Or You Could Just Hide In the Cupboard

Or You Could Just Hide In the Cupboard

Quote of the Day/Week/Month/Year or Until I Change It!

‘Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.’

Mohandas Gandhi


Pondering the choices we make at our crossroads is like revision in the school of life.

Regretting the mistakes or taking for granted the successes, means we have learnt nought.

An attentive student will gain wisdom from the mistakes and joy from the successes.

Cartillyer – 2008

Friday, December 17, 2010

My Son Isn't Gay…He's Just Like Me!

Why do so many men fear that their son (especially if he's an only son) might grow up to be homosexual?

Mr T has often expressed concern that Boywonder might grow up with gay tendencies, because he is constantly in the company of his four sisters, and playing dress-ups (in women's clothing as much as men's). I believe the fear isn't really about the son's masculinity, but their own, and today, Boywonder gave Mr T something to think about.

Tomboy, Boywonder and Miss Flora spent the morning rummaging through the dress-up box. Like most children, their favourite costumes are the ones that mimmick adults, so it wasn't surprising to see Tomboy and Boywonder wearing large jackets and neckties with handbags slung over their shoulders.

Boywonder asked me to help do up the buttons on his jacket and adjust the old Woolworths scarf around his neck that Uni Student used to wear to work. Once finished, he informed me that he was 'going to work'.

A little confused about the mix of male and female clothes and accessories, I asked, 'As a man or a woman?'

'As a man,' he replied indignantly. 'I have a handbag like Daddy!'

Although the handbag slung over Boywonder's shoulder was small on an adult, it was quite large next to him, looking much like Mr T's large side bag does when he goes to work.

So next time Mr T worries that too many females are affecting Boywonder's masculinity, I will remind him that his handbag is bigger than mine!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Imaginative Play 2

Boywonder and Tomboy's imaginative play just became a little more interesting. Tomboy was sitting on my rowing machine (they sit on it more than I do, but that's another story) pretending to drive Batman's car. She bellowed for Boywonder to come and join her in the car, but he preferred to watch television. 

Frustrated with Boywonder's lack of interest, Tomboy realised that she needed something to tempt Boywonder, so her next shout was, 'Bill and Ben are in Batman's car too. Do you want to drive with them?'

Bill and Ben are Boywonder's best friends from kindergarten and he knew they weren't here in our house or in Tomboy's imagined Batman car, but he leapt from his seat and raced to the rowing maching.

'Cool, when did you pick Bill and Ben up?' he asked Tomboy before climbing onto the back of the rowing machine. Of course he was careful not to stand or sit on Bill and Ben.

I can't help but be amazed at the boundaries they apply to their imagined games. Is it okay to add someone to your imaginary car if your playmate approves of the added passengers? 

I suppose it's not much different to the rules we impose on a game of beach cricket or catch and kiss. Who wouldn't change the rules just a little if chasing down Wentworth Miller, Will Smith or Brad Pitt for a kiss?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Imaginative Play

I always thought that the beautiful thing about imaginative play was that you could change the game to suit your needs or desires.  Well, that’s how it was when I was a child, but it seems that Boywonder and Tomboy play by different rules when their imagination drives their games.

I was drawn to the lounge room by the sounds of Tomboy screaming, where I found Boywonder running in circles around the room with both arms outstretched in front of him and a  ‘I’m really annoying my sister this time’ smile on his face.

Running behind him, screaming and crying as she tried desperately to catch him, was Tomboy.

‘What’s going on?’ I yelled over the top of Tomboy’s din.

‘He won’t let me get in his car!’ she wailed.

Instead of bursting his bubble by imagining her own car, getting in it and driving off, she was chasing after him, insisting on riding in his imaginary car. Maybe it was more about the power of getting him to stop and let her in the car; I don’t know. What I do know is that children don’t simply change the rules of their imaginary games to suit their wants/needs.

As Boywonder showed me one day, imaginary games are much more fun when you challenge yourself with them. He had set the garden chairs up in a line and made Mr T sit in the back seat, so Boywonder could drive him around. They visited the fish and chip shop and were on their way to pick up Boywonder’s imaginary friend. He jumped out of his driver’s seat and ran into the cubby. When he re-emerged he was holding hands with imaginary Sam and saying, ‘come on, it’s time to go.’

As Boywonder walked towards the garden-chair car, he suddenly stopped and looked around like he’d lost something.

‘What have you lost?’ I asked.

‘Where’d he go?’ replied Boywonder.



Yep, apparently it’s possible to lose invisible, imaginary friends. After thirty seconds of searching for his lost friend, Boywonder found Sam and returned to the car, where Mr T was waiting.

And don’t think Mr T didn’t get involved in the imaginary play. He was reminding Boywonder to secure his seat belt and then leaning into the corners as Boywonder drove them home again. 

I’m glad I caught it all on video!

Friday, September 24, 2010

New Words – Opportation

Boywonder is excited about his upcoming birthday party at McDonald's. I was advised to invite a child per year of age, but keeping it at five isn't easy when he plays with more than half his kinder class. 

Out of the blue yesterday Boywonder asked me when we were doing the opportations. It took me ten minutes of rolling this word around my tongue trying to determine what word he had intended to come out of his mouth. In the end I gave up and started quizzing him for more information. I finally realised that he was referring to his party invitations.

We have since included opportation into our new word dictionary. 

Opportation – The opportunity to gain an invitation.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wobble or Wibble

Tomboy was again sinking her teeth into a not so sweet orange when she shuddered.

'What was that?' I asked.

'This orange makes me wibble,' was the reply.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Embarrassing Emails

Mr T took a few weeks off work to give me a chance to rest and then work out which activities fatigued me. It was imperative to create a new routine that enabled me to manage my CFS when home alone with three children under five. Having a laptop and desktop computer meant Mr T could check his emails without interrupting me, but having his email arriving in the inbox on the desktop and laptop computers caused a bit of confusion.

Both of us were busy tapping away on our computers, I at the desk and he on the lounge with the laptop, when I had a sudden urge to send him a loving email. I sent a red ‘I LOVE YOU’ in the largest font possible to him.  As soon as he received it, he sent back, ‘I love you more’ in the normal size font with extra large ‘XXXX’ after it; his way of trumping my large letters.

I couldn’t top this so I sent back, ‘I’m pretending I didn’t see that!’

Our loving email exchange should have finished there, but I forgot that all emails that I sent to Mr T, were also received in the inbox on the computer I was using. As soon as I saw, ‘I’m pretending I didn’t see that!’ I thought he was mocking me, so I replied, ‘Go away, I’m trying to work! I love you.’

Yep, I’d just answered my own email.  And if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, I also replied to my ‘Go away…’ email with ‘You are so getting smacked when I’ve finished.’

Mr T found this highly amusing when he discovered I was answering my own emails!

I blamed it on the CFS.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Word of the Month – Wobble

Every now and then I hear a word that sounds and/or evokes feeling in tune with its meaning. I thought I'd share these words with everyone by introducing a word of the month, if for nothing more than to provide a short post when I'm lost for words or busy fighting CFS symptoms.

Tomboy brought 'wobble' to my attention last week.

She bit into a sour orange and said, 'This orange makes me wobble!'

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Weather Predicting Underwear

We bought new underwear for Tomboy and Boywonder last week. Tomboy was thrilled with her ‘seven days of the week’ underwear. Unfortunately, they didn’t have ‘days of the week’ underwear for boys, so Boywonder had to settle for pirates.

The new underwear instantly added a new routine to our morning; Tomboy always asked what day was written on her underwear as she dressed. After checking her underwear (because that’s the only way I know what day it is) I confirmed it was Monday. Not content with ‘Ahoy there!’ plastered on the front of his underwear, Boywonder announced that he wanted underwear that told him the weather.

‘You want weather predicting underwear?’ I asked with eyebrows raised. I immediately imagined a huge satellite dish hanging off the side of his underwear and a digital panel at the front that displayed the temperature with a picture of the sun, clouds or rain. I laughed to myself when I further imagined the underwear giving him a taste of the weather; he’d soon change his mind if it were snowing!

We won’t be rushing to the patent office with weather predicting underwear, but I will keep an eye out for something that displays the sun, clouds or rain next time we’re in the underwear section when shopping…or is that the meteorology section?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Girls V. Boys

Being the only two males in our house, Mr T and Boywonder have to stick together. They suffer through histrionics if they leave the toilet seat up, both bathrooms looking like torture chambers with hair straighteners, leg wax and manicure kits littering the benches, and so many varieties of perfume in the air that they’d be forgiven for thinking they lived in a bordello. (Although many males would think a bordello a fine place to live.)

It’s not easy finding your place in such a large household, especially one full of females, so when Boywonder discovered that he and Mr T were the only ones in the house with willehs, he told Mr T, ‘We’re awesome! We have willehs!’

This didn’t bode well with Tomboy who was determined to be awesome as well. Her response to Boywonder’s announcement was, ‘I want a willeh too!’

I could’ve explained to Tomboy that this was an impossibility, but I thought it would be nicer (and funnier) to leave her with a little hope that she may one day have a willeh, so I said, ‘Don’t worry, dear. You have something that will get you lots of willehs when you’re older.’

Tomboy had no idea what I meant, but she was happy in the knowledge that the males in the house wouldn’t always be the only ones with a willeh, and for her, that’s awesome!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Comical Quotes

Boywonder (4 years old) – When asked when and how he got the large bruise on his shin, Boywonder replied, ‘That happened when I was young.’

Me – Wheat and concentrated tomato are just two of the many things that upset Miss Flora’s tummy. After finding a wheat-free pasta in the health food aisle of the supermarket, I turned to Uni Student and asked, ‘Do you think anyone makes a tomato-free pasta sauce?’

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More Clairvoyance?

My intuition is working well at the moment... even when I'm asleep. 

I woke at 5 am to tend to Miss Flora's high temperature. Mr T was woken as well, so I told him that I'd dreamt the Socceroos beat Germany 4–0. Mr T went downstairs to check and returned with the current score of Germany 2, Socceroos 0, so my dream wasn't going to come true. 

Imagine my surprise when we finally got out of bed later in the morning to discover the score was 4–0, except in Germany's favour. I'm now working on the lotto numbers. I expect I'll get the right numbers on the wrong night. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Coincidence or Clairvoyance

As Mr T and I washed and dried the breakfast dishes, I wondered what I should cook for dinner. Not feeling the best, I wanted something simple. It only took thirty seconds of thought before I decided I’d throw a frozen, family-size meat pie in the oven and cook some vegetables to go with it.

‘Don’t we have a meat pie in the freezer that we could have for dinner?’ asked Mr T.

There’s nothing unusual about Mr T suggesting what to cook for dinner, except I hadn’t mentioned dinner. All of my thoughts and decisions about dinner had been in my head. We bought the meat pie at least a month ago, and he never had a need to look in the freezer, so it’s not like Mr T had recently seen the pie.

This wasn’t the first time one of us had spoken aloud the thoughts of the other, or finished a sentence for each other. There’s a certain amount of comfort knowing that you’re so connected to your partner; there’s also a certain amount of spookiness.

If only we could connect to Tattslotto so well.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Buzzards Attack Slow Cyclist

Reading a news item (Buzzard Attacks Slow Cyclist) about a cyclist being attacked by a buzzard, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my own buzzard-like children.
As Miss Flora grows, her food intolerances continue to persist. Unfortunately, her ability to recognise when others are eating has created a new challenge in managing her intolerances; she wants to eat what she sees everyone else eating. She can still be bought off with one of her rice biscuits or wheat and dairy-free fruit bars, but Boywonder and Tomboy can’t. They’re ability to spot the slightest movement of a jaw trying to chew a lolly or chocolate inconspicuously is inhuman. This has made it extremely hard for me to have a sneaky Cornetto during the day.

Imagine a quiet afternoon, where I’ve miraculously managed to get Miss Flora down for a nap. It’s one of those cold and wet winter days, so Boywonder and Tomboy are snuggled under their blankets on the couch engrossed in a DVD. I look over at them and am hit with an overwhelming craving for a Cornetto. Okay, it’s not really a craving; it’s probably procrastination prolonging the distraction from writing by throwing me a challenge. Regardless, the more I think about not being able to have that Cornetto, or how hard it will be to eat it without Boywonder or Tomboy noticing, the more I want it.

If I move too quickly in the direction of the kitchen they’ll sense the urgency and follow out of curiosity. If I move to slowly and either of them notices they’ll be on to me like buzzards on a slow cyclist.

*Cue Mission Impossible Music* I move slowly towards the kitchen. Once in there I know the chances of them hearing me open the freezer and Cornetto box are great, so I get out a couple of sweet biscuits for them first. I place the biscuits on the bench where they will see them as soon as they enter the kitchen. So far, so good. Neither of them have followed me or noticed any of the noise I’m making. (Why is everything channelled through an amplifier when you’re trying to be quiet?) I sneak the Cornetto out of the box and secret it between my shirt and jacket. Time is of the essence now; the Cornetto feels painfully cold through my thin shirt and my body heat is going to make it melt even faster. My ability to mix stealth and speed is so amazing that I stop for a second to consider a future in action movies. A shuffling sound from the lounge room reminds me of my mission and that I’m really only a little bit faster than a slow cyclist about to be attacked by a buzzard. I reach my bedroom and rip the wrapper from the Cornetto.

I try to enjoy my moment of secret indulgence as the caramel ice-cream melts in my mouth and my teeth crunch the tiny pieces of toffee, but as much as my mouth revels in the sensation, my ears and mind are elsewhere. The act of hiding in my bedroom, indulging in a guilty pleasure with my ears straining to here anyone that might catch me is disturbingly similar to a teenage boy experimenting in masturbation. I try to focus on enjoying the Cornetto, but with every bite of the ice-cream filled waffle cone, of which milk and wheat are two main ingredients, my mind is busy rationalising that one Cornetto filtered through my breast milk won’t upset Miss Flora’s tummy.

Unable to truly enjoy the moment at a slow and indulgent pace, the Cornetto is gone and I’m left with sticky hands. I bury the wrapper in the bathroom bin, wash my hands and tiptoe downstairs. Passing through the kitchen I pick up the sweet biscuits I’d left as a distraction for the buzzards and enter the lounge room.
‘You’ve been so good quietly watching your movie, here’s a couple of bikkies for you,’ I say to Boywonder and Tomboy as I hand them the biscuits.

I sit back down at my desk and start typing while I convince myself I’m more akin to a slow cyclist than a teenage boy.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Daughter Leaves Home… Daughter Returns and She's Not Alone

I was relieved when The Apprentice asked if she could move back home; she couldn’t afford to get a place of her own and was stuck living in a relationship with someone she didn’t love. Having her at home meant I would be less stressed; I worried about her day and night.

We were all looking forward to the strange and amusing things she said. Like the time she tried to make Mr T feel better about his baldness by telling him he wasn’t bald, he just had a large forehead. Or calling me after she drove to her home in the western suburbs to tell me she had the sun in her eyes the entire time and that they really should think about where they put suburbs.  

What I wasn’t looking forward to were the two young felines she’d adopted during her time living away from home. I’d never imagined the stress that two young cats would create for me.

It’s been a long time since I lived with a cat, so I’ve grown used to not having to brush cat hair off my clothes, the couch, the curtains … my food! How on earth do cats escape baldness after continuously shedding copious amounts of hair?

I’ve now gone from child locks on cupboards to keep Miss Flora out of everything to chasing two thieving felines – that have absolutely no respect for authority – off of the kitchen table and benches.

Just when I thought the feline felons were learning their place and my stress levels were dropping, the youngest one developed diarrhea, which wouldn’t have been a problem if he’d made it to the litter tray in time. At least he was on the floor and not jumping on my kitchen bench when it happened.

The vet prescribed cooked chicken breast to remedy the foul, feline frustration. Thankfully, the health department never has a need to inspect our freezer, or they’d be asking me to explain why I have several packages labelled ‘CAT’. Obviously it is for the cat, but it could be misconstrued when it’s next to packages labelled ‘BEEF’, ‘LAMB’ and ‘CHICKEN’.

With the diarrhea cured and the disobedient furballs finally learning their place is on the floor (we’re still working on the lack of respect for authority), I started to relax … maybe a little too soon. The Apprentice sends me an sms while she’s at the vet with one of the cats. ‘Urgent! Don’t let kids touch cat. Will explain later’.

I lock the other cat in the laundry with the litter tray, food and water, wash the kids’ hands and then wonder what exotic disease has found its way into our home on the back of The Apprentice’s cats.  By the time The Apprentice arrives home I’ve researched every possible cat disease and am still no wiser.

‘They have ringworm,’ announces The Apprentice.

Ringworm I can handle, but trying to keep three children aged between 1 and 4 from touching the cats until the ringworm is eradicated is a whole new stress.

‘Don’t touch the cat!’ ‘Did you touch the cat? Wash your hands.’ ‘Leave the cat alone.’ ‘Wash your hands.’ ‘I told you not to touch the cat.’ ‘No! Don’t touch the cat.’ ‘Aaaaarrrggghhhh!!!!!’

Two weeks later, the ringworm is gone, the cats are too terrified of the consequences to even consider jumping on the kitchen table and the kids have learnt to ask before touching the cat. Despite the hair, poo and total disrespect for authority, the youngest feline does a good job at entertaining us each night as he races from one end of the lounge room to the other like a greyhound lure on amphetamines. If he only knew the irony when he chases a cursor about the computer screen; a cursor controlled by a mouse!

Just as I relax and think to myself, ‘at least The Apprentice didn’t have any children while she was living away from home,’ the hyperactive kitten starts to entertain himself by hooking poo out of the litter box and batting it around the floor. Maybe a couple of grandkids wouldn’t have been so bad after all.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I Didn't Marry A Handyman!

Mr T can be quite creative when he needs to reach the guttering and doesn't have a ladder. Fortunately he didn't fall and break his leg/back/neck; unfortunately it also means I didn't get a good video to send to 'Australia's Funniest Home Videos'.  

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mr T's Dilemma

Mr T is one of those men that will suffer through random bouts of pain if it means he can avoid going to the doctor. As long as the pain subsides occasionally he’ll soldier through it, because it’s easier to cope with than hearing a medical professional tell him that his blood pressure is too high, his cholesterol levels are worrying and he needs to lose weight.

I have since clued our doctor up on Mr T’s procrastination when it comes to his own health, so when I do get him there, the doctor orders a battery of tests. This presents me with the next challenge – getting Mr T to the pathology rooms.

After four months of further procrastination by Mr T, I tricked him into committing a morning to his blood tests. He thought I was asking for help with the kids; the realisation that I had tricked him reminded him that he had married a woman that wasn’t worried about bending the truth if it meant her husband would take better care of himself. Unfortunately for Mr T, and unbeknownst to me, the doctor had ordered a new test that he’d not had before – the 24-hour urine test.

When Mr T returned home from the pathology rooms, he walked in the front door with a wad of cotton wool stuck to his arm, a ‘why me’ look on his face, and a large plastic shopping bag in his hand.

‘What’s that?’ I asked as I looked at the large pathology emblem plastered on the side of the bag.

Mr T sighed, pulled an empty, 4-litre, plastic bottle out of the bag and said, ‘I have to pee in it.’

He looked miserable, so being the compassionate wife I am, I laughed long and hard, and then proceeded to tell Uni Student about Mr T’s dilemma. She tried to stifle her amusement for a couple of seconds, which was much more restraint than I’d shown. As soon as we stopped laughing, Uni Student’s boyfriend (USB) walked through the door, so we filled him in on the joke. He was his usual polite self and didn’t laugh. He even tried to make Mr T feel better by telling him that USB’s mother had performed the test several times in the past. And that was the end of Uni Student’s and my fun … or was it?

Mr T had to spend twenty-four hours filling his 4-litre bottle with urine. It wasn’t the amount of urine or how long he had to use the bottle for that worried him. It was walking back into a crowded, pathology waiting room with a massive bottle of urine. Pathology waiting rooms aren’t always crowded, but they are when you have a very large, transparent bottle of urine in your hand.

Maintaining a compassionate demeanour while injecting humour into the situation isn’t easy. Determined to make Mr T feel better, I made a few suggestions.

‘I could take bets on how full the bottle is at the end of twenty-four hours.’

Mr T frowned.

‘I could document it with the new video camera!’

Mr T growled.

Sometimes he needs a little encouragement to laugh at himself, so while he was at work I started documenting with the video camera. He’d come around to the idea … eventually … I think.

I soon discovered that it’s not easy coming up with witty things to say about an empty, 4-litre, urine bottle, so I enlisted the help of Boywonder.

‘This is the bottle Daddy has to pee in for twenty-four hours. Do you think he’ll fill it?’ I asked.

‘Yes! Can I pee in it too?’ replied Boywonder.

What boy doesn’t want to share experiences with his dad?! Of course I said no.

When gently telling Mr T about the first instalment in the urine bottle documentary, he announced the idea of his four-year-old son helping fill the bottle as brilliant; healthy young urine would dilute any evil results present in Mr T’s.

My other challenge was ensuring Mr T always used the one toilet that had his wee bottle in it (we have three toilets in our home), so I stuck a note that said, ‘wee wee in bottle’ on the door of the other two toilets. He didn’t find this very amusing either, but I documented it as well (for the sake of posterity).

I’m proud to say that Mr T did very well and toddled off the next morning with his bottle more than half full! Fortunately for us (unfortunately for him), we get to repeat it all again in six months time. Well, he does, we just get to think up new urine bottle jokes.

And the results? – Mr T’s blood pressure is good, but he does need to lose a little weight to help lower his cholesterol. As for the documentary, I saw a smile playing about Mr T’s mouth as he watched The Wee Wee Challenge so I’ve declared it a smiling success.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Comical Quotes

Some comical quotes straight from the mouths of my children...

Apprentice trying to make Mr T feel better about his baldness – 'You're not bald, you just have a big forehead.'

Boywonder offering to look after USB's laptop – 'I'll keep an eye from it.' (Because we all know how eyes like to attack laptops. Unfortunately he could only keep one from it at a time.)

Apprentice driving to her home in the western suburbs at dusk with the sun in her eyes – 'They really should consider where they put suburbs!'

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothers Day or is that Boys Day? (2010)

Originally posted: 5 Sept 2010

I mentioned in a previous post that Boywonder wanted a day for himself, but since he hadn’t set a date we didn’t take it too seriously. We discovered today that he had set a date - Mothers Day!

At 9 am, after we finished eating breakfast and unwrapping my presents, Boywonder said, 'Well, that was a good Mothers Day.'

He then put on the badge he'd received on a birthday card last October and declared the day his. He called it ‘Boys Day’.

Cheeky sod!

I spent Mothers Day doing what I do best, being a mother.

I did the ironing and then I washed Apprentice’s clothes, because she doesn't have a washing machine and ran out of time to wash them yesterday. She was coming back to do it today, but I knew she wouldn't get it dry in time. Then I helped Uni Student with research for an essay she was having trouble with about the changes to the workplace acts.

Five minutes after posting this I will begin some ‘me’ time; I will have access to a timed assignment that I must complete before 10pm tomorrow night.Some may gasp and splutter, 'that's not 'me' time', but to me it's very much about 'me'.

Some might think my day sounded as bad if not worse than any other day, but I don’t have to cook any meals today, and that is a big help. Helping my children always makes me feel good.

Happy Mothers Day to all those hard working mothers out there.I think this rose is symbolic of the love, blood, sweat and tears that comes with the job.

Miss Flora's First Birthday.

Rights and Responsibilities under the Fair Work Act 2009
Miss Flora enjoyed tucking into a wheat-free tea cake, which had a thin layer of chocolate icing. We were hoping it was enough icing to get a nice, ‘messy face’ photo, but not enough for the cocoa to upset her belly. She spent the early hours of next morning throwing herself about the bed restlessly, so her small intake of cocoa was too much for her to handle.  At least she enjoyed her hot chips for dinner and cake for dessert. We also had pavlova, because she loves it and doesn’t react to the sugar and egg.

She wasted no time ripping open her presents after dinner and gave us strange looks every time we threw the brightly coloured, ‘noisy when it crinkles’ paper away. I know I could’ve saved a lot of money by buying her a couple of packets of coloured cellophane paper, and making scrunch balls for her, but her ability to consume copious amounts of paper in one sitting was a little worrisome.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Thin Line Between Beauty and Vanity

I’ve always thought it important to instill self-confidence in our children. It’s also important to ensure that they’re not over-confident; there’s nothing more annoying than extreme vanity. The more I thought about the many children I’d seen who were obviously vain, and compared them to those that lacked self-esteem, the more I realised what a thin line there is between the two. I had no idea as to how I’d keep my three youngest children balanced on that line, but I knew the challenge would be filled with amusing experiences.

The first one came after helping Tomboy dress and do her hair one morning. Her hair had been washed the night before so it fell in ringlets down her back. Everyone has a colour that sets off his or her features perfectly and red was definitely Tomboy’s. She twirled around in her new, fluffy, red jacket and then smiled her Angelina Jolie lips at me. Her blue eyes twinkled with delight; there was no mistaking her pleasure in her new jacket.

I said to her, 'Aren't you beautiful.'

'Yes, I am,' was the reply.

'I love you,' I said next.

'Yes, you do,' was her reply. 

I raised my eyebrows as I watched her skip away. At least (or so I thought) Boywonder wasn't so vain. After he finished dressing himself, I said, 'Aren't you beautiful!'

His reply – 'I'm not beautiful … I'm handsome!'

That thin line suddenly felt a whole lot thinner.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Who Peed In The Garden?

As I entered the kindergarten foyer to collect Boywonder I overheard a worrying conversation between some of the other mothers.

‘… one of the kids went to the toilet in the garden.’

Memories of an enlightening conversation with Boywonder the previous summer came flooding back to me …

Prior to starting kindergarten, Boywonder spent a year attending daycare one day a week. The thrill of learning things from someone other than us guaranteed he was soon bringing home new habits – both good and bad. He was always proud to tell us about his new friends and what he’d learnt from them. It was soon obvious he was more of a follower than a leader.

Then one scorching summer day, Boywonder proved us wrong; he showed me that he was a leader. We were sitting around the wading pool trying to cool down when Boywonder announced his urgent need to pee, but instead of asking for the potty, he asked if he could pee in the garden. I looked at my very pregnant belly and swollen ankles, thought about how often little boys peed behind a tree when I was growing up and said, “Sure.”

Boywonder wasted no time stripping his swimmers off and racing to the edge of the garden. He placed his hands on his out-thrust hips and began to pee. His stance was as comical as it was knowledgeable of how to pee in the garden; it was also obvious this wasn’t the first time he’d done it. Ready to blame his peers for leading my son astray, I asked if any of the other kids at day care peed in the garden.

 “Yes,” he replied.

“And who is that?” I asked.

“Me!” replied Boywonder glowing with pride.

… The classroom door opened and my thoughts snapped back to my present predicament. I cast my eyes about the kindergarten foyer, wondering if anyone knew which child had used the garden as a toilet. The other parents and I shuffled along the short hall that led from the foyer to the classroom. By the time I reached the door I was holding my hands behind my back and looking at my feet like a naughty child about to be punished.

I entered the classroom and Boywonder ran up to me, ready to go home with the teacher happily waving goodbye to us. As we walked out the door I saw the teacher attempting to catch someone else’s attention. It was impossible to see which of the twenty parents she was beckoning to, but I was convinced it was the parent of the outdoor urinator. I could empathise with the parent, so I did what any concerned parent would do. I told Boywonder we were in a hurry and ushered him to the car quickly; if I was going to quiz him about which child peed in the garden I had to do it before he became distracted and forgot.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

What About My Day???

As Mr T finalised the Mother’s Day shopping on behalf of Boywonder, Tomboy and Miss Flora, Boywonder asked a very valid question. ‘What about my day?’

It made perfect sense to Boywonder; he’d just watched Daddy open birthday presents last month, he’d be watching Miss Flora open her birthday presents in a couple of days, and he’d just finished helping Daddy buy presents for Mummy to open on Mother’s Day.

We explained to Boywonder that he already has a day each year; it’s called his birthday. Despite explaining this several different ways and using examples he’d understand, Boywonder was still determined to have ‘his day’. Each time he heard Mother’s Day mentioned he’d remind us about ‘his day’, and since he hadn’t set a date we let him prattle on about it.

By the time Mother’s Day arrived Boywonder had forgotten about ‘his day’ – or so we thought. At 9.00 am we’d finished eating breakfast and I’d unwrapped all of my presents.

Mr T was asking me what I’d like to do next when Boywonder interrupted with, 'Well, that was a good Mother’s Day.'

He then put on a badge he'd received on a birthday card the previous year and declared the day his. He called it ‘Boys’ Day’.

Boywonder strutted around the house wearing his badge and reminding everyone that it was ‘his day’. He was so proud of his ingenuity at turning Mother’s Day into ‘his day’ that we let him have his moment of glory. Besides, once he realised he wasn’t getting any presents, the novelty soon wore off (just in time for my Mother’s Day dinner).

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mouldy Highchairs and Outrageous Bills...

It was a lovely autumn day in Melbourne today; the sky was clear and we had a top of 22C, so we decided to go for a drive up Mt Dandenong. Boywonder and Tomboy had a lovely time kicking their feet through the golden leaves on the ground and I got some great photos of the autumnal trees and some interesting toadstool and plant shots to use as inspiration for the fairy world in one of my chapter books.

Lunch was a little disappointing. The food was great, but we weren’t entirely happy with the service. I understand that some people cringe when they see a couple with young children arrive at their upper class restaurant; let’s face it there are a lot of people that let their kids run riot through restaurants. But our kids don’t create loud noise and they remain in their chair the entire time we’re in the restaurant, unless it’s to visit the toilet. We’ve often received compliments on how well behaved our children are.

The restaurant we attended didn’t have a children’s menu, but they did have a high chair, so that says to me children are welcome. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see that the straps and the edges of the high chair seat were covered in spots of mould. At least half the restaurants we visit provide high chairs with mould on them and they are usually the more expensive restaurants.

Is it their way of ensuring you don’t return with your children? At first I thought it was because they didn’t have children, but when the hostess removed our plates at the end of the meal she asked Boy Wonder and Tomboy how old they were and then proceeded to tell us how old her children were. Maybe I should’ve asked her if she’d place her child in a high chair with mouldy straps.

Two other tables received complimentary bread rolls; we were overlooked, but so was the table next to us. They didn’t have children, but the woman was Asian; maybe the restaurant was anti-children and racist.

When Mr T returned from paying the bill I asked how much it was. When he told me $136 I sent him back to ask for an explanation. His and my meal with our wine totalled $80, which meant we were being charged almost $30 each for Boywonder and Tomboy’s lunch. I wasn’t surprised to see them apologising for charging us another table’s bill and refunding $46. Needless to say, no tip was left.

But how was the food you ask? It was nice, nothing to rave about and certainly not memorable enough to overshadow the memory of the high chair and bill!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Miss Flora's First Birthday is Just Around the Corner!

We celebrate Miss Flora’s first birthday in a couple of weeks. Due to her food intolerances, we’ve had to find a cake that is free from dairy, wheat and cocoa. Basco do a nice tea cake, cake mix, which still contains a small amount of dairy, but we’re hoping there’s not enough to upset Miss Flora’s belly on her big day. We’ll put a little bit of icing on it so she can make a right mess when she tries to wear it. A first birthday isn’t a first birthday without cake on your face, head, arms, fingers, table, Mummy, and Daddy. I’ll let you know how we go.

No Birthday Shall Pass Without Cake!

Every year Mr T insists that he doesn’t need a cake on his birthday and every year I buy one, but in 2008 we were pretty busy on his birthday, so when he insisted he didn’t want one, I foolishly relented. As soon as I said, ‘Okay, we won’t get one,’ it felt wrong. I believe a birthday should be celebrated with cake and presents, the more, the merrier (cake, presents and people), but I couldn’t shake the feeling that we’d ruined Mr T’s birthday by not including a cake in the celebrations.

It wasn’t long until that feeling became fact. Boywonder and Tomboy were tucked in their beds for their afternoon nap while Mr T and I settled on the couch to enjoy a cuppa and one of the videos Mr T had received as a birthday present. Boywonder was the first to wake and at first we didn’t think anything of the fact he had woken much earlier than he usually did. He walked into the lounge room with his cheeks flushed and his eyes looking very glassy. As soon as I felt his forehead I knew his temperature was well above normal. I left him standing where I’d felt his forehead while I retrieved the thermometer from the kitchen. As I re-entered the lounge room Boywonder placed his hand over his mouth, his eyes bulged and his cheeks blew up like a blowfish. The next few seconds played out in slow motion; I knew what was going to happen next, but also knew there was no way I could stop it happening. All of my brainpower was focused on trying to prevent what was about to unfold, so my mouth was unable to communicate to Mr T or Tomboy. I looked back through the doorway to the kitchen for a suitable container, but there were none. I looked at where Boywonder stood in the middle of the lounge room carpet. As I started to cross the few steps that felt like ten metres, vomit began pouring out of Tomboy’s mouth and onto the carpet.

This stirred Mr T into action, but it seemed all of his brainpower was focused on communication, because apart from sitting up in shock, he was unable to move from the couch as his mouth started uttering incoherently, ‘What the …? Oh, man! What …? How …? Aargh …’

I grabbed Boywonder’s arm and coaxed him to the kitchen as fast as I could, but we still seemed to be stuck in slow motion. By the time I had him standing on the kitchen tiles, he’d finished coating the lounge room carpet in something that looked like chicken and vegetable soup, but smelt like sour milk mixed with rotten oranges.

Now that the emergency was over, we were moving at normal speed and the parts of our bodies that were left without power were once again functioning.
‘This is what happens when you don’t have cake on your birthday,’ I told Mr T as he surveyed the carpet in disgust. I knew from past experience that I’d be the one cleaning it up. If Mr T attempted to clean it, I’d end up having to clean up two lots of vomit.

As fast as Boywonder’s tummy bug appeared, it disappeared. The vomitous explosion was just what Boywonder needed to reduce his temperature and make him feel good again. Despite the afternoon’s disastrous turn Mr T was still in the ‘birthday’ mood that evening and enjoyed crawling about on the floor (upstairs away from the earlier disaster scene), acting the fool with Boywonder and Tomboy.

While they played I ran the bath. The sound of the water thundering from the tap into the bath makes it difficult for me to hear anything more than 30 cm from my ears, so when I heard a loud thud in the hallway, instinct insisted I investigate. I found Mr T lying on the floor, holding his head in his hands.

‘What happened?’ I asked.

Apart from a quiet groan, he was silent.

I moved closer, bent over him and asked again. I was starting to worry until he finally answered me.

‘I spun around on my knees and smacked my head on the stair railing. I think I nearly knocked myself out,’ he explained, still holding his head in his hands.

After a few more moments of silent cursing (the children were also watching and waiting) Mr T got to his feet.

‘Are you okay?’ I asked.


‘We should have bought a birthday cake,’ I replied with raised eyebrows and an ‘I told you so’ smile on my lips. 

As usual, I forgot to check the weather for that night and the next day, so Mr T volunteered to go downstairs and find out. Halfway down the stairs Mr T slipped and landed very hard on his behind.

‘Are you okay?’ I asked as I looked down on him, his shoulders slumped in defeat.

‘We should’ve bought a birthday cake,’ was his sad reply.

So from that day forth a new birthday law was passed in our house and it is ‘no birthday shall pass without having cake’. The good thing is that now we sometimes buy two cakes; you can never be too cautious.

Mr T has come a long way in the last two years. He not only agrees to have a birthday cake, but participates in choosing which one he wants. And this year he even went as far as complaining when the rest of us ate the leftover cake the following day while he was at work. Did he really think he’d be able to have his cake and eat it too?