Okay, I admit it, I don’t know my numbers

Ironic, really, that I’ve just posted about “thirteen”, which happens to be one of my favourite numbers, and not a number that fills me with dread and worry about terrible things going wrong.

I don’t generally like to do posts like this, because it’s not really what this blog is about. I don’t blog for bloggers, and this blog is not a blog about running a business. It is a personal blog, about raising boys and being busy, and life, and other stuff and things.

Being about all manner of life and stuff and things, sometimes the business and blogging aspect comes into it, and there are things that bug me. So, really, I’m just getting this out of my mind, off my chest, and providing some insight into the harsher side of blogging and business and being all busy, and life, and stuff. And things.

You see, every now and again, I need to provide some numbers to someone. People who ask for them, for various reasons. Numbers is also a big thing, especially on social media, and especially when it comes to business, blogs, or even just friends, followers and fans.

Apparently, the more you have the “better” you are.

Admittedly, big numbers to amazing things for your self esteem.

I have spent a lot of time not focussing on my numbers because a) I am far too thin skinned when it comes to numbers, and b) it wasn’t so long ago that an unsubscribe from Real Mums’ newsletter, or an unlike on Facebook could send me into tears.

There are lots more things I’ve come to understand about these numbers; some of which I’ve written about previously, and where I know that numbers are as much a facade as the nice meals, and happy days that fill some feeds on Facebook and Pinterest.

In some aspects, like my ‘friends’, followers, likers and the like, I can see exactly what these figures are. I don’t dwell on them or focus on them, because numbers are not important to me. Yes, yes, I know they should be, especially with a business and all that. I need to know my numbers.

Etc etc blah blah.

And I do know the essentials.

I just don’t get caught up in the stats too much, because it just leads to comparison, and plummeting self confidence. Because I find myself comparing to those who not only obsess about numbers, but who know exactly their numbers because they bought them.

Yes, you can buy Facebook likers and Twitter followers and such like.

It is a blow to the self esteem when you do this sort of comparison.

Besides, words are my thing.

I love words; they flow and float round my mouth and mind, I love the feel as they do this. I love how they can create clarity when needed, cause a smile or a laugh. I love how they can touch a person’s heart, and heal a hurting soul.

Words …words fulfil me. They put me at ease, they relax me, and I am at home with words.

Yes, words can hurt, but they can be manipulated and moulded, they can be reconstructed, and they can do marvellously wonderful things.

I love words.

Numbers … well, numbers are so matter of fact, so straight forward and, dare I say it, boring. They are black and white. Words are grey … multiple shades of grey. In fact, words are a veritable rainbow, a Dulux paint chart, the biggest box of foot path chalk you can find. All mixed into one.

They are multiple textures, have multiple tones and are just amazing.

If I focussed all my energy on my numbers, I would have far less time with words. Whilst the numbers can make me sad, not having words would devastate me.

Besides, when those who are asking about my numbers, PR companies and advertisers for example, what they don’t get are the effect my words have had.

They see number of visitors.

They don’t see “Thank you for saving my life today. I was going to kill myself, but I read your post and realise I’m not the only one experiencing this.”

They see the number of times a click has been visited.

They don’t see “I thought there was something very wrong with my child. I thought I was a bad mother and doing it all wrong. I realise he is just ‘normal’. Thank you for sharing your experiences.”

They see how many page views this blog has had.

They don’t see “If it weren’t for you, I would never have had the courage to start my own business” and they don’t see “Thank you for the best laugh I’ve had in a long time” and the all important “Thank you for giving me a different perspective on life”.

They don’t see how a stressed out, depressed mum is beating herself up for all her ‘inadequacies’ and how, through reading a post, a month’s worth of posts, or whatever, has been given an opportunity to see things from a different view, has been given more insight, and is less stressed, less depressed, laughing and feeling a lot more ‘normal’.

They just see how many comments there were, overseeing the fact that, sometimes, people like to thank me more privately.

Not everyone likes to put their life out there.

I know the numbers that count, that are most important (do I have more money in my account than I have upcoming expenses?) but I don’t dwell on the others, because they are not what is important.

Although, yes, on the other hand, ‘good’ numbers means advertisers – whether or not those numbers are legitimate, organic, or real is, apparently, irrelevant.

If only I could turn those words I get into some sort of statistic.

For they mean so much more. At least, to me they do.

There are other numbers I don’t know, either.

Other numbers that are, apparently, extremely important.

I don’t know how much I weigh.

I don’t know exactly what size clothes I wear, although I have a vague idea.

I don’t know how many millilitres, grams, milligrams or kilograms of food I put on my plate.

I don’t know calories or kilojoules. I just eat what I like – by which I mean, food I really really like, not “I’ll eat what I like so fuck you!” and I eat until I am not hungry. I don’t know the numbers, though.

I do know time. Time I am a little anal about.

I know the numbers that matter; like the fact I have three children, and when I go out with three I pretty much make sure I come home with three (although some days I wonder why ….)

I know the numbers that count.

But for me … words are more powerful, more important and have more of the impact I like.

I love words.

Thirteen

I have, and have  for the last 11 and a half months, a thirteen-year-old in the house.

It’s not that I have only just now come to this conclusion, nor that I have not been aware of it for some time. Yes, perhaps that part of me that is able to pretend the things I don’t like, or don’t want to deal with ‘just now, I’ll deal with it later’ had come into play. Perhaps I just had ‘too much going on’ to really acknowledge it.

Maybe, maybe I just wanted to see what it would be like before going all “oh, my god, I have a teenager in the house” the moment the clock turned over a new day. More specifically, before it clocked on to the thirteenth anniversary of the day he was born.

When he was, in his words, “harvested by artificial means” from my abdomen.

Words that, despite their meaning and the emotional pain I experienced at the time, are a strong indication of his linguistics, his imaginative mind, his sense of humour, the person he so genuinely is.

Ten dayss-ish out from his fourteenth birthday, I feel what it is like to have a teenager in the house. Perhaps it is hitting home a little more, because soon, it won’t be that first year of having  a teenager in the house, but we’ll have well and truly worked our way those first tentative steps into that vast, deep, dark sea ahead of us that is The Teenage Years.

I know I am not the first person to have a teenage boy in the house, a thirteen year old. Nor will I be the last. Hell, I even get to experience that twice more in the years to come.

Won’t that be fun.?

*sob*

It is, however, a first for me, a new experience, that no matter how much preparation, reading, and knowledge you think you have, you can’t possibly every be prepared for it. Much like “pregnancy prepares you for having a child” (pfft!) so too does the first thirteen years prepare you for what a thirteen-year-old brings into your life.

I’m not just referring to overpowering scent of body odour, or, indeed, Lynx deodorant; leaving you wondering which smell could possibly be more smothering, and providing the most intriguing and disconcerting experience of smells physically clawing their way around your brain.

Intriguing, yet disturbing at the same time.

There is a sudden lack of space that accompanies the rapidly growing frame; the long legs, the broadening shoulders, the hands, the feet (which add a delightful odour of their own).

Not to mention the added bodies that seem to come in waves, and in largish numbers, lounging over furniture, consuming random and seemingly weird combinations of the food available in our home, and rapidly vanishing cooking chocolate, often the only kind of chocolate around and available, although technically, it’s not really ‘available’.

(The girl variety seem to enhance the speed at which the house is rid of all chocolate and chocolate like substances. They appear to have the capacity to locate chocolate I didn’t even know I had.)

There is now a low rumble of a voice, that reverberates around the room, into your ears. It wasn’t there a year ago, and the low tone is felt as much as it is heard. It has caused callers to discontinue saying “I spoke to your daughter earlier”, instead saying “I spoke to your husband.”

It’s the eyes of the deepest blue. large, round, and bordered, still, with the blackest of lashes, still long, still falling like butterflies on his cheeks when he sleeps, that a week ago looked directly into mine when we stood in the kitchen and spoke, and a week on, are now forced to look down just the merest fraction so our eyes connect.

It’s that rewiring of the teenage brain, that – well, essentially it is like someone has walked in with a scrubbing brush and eradicated large sections of memory; causing forgetfulness and what we call in this house Brain Tangles, and causing him to do the most stupid of things, more stupid than usual, and ask the most ridiculous questions.

It is the obsession with his mobile phone, the one he saved for and bought for himself (the ones we gifted him were not suitable), that is almost a security blanket, and is most definitely a distraction to getting things done. Half jobs, whilst they have always been there, are becoming more prevalent and more half-arsed.

On the upside, it has provided Grumpy Pants and I with some amazing bargaining power.

It is the grown child, whom on one day will be asserting his desires at a most powerful level, using language towards his parents that gets him into deeper trouble, and the next day whom will be snuggling up to you on the couch, watching a DVD.

In many aspects, he is the same as he was when he was two; determined, articulate, compassionate, curious, and needing to know everything that is going on.

I’m guessing that’s because he is a person in his own right, and was that same person when he was two years of age, and prior, and has his own personality and quirks, likes and dislikes, and all the rest of what comes within the core of each individual.

He can, as he always has been, be totally loving and completely lovable one moment, and pushing buttons and boundaries the next.

He still loves trains, just from a completely different perspective.

He loves to wrestle and play fight, only he is almost at the point of being able to overcome me. Our last ‘fight’ was a month ago. I won … just …

He still has grand aspirations for his future; and I don’t think that will ever change.

Upon reflection this last hour or so, it really has come to me how he is, and probably always will be that person he was when he entered out life. Laid back, yet tenacious, determined to be heard, yet always putting the feelings of others first.

It occurred to me that we have, I guess with is ‘aging’ expected him to be more malleable, able to be moulded to certain views and values, although we also dearly want him to be himself, and be comfortable with that.

We want him to do his homework, to do it well, to push himself out of his comfort zone, work beyond that which he finds easy, and to be awesome.

He is, of course. already awesome. He just won’t, like most kids, do his homework or push himself beyond that which he finds ‘easy’.

Upon reflection, he will always be that person he was born to be. He can be guided and supported, advised and encouraged. Maybe he can overcome his fears, his perfectionism, and his desire to constantly please others. Perhaps he can overcome his care about what others think of him. Hopefully he can also retain his desire to be great, to do things not just well, but really well, and to keep his compassion and care for others.

Upon reflection, it has taken me thirteen – nearly fourteen – years to completely understand who he is at his core.

I’m sure I’ll also forget, due to factors on my part, or those moments where he is less loveable, more determined to get his way, and, basically, being a complete and utter, boundary pushing, button pushing, head hurting arse.

I’m sure I’ll remember, in those moments where he is the caring, compassionate, cuddler (only after he’s taken the bins out and cleaned the bathroom!)

It’s taken me thirteen – almost fourteen – years to realise I’m still making it all up as I go along, and that I am, and can only, do the best with what I have, in each given moment.

It’s taken me thirteen – almost fourteen – years to see that we have made it this far …

A Warner Bros Christmas

In another amazing experience I was privileged to experience, I frocked up, donned some heels, and set off to spend a couple of hours at Warner Bros Consumer Products office in Melbourne, to indulge in a bit of a high tea, and see what’s on the shelves to delight little cherubs the world over this Christmas.

Whilst Godzilla and Chippie were terribly excited about where I was headed, Monkey Boy of Teenagehood feigned apathy and mumbled a few things about “Marvel, Mum. Sheesh. What is wrong with you. Warner Bros is DC!”

As though I cared.

I could state that I didn’t know, but I have had such things lectured at me for the last few months, so I do know who is who and what is what and all the rest of it.

I. Just. Simply. Do. Not. Care.

Besides, there is more to Warner Bros than super heroes.

Although I knew about the Justice League super hero lot, and the classic characters of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the like, I didn’t realise that Scooby Doo, The Big Bang Theory, Harry Potter, The Hobbit and various others were also all a part of that particular little clan.

Cool!

Essentially what I saw at the office was stuff that Warner Bros, and their licencees, produce; from toys to dress ups, books to bibs, and all manner of item for big kids and little kids. The products are available all over the place; may at stores like Big W, Kmart, Target, and Toys R Us, or from a variety of online and/or specialist stores.

I did spend quite a bit of my time checking out some lovely outfits … sooooo many I could use … like these ones, which also have capes! Super Mum indeed! I could so have lots of fun, and highly embarrass my children with a set of these super suits …

(Available online at Black Milk)   Or this cute little dress up, available at most toy stores, and stores that have large toy sections within them. Suits me, no?

I’d need some slippers to go with them, though … hmmmm, which to choose …

It wasn’t just gear – for big kid and little ;) – but also a huge range of pretties … like The Ring and stuff and things from The Hobbit: Hobbit Jewellery

And other Justice League themed jewellery for men and women (not necessarily in that order): Justice League Jewellery

Of course, there was a MASSIVE range of kids stuff, pillow pets, stuffed toys, bikes (Scooby Doo and Bat Man!), babt walkers, hooded towels and, oh, just LOADS of stuff!

Even stuff specifically for Dads! 

Even Peter Alexander, of bed wear fame – also known as pyjamas, or ‘jarmies’ if you prefer – have got in on the licencing act, and have a range of really, really nice jarmies, for boys, girls, women and men, adorned with super heroes, and being all comfy and fabulous!

We were gifted a set of jarmies, for each family member, which had Grumpy Pants most confused, as he is rarely, if ever, the recipient of anything related to “that stuff I do all day, whatever that is” – so he was happy.

Monkey Boy, on the other hand, was left in a quandary, as he desperately needs new pyjamas, especially of the summer variety, but is, allegedly, a “Marvel purist” and didn’t think he’d be able to wear Superman Pyjamas.

Given he is now slightly taller than me, I’m thinking I may very well fit into the jarmies he got, and then Grumpy Pants and I can have matching pyjamas, and we can both wear them when Monkey Boy’s friends come over and that will be LOADS OF FUN!

Although I do quite like my new Wonder Woman jarmies …

Huge thanks to Porter Novelli for organising another awesome event, and to Warner Bros for putting up with us … or putting us up for the morning. It was an eye opener to see just how great the range was and now I have a few more ideas on what to get for various people this Christmas …

Beware the Visions you see before you

If you’ve been following my Instagram account – my Mad Cow’s Diary one, not the Real Mums one – you may very well have heightened concern about my well being and mental stability.

Indeed, you may very well have seen such shenanigans as this:

… yes, featuring desserts, made entirely by me, and that, yes, include layered jelly. The next day, you could quite easily have been mistaken for thinking you were looking at the wrong person’s account, or that Instagram had made some considerable judgement in error, and placed my handle along with images such as this:

Never fear – t’was indeed stuff that occurred at my own hand, and that which I posted on my account personally. I was not hacked, nor was drunk, deprived of coffee or my medication, or forced to perform beyond my usual means.

Yes, I made a layered jelly / panna cotta mix things; one for kids and one for adults. In fact, my adult-version, which did not contain penises, looked at one point very much like a tequila sunrise. Had I my wits about me, I would have figured this sooner and actually added tequila to it. Sadly, I didn’t, and the only thing that made it “adult” was that I served them in martini glasses, and they looked slightly more fancy schmancy. Also, they were devoid of the horrible, green jelly layer that is rather revolting, and that I’m happy to feed to kids, and the kids of my guests, but not to myself nor my guests, themselves.

Kids dessert = added layer of green, adult dessert has no green layer.

Discussions early with my chef-husband indicated that I had done these terribly wrongly, in that my layers were uneven. Like I gave a fuck. He determined they were inedible, due to lack of even layers, yet happily devoured his dessert when the time came.

I did attempt to explain that this lack of asymmetry and evenness was just my “unique and creative flair”. He just laughed at me. Rightly so. He has been trying to educate me on things about food preparation and cooking for a while. I rarely take it on board.

What I don’t want you to get hung up on is the vision and perception you may have derived from this. Yes, I made layered jelly.

I made it because I am a stubborn arse with tenacity issues. I also suffer greatly from impatience, and delusions of grandeur, that started very much with the simple phrase “Pfft! How hard can a layered jelly dessert be?”

Let me tell you that after the first couple of goes, it was widely declared that I should never, ever, ever be allowed to attempt to make layered jelly. Although, have you any idea how many variations of “some sort of revolting brown colour, that isn’t really brown, and looks entirely inedible” I made.

Who knew there were so many shades of that colour?! 50 shades of grey has nothing on my talents, let me tell you!

I do believe it’s the impatience factor that has lead to this repeated issue. I evenly (I use the term loosely) distribute jelly between four glasses, realise I have far too much left over and some 13 glasses later, the first layer is complete. I refrigerate it, get bored, wobble it, convince myself it is set enough, and set about adding the next layer. Which I equally convince myself is “cool enough”. Several “Fucking fucks!” and a horrendous blend of colours later, I say fuck it, make up another batch of jelly and pour the sucker in.

It still tastes nice with ice-cream, although I really can’t explain what flavour it actually is. I don’t think there’s a name for it other than “just eat the damned stuff, it’s all you’re getting for dessert” which I don’t think fits on any sort of Dulux colour chart.

Most times, I am very much attuned to what I am and am not capable of. Other times, I become stubborn and determined and I will repeatedly persist until I beat it.

There really is nothing like the experience of dancing around the kitchen, in front of the open fridge and yelling “IN YOUR FACE JELLY! I WON!”

My husband continued shaking his head.

Why not a week ago I attempted a similar dessert, only I had two layers and some “evenly chopped strawberries”. As even as 1.5mm and 3.6 inches and everything in between can be.

“I though you were going to put the berries in the bottom layer,”  he said.

“I did,” I replied.

“No,” he says. “Just in the bottom layer.”

“I did,” I state, again.

“No, in the red bit at the bottom. Not on the top.”

“I did,” I repeat.

“Ah,” he says, realising that my unique ability to fuck up layered jelly/panna cotta had once again come to the fore. “I wondered how you got the berry pieces just under the surface of the top layer.”

Because. I’m. Special.

It takes a unique kind of talent.

But I persisted, and I fought intensely with my patience, perfectionism (ish) taking the reins, and I made a slightly uneven, unmistakably coloured, layered jelly that was scoffed by all.

The next day, I managed to beg, plead, and trade off to get him to install the extra shelves in the pantry. It’s been three months. My pantry is hurting my head. Also, I’ve never had a decent pantry to work with and this latest is about as good as it’s every been. It just needs more shelves.

We went to Bunnings, we bought the stuff, I got overly excited until I realised I was overly excited about fucking shelving, then I got sad for a bit. So I made myself happy again by labelling some already-in-use Tupperware containers, so that my eldest would stop making me peppermint tea with sugar and milk, because “Oh, I though that was the normal tea!”

With four additional shelves, I was able to put stuff in the pantry, trying to stuff too many things on the shelf. I could access everything.

I also made sure I put all my Tupperware on one side, so that it looked like I was organised.

Admittedly, I am a bit of a Tupperware freak. But not one of those over the top crazies. Yes, I have a lot and yes everything goes in it. That was because I got sick of boxes of cereal and biscuits being dropped (a genetic phenomena that appears to run through our entire family) and spilling themselves, intriguingly, across three rooms, and crunching around for days because “it wasn’t me” who spilt it. Tupperware solved that problem.

Also, stacking.

So what appears is a rather anally neat array of high-quality plastic containers, each with a designated purpose and position within my pantry.

What you don’t see is the other shelves, which contain bugger all Tupperware and which looks more along the lines of “If I just shove everything under the bed or in the wardrobe, my bedroom will look like I tidied it!”. Only, of course, it is not in the bedroom, it is in the kitchen, but the same concept applies.

Now I have conquered the jelly situation, I’ll probably never do it again. I don’t like it that much and, quite frankly, I’m bored with it.

Now I’ve spent a day, or two hours, sorting my pantry, there’s a good chance it will never look the same again.

Especially given I need to do a shop, so more stuff will need to be shelved … somewhere ….

I’m fine. I just had a moment of excitement and had to share. Personal victories.

Just beware the vision you see before you; for it is not always as it seems … and it is always only a part of the picture.

 

Working Hard/Hardly Working: A Bloggers Brunch

Up at some stupidly stupid hour, which I have discovered some of my friend’s and colleagues are often up at, and which they proclaim is a “good hour to be up at” as they are productive and get stuff done … I, on the other hand am more a little “Where are my pants? I … can… you, something coffee me get? Oh wait … that’s lipstick not for eyes, not good for eyes … where are my pants?”

Still, I did the wise thing and got all my shit together last night, so that when my darling, beloved drove me to the airport at a time which can only be described as “night”, after first reminding me to put pants on, I was organised. I even had my boarding passes, and remembered to kiss the kids goodbye without waking them.

By the time the taxi dropped me off at the latest of the Kids Business Bloggers Brunches, I was in desperate need of a coffee, but we and truly looking forward to the event. I always am, it’s not like the time I’m up or the quality of my flight (which was good today) has much impact on my day.1

I love my job – all of my jobs! This one is no exception.

Frocking up and getting my self sorted whilst the girls organised a coffee for me, I set about working terribly hard; interviewing brands on camera, welcoming guests, giving them terribly articulate information and explanations to things, and chatting to as many of thebrands as possible, to make sure their day was going just as well.

As always, the place was full of fabulous bloggers, some of whom I have met once or twice, some whom I’ve known for longer, and some I only met on the morning, and whom I hope I didn’t freak out entirely.

As always, the place was also brimming with some awesome brands like Breville, Oricom, Brumby’s (the bakery people, not wild horses), Only Organic, AVG (online security) and more.

Sydney proved to be heading towards Toasty in regards to its top temperature for today; and whilst Melbourne can leave Toasty for dead (often followed immediately by a Chilly or an Icy, and back up to Furnace in a matter of hours) it was somewhat hot.

Good thing, then, that Dyson were there again. But rather than having us vacuum the floors of the venue, under the pretence of allowing us to ‘experience’ their product (:P) they had their Air Multipliers on display. You know those fans that have no blades and have you standing their for hours, staring at them, wondering how they work? Yeah, those.

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I still never really found out what makes them blow cool air like they do, but I did take a moment to experience the cool air they do blow. All for research for this blog, of course. So I can tell you that they not only look fabulous, and you can easily pose for pictures with them, but they also really do work amazingly well. They were a popular item during the day – guessing the hot weather helped.

The other bunch I really want to mention are Hans Smallgoods and their new O Living range of, well, smallgoods.

No, not underpants!

Salamis and hams and deli meats.

You all know how I am about food, and that ‘good’ food consists of being healthy and/or tasting freaking amazing? Well, I am. And whilst not Food Nazi about food, I tend not to embark upon the consumption of foods that are overly high in cheap and/or heavily saturated fats (those that some refer to as ‘bad fats’, which, yes, they are in terms of their metabolism and other stuff in your body, I just hate using them terms ‘good’ and ‘bad’ when it comes to food. I mean, ‘bad’ food doesn’t draw on your walls, or slash tires, does it? ‘Good’ food does not unstack the dishwasher when asked, or do your ironing without even being asked, either, does it?)

Anyhoo, I am a little partial to deli meats, because, whilst, nutritionally, they are ‘bad’ for you and contain lots of ‘bad’ fats, they are also what can only be described as freaking delicious. Which is, in my books, a ‘good’ thing.

However, I do find they can leave a bit of an after-grease feel on hands, faces, and in your mouth. This I do not particularly like.

This new range, however, Hans have done some magic work, and sucked out a fair amount of the animal (bad/saturated) fats, and replaced it with olive (good/monounsaturated) oil (which is a fat, just so we’re clear – oil is 100% a fat).

Slightly dubious, for I have seen many, many ‘health’ fads come and go, and a vast majority of them taste anything like they claim to taste (i.e. better) and some even gave you the experience of ‘anal leakage’, I had to test for myself.

There was a noticeable – if you’re looking for it – difference in texture and taste, and especially that greasy kind of taste/feel thing, but at the same time, they products were remarkably alike the original. The salami, for example, seemed to be kind of denser with less visible fatty bits, less fat feel, and just as scrumptious. Actually, slightly more scrumptious.

I had to test a few more times just to make sure.

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Research purposes, it’s my job and all that.

Arnott’s Shapes also now have a ‘light and crispy’ version; with 75% less saturated fat (when compared to potato chips cooked in 100% palmolein oil), and definitely also less greasy, more crispy, and very much nicer than the ‘original’ shapes, whatever flavour you go with. Was also required to taste test all four flavours; Tasty Cheddar and Chives (by far my favourite), Sweet Chillie and Sour Cream, Balsamic Vinegar and Sea Salt, and Honey BBQ Chicken.

Noms!

Then it was time for some serious work; more on-camera interviews with some of the guests in attendance, and the brands that were there, with the amazing crew who help with the filming.

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With the gorgeous Erin of Three Bees Blog

I think we have far too much fun, sometimes, but that is also the nature of the Bloggers Brunches; they are just fun places to be. Just … fun!

Back to the airport, back on the plane, back to Melbourne where I was moved from some 30 degrees Celcius plus temperatures, to a mere 14 degrees – and let me tell you, 14 degrees C in Melbourne is WAY cooler (as in, shivvery, not hipster) than 14 degrees in most other places – which one would think I would be used to, what with living in Melbourne and all.

Arrive later than scheduled, home to children wanting to know what I brought back for them, home to the DVD of How To Train Your Dragon 2, because watching the first one seven times in two days last weekend was not enough, and home to a much needed glass of wine.

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Cheers!

Dragon On

How to Train Your Dragon has made a comeback in this house.

We have yet to see the sequel, much less obtain it so we may watch it again and again and again.

And again and again and again and again and again …

Still, the original is a favourite and we have also discovered, yes, belatedly, that here is a TV show of the same name. Complete, funnily enough, with the same characters, dragons and suchlike.

Thus, after two viewings over two days, the emergence of Chippie The Dragon was inevitable.

He did, indeed, spend a night, sleeping in his “water cave”, which he build himself; constructed with the aid of the couch, ottoman, blankets and a variety of cushions.

Worry that he would be unable to breath was assuaged before I went to bed. Mostly by the intensity and passion in which he expressed his desire to sleep in said cave.

He spent most of the next day, being a dragon, switching between various types and enacting all their strengths and the like.

Amusing and entertaining, for the most part, and exceptional at keeping him entertained and his imagination flowing, there are times it can get a little tedious.

Like when I want him to do … I don’t know … anything that involves not being a frigging dragon! Dressing, bathing, eating, unstacking the dishwasher.

Well, the eating he will do. Albeit in a manner similar to which one would devour a freshly caught fish. If one were a dragon.

Fine for chicken. Not so fine when it is WeetBix. Or rice.

Able to obtain snippets of small child between larger bouts of Being a Dragon – and I need to stress that Chippie does not pretend to be a dragon; he embraces it with such fervour as to actually be a dragon – combined with the presence and equally frustrating, albeit very normal behaviours of his older siblings, by the end of the day my patience was wearing a little thing.

Hergh!” Chippie says to me, breathing fire or gas or boiling water or something into my face, arms flapping about behind him, head pushing forward.

“I’m your monstrous nightmare!” he says, and flies away, breathing whatever it is the dragon he is at that moment breathes.

Indeed,  I think, quite uncharitably but completely honestly. For in that moment, he had described himself most adequately.

It wasn’t until much later, and following an intense, comprehensive discussion that I recalled a ‘monstrous nightmare’ was a type of dragon. From the movie. I had forgotten.

I wonder if this gives me grounds to become a night terror, then? Cos that’s how I feel most nights.

A Time Warp

Technically a Family Day and, with nothing planned, we’d normally be out and about – um, obviously having planned something ourselves.

As it was, exhaustion had set in for all of us and, basically, no one could be arsed thinking of anything to do. Besides, there was a heap of stuff at home to be done. Things like, me repeated asking for the shelving to please be done in the pantry. Please? PLLEEEAAAAAASE!

This, however, was not to be done, and instead I was delegated the task of downloading some tax information form the Medicare website, which whilst it sounds relatively simple took some four hundred hours because it is not simple by any means. Much swearing occurred.

Sure, with online services having been around for some time know, you’d think the Australian Government could get their shit together and figure out some slightly more simple system. At the very least, they could offer some sort of compensation or replacement for electrical devices defenestrated during the process of attempting to download a single page of information.

Anyhoo, after that painstakingly horrendous task, I feel asleep watching How to Train Your Dragon for the seventh time this weekend, after first walking across the road with Chippie, to fly his Toothless flying dragon he received for his birthday a few months back. Much running around and laughter ensure, until I managed to crash land the dragon, and take one of its wings off in the process.

Much tantrum and tears followed that bit.

Still we had fun whilst it lasted.

After some quiet time, we took continued advantage of the nice weather, and did a bit of riding our bikes around the new neighbourhood. Which, really, is somewhat devoid of neighbours, given there is still loads of building going on; quite a number of half built houses, and only a small handful of residents in the few houses now complete. Still, it was nice to ride around the streets, up the middle of roads and just around and about. It brought back memories of my own childhood, where riding bikes around the neighbourhood – fully resided in, no half built houses – up the middle of roads, around and about, was the norm for kids.

Not only was it the norm, but it was expected of us.

The wind in the face, the crazy, but safe, riding, the peace and quiet … nice. It brought big smiles to my face, and some happy memories. I do hope that, once the area is built and more families move in, that riding around the streets is something my kids can do. That’d be nice.

Chippie, meanwhile, had got in a snot. Possibly because we are trying to encourage him to ride his bike, and his anxiety and stubborness keep coming to the fore. It’s a difficult time for all, and, whilst he was doing really well a few weeks back, he has gone backwards and opted for screaming tantrum instead.

He yelled at Monkey Boy, attempted to hit and kick him, and sat in his room, yelling at us to be quiet. He was not a happy fellow, and every comment sent his way only set him off more.

Attempts to cuddle and calm were swatted away, so we left him to it.

Eventually, he emerged and demanded a drink.

Grumpy Pants had words to him about asking nicely, which went down like a lead balloon, causing Grumpy Pants to inform Chippie that he was carrying on like a two bob watch.

Now, to be honest, I can only imagine what a two bob watch carries on like, never having been in association with a two bob watch nor, indeed, two bob itself.

I’m more from the era of carrying on like a pork chop. Although, I’m also not exactly sure what a pork chop carries on like. Only that one of my best friends and I were not allowed to work together, unsupervised, at a female only gym we both worked at as the manager did not want us carrying on like pork chops.

We bobbed about for a bit, making a sizzling noise to see if we got it right. The manager just shook her head, uttered something about “that’s my point” and walked off.

I’m still no clearer on what a pork chop carries on like, much less a two bob watch.

Chippie, also seemingly not up on the terminology, replied the only way he could. With a rather loud “NO! YOU ARE!”

Unable to resist, Grumpy had to have the last word and asked of Chippie, “What does one carry on like, then?”

To which Chippie replied “YOUR FACE!”

I collapsed with mirth as Godzilla, having walked into the room at some point, said to Grumpy “Ooh, you just got owned!”

This caused a discussion between Godzilla and Grumpy about what two bob watches and being owned meant.

Meantime, between the bike ride, the old people sayings and the vernacular of today’s youth, I felt I was trapped in some kind of bizarre time warp.

The Misfortunes of Others

Feeling as though a wild ferret has been let loose down my throat, and is rampant in its attempts to scramble its way out, with claws in serious need of clipping, my mood is not particularly … well, nice.

Added to this fabulous Ferret Clawing Its Way To Escape down my throat is the sensation that someone has taken two tampons, dipped them in some sort of slime, and shoved them deep into my sinuses through my ears. Muffled and slimy and clogged is about as good as I’m gonna get.

Which is all well and good if I don’t have offspring to shovel off to school and prepare nutritious meals for, whilst cursing Spotlight who have still not fixed their major fuckup with our blinds, overtired children (see reference to fucked up blinds) and that the man coming to sort out the doorbell issue is now twenty minutes late.

I abhor late.

Especially when I know he is going to take a approximately two hours to do what he needs to do, and I am very busy and important and, mostly, just a bit anal and Virgo-istic about time and I just hate people being late. It is rude and inconsiderate.

We do already have a working doorbell, located, ironically, near the front door. The issue lies in that we also have a gate leading into our newly constructed property, which is lockable, thus, when locked, preventing anyone from entering said property in order to ring the doorbell.

It is a ‘construction fault’ or oversight or something that eight other properties are also experiencing, so the gracious developers have offered a second doorbell – or gatebell, as the case is – installation. Whatevs.

The point is, I’m tired, stuffed up, annoyed at being fucked around by anyone and everyone already, and he is twenty minutes late. I am thankful I have Grumpy Pants around, ‘assisting’ (I use the term loosely) with the morning free for all, and taking children to school so I may deal with increasingly late door/gate bell person.

Grumpy’s phone rings.

“Nup, we’re both here, mate,” I overhear him state.

There is a one sided discussion about the workingness of the already installed doorbell, requests to “push it again” and “well, it’s been working till now”. The issue is resolved when Grumpy wanders out onto the second floor balcony and finds Doorbell Man ringing the doorbell of the property next door, whilst on the phone stating “I’ve rung it, is it not working?”

*sigh*

He does make his way to the correct, i.e. our, house and rings the doorbell, which indeed is working well.

I make comment, and blame my lack of tolerance and feeling blah for the fact that I just launched into sarcasm without the person on the end really knowing what I’m like. Thankfully, he had a good sense of humour, and set about doing his job, rather than stomping out and having a tantrum about disrespect or something.

Two hours in, I am advised that he has all the wrong parts and he has to go off and get some more.

Of course he does.

T’is always the way.

I can’t help but wonder if other people actually do experience misfortunes of their own, or if there is something about whatever place it is I reside in that is a magnet for misfortune and these experiences others have only occur when in my presence.

Either way, it gave me the damned good laugh I so needed in the moment.

It didn’t help my throat or slimy-tampon stuffed ears and sinuses, but my mood lifted exponentially. There really is little to compare for humour than the misfortunes of others.

Normal. Family Day.

Although not ‘normal’ for us to enjoy a Family Day on a Tuesday, it was a day off (thank you Melbourne Cup Day) and it pretty much was about as normal as things are in this household.

It did commence with the six-year-old wondering whether it was a school day. There are two answers and two typical responses to this. A “Yes, it is a school day” always elicits a somewhat despondent “oh” reply form him, and a “no, not today” will guarantee a “yay” and fist pump.

Today was the latter, and he woke his father up to demand pancakes for breakfast whilst babbling away to avoid unstacking the dishwasher.

I amused myself by catching up on some work to the background noise of Chippie and his ramblings.

You know, ramblings along the lines of “something something, then the little midget something something, Dad, do you know what a midget is? It’s a little guy that can jump really high!”

I have no idea where he gets his information, but on further listening I determined he was talking about Super Mario Bros and his limited experiences with it.

I walked upstairs to procure some pancakes of my own, before they were all devoured in a whirlwind of boy, only to be confronted with “Mum, you know those moles with tentacles on their noses? [complete with visuals] What are they called? Those moles? With tentacles on their noses? They’re ugly moles.”

“I’ve met a few of them,” mutters Grumpy Pants behind me and I turn away from Chippie to shoot him A Look.

Also, to laugh, but so Chippie can’t see me.

Distracted by one of our goldfish lying upside down, tail firmly wedged in the filter and not looking terribly lively, I tended to it with a net and the toilet. Unfortunately – for me – the water in the toilet had some sort of reviving effect, and the fish who had moments before been very dead suddenly flipped itself upright and began a lively circle around the toilet bowl.

I was not particularly keen on fishing it out (pardon the pun) but an overexcited Chippie was yelling at me about how he knew it was alive, and to retrieve it.

So I did, with as much decorum and elegance as possible before I’d had enough vodka to deal with such acts.

(Where, where in the parenting books does it talk about this sort of thing? Hmmmm? Don’t worry, I’m working on it!)

Retrieved and restored the fish swam around energetically for a bit before flipping over and swimming upside down for a bit more. Lively, but upside down. It wasn’t long before I had to pull it from the filter again, although this time I left it to do it’s thing, and kept an eye on it.

We eat. We gather our supplies for a picnic. We prepare ourselves for an onslaught of “Do we have to go” and are mildly taken aback when this is not forthcoming. We head off toward Ballarat for a picnic lunch.

It’s not until we arrive, complete with stupid conversation that is ultimately banned along the way, that we discover the picnic paraphernalia of plates and cups is still in The Other Car.

Not surprising, although we haven’t done a picnic without it since we acquired it, we manage to compromise and be creative and, basically, drink straight from the bottles of SodaStream we made up for the journey.

Desperately in need of some quite and reconnecting with nature, we sent the boys off to play on the playground, and Grumpy and I lay ourselves out in the sun to recuperate. Seeing we were doing such awfulness, and unable to stand it, the kids quickly returned and commenced jumping all over us.

This quickly dissolved into some sort of testosterone fuelled wresting match, more often occurring on a Sunday morning, in our bed, and forcing me out before my brain and body are quite ready for it.

I sat up to watch for a bit, but given it was all pretty standard, I flopped back down again. In the act of flopping back down again, I couldn’t help but notice a lady, rocking a baby capsule covered, replete with soft, squishy, blue-ness of the blanket and soft toy kind, looking at me in a mix of distaste, judgement, and sanctimony.

Had I the energy, I may very well have smiled and let her know to take it all in, as there was a good chance she’d be up for the same sort of guff. As it was I a) didn’t care, and b) barely had the energy to provide her with a knowing smirk. In fairness, she is a new mother and has much to learn. I’m not judging her, just, I know what she’s up for and feel bad that she is in that state of Oblivial – that lovely mix of obliviousness and denial.

Once Monkey Boy and Grumpy Pants had reached an impasse of Who Gets To Have The Last Word/Hurt we set off to Daylesford to watch the cup, then make our way home so Monkey Boy could burn off more energy at parkour.

Oh, and to eat some dinner.

The drive home was about as fuelled with our kind of normal as possible, culminating some five minutes before returning home with Chippie declaring “I want to kill Justin Bieber. Let’s throw cheese at her!” to which no one had any suitable response.

Monkey Boy declared his ribs far too sore from his quality Father-Son time with Grumpy and, thus, incapable of running up walls and jumping off scaffolding.

I pull the fish from the filter again, and watch it do its upside down swim thing, before righting itself, then lying on the bottom for a while. I turn the filter down to reduce the risk of it being caught again, and it did another round of weird fish like behaviour.

It’s just like one of the family, really.

We make it to bed time with little drama. Then, at exactly bedtime, Chippie decided he wanted to sleep in the pink picnic basket he had climbed into earlier.

Most disgusted at my refusal to let him do so, he tried the stamping foot screaming thing, which I promptly ignored – thank you lack of energy – and sent him off to his real bed, and to sleep. For a bit. He came down and asked if he could sleep in the green cooler bag, but I put a stop to that as well.

There really is nothing like a nice, normal, relaxing family day to rejuvenate to.

What do you think?

It’s All Okay

I think the eldest one has picked up on a little of the stress I’ve been under lately.

Admittedly, never one to particularly like it when I point out his wrongdoings, especially when he is well aware that what he did was, well, fucking stupid, he does have an incredible knack of stopping the conversation before it gets out of hand and yelling begins.

Sometimes.

Other times he’s just pissed me off far to much for me to be able to accept his suggestions for calm.

Like the time he encouraged me to ChillaxThat backfiring, he know resorts to “calm your tits” which, as one can imagine, does approximately fuck all to quell my increasing rage.

Still, he does have a relatively relaxed nature about him, and although he often fails to say the right thing, it doesn’t stop him from trying to come up with ways in which he can deter me from addressing his dubious and often annoying behaviour.

Having already done the “I’m not talking to you, I’m talking to my brother, I don’t understand why it upsets you?” and it failing for him – possibly because he is beating his brother over the head with a packet of biscuits and calling him an idiot and, essentially, disrupting my peace – he’s onto something new.

“What’s that noise?!” I yell from the sanctity of my downstairs space, listening to some extraordinarily loud bangs and thumps and the maniacal laughter that only has you fearing for the safety of your entire living area.

“Nothing!” comes the reply.

Which we all know is complete and utter bullshit.

“Stop whatever is you are doing, RIGHT NOW!” I say, for I know this will end in someone getting hurt.

Likely one of them.

Possibly because they have pissed me off to a point of no return. Or as a result of whatever ‘nothing’ it is they are up to. Whichever comes first, or maybe just both.

“It’s okay!” yells Monkey Boy. “No one is hurt yet, so it’s all okay!”

Which, as one can imagine, fills me with great ease. I drag myself away from my work to face whatever it is I don’t want to face … which is the larger, heavier of the couch cushions being thrown at the middlest child by the eldest child, whom is getting increasingly pissed off because middlest child keeps jumping out of the way.

I put a stop to it before anything is defenestrated; and it’s looking much more likely to be a child than a cushion.

“Can I have a biscuit?” asks Monkey Boy.

“You can take some for lunch, but not now,” is my terribly sensible reply.

“Ohh, look, it’s twelve-O’clock” says Monkey Boy, reaching in, taking one of my favourite biscuits and shoving it in his gob before I can do much about it.

“I love you, Mum,” he says, after first swallowing his illegally pilfered snack.

“Must you be naughty?” I enquire.

Yes, yes, I realise that is an extremely dumb question.

“But I said ‘I love you’, so that makes it okay,” he explains.

And off he goes, to school, before I can coordinate my thoughts.

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