Category Archives: Parenting

Stuck in traffic – roar!

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Traffic slows to a crawl on the Monash Freeway...

Look a little closer 🙂 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Excuse me Mr Nissan-Pintara-Driver. Are you aware there’s a zoo in the back window of your car? And it seems to be slowing you down.

In the last eight minutes stuck behind you in traffic, I’ve counted no less than 14 animals calling your car home.

Not live animals, mind you. This menagerie consists of a stuffed penguin, several rubber snakes, a crocodile, a fluffy bear and one rather irate-looking tiger, among others.

But wait! What’s this? I’ve spoken too soon. There IS one live animal in the mix – a pigeon perched on the passenger’s headrest. And by the look of it, he doesn’t appreciate all your stopping and starting either.

Ahh. We’re making progress now. I think you’ve found the accelerator, Mr Nissan-Pintara-Driver. And you’re turning off. Sadly, I need the same exit.

Whoa! What’s this? It looks like you’ve got a dog in there too. He just poked his nose out the open window as you took that rather wild corner. And it’s a Jack Russell, no less. My respect for you, Mr Nissan-Pintara-Driver, has been restored.

Oh, looks like you’re home. And now it all makes sense.

You live in that crazy old, tumble down shack with a giant spider welded to the front wall, CDs strung from every tree and more cats than I can count as I drive by.

Thank you for that entertaining drive, Mr Nissan-Pintara-Driver, albeit rather slow.

Now I really must get home and raid the cupboards. I always thought window decoration could be my forte, and now I know just the place to try it.

Birds? I’m driving . . .

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Australian Wood Duck

Australian Wood Duck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week, I’ve learned three things:
1. Don’t let the bird-watcher drive the car;
2. If the track looks like no-one uses it, there’s probably a reason; and
3. You’re never too old to be car sick.

I’m writing this now, so you can rest assured, it didn’t end too badly. But there was a moment I thought we were coming unstuck.

It was meant to be a pleasant country drive. A few hours out in the bush looking for birds and finding that perfect picnic spot. The reality became a mixture of terror, frustration and shallow breathing.

The so-called ‘track’ provided a perfect view over the nearby river. All good. Unfortunately, my husband was busy looking at the treetops and not overly concerned with the direction we were taking. Not so good.

Then the single-vehicle ‘track’ started getting thinner and the only way out took us down a 45 degree slope toward a watery canal. Again, not so good.

“We’ll have to go back,” I said.

“Not likely,” was the reply.

And looking back along the ‘track’, I could see the sense in that statement. Sadly, the alternative was no more enticing.

I braced myself for the worst as we made the death-defying descent.

I think I heard my husband laughing, but I can’t be sure. I couldn’t look at him. We got to the bottom and suddenly another track materialised. “Oh, there it is,” was all he said.

An hour of winding bush tracks followed. Around this time, lesson three made itself known.

All I know is this – birds may be beautiful. The bush may be too. But bitumen, sweet bitumen, is my best friend.

The gift that gives twice

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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 . . .

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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

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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!

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Beach

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

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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!