Friday, June 29, 2012

How To Get A Five Year Old To School On Time

Sometimes the universe makes up for all the crap we shovel on ourselves and gives up a bit of a laugh at someone else's expense.

Today, it was my darling [argumentative, petulant, sulky] five year old.

She was deliberately dragging her feet: she knew she was making us late for school.  She didn't care because she obviously thought (quite accurately) that I was quite powerless to do much about it.

As I ran through my list of threats, I hit upon a winner.  I would tell her teacher the real reason we were late for school. 

She didn't like that and within five minutes we were out the door.

She moaned Every. Step. Of. The. Way.

WHY were we walking? Her legs were soooo tired. Why couldn't we take the car like everyone else. Her toe hurt. She likes to sit down in the car. I was a mean mum.  No one understood her.

The bell had already rung when we were making the final push towards the school. Every step was torture as she ranted about how horrible and mean and bossy I was.

Then, in an excellent display of karma, the deputy principal appeared on the horizon, hurrying towards us.

Now, she was actually on the lookout for two year seven boys who had wagged school but that's not what the Bombshell thought.

I looked down at her and said that we were so late the deputy had come to look for her.

The deputy looked worried, then mentioned that she might need to make a call to the police [about the boys].

You can imagine what the Bombshell thought about that.  She looked at me with a newfound respect - that not only had I managed to inform the deputy but that the police might also get involved.

You can bet that next week we won't be late for school.

Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before*

This is the sight that greeted me this morning when I got up.

Dirty dishes piled on every imaginable surface. Half eaten bowls of cereal, congealing icecream, mugs with a layer of coffee glazing the bottom, lunch containers growing stuff, and god knows what else.

In the other direction I was greeted with this. 

Three little girls in various stages of pyjama-dom, all spreadeagled in front of the TV, lounging around on little pink couches (or baby swings), staring mutely at the box, not interacting, barely human. Plus an overflowing rack of small clothes drying. For a week, now.

When I turned around, I got a glimpse of my husband doing a runner out the front door, escaping to the relative sanity of his workplace: a weetbix/Dora/nappy free zone.  Lucky bastard.

I was sorely tempted to go back to bed, but alas, duty called. I had slept in but it wasn’t a luxurious lie-in, it was a comatose, awake for three hours in the middle of the night feeding babies and attending to screaming toddlers sleep-in. My tardiness in bed was now going to cost me. I had half an hour to get four people dressed and fed, four pigtails, three sets of teeth, four bottoms, one school lunch, two water bottles, and three umbrellas. And somehow I had to drag them away from the TV without them killing each other.

Welcome to a typical morning in households across Australia, right?

I stood in the kitchen for a minute planning my attack. The dishes and washing could wait. I could probably get away with leaving the two year old and baby in their pyjamas, school lunch could be cold leftover ravioli, an unpeeled mandarin and an obnoxious but very convenient sugary snack from the cupboard. School lunch. Check.

I headed over to grab one of the kids. A sneak attack would be the only way to get them away from The Care Bears.

My stealth attack was thwarted by Cinderella’s plastic crown imbedding itself in my foot.

‘FFFFFFF…… Oh my god@!’ I muttered
‘Language, Mum!’, admonished the Bombshell.

My bad.

An advert came on, so the Curly Mop began looking for other ways to amuse herself.

‘Mum! She got her germs on me when she sucked on my jumper! Eww,’ shrieked the Bombshell flicking bits of her sister's drool across the room.

Seriously? Sucking jumpers? Don't I feed you enough.

Apparently not, because not long after I found her sucking toothpaste straight out of the tube, probably to get the taste of grubby jumper out of her mouth. Brushing teeth? Close enough.

I let the Mop choose her own outfit. She looked like a bag lady. Whatever.

Meanwhile, Baldy Baby thought this would be a judicious time to poop. Two minutes before we are due to leave for school.
'Mum, the baby's bottom is kinda stinky,' offered the Bombshell, her nose buried in the baby's crotch.
'She STINKS,' agreed the Mop.
Cleaning bottoms? Check.
I pulled beanies over their heads, disguising my half-arsed attempt at pigtails. Hair, done.
I threw the two littlies in the pram, handed the Bombshell my thermos of coffee and bounced them down the steps on four very flat tyres. 
The Bombshell ran ahead: not even my atrocious mood could ruin her pure joy as she balanced on garden walls, pointed out rainbows and... crap. Rainbows?
We were halfway to school when it bucketed down.
Naturally the umbrellas were at home, next to the door where I had left them. We sheltered under a tree while the Bombshell's school mates drove by in massive SUVs waving gleefully at us. 
We must have looked pretty pathetic. The grumpy mum standing under a tree with three sodden kids (I said sodden, not sodding!). 

*   *  *
I should have brought the dishes outside and left them in the rain.  Maybe then, they'd be clean by now.

*Apologies to The Smiths for associating their uber cool brand of rock with a very cranky brand of domesticity.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Get Your Yummy On

I know what a Yummy Mummy is; it’s just that I am not one.

I doubt I would have been considered yummy after my first baby was born. I didn’t gain much weight and seemed to lose it again, but what was left behind was significantly more floppy than before. That is, except for the massive rock-hard boobs which you’d think would be a pre-requisite for being a yummy mummy, but they didn’t last long though. And everything else seemed to change shape and droop a bit.

I had started doing a bit of exercise after my first child was born, hitting the pool with some sprightly octogenarians for water aerobics. However after realising that my new baby didn’t particularly like chlorine flavoured boobs, I gave that up for some energetic channel-surfing thanks to the newly installed Foxtel.

With my second child I had put on about 20 kg though I suspect most of that was two years of morning tea rather than the pregnancy itself.  Even losing 5kg in the first trimester due to awful morning sickness didn’t make much difference, especially since I spent the second and third trimesters making up for it. By this stage I was supplementing my own meals by eating the toddler’s leftovers.

It was a longer recovery from the birth second time round, but I had a toddler and new baby to chase.  After a few months I relished the opportunity to head out to the gym in the evenings. I would feed the baby and walk out, leaving my husband with the two girls and the unenviable task of getting them into bed. I would spend an hour on the cross-trainer, watching Masterchef, chatting with a friend. Then I would come home and eat half a packet of Tim Tams.  Reward food. Winter and early sunsets soon put an end to our gym days, so I would stay home and eat the Tim Tams as soon as the kids were in bed.

By the time I realised I wanted a third child I set myself the task of losing 15kg before I fell pregnant. A new baby proved to be a really good motivator, and it meant I didn’t freak out my obstetrician with my starting weight. My end weight was a bit of a concern though, despite five months of serious morning sickness. I tried aquarobics after the sickness passed but when the octogenarians began outperforming me, I found it less humiliating just to stay home and watch reruns of Selling Houses Australia.

After stacking on another 20kg with the third pregnancy I was bummed that the baby weighed only 3.3kg, my smallest yet. That meant 17kg of morning tea ‘forever on the hips’. I find I am too exhausted for formal exercise but on the other hand I am now chasing after three kids, including ten trips to school each week, breastfeeding the baby, and doing half a dozen loads of washing a week.

Over the past five years I have felt my yummy slip away.  My beauty routine consists of brushing my hair, brushing my teeth and applying mascara. I am ashamed to admit that the priority is not necessarily in that order. My luxury is dying my hair every six weeks or so.  I dread to think what colour my natural hair colour would be by now. How many shades of grey? Fifty? Not at my place.

My yummy is certainly not in my skirts that don’t zip all the way at the waist anymore, the maternity dresses that have stayed an essential part of my every day wear, the huge granny knickers I bought for comfort during my pregnancy and which I have no intention of getting rid of.

There is no yummy in my ancient comfy cardigans, the shoulder variously decorated with [choose one] boogers/spew/breakfast/spit.

I can’t even add some yummy in the form of rings and bracelets and necklaces, as they tend to damage fragile baby skin and would eventually become chew toys anyway. High heels are out of the question and people would pay good money to NOT see me in lycra gym pants.

So where is my yummy?

It’s in the special moments with my children, the smell of my baby girl’s head, her breath when she sleeps. It’s in my two year olds lispy ‘I wuv you, Mummy’, my five year olds handwritten notes. My yummy is snuggling in bed, whispering stories at bedtime, a running tackle hug at school pick-up, a sleepy two year old crawling into my lap for a hug.

My yummy is in my arms at 2am, a contented sigh from a sleepy, feeding baby.

My yummy is all around me.

*  *  *

If you need help finding your yummy, and you live in Perth, HBF is doing a story with Today Tonight and the West Australian and are looking for mums who need help:

-          finding me time, organising your house, cooking quick healthy meals, getting fit and looking stylish.

In return for being filmed and sharing a bit of your life, they will help you with a ‘supernanny’ to assist with mealtime and organising your home, a stylist to give you a fashion refresh, a home training session with a HBF personal trainer and a hair makeover.

Fine print?

They would obviously prefer that you are a HBF member, and you have to be available for filming (multiple days and locations, including your own house) in July/August.

Contact Melanie on 0400 074 007 or email on for more information.


I’m not being paid by HBF to make this little announcement, but if it can help some Perth mums get a bit more delish in their day, then I am happy to help. Then you can come to my house and help me!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why You Should Always Read The Disclaimer

It's usually when you make the most effort to be a 'good' mum, that it all blows up in your face.

These are the times you probably would have been better off sticking the kids in front of the telly and opening a bottle of wine. Less tears.  Literally, in my case.

We had decided to take the Bombshell, the Mop and Baldy Baby to see our first ever 3D film: the new Pixar film 'Brave'.

I was so confident of a winner weekend that I had already purchased a cool Brave diary for girls from Australia Post, ready to give to the Bombshell after all the gushing thankyous I expected for being such a good mum. [Seriously, Australia Post, whoever is in charge of your 'impulse item marketing' deserves a hefty pay rise.  Every time I go in there to buy a 60c stamp I spend $20 on books and random gifts.]

We were all settled in with our boxes of popcorn and slightly daggy 3D glasses.  During the adverts and previews the Bombshell kept shrieking wildly every time a star or sparkle (or car) came shooting out of the screen.  I was torn between smiling indulgently at her (it was pretty cool) and wanting to hiss at her to be quiet.

This photo now belongs to Weekend Notes.

After about 20 minutes of previews and adverts though, the novelty was wearing off and she had started with the 'when is the movie going to start?'

'Moooovie', agreed the Mop, although she was clearly more interested in the popcorn.

Now, there is always a baddie in kids films. I get that - they are necessary for the plot. A scary witch, an evil mastermind, a fluffy teddybear.

Or an enormous, snarling, man-eating bear.

I vaguely remembered the brochure had warned that there may be 'some scary scenes'.  This disclaimer was also repeated on the advertising at the cinema and at the start of the film.

But seriously?  Who ever pays attention to disclaimers?  Smoking causes cancer, sure, but 'parental guidance recommended?' Whatever.

Turns out my kids don't like bears.

'I'm scared, Mum,' the Bombshell told me after about 5 minutes when a giant bear ate someone's leg off.

'You'll be fine,' I told her.  Nice one mum.

Not much later, there were more bears.  The Bombshell buried her head in her hands, and said something to me. Her words were muffled by all the screaming from the screen.

'What?' I asked, helping myself to her popcorn.

'I want to go home,' she pleaded.

'Are you kidding, it just started.  No'. Nice work, Shannon.  Awesome parenting.

We made her sit there, sobbing, for an hour before I remembered that at age three my parents had taken me to see ET.  I watched it from between my fingers, peeking through the gap between the seats in front of me. I had nightmares for a decade of a crusty, white alien and those guys in the big suits busting through the window.

Then I saw the Mop, standing in front of me.  Peeking at the screen through the gap in between two chairs, her eyes enormous and worried, and suddenly I saw decades of nightmares about bears. Untold psychiatry bills: 'they wouldn't take me hoooooome'.

We don't even have bears in Australia but I doubted that particular argument would be worth much at 2am when trying to console a terrified preschooler.

So we cut and ran.

My husband grabbed the two older girls and led them, whimpering out of the movie.  Meanwhile I had to bundle the baby back into the car seat, where she immediately started screaming, and collect all the jackets and water bottles and other accoutrements that come with taking three kids to the movies. Oh, and shovel as much popcorn in my mouth as I could.  What?  It cost us $13!

Then the complaints from the nearby patrons started.

'Imagine bringing a baby to the movies,' hissed the couple in front of us.

'Sit down!' came a call from two rows back.

'Waaaaaaaaaa', screamed Baldy Baby, sitting on a puddle of popcorn that the Mop had tipped in her car seat.

So I bolted, thinking of my poor, inconsolable, terrified daughters. And was confronted with...

            two little girls, doing hand stands and running merrily around the foyer.


I had planned on a family dinner after the movies, but for some reason Hubby was in a less than chipper mood, so we placed an order for takeaway. 

We spent the next ten minutes watching the kids ride motorbikes and pretend to shoot things in Timezone. So proud.

Always read the disclaimer. It might save you some hassles.


* I did end up writing a review of the movie for my other gig, Weekend Notes. Not quite sure how the film ends, but I can't let that stop me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Every Kid Does It

‘Mum. When I stick my finger in my nose, the boogers come out red.’

Just in case I am in any doubt, she kindly sticks her finger in her nose, wiggles it around a bit, and pulls out a scabby little booger. She studies it for a minute then waves it in my face for effect.

‘That’s gross,’ I tell her.

She looks puzzled. Obviously not the reaction she was hoping for.

‘Wossat?’ the Curly Mop asks as she watches the Bombshell try and flick it into the bin.

‘My nose has bloods,’ she tells her sister.

My husband wanders in.

‘Dad. When I stick my finger in my nose it comes out red.’

‘Well, don’t stick your finger in your nose then,’ he says absently.

‘Aren’t you proud?’ I ask him sarcastically.

He looks at me, surprised. ‘I have men ten times her age coming to me at work complaining that they bleed when they pick their noses.’

‘She’s quite advanced then, is what you’re saying,’ I say.

He pulls the Curly Mop onto his lap.

‘Did you tell Mummy what you had for afternoon tea at daycare today?’

‘Ice-cweem!’, she says.

‘No you didn’t,’ Daddy says, spooning the very same into his mouth.

‘Nana’s’, she says.

‘Hardly,’ he replies. ‘You had marshmallow cheesecake.  And how that is meant to be appropriate for kids I want to know,’ he mutters grumpily.  I refrain from pointing out that he is currently feeding the two-year-old icecream and cake.

The Mop looks up at him. ‘I’m sore,’ she says pointing at her mouth. ‘Teef sore.’

‘Cake will make it better,’ her Daddy replies spooning in a mouthful. ‘Cake makes everything better.’

The Bombshell has been sitting at the kitchen bench drawing pictures of her beloved Disney princess dolls.  She has just finished drawing the new green one that no one can ever remember the name of.  You know, the one with the frog.

‘Look!,’ she exclaims, a finger waggling in the air. ‘Now my booger has turned green’.

‘Yucky. Wossat?’ remarks the Mop.

‘That’s just texta but you still need to stop putting your finger in your nose, ok?’

Icecream and cake finished, the Mop climbs down off her Daddy’s lap and wanders over to investigate the Bombshell’s dolls.  All seven of them, sitting neatly in a line. OCD runs in the family.

‘I touch?’ she asks.  I’m surprised she bothered seeking permission.

The Bombshell stares at her. ‘Ok, but you can only touch them on the arms and no moving them’ she orders.  It sounds suspiciously like me laying down the law with the new baby.

Mop doesn’t notice. She is already trying to remove Rapunzel’s head. Just like with the new baby.

Their Dad swans through the room issuing orders. ‘Clean up everyone.  It’s time for a shower.’

‘A fawa, a fawa,’ the Mop cries, dumping the dolls and running after her Daddy.

Gleefully I eye my computer, but the silence lasts only moments.  Naturally, the baby wakes at this point. I go to pull her out of the cot, and she greets me with a massive gummy, lopsided smile.

Resisting the urge to turn Downton Abbey on again (always with the subtitles on cos the baby makes breastfeeding into a high decibel sport) I settle on the couch to feed.

It’s not long before the girls join me again.  The Mop picks up Rapunzel from where she was unceremoniously dumped, lifts her pyjama top and puts the doll to her little barrel chest.  She parks her bottom on a chair at my feet and looks up at me.

‘Mook. I got baby mook’ she tells me, indicating her chest. ‘You got big mook.’

I just nod.  What are you meant to say?

‘I put baby to bed,’ she says, promptly placing Rapunzel on the chair and sitting on her head. Sometimes she confuses me greatly. Does she think this is how I put the baby to bed?  I admit it’s sometimes tempting with the older kids, but generally headsitting isn’t part of my repertoire.

We all read a story together, then the girls are herded off to bed. It’s trying to keep them there that’s the challenge.

I stick my head in to make sure they are asleep.  The Mop is curled in a ball, her head resting on a copy of ‘The Green Sheep’.

The Bombshell is lying on her back, scrutinizing a finger merely centimetres from her eyes. I cough expectantly.  She jumps and looks at me sheepishly, retracting the finger.

‘G’night Mum. They’re all gone now.’

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Tricky Questions

These days information is pretty much everywhere.  There are more parenting books and websites (and blogs) than a person can reasonably read in a lifetime (let alone in between feeds and nappies and school runs).

I still have questions though...

When is a good age to start teaching kids about what to do in an emergency?  How to get out of the house in case of a fire (without scaring them?).

When do you teach them to recite Mummy's mobile phone number in case they get lost (without them spouting it to every stranger they meet?).

When do you start giving them pocket money and expecting them to do jobs around the house?

When do you tell them where babies comes from?

Where meat comes from?

When do you start explaining that life isn't like a Disney fairytale and that violence in the real world has real consequences. That the 'baddies' in the real world don't always learn their lesson/fall off a tall building/apologise sincerely.

How do you balance their innocence as children with their safety in the real world?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

One From The Vaults

I started writing about the trials and tribulations of having a baby back when I was pregnant with the Blonde Bombshell.  Every now and then I need to read back through my stories, to remind myself that things were challenging with her, and her younger sister is not just a very cherubic looking devil sent to test me.

I have a sore throat today.  It's either because I have been slurped on by the germilicious two year old, or because I have been yelling too much today.  Regardless, the sore throat means my fingers don't want to work, and so I am going to recycle a story I wrote when the Bombshell was exactly the same age as the Mop is now. 

Mud.  Clear as.

* * *
28 months...

I have been trying to get the Bombshell to lose the dummy for weeks, months, probably a year actually.  Because she is so tall, and her hair is so long, she looks like a 6 year old with a dummy hanging out of her mouth, a really bad look.  So I have been asking, pleading, begging for her to throw it away.  Naturally, that just made her want it even more. 

First I tried good old fashioned bribery. ‘Put the dummy back in your cot and you can have a biscuit’.  So off she’d trot, put the dummy in her cot and return for her biscuit.  As soon as she had finished the cookie, she’d trot back to her room, pick up the dummy and stick it back in her gob, with a look that said ‘I DID what you asked, now what are you going to do about it’.
So then I resorted to just being plain mean.  I started chopping off thin strips of the rubber end of her dummy (I read about this in a parenting magazine, so it is socially sanctioned meanness).  Every few days I would take a few millimetres off, so eventually it resembled a… well it resembled half a dummy.  She would still ask for it, and thrown a tantrum if she lost it, but she couldn’t have possibly enjoyed it, as it had no ‘suck’ left in it, and was more like a small rubber bowl filled with spit.
After a couple weeks of this, and more than a few looks from the girls at Childcare who obviously didn’t relish the idea of having to handle such a disgusting object, I was beginning to think that the Bombshell would be married with this foul object still dangling from her lips. 
And then, one Wednesday morning a couple of weeks ago – she threw it in the bin.  Just like that.  I’d like to say that was the end of the story, but it couldn’t be that simple.  It set off a chain of events, because approximately 6 hours after she had thrown it away, it was naptime and she wanted her dummy.
‘No, you threw it in the bin remember?  No more dummy’, I told her in my proudest voice.
‘Want my dummy!!’, she cried.
‘No, you put it in the bin and now the garbage man has taken it away.  And mummy is so proud of you.  What a big girl!’.
‘I.  WANT.  MY.  DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUMMMMMMMMMMMMY’, she screamed, and literally threw herself over the bars of the cot so she could go presumably, to find the garbage man and kill him to reclaim her property.
One hand, one bounce.  I caught her about an inch off the ground (not sure if she had actually hit it and rebounded) by the leg and chest, and she was rabid.  I thought I had about as much chance of safely putting her back in the cot, as I did of winning the lottery, so I went and dragged one of the single mattresses out of storage and told her to sleep on that.  Later that afternoon, I assembled her first-ever ‘big girl bed’.  So, in the space of 24 hours we lost the dummy and graduated to a big girl bed.
The problem with ‘big girl beds’ (and apart from bragging rights, there are no good things associated with big beds) is that
a)      she can get out of it
b)      there is heaps of room for 10,000 toys and 10,000 books
c)       the sheets and blankets are 4 times as big, which means more washing, and finding all sorts of gross things in the blankets
d)      she can get out of it
e)      she can hide underneath it
f)       it looks like a trampoline to a two year old
g)      it takes up twice as much room which meant everything else had to be rearranged
h)      and did I mention, she can get out of it.
So naptime and bedtime have become yet another battleground.  There is no such thing as plonking her in the cot and walking away know that eventually she will get bored and go to sleep. 
She can climb out, or under, or jump, or reach all the stuff up on the wall, or pull all the sheets and blankets off and make a bed on the floor, or wedge almost empty milk bottles down the side (to be found 3 days later).  The only saving grace is the fact that our door handles are very high, so she cannot yet escape from her room.   
And when that happens…

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