Category Archives: Kids

The case for cats . . .

English: Young male tabby cat

English: Young male tabby cat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Owing to the backlash from last week’s blog, I have decided to dig deep and balance the scales on the whole ‘dog versus cat’ debate. I can’t make any promises, but here goes . . .

In my lifetime I’ve known several cats. There was Gustav, a white cat with shoe-polish ears; Symphony, a long-haired tortoise-shell with questionable night-time habits; Adolphus, a tabby with attitude to spare and his adopted brother Patches, a black and white feline – deaf as a doornail – who spent his days either sleeping on top of the fridge or taking pot shots at passers-by. As cats go, they were . . . cats.

My sister (the main source of last week’s backlash) was the owner of two more felines – Tinkerbell and Jakey. If there was a cat that was going to swing my opinion it would be one of those two. Before there were kids in my sister’s household, there were cats and as they grew so did the family. They were a yardstick – and occasional gearstick* – in her happy home.

This, I understand. Cats and dogs are there through all the good, bad and middling bits. Their presence is attached to memories of all sorts of events that span the years. Whether they’re watching from a perch on top of the fridge, curled up at the foot of the bed or laying claim to the best seat on the couch, they are still a member of the household.

In my sister’s words:

“It’s not that cats are better than dogs, they’re just different.”

Besides, no-one said you couldn’t love a furry tyrant bent on world domination.

Meow. 🙂


*I searched high and low for a picture of a cat in the gearstick pose. Sadly, no luck. You’ll just have to imagine it for yourself.


The gift that gives twice

Gifted Magazine

Gifted Magazine (Photo credit: Creature Comforts)

Mothers’ Day has been and gone. So what have we learned?

The answer is simple – the best gift of all is the gift you’d give to yourself.

I awoke on Mothers’ Day to a tepid cup of tea made direct from the tap and a bowl of soggy cereal lovingly carted up the stairs and liberally dripped all over them.

Sleep in? What sleep in? They were bouncing on the bed in no time demanding that I get up and open their presents.

Okay, okay. First up was a little wooden box lovingly decorated with whale stickers. This was a treat! The youngest has an un-abiding passion for sea creatures. So, for him to share his sticker collection was a big step indeed. There were hushed discussions at the foot of the bed about wanting his killer whale sticker back, but his sister held firm. “You can’t have it yet!” she said.

Next up was an origami cup with personalised tea bag. Lipton’s tag had been replaced by another reading ‘Enjoy you cuppa’ on one side and ‘I love you’ on the other. Aw, shweet!

Last but not least was a multi-media canvas featuring hearts, spots, squiggles and more.

After much admiration, the energetic trio left me in peace to enjoy my morning cuppa and by the time I was finished – it had long turned cold – I was ready to find new homes for my prezzies. But where had they gone?

A little investigation revealed that my sea creature box now had pride of place on the youngest child’s book shelf and was already loaded up with treasures. My tea bag had relocated to the mid-kid’s room amongst a collection of other bits and bobs while the canvas adorned the wall of the eldest child’s room.

It’s the gesture that counts after all. 🙂

Have tent, will travel . . .

Eucalyptus camaldulensis (River Red Gum)

Eucalyptus camaldulensis (River Red Gum) (Photo credit: Arthur Chapman)

Someone said “camping” and I found myself agreeing to three days and two nights in the great outdoors. But not without some trepidation.

I should point out that the last time I went camping was in 1991. It was a school trip. We spent two nights shivering under canvas at the base of a dam wall – anything could have happened. And it did.

Between tent-hopping twins, the joys of public shower facilities and the ever present threat of dam wall collapse we spent our time variously hiking, freezing and starving.

I’ve never been so happy to see the not-so-bright-lights of home.

Fast forward to last week’s grand adventure and I found myself hunkered down under canvas once more. No dam wall hanging over our shoulders this time but the ever present threat of venomous tent guests, fast flowing river currents just metres from our door and a forest of trees with a tendency to drop their limbs when you least expect it.

After a night of all-too-frequent trips to the loo (thanks to the mid-kid and her nervous bladder) we headed to the river for a spot of fishing. All was going well until the youngest realised that once you fish them out, they never go back in. There were tears. His world would never be the same again.*

Night two and we spent an hour spotting kangaroos out on the sandhills. With the count nearing one hundred we returned to camp and settled in once more. Surely they would sleep tonight.

Ah, no. The youngest slept soundly. But the mid-kid was anxious about her nervous bladder which only made matters worse. The eldest talked more in her sleep than she does in the everyday and the husband developed a tummy bug.

Oh the joys of camping. Apparently it went so well, we’re doing it again. Soon.

*Now every meal is preceded by the question “What did we kill for this?”

The secret of success

Hollywood Sign

Hollywood Sign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve had a revelation! After years of watching reality TV I’ve realised that the only thing standing between me and success is an awesome backstory! It seems that anyone who’s anyone has suffered for their art.

The only trouble I see is this – looking back through my own life story, I’m struggling to find some angst – any angst – that would qualify.

I’ve looked into addiction – but the closest I’ve ever come to any sort of substance abuse is my lifelong dependence on a long, hot cup of tea. Seven cups a day. Mmm-hmm! I tried to give up once, but after enduring a hellish 24-hour headache, I fell off the wagon with a sickening Darjeeling thud.

My next thought was homelessness – but, while we’ve moved around a lot, I’ve always had a roof over my head. I did try sleeping in a tent once. That ended badly, no-one got much sleep, but I don’t think that counts.

Broken home? No luck there either. To this day my parents still seem to like each other.

The only option left was bullying – but aside from a height challenged boss whose bald head turned a flaming red while he rocked on his toes and yelled up at me – I can’t really say I qualify for that one either.

So the only option left is invention.

I could be the secret love child of powerful statesman or the daughter of a pirate abandoned on the high seas. Perhaps I was jilted at the altar, buried alive, lost in the desert. This new life story has Hollywood blockbuster written all over it!

If nothing else I will enjoy the notoriety long enough to make a name for myself before being revealed in a dramatic expose. My story will be drafted into the annals of history and give my own kids a fabulous backstory to roll out when the time is right.

In the meantime, my plan to achieve success has just one more hurdle to overcome. Talent. Apparently I’ll need one of those too.

Rush, rush . . . stop!


Beach (Photo credit: Craig Anderson)

It can’t be said that I rush into things. Most of the decisions in my life are made over the course of weeks, if not months. Take, for instance, the decision to have my wisdom teeth removed.

Back in 1993 a dentist advised me to have this done “soon”. I looked into it and decided there were more pressing things to do like . . . not doing it.

I revisited this decision in 2010 when another dentist looked at my x-rays, frowned at me then hastily wrote out a referral.

It’s 2013, my teeth are still in-situ and my wisdom remains (though my kids question this daily).

The fact is, I don’t like to commit too soon then find myself looking for ways to undo what’s been done. After all, that’s not always possible, (cue gnashing teeth).

So, when it comes to holidays, major purchases, social gatherings, even sports – I like to take my time. After all, who wants to end up sitting in a ski lodge, surrounded by snow bunnies watching snow fall when you could be at the beach, draped over a banana lounge, sipping cocktails and watching the kids leap frog over jelly fish. I know which option I’d prefer and it requires sun and quite a bit of surf.

Perhaps the only exception to this drawn out rule is clothes shopping. If I can buy it off the rack with just one look – excellent. If I can try it on once and still be happy – good. If I can buy it online and have it delivered to my door – even better. But don’t make me think about it.

After all, there are more important things to worry about, like – how exactly does all that wisdom fit inside four teeth? What do you do without it when all those teeth are taken out? And – importantly – does the tooth fairy still visit 30-something year olds?

When someone can answer those questions, then I might make a decision.

In the line of duty

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!

A dose of fashion nostalgia


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).