Archive for November, 2009

Every mother has to draw a line somewhere. For me, it’s drawn at sewing costumes for the ballet concert. Oh, don’t get me wrong: I’m happy to bake for the kindergarten stall and dress up for the School Bush Dance and even refrain from telling fart jokes to the Principal. But when it comes to becoming a one-woman sweat-shop chucking an all-nighter to hand-sew sequins on bow-ties? The. Line. Is. Drawn.

Of course, the fact that I can’t sew for shit is neither here nor there.

Anyway, for this year’s concert, I outsourced all sewing to my own mother with the thought that the worst of it had been dealt with. Now, I’d just have to show up on the night of the concert, sit back and enjoy the show, right?


Last week, I received a list of ‘costume extras’ in the dance school newsletter that has made me think of those ‘Scavenger Hunts’ I used to go on at university. Except I have to provide my own alcohol. The hardest item on the list to find, it turns out, is the “flesh-coloured underpants”. For a five year old. Because so many five year olds wear sheer clothing.

“Oh, NDM,” I can hear certain people say. “You can buy flesh-coloured underwear for pre-tweens at any specialty dance shop.”

Sure! As long as you don’t live in an area where the closest thing to a “specialty shop” is a Kebab House where you can choose between three different kinds of sauce on your lamb doner. Get a grip, people!

In any case, someone told me I could buy them at Target. But when I went there on a mercy dash the morning of the first dress rehersal with Tiddles McGee in tow, I couldn’t find anything remotely ‘flesh-coloured’, except, perhaps, if I were to paint my daughter hot pink.

After several agonising minutes, I settled on a shade of pink that might pass for ‘slightly sunburnt’ or ‘blushing with rage’ and Tiddles and I ran to the checkout (as fast as you can when you have to negotiate five aisles of toys in your path). And of course, because I was in such a hurry, the pair I’d selected was without that all important price-tag so a call had to be made to ‘Sonya’ in Children’s Wear for a price check.

Tiddles and I stood and waited. And waited. And then waited some more.

Then Tiddles McGee started tugging at the front of his shorts and in one of those cold flashes of memory, I realised I’d put him in underpants that morning, as part of me paying lipservice to the toilet training process now that he is three.

“Hang on, Tiddles,” I told him as we waited. And waited.

Finally it emerges that ‘Sonya’ is not rostered on today and another call for a price check is made, this time to ‘Rayleen’ in Children’s Wear. After a few more minutes of waiting (me) and tugging (Tiddles), “Rayleen” turned up… to take the underpants I wanted to buy all the way back to Children’s Wear to find the price. It was by this point I suspected it might have been quicker for me to have filled in a Target job application form, gotten interviewed and hired, done the price check myself and then handed in my resignation. Sheesh!

In the meantime, Tiddles was growing incredibly uncomfortable. “I think he’s about to blow!” I remarked to the checkout lady, wondering if I should ask her to call in a mop-up team as a pre-emptive measure.

“You know, we do have toilets in the store, ” the lady replied. “They’re in the far corner of the store, just next to Children’s Wear.”

At which point, I was almost tempted to piss on the floor myself in utter rage, except that ‘Rayleen’ finally turned up and I was able to pay for the underpants and, scooping up Tiddles McGee, run to the nearest toilets that weren’t the ones next to Children’s Wear, which would have just made me feel like a dog returning to its own vomit.

Luckily, Tiddles made it. Not so for the underpants I’d purchased, which were deemed by the Powers That Be to be “too pink”. And two days later, I ended up driving three suburbs away to a specialty shop where I paid a small fortune for a pair of knickers my daughter will probably only wear once while dancing to the beat of her own internal drum at the back of a crowded stage.

Now all I need is for someone to ask me to stay up the night before the concert hand-sewing sequins on said underpants and my happiness will be complete.

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I think we can all agree that there’s nothing like a Road Trip. Yep, nothing like it. Thank fuck. 

Especially when everyone in the car has started screaming – none more than you, the driver – before you even get to the end of your street. And then you still have two hours’ drive ahead of you with one child cheerfully announcing how many minutes are in each successive hour while another child complains about stomach cramps, and all you can think is “ Go Vomit On The Mountain” while still trying to show enthusiasm for the fact 16 hours equals 960 minutes. 

Still, as I’ve said before, getting there is half the fun. Which means that the other half of the fun is at your destination, right? 

Well, in this case, the destination – a beautiful holiday house my friends had rented – didn’t disappoint.

For one thing, there was a creek. My friend led us there on a pre-lunch walk with visions of us all gingerly dipping our toes in the water and maybe skimming stones along its glassy surface. But she didn’t factor in the instant effect any body of water has on my children – be it the size of the Pacific Ocean or a small puddle of unidentified liquid on the kitchen floor. Before we could say “sneaky little hobbitses”, Mr Justice had stripped off and was scrabbling around on the sharp rocks on all fours like Gollum with the others in close pursuit. And my friend also didn’t factor in the effect that my children’s water activities would have on my voice, making it all loud and very very shouty. Oh, happy days. 

But I always knew that bedtime was going to be the biggest challenge, for this was an overnight visit, you see. As night-time approached, I became a kind of Oracle and, in a somewhat trance-like state (i.e. slightly drunk), I predicted the following: “The youngest two children will run up and down the stairs until I grow angry and put the child-gate at the top. Then they will stand at the gate and shout. Maybe cry. Or do that shouting-cry that I love so very very much. And that will go on for a very long time indeed, maybe hours. After which, I will have to go up there and physically restrain them in their beds until they finally submit and accept Sleep as their Master.”

Which is pretty much what happened, although I skipped the child-gate/shouting-cry stage just to spare us all from permanent damage to our eardrums.

Anyway, I went on to spend the night flitting between beds: Tiddles McGee is a high-maintenance sleeper at the best of times and The Pixie got all restless and started running a fever. And then I remembered her stomach cramps complaint and began to worry she was going to vomit and tried to work out a Vomit Action Plan which identified the best vomit receptacle in the room, which items of furniture to avoid at all costs and whether I had brought enough change of clothes in the event of “splashage” (or worse). And then I started to worry about driving home the next day alone with vomiting kids (because already, I’d assumed that of course they’d all come down with it) and how I’d manage it after having no sleep. And then I started worrying that all this worrying about not getting any sleep was actually preventing me from getting any sleep and slowly, but surely, my mind got more knotted up than Tiddles McGee’s baby hair, all with a mosquito flying in and out of my ear and an angle-parking Tiddles McGee kicking me in the kidneys.

And after hours of this worry (or so it seemed), I somehow managed to remember that worrying about something before it happened was futile and how I should just roll with the punches and go with the flow (even if that flow ended up being a Type 3 Vomit). It was like so much of parenting – if I let myself be paralyzed by all the things that possibly could go wrong, then I’d never leave the house. Like ever. 

And after that illuminating thought, sleep finally came – albeit punctuated by the occasional kick to the kidneys. And the vomit that I was so worried about never arrived. And the morning brought us a happy breakfast with friends ’round a large sunny table and then other adventures too, including an incident involving the purchase of sugar-coated jam donuts on the drive home. But that, my friends, is a story for another day.

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I think I understand the real reason why Samson never cut his hair. It’s because his mother wouldn’t let him. No, really. There’s something about a little boy’s first hair cut that jettisons him away from his mother’s arms towards adulthood and Samson’s mum knew that. 

It is not surprising, then, that I did some top-class procrastinating when it came to the cutting of Tiddles McGee’s baby hair. I’m really very extremely adept at avoiding things that I don’t want to do. Unfortunately, those very same procrastination skills were also applied to the brushing of said hair and it was rumoured there were many small birds in the neighbourhood who were seriously considering making it their summer residence. I even contemplated using the back of his hair as a cup-holder a number of times. Yes, it really was getting that bad. 

And so, last week, my husband manfully took charge of the situation and cut away McGee’s somewhat dread-locked mane with his clippers. And there, underneath all that hair, we found ourselves a Big Boy. 

And today, that Big Boy turns three. 

It’s all been a bittersweet pill to swallow, my friends. A bittersweet pill, indeed – especially since Mr Justice has ceased to acknowledge me at all in public (see “Too Cool At School“). I mean, if he’s like this at seven, it’s entirely likely he will have changed his identity and moved continents by the age of fourteen just to get the hell away from me. 

Tiddles McGee has been my consolation through all this. 

You still love, Mama… don’t you my iddle-widdle Tiddles?” I’ve often cooed to him, while trying to nurse him in my arms like a baby and vaguely wondering if Norman “Psycho” Bates was a youngest child. (Answer: highly likely). 

And Tiddles still does love his Mama. He still curls himself in a little ball on my lap and tries to tuck himself into me. He still cries when I leave the house without him. He still rushes at me with open-mouthed kisses, full of love and just a bit too much saliva.

And today he is three. 

Now I know you’re probably all thinking that Tiddles McGee deserves a nom de guerre more fitting a boy of his advancing years and Big Boy haircut than “Tiddles”. But sorry, folks, he ain’t gonna have one. No matter how big he gets, no matter how many degrees he receives or countries he invades or Cannonball-style roadtrip movies he ends up making, he’ll always be my Tiddles McGee. Fact. 

And now he is THREE. 

The road to three-dom has been hard for Tiddles McGee, who has had to endure a whole string of other (lesser) birthdays in the lead up to his own: his father’s, his brother’s, his sister’s and, most recently, mine. Why, just last Friday, he walked into my bedroom with the rest of the family, singing “Happy Birthday To You!” only to crumple into a heap of inconsolable sobbing at the end of the third line when he realised the song was for Mummy and not for him. The injustice of it all!

But today, Tiddles McGee, the song is all for you. Happy Birthday! Now, come give your mama a huggle and a big sloppy kiss on the lips. There’s a good boy. 

So, you’re really three now, huh?

Oh, my aching heart. 

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18 years ago, on the night before my 21st birthday, I had a dream in which some unidentified person asked me to define God. My answer was this: “God is like playing hide and seek with your sister. You walk into the room and it feels like she’s everywhere and nowhere all at the same time.”

Now, before anyone goes thinking I am anything other than terminally agnostic, I should counter-balance this dream with the fact that my daughter asked me just yesterday what a Baby Teaser was. Turns out her friend has a favourite song about “some Baby Teasers in a manger”. Need I say more?

Anyway, I found myself recalling that dream the other day  – and not because my birthday was approaching and I was taking stock of the scant moments of profundity I’ve had in my 39 years on this planet (“There is such a thing as too much tequila” possibly being the only other one).

I thought of the dream because Mr Justice decided at the last minute that he wanted to take his remote-controlled Batman car in for Show And Tell. After a widespread search of the House That Ate Paris, we managed to only find the car but not the remote control. And in my mind, I had one of those cinematic montage’o’memories sequences as I remembered all the places I had ever seen the damn thing: languishing in a corner, at the bottom of the Barbie box, underneath Mr Justice’s bed, in “time out” on a high shelf… As Mr Justice himself exclaimed: “I’ve seen it at least four times in the last year!”

So yes, I found myself thinking that the remote control felt like it was everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Just like God. Now I don’t know about God (terminally agnostic, remember?), but in the end, the remote control was mostly nowhere and Mr Justice was forced to change his S&T plans. 

Of course I managed to wander around the house the rest of the day, still searching, searching, searching … in much the way someone might wander vaguely about looking for scissors, making that scissors action with their fingers. I began cursing that the stupid remote control wasn’t attached to the stupid car, except then it wouldn’t have been a “remote” control and therefore be even stupider. And to add insult to injury, in my travels around the house, I kept finding all the other stupid items I’d recently searched high and low for without success – except now, when I no longer needed them and just the very sight of them hurt me

Anyway, all that aside, today is my 39th birthday. Unlike most people, I tend to make New Year’s Eve-type resolutions on my birthday. Mostly because my birthday is exactly seven weeks before Christmas and  I am incredibly unlikely to do anything rash or stupid like try to give up alcohol or butter. 

So here are my Birthday Resolutions for the year leading up to the Big Four-Oh:

  • try not to use the words “ARSE”, “BUM” or “PISS” around my children or the Principal of my child’s school;
  • stop wearing my maternity trousers;
  • get a hair cut (since it’s been about 15 months since my last one, that’s harder than it sounds);
  • keep this blog going without upsetting anyone I love or inviting legal action;
  • find the perfect pair of red shoes to turn 40 in;
  • stop calling everything STUPID except when really absolutely necessary;
  • find the stupid remote control for the stupid Batman car. 

Happy Birthday, Me.

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There is a very good reason I rarely wear my halterneck dress. It’s because I don’t have a proper bra for it and going without a bra makes me feel like two jellies on a plate and that there is just one press-stud between me and a genuine “Zapped” moment. 

And yet I wore the halterneck dress (bra-less) to the small “Melbourne Cup Day” gathering at KT’s house yesterday. I guess I figured that, since there were only going to be a handful of close friends in attendance, nobody could get hurt. 

However, I hadn’t taken The Pixie’s Tuesday night dancing class into consideration when choosing my outfit. Normally, I might have let The Pixie skip the class so we could continue making merry at KTs but a recent newsletter had stressed that no child was to miss a class between now and the concert in four weeks’ time. It was italicised and maybe even underlined. And everyone knows that once you’ve italicised and underlined something, it’s The Law.

I also hadn’t taken into consideration the fact that, although my husband drove us all, it would be me that would take The Pixie into the class. Nor had I foreseen that my husband would pull a swifty on me and I would find myself agreeing to walk home from the dance class so he could run some errands. Or that I would somehow agree to take Tiddles McGee with me, too. 

“But hey!” I reassured myself, as I walked towards the hall in my Melbourne Cup finery. “Everyone gets dressed up and has a flutter and a tipple on Cup Day. Why, it’s positively un-Australian not to!”

Well, try telling that to the mothers at the dance school. There wasn’t a wilting fascinator or over-jauntisized hatinator amongst them. And no-one was smelling of wine or slurring their speech or flashing their cleavage in a “Hello Boys!” fashion. Not a single one. It was like they’d all spent the day in a state of active readiness for taking their daughter to the dance class and not done it in an “Oh, shit! Ballet’s on in fifteen minutes” type addendum to their drinking activities. 

I also hadn’t reckoned on The Pixie having a violent change of heart about going into her class. Or that she would cry and cling to me, begging me for “one last huggle” and pull so hard on my dress that I would feel that sickening “click” of the single press-stud at the top of the dress coming undone. Or that when I squatted down in front of her in order to prevent the inevitable next tug from pulling down the whole dress, that she would do that annoying thing where she climbs onto me while I’m squatting, sending us both sprawled on the floor in front of a room full of onlookers, with one of my breasts making a bid for freedom. 


Of course, by the time I’d finally managed to sort out my dress and prise The Pixie off me and into her class, the invisible batton had been passed onto McGee and he cried and carried on so much that I ended up having to carry all 15kg of him all the way home whilst wearing heels and the only good thing about it all was that he at least covered my cleavage. Which is more than you can say for my dress. 

Next Cup Day, I’m definitely wearing a muumuu.

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My husband and I recently found ourselves at a party filled with people way more famous and successful than we could ever be. But since nobody was announced as they arrived (as you would hope at such an event), we had no way of recognising most of them.

However, my husband did think he saw the lead singer from Pseudo Echo, which probably won’t mean anything to you if you didn’t grow up in Australia in the 80s. And actually, even if you did grow up in Australia in the 80s, it probably still won’t mean much to you. But it did to my husband — until I told him that “Funky Town” was a cover version and he grew incredibly hostile towards the (alleged) lead singer of Pseudo Echo and his fellow band-members, who may or may not have also been in attendance at the party except that we had no way of recognising them. Sheesh!

Anyway, somewhat bolstered by my recent  triumph on Mamamia (see “News Flash!” for more info), I decided that if anyone at the party asked me the dreaded question “What do you do?” I would say proudly “I’m a blogger.” But of course I didn’t. When someone did finally ask, I ended up saying “Oh, I’m at home with the kids” and then, in a slightly squeaky voice, “But I have a blog too!”. And the person I was talking to all but patted me on the head and said “Yes, it’s important to have a little project when you’re at home with the kids, isn’t it.”

“Uh, yes. Yes, it is,” was my meek reply.  

On the way home, my husband discussed how we’d felt a bit like pretenders at the party and how it was a relief to cross the river that divides our fair city back to where we belonged. 

“The truth is we don’t fit in here either,” I lamented. “We are so faux-gan!“. Which was referring to a phrase I had coined one afternoon when I realised how we were just wannabe bogans living in a bogan suburb. 

And then my husband and I started bandying around some other “faux” words and I decided to write a post about them. Just like that. 

Unfortunately, after a quick internet search, I found out that someone else had pipped me to the post with “Fauxgan”. And, indeed, other words that we came up with such as “Fauxmosexual”, “Fauxhawk”, “Fauxcialist”, “Fauxhemian” and “Kung Faux” also  yielded thousands of google results. 

Still, I persisted – for better or worse – and here is the list of my faux-vourite things:

Faux-go dancer – a go-go dancer without appropriate footwear. 

Faux-a-constricta – a term for small grass snakes who think they’re much harder and tougher than they really are (the human equivalent is “Mo Faux”, which unfortunately already has 33,700 google results). 

David Fauxie – a Bowie impersonator or anything by Tin Machine. 

Fauxloween – the way in which Halloween is celebrated in countries where no such tradition exists except through the power of in-store merchandising. 

Fauxlasses – when you have to substitute treacle or golden syrup for molasses in a recipe. 

Fauxmittee – a kindergarten or school committee whose soul purpose is to get together and get rat-arsed drunk. 

Fauxrensics – as featured in those police shows with female forensic experts who have long free-flowing hair which would most certainly contaminate the crime scene. 

Fauxsama bin Laden – a terrorist who manages to get caught. 

Fauxnogamy – another word for adultery or for couples who swing but don’t tell anyone about it.

Fauxvember – when you try to raise money by growing a moustache as part of “Movember” and you either buckle and shave it off before the end of the first week or you produce nothing but bum-fluff. 

Little Faux Peep – a shepherdess who claims to have lost her sheep but is actually just trying to pull an insurance scam. 

Iced Faux Faux – an Iced Vo Vo biscuit without icing, jam or coconut and which is, in fact, just a plain Milk Arrowroot. 

Fauxriginal – when something, such as a word, is touted as an original creation but already exists, say, as an entry in the Urban Dictionary. For example. 

So there you go. Next time someone asks me the “What do you do?” question at a party, I can say proudly “You know the term faux-a-constricta? That’s one of mine.”

That’ll put the (alleged) lead singer of Pseu-faux Ech-faux in his place. “Faux-nky Town” indeed!

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News Flash!

Last Friday, I was given the blogging equivalent of a Pupil Of The Week award. You see, I managed to get a guest post published on Mia Freedman’s site “Mamamia” by walking a very fine line between begging Mia and stalking her. Anyway, you can read it here. And be sure to give it a 5 star rating while you’re there, okay? It already has 13, and at least two of them weren’t given by me.

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