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Archive for August, 2009

I always find the best way to unwind from hosting a Ben 10-themed party for 14 screaming kids is to take a trip to the local monster mall. Yes: on a Saturday. 

To help you out a little here: imagine my mind is a little like a snowdome where my thoughts gently float around in the liquid. Now, the Ben 10 party was just a little like shaking that snowdome to fuck. And the monster mall? Like taking an AK-47 to said snowdome, blasting its contents into a million trillion pieces and embedding many of them in a nearby wall upon which some teenage punk seems to have tagged their name but upon closer inspection turns out to be a picture of their penis. 

Just sayin’. 

Look, of course I’m being a touch melodramatic. The party was just a normal kids party: you know, kids running around high on sugar and food colouring, screaming and whacking each other with sticks. And the mall was just the usual Saturday arvo consumer bitch-fight. But chuck in a visit from the silent red ninja, a headcold and the promise of a migraine and you’re starting to get the picture. And it’s of someone’s penis on the wall, apparently. 

Still, I feel suitably removed from the whole experience now to share some highlights of the Ben 10 party with you all. 

THE CAKE 

omnitrix_cake

This cake was a labour of love upon which I worked late into the night before the party. When I proudly showed my husband my masterpiece, his informed opinion was that it should be “more green” and “perhaps have a bit of white somewhere”.

At which point I grew exceedingly irate and shouted at him “What is WRONG with you? Don’t you know the difference between a Ben 10 Alien Force Omnitrix cake and a Ben 10 Original Series Omnitrix cake?? Have you never discussed the finer points of differentiation between the two with our firstborn child? I mean, have you even met our son??”

Sheesh.

Luckily I was able to jump onto Twitter and show off about my creation. And there, I felt the love that I was due. Of course, while I was busy showing off and feeling the love, I heard the tell-tale jingle-jangle of bells and stormed into the kitchen just in time to see the cat jump up on the table and get *this close* to licking the cake. What was that old saying again? Was it “pride comes before a cat with an rectum-coated tongue”?

THE PIÑATA

jetray_pinata

For those of you who have read “The NDM Guide to Making Piñatas” and are curious about where this Jetray lay on the NDM Piñata Spectrum (upon which all piñatas should measured, if only it actually existed), let’s just say Jetray ended up being the love-child of the Impenetrable Shark and The Bad, Bad Butterfly.

You see, I had somewhat overestimated the whacking power of the average seven-year-old boy and had built the piñata to withstand a direct nuclear blast. But somewhere in the painstaking paper-mâché process, something had gone terribly terribly wrong. When the pinata was finally cracked open (thanks to some king hits from my husband), there were cries all around of “Ewwwww! These lollies are all soggy!”. Oops, I did it again. 

THE OMNITRIX BREAD

fairybread

Nothing to say here except the the age-old question of how to serve fairy bread to a bunch of seven year old boys bearing makeshift weapons has finally been answered. 

THE AFTERMATH

aftermath

What you see here are Mr Justice’s brand new presents, all ripped out of their wrappings, tossed around the room and firmly ground underfoot with a few handfuls of party food thrown in for good measure. In the cleanup process, I found a grand total of three frankfurters hidden in very surprising places. Which literally put a twist on the adult party game “Hide The Sausage”. 

But when I asked Mr Justice which was his favourite part of the party, it wasn’t the cake. It wasn’t the piñata. It wasn’t even the lame-arse game where I got them to squirt warm water at a plastic alien frozen in an icecube (true story).

It was “hanging out in the bedroom playing with the presents”. 

This, more than anything, sent me a very clear message and that message was this: Next year, don’t be the über-mum party planner, NDM! Just cheerfully usher the guests straight into the bedroom… chuck in a packet of chips, a bottle of lemonade and a bucket to pee in…  And then lock the door for two hours.

Now that’s a party plan that I feel that even I, utterly destroyed as I feel right at this moment, am willing and able to get behind.

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It is upon us: it’s been almost one year since The NDM burst onto the internet with her children’s bottoms a-blazin’. Yes, it’s my blog-a-versary! By rights, I should be writing this in my birthday suit except, well, I don’t want to frighten the kids unnecessarily. 

So how did this happen? How did I find myself one year and 281 posts into my blogging career? 

Let’s start at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start (apparently). Friends JS and Mr C gave me the idea for the blog as I lay, a broken woman, amongst the ruins of Mr Justice’s Star Wars-themed sixth birthday. Basically, like all good pushers, they got to me when I was vulnerable… Before I knew it, I had signed up with WordPress and found myself staring at a blank text box. 

But what will I say? I thought to myself. Who will read it? And where on earth will I find the time to do this?

But the time was found, albeit in units smaller than a three year old’s appetite, and I persuaded a few friends to read it (I think the words “I know where you live…” were involved). As for the words? Well, all I can think of is that line from The War of the Worlds: “And still, they come…”.

And then the ego kicked in. I stopped being [insert real name] and became (drum roll) “The NDM!”. I became unhealthily obsessed with my blog stats and dreamt of being discovered by a literary agent who would write me a cheque for three billion-zillion-trillion dollars On. The. Spot because I was that fucking great. And I started wondering how I might “monetize my blog” without selling out – which is kind of a contradiction in terms, if you think about it. Mmmm…. selling out….

And most certainly, being courted by all those cyrillic spammers on your blog can really go to a girl’s head. They were all “кухонная шлюха бедра грома кувшина мамы” and I’m all *swoon* and before I knew it I was buying stuff by the truck-load on bigdick.com.ru and trying to encourage the local school to sell Viagra or Acai Berries as part of their next charity drive. As I said in no uncertain terms to the school council: “Yo’ bitches won’t catch a class act like Yuri from Big’n’Busty Babushkas slangin’ Freddo Frogs. We got to get where the money’s at, peoplesss!”

Okay, so that hasn’t happened quite yet. But it might if I continued on my current trajectory…

So yes, I’m stepping back a bit. I’m winding it down, if only to stop pushing myself so hard and start enjoying my patch o’ internet turf. 

From this day forth, The NDM will now be posting on THREE BIG DAYS… Monday!… Wednesday!… Friday!… (AEST) which is the blogging equivalent of commercial TV’s “now at a special new time”. You know, when they move your favourite show to 11:30pm when even the VHS player is dead asleep. 

Or another way of looking at it is “The NDM: Now 40% shit-free!”

Anyway, thanks for being part of The NDM experience so far. You know who you are. And remember, I really do know where most of you live…

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Here’s my confession: the joys and benefits of Pet Ownership are somewhat eluding me right now.

Let’s put it this way: if you were to get all the Happy Pet Owners of Australia and gather them together in the Melbourne Cricket Ground, I would not come along to your little pet-lovin’ shindig. So don’t bother inviting me, okay? Look, don’t even talk to me about it. Sheesh. 

And before you judge me too harshly, let’s just say that Genghis Cat (resident pet) represents just another member of this household who:

a) follows me around the house, hassling me to give him food;

b) turns his nose up at whatever food I give him;

c) wants to sleep in my bed;

d) wakes me up by crying loudly when I won’t let him sleep in my bed; and when I do let him sleep in my bed…

e) keeps me awake by biting my toes (admittedly the kids do it by jabbing my kidneys with those pointy toes of theirs)

f) unexpectedly shits, pisses and vomits in equally unexpected places around the house; and 

g) gives me worms. 

To add insult to injury, the cat makes a point of sitting right in front of me and licking his anus for, like, 20 minutes while I’m trying to eat my chocolate brownie and then leaping over and running his tongue across said brownie the minute I leave it unattended. At least the kids don’t do that – if only because it’s physically impossible for them to lick their anuses. 

Experts say: pets make good friends.

I say: even my worst enemies haven’t thrown up on my bed.  

Experts say: pet ownership has many health benefits.

I say: as long as I don’t eat that brownie. 

Experts say: pets are good for stress-relief.

I say: as long as they don’t create more stress than they relieve. But then again, I sure feel much better after shouting “STUPID CAT!” at the cat. And it certainly feels way more comfortable than shouting “STUPID KIDS!” at the kids. Plus I can lock the cat outside when he’s really pissing me off. Or I can even lock him outside when the kids are really pissing me off. I mean, better the cat, right?

Shit, no wonder he’s so unreasonably angry. And I can’t even blame the cat for that one. Which makes me unreasonably angry. 

Stupid cat. 

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You may or may not know that my husband suffers from chronic back pain. 

“I’m not made to sit at a desk day-in day-out,” he complained to me the other day as we got ready for sleep. “I should be a ninja! Ninjas don’t have to do any desk work. They just step silently around in the dark, commiting espionage, assassinations and other covert stuff.”

I could have let it go. Let’s face it, a normal person would have just changed the subject. But, no. Not I. 

“Surely there would be some desk jobs in the ninja world,” I said. “After all, who dispatches them on their missions? Or arranges payment? They can’t just be doing it for free. Are they on a payroll or do they invoice per job? There must be a paper trail, right? Even if it is written in, say, lemon juice or whatever the hell they use in those magic ‘paint-with-water’ books… What do they use in those magic paint-with-water books? Is it really magic?”

I might have  gone on, but my husband appeared to have fallen asleep. 

But the next day, I still found myself wondering about ninjas. When I looked up “Ninja” on wikipedia, there was a section on “Clothing and Tactics” but not one on “Administrative Duties”.  It was a mystery. 

That evening, I raised it again with my husband, who had evidently also done some thinking on the matter. He said he thought that even ninja accountants must tip toe around in the dark, carrying their clients’ folders, pausing under the streetlamps to calculate tax liabilities or likely capital gains. 

But I disagreed. I had decided there was an unsung hero Ninja Administrator for each group of ninjas who’d hang back at Ninja HQ and would keep the books, manage the job flow and maybe even do the ninjas’ laundry. 

“Ninjas don’t do laundry! That’s one of the reasons they wear black,” my husband replied. “It shows up the blood less.”

He had a point. Still, I argued, the ninja robes would eventually get all stiff and that would have to affect their work. You can’t be all cat-like when you’re wearing something that feels as body-hugging as corrugated cardboard. And a single-use set of ninja robes would just be wasteful. 

Of course it was only later on I realised that, if my husband became a ninja, he’d probably be made the local Ninja Administrator, because of his bad back and all. And him, being him, he’d end up outsourcing all the laundry duties to me. And then one day, I would forget to check all the pockets of the ninja robes and there’d be a tissue and I’d end up with tissue confetti throughout the whole wash. And nobody likes tissue shit on black clothing. Nobody. Particularly ninjas, who would then be all vulnerable to detection by ultra-violet light and therefore unable to fulfill any of their ninjaly duties in night clubs, which would probably take a lot of the fun out of ninja-ing ’cause there are girls and beer there. And they’d probably get all ninja-cranky and force my husband to issue the paperwork on an assassination order with me as the target. Me. His own wife

So I think I’ll encourage him not to join the ninja corps, or whatever it’s called. Anyway, what kind of person hangs out in dark alleyways with tissues? I mean, sheesh. 

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Recently I watched my friend L with open admiration as she breastfed her 3 month old baby while simultaneously coaching the 3 year old at her feet to do a poo in the potty. And I realised how far I’d come from the days of multi-tasking with my tits out.

We found ourselves discussing whether parenting really was “easier” the second time around. Most certainly, we both agreed we felt much more relaxed with #2 (why, with #3 I’m feeling positively catatonic!) but, as L wisely pointed out, no-one – no matter how many children they’ve had – knows what they’re doing during those first six weeks. Babies are newborns for such a short time, you never get a chance to become an expert.

My guess was that the difference with subsequent children was that you know that first six weeks is, well, the first six weeks. But with your first born?

Well, there you are, at the beck and call of this strangely furious creature who has no respect whatsoever for your need to rest while you recover from major stomach surgery or vaginal augmentation. And you trudge from the feeding chair to the cot to the change table and back to the feeding chair, all the while spraying breastmilk on everyone and everything in your wake and wondering if you’ll ever get out of your pyjamas again.

Yep, those first six weeks are all give give give, with very little return. The only thing you do seem to get are those cheerful pastel-coloured “Congratulations on your new arrival!” cards that arrive in the mail and just make you cry because everyone appears so happy for you and confident you can do this mothering gig and right now you’re not sure you’re going to make it through the week and you’d trade a vital organ for an hour of your Old Life.

And just when you resign yourself to the fact that the relentless grind and broken sleep and never-time-to-wash-you-hair for this Angry Little Dictator is what parenting is all about and this is how it is going to be FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER, the game changes.

At about six weeks, the smiles start, then the smiles turn into laughs, and then into the word “Mama!”. And then one day that once-was-baby winds their arms around your neck, hugs you tight and an “I love you!” tumbles from their lips, unprompted.

Rubbing chamomile ointment into razor-blade-slashed nipples turns into watching lovingly-prepared vegetable purees being unceremoniously spat out and then becomes a licked-clean plate punctuated by a “That was the Bestest Meal Ever, Mum!”. 

Having a child burst into inconsolable tears when you leave the room and cling fearfully to your legs in Strange Places eventually gives way to them informing you that they don’t need you to walk into the school with them, followed by a discrete half-salute and the briefest but most knowing of smiles before they rush off into a wider world by themselves.

If I’m sounding uncharacteristically sentimental, it’s because my Mr Justice, my first born, turns seven today and I wanted to share a little of our journey so far as Mother and Son.
 
Only yesterday, Mr Justice announced with great certainty “I know exactly how many flies I’ve killed in my life: Two, Mum! I’ve killed two!”

And I remembered at the same age starting a list of all the films I’d ever seen and how I’ve forever wished I’d kept up with that list and often wondered how long it would be now.

Perhaps I should keep count of the flies for him and one day he’ll thank me for it. I hope there are other things he’ll thank me for, too because I certainly know I’ve got plenty to thank him for.

Happy Birthday, darling boy. 

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Okay, so pubs aren’t exactly my natural habitat. For one thing, there’s the whole problem of finding somewhere to sit. There’s nothing I hate more than standing around with a drink in my hand. Who wants to stand and drink? Sitting and drinking is far more intuitive – mostly because there is less distance between you and the ground for that point in the evening when you fall over. Of course, it would be best to be already lying down when you reach that point. In fact, my husband maintains Man’s inability to drink beer from a lying position as one of evolution’s greatest oversights. 

Anyway, when I recently stepped into a pub with gal pals KC and Mzzzz E, you can imagine my initial dismay when the only tables free were all signposted “RESERVED FOR SIMON, 7PM”.

“Wow, Simon must have a lot of friends!” I said, impressed. I mean, he’d practically reserved half the pub.

Since it was only just after six, we boldly sat down on one of the sacred tables. And as the pumpkin hour of 7PM grew nearer, it was only natural that we found ourselves referring more and more to the mysterious Simon. Our conversation was punctuated with things like “When Simon gets here, let’s see what he says!” or “Try tell that to Simon”. I began to to look forward to his arrival and imagined myself at future parties boasting “Yes, yes, of course I know Simon. He’s a personal friend. I party with him on reserved tables at the pub, like, all the time.

Bang on seven o’clock, a large group of people arrived to claim our table. 

“Which one of you is Simon?” I asked eagerly, perhaps too eagerly, scanning their faces but it turned out that Simon Himself was yet to arrive.

“He has a lot of friends!” I enthused, hoping to ingratiate myself with the party.

“Yes, Simon has a lot of male friends,” observed KC. She raised a fair point, albeit very loudly. You know, in the kind of voice that you might use to announce to a crowded room at the end of the night that you’d wet your pants shortly before you fall over. Anyway, the truth was there was not a single girl to be seen in the group.

“Oh, no, no, no…” Mzzzz E chided us as we grabbed our coats to leave. “I’m not picking up anything on my gaydar.” As the Ultimate Fag Slag, her gaydar is more finely tuned than most.

Anyway, since waiting to catch a glimpse of Simon would have meant standing around with drinks in our hands, we decided to leave. I have to admit I felt somewhat resentful of this large group of young men, so clean-cut and punctual, who all arrived together. I mean, had they all come to the pub as part of some Walking Bus? And where was this so-called Simon? Could he really have so many straight male friends? Perhaps they weren’t his friends at all and he’d just personally recruited them to take a personality test as part of Scientology’s pub outreach program…

These were just some of my thoughts as we walked away from the pub. Mzzzz E, who had other plans for the evening soon skipped off in a different direction, leaving KC and I to go on to dinner by ourselves, where we got turned away at the door of some trendy eatery, despite my claims that we were VIPs. Although I think I pronounced it as “vips” and not “veeps”. Which was probably a dead-give away that we weren’t VIPs at all. Stupid vips. Still, we went on to have a lovely evening elsewhere, thank you very much, Mr Maitre D’.

But the next morning, the truth about “Simon” dawned on me. I realised that, had I bothered to look over my shoulder at the point we parted ways with Mzzz E, I might have seen her turn around on her heels and, head held high and with a “Hello, I’m Simon!” name badge pinned proudly to her chest, head her way back to the the pub. I can’t claim that I have any idea what grand plans Mzzzzz E had for her young male minions, but I suspect that the world will be a better place because of them…

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Whoever invented the idea of TV series on DVD must have been a parent of small children. My husband and I have long since liberated ourselves from the fickle scheduling of the commercial networks and from the tyranny of little feet in the hallway that force us to mute the TV and miss a vital plot point.

For a long time it was The West Wing. I can’t say we remained untouched: we did a lot of walking and fast-talking and developed a tendency to suddenly launch into inspiring speeches making mention of Our Noble Forefathers and The Roots of Democracy.

Then we had a few series of Boston Legal (cue: lengthy ethical discussions, cigars and whisky on the balcony) and 30 Rock (I became smart, sassy and Tina Fey-esque and my husband wanted to wear an NBC Page’s uniform). 

And then finally, seven shameful years after it was first released, we discovered The Wire, which I honestly believe is some of the best television ever made – Dora The Explorer’s Pirate Adventure aside, of course, which can make grown men weep and go to war.

Of course, knowing there were only five series of The Wire and wanting it to last forever and ever and ever, I told my husband that we might have to eke it out a bit by mixing it up with Series 4 of Boston Legal. However, switching between the two, has resulted in this “series soup” in my mind which I call “Baltimore Legal”. For example:

SPADER: What the fuck’s up with that shit, Denny?

SHATNER: Oh, I’m just a humble motherfucker with a big-ass dick, Alan. 

And yes, this should give you some indication of how much effin’ and blindin’ there’s been in our household since we’ve been watching The Wire. Honestly, if the Australian Communications and Media Authority caught wind of it, they’d slap a “Contains Strong Language” warning sticker stuck on our front door (next to the black cross to indicate that the Gastro Plague lies within).  

CUT TO: our recent winter holiday (now known as “Spew Break” – thanks, KC), where I found myself being woken up the first night by the water pump turning itself on and off almost every minute. In the quiet country air, it was so loud that it sounded like a gun going off. And in my sleep-deprived state, it was like I was lying in bed in the low-rises of West Baltimore, staring up at the decaying foam mattress of the bunk above, with words like “water-pump torture” and “fuckin’ fucker mother water pump fucker” swarming through my head.

The next morning, my husband’s explanation about why the water pump would make such a noise so frequently went something like “The water pump… blah blah blah… syphon drawing up water blah blah blah… virtually undetectable water leak…blah blah blah… pressure switch ” but all I could think was “I’m gonna light that ass-sucker up like a mother fuckin’ Christmas Tree”. 

And sure enough, come Night Two, I sent my husband outside to take that mo’ fo’ pump down.  Of course, if we had only been watching Boston Legal, I might have felt compelled to give an impassioned plea on its behalf (e.g. “it was only doing its job” and “if we take down every water pump that makes a noise, then we may as well say goodbye to civilisation as we know it”.)

But no, we were channeling The Wire and that night, the pump was silenced for ever more (well, at least until morning). I think I even heard my husband mutter “It’s all in the game, yo” as he did it.

Because it is. All in the Game. Yo.

________________

The NDM wishes to advise readers that she and her husband still have three and a half series of “The Wire” remaining and that the ACMA’s Strong Language warning will uphold for the duration. After that, she’s planning to detox with the BBC’s “Pride and Prejudice”, starring Colin-Fucking-Firth. 

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