Friday, October 28, 2011

Kindy Mum

I am sitting on a pathetically small plastic chair, my knees up by my shoulders, my ankles crossed in an attempt not to flash my knickers at a room of four and five year olds.  My unborn child is giving me a thumping for its cramped living conditions, my eldest is tracing patterns on my thigh with her texta covered finger.  Little friends bump and crawl over each other, each trying to sit closest to me.  If they get much closer Baby Unborn will have some serious competition.

Today I am Kindy Mum. 

Parent helper at the Blonde Bombshell's kindy class is a rite of passage that all parents should attempt at least once.  Once is probably enough for many parents.

There are twenty small children, and three adults.  I don't much like those odds.  It is the start of fourth term and the kids are feral.  They are excited at being back at Kindy and tired from their first year at 'school'. 

Because her mum is helping today means it is the Bombshell's 'special day'.  This brings all sorts of privileges such as being able to ring the bell.  It's an important job and you can see the pride in her eyes as she stands at the front of the class, thrusting the bells up and down.

I have chosen my day well.   Two children are having birthdays which means two lots of cupcakes at morning tea.  It also means we sing Happy Birthday four times over the course of the morning.  Five if you count the fact that the kids are singing like a bunch of zombies and the teacher is not satisfied and makes them do it again.  The teacher cannot manage the cigarette lighter.  We can't sing without lit candles.  I jump up and show her how it's done.  'Are you a smoker?' she asks, a piercing look in her eye.

It's story time and the children are taught some new words.  Gumption. Basking. Reside. Comparison.

May I remind you they are four years old. 

Time to Jump Our Jiggles out and stomp out our sillies.  Twenty hopped up hurricanes are throwing themselves around the mat with gusto.  They have no self-consciousness (or self-control).  It's liberating and I join in the jiggling.  The music stops but I keep jiggling.  Time to go on a diet perhaps.  Back in my chair of torture.  Can't the WA Education System spring for a third adult-sized chair? 

It's craft time and I am in charge of five children cutting out butterflies and using hole punches to decorate their wings.  It's going smoothly until one boy says he doesn't want to make a butterfly.  He wants to make a bat.  Fine, I say.  Then of course everyone wants to make bats.  They discover what happens when you remove the bottom of the hole punch.  Suddenly I feel like I am at a 1970s wedding, covered in brightly coloured confetti. 

Still, my table is cleaner than the one next door.  Those kids are playing with play-dough.  I don't even let the word be spoken in my house, let alone the substance, yet here they are at Kindy grinding it into their hair, throwing it at each other, treading it into their shoes.  I see a couple of kids sneak a taste.  I pretend not to notice.

Time for outdoor play and everyone rushes for their hats. Some kids are on the swings, others in the sandpit.  Boys are at the dolls house and girls are into the dress-ups.  Two girls approach me to have their white dresses done up. 'Are you brides?' I ask.  'No,' they say as though I am stupid.  'We're his daughters,' they say pointing at a little boy.  'C'mon daughters,' he says.  And the three run off to play on the pirate ship.  Whatever.

I chat with the teacher about the Bombshell.  She's the youngest in the class but seems to hold her own.  It would appear she has an entirely different personality here at school.  She sits still, never calls out, doesn't push her opinions forward, and is generally very well behaved.  I roll my eyes, picturing the opinionated, pushy, jumping-beans-in-her-knickers, difficult to please girl she can be at home.

Two girls run up to us.  They have made us a cake.  It is a saucepan brimming with sand, decorated with nuts and dead flowers.  A snail shell is the centrepiece. Encouraged by our oohing and ahhing, they rush off to make a bigger one.

We've lost a child.  Nope, hang on, they're just at the bottom of that pile of children.  The boys are separated and the girls told not to encourage them.  Fat chance.  At this tender age, the girls are already manipulating the boys with their wily charms. 

The Bombshell is told to ring the bell again.  She marches around the playground ringing it in people's ears, just in case they don't know it's time to go inside.  I can't bear the thought of scrunching myself back into furniture fit for a dollshouse so I make my goodbyes.  The class are made to sit in their neat lines on the mat and warble 'thaaaaaank yoooooooo Shaaaaaaannooooooon'.

Several small children rush up to give me goodbye cuddles, luckily the Bombshell is amongst them.

I make my way home, a smile on my face.  The Bombshell got it wrong.  It was my my special day.


Friday, October 21, 2011

The Rules of the Game

My parents have just returned from a trip to Europe, and they bought the Blonde Bombshell a game of Happy Families, Disney Princess version no less.

For anyone born after the year 1975 you are probably saying Happy what?  Happy Families... it's a card game.  A bit like Fish, but instead of collecting pairs, you collect families.  Right, now you've got it.

Anyway, I had no clue what Happy Families was either, and since the game had been purchased in France, and the box was covered in French, we all assumed the instructions would be in French and we would have to google the instructions before teaching the Bombshell how to play.

Turns out the instructions were provided in about 16 languages including English, but it was completely irrelevant anyway.  The Bombshell wanted to play her own game - Snap - and using her own rules.

I really quite like her rules and think they have a lot of potential for being extrapolated to our everyday lives, so I am sharing them with you in the hope of making the world a little more pink and shiny.

Rule 1: the cutest and smallest person always gets to start

Rule 2: the cutest and smallest person can have a peek at their cards before doling them out

Rule 3: try really hard to be the first person to Snap a pair, but it's okay if you wait a while to let someone older and not as cute snap them first

Rule 4: try and take turns to Snap the pairs, but if you find you have all the cards, give some of them to the other player

Rule 5: try and keep the game going as long as possibly, even if Mum is tired and she needs to cook dinner.  Compliment her as much as possible so she stays on the floor and keeps playing

Rule 6: make up new rules as often as possible

Rule 7: even if Daddy loses all his cards, tell him he is still really good and you love him lots

Rule 8: the winner is not necessarily the person with the most cards, but the person with the most stamina

Happy playing everyone.  Bon chance.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I'm on Page 1

For a few months now I have been posting review articles to Weekend Notes, a website that operates in a number of Australian states (and New York, go figure) providing reviews and ideas of what to do in those cities.

Go on, have a look. Scroll down a bit to Places.  Look closely at number 3 (Zanders) and 10 (Hobart St Deli) - those are my reviews!

Scroll down a bit more, to the Editor's Choice no less.  Yep, me again*.

At the risk of sounding like the complete amateur that I am, I was really chuffed to receive an email from the editor to say she had selected my Black Toms review to go on the website as the Editor's Choice.  It made an excellent day even better.  Read the story: I got to have lunch with my mum, had an excellent meal, and part of it was free.  See what I mean.  Excellent day.  And the fact that my mum got to play a starring roll in my best-yet review makes it even nicer (you can see the top of her head in one of the pictures!)

I also have (finally) made enough from writing these reviews to request my first payment**.  From the 4th working day of next month, I will finally be a paid writer.  Don't start asking for handouts yet though, I'm no Bryce Courtney.  Autographs I am happy to provide though.

As you can probably tell by the tone of this post, I am feel much better.  The morning sickness has passed, I am off all medication, and the energy of second trimester has well and truly kicked in.  So has the hunger.  I am eating constantly, which is why I am able to post so many reviews to Weekend Notes.  I am always going out and eating.  What a life!

You can probably also infer from this change of pace, that uni has finished for this semester.  I handed in my article (entitled Opportunity Lost: Men's experience of miscarriage and loss) last week and am eagerly awaiting its return.  I fully intend to submit it for publication, and when (not if) it gets accepted, I will change my banner at the top of this page.

I plan on deleting the bit in brackets that says (hopefully).

*I'm quite aware that these change regularly, and chances are by the time you read this, my articles will have long gone.  No worries, you can still read them all here.

** I feel the need to justify my long overdue and lowly pay rate by explaining that I have been opting to take my pay monthly over 24 months... it takes a while to build a bank balance when you are talking about a few dollars per article.  But it does mean I will still be earning those few dollars in 2013!  By which time inflation would have reduced its value by about half...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Vintage Barbie

Ever since I was a teenager I have been boxing up toys and books with the aim of passing them on to my progeny.  For a decade or so, I even managed to store them at my parents house, until they wised up and started depositing ancient boxes of books and old school reports on my door step.

Alongside my Ramona Quimby and Trixie Beldon books, I also kept a collection of Barbie dolls and clothes. What remains are the dolls and clothes I wasn't able to sell at a Sunday morning swap meet in my late teens.  What remains was probably considered daggy in the early 90s so no one wanted it. 

Today, what remains is vintage.  I'm kicking myself for selling the rest of the collection.

Vintage: this is a mixed blessing really.  For not only does it mean I now own some pretty original Barbie fashions from the 1960s through to the 1980s, but it also means that my childhood was about three decades ago, so my toys may now qualify for the moniker 'antique'.

Many of these dresses were hand made by my aunty and mum. And I can pretty much guarantee that you can't get outfits like this anymore. 

A little bit of Mad Men...

How are these for disco-tastic...

Oh the gold lame jumpsuit...

And into the 1980s... a kaftan, one piece jogging suit and a very big hat!

Perhaps the most telling part of my collection is the box it is has been stored in for the past 20+ years.

This state of the art tape cassette was a gift from my parents who had been overseas.  It weighed about 4 kilos and its major selling point was the fact that it could play both sides of a cassette without needing to eject and turn it over.  I remember listening to Abba and Little River Band on it while I was doing the vacuuming. Good times.

*These rather dapper poses are not necessarily because I am trying to portray Barbie as an active jogger or dancer... These clothes are 20+ years old and some are beginning to fall apart (not helped by Miss 4 year old being a tad rough trying to dress her 'new' dolls...) no I have had to pose them like this to prevent too much exposure of plastic booby. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Search Term Optimism

Some of you may think that blogging is simply a means for me to have a bit of a rant about a topic of my choosing. FREE MONEY.

You are absolutely right. You deserve to LIVE FOREVER.

However, for some bloggers out there, this is serious business and anyone in the know will know that you must write with SEO in mind (that's Search Engine Optimisation for all you neanderthals out there).  In other words, if you put some really speccy, searchable words upfront in your blog, like SEX, it's more likely to be at the top of the list when your potential readers hit 'search' in our friend Google (or whatever).


So, now I have been blogging for a little while I was wondering what sort of search terms people were using to wind up at my blog, by mistake that is. CAT MARRIES DOG.

Here are some of the terms people were using when they happened upon my WORLD'S BEST BLOG:

'Strap some on' I imagine there would have been some very disappointed readers out there when they happened upon my post about tradies.  After all, it doesn't take too much imagination to figure out what they were probably looking for...

'Pulme' This was one of those security check words websites get you to type in to prove you are not a computer.  There is no such word (I just checked) so I wonder what on earth readers were looking for when they typed that one into their engine...

'Where do the lost toys go?' This makes me sad, that there are people, possibly children, out there who are actively looking for an answer to this question.  I pondered it one day when I accidentally lost one of the Curly Mops toys.  I still wonder about the world of lost toys.  I hope you found your toys kids.

'The Windows to the' Not windows to the soul, or windows to the heart, just windows to the... What were they looking for?  Did they find it?  I installed a search tool on my blog (now located at the very bottom of the page) to try and figure out where they ended up, and I can't find it?  

How you you happen upon this blog?  Did you get what you were looking for?  What is THE MEANING OF LIFE? I hope to see you again soon.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ask Me No Questions I Will Tell You No Lies

I recently read from a source of great authority*, that a four year child asks - on average - 437 questions a day.

Now I know men that don't even speak 437 words in a day let alone that many questions, so I decided to do a little experiment.  After all, you can take the girl out of the research lab, but you can't take the researcher out of the girl.

So for one day last week I followed the Blonde Bombshell around with a piece of paper and pen and tallied up every time she asked a question.  To make it even more interesting, I counted separately each time she asked for food, and each time she simply asked "why?" (perhaps the most irritating question a four-year old can ask).

I learned some very interesting things.

* The Bombshell managed to ask 167 questions in little over 13 hours.

* Therefore, there must be a bunch of kids out there that do not stop asking questions, because if The Bombshell came in drastically below average, there are some poor mums out there who have to field over 700 questions a day (my sympathies).

* While I would have estimated that the Bombshell asked 'why?' at least a thousand times a day, she in fact only said it 12 times.  12 was enough.

* Similarly, she only asked for food 12 times over the course of the day. This could be because she often just helps herself to food in the cupboard anyway.

* I have come to the conclusion that if she had better manners, her count would have been much higher, because 'I want to watch TV' can't be classified as a question, but had she said 'Please can I watch TV?' she she would have another point.  Perhaps the researchers* just had super polite kids.

* Not every question she asked was grammatically correct, but I still gave her the point.  If she repeated the same question to make a statement, she got two points.  If the question was asked in that awful whiney voice that preschoolers use, she got the point but also got a lecture. If she sang the question, she got a point and a smile.  If the question was 'can I have Mummy cuddles?' the answer was always 'yes'.

Do you like this? Does it look pretty?

* From the super-scientific people at Libra Panty Liners
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