Saturday, 30 October 2010

Dinner, drinks, laughs and panadol

It's Saturday, yet again! Time to share what I'm grateful for...

* Good friends - dinner, a glass of wine and a lot of laughs with good friends can be medicine for the soul.

* Panadol – feverish kids this week has meant I've been grateful for paracetamol giving them a bit of relief.

* Gluten-free bakeries – being able to buy a sweet treat that all my friends can enjoy.

What are you grateful for this weekend? Join in with Maxabella Loves... grateful Saturday.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Heart break

'Don't touch that!' she yells and she snatches away the doll's stroller. 'I don't like you.'

The words strike Lil-lil like a snake bite. Frozen, her eyes turn red as tears well in the corner. Her head drops and she sits slowly on rock. Lil-lil turns back and looks, checking that what just happened wasn't something she imagined.

After a minute, she stumbles over to me, 'I want to go home', the words catching in her throat.

I put my arms around her, then grasp her hand as tightly as I can and head across the park.

Halfway home, Lil-lil says: 'Why doesn't anyone like me?' My heart sinks.
'Oh, there's lots and lots of people who like you! Lots of people who love you.' I then rattle off name after name. Slowly the smile comes back to her face.

'I know you really like her and want her to be your friend, but if she doesn't want to play with you there are plenty of other people who like you and want to be your friend,' I try to reassure her.

She skips the rest of the way home. My heart still feels like it's going to fall out of my chest in a million pieces. I know that this is the first of many times someone in a playground will hurt her. Someone she desperately wants to impress. Someone she wants to befriend. I know that she needs to become resilient, but when her feelings are hurt, her pain is multiplied by 100 in me.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

In the swim

I've always been a bit of a water baby. I love being in the water. The feel, the weightlessness and sensation of being underwater. As a very young child, I used to sit on the bottom of the pool and was constantly being 'rescued' by well-meaning strangers. I'm not a great or a strong swimmer, laps bore me senseless. You're more likely to find me in the 'splash and play' section of the pool.

I really want my girls to love the water like I do. I have so many happy memories of summers spent at the beach or in the pool. Lil-lil started out liking the water but somewhere along the way it all went a little wrong. She didn't hate it, but she didn't want to put her head under and was really anxious in the water. She started protesting every time we went to swimming lessons, once there she didn't mind the lessons but would negotiate endlessly with the teacher about what she would and wouldn't do. It was painful for everyone and I became a little despondent as things seemed to be going backwards.

At the end of last term, the head of the swim school, who had been filling in for Lil-lil's regular teacher, pulled me aside and suggested that things weren't going too well. (Tell me something I don't know!)
So, we decided to put her into a holiday intensive program and I researched which teachers would be best able to help her. Preparing myself for a week of hell, I was pleasantly surprised when things began to improve almost straightaway. Lil loved the teacher and we enrolled in her class this term. Each week, Lil-lil grows more confident and she's improving out of sight. I wouldn't have believed it if you'd told me this a month or so ago.

I'm so proud of her, voluntarily putting her head under the water, happy to put her hand up to try something new and improving more and more each week. We're going away in a couple of weeks – a beach holiday with a visit to a water park – so it's going to be magic to see Lil actually enjoy herself in the water.

That's my proud parental boast for the day!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Happy birthday, T!

Sometimes in life you're lucky enough to meet a good person. Someone who is kind, funny, smart, generous and caring. A true friend who calls when she thinks you may need something. A friend who is happy to put herself out, if it means making your life a little easier. A friend who will tell it like it is, but in the kindest possible way. A friend who has a laugh so contagious you want to say something funny just to hear it.

I'm lucky enough to have someone like this in my life who I can call my friend. Lil-lil is lucky enough to have someone like this as her godmother.

That someone is celebrating a birthday today, so.....

Happy birthday, T! We hope you have the most wonderful day and the year ahead brings you nothing but joy, fun and laughter. We love you and appreciate all you do for us. xxx

Life in the slow lane

Earlier this week I talked about taking the rush out of my kids' lives. I wanted to slow things down a notch. Often, being a stay-at-home mum, I feel compelled to get them out seeing, experiencing, learning. I think this is due to a mix of the girls needing lots of stimulation and that I don't want them to miss out on learning experiences that other kids in care/preschool may be getting. It's probably due to my own insecurities that pop up when people are surprised they're not in some sort of care. I hear a lot of: "Really? You will send them to preschool at some stage though??"

Sure, they do swimming, ballet and go to preschool-type class with their Grandma, they're not locked up in their room twiddling their thumbs. They spend almost every afternoon playing in our local park with the local kids, so they socialise a lot, but I still feel pangs of guilt of 'Am I doing the right thing'. Which I know will happen whatever I do.

Anyway, back to the point of my post which is this – I wanted to stop rushing around as much, take advantage of the time at home together (which will end next year when Lil-lil does go to preschool), live the slow life. So, on Sunday with the rain pelting down we watched old home movies together as a family. It was fabulous! Seeing how the girls have grown, remembering all the little things they used to do which we'd forgotten and the girls thought it was great to watch a movie where they were the stars. In the afternoon we made pasta. It was messy and fun, plus we had enough for two yummy dinners.

On Monday, we stayed in our PJs until lunchtime. The girls painted, coloured in, danced and played with their toys. Yesterday, we baked muffins together. This was an idea I got from Pink Patent Mary Janes, a lovely way to spend some time with the girls, they love helping out in the kitchen and we have some healthy treats that I know aren't filled with fat, salt or sugar.

Now the week is starting to get busier and we are getting out and about a little more, but I feel relaxed from the gentle time at home and I think the kids do too.

What things do you like to do at home? Give me some inspiration!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Baby bonus

I have quite a few things I want to do today – bake some healthy muffins for the kids for afternoon tea, do a lot of washing, take Lil-lil to the GP for her vax, do some more washing. One thing I won't be doing is signing up to a certain service where I can pay to find out first what Lleyton and Bec Hewitt have called their newest addition.

I mean, I didn't even know she was pregnant. So paying for the privilege of receiving an SMS to find out they've called it Brooklyn or Moses or whatever, not really my thing. It all seems, well, just a touch tacky. Yes, I know they're not known for their taste.

I'm all for celebrities taking control of how information is presented to their fans, but this reeks of drama and attention seeking to me. Holding on to the name for an extra week to build up drama, perhaps get a few more subscribers to pay 2 bucks a pop? Hmmmm.

I think they should take a look at Jamie and Jools Oliver. After the birth of his son, Jamie released the news and a pic almost immediately for free over Twitter. Soon after the family posed for photos outside the hospital looking radiant, Jools proudly showing off her baby belly and looking like a blissfully happy mum who'd just had a baby. No drama, all class. Sure there were some raised eyebrows over the name (they are celebs after all), but I think everyone admired the fact they behaved like normal excited parents. Natural and honest. No hiding away until the paid-for glamour spread appeared in a magazine.
Personally, I'm more inclined to watch one of Jamie's shows or take a look at his books, because the way they handle themselves is more appealing. I'm not going to roll my eyes when he pops up on the telly.
Isn't this what celebs are after anyway?

Anyhoo, back to baking those muffins and hanging out the first load of washing....

Monday, 25 October 2010

What's the hurry?

Sometimes the universe tries to teach you a bit of lesson, sometimes we take notice, a lot of the time I think we simply ignore it. The past few days, something keeps on coming up and so much so I just can't ignore it.

It started last Thursday and Friday, as I got the girls ready to get out to their different lessons. As usual we were trying to get out the door and things kept coming up – Goosey wanted to change her shoes, we couldn't find goggles for swimming, a nappy needed changing, etc, etc. I kept hearing myself say: "Hurry up," "Move along," "Come on," "Quickly!" "Let's go". Hurrying them along. I hate being late, I'm a punctual person, always have been.

While most of the time I feel like I spend my days running in circles chasing the girls, I spend the other part hurrying them along. Like all little kids, they get distracted by all the small wonders of the world. They like to stop and see what that snail's doing. Stop and pick a flower. Stop and say hello to a neighbour. While nice, being a typical adult I just want to get there and get things done. Gone are the days when you can jump in the car and buy some milk in 5 minutes, that task now takes 45 minutes.

But the other day as I was hurrying them along, I really hated the way I sounded. Pushy, rushed, flustered.

Then on Saturday, we had to go to our local shopping centre to pick up a couple of last minute things for the party. The girls were slowly negotiating a steep flight of stairs in the car park, when a 20-something girl with a phone glued to her ear pushed past us like we were invisible, almost knocking the girls over. 'What's your rush?' I thought.

Ten minutes later, in the shopping centre, negotiating another flight of stairs, an almost indentical girl with a phone glued to her ear did the exact same thing. 'Jeez,' I thought. 'Rushing around to nowhere.' I realised that I had once been that person, rushing around, trying to get from A to B asap. Never stopping to think, 'Gee it really is a nice day today.'

Last night, as I put the girls to bed I said: 'Quick! Into bed.'
Lil-lil looked at me and said: 'Why do I have to do it quickly?'
That question stopped me in my tracks, the only real reason was I was tired and wanted to crash on the couch as soon as I could. Which I admit is precious for me, as time to sit and not hear "Mum!" is not bountiful.

After they were in bed, I realised we had no milk for the morning, so jumped in the car to go to the shop. On the radio, Steve Biddulph was being interviewed (he's written the highly successful books Raising Boys and Manhood) and was saying "Hurrying sucks the love out of relationships and families."
He said that families should take extended time away before school got too busy, to fall into their own groove and reconnect. Take the hurry out of family lives for a while.

It was then I realised I was really being hit over the head with this lesson about hurrying.

The minute you have a child you instantly have to stop. Fall into their time frame. When a baby needs to be fed, it needs to be fed now, it can't wait until you finish what you're doing. You can't hurry a baby along when it's feeding. When Lil-lil was a newborn, I felt like the rest of the world was whizzing past me while I was trapped in a little bubble. While it was wonderful, it also felt a little isolating, I missed my friends who were whizzing past me and most all I missed Skip who was able to move at his own pace a little more freely and I missed being at his side.

You slowly catch up with the world again, and there is this pull to try and push the kids into the fast pace of life, when really they have it right, I think. Take your time. Enjoy the small things. Take note of the small joys. Don't be in such a hurry that you lose sight of what and who is really important.

Kids are hard work, but this is one of the most important lessons they teach a parent. The responsibility and hugeness of the role of a parent is balanced by life being stripped back to the basics and taking things at a slower pace. Even though raising small kids does seem like a blur of chaos a lot of the time, it's important to stop. Push the hurry to side.

While I do enjoy the slow life with the kids and try to relish the time, I do get frustrated at just how slow they move sometimes. I'm guilty of thinking about all the things I could be getting done while changing their clothes for the 16th time that day or reading that same book yet again or stopping to look at that dandelion on the nature strip. I'm going to try and take a deep breath this week and slow down a little. Forget about ticking absolutely everything off the to-do list, I know some of my list can wait until tomorrow. Try and not hurry so much. Try not to hurry them along so much. Most importantly I'm going to try and take a look at the world through their eyes just a little more than usual.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Party time!

As promised, here are some pix from yesterday's fairy princess party. I think it was a great success. Last week, I decided to scale it back a bit and just have family and Lil-lil's best friends, which worked well as Lil was a little overwhelmed by the whole thing and I don't think she would have handled any more people very well (and it stopped me from being overwhelmed too). The cake didn't look too atrocious and actually tasted pretty good (buttercake with a rasberry swirl) – bonus!

It was a gorgeous, sunny day until 30 minutes before the party was due to start when it bucketed down, but it didn't dampen the party one bit. Lil-lil had a ball dancing, eating, playing and being the centre of attention, which is what it's all about. Last night as I tucked her into bed, she was already planning her 5th birthday!

Also, I must add that the person who was sick from eating too many lollies wasn't one of the kids – it was me. Whoops!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Grateful for pink bits (and pieces)

Well the sun is shining, it looks like a great day for a 4 year-old's birthday party. The pink cups, napkins, plates are bought. There are pink balloons, streamers and tinsel. The pink lolly bags are packed. Just need to make the pink cake and I think we'll have a pink princess party on our hands!

So this Saturday, I'm grateful for:

* Go-Lo, a treasure trove of pink bibs and bobs for a pink party.

* Coffee, nothing gets the day started as well.

* White bread and butter. The only way to do fairy bread and a sausage sizzle.

* Lovely friends and family who adore my girl and can't wait to celebrate.

Tune is tomorrow for pics of the party, then I'll shut up about it!

Play along with Maxabella and tell us what you're grateful for this Saturday.

Have a lovely weekend, hope the sun is shining wherever you are.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Friday nights ain't what they used to be...

 Once upon a time, I used to wind up work on a Friday at 5.30pm and hit the pub with friends. Sometimes, work actually finished at 12.30pm as a long Friday lunch led to the pub. Relaxing, blowing off steam. It looked a little like this...

These days, things have changed.  Fridays look a little more like this...

Some days I wouldn't swap it for anything. Others, well, others it might be nice to amongst once again. Just for a night.

Kiddy hangover

This morning, the day after, we're all feeling a little tired. A little drained. A little over it.

Lil-lil's 4th birthday was  great fun. There were presents. We had swimming lessons. A sushi lunch. Grandma came and visited. Friends came and visited with pink bikkies. We went to the park. We went to the dumpling restaurant with Nan and ate about 100 pork dumplings. We had cake. Pink cake, no less. A lot of excitement for a 4-year-old. A lot of excitement for a 34-year-old!

Today, we're all a little weary. Ballet wasn't as exciting as it normally is, even with a new tutu. My two pink princesses are now collapsed on the couch watching Barbie's Rapunzel, which I read on Twitter recently is similar to having a labotomy - you walk away feeling strangely calm afterwards, which is true!

A day to collect ourselves and get ready for the party tomorrow. Another pink cake. Games, friends, balloons, lollies, marshmallows, lemonade, fairybread.

See you tomorrow

Thursday, 21 October 2010


Four years ago today, my little fairy princess arrived. All 2.5kg of her, eyes wide open, mouth gaping but not making a sound. A perfect, tiny bundle.

It's been quite a journey these past four years. Tears (Lil-lil's and mine), lots of laughter and even more love – oh so much love. I can't quite believe that that teeny tiny bub is now a lanky preschooler, towering over her ballet classmates. How did that happen? Where has the time gone? It feels like just a couple of months ago that I wrote this post on her third birthday. I wish that I could bottle this time.

I feel incredibly blessed to have Lil-lil in my life. She's everything that I would like to be myself – clever, beautiful, funny and kind. Each day she grows up just a little more and is a little more special. She loves anything glittery, sparkly, pink or purple. She loves adventure. She loves to help people. She wants to be a princess or ambulance driver when she grows up, she's not quite sure – there's plenty of time to work that out Lil-lil.

Happy birthday, my fairy princess. I love you so much, more than I thought possible. The joy you bring into our lives and those of all who know you is more precious than gold. I hope you have the most wonderful day and that life brings you all that you deserve. Just know that your dad, Goosey and I love you, Lil-lil!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Marathon man

This year marks the 2500th anniversary of the marathon. It was 2500 years ago, when Pheidippides ran from the battle of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated by the Greek army. The poor bugger ran 42.195km through the countryside, passed on the good news and then dropped dead – or so Herodotus tells us. It's a great tale and I loved studying the Persian Wars and Herodotus at high school

The marathon was one of the original events run at the first modern Olympics in 1896, a commemoration of Pheidippides' great effort.

I have always found the fascination that people have with the marathon quite curious. It seems that every man and his dog longs to run a marathon. It's one of those things you often see on people's Bucket List. One of those achievements that people 'want to do at least once'. Oprah's done it, so has Gordon Ramsay. Even Princess Beatrice has done it.

It's one of those things I just don't 'get'. Why would I want to run a really long way to prove something to myself or others? Remember Pheidippides carked it after doing it. Sure he didn't have energy drink stations along the way or was able to do months of training. He certainly didn't have an iPod so he could 'zone' out to his favourite tunes while running or have state-of-the-art running shoes. No, he was hardcore! But, yes, he died as a result.

In all honesty, I find the whole idea of the marathon quite odd. I find anything where people recreate a really hard or awful part of history as a way of commemoration kind of strange. I know that most people run a marathon to prove something to themselves, it's their own goal or Everest. I also understand the idea that people want to push themselves and achieve excellence. For me, doing a marathon won't be the way I push myself or  achieve excellence, but each to their own!

I'm certainly in the minority, I know. On October 31, 12,500 runners will take part in the Athens Classic Marathon which traces the original route run by Pheidippides to commemorate the anniversary. Apparently many thousands more missed the opportunity to take part.

Me? I'd like to go to Greece and see Marathon, see where Pheidippides ran. Perhaps from an air conditioned bus. I might take a little stroll.

Have you done a marathon? Would you like to? Or are you like me and think they're all a little bit mad?

Painting by Luc-Olivier Merson 

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The great Australian dream?

or this?

Since I've embarked on this parenting lark, I have had one debate raging in my mind. I know that I'm not alone in this and many of my mum friends have been having the same debate with themselves. No, it's not cloth versus disposable. Or breast versus bottle. Or controlled crying versus co-sleeping.

It's city life versus the 'burbs.

It's been spinning my mind round and round in circles. What would be better for the kids? What would be better for us? What is going to make us all happy?

As a lot of you know, we live in a small semi-detached cottage in the inner west of Sydney. The four of us in two bedrooms. A handkerchief-sized garden.

We live a stone's throw from a famous strip, filled with restaurants, cafes and shops. We live minutes from the CBD. Our neighbourhood is an eclectic mix of cool people, academics, famous actors, musicians, older migrants, fashion designers, stock brokers, tradies, wharfies, families of all descriptions.

Our kids play in a park with the locals kids, every day. Their parents are a mix of different nationalities, sexualities and family situations. Everyone looks out for one another. Whenever we walk around our neighbourhood we always meet and say hello to people we know.

Our kids dine out on authentic handmade Shanghai dumplings that feed our family for the price of a Domino's pizza. They eat sushi, Turkish pide, pasta, Vietnamese and much more without batting an eyelid.

They get to see and participate in all sorts of concerts and activities in the area. Cultural festivals, free performances and concerts are a regular thing in another local park a couple of hundred metres from our house.

When you look at it like this, we live in Nirvana. Why would you want to live anywhere else?

Well, there's those planes that fly overhead, relentlessly from 6am to 11pm. I know it's 6am when that first Boeing 747 flies over shuddering the windows.

There's the fact that we live on top of each other. The kids can't squeal don't the hallway constantly cause I worry that they're disturbing our neigbours. There's nowhere for us really to get away and have our own space if we need it. There's no space - full stop.

Parking. During the week, I can't park in front of my own house. Dragging two kids and boot full of shopping down the street is not fun.

It's times like this when I dream of a home in the burbs. Where I can pull into my own driveway, never worrying about if I'll be able to get a park. The kids have room to run around and spread their toys. Make noise and be, well, kids.

Somewhere peaceful, with no planes, no trucks. Clean air. Space. Green.
Where the kids can walk to school. Ride their bikes in the streets. Be independent.

Then I toss the argument back in my mind. Would our view of the world be narrowed? Would we miss the diversity we have come to love here? Would we miss the restaurants and cafes? Being able to walk everywhere? Being part of the action? Would I die of boredom?

Do you live in an inner suburb, the burbs or the country? What do you love about where you live?

Monday, 18 October 2010

Sing us a song you're the...

Last night, as I was trying to get the girls into bed I received an SMS: "Piano Man is playing, I can't believe it."

Suddenly, I wasn't standing in my inner west home anymore, I was in a dark, smoky room upstairs at the Megahole on Sydney's lower north shore. I'm 10 years younger. I can feel the stickiness under my shoes, smell the stale cigarette smoke and taste the sugary sweet Illusions from the plastic shot glass (it was a cocktail bar after all, folks). Most importantly, I can hear American Pie, I Still Call Australia Home, Greatest American Hero and, of course, Piano Man.

If you've ever been on Sydney's lower north shore and had one too many drinks or stayed out a little later than you should have, chances are you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. For those who have never had the honour of stepping into Minsky's Cocktail Bar in the Megahole (Cremorne Metropole, or Hotel Cremorne as it's now known), let me fill you in.

Most nights, at around 11pm, a skinny man, balding on top but with a long-ish ponytail, would take a seat behind a piano and belt out tunes. Classic tunes from Elton John, Neil Diamond, Peter Allen, Don Maclean and Billy Joel. Drunken people of all ages would gather round and sing along at the top of their lungs until the wee hours. Teenage rugby players would link arms with 40-year-old kitchen salesmen, teenyboppers and matronly north shore ladies would join in the chorus.

I'll admit it. Yes, I have spent a night or two at Minky's, singing along, swaying along. Actually Piano Man knows me and doesn't really like me, mainly because I'd request songs and not put money in the jar (though I did say 'Man, what am I doing here'). Then there was that time I ended up with a large bruise on my forehead after a head banging incident with my glass during Sweet Caroline. Ahhh the memories...

I don't know if Piano Man still plays there, it's been many years since I've been. I know he took a brief retirement only to return after public demand. Last night, the SMS came from Skip, who was attending a conference at Rooty Hill RSL (I know!). According to Skip, Piano Man provided the night's entertainment and didn't disappoint playing his standard repertoire.  On a Sunday night, it was nice to take a little bit of time travelling in my mind, go back to the old days and thank God those days are way in the past!

Have you ever seen the Piano Man? Tell me your tales!

I just did a little research on the interwebs and apparently Piano Man still plays at Minksy's. He even has his own website. Check it out if you're game! 

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Having your cake

As Lil-lil's fourth birthday approaches, I've been thinking about cakes. I'm a not a cake decorator by any stretch of the imagination, but one of the things I always wanted to do as a mum was make my kids cakes for their birthday.

Growing up I used to pour over the Women's Weekly Cake Book every time I visited my best friend's house. We'd sit and pick which cakes we'd like to have. I think this inspired me and I decided I wanted to pour my love into making a special cake for my children on their birthdays. A handmade way to celebrate their special day.

As I said, I'm not a cake decorator. Actually I'm not much of a baker, it's all a bit too precise for me. I'm a bit more rough and ready when it comes to the kitchen. I can whip up a banana bread when there are rotting bananas in the fruit bowl or a batch of choc-chip cookies when need be, but I have a bit of an Italian view when it comes to cakes and pastries – leave it to an expert.

When it comes to a child's birthday cake all that changes. I'm happy to get elbow-deep in garish food colouring and hundreds'n'thousands. I guess I'm hoping my kids will remember these wonky homemade creations with fondness and know that I went to an effort because of how much I adore them. It would be easier to get an expert to make them – and they would certainly look a lot better, but it just wouldn't be the same.

This week, I'm attempting a butterfly/fairy cake. It will probably look a bit rough around the edges, it will most certainly look a bit homemade and sad (just like every other cake I've made). Her whole party will be old school – fairy bread, chocolate crackles, homemade sausage rolls, crepe paper and balloons. There won't be fancy decorations and not every child will win in pass-the-parcel. It won't break the bank. It will be like the parties I went to as a kid and it will be filled with fun and most of all love. I hope Lil-lil will have a smile on her face that will last until she falls asleep that night.

Here is a sample of my past cake efforts. I think you'll agree that Lil-lil has done a bit better than poor old Goosey.

Lil-lil's first birthday – my first attempt.
Lil-lil's second birthday, was supposed to be a Winnie the Pooh cake but disaster struck and it had to be changed about 5 minutes before the party using dolls from a present, an old tea towel and some fairy bread scraps.

Goosey's first birthday – a strange attempt at a fairy castle.
Goosey's second birthday – she wanted a Buzz Lightyear cake and I had no idea what to do, as you can see.

So now you'll understand just what I mean by looking handmade. Can you call a cake rustic??

You may be wondering, what happened to Lil-lil's third birthday cake? Well, I did in fact opt out that year, busy throwing myself into arduous fairy bread and choc crackle making, my good friend and Lil-lil's godmother took on the task of making the cake and fabulous it was. Look, see below. I did make Lil-lil a chocolate cake on her actual birthday decorated with hundreds'n'thousands.

A mermaid in the sea. T'was delish!

Tune in next Sunday to see what Lil-lil's fourth birthday cake looks like!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Grateful for womanly wonder

Yep, it's Saturday again. Time to remember what I'm grateful for this week. It's been an up and down week, starting off being sick and generally feeling awful, Goosey getting more and more tired and unbearable from her sleep apnoea (which is now improving, yay) to Lil-lil's first swimming lesson of the term and seeing her actually enjoy it and volunteer to dive under the water – a miracle!

So this Saturday I'm grateful for:

* My mum, for helping out while I was sick.

* My fab friends – I'm really blessed to have a wonderful circle of caring, funny and all-round amazing friends. They all have their own challenges and busy lives, but are always there to lend an ear, a hand or a smile. A couple of them even have blogs too – check them out, Cakes Actually and Tiny Trappings.

* Tea. It suits every occasion and is a tonic when you're not well. I do love me a really good cup of tea.

* Lastly, my gorgeous girls. My pink bundles who fill me with joy, frustration, laughter, exhaustion and, most of all, life. It just wouldn't be the same without them.

So between my mum, friends and girls, I have some incredible females in my life.

Play along with Maxabella and be grateful this Saturday.

Friday, 15 October 2010

By George, I wish I had it

I wish I was like this George...
...but I'm more like this George.

I've talked about this before, but I've been reminded of it in a big way today. Finding something that gets you jumping out of bed in the morning, excited, passionate. Earning a living from doing something you really truly enjoy. What a gift that would be.

This morning while driving home from Lil-lil's ballet class, I heard chef and Mastechef judge George Calombaris being interviewed by Richard Fidler. George talked about how lucky he felt that every morning he didn't go to work, he went and did something he loved – and just happened to get paid for it. I wish it could be like this for everyone, it should be like this for everyone.

Instead, I often feel like another George – George Costanza. I know I've mentioned this scene before too, but unfortunately it just resonates with me, I know exactly how Costanza feels here. I seem to obsess about finding the 'perfect' job, doing something with my life that I genuinely love that will give my family everything they need. I know Skip feels like this too. Actually, I'm sure most people do.

Are you one of the lucky ones who makes a living doing something you love, or are you like me and still searching?

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Dollars and sense?

Well with the old Aussie dollar almost on par with the greenback, everyone is talking about one – online shopping. I keep thinking "Yes! I should make the most of it and buy something gorgeous," but what? I haven't a clue.

Help me out! What can I buy online? What can't I live without? What bargains can I nab?

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


Before I had kids, I always imagined I'd have boys. I have all brothers and Skip has two brothers (as well as a sister). I have three nephews and just one niece. So I just always assumed it would be boys for us.

When I had the 20-week scan and discovered that Lil-lil was a girl, I was delighted. I'm sure I would have been just as delighted if she'd been a boy, but that day we went out and joyfully bought a bundle of little pink clothes. I was equally surprised when I found out that Goosey was a girl. TWO little pink bundles! Sisters. Daughters. After growing up in a family where I was terribly outnumbered, finally the females were making a comeback.

Having brothers meant that I had to love all the girly stuff on my own. I was never allowed to watch Young Talent Time without ridicule. I often had to sit alone and play Barbies, tea parties and dolls.
I was often roped into playing British Bulldog and football, always on the proviso my team was called Candyland.

Now as the mum of two girls I have to admit that I love shopping for their birthdays, looking at all the pink, glittery, frilly things. I may roll my eyes, but secretly my hearts skips a little beat when I turn into the pink aisle at the toy shop. Seeing the girls play fairies and gasp in delight when they see a ballerina is pure joy. Asking Lil-lil what she wants to be when she grows up and hearing the answer: "An ambulance driver. No a princess. No a princess ambulance driver" is priceless.

When I was slightly older than Lil-lil, a young woman named Diana became a princess and I thought she was just about the most beautiful thing in the whole world. I named a doll after her and dreamed that I, too, would one day be princess as I wore my pink satin dressing gown, the most glamourous thing I'd ever owned.

It's not uncommon for Lil-lil to clasp her hands by her face and utter: "I love princesseseses" (those plurals can be hard when you're almost 4). As I write this she's watching Barbie 12 Dancing Princesses – Barbie playing one of 12 ballet-dancing princesses – a combination that doesn't get much better in her world.

I love my two little princesseseses and all the girly, frilly, glittery, pink bliss they bring.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Marvellous mums

Mums truly are the best. It seems that no matter how old I am, I'm still my mother's child and she's always there to help me out. Yesterday, when I felt so awful, my Mum came and rescued me, watching the girls while I rested. She turned up again today to help out. What a god send! I don't know how I would have got through the day, I'm sure I would have done it but it would've been painful.

It seems I'm not the only one with a tops mum. The always wonderful Beth from BabyMac wrote about her marvellous mum today and this recent post from Maxabella Loves  brought tears to my eyes.

So here's a big cheers to ALL the mums out there. Young and old. The ones who are always there, no matter what. Mums are what help the world go round.

Edited to add: I know how lucky I am to still have my mum alive, close by and involved in my life. Not everyone is this fortunate. There are many marvellous mums out there tackling motherhood without the guidance of their own mums. The cheers include ALL these mums. 

Monday, 11 October 2010


Yesterday, poor little Goosey came down with a fever, changing our Sunday plans from sailing to lying on the lounge. Within a few hours, the headache I'd had for a day or so morphed into a whole body ache, dizziness and nausea.

After crashing into bed at 7.30pm, I had one of those restless kind of feverish sleeps. I woke this morning to realise that I have to look after two little kids all day. Urgghhh. I miss those days when I could call into work sick and hide under the doona. all. day. long. Not so, any more. Kids want toast. Kids want milk. Kids want to play. Kids want books read. It's going to be a long day....

See you tomorrow healthy and happy, I hope!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Saturday salvation

Ahhhh it's Saturday yet again! We have a busy, yet fun, weekend ahead of us. I've been having so much fun playing with Maxabella's grateful Saturday, that I'm doing it again this week.

Soooooo, here's what I'm grateful for this week:

* I'm grateful to the Chairman of the STC for inviting Skip along to a fancy lunch at the races today. A free 3-course lunch, a reason to get dolled up and a day sans kids? Yes, please!

* I'm grateful for loving grandmothers who adore their granddaughters and think that spending time with them (and giving us a break) is a whole lot of fun.

* I'm thankful for black peep hole shoes that go with practically all my race dresses.

* I'm grateful for Skip, who despite all the stresses and exhaustion of life keeps on keeping on.

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

A fishy tale

I adore the movie Finding Nemo. I saw it at the flicks way before the kids were born and then saw it again when we were living in Perth and it was showing for just $2 (we were travelling and broke). 

On our last holiday, Lil-lil watched and fell in love and then watched it every single day we were away. She loves anything to do with the sea, so Nemo was right up her alley and welcome break from Disney Princesses and Barbie for us.

I think the thing that appeals the most is the character Dory. I can see a lot myself in Dory. I'm certain that Skip gets as infuriated at me as Marlin does at Dory. I can often be blindly positive, most of the time I truly believe everything is going to be just fine no matter how dark things are, which drives Skip mad at times. I always think that things will always just work out no matter how bad it seems, they have to. I can be terribly forgetful, especially if it's important. I can also just be plain silly, especially in situations where I'm not supposed to be silly.

The thing I identify most with Dory is her line: "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming." Cause what else are you going to do? You can't give up, as much as you'd like to sometimes. We just have to keep moving forward as that's what we're made to do.

Some of my favourite Dory lines and wise words:

Marlin: The water's going down. It's-it's-it's going down!
Dory: Hmm. Are you sure about that?
Marlin: Look! Already it's half-empty.
Dory: Hmm... I'd say it's half-full.
Marlin: Stop that! It's half-empty! 

Marlin: How do you know that nothing bad won't happen?
Dory: I don't. 

Marlin: I promised I'd never let anything happen to him.
Dory: Hmm. That's a funny thing to promise.
Marlin: What?
Dory: Well, you can't never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo. 

Do you have a film character you identify with?

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Guess who?

This morning, I was minding my own business, just picking some things up at the supermarket. I caught a glimpse of someone out of the corner of my eye. 'Oh, that's, um, that's.... God, who is that?!' I thought.
Her name was one the tip of my tongue, but I just couldn't place her. Was she someone I once worked with? She looked like she could be a fashion or beauty editor. Was she a friend of my parents? Was she someone who worked in a shop I've been to?

It was killing me. We kept passing in the opposite direction in each aisle. Each time a stab of recognition hit me, but never enough to work out who the hell she was. Was I rude in not saying hello? Well, I thought, she's not saying hello to me. Should I say hello? What if she's someone from the telly and I make a fool of myself.

The torment continued as she stacked her shopping onto the checkout behind me. As I picked up my bags I took one last sneak-peek. Yep, I knew her from somewhere. Hours later I'm still trying to work how I know her.

When I was growing up, I always remember my parents bumping into people and chatting for ages. When we moved on, I'd ask, 'Who was that?' and they'd reply 'I have no idea!'. I could never imagine how you couldn't remember someone, I could remember every single person I'd ever met. My dad used to say that he met so many people in his job, there was no way he could remember them all. There's a story in my family, I'm not sure if it's true or not, but it wouldn't shock me if it was, apparently my dad was chatting to a lady in a hotel bar in LA. Certain he knew from somewhere he chatted on and on before he realised it was Barbara Streisand.

Now, it would seem, my brain seems to be kicking into the same genetic ways as my parents.

I hate it when people forget who I am. Being shy, I hate social things anyway, but there's nothing worse than meeting someone you've met a few times before and they give you that look. They crinkle their eyes and tilt their head and say "Ummmmm I don't think we've met..." It makes me want to scream!
So, for me to do it to someone else is highly embarrassing.

Not so long ago, I was walking down the main street of my suburb. I heard someone call out 'Corinne! Corinne! How are you?' I turned and saw a lady I did not recognise at all. Terror hit me as I desperately tried to work out who she was. I look at the two kids with her. Nup, nothing. We continued chatting for a few minutes and she finally mentioned my brother and it clicks. It was a someone who was a friend of my brother and we used to work for the same publisher, but I could swear I had never met her. Heard about her a lot, sure. But never met her, I'm certain of it. How did she recognise me then? I am losing my mind. My mind is melting and turning into my parents! Am I going to be one of 'those' people?

Anyhoo, if you know who the elegant, petite, well-dressed blonde in her 50s at the IGA is, please let me know!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Mind travel Tuesday

To be perfectly honest with you, I'd rather be almost anywhere else today than at home where I am. I'm a little tired, grumpy and in need of some 'me' time. I can't get away, so I thought I'd take a little holiday in my mind. Come, join me.

I would quite like to be here today:
Litchfield National Park, NT.

This is me sitting in Buley's Rockholes. Fresh cool water cascading over my shoulders, I'd sit here all day, only getting out to snack or get a drink. The trees provide perfect shade and, truly, it's one of the most magic places I've been.

How could you be grumpy immersed in this water? It's impossible!

When we travelled around Australia, this was a common set-up. Our car, cooker, table and chairs. Nothing else needed. No fancy tarps, trailers, generators. Peace and quiet, fabulous locations, solitude. This is five-star accommodation to me. I would love to transport myself to this spot. Basic, but bliss.

Our faithful Hilux 'Fernley' (named after Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall) took us to some of the most superb spots in the country. This time in our life was pure freedom. We would wake up and stay if we wanted or else hit the road and go wherever the wind blew us. Some days we slept under the stars and others we checked into a motel and washed the sand from our skin. Everything was stripped back, all we needed was fuel in the car, water in our tank and food in the fridge (we had a fridge in our car), anything else was baggage and superfluous. Days like today when I'm feeling a little world weary, feeling weighed down by chores, bills and routine, I imagine being somewhere like this.

 And, if I couldn't resurrect Ferns for one last bush bash, I'd love be sitting at this table at the Banana Leaf Cafe in Hoi An, Vietnam. Watching the bikes and boats motor past as I ate White Rose, stuffed squid and banana pancakes. Sipping local beer, a cocktail or pineapple juice.

Watching these ladies work, gossip and live life. Soaking in the sights, smells and sounds of one of my most favourite places in the world. Eating and living like a king for the price of a McValue meal.

Where would you like to travel to this Tuesday?

Monday, 4 October 2010

Grand plans

5pm, Sunday October 3, 2010. ANZ Stadium, Sydney.

Last night we went to the NRL Grand Final. It was the first Grand Final I've been to and, wow, what fun! We had awesome seats and the atmosphere was electric – the best vibe I've ever experienced out at the stadium (well, except for the Olympics). Neither of Skip or my teams were playing and we didn't really support either team, but it was a great night regardless. In the end I was barracking for St George as I liked them slightly more than the Roosters, which was lucky as they won. All-in-all, we had a ball and it was an exciting game.

After the game we headed back to our hood and had fabulous pizza and pinot, which capped off a great afternoon. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday arvo.

What did you get up to? Did you watch the game?

Go and play Point and Shoot with FatMumSlim.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

I love a lazy long weekend


There's nothing better than being at the start of a long weekend. Three days to relax and spend time together as a family. This is what I'm grateful for this Saturday. It's already been good so far – last night we had a yummy dinner together at a Japanese restaurant and then came home and watched Love, Lust & Lies (the fifth installment in Gillian Armstrong's variation of 7-up series). This morning Skip and Lil-lil went to the farmer's market while Goosey slept (!) and I read. They came home with an enormous bunch of gorgeous stocks for me.

We don't have a lot of plans this weekend. But it will include:

Saturday: Barbecuing, eating, watching snippets from AFL grand final, watching the races, playing, reading. I think we'll even crack open a bottle of Veuve Clicquot to celebrate our 13 years together. Gotta be grateful for that.

Sunday: We'll have some family time in the morning and then Skip and I are heading off the NRL grand final. We don't support either team, but we got some very, very good tickets and neither of us has been to a grand final before.

Monday: We're heading up to my dad's place to spend the day on the boat. Hopefully the rain clears by then.

Hopefully it will be relaxing, fun and one to remember for all the right reasons.

Happy weekend! Join in the fun with Maxabella and share what you're grateful for this Saturday.
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