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.