Tag Archives: family

Santamania

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I don’t get the Santa photo thing. Sorry.

I just don’t see why it is so important to drag your reluctant children, dressed in their Sunday best, kicking and screaming, bribing them with “whatever you want from the shops afterward”, to stand in a line half a mile long to sit on the lap of some smelly old man with a bad (and often disturbing) disguise, to pretend to be happy for the camera, so you can spend a small fortune for merchandise that you will either never look at again or that will forever be tainted by the heartache involved in getting the kids there in the first place. PHEW! What a mouthful!

But plenty of people seem to be committed. Committed to a level I am kind of impressed by. Take, for example, one family I observed for some twenty minutes while The Little Lion obsessively drove one of those truck rides that sends parents broke or insane (depending on their resilience against the ‘I want’). They came prepared in a way that suggested it was not their first Santa photo expedition.

There was mum, dad, nan and pop and somebody I guessed was a relative of some kind (judging by her manhandling of the elder child). The two daughters were about 3 and 5 and were dressed in matching, angelic white dresses with bows in identical ringlets and pretty, new sandals to boot. They were perfect… for the first five minutes in line.

Then they were bored.

Then they were ratty.

Then they were hysterical.

Then they were downright horrid.

Then it just got so nasty I had to look away.

And through it all, the army of adults enlisted to contain the girls and maintain their picture perfection fought to stay in control. The girls screamed. They ripped at their bows. They threw themselves on the filthy ground and slid around on their bellies like snakes, trying to escape the clutches of their Santa-obsessed care-takers. And when mum reminded the elder that she could have whatever she wanted after the photo, the self-possessed little miss stopped screaming and, cool as ice, said, “Do you have the money?”

“Yes, of course I do,” said mum, sounding a little less confident by the second.

“Show me.”

“We’ll put it on the credit card.”

“You don’t have the money!” she shrieked.

“Here, here, I do,” whimpered mum.

“I want it now. I want it NOW. I WANT IT NOWWWWWWW!!!”

It was at this point that manhandling relative grabbed the girl by the wrist and dragged her from view which sent younger daughter into a fit of tears so dramatic that nan and pop took her from the scene also.

You would think a Santa photo rain check would be in order, no?

No. Mum and Dad stayed put in the line, determined to see this thing through.

I wonder how they looked up there on Santa’s knee…

 

Happy Christmas to you all!

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Taking the sting out of the garden

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We have been working hard to get rid of the chaotic weed heap in the centre of the yard. Sounds so simple, huh?

I’ve transplanted the 489 spontaneous tomato plants hidden among the thistles, nettles, rampant nasturtium and all manner of clover, dandelion, fire weed and nightshade. Mr D has constructed the first of three compost bays and I have shovelled a mountain and a half of grass clippings…

But all this takes inordinate lengths of time because of one little apprentice determined to help and another little apprentice determined to be carried AT ALL TIMES! The upshot: I work with a baby strapped to the back until we are both too hot and sweaty to breathe and Little Lion sets the pace – think snail.

So a few weeks ago, we were all out back pottering away at our various tasks, LL shouting from time to time for Mummy to “look! bug!” or “dig! hole!” or “my! bucket!”, Blossom casually sucking on an Ergo strap. Naturally, LL gravitated toward the centre of our activity and wanted to pull out some weeds too. At this point, daddy felt it was time for a lesson:

“Look. This is Stinging Nettle. Don’t touch. It will hurt you. Ouch!”

Little Lion crouched beside his father, hands on knees, nodding as he listened with his grave little face contemplating what daddy said. “Ting Net. Ouch,” he said, pointing.

“That’s right. Don’t touch. It’s ouch.”

A gleam sparked in LL’s eye. He reached out his hand and looked to his father to check his reaction. Mr D’s eyes widened in warning, “No, don’t touch. Stinging Nettle will hurt you…”

The Lion giggled. This was a great game.

“No…”

And he did. Grabbed a hand full. Mouth shot open. Horrified eyes searched for the garden for his mother – how could Daddy have betrayed him so? And he screamed…

I did what any mother would do – knelt to the ground and stretched my arms wide ready to receive my distressed boy. And he did what any distressed boy would do – ran for the comforting arms of his mother.

Only trouble was the enormous patch of Singing Nettle between him and me. That’s right, the patch that he (for some incomprehensible reason) did not swerve wildly and carefully tip-toe around to avoid. He ran straight through the thick of it. Right up to his bare little waist with his bare little legs brushing against those leaves of fire time and time and time again.

His face said it all – “Mum and Dad are in cahoots and they’ve got it in for me.”

The welts eventually faded, but the emotional scars remain. All you have to do is say “Singing Nettle” and you can see the grey clouds shadow his face. “Ouch,” he will solemnly reply without so much as a glance in your direction.  And that damned weed patch has lived to fight another day… week… ok, month or two.

We’ll get it one day.

We really will.

Wine and gossip glue

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Pray tell: is there anything better in all the world than wine and gossip? I mean a delicious, suck-it-down-and-beg-for-more kind of wine and scandalous, if-you-dare-repeat-any-of-this-I-will-deny-and-destroy-you kind of gossip. It’s what bonding is all about, is it not? That is how relationships are made (ok, and destroyed perhaps, but I’m focusing on the building bit atm, orrite?).

This epiphany struck me on the weekend when my sister came to visit. She’s been away for a few months, she lives in another city, and we’ve been… well… we’ve been drifting for a while. But on Saturday we opened a bottle of wine, Mr D and Mr D-in-something-like-law drank beer (because they are boys) and we talked. And talked. And talked. Waaaaaaay past bedtime, through a late night booby call and into the not-quite-morning-hours-but-close-enough-to-be-scary time.

And we caught up. On everything. Not by actually telling everything, but you know the osmosis takes place as you drink – you talk about the parents and in-laws, you rant about the bloody water sheeting across your yard from the neighbour’s broken downpipe, you fantasise about life without kids and you warn of life with kids, you recommend books and tell stories of drunk cousins pashing strangers, you analyse the psychological baggage of those who shit you to tears and you make plans for triathlons and diets and wild parties that you know will never eventuate because you’re took drunk to be serious. By the end you somehow know everything else that was left unsaid. Yep, it was one of those nights that cements a friendship, however far it may have drifted, and I’ve decided I need more of those.

You see, last week I told the NDM that I had a piss-poor attempt at a posse. That was, in fact, a lie. I have no posse. I suck at friendship and I blame this on the fact that I didn’t get stuck into the wine and gossip until way late due to a mild obsession with swimming up and down a pool really fast.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I made plenty of friends in the chlorine – it’s kind of hard not to bond when you share the intense ups and downs you get at 4am in a mid-winter pool. But what I didn’t realise at the time was that it is the wine and gossip that really seals things. Life after swimming takes you in all kinds of diverging directions and those friendships die natural deaths because the chlorine glue doesn’t exist any more… unless you had the chance to guzzle and gossip.

This combination bridges all lifestyles, all occupations, all moods and temperaments, seasons, distances and dreams. It transcends common interests and creates memories that, when everything else in your lives have gone asunder, remain powerful enough to hold you to ransom. And that’s the kind of glue I need because, as I said, I suck at friendship.

It’s not that I’m a complete bitch, though some would argue otherwise. I’m a good listener, sympathiser, co-conspirator. I am generous and generally tolerant, though sleep deprivation is taking it’s toll. I can be crude, philosophical and, well you’ve seen my blog, I’m downright hilarious, no? What? You’re not laughing?

But I don’t do regular phone calls, I don’t remember birthdays, I don’t like shopping, exercising or going to the toilet in packs and I’ll only do coffee if it fits in with my kids’ nap times. With this list, I’m destined never to have a posse and I’m cool with the whole lone she-wolf thing.

But, if you are ever around, I’m always free for some wine and gossip and who knows what may grow?

Blossom Bubbles

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My Blossom started on real food this week, though what is ‘real’ about rice cereal (aka cardboard flakes enriched with iron to ensure little systems get well constipated) I don’t know. But that’s what she started with ’cause that what you’re s’posed to do ’cause the book said and if the book said it must be true ’cause it’s smarter than me, right?

So we started with a teaspoon or two and I thought, to make a celebration of the occasion, I’d serve it in a shot glass. I must say, leaning over the kitchen bench, breast bared and nipple being squeezed for all it’s worth, I did reconsider my choice. Have you tried aiming freshly squeezed boob juice into a shot glass lately? Little Lion thought Mummy had gone quite silly indeed!

Now, when LL started on solid food, his take on rice cereal was this:

 

Step One

Step Two

Step Three

Conclusion

 

So I was not expecting much joy with Blossom’s first attempt, but she was very accommodating. It helped that she had

a gleeful audience. LL was beside himself!

“Oh no! Vom!” he’d squeal.

“No, that ‘s not vom. She’s just trying to swallow her breakfast but it’s coming out!”

And’s she’d take another spoon full and blow those bubbles at her brother like it was the best game ever invented. And it is, for now. But it’s only a matter of time before The Lion starts to blow his Weet-Bix back at her!

I wanna be like Mr D

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Last night Mr D wanted to write.

“Yeah, and?” you say, “Don’t we all?” you say, “Get a blog,” you say, “and join the club…”

Well, he’s got a way with words, this is true. In fact, those who know him frequently comment on how much he has to say (which drives him to distraction), but it’s only since The Blossom entered our lives that he has mentioned an actual desire to write. Up until last night he has considered the desire too confronting and has successfully buried whatever was driving the need to pour his heart onto a page under ‘other things to do’.

It’s the man in him, you see. He’s a sensitive flower under that fluorescent tradesman’s uniform (a stereotype he loathes) – he cries during One Born Every Minute, he weeps at any story involving the death of a family man and he has a morbid, empathetic fascination with war stories – but he doesn’t want to be a soppy sap. So he’s resisted the urge to gush about his family on paper… until last night.

We lay in bed and he said the magic words. I pointed to the notebook I had put on his bedside table for just such a moment, and said, “Do it. Now. Get up.” I know, it doesn’t sound like encouragement, but warm fuzzy you shoulds have had no effect so far. I had to get tough. 

He was, as usual, reluctant.

“Well give me a pen, then.” This was more a challenge than a request. He fully expected me to throw my hands up in defeat and let him off the hook. Well, he didn’t think that one through very well, did he? A wanna-be-writer without a pen? Dreaming. So I wordlessly handed him one. Checkmate. He went away and, half an hour later, tossed his notebook on the bed.

What lay in those pages was the essence what I admire most about Mr D – his capacity to appreciate. Everything.

He marvels at Little Lion digging in the dirt – his little shoulders bent to the task, his little legs sticking out of this little boots, his dusty face in deep concentration – and he feels blessed. I see the Little Lion creating more washing.

He wishes The Blossom would take a bottle of expressed milk so he could sit quietly in the big armchair in her room, lights dimmed, to feed her through the night. So do I.

He loves how Little Lion’s ‘help’ makes him slow down, how The Lion’s presence makes him more considered, more measured, more forcibly relaxed. I get frustrated that everything takes twice as long.

He paces around his yard, relishing the ‘potential’ of the place. I see what tasks we should have done last weekend.

He revels in the fact that I cook dinner every night. I steam a few veggies and burn a couple of snags and feel like a failure.

He ends each day with a sigh and smile and a deep appreciation for the life he has. I think about what will be better tomorrow.

He says, “Life is good.”

I think he is good.

I want to be like Mr D.

This post is a Flog Yo Blog special. Visit Lori’s list at rrsahm.

My Sky

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Blog this has a photo challenge – take a photo of the sky where you are.

Well, I don’t know how much freedom of interpretation they allow  in these challenges, not having done one before, but for me the sky lies in my family’s eyes.

They all have blue eyes. Little Lion’s eyes are the crystal clear blue of a cloudless spring day – light and shining. Blossom’s eyes are the storming, broody sky just before a storm – all greys and greens and deep, dark blue. Mr D’s eyes are the sky in every mood – sometimes bright, sometimes cloudy, sometimes stained and sometimes clear, but always vast and powerful.

So matter what the weather, no matter what time of day, this is the sky I see where I am:

Lessons from Last Weekend

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Lesson 1 – Take The Arsenal

Never ever ever travel anywhere without an arsenal of every kind of drug available over the counter (or not). This includes kids’ versions of said drugs, but really, anything will do. If possible, include some kind of sedative (for you and/or child). Ensure the arsenal is kept near at all times, but especially at 9.30pm when your eldest child is likely to wake, realise that dad, granny and everyone else is at a party so mummy is vulnerable, and will begin TO SCREAM INCONSOLABLY for no apparent reason. At this point, begin dispensing drugs so that your eldest child does not continue screaming for the next THREE HOURS!

Lesson 2 – Stick To The Plan (otherwise known as Don’t Feel Guilty or Don’t Be Nice)

When, during your child’s screaming fit, you realise that Granny has no appropriate drugs in her house and you ring Husband at party, ensure you have a clear idea of what you want him to do. Advice (or lack thereof) over the phone is not enough. When your child suddenly stops screaming, smiles and says, “Mummy talk Daddy. Mummy cranky. Ha!” DO NOT change your plaintive cries for your husband to return home NOW! Do not be fooled. Your child has not “calmed down”. He has not “settled”. He has simply reached the Midnight Madness which makes your child appear wide awake, jovial, but dissatisfied with everything from where he is sleeping, where mummy is lying, the position of his teddy bear, etc. This is no less torturous than the screaming and you still require backup. Don’t pretend you’re ok.

Lesson 3 – Cake And Tea At 1am Is Not Okay.

When Husband, Granny and Aunty return from party (drunk-ish enough to think your child’s antics are quite funny), do not graciously accept to share cake and tea with them while your child sits on Daddy’s lap and partakes (in YOUR piece of cake, of course). The reason for this is twofold – they will want to share with you all that you missed at the party (including photographs) and they will continue to remind you of how funny it is to be sharing cake and tea with a two-year-old at 1 in the freaking morning! Your nerves will be frayed enough. Don’t do it to yourself.

Lesson 4 – Don’t Go Back For Seconds

Try to avoid repeating the scenario the following weekend. Why? Well, I’ll tell you after this weekend at Granny’s house.

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