Monthly Archives: November 2012

A mutiny at playgroup . . .

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Playgroup is a strange beast – equal parts distraction, gossip, support and escapism.

It’s subject to the same worries and woes of any workplace – clashes of personality, differences of opinion, out and out tiffs.

But lately, I’ve noticed another element creeping into the mix. It’s just a tiny dash of . . . boredom.

I say this in hushed tones for fear of being labelled a traitor. After all, playgroup has been a great source of fun and friendship. It’s meant to be the place where people are at their most understanding and non-judgemental.

But, if I hear another discussion about blankies, dummies or potties, there is a very good chance I will quietly implode.

To explain myself, my youngest child is almost ready for school so a lot of these issues are a distant memory and I’ve worked very hard at forgetting them. And I’m sure I’ve done my share of boring other people with the details, but as of today, I’m declaring a stop to it.

Like fingernails on a chalkboard, the next time I hear one of these topics pop up I will be the person who suddenly and inexplicably volunteers to sift the sandpit for lost toys, clean the cubby with a toothbrush and hunt down that elusive mouse that calls the playgroup kitchen home.

If you’re passing by and see a sudden puff of smoke where a person once stood, you’ll know I didn’t make my escape in time.

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Hello, Paul Henry . . . and goodbye

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Alas, the time we’ve shared has been brief. Less than a year. But, oh, the memories.

Since February, with the launch of ‘Breakfast’, you’ve brought a unique spin to the world of early morning television.

Sometimes screwball, sometimes rude, often cheeky and regularly controversial – you have been a shining light amongst breakfast hosts.

You gave us an alternative to the saccharine schmaltz dealt out daily on one opposing station and the whiffy cheese approach dished up by another.

When one channel was waxing lyrical in a sea of political correctness, you were cheerfully taking a swipe, having a dig and rolling out your own unique style of commentary.

While the other stations were laughing too long and too hard at their own jokes, you were making TV worth watching.

Along with your fabulous foil, one Kathryn Robinson, you gave us thought provoking, self-deriding, rebellious TV. What a way to start the day!

I didn’t always agree with your point of view, but with that delivery I couldn’t help but smile.

So what do I do now that the landscape of breakfast television has changed forever?

I can’t go back to the way things were before. I think a little part of me might die if I’m forced to watch another minute of those other TV hosts cooing and drooling over themselves and each other.

Come back, Paul Henry. Don’t cross the ditch. There must be another way!

 

Never say no to dessert . . .

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Rice pudding bowl

Rice pudding bowl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If every meal started with dessert, I’d be a very happy diner.

Unfortunately, due to some slap-dash decree dished out in a fit of pique by some disgruntled lemon-sucking, happy-hater (who was never hugged enough as a child), dessert comes last. And only if you’ve finished your dinner.

I have often wished that even on my nights out with ‘the girls’ I had the backbone to buck tradition and order from the dessert menu when they were all being very grown up and trying to decide which meal would best complement their choice of wine.

I’m not unfamiliar with the sugar high that goes with my passion for desserts. It is, in its own way, as intoxicating as a nice bottle of bubbles. But I digress.

My love of dessert has inspired a new tradition in our family. And so we have – drum roll please – the quad-annual family cook-off. Every member of the family picks a dish we’ve never tried before and cooks it during the holidays.

I can’t tell you how proud I was when four out of my five family members chose desserts. There may have been tears shed. I’m sure there was extra pocket money involved.

So, first cab off the rank – baked rice pudding. I was nominated to make this one which is somewhat confusing as baked rice pudding is one of the rare desserts that I don’t like. But, with a little candied peel and a heavy-handed dose of spice, it actually tasted pretty good.

Next cab off the rank – strawberry sorbet. At the time of tasting I was convinced it could not be bettered.

Third competitor, I mean participant – baked cheesecake. So good, so rich and so lovely we could only eat a little before inviting some friends around to help us finish it.

Entry number four was inspired by a home cooking show and produced ice-cream that looked like a slice of water melon. It was good to look at, the kids loved it, but we couldn’t finish it. The image of red and green colouring melting together on a plate didn’t inspire a race to the finish line.

And so we came to cook-off entrant number five – the only person to select a savoury dish, namely Moroccan beef kofta. It was a masterpiece followed by a Jamie Oliver inspired dessert – Eton mess -because we happened to have all the ingredients lying around. And I’m glad we did.

Now, if I had to pick a favourite I’d have to say . . . one of each.

Surviving the meltdown

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The pre-schooler is losing it over some perceived wrong. I can’t remember who’s to blame and I’ve lost the will to figure it out.

If nothing else, it has helped generate the following:

My best and most wisest advice for surviving the pre-schooler meltdown:

  1. As your pre-schooler does his best imitation of a caged alley cat, it’s time to breathe . . . and enjoy a self-deriding chuckle as you remember a time when you thought you were in charge. Ah, memories.
  2. Take a time out. Not the pre-schooler. You. Why should the pre-schooler have all the peace and quiet?
  3. Bargain, bribe, barter. The books say otherwise, but how will they ever know? And what right do these faceless and distant experts have to judge you anyway?
  4. Sing. Anything will do. The more annoying the better. Something retro, maybe. Something you and the pre-schooler will not be able to get out of your heads for the rest of the day. Some early Kylie Minogue, anyone?
  5. Nod patiently and pat pre-schooler’s head. This will not work but a little, gentle mockery always makes you feel better.
  6. We’re half way through the list of my best and most wisest advice and the meltdown continues. It’s time to retreat. To the wine cabinet! Without delay.
  7. Uh-oh! The meltdown’s gone up a notch. Now is your chance to imitate pre-schooler in midst of meltdown. This may be the perfect circuit breaker. Or not.
  8. Oh, well. It was worth a try. Let’s zone out and spend a while plotting the ways in which you will embarrass above-mentioned pre-schooler during and throughout their teenage years.
  9. Speak calmly yet firmly to pre-schooler (while secretly patting self on back for ability to do so while simultaneously entertaining thoughts of the wine cabinet)
  10. We’ve fallen asleep sobbing (you/him/you and him). Let’s just start over. Deep breath everyone . . .

Footnote: There are no guarantees the above strategies will work or even help. In fact, they probably won’t. Best just muddle on through and enjoy the good bits when they pop up.

 

The back flip phenomenon . . .

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Something puzzling occurred this week.

I can’t explain why or how, but I found myself saying ‘yes’ to a whole lot of things I would normally avoid.

My spirit of generosity has done a back flip.

In the past seven days I’ve offered to put together a landscaping proposal for my kids’ school, I’ve joined the fundraising committee and volunteered to sew costumes for the end of year concert.

I even contemplated canteen duty but an overwhelming fear of accidentally giving away all the profits in small change stopped me in my tracks.

Maybe it’s the season (of giving and all that), perhaps it’s the guilt-inducing example set by others or it could be just the unexpected after-effect of this week’s solar eclipse. I don’t know.

Another thing I don’t know is where I’m going to find the time for all this extra stuff.

Actually, I do know – it’s coming straight out of my regular sleep quota. Every morning at 4am I am now wide awake and stewing over the details of whatever project is more urgent.

Right now, I can see a map of the school grounds trying to get my attention from a far flung corner of the desk. I’ll have to go. Someone’s gotta decide the best location for a totem pole amidst of a sea of native grasses.

Apparently that person is me . . .

A sporting dream sidelined . . .

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It’s finally dawned on me. I’ll never be an elite athlete.

It seems the clock has ticked, the back has sticked, the knees are wricked and my sporting career is flicked.

It’s a sad day. Maybe others saw it coming.

But I’m sitting here in my ergonomic chair with the computer screen magnified to 120 per cent waiting for the aspirin to kick in and wondering where the time went.

In my youth (wasted though it was) I loved sport. Just not the sports my parents signed me up for.

To clarify. I loved solo sports – cycling, running . . . even swimming (so long as I never had to put my face in the water). Thank god for backstroke.

But the options now have narrowed.

Lawn bowls? No. Archery? Uh uh. Dog-sledding. Is that even a sport? The answer’s still no.

They say running after kids is its own form of fitness. But when they spend their spare time playing computer games, watching DVDs or howling in their bedrooms because getting along is just not an option, well, there’s just not that much running to do.

So much easier to just reach into the pantry, snuffle the treats you don’t want the kids to get and work off the guilt later in a flurry of housework.

Anyway. I’m off. I could walk to school to pick up the kids, but I think I’ll drive. If my sporting career is over, there’s not much point aggravating that pesky apathy injury.