Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Most Important Vote You Will Have This Year

Ok, so that's a huge lie but in any case I was hoping you might help with a competition I have just entered. is running a national competition looking for travel bloggers in each state to participate in cool events like cooking classes and fancy overnight holidays and then blog about it on their website. 

Sounds horrendous doesn't it!

Each state will have three shortlisted entries as determined by public vote (aka friends and family) and then a winner from each state will be chosen from the shortlist.

To vote for me please go to before February 20.

If you live in West Australia you can stop reading now (I don't really need any more competitors), but if you live in any other state particularly the ACT or South Australia why don't you enter.  There are less than 10 entries in each state so far, and those odds are pretty good!

The One About Visiting the Child Health Clinic [June 2007]

Dear everyone
There is some talk about boobs and breasts in this update – so if you are easily offended, I suggest you don’t attempt to have children of your own, and perhaps go and read a nice Harry Potter book instead.
Things must be improving because here I am again, writing to you all.  And Baby Bombshell is still in nappies and not at high school as I would have predicted.  I am wearing relatively clean clothes (only a little baby vomit on my top), I have eaten both breakfast and lunch, and I thought about brushing my hair, even though I never followed through on the thought.
I have even left the house, taking Baby Bombshell to the local Child Health Clinic yesterday for her first weigh-in.  According to one of the other mums I met, I am doing very well, as it took her more than 6 weeks before she felt able to leave the house.  The visit to the clinic wasn’t quite what I expected, although I must have been deluded because considering it was a bunch of mums bringing their babies in to see the nurse and have them weighed, I’m really not sure what I did expect.  High tea and scones?  My baby was the youngest by far, and luckily she lay in my arms snoozing as a progression of older babies (and older mums) came through the door.  What professionals they were, taking their turns at the scales, stripping their babies, weighing them and recording the info in the little purple books. 
No one seemed to know each other but there was polite chatter –
 ‘is it normal for my baby to put on a kilo in less than 2 weeks?'
‘what a cute baby, how old are they?’
‘where did you get that adorable suit/pram/baby/husband?’
‘Whew! Did you make that smell? Bad baby!’ 
Okay, I’m making that last one up – the mother just looked embarrassed and left very quickly.  Okay, that mother was me, but hey!  She’s only little!  For those interested in percentiles, bubby has moved from just below the 50th percentile (for weight) at birth, to just above the 50th percentile.  Go Bombshell, you little achiever, you!
Although the Bombshell is only 3 weeks old, it already feels as though she has been in my life a lot longer than that.  Well, duh – I know there was that whole 9 months in utero part, I mean her being out in the world, attached to my breast.  After 2 weeks worth of ouchy breast complaints you will be happy to hear that we seem to have sorted out the feeding problems, and we have moved on from bleeding boobs to dripping boobs.  I remember asking my Mum at my Baby Shower what the ‘breast pads’ were for... well now I know.  We are well acquainted.  Much like the neighbours now are with my breasts.  We considered getting blinds for all the windows, but I think we ran out of money somewhere after the HandyCam and before the BabyGym.  Oh well.
It is really astonishing how quickly your life changes.  I know everyone told me it would, but it’s not as though I actually listened to anyone.  Just like I didn’t really comprehend the whole ‘lack of sleep’, ‘night feeds’ and ‘vomit rags’.  These are meant to be taken literally!!!! Not just some hypothetical ‘could be’ or ‘might be’ if you are unfortunate enough to have one of those ‘bad’ babies.  It applies to all babies.  For those without children you have been duly warned.  For those with kids, go ahead and laugh and think ‘I told you so’ – I deserve it! 
But apart from moving my entire life into the family room, finding my wardrobe now consists of pyjamas and trackie pants, reducing my personal grooming to brushing my teeth (but not my desperately-needs-a-cut-and-colour hair) and our house decor now resembling an eclectic combination of Ikea meets Babyland, my life now revolves around a small, occasionally wet, bundle of love and spit. 
I gave up my old life at the same time I gave up my dignity (about when the catheter was being inserted, I think). Gone are the days when I would be at work before 7am and achieve a dozen goals before morning tea. Now I work hard to set and achieve a single goal that is not related to fluids going in or coming out of my little girl.
With love,

Friday, January 28, 2011

Three Year Old Teaches Mum How to Be a Good Sport

The Blonde Bombshell received a goody bag the other day and amongst all the sugary goodness was a packet of cards: Animal Snap to be precise.

She most was excited by this new game so I thought it was a timely opportunity to teach her one of life's many lessons - namely sportsmanship and how to be a good winner.

Once we had shuffled and dealt the cards it was time to play.  We got off to a good start.

Bombshell: Doggie

Mum: Elephant

Bombshell: Horse

Mum: Well, that's actually a Zebra but no worries. Monkey

Bombshell: Cat

This went on forever and I was beginning to wonder whether we were ever going to find a matched pair when suddenly we had two Ducks in a row.  I gently took her little hand, slapped it down on the pile of cards and said 'Snap!'  Then I bundled up the cards and gave them to her saying she had won.

Bombshell: I won!  Doggie

Mum: Zebra

I won't bore you any further with the details of the game, suffice to say it took forever and a little bit of anti-cheating* on my part, but eventually The Bombshell had all but one card which I laid down with a flourish.

Mum: Elephant!  You win, you have all the cards.  Congratulations.

Bombshell: Oh. Oh... Well, you can have some of mine then.

The Blonde Bombshell promptly divided her pile of cards in two and handed me half.

Bombshell: Next time you can win Mum!

I think perhaps that on this occasion, it was Mum who learned the lesson.

*Anti-cheating:  not cheating to win but cheating to lose

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Winning Short Story

The writing competition was run by the West Australian, the state paper.  The brief was to write about the WA summer and what it means to you - memories, adventures and outings, time spent with family and friends.  The best submissions were to be published as a series and the winner (me!!) would receive a MacBook Air laptop...

7am.  It feels like the sun has been up for hours, the birds sure have. There is still a touch of cool in the air, a memory from the night before.  But the inevitable summer heat lies just beyond the horizon, you can almost feel the anticipation of the scorcher ahead in the joggers and dog walkers, who are hurrying home.  Mum is madly doing some loads of washing and hanging it out while Dad waters the veggie patch and roses.  By the end of the day the towels will be as stiff as boards and the tomatoes will have roasted on the vines.

8.30am.  The house is chaos as we pack for the beach.  The boot is already full of balls and towels and umbrellas.  Mum is trying to squeeze an esky full of fruit and sandwiches in somewhere, and Dad keeps asking everyone where his glasses are (they’re on his head).  We all pile into the car, arms and legs everywhere.  We make it to the end of the street before returning home so the youngest can pee and Dad can grab his hat which he left on the kitchen table.

10am.  Despite living on the world’s biggest island with  thousands of kilometres of coastline, it seems the whole of Perth is crammed onto the same few metres of beach.  The water is the deepest of blues, the same colour as salvation.  The brilliant white sand is reflecting the sun’s intensity, and despite Mum’s best effort with the 40+, tomorrow we will all be as red as a cooked crayfish.  We weave a path through the forest of beach umbrellas and towels as we head back to the car.  The bitumen is so hot that if you stand too long in one spot, your thongs start to melt.

1pm.  We are holed up inside.  The door and windows are closed tight against the heat outside.  Even the blinds have been closed, and we lie on the tiles in our bathers in the semi-darkness.  It’s too hot to muck around and instead we get the old board games out – Monopoly, Game of Life, Guess Who.  The fans are whirring overhead, a constant white noise that we don’t yet realise we will miss when the weather finally cools.  It’s too hot to eat anything but watermelon and icecream, and Mum doesn’t even tell us off. 

4pm. Dad has fallen asleep on the couch in front of the TV.  When Mum tries to turn it off, he wakes and complains.  Everyone is restless and tired. We have been chasing the same two flies since lunchtime.  Despite our best efforts with the chopsticks, no one can replicate the Karate Kid’s efforts, but when Mum gets the fly spray out we all feel cheated.  Someone fills the old paddling pool with water, and when we sit in it, the water only comes halfway up our legs.

7pm.  The sun is slowly sinking, taking with it the intensity of the day. This is the edge of relief.  The whole neighbourhood smells like a BBQ as families emerge from their daytime hibernation, and there is life again in the streets.  We are waiting for the first chirp of the grasshopper that will signal the end of the day.  Dad is opening a beer, the kids throwing bits of ice.  Mum brings out huge bowls of potato salad and tinned beetroot, and we eat with renewed vigour, our plates in our laps.

9pm.  After dawdling in the shower (not too long – water restrictions!), our wet hair leaving a blessed cool patch on the back of our shortie pyjamas, we say our good nights.  The windows and doors have been thrown open to catch the night breezes.  It’s still too hot even for a sheet.  No one can sleep in anticipation of tomorrow.  But it’s not the heat we are waiting for this time.

Later that night.  The kids are finally asleep.  Mum and Dad pull the washing basket piled high with brightly wrapped packages out of its hiding place, and begin placing them underneath the tree.  Dad eats the four chocolate biscuits left for another man with a pot belly, while Mum just laughs at him and drinks the milk.  With the Christmas lights twinkling silently behind them, they join hands and head to bed.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Name In Print... Sort Of

If you open today's West Australian newspaper to page 61 you will find the winning entry of the Summer Agenda Writing Competition. It tells of a day in the life of a typical family of West Aussies, their journey through the scorching heat of a Perth summer. 

I wrote it.  I wrote a story and entered a competition and I won. 

I have never won anything in my life, not even a raffle, so you can imagine my excitement when late yesterday afternoon I received a call from the West Australian Newspaper to let me know that I had won the writing competition and my story would be published today.  I was literally jumping up and down on the spot.  I was on the wooden floorboards at the time and it was echoing around the room.  The lady must have thought a train was thundering past.  She said the other reason she was calling was to see if Shannon was male or female.  Fair enough.

What didn't occur to me at the time was to make sure that my surname was recorded correctly.  It's a beautiful, long and unusual name, German by way of Burma.  Everyone mispronounces it and it's often spelled wrong.  I just didn't expect the state paper to get it wrong.

Last night felt like Christmas to me, except I was the only one who was expecting a gift the following morning.  I even drove to the local service station just in case the papers had arrived early. In my mind I had already framed my winning story and hung it on the wall of my new study.

So when I woke this morning all I could think about was rushing down to the service station to buy 10 copies of the paper.  My name in print. My name in print. Do the happy dance!

At 6.19am a congratulatory text message appeared from my Mum who was very proud. 

Four minutes later another text arrived from my Mum.  This one said "Unfortunately they left the 't' off your last name."

The first time my name is in print and it is spelled wrong.  A rather inauspicious start perhaps.

I could throw a tanty like the Blonde Bombshell.  I did consider it.  But perhaps it simply the cosmos giving me a really good story for when I am rich and famous.  There I will be, an interview with Parkinson or Oprah.  They ask me about the first piece of writing I ever did.  I will laugh graciously and tell a witty little anecdote about how they managed to spell my name wrong the first time it was in print. And they will chuckle and say that now I am so famous no one will ever spell my name wrong.  Or perhaps be so famous that just like them I will only need one name: Shannon.

Or perhaps I need to stop daydreaming and get back to work.

PS I will put the story up on this blog in a few days

Friday, January 21, 2011

The One About The Bombshell Being Born [June 2007]

Dear everyone
For those of you who don’t have time to sit and read the ramblings of a sleep deprived but very proud new mother – here is the abridged version:
Our daughter, now known as the Blonde Bombshell, was born by emergency Caesar on  Wednesday 8.06am (5 days early).  Weight 8 pounds 1 ounce (3.655kg), height 50cm, light brown hair, dark gray eyes.  Perfect in every respect.
Here is what really happened (skip to the end if you don’t want the gory details):
I started maternity leave on Monday at 39 weeks.  On Tuesday I was feeling a little crampy but didn’t think too much of it, as the baby hadn’t engaged and was still situated somewhere in my left lung rather than anywhere near my pelvis.  I had morning tea with a friend, lunch with my sister, and an afternoon appointment with my obstetrician.  I told him that I had been having cramps and what I thought were Braxton Hicks contractions since lunchtime. He didn’t seem overly concerned (ie  he didn’t do any sort of examination), and went ahead and booked an induction for 41 weeks assuring me ‘don’t worry, I am sure you won’t make it that far.
The ‘Braxton Hicks’ continued, probably 3-4 times an hour when Mr Paycheck came home from work.  He was heading into the city for a hair cut and because I didn’t want to be alone I joined him.  So there I am, sitting on Maurice Meade’s nice white leather couch having 10 minutely contractions while the staff hovered around asking me if I wanted ‘a nice cup of tea or perhaps some towels’.  Before long, the owner of the salon asked Mr Shaggy ‘is that your wife [having a baby on our nice leather couch?]’ and when he said yes, the owner shoved the junior out of the way, finished the haircut himself and kicked us out.
So we came home and I pottered around filling my hospital suitcase, asked Mr Useful to put on my TENS machine and began timing the contractions.  They were about 6-7 minutely.  Naturally, my beloved went to bed.
By about 10.15pm I said I would call the hospital ‘just to see what they thought’.  Strangely enough they thought I should come in! On the labour ward at about 11.30pm someone finally came to do an internal exam.  I was 4cm dilated and fully effaced.  Mr NonBeliever was gobsmacked.  He admitted he thought I had been over-reacting. 
I had requested a natural, non-intervention, non-drug, non-anything labour.  So they left us to it for a few hours.  They came and monitored the bub every so often, but it was so relaxed it seemed to sleep through the contractions.  After 5 hours it was time for another internal.  We all expected I would be fully dilated and ready to go, but alas, things began to go pear-shaped as I had only progressed another centimetre or so.  They called the doctor who wanted to induce me, but I stubbornly  refused.  After two hours of 2 minutely contractions, the doctor came in and examined me.  Still no more progression.  They broke my waters and while things (ie. pain) kicked up a notch, nothing else happened, and after an hour I swallowed my pride and asked for an epidural.  The epidural didn’t work. 
It took them another hour to bring on any sort of effect but by this stage the doctor had decided that the baby was stuck and would not be able to be born naturally – he said I needed a Caesar, and soon.  The baby still hadn’t engaged, it was lying in the wrong position, its head was stuck, I hadn’t dilated past 5cm, and I had been in labour for over 12 hours. 
 The Caesar wasn’t any fun at all.   I had been strongly anti-caesar so I cried through most of it.  I remember being absolutely freezing and they had to cover me with blankets: tell me, why do they put the theatre table right under an air conditioning vent?  But with Mr Excited at my side (and about 30 people in the room all staring at in innards (and out-ards!!), at 8.06am they pulled out a little blue baby girl.  They placed her by my head for a quick kiss and took her away.  Mr Surgeon was able to cut the cord (we have photos!!) and he held her while they stitched me up.  The doctor was so proud of his handiwork he even called my beloved over for a look.  He saw my uterus – eugh!
In Recovery I was able to breast feed for the first time, although the epidural had gone all the way up to my chest and I couldn’t really feel much (big mistake), but my little girl seemed happy enough.  Then we were wheeled to our room, the baby in my arms, Mr Packhorse pulling along all of our dozen suitcases and bags (note to pregnant women: despite what baby magazines say, it is NOT necessary to bring a CD player and relaxation music to hospital).
The day after the birth I was out of bed, showered and walking around the room.  By the following day, all the tubes were out and I was free!  The baby was a bit jaundiced and liked to sleep.  A lot. I didn’t think that was so bad.
In all, I was in hospital for 6 days, arriving home last Tuesday (the day after I was due).  Mr SleepOnTheFloor was able to stay with us in the hospital as a boarder.  No one got any sleep.  But gee we were fed well!  Three course meals three times a day plus morning and afternoon tea!  Brilliant! 
Today is Saturday – Day 10.  I had to check my diary to see what day it was.  Apparently it’s June, but I wasn’t aware of that either.  I barely recognise myself these days.  Despite having the baby’s room all set up, we don’t use it.  We have moved everything into the family room, so it is now the kitchen, the bedroom (I have been sleeping – if that’s what you call it – on the couch), and the bathroom (for baby, not us).  I schlep around in my pink PJs, haven’t brushed my hair since last week, and spend most of my day interacting with one bodily fluid or another.  Our life is now all about ‘trucker burps’ (she has a whole repertoire of fascinating bodily noises), nappies, milk, little feet and hands, avoiding being peed on, spending money on even MORE baby things we hadn’t previously thought of, and trying to remember what life was like before, and telling ourselves that life will be normal again, at some point in the future.
She is truly beautiful, even when she is doing explosive poo on you and it lands on the floor.  She has an angelic face, even when she is doing farts that would make a bogan cringe.  She has the sweetest noises (even when she is squawking she sounds cute), and her little hands and feet make me cry every time I see them.  I spend hours just watching her.  Which is why I have only just made it to the computer. 
So that’s the story of the Bombshell, her first 10 days anyway.  Thanks again to everyone.  As I catch up on sleep and get into a routine I will begin checking my email more regularly.
With lots of love
Shannon, Hubby and the Bombshell  (oh, and the Bunny – we haven’t quite forgotten him.  Yet).

Watch This Space: Beyond the Nappy Bag

My love of writing is grounded in my love of writing about my children.  They are my favourite subject, and almost four years ago, when the Blonde Bombshell was only a newborn I started writing emails and sending them to friends and family across Australia and across the globe.

The aim at that stage was to introduce my new baby to friends and family who lived afar, to share my stories and to make my fleeting thoughts and observations, those precious but brief moments that make being a parent so rewarding, both permanent and retrievable.

I have a shocking memory and from the moment the Bombshell arrived I was determined not to forget a second of it.

And so I began writing.  Maybe once a month, sometimes more, sometimes less.  But every so often a 'dear everyone' email made its way across the globe and my stories about the Bombshell and later, Miss Curly Mop gained a momentum that eventually spawned the idea that perhaps I could make a go of this writing gig.  People seemed to enjoy what I had to say.

Curly Mop turned one last week and so I sent another email across the globe, and with it a question - a request.  Should I make these, once private stories available to anyone and everyone who reads my blog.  The response, filling up my inbox with eager and supportive emails was a resounding yes. 

So, starting tomorrow, or maybe even tonight I will start posting my stories under the label: Beyond the Nappy Bag, the working title of the book that might one day actually exist.  Please keep in mind that the stories are all waaaay in the past.

I should have titled this blog 'With a Little Help From My Friends' because it is the support from all of you that has helped me get this far.  Below I have included just some of the comments I received when I asked whether or not I should post my stories on this blog.  I have done this without any permission whatsoever, hope you don't mind...

Hey Shan,
Love your stories, each and every one of them. I think the world deserves to have a good chuckle out of your great story-telling :)
Hope all is well at your end!!

Hi Shannon,
I think other Mums would love to read your stories of your girls. I remember the first couple when you could not work out why young Mums said they were tired. You thought the first couple of months were a breeze – until sleeplessness etc. set in. I am sure other mums could relate to all of this and other stories.  I love them. Can’t wait to buy the book.

I say share share share!!!

Hello Shannon,
Thanks for another beautiful e-mail. I always enjoy them very much.
I think it is a great idea to put them on your blog for everyone to enjoy, I personally think they are fantastic and need to be shared.

Hi Shan, definitely share with the world! 
Then the whole world can fall in love with your girls like I have.

Hi Shan,
There are so many unhappy things happening in the world, give people the chance to read something that will brighten their day. Go for it! I always feel great after I have read something you have experienced and recorded for us to chuckle over.
 Lots of love,

Share with the world, publish as a book, make a squillion and take us all to Hayman Island to celebrate!


Share them!  I love your emails and really look forward to reading them.   If you posted them up, I would definitely make sure I sent your blog to all my new Mum friends.  I think they would identify with so many of your stories!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Good Things Happen to Those Who Make it Happen

I'm holed up in the kids playroom, my feet resting against a tub of Thomas trains and my laptop balanced somewhat precariously on a pile of sticker and colouring-in books.  My companions today, apart from the two men building my new staircase and filling my house with a fine layer of undustable dust, are Little People, Shaun the Sheep and various obnoxious battery operated toys.

But I don't care.  I am at work as I now like to call it, and if my office has a floor rug with The Little Mermaid on it and the couch has three years worth of biscuit and milk stains, so be it.

Two great things happened to me this week on my journey to be a writer.  The first was that I had my session with the writing coach Elizabeth Bezant.  Not only was there free coffee and cake to be had, but it was a reassuring and inspiring opportunity to talk shop with a professional.  One pearl of wisdom she shared with me was:

          "Most people write when they are inspired, but professional writers write until they are inspired."

This really brought it home to me.  I can't sit around waiting for the Great Australian Novel to come tumbling out of my fingertips and magically enter itself onto the keyboard.  I can't dither around trying to come up with brilliant ideas for articles to submit.  I can't delete half-finished posts that just aren't working.  If I want to be a writer, I need to write. 

This will be a real challenge for me, as I am one of those people who like to be prepared.  I research.  I plan.  I write lists.  I fill my time doing endless things to prepare myself and then not actually do anything.  But what I haven't actually done looks really impressive.

The second very exciting thing that has happened this week is I have arranged work experience on a local magazine, a beautiful glossy magazine that focuses on my favourite subject: kids and parenting.  I start on Monday!  I will be the world's oldest work experience kid (which is really only fair since I will also be the sad looking mature aged student in the corner when uni starts next month).

This week I feel I have made great progress on my quest.  But perhaps the thing I am most proud of is the fact that I took an active role in my own life.  I didn't wait for the opportunities to fall into my lap, I went out and made them happen. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sacrificial Birthday Buddies

Miss Curly Mop turned 1 this week, which meant a week of butter cream fingerprints, half eaten wrapping paper and sticky tape stuck to bottom of our feet.

It also meant another sacrificial birthday cake.

Curly Mop has a favourite toy, one of those small pink blankets with an animal head, in this case an elephant we call Ella.  And so, in a moment of fuzzyheadedness I thought it would be appropriate to make a pink elephant as her first birthday cake. 

Oh cute, you all say.  She loves Ella the Elephant, what a great idea.

Yes perhaps, but what happens when you stick a giant knife in her and cut off her trunk? 

You would think I would have learned this lesson by now.  When the Blonde Bombshell turned 2 she was a mad (crazy mad) fan of Thomas the Tank Engine, so it was a pretty obvious choice that her birthday cake that year would be a Thomas cake.  We went the whole hog - an icecream cake with one of those icing picture disks on top, with Happy Birthday around the edge in icing.  She was thrilled when she saw it, absolutely chuffed and I was mentally patting myself on the back at being such a good Mum. 

That was, until it was time to cut the cake.  The knife was so enormous and the look on the Bombshell's face was sheer terror.  You could see the fear in her eyes that we were about to destroy her favourite train.  How barbaric! 

And so, we then spent the next 10 minutes carefully peeling off the Thomas face so that we didn't have to witness our two year old having a complete melt-down (much like the cake).

And yet we do it again and again.  A big white rabbit for an Easter party: beheaded and de-eared.  A Christmas gingerbread house: the roof torn off and devoured.  And now Ella the Elephant: legs removed one by one, trunk completely removed, tusks eaten.

I have no intention of learning my lesson from this.  I fully intend on a Tinkerbell cake for the Bombshell's 4th birthday, and will deal with the counselling bills later on when she sees Tinks wings ripped off and relished.

                                                               The before picture

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Where Do the Lost Toys Go?

In my hurry to get Miss Curly Mop out of the car the other day, I accidentally dropped some of her toys under the car.

I deliberated for a second.  We were already late for her 12 month vaccinations and I did not fancy showing up to the clinic with road muck all over my dress.

But I should have known there was no way I was going to remember to look for them when we returned to the car.  I should have known that I was relegating them to that saddest of categories: the Lost Toys.

According to Toy Story 3, Lost Toys become bitter and vindictive, although I have difficulty imagining what sort of mischief two Ikea stacking cups can get up to.  Regardless, I do wonder what will become of them.

I see Lost Toys (and their mates, Lost Shoes) all the time.  They are propped up against light poles, wedged against the curb, displayed on park benches.  Well-meaning passers-by often try and draw attention to their plight by displaying them where their careless owners will see them, but more often than not, they remain lost.  I'm certainly not going back for two Ikea stacking cups, despite the joy it gave my baby to bang them together on car journeys.

What will happen to Curly Mop's Lost Toys?  They won't degrade or decompose anytime this century.  It's unlikely they will become a flash new home for a funky (and abnormally large) garden snail. They're full of tiny holes so they're not much good to carry food or use to bail out a sinking boat. 

What fate have I resigned them to?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lies Your Parents Told You

Flicking through a magazine the other day I came across an article about the little white lies parents tell their kids.  Some lies are to protect the child: "Fluffy has gone to live on a big beautiful farm with lots of other bunnies to play with", some lies are told to protect the parent "No, Daddy wasn't hurting me, I wasn't screaming, we were watching TV and the lady on the TV kept seeing lots of spiders which were frightening her and making her cry out..." (mental note: this laboured lie probably wouldn't work even if you did have a TV in your bedroom).

It got me thinking - what little lies did my parents tell me as a child?

I couldn't think of any.

Now, I'm not sure if this is because they were particularly clever at formulating their fibs and I still have not unravelled them, or if they simply didn't need to.  More likely it is because the lies I have permanently scarred into my memory are those my older sister told me (sorry BigSis).

For example:  she told me that if I let any part of my body, such as a hand or foot dangle over the edge of the bed while I was asleep, it would go black and fall off.  To this day I still cannot fall asleep with my foot hanging off the bed.

She also told me that if I fall into pigface (carpobrotus: a ground covering succulent plant with pink flowers that would grow in the park opposite our house), or even put so much as a toe into the pigface, I would be swallowed up and never seen again.  To this day I cannot stray within a metre of the stuff and my husband gleefully points it out if we ever happen to walk past some.

The last lie I remember very clearly is that if I hear a buzzing sound from the overhead phone wires, and listen very carefully, I will be able to hear the conversations that people are having on the telephone.  I would stand for ages under the crackling phone lines trying to hear what the neighbours were saying. 

The difference here is that the lies parents tell children are in some way about protection - we bend the truth to protect sensibilities, innocence and sanity.  The lies siblings tell each other are purely about entertainment and torture.

Of course neither compare with the lies that we tell ourselves.  These are the ones that do the most damage.  I was convinced ET was under my bed for most of the 1980s, a decade of very little slumber and the start of some very bad sleep habits.

So in the spirit of interactivity I would love to hear of any lies your parents or siblings told you - the more damaging the better!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Tortured Writer Starts her Craft

Despite my harried rantings last year about my writing life being over before it started due to mix ups with daycare days, all has been sorted, and I humbly beg your forgiveness. 

And so I find myself today without my beautiful children, as the Blonde Bombshell and Miss Curly Mop are both safely ensconced at daycare.

In theory, this is my first day of work as a writer.  In theory I am at liberty to do my homework, read books, write blogs, plan my novel and seek work experience.  In theory I have a full, uninterrupted day to gather inspiration, nurture my craft and purge it into the void.  I have been waiting for this day for months.

Unfortunately I had not counted on today being the first day that the builders need to access the inside of my house.  It's one thing to have them crawling over the scaffolding and banging in the roof space.  It's an entirely different matter to have them wandering through my living room and pausing to chat each time they walk past me at my computer.

I don't know how this 'working from home' thing is going to go while my 'office' is at the kitchen table and the room next door is ground zero for dust, noise and tradesmen's crack (aka builder's bum).  However, if I plan on being a tortured writer (and what's the point of being a writer if you aren't tortured), I suppose having to deal with adversity and distraction (and dust) will only add to the pain and as a result, the finished product.


Friday, January 7, 2011

The Smallest Room in the House has Some of the Biggest Secrets

I pride myself on covering the important issues in life, writing about the big ticket items that affect us all, and make us who we are.

So it is with this in mind I ask you this very serious question: are you roll forward or a roll backward person? 

I was availing myself of the facilities this morning in the bathroom my husband usually uses (he doesn't seem to like sharing with us girls) and I noticed the toilet roll had been changed so that it hung down the back of the roll (towards the wall).  I noticed this because the last time I was in there I had changed it so the paper hung forward over the front of the roll.  Just like I do every time I am in there.

I do it almost without realising. I would never change the roll in someone else's house, but at home I am switching the rolls practically every day.

And I have to do this, because my husband obviously switches it back practically every day.

It's not something we ever discuss.  In the ten years we have been living together, we have never discussed the fact that practically every day both of us manically and obsessively change the direction in which the toilet rolls hang.  Is this completely mad, or are there others out there who do the same?

And I'm not sure what's weirder: the fact that we change the rolls or the fact that we have probably been doing it for the past decade, without realising it and without discussing it.

Stay tuned, next week the important topics will continue: are you a folder or a scruncher?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

(Not So) Young Achievers Australia

2011 is going to be a good year for me, I can feel it in my bones.

I feel so energized: mentally, physically and emotionally.  There is a palpable excitement. The creative juices are flowing and creating a small puddle on the floor.

Last year sucked, despite some pretty high highlights (the birth of my second daughter and lots of new babies for friends and family, hubby passing some pretty significant exams).  Not terribly eloquent, I know, but it did.  It sucked.  If I were the queen I would call it annus horribilis.

It was a year of natural disasters - the hail storm, the drought, the heat. 

It was a year of car accidents.

It was a year of building mess, delays, disappointments.

It was a year of household stress, with some very grumpy householders.

It was a year of no sleep.

But 2011 will be different.  This year will be all about me, and a happy mum means a happy household.  Right?

My university course starts in two months, so to tide me over until March I have enrolled in an online writing course through The Sydney Writers Centre, and not one but two UWA Extension Courses on writing.  I have my meeting with the writing coach in a couple of weeks, and as soon as my little darlings are back at daycare, I plan to chase up some work experience and start writing.

I think the problem with last year is that I felt I did not achieve anything.  Sure, there is the obvious and very important achievements of birthing and raising two beautiful children, and maintaining friendships with all the special people in my life.  I washed the clothes and did the dishes and even got the car serviced.  But there was very little of me in 2010.

That began to change with this very blog and one amazing day doing the How To Be a Blogger For Fun and Profit course.  I have kept my promise to write at least two blogs every week, and I hope to increase that this year as the juices flow over and threaten to flood this corner of the kitchen where I write my words and start my new literary life.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bye Bye Baby

With my finger poised over the button I felt that lurch in my stomach, that heavy feeling in my heart that accompanies mother guilt. 

I was about to book a four day, three night visit to the other side of the country.  Without my family.  Just me. 

How would they cope without me?  Would my baby cry night and day without her mummy?  Would my three and a half year old lose the plot and act out at Kindy?  Would my husband feed them a diet of Burger Rings and chocolate custard?  Or would he just farm them out to the grandparents?

I had to tell myself not to be ridiculous.  They probably wouldn't even notice.  They didn't notice yesterday when I was gone for hours to see a movie.  They were quite cranky with me when I returned home, but apparently had been angels while I was away.

I pressed the button and booked my flights. 

I also bought travel insurance just in case I need to cancel or reschedule.

Please don't misunderstand, I am very excited about this trip.  Not only is Sydney one of my favourite destinations, but I will be staying with one of my favourite friends.  There will be food and wine and shopping, not to mention the glorious four hour flight completely alone, with nothing but complimentary wine, airline food and a movie to watch (small pleasures, I know).

But it is hard leaving my babies.  Being away from them leaves a gaping hole.  I cannot ever fully relax or fully concentrate knowing I am so far away. 

I can only dread the anxiety I will experience when my girls are older, and all of a sudden I have to worry about them being far away (and boys and cars and drugs and bullying and body image and wanting to dress like Lady Ga Ga).

But for tonight I am home with my family, and knowing they are safely tucked up in bed fills me with satisfaction and security and a deep sense of sentiment.

Monday, January 3, 2011

No Sex Please, We're British

Today I joined my parents to see The King's Speech at the movies.  Cool hey.  I love spending time with my parents without my children, it reminds me I am a daughter as well as a Mum. I may well have been the youngest person in the theatre by a decade or more, but I have been buzzing all afternoon.  It was a fantastic film.  Really enjoyed it.

- it was a true story (which I love)
- had some of my favourite actors (Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush)
- and it was actually pretty funny (King to speech dude who is sitting on the throne: 'Get up, you can't sit there! GET UP'  Speech dude: 'Why not, it's a chair?'). 

But why I am buzzing is not because of what was in the film, but rather what was absent.  There were no special effects, no 3D glasses, no violence, no sex, no digital animation.  Yes, there was plenty of swearing, but it was of historical relevance (and it was damn funny).

In short, this was a film, a story, of words and about words.  It was simply the combination of a good storyline, some powerful writing, and some brilliant acting.  It did not rely on technological trickery, its strength lies in its story.

And that excites me.  It excites me because I hope one day to be involved, even in the periphery, in this amazing world of clever stories and beautiful writing.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Realistic Resolutions

I can't actually remember the last time I celebrated the dawn of the New Year.  I suspect it was very early last decade, BK (Before Kids).

I also can't remember the last time I made a New Year's Resolution I had any intention of keeping.

Probably 90% of people's goals include: 'lose weight', 'cut down on booze and/or chocolate', 'get fit', 'win the lotto'... if people were actually serious about doing these things, they wouldn't need to wait until January 1st to get started.

I would like to lose weight, cut down on booze and chocolate, get fit and win the lotto.  I'd really like that. 

But I am not resolved to go and actually do any of those things short of occasionally buying a lotto ticket or heading to the gym with my friend for a chat and a brisk walk on the treadmill.

So I see little point in sitting around on New Years Eve writing a list of goals I can't possibly achieve. 

However If I was going to write a list of resolutions I planned on keeping it might include the following:

* try and not eat so much chocolate that you actually gain more weight
* if you are going to drink too much wine, make sure it's actually nice wine that you like
* ditto for chocolate
* don't make dodgy excuses for why you can't go to the gym.  If you're going to make excuses, they have to be really creative
* read at least one story to at least one of my children at least every day (or three)
* write something every day, even if it's just a list of things you want to write about
* weed the garden sometime before June
* stop complaining about how small the new walk-in-robe is, it's probably perfect for the very small number of clothes that actually still fit.
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