was in actual fact married to 'a lovely woman', and had a son. Chris was apparently a serial cheater. Chooky soon gave Chris the brush-off, so we were able to witness him moving on to try to seduce other women in the bar. It was sad and pathetic.

Chooky and I went on to have so much fun - we chatted to some other (much nicer) people there, and we danced for hours. We are still talking about our 'old ladies hit the town' night! But it really brought home to me how dishonest some men are. I know women can be dishonest, too, but perhaps not as much in this particular scenario? (any men reading this, feel free to defend yourselves here!) I can't believe this idea that you can have your cake, and eat it, too. And the surveys all tell us this kind of thing is so prevalent.
The icing on the cake (no pun intended) was that this same guy, Chris, said to me, "How can your husband let you go out to bars like this?".(My answer was that my husband trusts me implicitly, as he has every right to) So not only did Chris go out intending to 'score' - he also obviously wouldn't approve of his wife even going out at night. Talk about double standards.

I went home in the early hours of the morning, and crawled in next to my darling, trusting, tolerant husband, and thanked my lucky stars. Good men of the world, I salute you. Deceitful men of the world, don't come anywhere near me or mine!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

peace offering

It must have been my fault for bragging that my daughter Laura never mucked about in swimming class (see entry: " Things are going swimmingly". Really I was tempting fate right there with that title, right?!). They say pride comes before a fall, so I'm sure I had it coming to me. The very next day, at the grocery store, Laura grew horns and was the devil incarnate, and I had a kind of parenting meltdown.

It started when we entered the grocery store, and Louey (shortened version of other nickname, Laura Lou) and Benjamin began hopping about 'being frogs'. This was all very cute and all, but let's face it - not much fun for other shoppers trying to get past. I asked them to stop, and they did for awhile. We continued stocking up on fruit, veges, chocolate, milk, chocolate, meat and chocolate (well the chocolate blocks were on special so I was saving us money). Then Laura began with the jumping thing again. I asked her to refrain. She continued. I warned her that if she disobeyed me, we would return the muffins she'd chosen for an afternoon snack. HOP HOP HOP went my daughter. Ah dear... back to their shelf went the muffins, to the sound of wailing child.

Next we arrived at the checkout, and here was where I found myself closely resembling one of those mothers you see on the TV show "The Nanny". Louey climbed up on a bar beside the checkout, and I asked her to get down (now they do say choose your battles, so I guess this may have been a point to NOT pick a battle but I was tired and already annoyed and yes I am a flawed parent). You can guess the rest - Louey stared at me and quietly said, "No". I told her if she didn't do as I asked, she'd have to miss out on bedtime stories tonight (it's hard at the shops - there is no option to simply send off to a room, or remove a toy/activity). Again I was met with challenging eyes and,"No". I kept escalating - I felt like I was in a comedy show except I wasn't amused - saying, well then no Blah Blah, and if you don't get down there'll be no Blah Blah either. None of this worked. I ended up leaving her there, as I couldn't face adding to the audience amusement factor by dragging her off the bar to have her possibly cry, scream, and then leap back up again.

As soon as we left, I told her how I was very unhappy with what she'd done. She spent time in her room on her return, and certainly did not have any of the Blah Blahs! I wasn't angry anymore, and told her I loved her, but that it was important she obey me.
The next morning, Laura presented me with the fruit and flower basket you can see in the photo, and told me it was to say sorry. It is made up of the contents of our fruit bowl, in a basket she uses to store her teaset, with flowers Louey picked from our garden. I thought it was very pretty, and took a picture. I'm sure I'll always look at that photo and remember the intertwined perils and joys of parenting. And there will be no more boasting-about-kids from me for awhile!

Friday, November 04, 2005

a person's got to have a hobby

Here it is - a post that is not about children, dogs or housework. Yes, really! I kid you not.

The photo shows the gift I received for my most recent birthday. I helped choose it myself. And no, I don't use it when I'm mad at Fatty. It's for practising kicks and punches; I use it almost every day.
You may have heard of the Dancing Queen? Well I am the Karate Queen (in my own mind I am, anyway).

I started karate 8 years ago when I was a young whippersnapper. I had been talking about learning a martial art for several years. Fatty finally goaded me by saying, " You're never going to do it". Almost before he could finish his sentence, I had the phone book out and was dialling the Australian Karate Academy. I thought, " I'll show you! I will do this!". Now Fatty says it was all part of his plan to motivate me, and he knew I'd react to him throwing out that challenge. Damn I hate being so predictable! I'm glad, though, that Fatty spurred me into action, because I love my karate.

Although I started 8 years ago, there have been 2 years there where I haven't gone at all - during each of my pregnancies, then 3 months recovery time afterwards. And with small children, and various other commitments, I can now only make it to lessons once a week, so progress has been very s-l-o-w. But like the turtle I have outlasted many 'hares' who have taken up karate then drifted away again. And now my instructor has asked me to try for my black belt at the next grading in March 2006.
I'm excited, I'm nervous, and I have to admit I'm also proud of myself for getting to this level. Sometimes I have had to drag myself along half asleep (and say hi to perky little 20-year-olds who remark, " You look tired!" ). Often I have embarrassed myself with mistakes considered ridiculous by the perky young ones (most of whom train 3-4 times per week). I have even risked public humiliation by attending a number of karate tournaments, doing my 'kata' (demonstration karate) with shaking hands and wobbly legs. (Can I just mention here, I am now, for the purposes of karate competitions, classed as a veteran. A VETERAN! You'd think to qualify for this category I should be at least 50, maybe with a grizzled beard and tales of war. Outrageous!)

Somehow I have bumbled my way along, and now I find I am actually reasonably good at karate. I like the fact that I'm a mother, a wife, a GP... but I also put on an odd-looking white get-up and yell loudly whilst punching and kicking. I like the unexpectedness of it.

I'm hoping desperately that I'll get my black belt in March. I've been waiting for 8 years now to be able to say things like, "I'd like half a dozen pieces of bacon, please, and by the way I have a black belt in karate". I suspect I may be compelled to tell my hairdresser, the mailman, our neighbours, assorted passersby... so don't think any of you bloggers will be likely to escape hearing about it! ...I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

thanking you kindly

OK, I've taken your wise counsel, and have decided to keep this blog private. I am grateful for the time and trouble taken by my fellow bloggers in replying - thank you!

The weird thing about keeping this blog 'private' is that I'm actually confessing thoughts and feelings that I may not mention to my nearest and a public forum (albeit anonymously). It's an odd concept. Yet it's strangely thrilling to have this interaction with others from around the globe. I feel like I am making connections with some wonderful people.

Goodnight from me (and good morning to those on the other side of the world!)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

a survey

I'm looking for opinions here....please comment.

I've been wondering whether or not to tell my closest friends, or family, how to access my blog. They know I've been writing one. One of my best friends, "Belly", has already asked me how she could locate it, and so has my mother. I've been coy, feeling that if I know people who know me might be reading my blog, I might express myself differently (or even fail to write altogether what I really want to write). I can see the advantages, though, of letting people in my life read the blog. Mum, for a start, lives on a farm 1 1/2 hours from us, and would love to just check in and see photos of her grandkids, with tales of their doings.

I know a few people who read my blog have family &/or friends who read their blogs. In fact I would say most other blogspots that I regularly read seem to have comments from 'real-life' friends, or family members. So what do you think? Do you censor or change what you write, knowing someone you are close to might read it?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

things are going swimmingly

Tuesday means swimming lessons for this family.

Lauragirl is a real water child - flipping and somersaulting and diving as if she's remembered it from the womb. She's like a shiny bold seal. During lessons, Laura tries really hard to please her teacher, and never mucks about (this is serious stuff). I love to watch her as she earnestly swims a ponderous lap of freestyle.

Benjamin hasn't always loved the water, but has come to like it. He's small for his age, but strong, churning determinedly through the water. When he can, he likes to talk to his instructor about anything but swimming - cars, bugs, scabs on his knees. His poor teacher mmm's and nods and eventually has to back away to attend to other kids while Ben keeps yakking away regardless.

I sit and watch and adore, with all the other parents adoring their progeny. I think to myself that I'm happy, really happy, by the side of the pool, on swimming lesson day.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

mundane mutterings about marriage

When you really think about it, it's amazing how many people do stay married. Marriage is hard work, plain and simple. And I know that Fatty is a great guy, probably easier to live with than many other men....and yet... sometimes, I find being marriage to be intensely frustrating (as I'm sure Fatty does). We are pretty good at talking, trying to see each others point of view, and staying calm (OK really it ranges from calm to fairly irritated and snappy!). The problem is, what do you do when you both listen to each other, you talk it through, you try to understand each other ...but still you disagree. It's hard to get past. It's depressing and kind of lonely. I know - compromise, compromise - but what if it is about something you feel strongly about, such as an issue relating to the health or safety of your kids? I find it hard to compromise then. I want to just say NO NO NO and that's that. Now you're getting a glimpse into my true nature. I think I'm quite strong-willed (i.e. stubborn) and decisive (i.e. bossy). So that's probably something I need to work on. Sigh. More work, just what I need!

I know I have much to be thankful for, and I am thankful. I just felt like having a moan and whine. After all, blogs are good for that sometimes. So anyone who wants to have a guilt-free whine, feel free to join in. I won't think you're self-involved or ungrateful. This can be a little group therapy session. And then we can all start the new week happy and peaceful!

P.S. the photo was taken on a weekend away we spent near a lake... just put it in because it's pretty, and to add a more positive vibe!

Friday, October 28, 2005

a twitchy husband

Some of you may have already heard about Fatty's new-ish pastime - birdwatching (or 'twitching', as it is apparently known to serious birdwatchers). I thought it may have been a passing phase, but no. He's been at it again. Yesterday he bought some new, improved binoculars (our current, perfectly fine-looking ones seemingly not up to the mark) and headed off into bushland. He has returned with photos of various birds, which I was required to duly admire. Fatty now has photos of 67 different Australian bird species. That's only about 633 more to go.

For your edification, I present the purple swamp hen. I know you will love it almost as much as Fatty does.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

the sanctity of life

Hmmm.. I'm wondering even before I start this post whether I may be howled down as being anti-feminist or maybe even called small-minded. Never mind, I have broad shoulders.

One issue I struggle with a little as a doctor is that of abortion (or 'termination', as it is so politely referred to these days). Now before anyone gets too upset with me, I understand that there are circumstances where it may be the best possible choice - for example when a woman or girl is raped, or if the mother is extremely ill, or if the baby is diagnosed with a disorder that is definitely not compatible with life. Some would disagree even under these circumstances. Some would extend these categories - say, to include disorders where the baby would have what we would judge to be a poor quality of life. I don't necessarily know precisely what my view is, but I'm not totally anti-abortion

The times when I find it very hard to remain impartial, supportive and non-judgemental are when young married women come to see me, pregnant, saying, "It's not the right time for us now", or, "We haven't paid off the house yet" or, "I was going to lose a few kilos then try next year". I mean, a young girl still at school or university, or a single mother with 4 kids already...these are circumstances where at least I can understand the decision, and feel that if it is their best and carefully-considered decision, then I must respect the choice (after all, it's not me who will have to deal with the baby, and I don't have to walk in their shoes). But sometimes the reasons I am given for the planned termination are, in my opinion, so shallow and cold. The worst example I can recall was a young solicitor, married, who asked to be referred for a termination because she and her husband had a ski holiday lined up in 2 months' time. She hadn't planned to attempt to conceive for another 4 months. The baby developing inside her was just not going to be convenient, evidently. So what did I do? I did what I always try to do - allowed her to explore all her feelings with me, discussed the range of options available to her, then discussed some possible pros and cons of termination (emotional effects included there). But what I wanted to do was say, " Don't you realise you are destroying what would be your child, if you let it grow? Can you not see that you can never go back and have this particular child again?" AAAARGH... it is heart-wrenching.

Sometimes there are happier stories, though. Another mother I saw recently, who had 2 children already, came to see me with an unplanned pregnancy. She was really thinking she wanted to have a termination, but she wasn't absolutely sure. There were some financial considerations, though she knew they'd manage. It was mainly the thought of coping with another child. I let her talk, we did some problem-solving about some of the concerns she had. I discussed the risk of postnatal depression if she went ahead with the pregnancy just to keep her husband/mother/friend happy, but I also discussed how many women can also suffer feelings of loss and guilt after a termination - even when the decision is clear for them at the time. I know this woman had her life planned a certain way, and this 3rd child was throwing her off balance. But this lady took some time, talked with her husband, adjusted her plans, and now these plans include a 3rd child to complete her family. I can't wait to meet this baby!

I might just go hug my 2 kids. They are infinitely precious.

Monday, October 24, 2005

the pinnacle of suburban pleasure - a BBQ!

Half-blackened chicken, a hunk of bread, a green salad......Ben and Laura fighting over who gets to sit next to Daddy... a glass of cold white wine to help me ignore the racket - I love BBQ dinners! There is something about eating on our back deck that makes me feel like we're on holiday. It's the perfect way to end a weekend, so tonight we'll be doing just that. I hope everyone has had a relaxing weekend, or at least ended it with some serenity!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

it's a dog's life

Millie the beagle is a bad bad dog. She looks like a sweet, loving, obedient hound. However, she is a Hoover on legs, and will eat anything, anywhere, anytime. Just the other day, she stole Ben's bug-catcher from the table, carried it down into the back yard, and pried the lid off with her teeth -all to gain access to a small tomato inside (in which a caterpillar was innocently living its munching life).
If we have visitors over, and we go to the door with them to say goodbye, we will return inside to find whatever food remained has mysteriously disappeared. Hmm we say, I thought we still had half a cake left...
Once, when Fatty and I were doing last-minute packing on the day we were leaving for an overseas trip, I found my toiletry bag had been attacked. All that was left of an entire month's worth of contraceptive pill was the much-chewed foil packet. I rang the vet in a flap, worried that something awful might happen - vomiting, diarrhoea, perhaps abdominal pain? The vet could hardly contain his hilarity and could only remark that the dog certainly wouldn't fall pregnant now. HA HA.
Somehow, despite the fact she has no regard for my authority, I respect Millie's ingenuity and sheer bravado. And she does have the softest ears ever.

Friday, October 21, 2005

wow, another bug

Thought it was time I tried posting a here are my two ratbags checking out yet another insect on the pavement. Louey isn't really all that interested, I suspect, but humours her little brother by inspecting his findings. I try to show the required enthusiasm, too. In fact it's funny how sometimes I'm faking fascination, then I find whatever Ben's looking at really is intriguing. I guess kids are good like that - they make you look at things anew.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

do husbands have it better?

I might be about to create some controversy here but hey, better that than boredom.

I am feeling overworked and underappreciated, having done the usual working mother stuff - got up, dressed and fed both kids (oh, yeah, and myself), gone to work, come home, gone grocery shopping with 2 bored kids in tow, unpacked groceries, reorganised fridge, made a start on dinner, intervened in WW3, gone to look at the twig that was caught in the clothesline (after my kids pleading with me, "Mum! You have to come and see this!"), blah blah blah. All other mothers will know what I mean, whether full-time at home, or working and doing home duties. And generally I must say, Fatty (my husband) is pretty good at doing his share - he always cleans up the kitchen at night, because I always cook (when I say cleans up the kitchen - this may or may not involve wiping benches etc!, but does involve stacking the dishwasher and washing pots in the sink). But I sometimes feel that I am doing more of the running around, and I almost always feel that he doesn't realise how much I do, and therefore doesn't appreciate it. Anyone feel the same?

I think the problem is - when our kids were smaller, it was pretty much a full-time job to look after the 2 of them, so I was happy to cook, set the table, clean up a bit etc while Fatty was on pre-dinner kid-duty. But lately the kids play a lot without us, and so Fatty gets to sit around, flicking through the paper, watching the news... and I'm like, HELLO! COULD YOU POSSIBLY MAYBE do SOMETHING??! Poor Fatty. I always told him I was not the apple-pie-baking, smiling-whilst-bringing-hubby-a-nice-drink kind of woman. I'm sure he thinks I'm a grumpy cow and that he does his fair share in the end. But I'm not so sure.

Monday, October 17, 2005

up late

oh I'm weary to me bones. I should go to bed. Why do I keep catching myself watching " The Biggest Loser" when it is such terrible TV?( I guess the answer to that one is self-evident!)

It was pretty frantic today at work. At one point I called a man in 1 1/4 hours late (yes, i know, embarrassing but true). While I could understand that 75 minutes is an outrageous amount of time to wait in a doctor's surgery, there was nothing I could do about it. I was trying to be firm with all those people who say, " Now, I have written a list", (meanwhile they have a 15 minute appointment slot and expect 1 hour worth of consulting time). There were just a couple of emergency non-booked patients, plus quite a few who would tell me, at the end of 15 minutes of discussion and examination ... " By the way, I've ALSO been having these crushing chest pains..." or something equivalent. It's not something you can just leave until another visit, is it?Inwardly I groan, thinking, well, that's going to take another 20 minutes minimum to sort out (I can feel the others in the waiting room seething, glaring, hating me). Anyway, today everyone was actually pretty nice about having to wait, for which I was so grateful. There's nothing worse than being hungry, tired, thirsty, worried about the sick baby you saw 2 patients ago, trying to do a good job with every patient, and then you call in a patient who is stony-faced, rigid with anger, who tells you, " I have been waiting 50 minutes! That is just not good enough!". I can understand the frustration, but I also feel like saying, " Do you think I want to run late and not get home until my kids are almost in bed? Do you think I'm running late because I'm eating cake? I'm sorry but I'm BUSTING MY GUTS here, lady!"

Hmm. I think I feel a little better. Nothing like a good vent.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

boring blogs and birthdays

Since starting my own blog, I've been doing a bit of 'blog-surfing' (as everyone does, I suspect) and found it interesting to read what other people were doing in their lives. It's sort of like eavesdropping except you're not breaking any moral codes of behaviour, so it's guilt-free! But lately most of the sites seem to be business sites with boring blurb about insurance and the like (plus most of the comments posted on real people's blogs are from salespersons of one type or another). It's annoying and dull. I guess at least this ensures that my blog will always be comparatively more readable. I am real. I am not selling anything! I am telling the truth! - at least my version of it.

Today is Fatty's birthday. He is very old. Fatty plays an important role in my life, and that role is...always being older than me. Via him, I am forever young(er). We spent most of the day with friends, at their home. We ate steak, baked potatoes and coleslaw, and drank a bit of red wine, while our kids played. It was very laid-back. The ratbags (children) were all surpisingly well-behaved and it was almost like our carefree pre-children days as we lolled around on couches. Ahhhh..... lovely! We are now home, though, and real life has intervened - time to feed, bathe, story-read, song-sing, bed-dump our offspring. Most importantly, somewhere in there (preferably BEFORE the bed-dump) we must light birthday candles, sing to gorgeous Fatty, and eat banana cake.

Friday, October 14, 2005

post-funeral thoughts

I went to a funeral this afternoon (no one close to me, for anyone out there who was mustering up some sympathy). I decided that people cry at funerals for many reasons other than the fact they are sad at the loss of the person who died.
People cry because they feel awful for the family left behind
People cry because they have lost someone on another occasion, or are fearful of losing someone soon
People cry because they are depressed, and trying to cope bravely (but 'lose it' at funerals)
People cry because death, especially sudden or unexpected death, is scary. We try to protect ourselves with cholesterol checks, safe houses, traffic calming, security systems, immunisations, trust funds and insurance... yet we will all die - some young, some middle-aged, some elderly, but it's where we're all heading. I guess the death of someone we know is a very big reminder of our own mortality, and that of our nearest and dearest.
Yet what a blast life is! Every pat of a soft dog's ear, every mouthful of fine cheesecake, every glimpse of a pink-and-orange sunset, every buzz from an post-exercise endorphin high.... every word of love from a child or friend or partner... it makes all the tough stuff worthwhile. To me it does, anyway.

morning grumping

I started this morning trying to boost my caffeine levels (which had plummetted to a shocking low) but being interrupted by squeals of was a child-with-an-itchy-rash emergency. After ministering to said child, The Itch was still causing distress, so we sat down and read " The Little Polar Bear" for distraction. Poor little Lars the polar bear - thank goodness it all worked out in the end for him.

Now it's off to work - an extra shift. First must drop 1 child at preschool, then 1 at daycare, then go to work with a full tank of empathy and concern. Deep breaths.... I know I can do it.

Monday, October 10, 2005

my friend Chook

Tonight my friend Chook (as she is sometimes called, and as she shall be called in this blog) came over. Chook has been my friend since we were 12 years old, and she is very dear to me. Apart from my family, she has known me longest, and loved me most unconditionally. More recently, she has suffered from depression, and came very close to suicide last year.

Tonight, she was expressing how she was fed up with being a 'needy friend', as she put it, and that she wished our friendship was more 'equal'. I replied that if I'd had a father who left when I was tiny, and a mother who was in & out of psychiatric institutions all my childhood, then perhaps I might be more 'needy', too. Chook ended up admitting that when she was lining up the bottles of pills last year, she'd thought to herself that if she topped herself, her friends would be sorry that they hadn't been able to prevent the death, but that they'd probably feel a bit relieved too. I was shocked by her words. What a terrible thought to have - how awful she must have been feeling to truly believe this. My Chook is wacky and wonderful, and I don't ever want to have to live without her. I told her this. I don't know for sure if she believes me. I take comfort in the fact that although she has ups & downs, like everyone (and the past few weeks have been a bit rough for one reason or another), she is now on medication, and her depression seems to have retreated.

Depression - the black dog as they call it - may it run far away with its tail between its legs.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

bugs and birds

My son Ben has a bug-catcher (you know, one of those cheap plastic conical thingies with lids at top and bottom for easy entrapment), and currently residing within is an enormous bug. Fatty caught it for Ben while the kids and I were out swimming. Ben is definitely impressed. The bug is a Longicorn beetle - this I know because my husband is one of those nerdy people who owns many books entitled "What Plant Is It?", and, " Wildlife of Greater Brisbane" etc. One Christmas I scored big points with Fatty when I bought him the all-time favourite book, "What Garden Pest or Disease is That?". So you get the picture.

Lately, Fatty has become obsessed with bird-watching (no predictable jokes here, please) and if he gets off work early will not come home, but will go sneaking off into bushland, where he furtively takes photos of feathered creatures. He has found out where there are 'hides' (which are like little cubbyhouses from which one can birdwatch, for those who, like me, didn't know this) and is systematically trying them out. I'm sure this must all be my fault. Perhaps he wouldn't be compelled to birdwatch if I wore some feather boas or developed some sort of personal song, or even just gave him a peck when he got home (ha ha).

In truth, I don't mind at all, because apart from playing squash once a week, and going to the odd footy game, Fatty is really a home-and-family kind of guy. If anything, I go out more - to karate, gym, out with friends. So if he really must go be with his fluffy chirpy friends, it seems reasonable, plus provides me with an opportunity to mock him (in an extremely loving and supportive way)

It's time for me to go effortlessly whip up a gourmet meal, all the time smiling seductively and licking the spoon (like Nigella Lawson), whilst looking gorgeous and capable at the same time (like the women in the margarine ads). No problem, I do this every night. I even have an apron that says "I'm not a housewife, I'm a hornbag". I believe I look very fetching in it.

Thursday, October 06, 2005 working week over

As I don't work Fridays, Thursday nights are when I start to wind down... so here I am winding, winding (not to be confused with whining, whining). It was a pretty good week - no patients dead as a result of my advice or lack thereof (not that I know of anyway and ignorance is bliss, right?). It was actually one of those weeks which reaffirm for me why I am lucky to do the job I do. I get to meet many different people, who share various intimate details about themselves, and their lives, with me. I get to feel that I am helping treat or prevent illness in these people (and surely at least some of the time I actually am?!) and over time these people often become quite dear to me. That may be quite unprofessional of me, but I'm not an automaton, and I can't help but become close to patients that I see regularly. Some of my patients have been patients of mine for 8 years (which I know is not a LONG LONG time, but long enough)- ever since I started in general practice - having 'followed' me from my previous practice to my current surgery. These long-term patients become a little like friends, but then it's weird friendship where you only ever listen to their problems, and they have to pay money for the privilege! So true friendship it is not, but there's definitely a connection. As I say, this has been a good week, so these are my warm and fuzzy thoughts about being a GP. There will be complaining in further posts.

My fat beagle is snoring softly near my feet as I write. Sometimes she snores more loudly, and it becomes difficult to hear the TV. I'm not exaggerating.
My kids are both asleep. My husband (known affectionately as 'Fatty' despite the fact he is lean) is still at work. When he gets home he will be delighted to see I have saved him some congealed pasta bake that I 'made up' i.e .did not use a recipe for i.e. fairly average in both taste and consistency. Mmmm-mmmmm.

Time to go put on a mini-skirt, slick on some body sparkle and hit the nightclubs. Whoops, forgot I have too much cellulite now and kids to look after. Time to read a book then.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

day at home with my kids

Wow, I guess that's a pretty enticing title (not!). I must admit that nothing too riveting happens on my days at home with the wee ones. They are good little kids, though (boy aged 3 and girl almost 5), and despite all the mundane sandwich-making, nose-blowing, and dispute-negotiating, there is also the laughing at dumb jokes, running around in the back yard, and the odd spontaneous tight hug for me.

Right now they are watching TV (kids educational programs but still ... I feel guilty when I use the TV as entertainer, so try to limit it to 1/2-1 hour per day) - Laura with a pink ballerina dress on (appropriate morning attire as far as she's concerned), and Benjamin sucking his thumb whilst clutching Sheet (grubby old cot sheet which I have to sneak away to wash every now & then causing subsequent complaints that 'it doesn't smell good anymore!').
I myself should not criticise my daughter for her clothing, as at least she isn't still in PJs like her bad mother...... time to shower and dress and get on with the rest of the day!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

no idea here

OK, here we go.... I am a person with very poor computer skills, so I'll just be pleased if I can make words appear on my blog (how exciting, i have a blog! I just know there will be thousands of people lining up to read my profound writings... err ..hmm)
So this is a start.. am feeling terribly self-conscious, which is ridiculous because NO ONE CARES WHAT I WRITE! and no-one knows who I am. OK, I'm sure I can get used to this, and next post actually say something.