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Archive for January, 2009

The Love Bus has many admirable qualities but functional air-conditioning is not one of them. And so, with the recent heatwave that has hit our fair city, we have found ourselves under house arrest.  

My friend KT rang and said “I don’t know how Anne Frank did it.”

What do you mean? I asked.

“Stay in those small rooms for so long.” she replied. Uh, I expect the fact that her country was being run by people who wanted to kill her might have played some small part in her staying power. The heat – however ferocious – doesn’t quite match the intensity of the Third Reich. 

But still, here we are on Day Three of temperatures of 43° C and above (that’s 109.4° F, baby), with a “cool change” predicted at some point soon, sending temperatures plummeting to a positively chilly 35° C… And all this has dovetailed nicely with the end of the six week summer break, so everyone is on their most charming behaviour anyway. 

I found myself on Day One wondering out loud on Facebook (as you do) about how much TV would be considered too much when it was over 40 degrees outside. ValleyGirl came up with the most reassuring answer:

Um – enough is probably enough when the sun has gone down, they’re all asleep on the sofa and you want to transfer them into their beds. Aww, those tired little glazed tv eyes, so cute.

Meanwhile, another friend, who I think has now converted to Foxtel as her new religion, said that the TV was simply turned on with the air-conditioner the minute the heatwave truly hit. After the TV had been on for more than four hours, her ex-Steiner educated son turned to her and said “This is the best day ever!”. 

Anyway, here’s a little diary I’ve kept of my own TV and air-conditioner usage over the last few days:

DAY ONE OF HEAT WAVE:  Implement stimulating morning program of painting, drawing, waterplay, science experiments, the collective- making of frozen chocolate-covered bananas (etc). Air-conditioner turned on at 10:30AM, TV on at 12:50. Both stay on for longer than my conscience would normally allow. 

DAY TWO: Air-conditioner on before 7:00AM. After shouting at the children for painting each other’s bodies before breakfast, TV resolutely switched on at 9:30am. TV switched on and off throughout the day, as required (turns out it is required a lot). 

DAY THREE: Air-conditioner still on from the night before. TV on at 7am. Most likely will be on all day. Past. Caring. 

At least I have air-conditioning. When friends of mine bought their house a year ago, they tossed up between fixing the garden or installing an A/C and the husband persuaded his wife that the garden was far more important. When I last spoke to his wife, she was muttering menacingly about making him do the gardening in the 42 degree heat when he got home from work that night 8pm. And yes, it really was still 42 degrees at 8pm that day. 

My own husband came up with the brilliant idea of squirting the kids with the hose before I embarked on the short walk to KT’s house for dinner last night. He said it would “keep them cool” and I believed him. Being the responsible parent that I am, I of course informed the kids of my plans well in advance and actually got them all excited about it – after all, water restrictions make the hose even more off limits than the treats cupboard. But when I actually did the squirting, Mr Justice burst into tears because “he wasn’t ready yet”, The Pixie started wailing because I had “RUINED. HER. PARTY. DRESS.” and Tiddles McGee just screamed like I was torturing him. All I could do was laugh the long hysterical laugh of a woman who had been shut up far too long with her children during the school holidays and squirt myself with the hose. And then go to that Happy Place in My Mind during the longest and hottest five minute walk of my life, whilst everyone else managed maintained their rage. 

So to all the other mothers in my fair city – and beyond – who have found themselves confined to small quarters with small people, I lift my TV remote in salute to you all and offer a silent prayer that the cool change comes in soon. I don’t know about anyone else but 35°C is looking pretty good right now from where I’m lying.

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Regular readers of my blog will know that I pay as much attention to sport as I do to the state of my house. However, the other day I stumbled across my visiting mother muttering in a cluttered corner about Australian You-Bewt Tennis Legend, Lleyton Hewitt, and his “imaginary little friend”. 

“Please – no sport-talk in front of the children,” I gently reminded her before asking her exactly what the hell she was referring to. 

It turns out she’s talking about the little Hand Puppet that he likes to say “Come on!” to during tennis matches.

hewitt

Lleyton Hewitt literally "talks to the hand"

“Come on!” is apparently just an abbreviated way of saying “Oh do come on, my little friend, oh hand puppet of mine. Let us give this racquet-yielding rogue a thorough drubbing!” But in the heat of the moment, it just comes out “Come awwwwnnnnnnnnn!”

I mean, let’s face it: Lleyton certainly does like to talk to the hand during matches. Some people say it is a valid way of pumping himself up, getting himself into “The Zone”. Others say that, especially since he trademarked this duck-puppet gesture in 2008, that it’s just another way of makin’ an honest buck. Whatever the reason, him and his hand obviously share a Very Special Bond. I don’t want to speculate too much about what goes on in the locker rooms but I expect a little stress relief might sometimes be the order of the day, especially on those days where he’s knocked out in the first round of a Grand Slam Competition. And no, I can’t believe I just wrote that either. 

Lleyton shares a joke with a pal.

Lleyton shares a joke with a pal.

Of course, with all the current talk about Lleyton’s career being officially On The Nose, one can’t help but wonder what the future holds for him and his little friend… Well, here at NDM Central, I am not heartlessly deaf to his plight. In fact, I’ve even workshopped a few ideas…

Educator? Entertainer? Former-Prince-of-Pop-turned-Circus-Freak?

Educator? Entertainer? Former-Prince-of-Pop-turned-Circus-Super-Freak?

Really, I don’t know why more people don’t come to me with their career problems. I give the best advice.

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Beneath the Mild-Mannered Lawyer’s mild-mannered exterior lies the heart of a Shit-Stirrer. I began to realise this when I received unsolicited facebook messages from her entitled “Rival Cake Maker”, detailing a certain gorilla birthday cake she had seen at a party, along with cupcakes dotted with green sprinkles and with little plastic jungle animals for the children to keep. 

“[The maker of the gorilla cake] said she bought a gorilla cake-mould. Is that cheating?” asked the MML, all wide-eyed innocence. 

“The use of moulds is definitely cheating,” I wrote back, all the while knowing that the one time I tried to use a mould the whole cake collapsed in on itself. “And as for plastic jungle animals, that’s just trying to buy the children’s love. Pah!”

Pah, indeed. 

Now, I never claim to be much of a cake decorator, although it’s something I enjoy doing and seem to do a lot of. Like a lot a lot. However, my friends The Fabulous Miss Jones and the Suburban Diva are far more accomplished than I. Whenever I am faced with Miss Jones’ icing roses (where every petal has been carefully hand-crafted) or the Diva’s glorious mint-leafed mermaid tail, I always think “Shop Quality”. My cakes fall (crumble?) more in the “Home-Made-With-Love” category, particularly with my last-minute-super-freak-out-patch-up jobs using marshmallows and M&Ms (see “The NDM Guide to Decorating Birthday Cakes” for examples). 

In any case, having a “birthday cake rival” would suggest that I looked upon the Birthday Cake Arts as a competitive sport. And we all know that I don’t have a competitive bone in my body. No, no. Not me. Anyone who has ever read my blog and been pressured to sign up for an email subscription purely to increase my stats will know that. 

And so, I tried to erase the image of this alleged gorilla cake masterpiece and its accompanying cupcakes from my mind and get on with my life as a Wife, Mother and Rabid Monkey Blogger.

But then last weekend, I was just sitting around, minding my own business and obsessively checking my blog stats, when I got another NDM-baiting email from the Mild-Mannered Lawyer – this time with a photo of a Wall*E cake made by yet another of her (obviously numerous) cake-making friends. No message. Just letting the picture do the talking. And let me tell you, them’s definitely fighting words. You see, the MML knows full well that I, too, have attempted the WALL*E cake – it was the “It” Cake for 2008, after all.

So what are you playing at here, MML? Is it a good old-fashioned Cake-Off that you want? Is it?? Well, (mild-mannered) lady, you got it. I’ve subsequently gone and created the first Official “Not Drowning, Mothering” Reader’s Poll. And you’ve only got yourself to blame. 

But hang on one dog-darn moment! Before anyone rushes ahead and votes, you should consider the following:

  • one of the following cakes was made for a child not of the cake-maker’s loins and done for the price of an afternoon’s babysitting of two of her three children and a half-price haircut;
  • one of the following cakes actually resembles the WALL*E character, whereas the other is based loosely on some cartoon version drawn by some non-Pixar-affiliated artist and randomly found via google images;
  • both of the following cakes were no doubt made with blood, sweat and tears – but considering the bladder control issues of one of the cake-makers, urine was possibly involved as well in the  making of one of them.

Okay, now that I’ve got that off my chest…. let the people choose cake!

cakeoff

Two cakes, one choice: You. Decide.


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As a small defenceless infant, I was burdened with an unusual name with a heady mix of similar-sounding letters. This has meant I’ve forever had to use the military alphabet whenever making reservations over the phone (which, quite frankly, always makes me sound a little like a Whiskey-Alpha-November-Kilo-Echo-Romeo). But when faced with the opportunity of changing my name through marriage, I thought to myself “I’ve got this far with this name. It’s who I am and who I will always be. And I should see it through!” – martyr to the pointless cause that I am.

At the time of my marriage, a friend of mine pointed out that, should I have kids one day, those poor afflicted creatures would have to deal with all the confusion at school of their mum not having the same surname. I remember saying that if that was the hardest thing they had to deal with, then I should expect that they were doing pretty well. And in any case, it was fairly rich advice coming from this friend, whose surname was [Smith] and had ended up marrying another [Smith] and so got the best of both worlds: she took on her husband’s name whilst retaining her own. And all without filling in a single Change of Personal Details form. Pah!

Anyway, for some reason or another, I recently found myself explaining to the children about how their mummy, rather than become (say) Blah-blah [Husband's Surname] when she married their daddy, had chosen to remain Blah-Blah [Maiden Name]. (And yes, Blah-Blah Maiden Name is my real name, which probably explains all the confusion when giving it over the phone.)

Anyway, upon hearing all this, Mr Justice exclaimed “As usual!”. Which I initially took as a comment on the general obstreperous nature of his mother. But after some rigorous interrogation, I found out that he simply meant that I had just remained as I “usually had been”.

“When I grow up, I…. I….” the Pixie started, in a little speech that I anticipated to be one of those Proud Mothering Moments when a daughter professes to want to be just like her mummy some day. “…I want to be a cowboy and bake eggs!”.

An egg-baking cowboy? Of course! We all aspire to being one of those - especially me, since they probably wouldn’t have to spell their names over the phone that often, right? My daughter is a genius.

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The other day, I was expressing some mild frustration at my flatlining readership figures by ranting and raving (somewhat like a rabid monkey), when my aunt Care Bear – a much nobler creature than I – gently interrupted me by saying “But isn’t the whole point of your blog to have a creative outlet and not just take part in some online popularity contest?” 

“Um, yes, it’s about the joy of writing, most certainly,” I replied. “But… but… but I want to be everyone’s favourite, too!!!!”

There. I went and said it.

The truth was that those rabid monkey blogs (which rate higher than mine on technorati) got me so het up with all their simian gags and bad spelling, and yet people can’t get enough of them. And don’t get me started about the chunk of cheese that has more than 5000 followers on “twitter” and god knows how many people logging onto its blog site every day. Granted, it’s a very talented chunk of cheese. But still! It’s cheese, people.

Anyway, it’s no point comparing myself to them. They’re in a different league from me altogether. But what was it about my blog that stopped the readership figures from growing? Was it that my readership quickly tired of me, left and then got replaced by three new people? Or was it that my readership-of-three flatly refused to share me with anyone else (“NDM, my precioussssssss, we don’t like those other bad tricksy readerssssss”)? Or was it just that I kept rehashing my jokes (such as the Gollum one)?

Whatever the reason, I was determined to do something about it. Since coming up with fresh or interesting material just seems like too much hard work, I started signing up to things that all the Big Time bloggers use, such as “Technorati” and “FeedBurner”. And pretty soon there I was, activating FeedBurner’s email subscription service and then merrily subscribing to my own blog to see if the thing worked. And lo! Half a day later, I had the utter thrill of receiving an email update from myself (the resulting frisson was a little like flushing the toilet before you rise) and felt that, surely, my star was now going to rise and those subscriptions would come rolling in. 

HOWEVER, the next time I went to FeedBurner, this is what it told me:

feedburner

Zero subscriptions? Not even my own? Hang on a minute… Could it be that, even though I tricksily used another email address and everything, FeedBurner knew it was really just me in disguise and therefore won’t count it as a real subscription? OR could it be that I actually have hundreds – perhaps thousands – of subscribers and FeedBurners has been instructed to hide them from from me?

And who, you may be asking, would instruct such a thing? Well, let’s just say I think that the folk from Google might have been on the phone to FeedBurner, since Google recently bought FeedBurner and now FeedBurner is Google’s bitch. And let’s face it, Google are all too aware of what a sad sorry little person I am. Not only do they know that I have – one more than one occasion – googled the term “Google” because I had nothing else meaningful to do with my life (as previously confessed in another post), but that I regularly google such terms as:

“bacon bra”

blow job Big Brother

dark chocolate Incas

do the boys ever sing in the Venga Boys?

esther head trapped bleak house

excessive itchy bottom at night only

moo milk man milk

stalker pathological obsession

“Today Tonight” shocking expose house slum

thing at the bottom of the fridge

“you wouldn’t shit in your neighbour’s hat”

So knowing all of this and guessing what I might be capable of, Google probably thinks the only course of action is to break my spirit and stop me from blogging. It’s the only way I can explain why FeedBurner would show that I have no subscribers.

But I’m not going to let Google win. Oh no, not I. You see Google might be a mighty search engine and all but I, too, am a force to be reckoned with. I have access to such tools as “The Secret” website (which I had to find using google, unfortunately) and Photoshop and thus am able to change FeedBurner’s so-called Feedstat graphics into a positive affirmation, helping me utilise the Law of Attraction and “empowering me to live a life of joy”:

feedstats1

So it has been photoshopped and so it shall come to pass…

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Sometimes listening to people recounting conversations they’ve had with their children is a little like listening to them recounting their dreams. I always want to stay interested and listen to all the little details but … (*yawn*)… 

And yet, at the risk of starting to sound like I’m writing in to “That’s Life!” magazine (you have to love that exclamation mark in its title – the enthusiasm! the excitement! the hysteria!!), I’d like to present three of the gems I’ve recently collected from the mouths of babes (not talking vomit or choking hazards here, folks). Of course there is no actual thematic link between these three gems except that they all involve children – and not even necessarily my children at that. 

Filler post? Because I got up at 3am yesterday to watch the Inauguration and I still haven’t recovered?

You bet, baby. You bet!

***************

I recently had the pleasure of hearing Mr Justice’s account of why one of the textas had been left overnight without its lid on:

“It’s all [Pixie's] fault. I saw her playing with the texta in Hot Shot Land and she didn’t put the lid back on. And she made me brain-washed so I couldn’t put the lid back on either.”

Uh, okay.

*************************

“It would be so great if all the world were Cadbury’s,” announced Mr Justice’s friend the Calrissian.

“Well then, I could eat your arm,” I pointed out, despite myself. That ad campaign where all the world is made of chocolate, including the people, gets me riled. There’s a chocolate boy who eats the hair of the person blocking their view of the cinema screen and everyone laughs. Ho, ho, ho. So funny. But what if he’d not stopped at the hair and started eating the other person’s brains… Suddenly, no-one’s laughing anymore, right? Particularly the person who’s brains are being eaten. 

“Everyone would be Cadbury’s except my friends and cousins,” the Calrissian mused, after some thought on the matter and not because I’d just shared the brain-eating scenario with him – that would be Irresponsible.  “[Mr Justice] could eat you and his brother and sister could eat their dad.”

“But if [Mr Justice] ate me, then who would wash his clothes and make his lunches?” I asked, secretly angling for some kind of recognition for the hard work I do. 

“He would be okay because he’d have all your money,” was the Calrissian’s quick response, obviously a member of the “user pays” generation. 

I got a bit desperate at this point in the conversation and appealed to my silent son. “You’d miss me, though, wouldn’t you [Mr Justice]?”

Mr Justice merely shrugged. After all, we’re talking chocolate here. 

**************

A friend’s son asked her how to spell certain swear-words – not so that he could use them but just so he could recognise them. After some thought, my friend agreed, especially when she realised that the words he was asking about didn’t get much more offensive than “bloody hell” and “fart”. After compiling a list that resembled more the 1950s Australian City Gent than the bad mo’ fo’ pimp-brother coming at you from the streets, he skipped off happily, only to return a few minutes later.

“Oh, and mum…” he said. “How do you spell fuck-face?”

Uh… okay. 

**************

Now wasn’t that just hil-ar-ious? After all this History-in-the-Making, Winds-of-Change, Ding Dong the Double-Ya’s Dead excitement, wasn’t that just the ticket? Well, obviously, after my recent lack of sleep, I thought so – particularly since I got to use the word “fuck-face”. I wonder if the editors of “That’s Life!” magazine will feel the same when they receive my submission, though. Perhaps I should just send in some petrified vomit sliced up in perfect choking hazard-sized chunks instead. Just a thought.

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After all the hoo-ha made about what Michelle Obama wore on Election Night (yes, I’m talking about you, Germaine Greer), I decided to make a point of ignoring what she wore on Inauguration Day. Which wasn’t hard, considering I had to drag myself out of bed at 3am (Australian Eastern Standard Time) and watch history being made through eyes that felt like they had a thick layer of vaseline smeared across them.

Despite instructions to my husband to wake me up mere seconds before the new President was sworn in so as to miss all the preamble, I found myself sitting through the Inauguration equivalent of the Red Carpet Special. Except the carpet was blue and a distinctly more interesting place without Richard Wilkins standing by with a microphone in hand and his trademark brand of Bland. In any case, I certainly perked up when I saw the accessibility issues with stairs down to the stage and the chance that someone might try and get Dick Cheney down them using the back wheels of his wheelchair, much like I do with the Valco Mobile Home just to leave the house each morning. But there must be just a bit more planning behind these things than my last-minute dashes on the school run, because he emerged – as if by magic – on the stage a few minutes later via some secret alternate route. Either that or Secret Service carried him down the stairs when the cameras weren’t on them.

Other NDM Inauguration highlights included: Vice President Elect Joe “Joey from Friends” Biden emerging at the top of the stairs with a Tribiani-esque “Ehhhh!”;  Aretha Franklin making up her own words to “God save the Queen” (was it my imagination or did she throw in some lyrics from “Who’s zoomin’ who?”); and that sweet poet finishing her recital to a polite smattering of applause as poetry so often inspires – which was quite a feat considering the two million-strong crowd.  

And since I was watching our home-grown Australian coverage, it was all with Barry Cassidy muttering incessantly like some annoying drunk uncle talking in the middle of a movie you really want to watch. 

But of course the shining star was President Obama himself. Personally, I liked that he fluffed his lines when taking the presidential oath – anyone who has ever repeated wedding vows in front of a crowd or been sworn in as an Ordinary Committee Member for the university’s drama club (like I have) will know how nerve-wracking these things can be. Anyway, it made him look – for a moment – like the humble son of a migrant about to accept the most important job in the world and I loved him all the more for it.

And in any case, he then stepped up to the plate and deliver one hell of a speech. Despite his tendency to rock from side to side with all the excitement (much like our own Prime Minister Uncle Kev and that lovable syndicated garbage can, R2D2), that man certainly knows how to address and inspire a large crowd. Even an NDM watching on the other side of world in the early hours of the morning without the aid of caffeine was able to crawl back into bed just before 5am with the feeling that the world might just be in safe hands for a change. Of course I was woken up half an hour later by Tiddles McGee on a pre-dawn rampage, but that feeling prevailed – and continues to prevail, especially now that I’m adequately caffeinated.

Anyway, I don’t know about anyone else but, from this day forth, I’m planning to do the washing up like this…

michelletribute

The NDM salutes Michelle Obama's outfit...

... just as the new First Lady no doubt salutes the NDM.

... and the new First Lady no doubt salutes the NDM's.

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