Nov 28, 2012

The Things I Have To Do

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out. 

I saw this great quotation via @qikipedia on Twitter this week.

Gosh, I thought, in all my middle-class, first-world exhaustion, That is so true.

There is so little time in life.  We know this because we all say it, from the time we either (a) get a serious job, or (b) have children or (c) grow out of our twenties. (Or at least my twenties, pre-HECS, pre-internet, were pretty free and wide open. Not sure if that's still the case for the young 'uns today).

I went back to work when my babies were 8 months old, initially 3 days a week, building up to 5. I worked full-time for the next 4 four years, and just recently cut down to 4 days.

That extra day is a marvel, and I am so, so grateful for it. I don't know how long I can "get away with it", because our finances are not great and you know, life is expensive. Especially when you're used to having the money from 5 days' work in your bank account, but anyway, that's my failing and I'm learning to adapt (slowly).

Back when I was working full-time and my twins were toddlers/pre-schoolers/preppies and I was having a nervous breakdown every few months, I used to HATE reading about "work-life balance" and "fitting in" working and motherhood, because everything I read was written by women working part-time.

So I am trying not to bore you with the same opinions and perspectives that used to annoy me.

I will just say, that EVEN with my lovely, precious extra day, life is SHORT and Tuesdays (my day off) are SHORT - and my to-do list is LONG.

There is so little time in the day to do the things we really want to do, isn't there?

For instance, what I really want to do all day is read and write. That's it - I know, I'm horribly unbalanced, but that is what I really love and want to do.

I don't want to clean the house, plan dinners, buy groceries, dust, sort and file administrivia, do laundry or tidy my clothes. I don't want to re-evaluate our super and insurance every 12 months, compare utility providers or switch bank accounts. I don't particularly want to walk the dog. (No surprises there, the dog would grumble if he could talk).

I do love spending time with my kids, and I like feeding them (when they eat what I make), and quite like doing homework or reading with them (when they don't grumble).

So if I do a great job looking after my kids - which I mostly think I do - and I feed them and teach them and listen to them and do their laundry and watch over their emotional state and help them and love them - that is a full-time job, right?

So why do I ALSO have to do all the other house and admin stuff that comes with a grown-up life?

Not fair.

The end.

P.S.: That's not a serious question. Parenthood is a choice and it makes me very happy, blah blah blah. Doesn't mean we can't vent about how hard it all is, every now and then!

Linking up to Picklebums for Real Life Wednesday.  

Nov 27, 2012

Everyday Beauty: Small World

When I walk in suburban streets, I am usually looking straight down. There is a fascinating tiny world down there - cracks in the paving, insects scurrying, leaves and seed pods, dandelion tumbleweed, bird feathers, snails, bits of litter.

There's so much in these tiny worlds we loom above and barely see.

Check out these unbelievably spectacular photos from the Nikon Small World Photomicograph Competition, at Slate's Behold photography blog.  I especially love the slab of sedimentary agate; both familiar and alien, it's a stunning reminder of how spectacular is the world in miniature right below us.


Nov 23, 2012

How to Tell if You're Tired

I may be tired.

This morning getting dressed for work, I could not remember how to open my favourite perfume.  The one I wear every day. I picked up the bottle and turned it around in my hands and stared at it, and I could not remember how to open it.

This lasted a good few seconds.

What's more, I still didn't remember. In the end I gave the lid an experimental twist and it lifted off (ah yes - lift, not twist).

Last Friday our school had their annual Fun Fair, and because Y and I were both working, a friend very kindly took our girls home with her child after school and then took them all to the fair. At her house, M borrowed some clothes from her friend V, and off they all went to the fair, where I met them in the evening.

On Saturday I washed the clothes and hung them out to dry. They were a pair of white leggings and a cobalt blue dress.

On Tuesday the girls have Greek school with V, and it's also my day off work, so I planned to return the dress and leggings, all nicely washed and dry, that afternoon.

So on Sunday I put the leggings in a plastic bag and then looked for the dress.

I couldn't find the dress. It wasn't on the line. It wasn't in the baskets of clothes waiting to be folded and put away.

I checked again. It HAD to be on the line - I remembered hanging it there. Didn't I?

Maybe I hadn't washed it. I checked in the laundry basket. No dress.

Maybe I had put it in M's room. I checked. No dress.

I had done a heap of washing on Saturday. Maybe Y brought it in with one of the loads, and put it somewhere weird? I checked everywhere - no dress.

This went on throughout Sunday, and Monday night after work.

On Tuesday I returned the leggings to V, and told her the dress was coming as soon as I found it.

I looked everywhere. I went out to the line maybe six times to double check.

Then I had a good night's sleep.

On Wednesday morning I went to the clothes line to take in some school clothes.

And I saw this.

WTF brain!

Nov 21, 2012

Everyday Beauty: Lavender

Well, this is not really MY everyday beauty, because it's not in my neighborhood. But I was visiting, so I will take it.

Have you ever seen such lush, gorgeous lavender?

Mine never looked so good!


Nov 20, 2012

Warm Day Pleasures

I don't cope well with hot weather. What I love are those beautiful warm days at the end of spring or the end of summer, where you feel happy and energized and life feels full of promise.

Days like yesterday and today, in Melbourne.

For instance, I love:
  • Driving with the window open (instead of the air conditioning on)
  • Having my hair stay dry and in style all day (not ruined by humidity or sweat)
  • Not wearing or carrying a jacket
  • Wearing sandals to work
  • Painting my toenails and the paint lasts for days because I'm wearing sandals to work and no shoes at home
  • Listening to my kids playing outside and feeling good about that
  • Hanging out and bringing in washing without dying in the heat
  • Waking up to sunshine and birdsong (and the cat meowing for breakfast and the dog scratching on the door to come in)
  • The kids are happy to get up on time
  • Waking up comfortable - neither groggy from dark winter sleep nor bathed in summer sweat
  • Having the kids play ball with the dog and run him around till he's pooped so I don't have to walk him
  • Icy-poles outside after dinner
  • Hearing the neighbourhood kids playing ball in the street after dinner

Yesterday all these things came together. Y and I were both home and both available after work, and the four of us ate a marvelous picnic dinner together, then danced to some Greek songs the girls are learning*, ate icy-poles outside, and - the highlight for the kids - played hide and seek in the backyard until bathtime. Our backyard consists of about 3 possible hiding spaces, so God knows what the appeal is of this game in our house, but I do know that yesterday the appeal was playing with Mum and Dad at the same time.

"Best evening ever!" said A.
"My best bit was playing with Daddy," said M.
"The kids LOVED it when you played with them," I told Y.
"I guess they miss not having a brother," said Y.
"No, they want YOU!" said I.

Y is a good dad, but he's often tired from work so the evenings we tend to tag-team, with him snoozing after dinner and me going to bed earlier at night while he cleans up the kitchen. When he looks after the kids, he is often lying on the couch while they play, or they all go out "for coffee".

That's all fine, but this is also important: the whole family together laughing and dancing and playing hide and seek even if it means taking turns with the same two hiding spots down the side of the house and behind the barbecue. (There - now if you ever come to our house and play hide and seek with us, you will know straightaway where to look.)

So last night we did all that.

And because I'm a woman and a mother and a homebody and an emotional basket case, I had my happiest evening this year and had to stop myself sobbing with manic glee.

I held myself together heroically. (The kids already think Mum is loopy - no need to give them more proof).

What's your favourite kind of weather?

*Here's one of the songs -

N'Agapas - by Pantelis Thalassinos

Nov 16, 2012

The Sunshine Award

Big news readers, I have been given the prestigious, exclusive, highly coveted Sunshine Award.

Think of it like a Nobel Prize - but instead of for writers, scientists or economists it's for amazingly talented bloggers.... ;-)

What with the Liebster and now this, that book deal is surely only a matter of time!

Yes it's another meme/award thingy!

I'm actually (really) very chuffed and excited to get these, and I so appreciate it when I'm nominated.
This one has been given me by the very funny and very cool Dr Bron at Dr Bron Speaks

So thank you, Dr Bron!

The conditions of the award are:

Answer the eight questions below

Nominate and notify 10 awesome bloggers to repeat the process.

Here are the questions (and my answers):

1. What is your favorite Christmas/Holiday movie?
Jingle All The Way.

2. What is your favorite flower?
Photo by Villamon via Flickr CC
Don't laugh... carnations.

3. What is your favorite (non-alcoholic) beverage?

4. What is your passion?

5. What is your favorite time of year?

6. What is your favorite time of the day?

7. What is your favorite physical activity? 

8. What is your favorite vacation?
The Greek Islands. Obviously.

And the nominees for the next Sunshine Award (because their blogs put sunshine in my day) are....

Pandora from Princess Pandora Queen of Denial
Cath from Working Through It
PM from The Plastic Mancunian
Nicola at Stressy Mummy
Tracey from Single Married Mum
Meggsie from AMFYOYO
Melissa at From Boardroom to Babies
Catherine from Cup of Tea and A Blog
Lisa at How to be a Domestic Disgrace
Torkona from Tork's Blog

If you are not familiar with any of these great blogs, click on the links in my FAVOURITE BLOGS list on the sidebar. (yes, that's code for "I didn't embed links in the names above, sorry")

Enjoy, readers and memesters!

Nov 12, 2012

Their Preoccupations Often Frivolous

Goodness me, it is either a great time or a terrible time right now to be a Mummy Blogger!

First of all there is the term Mummy Blogger. Who doesn’t love that, eh?

Second, there has been the concern locally about PR partnerships, sponsored posts and the fairness and sensitivity (or otherwise) of how these things are marketed. Sponsored posts are causing quite the debate currently, and I do think they warrant scrutiny and care. But I also think a lot of the issues people are unhappy about will sort themselves out as the processes evolve. 

Third, here in Australia there was the recent Media Watch episode 'The Rise of the Personal Blogger' which puzzled many and displeased some, but which did raise some valid points about sponsored content. (It also contained the memorable line "Of course, some of the mummy bloggers are naive, and their preoccupations often frivolous.")

And now from the UK there is the Liz Jones piece in the Daily Mail, which appears to be designed partly to shock and partly to salve her fuming resentment of women who “don’t work”. There is plenty in that post to dissect and Ms Jones has left herself rather wide open to analysis – and plenty of bloggers will take on that happy task I am sure.

But, as someone who works almost full-time at a paid job, and works parenting 7-year-olds and managing our house, and who is happy to accept blogging as an unpaid hobby, I leave you instead with an ode to Baby Wipes. (Unsponsored).

Ode to Baby Wipes

Oh, thick, unscented baby wipes, I'd like to shake your hand
For all you make so easy, I am an ardent fan.
Our kids have not been babies now, for many fun-filled years
But you, unlike the nappies, are permanently here.

I love you for your ease of use, and all the things you do
With just a squirt of toilet gel, you help me clean the loo.
You help me take my make-up off, instead of cleansing cream
You help me clean the vanity, without elbow grease or steam.

You wipe up sticky fingers, you clean hands when there's no soap
You wipe faces quick and easily; in short you help me cope
With germs and dirt and stickiness, wherever they may lie
I'll buy you, thick unscented baby wipes, until the day I die.

Nov 11, 2012

Sugar and Spice and Puppy Dog Tails

"Sugar and spice and everything nice,
That's what little girls are made of. 
Snips of snails and puppy dog tails,
That's what little boys are made of."

'Child in Nature' by chrisroll via

Take a look at the following statements. Which ones are true, which are a myth, and which are sometimes true, or partly true?

"Girls - there's always drama. There's always someone in tears, or they're all hugging. Thank goodness, boys are not like that!"
 "Boys are straightforward. If they're mad at each other they'll have it out and move on.
 There's no bitchiness or backstabbing."
 "Boys like rough and tumble games."
 "Boys are so full of energy; they just can't sit still!"
 "Boys are pretty simple really. Very straightforward, what you see is what you get."
 "Men/boys are visual creatures."
 "Men/boys are not good at expressing their feelings."

While there is truth to some of these, and I do agree there are differences between boys and girls, I think we do our boys (and girls) a huge disservice by perpetuating the "boys are simple and straightforward" myth.

Mars Vs Venus has been discredited.

To suggest that boys are somehow wired less psychologically complex than girls is not only insulting, it is ridiculous. It makes no sense biologically or psychologically, or even logically.

I've known some sensitive "still waters" little boys, and some energetic rough and tumble girls, and I find all humans equally complex, no matter how simple their views or approach to life.

Gendered cordial by Cottees - via @Pink_Soprano on Twitter:

What bugs you about pop psychology?

Nov 10, 2012

Style and the Scarf

Being a fashion blogger, I have a keen eye for stylish sartorial statements.

Yesterday I found myself walking behind the most stylish, glamorous woman I've seen all year. She was young, thin and tall, with long brown hair and the sort of drapey, silky, flowing clothes that look so good on tall thin people. There was a light drizzle coming down, and she had a silk scarf over her hair. Yes: retro style, knotted under the chin, like Grace Kelly going shopping or Queen Elizabeth walking the corgis.

It looked gorgeous.

Frankly, also a little affected.

But still gorgeous.

In the moments I was walking behind this woman I wondered if I could affect a silk scarf myself, to stop my hair frizzing up in the drizzle. But I immediately scotched it, because scarves worn this way are definitely for the young (and stylish). I'm at the age now where a silk scarf over my head is going to make me much more Queen Elizabeth than Grace Kelly.

It's not fair!  When I was young it was the nineties and grunge was the thing. Being glamorous and dressy was as outlandish as wearing a clown suit. Or if we were working and had to dress up, it was all boxy minimalist suits in navy and mustard. I spent most of my youth wearing baggy hippy dresses and Doc Martens.

I got stylish when I lived in Europe, but our clothes were still nothing like the gorgeous stuff all the young girls are wearing today. Certainly headscarves were just not a thing.

How I imagine I'd look wearing a head scarf:

Image by 
Michal Marcol

How I would actually look:

So then I walked into my building and into the elevator to go back up to work. As the doors were closing a clacking of running heels sounded so I held open the doors - and in stepped the lovely woman who was every bit as gorgeous and silky chic from the front as from the back.

"Oh thank you!" she said with a genuine smile, and stepped politely to one side and behind me in the elevator. It was the move that nice people make when you let them into a lift, which says "thank you for letting me in; to show my gratitude and in recognition of the milli-seconds of extra speed and solitude you have given up in this lift, I will stand completely out of your way and let you get out first if we both get off at the same floor."

So I stood there in my favourite current outfit I had worn happily all morning, suddenly feeling like the frumpiest, dumpiest woman to ever stand in a lift.  So that was nice!

Seen anyone stylish lately? 
Would YOU wear a headscarf?

Nov 6, 2012

Everyday Beauty: Pretty Plastic

I'm a bit of a sucker for new plastic. Do you remember as a kid getting a new raincoat or ball and inhaling that new plastic smell?

Also when it's new it's so smooth and shiny.

And the whorls and swirls on this beautiful pale blue ball make it look like a peaceful planet.


Nov 1, 2012

All Hail Halloween!

You know what? I love Halloween. I love it!

I want Australia to embrace this funny, fun celebration and all its glorious trappings.

American cultural imperialism? Lighten up, haters!

Not an Australian tradition? Who cares, we're not importing Thanksgiving or July 4th, so calm the crap down.

It's fun. It's harmless. It's cheap and easy to join in. And you don't have to have kids or be a kid to get into it.  And no, it's not all about kids being greedy and bullying neighbors into giving them lollies. As this excellent post at MamaMia explains, it's about community.

When I was a kid we lived in the US for a few years, and Halloween was fantastic. I love that Modern Family Halloween episode which gives a reasonable idea of what it's like there. It's HUGE. Some people go all out and really get into the whole decorate-your-house-and-scare-the-kids thing; others just cheerfully open their doors and hand out candy. The streets are crawling with kids in costume, from the simple to the amazingly, funnily inventive. (My parents' finest Halloween hour: dressing me and my sister as a pair of dice, in massive boxes with arm-holes and black circles on them, and black top hats. Most uncomfortable costume ever, thanks guys!)

Teenagers chuck eggs or wrap houses in toilet paper. OK the eggs are not so much fun. And I'm sure it sucks to unwrap your house and chuck out all that toilet paper. But it's an awesome sight seeing a house and the tree in its front yard all wrapped in toilet paper the morning after Halloween, as we saw one year. Good times!

Here in Australia, I know some people are grumpy about Halloween, and actually I do understand. But I'm not one of them.

The good thing about Halloween, unlike most other celebrations, is that it seems so utterly silly and meaningless (these days). And as it has so little meaning, there's no pressure to partake.

If you don't want to join in, you don't have to.

On our trick or treating expedition last night, there were plenty of people who didn't answer their doors - and that's OK. Others answered and said "Oh I'm sorry, we're not playing" - and that's OK. A couple of people had nothing but wanted to join in anyway - one lady ran out and chased the kids to give them a box of Cheezels; another man said "Give me ten minutes!" and jumped in his car and raced to the shop to buy sweets. What a sweetie!

One house had a Jack-o-Lantern outside.

We hung orange balloons on our door to let kids know they were welcome. At one glorious point we were over-run and ended up handing out lollies on the front lawn.

How many of our neighbors joined in? About a fifth, maybe. But everyone was nice, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Our kids - ours and a friend's, who joined us - had a ball. In the words of Vampire Girl A, "Best Halloween ever!"*

*It was their second.

Do you "do" Halloween? Do you like it, hate it, or do you totally not care?


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