Aussie Aussie Aussie

26 Jan

It’s Australia Day today.

I have never really celebrated the day. In general, I don’t think the Australian people are zealously and demonstrably patriotic in the way that you might see in other countries.

In the past, Australia Day has meant a day off and maybe the Big Day Out.

In more recent times, I’ve felt there’s a cultural cringe attached to Aussies celebrating Australia Day . I can’t see a ute with the southern cross sticker on the back windscreen without thinking it’s being driven by a bogan redneck. And unfortunately, I now link outward Aussie pride with the Cronulla riots. Which is a shame. And misplaced given that there are many people who celebrate Australia Day who also support opening our borders to people of all nationalities. Many people just celebrate because it’s worth celebrating.

And it really is. Now that I have children, I have come to appreciate how deeply I won the lotto just by being born in this country. And that my children have won that same lotto.

The world is a big and complicated place. And I know so very little about so much of the conflict, next to nothing about the suffering that people endure within their homelands, especially women.

So today, perhaps for the first time, I reflected on what it meant to be Australian. What it meant to me that my children have been born Australian. How privileged we are to live with such freedom and such opportunity. And, oh man, the beaches. The beaches are ace.

We spent the day with dear friends. We chucked some snags on the barbie (with grilled turkish bread on the side – Oi Oi Oi!), drank beer and ate lamingtons. And the kids ran and played in the massive back yard.

Lucky is an understatement.

Happy Australia Day.

Embracing The Arts

25 Jan

So here’s LD, making a little something for my treasurey artwork collection.

As a parent, can you witness your child put paintbrush to paper without getting a little misty-eyed?

I’ll tell you, I can’t. I simply can not. It fills me with joy. Probably because I’m a left-wing, support-the-arts type. But also because seeing my kid’s imagination begin to soar is like a drug. It makes me high. Giddy. It’s cool is what it is.

And also, kids engaged in activities are kids that leave me the hell alone for a sweet second.

So, I love it when my kid gets all creative and artsy. I’m not sure if he’s any good at it but I love that he seems to get a kick out of doing it.

I had a friend whose (genius) daughter drew her first face at around 18 months of age. I was astonished. And jealous. It took LD an age to work out which end of the crayon to write with. Ummm, dude, it’s a crayon. Both ends work.

No, I made that bit up. Not the geniusy daughter bit. That’s totally true. But LD knew how to work a crayon,  he just didn’t really dig drawing until after his second birthday.

See here how he’s made up for lost time?

What is it about photos of faces and kids with pens? They have to draw something coming out of the nose. It’s like Defacing 101. Kind of cool though considering at LD’s age, I’d expect nothing more than mindless scribbles. The kid has defacing skillz.

And how awesome is this shit?

I wanna say that this is a ghost. But I can’t remember whether LD actually told me that or whether I’ve just decided that’s what it is. Either way, I love the shit out of this drawing.

A while back I came across this scene.

It appeared the painting had turned into a spot of finger painting. That’s cool. I’m all for exploring your creative potential.

But what, pray tell, had become of the little artist?

And that was the day I learnt that painting is not a good activity to set up Child A with so as to put Child B to sleep without being interrupted by Child A. Not a good activity at all.

So my little artist and I had a little chat about where paint belongs. Namely, on the paper and not on the face. I felt the chat went well but short of having him sign an agreement in blood, how can one really be sure that their small child has comprehended much less agreed with the little chat? It’s tricky. To reassure myself that we have been on the same wavelength, I often prompt LD to say, “Yes, Mumma” when I’ve finished speaking. How this helps with the overall comprehension, I can’t say. But it feels like the right thing to do.

Okay. So, do you see what’s happened here then?

I feel like maybe when LD said, “Yes, Mumma” after our little chat that he didn’t really mean it. Although in his defence, our chat was about paint and not textas, faces and not wardrobe doors.

Far be it from me to crush the spirit of the artist within. For the record, I’m a big fan of LD’s work. And I can see how the constraints of the easel could push a little man to extremes. Creativity can not, nay, MUST not be contained and all that. But seriously, we rent this joint. So I can’t be having this shit.

There was a heart stopping moment when I took to the texta with spray cleaner and a sponge and NOTHING happened. I was ready to sell my little artiste. But thankfully, the Magic Eraser worked like….well, you know.

We had another little chat. And for now, it seems to have worked. But maybe that’s because LD is sufficiently exercising his rebellious side by pissing on our carpet. Yeah, that’s rented, too.

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For Keep’s Sake

24 Jan

I am a terrible hoarder. I’ve mentioned that before.

Naturally, I am sentimental about anything my children have ever touched (except maybe their nappies and the boogers they frequently wipe on me). But I am also sentimental about crazy things. Really crazy things.

For instance, I went through a stage of feeling sentimental about my hair. Cleaning my brush of the hair it had collected over time and then throwing it into the bin was excruciating. The idea that in amongst the decaying food scraps and general filth of a trash receptacle would be my lovely tresses, once a part of me and still bearing my unique DNA, was almost too much to bear. Actually, I was about eleven years old so the thought process was probably simplified to, “My hair is touching rotten food. Ewww.” The fact that the hair was no longer attached to my head hardly mattered. Such was the extent of my crazy. It was, thankfully, short-lived. I’m not a total wack-job.

Beyond sentiment, I hoard things I consider ‘too good for every day use’. I am reluctant to break the seal of newness on things because of the way it renders them not new. I am an absolute shocker for keeping things for ‘a special occasion’ and then discovering they have not retained their original quality. Fifteen years later.

For instance, I can tell you that the Peppermint Foot Lotion from The Body Shop will not smell pepperminty forever. And the consistency of the lotion will change when the ingredients start to separate. Sure, I got the lotion in a lovely gift basket when I was fifteen but seriously, Body Shop, maybe it’s time to up your game.

And then there’s the whole green issue. If I can recycle something, then tossing it from my life becomes almost breezy. However, the idea of adding to landfill keeps me up at night and so our garage is full of things we may need to use one day.

The useful box of crafty stuff for the kids is overflowing with toilet rolls and pictures lovingly torn from old magazines. The crafty stuff I can never be arsed to get out and set up for the kids because they’re so fucking messy with it. The crafty stuff that, when I do set up the craft table for my fucking messy kids, I recycle AGAIN by picking it off the page my kid has glued it to and putting it back into the useful box. But that’s only the artworks I deem not treasure-worthy. The treasure-worthy artworks get stored in the overflowing treasurey-artworks box.

FUCK.

So, here in Australia, the people of Queensland have been suffering terribly on account of the flash-flooding in that part of the country. It has been tragic.

And it has made me think.

What the hell would I save?

In the event of a natural disaster such as has occurred in Queensland, would any of the shit I agonise over even matter?

If ever there was a time to downsize, to simplify, it is in the wake of this horror.

The spring cleaning that took place over the holidays recently was, I have to admit, more a tidying, a sort of rearranging of junk, rather than a brutal, everything must go kind of affair.

So that’s what I aim to do. Get brutal.

On the hit list:

  • toys that have many tiny parts that I am forever picking up or standing on
  • essential bottles of beauty product that I have used once
  • clothes that I am definitely going to fit into any day now
  • every toilet roll after the 3 millionth. NO-ONE does that much craft
  • the broken bangle (plastic and cost no more than $10) that I have been meaning to glue together now for more than four years

It’s time to get brutal.

The victims of the flood disaster are really hurting. Donations can be made here.

Co-clucked

23 Jan

I woke this morning to tell B about a dream I had. I had just given birth to twin sons, one of which I called Control.

Yup.

Then B told me he dreamt that I did a pregnancy test but rather than the usual piss on a stick variety, this one involved chicken schnitzels. We had to pan fry the schnitzel and if it turned blue, it was a boy and a pink schnitzel would indicate a girl. He said despite being certain we would be having another boy, the schnitzel was, in fact, pink.

Yup.

So.

Both dreaming about babies at the same time.

You might say we are co-clucking.

And it just beggars belief.

Last night, not only did Zee wake up four times BEFORE MIDNIGHT but we also had LD pay us a visit at around 11pm to say that he’d had a dream about monsters.

Then, they both woke at around 6am, headfirst into the day.

I use the word ‘day’ loosely because to my mind, if the sun ain’t all the way up, it ain’t day yet.

So exactly what are B and I doing dreaming about expanding our family? And then telling each other about the crazy dreams and feeling all giggly about the idea of another baby? When we’re downstairs hiding from the two children we already have?

As I said, it just beggars belief.

We are tired. Bone weary. We have so very little time to try to get done the mountain of stuff that is either required or desired. The kids get on our nerves. We get on each other’s nerves. Hey, let’s throw a newborn into the mix!

We are nutty in the extreme.

But from the moment Zee arrived, neither B or myself had even a moment when we sensed that we were done with the baby-making. It’s clear to both of us that another little being is waiting to make their grand entrance onto the Family M-G stage.

And if the thought scares us, that fear is wildly outweighed by the giddy we both feel when we mention Lil M-G 3.

This morning was tough. B went off to work (yes, on a Sunday) and there I was with two little boys living large in the way that little boys do and me dragging my sorry arse around trying to find a way into the day when my body was screaming, “Get thee to the nearest bed and slumber!” Apparently, my body is all Shakespearean.

I was sitting on the couch, willing myself to do….anything and then I was watching my kids. They were, blissfully, ignoring me. So I was free to just witness them at play. I don’t do it enough. Just stop and see my kids. Really watch them. And it was cool. They were really playing together. Their age gap has narrowed enough that they can actually engage in a way that is fun for both of them. LD is still physically bigger but Zee is quite capable of holding his own. For the most part. And when in doubt, he screams bloody murder until I save him.

But watching your children together – there’s nothing like it. Seeing two little people you put on the earth just hanging out? It’s incredible. And in those moments, you just feel that they’ll be friends for life, that they’ll have each other’s backs. Even if looking around at many grown up siblings tells a very different story. In this little moment, your kids have each other. And it feels like maybe that was the best gift you could ever give them.

So we want to add to that. Even amidst the exhaustion and chaos. Even though we will suddenly have one too many for the average Family Pass or Holiday Special. Even though, in years to come, our children will turn to us and list all the ways we fucked them up.

Even then. It will have been worth it.

Just one little click, friends. Click above and THAT IS IT. Vote is counted and I send you virtual love forever. Bargain!

To sleep, perchance to shut the f!@k up

20 Jan

Here’s what I don’t get.

Why don’t babies just sleep?

They’re little, they’re clearly tired, it’s not like they have a to-do list to check off before they turn in for the night so for fuck’s sake, why can’t they just lie down and nod off?

When I brought home newborn LD, I was shocked to discover that babies often need to be ‘taught’ how to sleep. What? Newborns are pretty much perpetually ready for a nap, their tiny bodies worn out after half an hour of blinking so I can’t fathom why it should be so hard. Even if they didn’t want to sleep, shouldn’t sleep just overtake them anyway? Why do they even get a say in the matter?

And toddlers. What’s up with those little siesta-haters? Sure, I read the books and I understand that the very act of being alive is thrilling in the extreme to little people and this leads to an active resistance to sleeping. But again, when they started the day at 5.30am and have been tear-arsing around for hours without pause, their eyes rimmed with red from the constant rubbing, wouldn’t it just be lovely to have a little lie down?

At this point, if someone demanded I have a nap, I would assume I had gone to heaven. And that’s without the parade of enticements like warm milk and bum pats, forehead stroking and lullabies.

Sometimes LD likes to reverse the roles and put me to bed. I get a (half-hearted) pat and just as I’m settling into a little coma (some 13 seconds have transpired since the beginning of the tucking in), the room floods with light and a sing-song voice declaring, “Morning time!” In some ways, I really hate this game. It feels Guantanamo-esque to me.

So, sleep. I don’t get it. Literally and figuratively.

LD, while sleeping through every night now (after some standard arsing about before bed time), refuses a day nap – a nap he sorely needs. A nap I very sorely need him to have.

Zee, since his arrival, has been a sleep resister. I could count on my fingers the number of times he has slept through the night – and I mean, ten or more hours, really, really slept through. And during the day, he will almost always wake after one sleep cycle (about 45 minutes). At least in more recent times, I can resettle him and get another hour or so.

Getting him to sleep is a bitch when he knows his big brother is still up playing. And being the lightest sleeper in the world means that keeping him asleep is even harder. If, during the resettling process, Zee hears a noise that is obviously coming from his big brother who is obviously playing, the resettling is pretty much fucked.

So LD spends his little brother’s nap times being constantly shh-shhed. I hate to stifle the kid’s creative play but hey, I know a way to solve the whole problem. You have a nap, too, LD!

Short of that, I think the only solution is separate sleeping quarters –  another wing, if you will.

Either that or a couple of nannies.