Monthly Archives: February 2013

In the line of duty

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Donald Bradman, australian cricket player. pho...

Donald Bradman, australian cricket player. photo from 30s or 40s – public domain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have acquired my first cricketing injury. In fact, this may be my first sporting injury (if you don’t count the battered ego I endured after landing squarely on my derriere during a game of twilight hockey many years ago*).

Anyways, back to the cricketing catastrophe. It all unfolded on a cold and rainy evening earlier this week.

In a bid to bolster my son’s fledgling sporting career I agreed to field while he sent some super-sonic deliveries across the lounge room to his dad.

I’m not sure exactly what happened next but I think a rogue bucket of Lego may have had something to do with it. Suffice to say, I crash tackled the sideboard and ended up in the bucket of Lego. Days later I’m still in pain. But I console myself with the knowledge that if we want to raise an opening batsmen, this is what it takes.

And I fully intend to take credit for his achievements at a future press conference. No pressure.

The same is true of my girls and their swimming. I cheer them along as they bust a gut from one end of the pool to the other, all the while thinking to myself “at last, all that money spent on swimming lessons is paying off”. And when they stand on an Olympic winner’s podium you can bet I’ll be there saying “that’s my kid”. Again, not much pressure.

Now, I don’t want to come across as one of those crazy (yes, I said it) goal oriented, outcome driven super-mums who lives vicariously through their children. But I am looking forward to the successes of my kids (whatever they may be) and the chance to say that I was there when it all began.

*Footnote: There was one upside to the whole twilight hockey incident – I managed to collide with the cutest guy in the competition – a story which became the subject of many late night conversations with my school friends. Ah, memories!

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A dose of fashion nostalgia

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I have a request for any designer folk out there. If it’s within your power please, please bring back the safari suit.

They say that fashions come around again and I’m counting on it. The safari suit ticks so many boxes I can scarcely believe it went out of fashion at all.

Firstly – all those pockets. Any parent will tell you they never have enough pockets for everything they need. By the time you load up with snacks, drinks, Matchbox cars, band aids, tissues, hand-wipes, bribes, the rock collection a certain someone wouldn’t leave home without, a hair-brush, sunscreen, lip balm, I-pod, phone and the obligatory kitchen sink . . . there’s simply not a spot to spare for any extras.

Secondly – it makes sense. This is a suit that tips its colour co-ordinated safari hat to the corporate and leisure worlds. How many outfits could take you from tropical oasis to boardroom as easily as a safari suit? With its short sleeves and shorter shorts, it’s office wear ideal for the long hot summer.

Thirdly – and perhaps most delightfully – a ready supply of safari suits is already at hand. The racks at local op-shops are bending low under the weight of abandoned polyester making this a fashion that could leap back to life with only the tiniest of nudges.

Wear it with a touch of nostalgia, a hint of irony or an oblivious air of practicality and common sense. But wear it with pride (and the knowledge that whatever you or your child needs – it’s there, stashed in a pocket somewhere).

Imagination takes flight

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Cockatoo with character

Cockatoo with character (Photo credit: ash-s)

There are days when I can’t get my kids out the door fast enough. They’ve argued since dawn, treated the kitchen like a café and the lounge room like a three ring circus.

We hear the school bell from our house and still my kids move at a snail’s pace. On a typical day, the clock is counting down and I’m on edge.

But today was NOT one of those days.

Our youngest decided to fill a few spare moments (when he probably should have been packing his bag) climbing on the backyard swing-set.

The next thing I heard was screeching. And it wasn’t him. A collection of pink cockatoos had gathered on the TV aerial atop our house.

My husband, who is something of a twitcher, has taught our kids how to make a particular sound that attracts the attention of birds. It’s a bit like the whistle you do before you learn how to whistle.

Sure enough, the little man was perched on the swing-set doing his best bird whistle. And the birds were responding. Every now and then they would all look his way and listen intently. It was a sight to behold.

When the birds eventually flew away, he raced inside and grabbed the big book of birds, tracked down the page he needed and stared in awe and wonder.

A little bit of nature had just visited his backyard.

And yep, we were late to school. Notes had to be signed, explanations given. But our youngest had a fabulous story to tell.

Lost without my laptop

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MSI laptop computer

MSI laptop computer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve had time to ponder my internal dialogue just recently. No, I’m not on some existential quest for enlightenment or journey of self discovery. The reason is much simpler. My laptop has been in the shop for repairs.

Suddenly I’ve had time on my hands, time that would normally be spent writing, researching and seeking answers to those big questions that only the good old internet can provide.

With time to spare, it seems one question comes to mind with alarming regularity – “I wonder what Google would say about that?”

It seems that Google has taken up residence in almost every aspect of my daily life.

Can Google offer some inspiration for the kids’ lunch boxes? Has Google got an address for the kids’ favourite singer so they can send some fan mail? Is there any solution out there for the ongoing problem of kids who are incapable of identifying mess yet comfortable living in it?

Surely Google knows. Google knows everything.

But when the laptop is down, Google is silent.

Without an excuse to track down random pieces of information I have time for other things. Shocking, isn’t it?

I’ve finally finished a book that’s been gathering dust on my book shelf for years. I’ve had time to peruse the contents of the pantry and find a use for those decade-old, tinned asparagus stalks. And I’ve cleaned under the couch only to discover that my kids are even more immune to mess than I originally thought.

But now the laptop is back. My missing limb reinstated. And Google has been getting a workout.

Absence made the heart grow fonder but I couldn’t have lasted much longer.

 

 

Party politics (for kids)

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I love a good party. Cake, candy and conversation – it’s simple really.

Well, that’s what I thought when I started planning for my daughter’s birthday. Then the requests started coming.

“Mum, can I have my party at the pool? The zoo? The play centre?”

“Mum, can I have a Doctor Who cake? An echidna cake? A princess fairy castle cake?”

“Mum, can I invite Sally, Cally, Molly, Holly, Tammy, Sammy, Pixie, Trixie, Zoe, Chloe . . . ?”

“Mum? Mum? Mum? Mum? Muuuuuuuuum?!*@?”

Please, make it stop.

The first and most difficult hurdle was the guest list. We had to keep it short, but that meant choosing between friends and friends-of-friends. Disappointment somewhere along the line was inevitable.

Next issue to be tackled was the theme which would invariably influence the venue. There was talk of a dance party, a glamour party, a rock and roll party, a disco and a sleep-over. Her friends had done it all before, so why couldn’t she?

After much discussion (and a little bit of coercion) the birthday girl opted for a movie night . . . at home.

I breathed a sigh of relief then set about decorating the house in-keeping with the movie. It took a full day but we turned our house into a jungle and probably cut down a small forest in the process.

Then came news that there was another party on the same night – and the guest lists overlapped. The birthday girl was reeling but five of her six friends stayed true so the turmoil was brief.

But what about a cake? Photographs appeared out of nowhere. Elaborate pieces of cake-making artistry well beyond my humble abilities – tiered, personalised, themed to perfection.

We settled on cupcakes. Home-made, topped with green icing, chocolate eggs and shop-bought sugar flowers.

And party bags? If you’re partying in a jungle, you may well need a survival kit and that’s exactly what they got.

My stress level was high. Sleep quota was low. But satisfaction when the birthday girl smiled made it all worthwhile.

Now, just a few more months until we do it all again for the youngest.

The 30-year-old* novice

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Makeup artists brush kit.

Makeup artists brush kit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No-one likes to admit they have a gaping hole in their cache of basic life skills. But I do. And it’s been weighing on my mind a little heavier these past few years.

Makeup.

The only advice my mother ever gave me on the subject was this – “put some lipstick on or you’ll look half dead”.

She’s really a caring woman, but makeup just doesn’t rate amongst her priorities.

So here I am, wafting through my 30s, quite bereft of the basic skills to make the best of what life has dealt me.

I don’t know the difference between foundation and concealer, though I own tubes of both. I’m told I need powder and liners of all descriptions. I have a tub of brush-on-radiance that never gets the chance to shine and my collection of lipsticks looks nothing like the fashions I see in the magazines and on TV.

I would like to wander into the chemist and ask the beautifully presented makeup artists exactly where to start. But, they seem to assume a certain (basic) level of knowledge before you even walk in the door. It’s embarrassing.

From time to time, I have tried to make an effort. The latest and most crushing incident occurred back in November. Suffice to say – I tried, I failed, there were photographs taken. I don’t want to think about it. And yet, here we are.

I guess there’s only one thing for it. Firstly, admit my age (30* might have been under-cooking it a bit, but we’re all friends, so let’s move on). Secondly, I shall avoid the unkind glare of the shopping centre lights until I can face up to it with some degree of confidence. And thirdly, bite the bullet and ask for help.

I’ve got to make up for lost time.

Hooked on books . . .

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So my holiday reading list lasted about three days.

Matthew Reilly was as reliable as ever with Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves. His love of weaponry and all their acronyms proved endearing and the fast-paced action propelled me through until the end. Frankly, Mr Reilly, you had me at Scarecrow.

Miranda Hart’s autobiography Is It Just Me? was a rollicking read. Her chapter on weight loss, though brief, was highly practical – eat less, exercise more. Now you know.

I suspect she began writing the book when composing a letter to your younger self was in vogue. However, by the time it had reached publication, the premise was a bit naff, so no mention of it during the book’s promotion. Never mind. You don’t see many of these offerings where the younger self talks back and expresses her disappointment at how bits of her life have turned out. It was all in good fun.

Last on my list was The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. This one was the tear-jerker my sister promised it would be. It was simple, heartfelt and beautiful all at once. A quick read, but a lingering memory.

Well, that took three days. What to do next? Hit up the kids’ book shelves, of course!

Andy Griffiths (the author, not the similarly named actor) knows how to turn gross into fabulous with alarming ease. He takes the worst case scenario and tries to figure out how it could possibly be even more unpleasant, life-threatening or stomach churning. There should be more of this in adult fiction! I read my way through Just Tricking and Just Doomed along with The Very Bad Book, The 13 Storey Treehouse and its sequel. Safe to say I will be following them up with some of his other titles.

All in all, the holiday reading proved very therapeutic and a fabulous distraction from warring children.

Now how long til the next holidays?