Wednesday, May 28, 2014

There’s Poo in the Fairy Garden

At first it was just a few tell-tale gurgles in the kitchen sink. My heart sank. I knew that noise.

I went into the bathroom where my husband was supervising the nightly shower ritual, which tends to involve ‘Let It Go’ played very loudly on repeat, lots of yelling over the top of the loud music and masses of water on the floor.

Last night was no different, but this time I had to put a stop to it early.

‘Keep the showers short tonight,’ I said. ‘The drain is blocked and the kitchen sink is filling.’

My husband shot me one of those looks. The ones that have to suffice when you really want to swear but you’re surrounded by lots of impressionable children.

As he finished the showers, the bubbling in the kitchen sink was joined by gurgling in the toilet. Awesome, I thought. It won’t be long now. It wasn’t.

Kids in bed, we started our search for the LED torch and the plunger. We could find neither. Using a cheap plastic Toy Story torch, about as useful as a glow in dark necklace, we tried in vain to locate something to attack the drain with. A quick trip to Bunnings later and my husband valiantly removed the lid from the drain.

What happened next was like something out of a horror film, but unlike films which manufacture slime and other hideous things out of dough and clay, in our case, the hideous things were actually made of… well, shit.

As the content of the drain ran freely and happily into the garden, I watched a little poo bob to the surface and float merrily along where it bumped into the Fairy Tree.

The fairies aren’t going to be too happy about that, I thought.

Putting the lid back on the drain was no longer an option so we went inside to call an emergency plumber. 

By this stage it was 8pm.

Now mums, here is some good advice: if your kids want a trade consider plumbing. The first plumber we called wanted $279 for a call out fee plus an extra $55 per 15 minutes. Our mistake was to dither, because the by the time we called another company, the time had ticked by and the call out fee was $460 with an estimated arrival time of between 10pm and 1am.

It is a phenomenal amount of money, but probably well deserved, because apart from the parents who have to deal with the faecal output of their own cherubs in the wee small hours, I can’t imagine many other people who relish the fact of dealing with free flowing poo in the middle of the night. Not that parents probably relish it either.

We decided to leave it until early the next morning.

This morning when we woke, all the kids wanted to see was the poo in the garden. Instead, overnight, large rags and squares of fabric had bobbed to the surface, as well as the distinctive appearance of shredded toilet paper.

‘I can’t see any poo,’ the Mop said looking out the window. She sounded disappointed. I couldn’t see any either, and I wondered what the Fairies had done with their little poo friend.

The Bombshell was clutching herself awkwardly. ‘I really need to go to the toilet,’ she said worriedly.

‘Go,’ I said. ‘Just don’t flush.’

A couple of hours later, and everyone else was at work, school or daycare. I was waiting for the Water Corp to fix the problem so I sat down at my desk (the kitchen table, right next to the drain) to start work on my final uni assignment. All I could see was brown water and toilet paper and those enormous rags. I closed the blinds and tried to ignore the brilliant sparkles reflecting through the glass as the sun valiantly shone on the pool of raw sewerage. It felt as though it was mocking me with its glorious happiness. Shiny happy poo.

The Water Corp arrived and unblocked the drain and did a pretty good clean up considering what they were working with.

We stood and surveyed the damage.

“It will be pretty good for the garden,’ one said helpfully.

Raw sewage?

‘But not for the fairies,’ I told them. We perused the fairy garden, still with wet toilet paper wedged against the mushrooms and garden gnomes.

‘Tell the kids the fairies have gone on holiday for a week,’ the other suggested.

A wise suggestion.

Oh, and by the way: if any of my up-hill neighbours ever read this and are responsible for throwing rags in the toilet, please know this: the fairies have put a curse on you.

I have resisted to put in a picture with obvious visible poo... or have I?

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Real Truth Behind Birth Days

May 23rd, 2007 is probably going to end up being the most significant date in my entire life.

Apart from being World Turtle Day, that happens to be my daughter’s birthday.

But why it is really significant for me, is that it was the day I became a mother.

Nothing I had done prior to this, and probably nothing I will do subsequently will ever come close to the momentousness of becoming a parent for the first time. It changes literally everything about you, from the way you think, to the way you look, to the way you sleep.

Becoming a parent affects everything, from the big (your legal status and financial responsibilities) to the small (going to the toilet with the door open no longer concerns you). Although some might argue that how you spend the next ten years toileting is actually quite a big deal.

Becoming a parent is hands down the most intense, rewarding, exhausting, terrifying, unpredictable and hilarious thing I have ever done.

And the thing is, on the 23rd May all those years ago, sure, my daughter got born. But I was the one who did all the work, so (and I am going to be brutally honest here) why does she get all the presents today?

She didn’t have to do anything yet somehow, she is one with the brand new Lego set, a new umbrella, books, clothes and a fancy highlighters from Smiggle. She is the one waltzing into school with 24 chocolate cupcakes and a ‘birthday girl’ badge, getting slaps on the back and hugs from her friends.

Excuse me, what about me? My left hip will never be the same again after your ill-positioned position in utero and don’t even get me started on my poor boobs.

Isn’t it about time that we remember what birthdays actually are: the anniversary of a birth. And the poor schmuck who actually gives birth should be more than just the person who is expected to bake those 24 chocolate cupcakes.

[Ring ring. Ring ring]

Oh wait. Someone is telling me that is actually what Mothers Day is meant to be for.

Okaaaaay. Sorry about that. Let’s try a new tack…

On the 17th of February, again in 2007, I had my one and only baby shower

It was a pretty special day, because it happened to be my mum’s birthday and also in attendance was my now deceased grandmother. My mother reminded me that exactly 59 years prior, my Grandma had been in labour with her first child, in a time before baby showers, and ultrasounds, and most of the things we now take for granted. Like Facebook.

She asked me to acknowledge this during the baby shower, as she wanted to recognise that her birthday was actually a very special day for her mother.

Just as today, I am feeling pretty special. I look at my daughter, finally seven (only seven!) and think of everything I have already achieved and how much I have ahead of me.

She will prove to be my greatest teacher.

So, as well as wishing the Bombshell a Happy 7th Birthday, I also want to send my love and appreciation to all the other mums out there who are celebrating the most momentous occasion of their lives.

Happy Birth Days, mums.

We did good.

The Bombshell, two months old

Happy 7th birthday

Friday, May 16, 2014

Why Tom and Jerry are Now Banned in my House

‘If you don’t let me go on the computer later, I’m going to kill you,’ the Bombshell hissed at me.

I raised my eyebrows at her, and glanced back in the rear view mirror. My heart was racing at the thought of my not-even-seven-year-old using such violent language, but outwardly (for once) I maintained my cool. It doesn’t happen much – only when people at threatening to kill me.

‘Really? That’s not a very nice thing to say,’ I told her, Queen of the Understatement.

The Mop piped up: ‘If you kill Mum, she will be really angry at you.’

I could see I needed to speak with my four year old about what death really meant, but I was also a bit miffed that she wasn’t otherwise concerned about me being…  well… dead!

‘If I kill her, she won’t be able to do anything anymore,’ the Bombshell told her.

At least someone understood the gravity of the topic.

‘If I am dead I certainly won’t be able to let you go on the computer anymore, will I? I won’t be able to do anything for you anymore.’

There was silence in the car. Briefly.

‘I don’t think you should kill your Mum,’ the Mop finally said, quietly.

Inside I cheered, at least one of them didn’t hate me for not letting them sit in front of the computer for hours on end.

The Mop turned around in her car seat to see the Bombshell, sulking in the backseat. ‘How would you kill her?’ she asked.


‘I would go and buy a big gun and shoot her,’ the Bombshell decided.

The Mop shook her head. ‘You wouldn’t get a big knife and cut her up?’

I had to intervene.

‘This is a lovely conversation you two are having. You realise I am still here, right? Driving the car. I can hear you both. By the way,’ I added, ‘there will clearly be no more Tom and Jerry for you two. Ever.’

Bloody Tom and Jerry, who keep coming back from the dead every episode. No wonder kids don’t think death is permanent and serious. Not to mention that threatening to kill people is a punishable offence in the normal world.

The Mop said quietly, ‘and if you killed mum, all her friends would miss her.’

‘I wouldn’t miss her,’ shot back the Bombshell.

‘The rest of the family would miss her,’ said the Mop, sadly.

 I wouldn’t,’ Bombshell said stubbornly, although her voices had lost its bravado.

We had pulled into the car park by this stage, and were sitting in the car, still strapped into our seats.

‘Please don’t kill me,’ I asked her, looking directly at her via the rear view mirror.



Crisis averted.

You are now BANNED! from my house

Monday, May 12, 2014

My day in pictures

My Mothers Day in pictures... snapshots of the blessings that come with being a parent...

Badly Baby, The Blonde Bombshell, me and Miss Curly Mop

Steamboat for lunch, the most ambitious meal ever prepared in our house and I didn't have to do a thing

Wearable food, it's the latest fashion
Hand made jewellery from the kids, that I will actually wear

The reverse of a bookmark made by the Bombshell... apparently Mrs Meyerkort is as 'precious as a diamond'

Mothers Day at Kindy... this is how my middle daughter sees me 'Look Mum, I gave you a nose!' And what a nose it is...

A gift from my husband. I am trying not to read anything into his choice of foot apparel...

After listening to four verses of 'I love my mummy because she fixes my broken dresses' I took the hint and repaired a number of torn clothes

I don't want to talk about this

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

When Life is Perfect... oh, Wait... It's Normal Again

My two year old was beginning to look like Cousin It.

She was also behaving a bit like Cousin It, but the hair was slightly easier to fix. So I took her along to my hairdresser for a fringe cut.

Now back when I was a kid (don’t you just love starting stories like that… I can hear my kids eyes rolling when I do it), I am pretty sure my mum literally took one of her mixing bowls, plonked it upside down on my head, got her dressmaking scissors and cut around the rim of the bowl.

Don’t believe me? Have a look at this…
Yes, I am the one on the right

Now these days, the pudding bowl haircut is classified as a form of child abuse, so I take my kids to a hair dresser. She had insisted on wearing her older sister’s size 6 dress, so she was pretty unusual looking to start with when we got there.

She stood in the door, and silently took in the heat and noise of the hair dryers, the women with their hair wrapped up in alfoil and clipped in mad little bunches, the smell of the bleach and she did what most sane people did. She screamed and tried to run away.

But she’s also a sucker for people who smile at her, and suddenly there was a room of adults all beaming at this (hairy) little girl, with the dress down to her ankles, and casually flopping over one shoulder exposing a fair bit of décolletage (can you call it that when they’re two?)

She liked the attention but she didn’t like the look of the massive scissors that quickly came her way, so it looked like we would be going home in much the same condition in which we arrived, when I hit upon the idea of the hairdresser cutting BearBear’s hair first.

BearBear is one of those weird blanket things with a bear head. Not freaky at all.

After we watched BearBear’s ‘hair’ be cut twice, she acquiesced to the idea of having her fringe cut, and 10 seconds later, we were finished and on our way out.

Except we weren’t quite done, because someone had apparently told my two year that after a trip to the hairdresser, you must stop at the café for a coffee.

So she stopped next door at the café, neatly stepped inside and pointed to the massive coffee machine. Then she looked at me and grunted.

‘What?’ I laughed. ‘You want a coffee?’

She nodded.

‘I think you’re a bit young for a coffee,’ I told her, rather pointlessly.

Ignoring me, she stepped toward the counter.

‘Hello,’ she told the barista. ‘Coffee pizz,’ then she pointed at me.

‘Do you do milkshakes?’ I asked him. He shook his head, trying not to laugh.

‘Perhaps she’d like a babycino?’ a rather helpful customer behind us suggested.


‘Would you like a babycino?’ I asked my daughter. She nodded. ‘Ok, go find a table and sit down and I will be there in a minute.’

She walked directly to a table near the window and climbed up into the chair.

‘Hello,’ she said to the two businessmen outside the open window.

‘Uh, hello,’ one of them said, a bit shocked.

I took my seat and soon the world’s largest babycino arrived, complete with marshmallows and chocolate syrup.

‘Cankoo,’ she said and proceeded to spoon the foam and milk into the mouth.

I wish I could finish the story here, with this image of a tidy, neatly coiffed, well mannered toddler still fresh in my mind.

Unfortunately, it went downhill from this point, and involved a fair bit of crying over spilt milk, screaming and tantrums. She was pretty badly behaved too.

Still, for a few minutes there, I thought I had slipped into an alternative universe. And for those few minutes I was pretty happy. Even if it felt a bit like Stepford.

Friday, May 2, 2014

What was your 'favourite' Mother's Day gift?

[Disclaimer] I have a new writing gig, blogging for Poster Candy, where I get to chat about all my ideas to do with photography. Ah, you didn't know I was a photographer did you? Well, I'm not really, but I enjoy it immensely and I have lots of fun projects coming up. 

This post is about making a gift for Grandma (or yourself) that you actually like... Normally the articles will be on the PosterCandy website and not here at Relentless, but they are currently experiencing technical difficulties with their blog, something they assure me, that has absolutely nothing to do with my (lack) of technical prowess...

In Year Two I remember coming home from school with an old jam jar, filled to the brim with coloured sugar, a circle of fabric tied to the lid with a piece of string.

‘Happy Mother’s Day,’ I told my Mum proudly as I held my creation in front of me.

Her raised eyebrows perhaps should have indicated to me her confusion over exactly what she was meant to do with a jar of sugar, coloured with toxic and probably now illegal food colours. But as a six year old, I thought my gift was awesome. To her credit, my mother kept that jar of sugar on her shelf for many more years than was probably necessary.

To avoid the same raised eyebrows this Mother’s Day, why not use your kids’ creative urges and harness them for good instead of evil. 

There isn’t a Grandma on earth who wouldn’t appreciate a beautiful hand-drawn picture from their loving grandchildren, but by compiling their work into a single piece of art, she will have a beautiful reminder that lasts long after the grandkids have grown up.

The Great Wall of Art: At our house, individual pieces of artwork are regularly changed but if space is an issue, a whole year’s worth of artwork can be compiled into a single Poster

You can also make a new PosterCandy every year, as the kids get older and their talents improve.

The finished product: Happy Mother's Day Grandma

Hints and Tips when Photographing Kids Artwork
When photographing your children’s artwork and crafts make sure you have plenty of natural light and a neutral background. Pictures can be blu-tacked onto a wall for clear, shadow-free photography. Paper-maché and clay creations should be photographed in front of a plain background.

If your children tend to leave a lot of white on their pictures, then consider photographing each piece of art on a brightly coloured background, so the finished product is not devoid of colour.

If you want to make your Mother’s Day Wall of Art even more special,  include pictures of the children or their initials (these wooden letters are available at craft stores for a few dollars). Ask one of the kids to write ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ and the date on a chalkboard, or in brightly coloured letters and incorporate it into the Poster.

For some mess-free craft, let the kids decorate their initials with cheap gemstone stickers from the $2 shop

If your little artist is very prolific, start photographing their work now. By keeping an electronic record of their art, you can see as their skills develop over time, and even better, you can ‘recycle’ it later with a clear conscience. 

Save all the images in a single folder on the computer, and it will take less than ten minutes to build your Mum or Grandma a beautiful gift for Mother’s Day they will be proud to hang on the wall.

The Small Print:

The poster pictured above is 40x50cm and costs $39,  but there are seven different sizes available with prices starting at $15. All prints are in the iconic square shape, and have been designed specifically to work with your Instagram or Facebook account. Or, if you're a technophobe like me, you can use normal digital images from your computer.

The best bit, I think, is that the finished posters have all been designed to fit in frames from Ikea, so the entire thing ends up being cheap and easy to make.

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