I love this time of year. Everything moves at a slower pace as you try to digest the Christmas turkey along with all the events of the year. We rarely go away at this time of year, instead we stay at home and enjoy the quietness of the normal bustling city.
We often catch up with friends we haven't seen for a while, sit in our backyard and have a few too many wines and a lot of laughs. The girls bounce on their trampoline, chase bubbles in the backyard and potter around in their own little world. They love just chilling out at home under the wreckage of the Christmas tree and having Dad around every day to throw them up in the sky.
Tonight is New Year's Eve Eve. The Skip and I have started a tradition of celebrating the new year on this night. It's easier to get a babysitter, a table in a restaurant and a cab! Again, I love the serenity of this night, most people are at home resting up for the big night, we often have the city to ourselves. It's wonderful! Then on New Year's Eve we usually see friends in the afternoon and then retire home with a burger and really great bottle of wine (thanks Sideways). We're all usually tucked up in bed by 10.30pm and stir when the fireworks are going off.
For the first time in about 6 years, we will not be making Christmas lunch. Instead we'll be visiting family and friends. It's a nice change, but I have still have this urge to go to the supermarket and stockpile food.
There's a voice inside me saying: "Quick! The shops will be shut for a couple of days and you never know what you might need!" Which is completely ridiculous because a) I'm sure there will be more than enough food where ever we go and b) I live in an inner suburb of Australia's largest city - I'm sure if I need something I'll be able to find it somewhere.
Despite knowing all this, I still got up early this morning (well, I always get up early any way) and went to the supermarket to try and beat the crowds. I wheeled the girls around Coles and it wasn't too painful, except for this nagging voice in my head saying "Don't forget the paper towel! We may need to wipe up something and the shops won't be open. Don't forget the dip! We may want to snack or have unexpected visitors. Don't forget the mineral water! We may want to cool off with a cold drink." It's like there's an catastrophic event about to take place and the only way to survive is stockpile party food and drink.
I think I have stocked the pantry enough to avert any festive fracas. I hope you're all enjoying the silly season too.
For a Chrissy Eve special, I'm ripping off an idea from the lovely Miss Carly at everyone wants this.
It's a selection of 'bests' for 2009. It's been a tough, but rewarding year for me. I feel like a better person than I started the year so can't ask for much more than that. There's been a lot of great food, horse racing, sleep deprivation and kareoke. I'm planning to do a bit more of a round-up next week on NYE, but for now enjoy the best of 2009...
1) Best trip 2009 was the year of being at home for me. While the rest of my family travelled to far flung reaches, I'm remained holed up at home. Not such a bad thing, but I can't wait for my turn. Anyhoo... the best trip had to be our annual pilgrimage to Port Douglas. Who can beat tropical weather, splashing in the pool, digging at the beach, cocktails, great food and climbing 'mountains'? The only downer was missing our plane home.
2) Best restaurant moment. This is a VERY tough one for me as I've had a truly gastronomical year. To choose from Rockpool Bar & Grill (both Sydney & Melbourne), Nobu, Bistro Vue, Osvaldo Polletti, La Grande Bouffe and, of course, the one and only Tetsuya's. As fabulous as these restaurants are my best for 2009 is a tie - the private dining room at Blancmange in Petersham for my birthday and a Sunday night dinner with my family of four at Ashfield's Shanghai Night. The first one was a wonderful evening of delicious food and good company in a gorgeous nanna-esque setting. The last one - well there is nothing better than scoffing down handmade noodles and dumplings and seeing my kids doing the same, lots of laughs and lots of mess!
3) An article that blew me away. A story about Dr Catherine Hamlin in The Good Weekend. Dr Hamlin is an obstretrician who along with her late husband set up a hospital in Ethiopia for fistula surgery in 1959, she continues to work there today at 84 years of age. The work she has done is completely amazing! A true inspiration and hero. Click here for information about her work.
4) A book that touched me. I love reading, but rarely get time these days. I do spend a lot of time reading to the girls, so the book that touched me is the most is... The Hungry Little Caterpillar.
5) A night out that was the best. Going out with a new friend and chatting and laughing until way past our bedtimes. Was sooo much fun. We're such a bad influence on each other.
6.) Workshop/conference that was beneficial. Does Tresillian count?
7) Blog of the year. Hmmm so many blogs that I can't pick just one... a cop out, I know!
8) Moment of peace. Being at Tresillian and discovering Goosey can sleep at night, realising that I may actually get some sleep myself at long, long, long last. Pure relief.
9) Something that made me grow this year. It's been a huge year of growth for me. I can't pull out just one thing, it's been a combination of events, meetings and experiences that has made 2009 a tough but rewarding year.
10) Album of the year. Elton John, Rocket Man. So not new, so not me, oh so good.
11) The best place. Easy. Port Douglas.
12) New food. Ocean trout, can't get enough of it.
13) The best change I made to the place I live. Putting the girls into the same bedroom.
14) Rush of the year. Seeing my girls cuddle and adore each other, there's nothing better in this world.
15) Best packaging. My girls, they compassionate nature, the humour and cheekiness come in just about the cutest package around.
16) Tea of the year. Any one that someone else made for me.
17) Word or phrase. GFC. You can blame it for everything.
18) Where i spent most of my money this year. Dairy Farmers - my girls drink a lot of milk.
19) Car ride. Driving from Cairns to Port Douglas. Girls asleep and looking cute in the back, the anticipation of a holiday, spending time just being with Skip and the fabulous scenery of Far North Qld - jungle mountains cascading down to tropical water. Perfect.
20) New person. Easy-peasy. My evil twin who I met at Tresillian.
Project improve myself - I'm getting there slowly...
22) Business i found this year. The cleaning company I hired. Anyone who cleans my filth is worthy of high praise.
22) Web tool. Ummmm.... Blogger? Does that count?
24) learning experience. My kids, they're always teaching me something new - like how many times can a child throw dirt on the washing hanging on the line before I completely lose it.
25) Gift A night in a swanky hotel with a ginormous bath, Skip and no kids. Bliss!
26) My epiphany of the year. That I may actually sleep again.... one day.
27) Social web moment. Hmmm, none really.
28. Stationery. Coles envelopes. Fancy, I know! But, really does anyone use stationery anymore??
29) Laugh. Seeing someone fall over - sad, but true, I'm a simple girl!
I don't watch commercial TV at all. The only thing I really ever watch is Law & Order - ad-free double episodes on W, so never see any ads.
31) Resolution I wish I'd kept.
Losing the baby weight (still there from bub number 1! gulp).
Ok, earlier today I had a bit of a rant. Probably uncalled for, especially at this time of year. I'm feeling a little bad about it. Especially as this afternoon I got to participate in my side of the Christmas Challenge, it was such a lovely and humbling experience that my rage has disappeared.
I have always thought that the elderly get a rough deal in this country. There is little respect for the elderly, once they pass their 'best before' date we want put them away and leave them to disintegrate. The sad thing is their wisdom, experience and knowledge could be such a gift to us young folk. You always hear people say that Christmas is a time for children and I agree that it is a special and magical holiday during childhood. The thing is, I often feel like I'm still a child - at least it doesn't take much for me to find that inner five-year-old. I doubt that I'll ever lose that feeling, so I don't see why we can't share some of the magic of Christmas with the older generation. After all we all need to feel some magic, feel like someone's listening to us and that someone cares. I've felt like this for a long time and have always wanted to do some sort of volunteering in aged care, as I've written about before in the 10 things I want to do in my lifetime.
These were the thoughts going through my mind when I decided to call a local aged care facility about a month ago to see if the girls and I could visit someone who may not have visitors during this time of year. They were very eager for us to come. Today we went to do a tour and meet some of the residents who we will be spending time with. I was so proud of my girls who gave everyone they met a big wave and an even bigger smile.
I'm really looking forward to getting to know some of the residents better and maybe even forging a longer lasting relationship with them. It's an exciting thought to think the girls and I will be able to give back to the community in this way, all while hearing the wonderful tales I'm sure to be regaled with and learning a whole lot too. Although it was very sad to hear that that the home rarely receives offers from people willing to sit and visit, which is why after today I've decided to not just make it a Christmas visit but something we'll do on a regular basis.
One lady I met spends a lot of time helping the other residents and volunteering at the local church. Sadly she rarely receives visitors and is often very lonely. When we were introduced and heard that we'd be back to visit for longer and play Scrabble, she squeezed my hand and touched the girls' cheeks and said "God bless". Such a simple act, so much warmth.
As it's a festive week my plan was to be all sugar and sunshine, but I have a gripe I really need to air. Something that really makes my blood boil. I'm generally a flexible, tolerant person, but there are a few behaviours I abhor in other people. Besides the list of usual suspects - violence, racism, etc, etc - I really, really hate lateness. I hate it with a passion.
Today I had an early appointment, it was made early as this person had a busy day and it was the best time for her. Fine, I thought, I'm up with the birds anyway. So after rushing around getting the kids ready and tidying the house for the cleaner (yes, I relented) and getting myself ready, I drove across the city at 7am to drop the kids off at my mum's and then got on public transport to make my appointment in time. Phew! I got there with a few minutes to spare so I waited and I waited and I waited. After waiting 45 minutes the woman finally showed up. No apology, no nothing.
It seems that punctuality is meaningless these days. Quite a few people I know have told me they think that it's strange when people turn up on time. A lot of people I know are late as part of the course, that's just how they operate.
To me, being late is the height of rudeness. Being late shows that you have zero respect for the person you are meeting. The person you're meeting means so little to you that you can't get yourself ready in time to meet when you say you will. They mean so little that you don't care if they are left waiting and that the rest of their day is put out. To me, being late is self-absorption, pure and simple. Being late means you don't care, full-stop. Harsh words, I know, but I just don't understand how people can turn up long after a scheduled time without apology or explanation and be completely blase about it, like it's not important.
I understand there are times when it's out of someone's control. Hell, I have been late because of unforeseen circumstances. When this happens I call or text and let the person know. The times when I am late, I absolutely hate it. I feel terrible and it's something I always try to avoid. I also understand that when you have children things can be a bit more challenging - you don't know when kids will wake from their naps, how long it will take to coerce them into the car or shovel food in their mouths. That's why when I make arrangements with mums I always say something like "Let's meet at 10.30ish". Ten minutes here or there for a park visit is nothing.
But there is nothing like being made to feel completely worthless when you've been sitting in a restaurant for 45 minutes and you call your dining companion to make sure they're OK and get told: "I'm just walking out the door now...." In my book that's as bad as turning up to the restaurant and blowing your nose without a tissue, then plonking your feet up on the table while belching loudly.
There has been a lot in the press recently about the loss of manners and good etiquette. I have to agree that the value of punctuality is something a lot of people need to be reminded of.
I feel better now, but I must dash as I have another appointment and don't want to keep them waiting. Tomorrow I will lighten the mood with my tale of festive cheer.
You've trimmed the tree, wrapped the pressies, stocked the fridge, put the carols on the stereo (do people still have stereos??). You're all ready for the festive season.
I'm setting a challenge to all of you - for one tiny moment in the next week, take a moment away from the hullabaloo and do something, no matter how tiny, for someone that's not in your family. Something that will lift someone's spirits.
I'll be back next week to tell you what I've been up to.
A month ago I posted about how I was attempting to do all my Chrissy shopping online, see here. I'm happy to report back that it's been a BIG success, I've managed to do about three-quarters of my shopping over the net.
It's been so nice to browse online when I have a free moment and not have to deal with crazy car parks, manic shoppers and keeping my kids from destroying the Christmas displays at the shops. Instead packages have been arriving on my doorstep and I've been pleasantly surprised at how well I've done. I think my friends and family will appreciate the thought I've put in. Especially as a lot of the gifts I've bought aren't available at the shops anyway.
I was particularly grateful after a dash to the shops yesterday to pick up some pressies. I had a very precise mission - go to one store, pick up three shirts, pay for them and then get the hell out of there. It went off without a hitch, Lil-lil flashed herself in the store mirror while I payed and Goosey entertained herself with an Australia Post brochure. I was so pleased with my mission I stopped in a for a celebratory takeaway coffee for the car trip home. Coffee in hand, bag containing shirts slipped over my wrist, pushing pram with two toddlers with the other hand. I tripped...
Coffee didn't fly everywhere, just straight into the bag containing my purchases - three pastel coloured shirts. Well they were now three pastel, mocha patterned shirts now. After many expletives, I threw everyone in the car and thought about what I was going to do on the way home.
Once home I spent the next three hours painstakingly hand washing the shirts. Being careful not to rub too hard, not get the tags wet and praying with all my might the stains would come out. I did have one moment where I thought about taking them back to the shop and saying: "Look at this! I can't believe you sold me shirts with coffee stains all over them." But I'm a terrible liar. Anyway, by some miracle and the power of Nappy San I managed to get the shirts back to an almost-pristine state.
I was just flicking through a newsletter from my local council and one of the articles was about how their anti-graffiti vans (the vehicles that go around and remove graffiti from public spaces) have just received a fresh new look. The council has hired an 'aerosol artist' to paint graffiti-style murals on their sides. Good to see the council is using our rates for the greater good of the community! What's next? Buying hotted up Nissan Skylines with six exhausts and body kits to patrol street racing?
Recently Blog This! issued a challenge for bloggers to write about their hidden talents. I loved the idea of this challenge but at the time thought: " I have so few talents that I'm always blabbering on about them, there's no room for any hidden talents."
Then yesterday I remembered that I do have a secret talent. A talent that only a few of my nearest and dearest know about. A talent so unique, so special that it deserves to be outed, deserves to have its day in the sun. I love TV theme songs. I not only love them, I have devoted a rather large section of my brain to remembering TV theme songs. If there was Who Wants to be Millionaire TV Theme Song edition, I would be a millionaire many times over. And all those people say that watching too much TV won't get you anywhere!
Theme songs are great - they're catchy, cheesy and, most importantly, pointless. They bring back so many good memories, sad but true. A lot of people think they are good at remembering TV theme songs but I find there is a simple test to weed out the rookies. Simply ask them to sing both the Family Ties theme and then the Growing Pains theme.
Here's a little bit of completely useless trivia - Alan Thicke who played Jason Seaver (the dad) in Growing Pains co-wrote the theme songs for Different Strokes and The Facts of Life. What a talented man, what a contribution he has made to popular culture.
Here are a few lines from some of my faves. Let me know if you can guess them:
1) People yakety yak a streak and waste their time of day
2) Love, life's sweetest reward. Let it flow, it floats back to you.
3)A man is born, he's a man of means. Then along come two, they got nothing but their jeans.
4) Not getting hassled, not getting hustled. Keeping your head above water. Making a wave when you can.
5) Wake up in the morning, feeling shy and lonely, gee, I gotta go to school.
I'm probably screwing my kids up for good, but Lil-lil often asks me: "Mum, who's the boss?" I don't know where she's got this question from, I've never talked about the 'boss' unless I talk about Bruce Springsteen, which is basically never. But when they ask this question I always answer: "Tony Danza".
The obvious reply is: "Who's Tony Danza??" And I say: "Hold me closer, Tony Danza. See the headlights on the highway."
Hi. Yesterday's (actually every day's) blog was done in a bit of a rush to get it out of my head and onto the page in the spare 20 minutes I had, so there were a few typos. I apologise. I often write without really re-reading what I've written. Dangerous, I know. Thanks for all your comments though!
I'm feeling under pressure. Earlier this year I got a great price on a subscription to the daily paper. I pay about $2 a week to have the paper delivered to my door every day. How wonderful I thought. No more traipsing to the newsagent to buy it.
Instead of being this wonderful convenience it's a massive pressure. Each day the paper arrives, each day I don't read it (I tend to read it online), the papers pile up until I throw them out in most cases unread (I do read Good Living on Tuesdays and the Spectrum on Friday night - which is the one blessing as it's part of the Saturday paper but they deliver on Friday. I feel like I'm getting a headstart on the weekend and can cross something off the to- list early).
I'm being weighed down by all these newspaper, the intention is there but I never get around to sitting down with them as I'd like. So I'm thinking of scrapping it.
I've always heard a lot of women say they couldn't stay out of the workplace for too long when having children as they were afraid of losing their skills. I was thinking about this recently and while in all honesty I never had a lot of skills to lose in the first place, I think the opposite has happened for me. I have so many more strange, unusual and often rather handy skills than I before. Seeing as this is supposed to be 'a day in the life', I will outline my day yesterday to illustrate my point.
4.32am - Goosey wakes and calls out "Muuuuummmmyyyyyy!" and in doing so wakes up Lil-lil, after wearily trying to persuade them to go back to sleep without success, we all get up and begin the day. I was talking to a friend who was once a commando in the army and said the level of sleep deprivation I've gone through as a mother is similar if not worse that they endured in the army. So after three years, I think I could fully cope in the army.
6.30am - I whip up three different breakfasts to exact picky orders. Weet-bix crumbled with a little bit of milk, weet-bix with lots of milk, vegemite toast, vegemite sandwich folded just so. Personal chef extraordinaire!
8am - While talking on the phone to my mum we juggle the girls timetable of activities - swimming, music, kindy - with her timetable. Six different times to fit in with sleeps, meals, mum's ability to babysit. The organisational skill would impress the writer of the London tube timetable. While we discuss this, Goosey comes up and tries to pull a hair out of her mouth and in the same instant throws up her weet-bix and toast all over my feet and the floor. She then steps in it and does a comical woah-woah-woah before falling and skidding everywhere.
A quick clean up and a mop of the floor and we're back on track. Until I pack away some dishes and drop a quiche dish in the exact same place Goosey spewed. The broom comes out again...
9am - Paper work and long chats on the phone with my insurer about a recent claim. Discussing details of solicitors, police and other important details while Goosey pulls on my hand and screams "Mummmmyyyyy" and Lil-lil pulls tissues out of the box and tears them up into little pieces on the floor. We then traipse off to my brother's office fax off paperwork all while attempting to entertain the kids and make sure they don't toddle down the large flight of stairs.
Multi-tasking and people management would be a breeze!
10.30am - Coffee stop (need some caffeine after all). Stop kids from knocking over waiter laden with steaming cappuccinos while we wait for my coffee. Then juggle both kids across a main road while holding said coffee. Strong man? Juggler extraordinaire? Who needs a circus??
11am - Quick stop to pick up a Christmas present that I ordered at the toy shop. Try to get the kids in and out before they destroy the whole store. Keep them from running off, while picking up my order. I think I could muster a herd of cattle with ease!
11.30am - Race home through traffic while tickling Goosey's feet so she doesn't fall asleep and they say the Finns are the world's best rally drivers, they haven't met me!
12.30pm - Arts and crafts with Lil-lil while Goosey sleeps. Tonia Toddman eat your heart out. I can craft with the best of them, plus I'm sure Tonia never had to listen to the following conversation: Lil-lil: Mum, help me paint. What colour? Orange, blue, green, yellow, purple, pink? Me: Umm I'd like blue. Lil-lil: How about pink? Me: OK. A minute passes. Lil-lil: What colour now? Orange, blue, green, yellow, purple or pink? Me: How about green? Lil-lil: How about pink. And so it went on...````
2pm - shoe shopping. Besides the fact my children have freaky feet and only one in every three million pairs actually fit them, shoe shopping is a nightmare. First I get a pair for Goosey while Lil-lil pulls shoes off the shelves and attempts to put them on - usually anything pink and glittery grabs her attention. When I turn my attention to Lil-lil I have to hold Goosey down with one hand so she doesn't run riot, at the same time fit the shoes on Lil-lil and then get her to walk around while I try and see if they fit, all the while still holding down a struggling, screaming Goosey. I don't know what kind of career I could translate these skills to, but I'm sure it must be something important.
3.30pm - a trip to the park on the way home. The girls get into a fight, I spend 15 minutes trying to tear them apart. Obama's had a whole year to sort of the middle eastern mess and won Nobel Peace Prize along the way.... Ummm I think I was sorely overlooked! The Middle East versus two crazy, fiery toddlers, send me to Gaza any day!
4pm - Lil-lil throws a giant tantrum at the park, on the ground kicking and screaming. All the while a group of mothers and their nine-month-old babies look on with horror and tut-tut me as I carry the stiff, hysterical girl. Crisis management - tick!
5pm - Attempt to make dinner while hungry children harass me, not only do I not spill boiling water over them, I do it all while brokering deals like: "If you're quiet for the next 10 minutes and let me cook dinner then you can have two Princess Lil-lil stories tonight." "But mummmmmm, I want some milk, I want some bread." "Please, leave me in peace and you'll eat soon enough. If you do it you can have a chocolate freckle tomorrow. And an extra swing at the park." And on it goes... I think I could easily work in boardroom negotiations or, dare I say, hostage negotiations. A walk in the park it would be.
6.30pm - Bathtime. Sing ridiculous songs while trying to get them clean. Each night it has to be something new and fresh. Pop idol, Madonna's reinvention is nothing to the lengths I go to each night.
6.45pm - Chase and catch two slippery toddlers who hide and dart all over the house and get them dressed before they kill themselves or each other. I can do this every night and they still can't manage to find Bin Laden.
7.30pm - collapse on the lounge with a glass of wine in front of the TV. Wine connoisseur and TV critic.
Before I had kids I just went to work, pretended to be important, came home, ate dinner and went to bed. Pffft to those who say I'm losing my "skills"!
This morning I was awoken at 4.22am. It's an ungodly hour. No, it wasn't the children that woke me, it was Skip. My insomniac husband couldn't sleep and turned on the telly to some US news show talking in depth about Tiger Woods' 'transgressions'.
I tried to go back to sleep, but these grinding voices were going on and on about how these 'shocking' revelations are getting 'worse by the day'. Seriously, are they for real??
Now I know I used to work on gossip rags and revealed the 'truth' that the public desperately needed to know about our favourite celebrities, but seriously is it really headline news that a mega-wealthy sports star who travels the world on tour has shagged around? I mean are we really shocked? The only question that I want answered are why do stars always cheat with cocktail waitresses?
Do we really care about what Tiger has been up to off the golf course? To be completely honest, I don't really care about what Tiger does on the golf course, but I understand that I'm probably in the minority or he wouldn't have all those mega-bucks. To me, this 'scandal' is about as news worthy as Amy Winehouse falling in a gutter or Brangelina having another child - these things happen all the bloody time.
The only things I have learnt from this whole episode is that Tiger is really crap at driving a car and his wife isn't too bad at swinging a golf club.
Grrr (pardon the Tiger-esque frustration) maybe I'm just a little grumpy from lack of sleep.
Trace: You know Jenny? Mum: Jenny Jenny? Trace: No, Microwave Jenny. She says the trick is to make them look real, but not too real, just real enough to know they're fake.
I love the movie The Castle. It's brilliant. It has to be one of the funniest movies ever made. The only time it ever dulled in its appeal was when Skip and my brother would quote it endlessly at family functions. Thankfully I think they're over this now (though I'm sure this post will prompt them to start it up over the festive season).
As another of my favourite funnymen (Homer Simpsom) would say: "It's funny, cause it's true". Earlier this week as I served Lil-lil up her dinner we had an exchange that went something like this: "What's this, Mum?" "Pasta." "How did you make it?" "Boiled it in the pot." "Delicious!"
I was half expecting to her to say: "Why would you go out when you get meals like this served up night after night?"
The quote at the top of the page is one of my favourites from the flick. Besides simply being a great line, I also love it cause it reminds me of one of my friends. This chick is hilarious, she also has the habit of giving everyone she knows a descriptive moniker. She knows a lot of people and each time we meet there's always stories about Scottish Ali, Cousin Kylie, Rude Robin, Kill-me-now-Neil, just to name a few. Most of the time these names have no meaning to me whatsoever, but they help distinguish who's who in the tales, besides making the story all that much funnier, even when the story isn't meant to be funny.
I have to say, I always thought that I had escaped being bestowed a name. I believed I was just 'Corinne', you know like Elvis or Cher or Madonna. It seems I was wrong. Recently I met a work friend of this girl (she's also a blog reader, so it was lovely to meet her), any way she said something like "I thought you must be Corinne from school" and then later she said something else along the lines of "I'll let her know I met Corinne from school". It then dawned on me, I have a name – I'm Corinne-from-school.
Of course, it could be worse I could be Wally-Corinne, Whore-features-Corinne or something like that. I guess I was kind of hoping I could be Classic Corinne or Drop-dead-gorgeous-Corinne. Can't win them all I suppose. It's better than when she calls me Carol.
Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!
*Some names have been changed to protect the innocent
I'm loving this Santa business, greatest invention of all time! My girls are so enchanted by Christmas, each morning Lil-lil asks if it's Christmas yet. We haven't even put up the tree or decorations yet, so I can imagine the excitement levels are going to go through the roof! It's contagious too, I've started looking at the Christmas lights through the eyes of my one-year-old. I'm oohing and ahhing like an idiot and loving every minute of it. The plastic reindeer, the fake snow, the flashing lights are better than any great work of art. The incessant jangle of Jingle Bells and Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer sounds better than any great sonata. There's a special magic at Christmas that belongs only to kids, and it's wonderful to get a taste of it again.
But back to Santa, while I'm loving seeing the magic of Christmas through my girls' eyes, I'm also loving the threat of being good cause 'Santa's watching'! It's brilliant! Bad behaviour stops in an instant, the devils turn into angels for a second at least.I'm a little worried about what kind of techniques I'm going to use once the yuletide is finished. I'm guessing empty threats, pleading, yelling - all the usual suspects.
The other day I pulled out the line: 'If you don't stop doing somersaults off the lounge all you'll get is a lump of coal for Christmas'. I have no idea where this thought came from, but it produced another thought - these days a lump of coal is probably more valuable than the plastic crap we use to fill their stockings!
I started the day off grumpy. Awoken at the usual 5am, I really could have used another hour's sleep. For most of the morning I snapped and growled. The house needed a really good clean after I had been slack while working. I started. I turned around and the girls had poured a bucket of dirt on the floor. I started again. They poured water on another floor. I started yet again. The rubbed toothpaste into the door. I started yet again. Lil-lil poured a bucket of dirt over my head as I bent down to wash our glass doors. I gave up.
After three hours the house looked worse than when I woke up.
I was ready to scream and run to the hills. The phone rang and my lovely mum, brother and nephew were offering to take Lil-lil to the zoo. She was thrilled. So was I! This one gesture made an otherwise frustrating day better.
It's funny how everything can be chaos, you can be in the worst mood and one unexpected turn in the day turns everything around!
I want to be a farmer. I dream of living a self-sustained lifestyle on a small plot of land somewhere beautiful. Cows, pigs, chooks, sheep frollick about, live a happy life and then end up on my dinner table. I grow all sorts of wonderful herbs and vegetables. I make all sorts of jams, chutneys and preserves. If we need anything we can't make ourselves we barter with our neighbours. Basically I want to live at River Cottage.
I've loved Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for about seven years now - I even named one of my cars after him. I love his ideas on food, animal husbandry, life in general. If you haven't seen his shows or read his books, I highly recommend them. See here
There is one little glitch in my dream. It's a tiny one. I have no idea how to be a farmer. Oh, academically I have an idea, but if you plonked me on a piece of land somewhere I'd probably be curled up in the foetal position screaming for my Foxtel remote within 10 minutes. While I love the idea of this fairytale life, I suspect that's just what it is – a fairytale.
I'm a big believer in chasing your dreams. If you have a passion for something you should pursue it because we're only here once and what is life worth living for if you can't do what you love? Though what if you have a dream that can never be realised. Is it bad to dream about something that can only ever be a dream? Like me being a farmer? My 6ft 3inch husband wanting to be a jockey? My 40-year-old friend wanting to be an Olympic sprinter?
Can we only dream of things that may actually possibly come true? Do we always have to chase our dreams? Can't we just dream for the sake of dreaming?
Well my stint of paid work is over and I'm back in the 24/7 grind of a stay-at-home mum. The positive is that I'll be able to be a bit more of a dedicated and creative blogger. Going into the office and writing has sapped my blogging urges lately.
The girls have made it a memorable day for my first one back at home full-time. Lil-lil managed to squeeze a whole tube of toothpaste into my bed. Goosey pushed a bigger boy off the climbing equipment at the local playground, which brought high-pitched yells from his mother (fair enough too!). There have been tantrums galore. All in all though, it's good to be home!
My favourite moment has been the 'surprise' party Lil-lil decided we must throw for Goosey. She told me it was Goosey's birthday and we must have a surprise party, when I mentioned Goosey was asleep and her birthday's not for another 8 months, she replied: "Yes, we must party very quietly, so we don't wake her. We won't tell her about the party." I guess the best surprise of a surprise party is not even knowing it's going on!
I've been inspired by the Blog This! challenge this week. It's not the kind of thing I normally write about but here goes...
They want to know about quick fix meals – favourites, takeaway, etc. I have to say that I love food, we spend a lot of time thinking about food and enjoying meals out. We have mastered a lot of dishes that are delicious and quick to make. Usually nothing in our repotoire takes longer than half an hour to make. It's a cliche but delicious fresh produce doesn't need a huge amount of preparation. Plus with a couple of kids, the less time spent in the kitchen, the better. We have a few corkers up our sleeve on those nights the cupboard is practically bare and we just can't be bothered.
I would love to take the credit for my favourite quick fix meal, but it's one of Skip's. We usually have all the ingredients in the cupboard and it takes just 15 minutes to make. Best of all it's yuuuuummmmo!
Quick fix pasta
Cook pasta (any type will do, but we usually use penne, fusilli or bow ties as they're easier for the girls to eat).
Fry off some onion and garlic. Add some dried oregano. Add a tin of tomatoes (or some tomato passata). Add a tin of salmon fillets (John West in olive oil work best). Add a swirl of cream and stir. Add the cooked and drain pasta to the sauce, stir. Serve with garlic bread (which we always have in the freezer).
Sometimes we fry off mushrooms with the onion and garlic. Sometimes I throw in some peas or zucchini, depending on what's in the fridge.
This is as easy as any jar of pasta sauce and infinitely better. Best of all the girls will devour it.
Another favourite quick meal is a BBQ chook. There's nothing better if it's a good one. Serve with some vegies or salad. We then use the leftover chicken for sandwiches or a pasta/curry/fried rice the following night - so two quick meals in one.
If all else fails and no-one can be bothered to even open the cupboard, it's sushi - we have a great Japanese restaurant a two-minute walk away. The girls get avocado rolls while Skip and I share a mixed sushi platter and a California roll. Sushi is guilt-free takeaway in my opinion. Healthy, tasty and a great Sunday night dinner! I have to admit I have 'forgotten' to take meat out of the freezer on a few occasions so we can take an emergency dash to the sushi shop, but let's just keep that between us.
I have so many things I'd love to get done at the moment. So many things aren't getting done. I look around and see all the things that are literally and figuratively piling up, yet I'm not inspired or motivated.
I'm making lists, yet keep getting distracted. Ho hum. Ho hum. I wish I was one of those people who ran around like a chook with its head cut off until everything is perfect. It's not so much that I'm lazy – I spend all day chasing the girls and keeping everything running – it's just getting organised to do all the stuff that would make life just a little bit better.
How do you get inspired? How do you motivate yourself?
I like Christmas shopping. I've always liked finding the perfect gift for my family and friends. Something that they'll love and put a smile on their face on Christmas morning. I don't even mind the manic last minute rush at the shops. I always thought that it was part of the fun of Christmas.
Since the girls have arrived, the fun has disappeared. It's just too hard to take them shopping, let alone browse and try and unearth perfect pressies. I'm yelling and trying to catch them as they pull things off the shelves, dive under racks of clothes and run out onto the street. For the past couple of years, I have bought all my presents locally, thankfully the shops near me are great. Though I made a decision this morning - I'm going to do all my Christmas shopping online.
I have always hated the idea of online shopping. I like to see, feel, touch and bring home my purchases, lay them out and see them all. I'm starting to come around, the idea of doing the shopping while the girls are playing or napping and then having them arrive at the front door a few days later is bliss. Plus I'm finding some great stuff. I feel like I can put a bit love and effort back in again.
So my mission is get all my shopping done in the next couple of weeks and do it all online. Shopping will be done, it'll be easier to keep to a budget (no spur of the moment purchases) and I'll have a lot more free time. Now, let's see if I can do it.
I've talked about how I hate the weather small talk, but by jove today was just made for talking about the weather! Yes, it's hot out there. Damn hot. Looks like it's going to be hot out there tomorrow.
I had to laugh when I was at the beautician this morning – a lady walked in and commented: "It's really warm out there!" The beautician who was attending to me yelled out over the curtain: "Warm?! You've got to be kidding. It's bloody hot." She's my kind of woman.
I've just filled the fridge with drinks, shortly I'll fill the paddling pool, arranged for a few friends to drop by at different times and that's me done for the day.
Have a great weekend! A big happy birthday to my Dad!
It seems to be the week for confessions, as I have another one...
I dream of being singer. Not just a singer, but a rock'n'roll star. A world-famous rock'n'roll star. A multi-platinum record selling, world-famous rock'n'roll star. (Well if you're going to do it, you may as well do it properly!) I'm now approaching my mid-30s and only have a 'nice' voice (as opposed to a 'great' voice) so I think this dream is planted firmly in la-la land. That's OK, I've accepted that fact.
As a lass, I was in the Australian Girls Choir and then did a bit of singing in high school musicals, I then decided if I couldn't sing with a strong, husky, bottom-of-a-whisky bottle voice I wasn't going to bother. Since having kids I find myself singing pretty much all day, every day. I've fallen in love with it all over again.
Now much to the horror of Skip, I will take any opportunity to sing. Yes, that means karaoke. I don't even need to have a few drinks under my belt, if there's a microphone and a cheesy tune –I'm in. We have the sing star game for PS2 and it often gets dragged out. I even considered buying a PS3 solely to buy the Rockstar Beatles game – can you imagine doing a whole Beatle concert in your lounge room?! (Santa are you listening??) Thankfully, I have very patient neighbours.
My girls are so used to my constant singing that they have started doing it too. They sit in the back of the car singing together. Lil-lil has even started making her own songs (my personal favourites are the 'We're on our way to pick up Dad' and 'The fish-n-chip' songs).
As much as it pains everyone else around me, I'm going to keep on singing. Like this blog, it's been a surprise love and one I'm not ready give up just yet. Writing and singing keep me sane or at least one step further away from being certifiable.
Peaceful moments, people calling me politely by my name, people offering to fetch me tea, a whole hour to myself to do whatever I please, gazing out the window, being given money to do all of this. And people call all this 'work'!
I'm off to this so-called work today, so no long blog from me.
I have a confession to make. I'm not proud of it and I admit that I may have even lied about it at some point.
I don't really know what Twilight is.
There. I've said it. I feel much better now.
You're either thinking: 'What a moron! Have you been living under a rock?' or 'What's the big deal?' Well, just before having kids I spent a few years working in trashy, weekly celebrity rags, so it was my job to know anything and everything about this kind of thing. Now I don't know who these people are on the cover of the mags I once worked at. I don't know if Twilight is a book, a TV show, a cable special, a movie or all of the above. I feel like there's a whole world going on out there that is completely foreign to me. Most of all it makes me feel really old. I have no idea what the young folk are talking about these days.
I watched 60 minutes on Sunday night and caught a few minutes of their Twilight story. It really hit home then - if I need Charles Wooley to explain youth culture to me, then I'm really not part of youth culture (or even popular culture) anymore.
Yesterday, as I walked around Ultimo in my lunch break I noticed all the young guys had this same silly haircut. What are they all thinking? It must take them ages to do, they all look ridiculous, most of all they all look like a sad bunch of clones. Uh oh, another sign of aging.
I then sat down in a small cafe, just for a minute and then had to leave. There was this god awful loud music playing.
On the bus home, two 14-year-olds behind me in their school uniform were having a very sexually explicit conversation. Something about how you have to find someone with the right sexual chemistry. That would never have happened in my day.
Know nothing about the latest craze – tick. Find the latest hairdos ridiculous – tick. Music too loud and just 'noise' – tick. Utter the words 'That never would've happened in my day' – tick.
So it's official, I'm old. Well, at the very least I'm certainly not young anymore. How on earth could this happen? I've spent years and years being young and hip!
As I'm at home with a sick family and have a bit of time on my hands I decided to participate.
So here goes:
1. What was your favourite subject at school? History 2. Did you have a favourite teacher? What was it about them that you liked? My year 8, 9 & 10 science teacher. He had a very dry wit and for some reason he liked me. He gave me the only award I received in high school just cause he thought I was a nice person, not for actually achieving anything. 3. What do you like most about yourself? My uncanny resemblance to Angelina Jolie. 4. Why did you start blogging? To get my brain around writing again after having kids. 5. Can you show us your 5 favourite blog posts? Kids' music; Deserting dessert;Cafe au shame; Man Cold (below) & One of those days 6. What do you love most about your partner? His uncanny resemblance to Brad Pitt 7. Next to your husband/partner/significant other/children, who do you speak to most often? My mum 8. What are your 5 favourite books? 1984, George Orwell (the only time I have physically jumped with shock while reading a book); A Fortunate Life, AB Facey; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, RoaldDahl; Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom; The Picture of Dorian Grey, Oscar Wilde. Though for a good, sit down and escape, head-in-a-book page turner you can't go past a Robert Goddard or Douglas Kennedy novel. This was such a hard question, I really needed to pick 10 as I left our some corkers... 9. Do you have a favourite work of art? Starry Night, Vincent Van Gough 10.If you could live for a year anywhere in the world, where would you choose? Can I pick two?? I'd choose Paris (as it's my dream destination) or Hong Kong (as I love Yum Cha, BBQ Pork and the hustle and bustle).
Feel free to answer these and then let me know so I can check them out!
Our household has been hit by a very serious illness – man cold. Thankfully women are immune to this dreadful malaise, so only a quarter of our household has been struck down. Funnily enough the females in our home have colds, but it doesn't seem to be as serious as the dreaded man cold.
The symptoms of man cold appear to be similar to that of regular colds everyone suffers, just more extreme. There is, of course, the added symptoms of excessive whinging, moaning and groaning. The patient will often think they're dying and sometimes try to find baseless reasons for their pain.
I'm hopeful that scientists will see how devastating this illness can be and develop a vaccine. I guess when the day-to-day running can still be done by the women (who are obviously not affected) they have so far seen no need. Perhaps we should start a fund-raising group. We could sell giant dummies at the train station on a special Friday we name 'Dummy Spit Day - let's spit out man cold for good'.
Women who are exposed to the effects of man cold should never, I repeat never, try to downplay the seriousness of man cold – it is a very debilitating condition, or so I'm told.
The only way to survive man cold is to put the patient in an isolated place (preferably a sound-proof room far away from the rest of the household) and take a measure of red wine or vodka (the carer, not the patient) regularly while symptoms persist. Hopefully within a day or two the illness will have passed.
PS - as you can see I have updated the design of 'A Day in the Life'. Would love to hear your thoughts. Do you love it? Hate it? Like the old one better?