Apr 13, 2014

Sunday Selections #167

It's time for Sunday Selections!
Sunday Selections is a weekly meme hosted by River at Drifting Through Life. 

The rules are very simple:-
1. post photos of your choice, old or new, under the Sunday Selections title
2. link back to River somewhere in your post
3. leave a comment on River's post and visit some of the others who have posted and commented: for example:
    Andrew at High Riser
    Gillie at Random Thoughts From Abroad

Here is a selection from the last couple of weeks:

School holidays means the girls could have a friend over for a sleepover. Here they are in a completely candid, unposed shot, just delightful:

Here is the fallout from the sleepover the next day, just delightful:

I found a surprise in the veggie bin this week (Y does most of the fruit and veggie shopping): the world's largest tomato. It was twice the size of my palm and my photography skills were not up to the task of showcasing it:

It was a week of mutant edibles.  M. found this grape which I at first thought was a set of conjoined twins and then realised was actually conjoined quadruplet grapes. Again, the photo doesn't capture it, but it was huge and weird, believe me:

Rather full on at Greek school for the Greek national day recently:  the caption on this colouring exercise reads "Freedom or Death".

This week we had four days of rain.  This is how the dog spent most of it:

Cooler, rainy weather also makes Tia more cuddly:

Here is a drawing M. did of Scooby Doo. I found this on a bit of scrap paper and it was so good I got a shock:

And here is A's drawing of a dress-up party: love it:

During the sleepover I moved this lounge chair into the kitchen to make my own little loungeroom so I could watch TV as well. Harry was also pleased to take back "his" chair:

Here's my little personal loungeroom. Sweet ambience:

What did you get up to this week?

Apr 12, 2014

Inappropriate Toys

If you have a child between the ages of 5 and 20 you are probably familiar with the Rainbow Loom, and you have probably been dealing with one or all of these scenarios:

1. Your child has made you a rubber band bracelet and you are wearing it to work
2. The floors of your house are covered with tiny rubber bands
3. You are unable to procure any loom items at all as shops have sold out

Having already been through 1 and 2, we recently arrived at 3. 

M. got a Rainbow Loom kit for Christmas and little did I know we rode the crest of the "most popular toy in the world right now" wave as they have been sold out at toy and craft stores in Melbourne (and I'm guessing elsewhere) for the last few months.  I know this because M. needed more rubber bands and I assumed it would be easy to get more. Not so - all the toy stores I checked online had sold out, and even Spotlight had sold out of all Rainbow Loom items except single bags of blue bands and C-clips, so we bought one of those. 

Then yesterday we took a trip to the Caribbean Gardens market to stock up on cheap DVDs and scribbling paper and a new phone charger, and what did we see?

So we were able to replenish M's supply of bands and even get the RIGHT kind of clips ("S-clips, Mum, not C-clips").  

A. has no interest in Rainbow Loom and is a bit grumpy that all her school friends have been hijacked by this craze, but she was allowed to choose something from the market for the equivalent value we'd spent on M, which was five dollars. 

Which brings us to the actual topic of this post: the dangerous, weird and inappropriate toys on sale in markets and "two-dollar shops".

A. chose this, and I have to say it's been fantastic:

Unlike the regulated toys sold in toy stores, this one could easily put out an eye, as the arrows fly very fast and even with the kids just waving them around they are a bit of a menace. But it's lots of fun. Surprisingly, it hasn't broken yet, one full day later. The kids and I have had good times doing archery competitions down the hallway. A. loves her toy even though she was given it with a bunch of caveats like "never aim it at anyone", "don't throw the arrows", don't pull back the bow right next to your face", "don't shoot at a wall you're facing close to" and "it probably won't last very long".

The Caribbean Gardens whetted my enthusiasm for cheap stuff so today we did the rounds of two dollar shops looking for a couple of other things I needed that I no longer felt like paying $10 for at the supermarket or Kmart.  And in the course of doing that, probably with toy arrows and guns and counterfeit Rainbow Loom bands still in my mind from the market yesterday, I noticed these things in the toy aisles:

"Beatnick" Cigarette Holder - with toy cigarettes:

Cap gun:

Oh, how I wish I'd taken a photo of the table of toy AK47s and assault rifles at the Caribbean Gardens. 


Actually, these ones are kind of cool: foam puzzles of brain and body innards:
"System Muscle"

"The Encephalon"  
(I'm guessing this was an attempt to translate to "The Brain"):

If you're not sure about those toys, there's always the classic:

Or how about this sweet little bib for your darling baby?:

Moving away from human toys now, but this is weird:
Chew toy for a dog in shape of a purse.
At least I assume it's a chew toy, and not an actual purse?

Truly, we live in a consumer's paradise.

Seen any weird and unregulated consumer goods lately?

Apr 9, 2014

Stay at work mums, full time dads and others

I have stopped using the term "working mother" or at least I am trying to.

There are no perfect terms, because the term that each group of parents invents for itself annoys the others.

"Working mother" is annoying for mothers who are not in paid employment because they are home with their children: " 'Working mother'? What the hell do they think I'm doing all day?"

"Full-time mother" is hated by mothers who work in paid employment, including me. I am a full-time mother. I am a mother 24 hours a day as is every other mother. Motherhood (or parenthood) dictates how and where I work, as much as how I am at home. Also, what?: Anytime someone is away from her kids, she is not a mother? If you're a stay at home mother, when you leave your kids at kinder, or when you have a girls' night out, are you no longer a mother?

"Non-working parent" is wrong - for the same reason that "working mother" is.

"SAHM" (Stay At Home Mum) seems to be the preferred term by most, but what about the dads? They've started using SAHD. Is that a bit ironic, because it looks like SAD? I do wonder if "stay at home" is a bit annoying as it sounds a little patronising or limiting, like "housewife". Maybe just "At Home Parent" (AHP) is better?

"WAHM" (Work At Home Mum) is the one term that no one seems to grumble about. Or maybe that's just my misconception as a WOTHM (Work Outside The Home Mum - what, not going to catch on?)

Not one of these "lifestyles" is better or worse than the others, per se. Not one is a ticket to work-life balance - we're all as stretched and unappreciated as each other. There is of course just what works best for you and your family, or more accurately, what you have to work with and what you make of it.

But regardless of the terms we use to describe "mothering", one of the things driving change most is a critical mass of fathers being home with their kids.

There are so many of them now, and not all of them have blogs of course (pfft - what do those guys DO all day?) - but the ones I've noticed most as change agents are:

"World's Best Father" (Dave Engledow): this is the guy who created all the photos of himself with his baby daughter, she in various ignored or "helping" scenarios (sitting on an ironing board while he's ironing, etc) while he is usually looking away, reading thoughtfully and holding a coffee mug with "World's Best Father" on it.  The photos are genius, encapsulating at once all the best qualities of how we regard the stereotypical dad: involved with the kids but casually; making the kids fit around him instead of the other way around; funny; relaxed; borderline-neglectful-but-actually-good-for-the-kids.  Here are a couple of samples (these are all over the internet and they are a couple of years old now, so I've decided this is okay):

Reservoir Dad: RD is awesome, because he is very proudly a SAHD, and embraces the lot that goes with it, including actual, thorough housework. Not for him the superhero vacuum and willful blindness to dirty toilets and dusty windowsills - no, he happily and manfully tackles the lot.  I actually think this is BRILLIANT. He writes about being a primary carer and shows that when it's done by a man it looks pretty similar to when it's done by a woman; this post in particular is just wonderful and I love it.

Of course, dads bring their alpha guy privilege to stay-at-home parenting, and that's simultaneously irksome and fantastic. RD admits men get more support in some ways than women as parents, and he has a robotic vacuum cleaner which makes me completely jealous ... but at the same time why wouldn't you make things better for yourself wherever you can, and why don't women do this more?  - because we do it all properly!! and we're doing six million other things you can't see!!  ... Sorry, that just slipped out. Where was I?  Anyway, having more men take on the primary carer role (and more women the breadwinner role, and more men and women working part-time and doing a bit of everything), is a good, good thing, with great advances in mutual understanding and improvement for everyone all round.

I've kind of lost my thread with this post, but think I've said what was on my mind anyway, so I'll leave it here.

Meanwhile, if you want a bit of fun, take Buzzfeed's What Type of Parent Are You quiz.

I'm "overwhelmed" which I found a little disappointing. I'd thought I had moved beyond "overwhelmed" after eight years at this parenting gig, but I guess not. Buzzfeed knows best!

Apr 7, 2014

12 Resolutions: April (and March recap)

This year I'm playing along with #12Resolutions on Twitter and Facebook. The idea is to set yourself short-term, achievable goals, one each month. 

January went very well. I stuck to that resolution and am still doing it: I walk the dog at least once a day and occasionally even twice. The dog is happy, I'm happier, all good. 

February was not so good - I failed.  Typical to New Years' Resolutions, I think start-of-year enthusiasm was enough to carry me through January. But that tends to run out by February, and then actual effort is needed.  Also, the January resolution has been easier to keep up, because (a) it has created a habit, and (b) I am beholden to someone else - my dog, who basically will not let me not do our daily walk.

So how did March go? Well, I did it. I wrote my short story. It is "finished" though still in draft form, and I'm not happy with it. Creation is hard, you guys! Like drawing, which I have also always done and love doing, it's very hard to get the item that's in your head - fuzzy and yet dazzlingly perfect - out of your head and onto the page. Anyway, I did get my story done, and that's a win!

I also did make a start on my course, completing two topics in the first module. 

So now: April.

Bron who is the moderator of our 12Resolutions Facebook group, set her April goal as "visit GP", something she had intended to do for ages but kept putting off.  I realised I had exactly the same problem, so I too set my goal as VISIT THE GP.

I have to admit, there is something to this small goal stuff *.

The same day I posted the resolution, I made my GP appointment, and was there the next evening. I got a referral I needed, made a follow-up booking for my overdue secret-womens-business test, and so already my goal is halfway achieved. So, #winning.

I've now decided to bite the bullet and get a full check-up - blood tests etc. There is nothing especially wrong with me, that losing weight and eating better wouldn't solve. But instead of waiting until I lose that weight (never gonna happen) before I get a full health checkup, I've decided to do it now.

The last one I did was about three years ago, offered through my work. I was (almost) as overweight then and all the bloods came back okay, so I think I have nothing to fear. Except fear itself.

There is so much we tend to put off while needing to lose weight. Meanwhile, years go by!

(Maybe I should set a goal to blog more consistently...)


January: walk 5 times a week (done - I now walk daily)
February: write 2 short stories (failed - wrote none!)
March: write 1 short story, and start Project Management course (done)
April: visit GP and complete or schedule the follow-ups


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