Friday, 30 March 2012

Friday Fun - Play School

Friday again! This week just flew by, what with partying on a school night and all. I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend, with plenty of family time. Sounds perfect.

Here are last week's Octonauts winners, can you please email me your details and I'll get your prizes out to you:

Nat - Muddy Farmwife
Permanently 23

We have a couple of dads at Lil-lil's school who are B-grade celebs. It makes pick-ups and drop-offs slightly more interesting, especially when Goosey goes and plants herself in the lap of one like she did a couple of weeks ago and said: 'Isn't my dress beautiful?'

It hit me this morning as the kids were lining up for assembly that both dads have been on Play School at one time or another. Let's face it, you're not really an Aussie star if you haven't been on Play School. If you can't win over the kids singing Incy-Wincy Spider, well, you don't stand a chance.

I think Nicole, Cate and Russell have really done themselves a disservice by not being on Play School. In fact, I think we should bring in compulsory service of the arts, like compulsory national service. Before any actor/singer heads to Hollywood, they have to do a year in Play School. You know, give something back.

I'll stop now and just tell you that I have the latest Play School DVD to giveaway to five readers.
Play School: Once Upon A Time is filled with dress ups, stories and songs. Join Karen, Andrew, Essie and Teo for all the storytelling fun. RRP: $19.95.

To win, comment below and tell me about a celebrity encounter you've had.
Entries close 11.59pm, Thursday April 5, 2012. Open to Aussie residents only.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

On the town

Yesterday, as you would have seen by my post, I was feeling tired, nervous about going out and just not together.

But go out I did. And I had a ball. I was named one of Kidspot's Top 50 Bloggers (how awesome is that?) and last night was the launch. It was so nice to catch up with old blogging friends, rub shoulders with blogging royalty and meet some lovely new people.

I got frocked up, despite feeling like pulling the pin a couple of times, and let loose. It's the first time since before I got pregnant with D that I've gone out and really kicked up my heels and, believe me, I made up for lost time. Probably not the smartest move as I drank way too much champagne and feel awful today. Not to mention that Kidspot and the other bloggers probably think I'm a nutcase! Last year's event I left early and tucked myself into bed reading tweets from the other bloggers hitting the bars in Oxford St feeling jealous, I made sure I was a part of it this year.

Anyhoo, apologies if you came across me last night and I blathered onto you.

Many thanks to Skip who took great care of the non-sleeping baby and let me kick up my heels. He then had to put up with my snoring for the rest of the night. I really, really appreciate it.

Here are some (blurry) snaps from the night:
The delightful Melissa (Suger Coat It), Holly Homemaker, Lori (RRSAHM) and Pink Patent Mary Janes.

The bloggers getting our photo taken.

Beth (BabyMac) explaining the features of the new Ford Territory
to the cab driver on the way to the after party.

Chantelle (FatMumSlim), Beth and Me.

With Beth and PPMJ.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Mind casserole

I have blog posts coming out my ears at the moment. Too many blog posts. So many blog posts that they're all clamouring to get out at the same time and they're all stuck in the doorway to my brain, like a group of school kids trying to get on the last bus home. So I'm not even going to attempt to put something together, not at least until my brain gets its thoughts in order.

I'm tired. I'm excited. I'm nervous. I'm worried.

There's lots going on in the Daze house. So much that I'd like to give my full attention to, but all of it seems to get put on the 'I'll get to that in a moment' shelf, as I just try and get the basics done without stuffing up.

Tonight, I'm going to a cocktail party. It's going to be fun. Lots of fun. But I'm getting nervous as there are going to be so many people there that I admire. Big bloggers, cool bloggers. And then little old me.

I'd love to go and just enjoy myself, but I know I'll be worrying about home. I'll be wondering if D has woken and if he's settling. I also know that I'll be shy and awkward, I'm always so bad at these kind of things.

So, on that note. I'm going to try and take a little nap, so I can be a little sparkly.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Red blooded male

Baby D has a good life. It comes with being a third born. I know, cause I'm a third born myself.

I think being a boy with two older sisters is even better. He really doesn't have to do much. His sisters dote on him, entertain him and smother him with love. All he has to do is sit there and soak it up.

He's been pretty lazy on the movement front. He's rolled but it's not something he does often, he doesn't need to, he reaches for something and someone fetches it for him. He also gets the "he's a premmie" excuse (which we'll probably still be dragging out for him when he's 30).

But today was different. We had a visitor, a playmate in the shape of a cute little lady. We lay the two next each other and straight away D was interested. He looked across and tried to grab her and before I knew it he'd rolled faster than I've ever seen him move to get to her. We moved him back and he did it again.

It seems he can move, he just needs the motivation of a girl in a cute outfit and a cheeky smile. Not unlike his Dad.

Yeah, baby!

Rollin', rollin', rollin'.

It would seem that the love is not unrequited as D gets a smooch.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Cake walk

This weekend past, we had our cake and ate it too.

Right near my house is a cupcake shop. It used to be a cheese shop and this made me very happy. Gorgeous cheeses just mere steps from my front door, these were glorious times. When it became a cupcake shop I was bitterly disappointed. I can make cupcakes, I can't make French cheeses.

The years have past and I begrudgingly admit that the cupcake shop does make amazing little morsels. The only downside is that we have had to put in a rule, otherwise it's tantrum city. Now, the only time we buy cupcakes is on the walk home from school on a Friday afternoon. We're all happy.

Saturday, I was put in charge of the cake stall at the preschool garage sale. When my kids turned up to visit they thought this was pretty damn awesome, thinking that as I was in charge of the baked goods it was carte blanche for them. They were sad to discover that they had to pay, just like everyone else, and were only allowed one item each.

They weren't disappointed for long as Lil-lil's fairy godmother came for lunch and brought a scrummy cake with her, complete with pink icing and sprinkles.

The girls definitely think it was the best weekend in quite a while.

Sunday rolled around and we came off our sugar buzz. I love spending late Sunday afternoon in my backyard. If the sun is out D and I will lie on the grass or trampoline and stare up at the enormous gum in out hanky-sized garden and listen to the wind blowing through it's leaves. I don't get out there much and it's nice to soak it in. Looking up at the tree you could be anywhere. On the bank of a remote river, in the mountains or a national park... You almost feel like a kangaroo may hop up and nibble at the grass near your toes.

view from the trampoline.

That is until a flying kangaroo, with it's red tail, roars over and you remember you live under the flight path.

What did you do on the weekend?

Friday, 23 March 2012

Friday fun - Octonauts giveaway

Ahhh it's Friday! Yes!

That means it's time to announce the winner of the Jane Iredale make-up:

Permanently 23, you've won! Congrats! Please email me your details.

This weekend, I'm looking forward to a lovely catch-up with a friend I haven't seen for yonks. I'm also looking forward to possibly catching a movie by myself on Sunday (thanks, Skip!). I'm not-so-much looking forward to helping out at the preschool yard sale tomorrow morning, but oh well.

Speaking of preschool, all the kids at Goosey's school are Octonauts obsessed. Every time I go in there they're playing some Octonauts game, running about pretending to be Captain Barnacles and Shellington Sea Otter. These cute little critters adventuring through the sea have really captured their imagination. So today, I'm giving away copies of the latest Octonauts DVD (Octonauts Ready for Action) to FIVE lucky readers.

To win a copy and be a superstar in your little person's life, comment below and tell me what your (or your little person's) favourite imaginary game was/is.

Entries close 11.59pm Thursday March 29, 2012. Open to Aussie residents only. 

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Happy 700!

This post, right here, is my 700th hundred post on The Daze of My Life! 700! Wowsers! That's a lot of waffling.

700 posts ago, I could never have imagined where this little space would take me. I thought I'd practice my writing, get bored and forget about it. Yet, here I am! I've met so many people, been to some really fun events, got to do some fabulous things, all because I write whatever is in my head here five days a week.

I've also learnt a lot about myself. I've gained confidence. I've discovered the very best hobby in the whole world.

It's made the lonely business of being a stay-at-home mum not so lonely. It's allowed me to keep a little piece of myself for myself. I can express myself, vent, be creative, whatever the hell I want right here.

I've discovered that I'm not the only person who has non-sleeping kids. I've discovered people who love love the things I do (champagne, pork, duck, gin, music, TV). I've discovered people who see the world in the same way I do. I've re-kindled friendships. I've befriended people on the other side of the globe. I've had people laugh with me, cheer me on and give me support. I've had people celebrate with me and commiserate with me. I have people check in with me.

I've test driven cars, been sent chocolate, beauty products, books and more. I've been invited to lunches and cocktail parties.

Best of all, I've found  a lovely bunch of people who turn up here every day, just to say hello and read my mutterings. Sometimes they comment and make my day.

These 700 posts have enriched my life. So thank you for taking a moment out of your day to visit, you have no idea how much it means to me.

Here's to 7000 more!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Living an extraordinary life - a message to myself

Image by Gary Christenson
My brain is tick, tick, ticking at the moment. On the weekend some friends and I were talking about opportunities and grabbing them while you had the chance. Of taking a leap into the unknown and possibly risking what you already know. Of putting yourself out of your comfort zone and when, if ever, there was a good time to do this. No matter who you are or where you are in your life these are themes that apply.

I'm an optimist. Some call it naive. Some call it unrealistic. I don't want to live a life where I always look on the bad side. To me that would be insufferable. I believe that you can plan for the future but there's no point worrying about the bad stuff until it's right there in front of you. It's a lot of wasted energy (and wasted life) worrying about something that may never happen.

I believe that a big part of being happy is being grateful for what you have. Being able to acknowledge that you're alive and you're lucky and have so much (and we all do) is the foundation of having a good life. The cream that makes life exciting and rewarding and extraordinary is dreaming, is wanting more, is taking a risk, is putting yourself out there, is doing something unexpected. It's trying again and again. It's making yourself vulnerable. It's forgetting about what everyone else is doing and drumming to your own beat.

I encourage my kids to take a risk ("Say hello to that new kid" "You can make it other side" "You can climb up that hill""Push those pedals") because I know that the pay-off to taking those risks (which are huge and daunting to them) will be wonderful. Sure they may fall off that bike or that kid may laugh in their face, but then I encourage them to get back up and try again, because if you keep trying you'll ultimately succeed.

I really need to take this advice myself. In fact, I'm sure as adults we all need to take this advice from time to time.

Take a risk. Live a life that is extraordinary. Of course, you could always fail and probably will fail from time to time. You could embarrass yourself. You could look a fool. You could lose everything. But if you don't live your life, if you don't dream and reach out for your dreams, if you resign yourself to just passing time then you've lost everything anyway.

We all deserve a life that's extraordinary. I believe that we're all capable of achieving that. Your extraordinary will be different to mine and thank god for that. It will never be easy, life never is no matter what path you take, but at least you can leave this world with no regrets.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

School social

When I was a mum to babies and toddlers I had this idea that once they went to school I would have ALL this time on my hands. From 9am until 3pm they would be tucked up at school learning and I would be free to do something un-kid related. I never even contemplated after-hours school events.

I've since realised that was a complete dream. You see school and preschool these days has become a timetabled jumble of meetings, social events, days, etc, etc.

Back when I was a kid, my parents were asked to come to school just a handful of times a year - Easter Hat Parade, Education Week and Speech Day (possibly a Carols night thrown in there). There may have been a school fete once a year too. My mum did a couple of extra things like helping a struggling boy with reading and working in the canteen.

So far for Lil-lil in her first term of school the parents have been asked to attend:

  • a welcome morning tea, 
  • a welcome BBQ on a Friday night, 
  • a Sunday class picnic, 
  • an information night, 
  • a home reading workshop, 
  • a social drinks night at a local pub, 
  • Grandparents Day.

This is just term 1, people. There is a plethora of events filling the calendar for the rest of the year.

Tie that in with the events for term 1 at Goosey's preschool:

  • Welcome night
  • Committee meeting
  • Harmony Day afternoon tea
  • Working Bee
  • Yard Sale
  • Bandage Bear morning tea
  • Farewell afternoon tea for a leaving teacher.

That's more than one school event every week for the first term. This doesn't take into account that parents are asked to come to Lil-lil's class three times a week to help with reading and maths games, plus come to help with excursions. Or even being a member of the P&C or other committees. It certainly doesn't factor in the never-ending stream of birthday party invites. It's lucky that I have a fairly poor social life at present, cause how else would you fit all this in?

Now, I'm not complaining. I'm enjoying being a part of their schooling life, but man, it does seem to be a LOT. Here I was thinking with so many parents working these days that the pressure would be off, but it has definitely increased since I was school. The whole school community thing is so much more than 9-3 and that's surprised me.

I'm not a joiner. I'm not the person who puts their hand up to be on the committee. I don't even really enjoy making small talk with the mums while we wait for the kids to come out. In spite of my non-joining qualities I'm really trying to be enthusiastic about all this and get excited for the kids.

What happens at your school? Is this just the way it is nowadays?

Monday, 19 March 2012

Another one down

Last week was a pretty blergh week. I'm glad it's now back there instead of right here.

The weekend was fun. The races, dinner with friends, birthday parties, a smattering of sunshine.

Skip and I were really looking forward to the races. The first time they'd been on at Randwick in months. We awoke on Saturday morning to pouring rain. Ever optimistic we kept saying it was going to pass.

We got to the track and got a prime table on the lawn, while everyone sniggered at us from inside the grandstand. "They'll be sorry when the sun comes out and we've got the best table," we said. Alas, the sun never did come out. We made the best of it though, no winners, but still fun.

Tuckered out from the races (and getting up all night) D snuggled in bed with me on Sunday morning to catch a few zzzs. So nice not to have to rush early on a Sunday morning.

Sunday was filled with kids birthday parties.

Last night, the kids were high on sugar from cake and lollies and Skip made an incredible roast to finish off the weekend.

I've got another busy week ahead, so it's time to take a deep breath and here we go....

Friday, 16 March 2012

Friday Fun

Lil-lil tells me she loves Friday because of Friday Fun, there's always a little fun in a Friday.

So I thought I'd share this idea with you, the readers who come here every day and are part of this little world.

Originally I wanted to giveaway some nice stuff on the Facebook page, but apparently Mark Zuckerberg doesn't like that. So I'll do it right here instead. (But please feel free to go and visit The Daze of My Life Facebook page, I have a few more ideas up my sleeve for it).
Each Friday, I'm going to giveaway something to my readers, fun huh?

So to kick off Friday Fun, I'm giving away some lovely make-up from Jane Iredale's The Skin Care Makeup line of mineral make-up products.
Good enough to eat, the winner will receive a Chocoholiks lip gloss palate (RRP$50) featuring four delicious flavours and shades of perfect chocolate pairings (Blood Orange, Espresso, Very Berry & Chili Pepper). The winner will also receive a Roses & Lollipops lip colour keyring (featuring Roses colour and Lollypops gloss) (RRP$40).

If you'd like to win, comment below and tell me what's your idea of fun on a Friday. 

Entries close Thursday, March 22 11.59pm (AEST). Winner will be announced next Friday. Open to Aussie residents only. 

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Racy numbers

Life in these parts have been fairly urgh. It's just been about survival, which is sucky. Just getting through the weeks. I hate it, I have been here too many times before. We're getting through at the moment pretty well, but the one thing that is bringing a bit of sparkle is the fact that the Autumn racing carnival is about to start.

Last year, we were so consumed with selling our house and finding somewhere to live that the races got put on the backburner. We didn't even make it to the Golden Slipper, for shame.

This year, Skip will be going to every meet and I'll try and make it to quite a few of them.

I love the races. It's fantastic people watching, a great excuse to frock up, an excellent excuse for a glass of bubbles and it's always a fun day out. While I like watching the races, I quite often never even back a single race. Each time is a little different too – you can sit at the champagne bar, sit in the fancy restaurant or just have a picnic in the sun. As a social event, it really is hard to beat.

Having a few Saturdays booked to focus on having some fun and work out what frock to wear will definitely take my mind off the lack of sleep and generally crankiness of home. Even if I do have to prop my eyes open with matchsticks and try and not be a complete loon.

I have a few race dresses, so I really don't need to purchase something new. I could easily go to each meet with a different dress (it's the only clothes shopping I enjoy and actually do). But I am going to Derby Day for the first time this year which means I'll need something in black and/or white which I don't have. So what's a girl today? Can't shun race tradition now, can I?

I spotted a spotty number in a local vintage store, which is a gorgeous '50s number, a flimsy summer dress so I need something with a little more weight for Autumn. How about one of these?

Collette Dinnigan

Leona Edmiston

Leona Edmiston

Elise Silk

I'm loving these lace dresses from Portmans too:

Are you going to the Sydney Autumn Carnival this year? What are you wearing?

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A little music

Yesterday was a cranky day. Late nights + early mornings +  multiple night wakings = this little face below.

Today, though, her face was filled with excitement and pride as her Grandpa came to her preschool to play some music for her and her friends. I love Goosey's preschool, it's small and caring. An old school place that is warm and is definitely a part of our family life.

It's a non-profit preschool and they love to get visitors from the families to share an interest or hobby with the kids. My dad has played the saxophone and clarinet for many years and my girls love listening to him play when we visit him, so I thought the preschool would enjoy it too. 

I want to take advantage of this wonderful age, where they're so proud to share their family with their friends. I know that eventually the kids will hit an age when they will pretend not to know their oldies.
As Dad played and the kids sat enthralled and then got up and danced, Goosey was super proud. "That's my Grandpa," she nudged to her friends with a beaming smile. She'll remember this for years to come. I think it's nice for my Dad to see where Goosey goes to preschool too and be a part of her life. Plus, who knows, maybe he'll inspire a little musician amongst the group. 

I'm loving being a part of the community that the kids are creating, it's one of the nicest things about being their mum. 

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Talk back

It's a funny thing having a blog. I often feel like I'm talking out loud to myself, but occasionally there are some people listening in.
I had an email from a old family friend and it was so nice to hear from her. I hadn't heard from her for ages and I'd been wondering what was going on in her life. She mentioned that she'd kept up with me over the past few months through this blog, which is nice but it sometimes feels a little unfair. People know what I'm doing, but I often don't know what's going on in their lives.

The blog has become a way of people I know checking in on me and catching up with my life without actually having to speak to me. 

Then I had a text from another lovely friend, who said she'd been keeping up with my news through the blog too. Again it's really nice that people enjoy reading my ramblings, but I'd love to know what others are doing too. 

So to all those family members and friends out there who do read the blog, I do want to know what's happening in your life. I get bored talking to myself, so don't forget to comment occasionally and let me know you're there or if that's too hard try and comment on my Facebook page. 

And to all those people I don't know personally that are reading, introduce yourself here or on my Facebook page.
Let's get a conversation happening.

Are you a blogger, do you find that people know what's going on in your life?

Monday, 12 March 2012

The other side

Becoming a parent opens up so many more issues than just looking after a tiny infant. You have re-negotiate your whole life and relationships. Things that cruised along before need to work on a different level.

Last week I read this beautiful post by Cherie at A Baby Called Max and it brought back some memories for me.

When Lil-lil was born I struggled those first few months at home. I would watch Skip walk out the door to work and be filled with envy. Oh how I would have loved the freedom of walking out the door, talking to adults, doing something productive, drinking a hot cup of tea. Instead, Lil-lil cried a lot and slept little. She hung off me all day and while there were moments I loved just looking at her and chatting to her, I often felt a little 'touched out' and trapped. I felt quite isolated as I didn't really have anyone around me in the same boat. I felt resentful that I was at home. I felt like I had no freedom. I felt like this despite loving her with every fibre of my being.

When Lil-lil was seven months old, Skip and I swapped roles. He stayed at home and looked after her and I went to work full-time. Boy were my eyes opened up. I never imagined how hard it would be to walk out the door and leave my baby. I also never in my foggiest realised the guilt and pressure a parent who's at work can feel. Worrying about what's going on at home. Trying to do your best at work when your mind is often somewhere else. Rushing to work, rushing home. Feeling like you're being torn in two. It was really a great experience to have, to see the other side of the coin.

I'm sure it was also great for Skip to see that being an at-home parent is more than watching soap operas all day.

Almost everyone I know who is a parent has played the "who's more tired, who's worse off, who's got it harder" game with their partner at some stage, I know I have. It can be a toxic game to play because no-one ever wins.

Sometimes it's good to step out of your shoes and see where the other person is, really look, even if you think you know because you might be surprised.

I feel for Skip because he does rush to work each morning and rush home each afternoon. As much as I try not to talk his ear off when he walks through the door, the kids want to soak up every bit with him and jump and yell and climb all over him before they're shuffled off to bed. If he's had a bad day at work, he pushes it aside to smile and spend a few happy moments with the kids. He even listens (or at least pretends to listen) to my mundane mutterings about my day. He gets up extra early with the kids and makes them breakfast. He works hard so that we can have a home, food, holidays, a life. He bears the weight of being the sole bread winner which is a heavy weight.

So when I'm cleaning up Weet-Bix off the floor or wiping someone's bum or dealing with a tantrum (or multiples tantrums). When I'm rocking a baby until my arms are going to fall off or scrubbing off a happy face which has been drawn onto the back of a school uniform (or an LCD TV). When all three kids are yelling and crying and screaming at the same time and I feel my head might explode. When I'm doing all this and thinking of Skip going out to lunch or having drinks after work and feeling jibbed, I remember the stress of his job, him dealing with difficult people at work, him carving out a career, him worrying that I'm not killing the kids, the weight of responsibility he has so we can have a good life. Then I remember the times when I get to watch the kids play, swim, laugh, sing and he's at work, working for us. The grass is never greener.

Being parents in a young family is a balancing act of looking after the kids, looking after each other, looking after yourself. Trying to have a career, a social life, a relationship, a stable family life while just keeping your head above water and getting a couple of hours sleep here and there. There are times where one areas suffers and other times when every area suffers. You just have to go back and try again.

I think I'm lucky, as I think Skip and I do look at life from each other's perspective from time-to-time and I think we try to work as a team. Or at least I hope we do. I'm so appreciative of everything he does for me. I know we try to make life a little bit better, easier and enjoyable for each other. And for that I'm thankful and grateful.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Good in theory

When I was wheeling the shopping trolley round Coles on Monday, I had the brilliant idea of making homemade pizza for dinner on Friday night.

I had images of the girls enthusiastically topping their pizzas, as we laughed and bonded, everyone having a great time. A fun creative way to end the week.

Friday evening arrived and the girls were psyched about making pizzas.

I got everything ready, while D screamed the girls laughed and wriggled with excitement. I asked what they wanted to put on their pizzas. 'Cheese!' cried Lil-Lil. 'Ham!' cried Goosey.

'OK, what else,' I asked, bouncing a screaming baby in one arm.
'Just cheese' said Lil-Lil. 'Just Ham' cried Goosey.

D kept on screaming. I gave up trying to be creative and gourmet.

We threw the pizza in the oven. The girls said it was 'delicious', tasted more like Papa Giuseppe to me.

It was a anticlimax. Probably would've been cheaper and easier to get takeaway from one of the 30 pizza places just metres from our house.

It was a good idea in theory. Do you ever have wonderful ideas that you just can't pull off ?

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Food fight

I was never blessed with sleepers, but I've certainly been blessed with eaters. From the first bit of mush that crossed their lips, my kids have enjoyed their food. I've always felt relieved that we've never had to really battle at the dinner table. Sure they have their likes and dislikes, but over all I can usually get something healthy in their bellies and that, as a mum, makes you feel good. Not that it has the slightest to do with anything that I've done.

Little D started solids last week and with the exception of one potato fiasco has taken to it with gusto. He smiles and laughs after every mouthful like he's discovered the best secret ever. We sing "Pumpkin Boy" to him as he eats (to the tune of Macho Man) and he's in heaven.

Although since the start of school, our fairly stress-free meal times have become battlegrounds. Each and every time I put a plate of food in front of the girls, I hear: "That looks yuck! I'm not eating that". Lil-lil has taken to memorising our meal plan so she can count down the days until we have pasta, the only thing they will happily eat at the moment. We're going into week 6 of this food fight and it's driving me demented.

I try and coerce them to eat but if they don't, I take it away. By morning they wake early starving. I've now told them there will be zero treats (which are usually restricted to the weekend) until they start eating decent healthy food.

I'm sure it's just a phase (at least I hope it is) but it's sending me round the bend.

Have you ever had good eaters go bad?

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The bad old days

Pick up the newspapers or turn on the telly and you'll sure to be swamped with articles and segments about how crime-riddled our society is. If you read or watch for long enough, you'll be deadlocking your door, too frightened to step outside. Talk to old ladies in the supermarket aisles and you'll hear about the 'good old days' when you could leave your door open, but now there are baddies behind every corner. There'll be cries of 'what is society coming to?!'.

A few months ago, I was driving round town and I heard a criminologist being interviewed on the ABC about gang violence (yes, I listen to 702, I never said I was cool). It was fascinating as he was talking about how there is a perception that gang violence is out of control now, certainly in ways it wasn't 50 or more years ago. What he said was that it actually hadn't risen that much. Rather that gang crime was reported more often in the press so it was generally perceived that it was a 'new crime wave' and that there was more fear in the public about gangs. He suggested that this may have racial undertones as well, that people were more fearful Vietnamese or Middle Eastern gangs and that many had thought of criminals such as Neddy Smith and his crew almost like larrikins or the underdog. A kind of bushranger hero worship thing. I arrived at my destination at that point so I never heard the end on the interview or even found out who the criminologist was.

During the night last night, I was feeding the boy when I read this article in The Sydney Morning Herald by Ross Gittins about how crime rates have fallen yet no-one in the media was reporting it. Crime does pay, it seems when we're talking about media sales.

Property crime rates have been falling significantly for the past the decade, but if you turn on Today, Tonight or A Current Affair or even the network news and you'd think there was someone lurking under every window waiting for the moment to pounce.

The article says that statistics from The Australian Institute of Criminology show:

The clearest evidence is of a long-run decline in recorded property crime. The number of burglaries reached a national peak of almost 440,000 in 2000, and has since halved to fewer than 220,000 a year.
The number of motor vehicle thefts reached a peak of 140,000 a year in 2001, and has now fallen by 61 per cent to below 55,000 a year. Other thefts peaked at 700,000 a year in 2001, but are now down by a third to almost 460,000 a year.

 Wow, fascinating stuff. Well, it is to me.

What do you think? Do you feel more vulnerable to crime than you did five or 10 years ago? Do you feel that the media scare mongers? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The little I know about being a parent

I'm feeling wise today, which is funny because most of the time I feel pretty clueless. But I had a two two-hour chunks of sleep last night (the most I've had in weeks) and I feel lively so, as with most things, if the opportunity arises I always think it's best to grab it.

I've been a parent for almost five-and-a-half years now, and in that time I've learnt a thing or two. I'd like to share with you what I've learnt. Do with it what you will.

This is the number one item in my parenting tool box. Kids respond to music, it's no secret why The Wiggles are multi-bagillionaires. I use music to get my kids to do things (brush their teeth, tidy their rooms) to cheer them up, distract them, calm them down, pep them up, get them to sleep, entertain them, whatever. So, it's no great surprise to me that Lil-lil lives her life like a musical and sings her way through life.

It can be me singing songs I like or making up silly songs (usually works best if you include them or include wee or poo). I will also throw on the iPod or the laptop. I always use music in the car to keep them from getting bored or fighting.

I'm certain my neighbours are sick of my singing but it's better than screeching like a fish monger's wife, which happens from time-to-time too.

It doesn't have to be cheesy kids music either, I have been known to sing The Violent Femmes' Blister in the Sun to my kids as a lullaby (I change the words and slow it down).

Before I put my kids to bed I always sang the same song. Babies/kids love cues and knowing what's about to happen. I think of it like the soundtrack to a movie, from the music we know that the axe murderer is about to jump out or that the couple is falling in love. Singing the same song before D goes to bed and he knows exactly what's about to happen and is happy to go to sleep (even if he doesn't stay asleep for very long).

Always have a plan. Although, never expect to pull it off, because with kids, plans inevitably go awry. They get sick, they miss a sleep, they sleep too early, the lose the plot, something always happens. Having vague idea about what is going to happen helps everyone though.

A good night's sleep and you're halfway there
I have non-sleeping children. All of them. It's something we've battled and battled and battled. D started off a brilliant sleeper and during that time I was the best mum in the history of the world. Seriously. I couldn't believe what a difference it made. When you are rested, being a good parent is so much easier. When you're sleep deprived it's hard to even construct a sentence. If you're sleep deprived, don't be hard on yourself. If you're not, make the most of it.

If someone offers help, take it
Don't be a mummy martyr. You don't get extra brownie points for doing it all yourself, so if someone offers, say: "Yes, please". Delegating is the most important skill you can have in any of life's situations. Remember it takes a village and all that stuff. Your kids will benefit from being with grandma/aunty/whoever for a while, and so will you.

When it all goes to hell, make sure you keep laughing. While parenting is serious, it doesn't have to be serious all the time. Keep your sense of humour or you'll lose your mind.

But it's OK to cry from time to time
I remember when Lil-lil was a couple of months old. I had barely slept the whole time she was alive. I made myself a bowl of Sultana Bran and poured OJ all over it instead of milk. It was enough to set me off on a crying jag. I sat, sobbed for a while, thought about the injustice of it all, felt miserably self-pitying for a moment, tipped the cereal in the bin and felt much better. With that out of the way, I could move on.

Enjoy it
Even the crap parts. It will be over before you know it. If you can't enjoy it, think of all the tales you can tell once the pain has subsided.

It's not revolutionary stuff, but I wish I known it five-and-a-half years ago.

Monday, 5 March 2012


The gown

Yesterday, the sun came out for the first time in a long time in Sydney. After days of heavy rain and dark skies, the clouds lifted, the sky was a glorious blue and the sun was warm.

A perfect day to take our baby boy to be baptised. This may seem odd to some of you who have been reading here for a while and know I'm not a religious person. It is something that Skip has felt strongly about, he wanted his children baptised in the church. I was happy to support him.

For me, it's been a wonderful way to welcome our kids into the world. A formal way of saying: "Hey there! Welcome." There has been a strong element of family tradition too in their baptisms, which was important for me and a way of including our children into a family with a lot of history. We have a gown that is over 100 years old and has been worn by four generations of my family, the girls and D are now part of that history. The church is where Skip and his brothers went to school, his brother was baptised and my great grandparents were married. It's nice to mesh our histories by baptising our children there.

As with the girls baptisms, we kept it very small, just immediate family and godparents. The people who are the most important to him, for now at least. The priest included the girls and the grandmothers, as well as the godparents and us, which made it special. As much as Skip and I are his parents, he's heavily influenced (and loved) by these people so for me it feels right to have a ceremony acknowledging it.

It was a lovely service, though D was pretty cranky the whole time except for when he splashed in the baptismal font and then rolled around on the aisle.

Afterwards we celebrated with champagne and sausage sizzle in the sun. A perfect Sunday afternoon.

Splashing in the holy water with his sisters.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Why do we do it?

Some days you wonder why you do all this parenting stuff. The tears, the boredom, the frustration, the yelling, the tantrums, the spew, the poo. A meal you've slaved over spat out. Being told: "I hate you!" and then "can you wipe my bum?"
The constant questions. The constant noise.
Being woken up every.single.night.
Being woken before the sun comes up.
Having your house trashed.
The responsibility. The guilt.

If it was anyone else you would've told them to hit the road along time ago.

And then one tiny glimpse. And your heart swells. And all it's all worthwhile.
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