Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Confessions of a Routine Renegade

This morning I was following an email exchange from my mothers group around baby routines, and couldn't help but smile as I jotted down His Royal Cuteness, Captain Morgan's current routine (I use the term lightly).

5am: Eyes wide open, doing push-ups on the mattress. Parentals attempt any and all measures to induce a sleep in till 5.30am.

6am: Playtime! Crazy tumbling and crawling - trying, it appears, to fall out of bed.

7am: During breakfast, ingests as little food as possible by clamping lips shut.

9am: His Royal Cuteness is tired after partying all night, but prefers not to sleep in his cot if it can be helped. 

9.45am: Operation Destruct is in full flight with much loud noise and activity to pull out books, DVDs, toys within reach. A visit to the park is a popular choice.

11.30am: Might be time for another catnap in the car as mum attempts to regain sanity at the shops, gym or running errands.

12.30pm: During lunch, The Captain will only eat sandwiches and cheesesticks that have been prepared by the light of the full moon - anything considered to be baby food is splattered across the kitchen.

1.30pm: Attempted escape from Alcatraz is thwarted by strategically putting on Hi 5 and distracting said escapee for, oh, five whole minutes.

3.00pm: Much gnashing of teeth and flailing of arms indicates there'll be a fight to the end, but eventually results in a nap.

6.00pm: Daddy Gorgeous arrives home - there is happiness and joy in the house.

6.30pm: Dinner time! Usually results in a repeat performance of the 7am breakfast slot. Parentals reach for a medicinal glass of red.

6.45pm: Sitting regally in the bath, The Captain ignores his many bath toys, prefering to suck on a face washer instead.

7.30pm: Additional crawling, playtime, bouncing (etc) required to fully tire the monster within!

7.45pm: Blessed sleep arrives. For a limited time only.
10.30pm: Wakes for the night disco as soon as he hears the lights being switched off - or once other members in the house have started to doze.

So... what's funny about your daily routine?
Oh, and... you can find me on Twitter or Facebook.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Better, Naturally...

I reckon any book with a glowing endorsement from Hugh Jackman on the cover is off to a cracking start.

A few months ago I was sent such a book: ‘Naturally Better’ by Kristen Morrison. Kristen is a mum of three, creative type, successful fashion designer and naturopathic powerhouse. The book came to be after her third child, a sunny-faced boy named Gryffin, was born with the extra chromosome causing Down syndrome. 

Not the type to take this diagnosis lying down, Kristen decided to attempt ‘genetic change’ on behalf of her son – and the results were remarkable.

How on earth did a mum of three find the time to research, document, and write 350-odd pages while maintaining Gryff’s treatment program and looking after the family? When we are up against the wall and asked to fight on behalf our children, we do it without thinking.

So, back to ‘making genetic change’ – as said by an Occupational Therapist friend of the author’s, when she heard what they had been up to. It’s brave, to challenge a diagnosed condition and refuse to accept the developmental milestones given to her by paediatricians, nurses and organisations. 

Throughout the book we see, via the Therapy diary and pages of colour photographs, the intense therapies - from cocktails of vitamins and baby yoga to Osteopathy and Naturopathy - that have been of huge benefit to the author’s gorgeous son.

I’ve no doubt this is a hugely popular read for any parents of young children with Down syndrome, Autism, ADHD or Cerebral palsy – people looking for a better way to treat their child’s condition and, I might say, fight the diagnosis. But also for new mums and dads everywhere, there were gems of information that informs us on how we can best be parents to our bright kids.

What I loved about this book was Kristen’s passion for her family, the enthusiasm with which she threw herself into the research and Gryff’s program, and her encyclopaedic knowledge as a result of their experience. I would definitely read another book, written as a way of opening more minds (like mine) to the reasoning behind, ways of and benefits to living better, naturally.

In the time it has taken me to read and review this book, Kristen has also established the ‘Grow Foundation, for Naturally Better Kids’ to raise funds for kids with neurological challenges. 

When it was launched on 13 November, Kristen said:

“In the year since my book was published, the numbers of parents who have come to me with success stories from having done similar work with their own children is wonderful. 

"It takes considerable parent effort to achieve these incredible results, and because these
are at-home therapy programs run by parents for their own kids, the families often fall between chairs when it comes to funding.”

If you’d like to know more about the Grow Foundation or buy a copy of 'Naturally Better', head to their Facebook page or check out their website at http://naturallybetterkids.com.

Oh, and... you can find me on Twitter or 'Facebook.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

When you're Not. Feeling. The. Love.

Some days. Some... days... it's all you can do not to burst into floods of tears at the supermarket checkout.

Ever been there?

You've got an attack of dropsy, you feel inexplicably on edge, the family is sick, the dog's ignoring you, you haven't slept in days, weeks or months, you're in a strangely foul mood and your hormones are playing up, your jeans have shrunk, there's too much work and not enough time, you've OD'd on coffee and chocolate, and even managed to have an argument with a loved one...

In short, you're totally-otally-wotally... Not. Feeling. The. Love.

And sometimes, that feeling can last for days or, if you're lucky, more than a week.

How do you get through it?

I don't have a magic answer, but after a few weeks of illness with a small baby to care for, a husband I love to adore who was also unwell, and a social media consultancy to run, it's been difficult to regain balance.

However, talking it through with my amazing, strong and gutsy galpals it's clear that I'm not the only one going through moments of virtual insanity amid a blur of beautiful baby babble.

Thank f*** it's not just me!

In the spirit of sharing recent crazy times for a giggle, here's me putting it out there for any other chicks not feeling it.

Situation One.The baby won't sleep. Do you:

a/ Close the baby's door and turn up the television?
b/ Put out the washing?
c/ Attempt controlled crying for an hour, rocking in his room, then uncontrolled crying, before caving in and getting him up?
d/ All of the above, then pour yourself a gin and tonic and consider the relative success of your latest adventure?

Situation Two. It's dinnertime. Do you:

a/ Put the finishing touches on the gravy for the lamb roast, whip up a cheese sauce, and light the candles?

b/ Put away the chocolate biscuits, feeling rather full.

c/ Wonder if baby thinks all food comes from a  jar or a sachet?

d/ Reach for the takeaway menu and vow to cook a truckload of vegies tomorrow night?

Situation Three. It's morning. Do you:

a/ Enjoy a yoga session with your personal trainer, thankful for the nine hours sleep you got last night?
b/ Wonder what day it is?
c/ Try to locate your other half across the bed, and spy him hanging off the side, one arm lying in a fresh patch of baby wee, with said baby jumping on the pillow?
d/ Reach for your iPhone to check Facebook, Twitter, and eBay, before hearing the sound of a hungry child, and realising it's yours?

Situation Four. You're not feeling yourself. Do you:

a/ Open a packet of Tim Tams and have yourself a hearty breakfast?
b/ Call a girlfriend and get out for a walk, enjoy a laugh stroke cry and a coffee?
c/ Surprise your other half with a date, with champagne, dinner, enjoying a nice view (and one topic of conversation...)?
d/ Take a women's multivitamin with your shiraz and hope that tonight will be the night when the baby starts to sleep through?

Have you been feeling recently - on top of the world or a bit under the weather? How did you get through it?

PS. A special word for the love of my life, Gorgeous, who senses when something's wrong, and knows just how to bring my bubble back. Thanks mister. X

Oh, and you  can find me on Twitter.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

9 Not-so-flash Things About the Dirty 30’s

You could say I’m a bit of a Pollyanna about life: my champagne glass is always half full, I look for the bright side and clouds with silver linings abound.

Then, having hit my 30’s in June, I came up with no less than nine things, dear reader, I’m not feeling flash about.

Read ‘em and weep – or laugh! – but know that there’s another blog that will herald a dozen or so tops things about turning 30.

And so, Pollyanna will return.

Number one. I’m ticking a different age bracket when I fill out forms

It’s simple, but I have to lose that smug look ‘cause we ain’t in 18-25 Kansas no more!

Number two. The ability to see spots on the kitchen bench that you never saw before (and want to scrub them out)

I don’t know where this supersonic vision came from – I used to wipe down the bench once a week. Now, when I see the ring of a teacup stained onto the white benchtop, I’ve grabbed the Spray ‘n Wipe and scrubbed it out before you can exhale.

3.       Number three. I’m no longer asked for ID

On the rare occasions when I go to a bar or – heaven forbid – club, I feel a little bit out of place, all the hip young lithe things around me. It’s not that long ago I was them, and it sure seems I reached my expiry date in a flash! If only someone would still ask me for ID, I’d slip them $100 $20.

4.       Number four. Battle against the mummy tummy

Imagine my surprise when, after nine months of dedication to Mint Slices, I pop out the divine Captain Morgan and head home to my skinny jeans, only to find I can’t get them over my ankles? Go figure. Now, with His Royal Cuteness almost seven months old, those damn jeans still taunt me from the closet. I think I’m gonna burn them.

5.       Number five. Inexplicable aches and pains

Obviously, these aches and pains will no doubt develop into my dear Mum’s rheumatoid arthritis, Baker’s cyst, gammy knee, and so on. This is precisely why I continue to ignore them – for as long as humanly possible.

6.       Number six. Looking at ‘old’ clothes in the shops and realising they aren't too old for you  

Here’s another annoying thing I’ve done for years: check out the clothes at the mall that scream ‘old chook’ and feel smug that they aren’t ‘me’. Well, in the not-so-distant future, I could be adorned in that full skirt with blouse, in matching red, silver and gold brocade! So pipe down, rub-a-dub.

7.      Number seven. The pressure to be plastic fantastic

Heidi Montag is only 23 and she’s had dozens of surgeries to morph her naturally beautiful face into, well, something less than natural. How is it that in the space of a few short years, injecting poison into one’s face has become a scarily normal thing to do? And while I don’t even have time for a facial these days, what might I be thinking about doing or even injecting into my face when I’m 35?

8.       Number eight. Realising your mortality

Ugh. I really don’t like talking about death, in fact until recently I had all but blocked it out. But a small baby makes you think about big, inevitable stuff and (at the risk of sounding like a Vodafone commercial) also thinking about what you can do to make the most of now. 

9.       Number nine. The responsibility you didn’t appreciate that you didn’t have before

Rather than finish on a downer, let’s reminisce and remember how we had it so good: endless summers, no mortgage or rent, no kids to think about, no full time job and mounds of bills to pay, or food to buy, or dog to feed, or sheets to change, and let’s not forget those kitchen benches to endlessly wipe.

So – all you kids, tweens, teenagers and twenty-somethings out there – live it up buttercup! Time passes.

What do you dislike about getting older? Leave a comment and let us know.

Oh, and you can follow me on Twitter

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A love supreme?

Last night, I was invited to celebrate a good friend's 30th at a trendy pizza joint in Sydney's Paddington, a place so groovy there's not even a sign on the street indicating what kind of restaurant it is, just a pile of unmarked pizza boxes inside the front window.

I was excited to be going back somewhere I'd enjoyed many impromptu evenings with loved ones, savouring tasty pizza and having cheap bottles of plonk poured into reimprovised water glasses by attentive staff. One of my former faves, and now post-baby, it also symbolised a return to form.

With said babe tucked away in the loving arms of his granny, we coasted across the harbour bridge, night lights twinkling in the winter air, classic Michael Jackson tunes pumping and the promise of crisp bases and fabulous toppings in our mind's eye.

It was the same restaurant: same busy vibe, the same owners we eyeballed on the way in, same yummy pizzas. But something had fundamentally changed.

As I brought forth our wine, I glanced down the table thinking it looked barren. Everyone had been there some time, perhaps they'd all become teetotallers when I wasn't looking? Fat chance. A girlfriend whispered that the restaurant was now licensed and they were still waiting for drinks.

In fact, after querying a staff member, it transpired they were both BYO and licensed, and I could pay $10 corkage per bottle to enjoy our two bottles of wine (which probably cost me $25 to buy). Checking with the husband of the birthday girl that it was ok for us to pop the cork and unscrew the lid, he relayed that staff had already told him 'no BYO for large groups'. But this waiter had just OK'd it? Oh well.

I brushed the inconsistency aside, happy with a glass of sparkling in my hand and the promise of a great evening.

We enjoyed our pizza as it came forth in dribs and drabs, though we had to chase up the food and a waiter took our plates away, even when there was more food to come. Still, I knew there was a special chocolate cake to be enjoyed, which had been dropped off that morning as a surprise.

Sadly though, the surprise had already been blown.

After accepting the choccy cake, the restaurant decided to call the person who made the group booking to tell them there was a 'no cake policy' and that it would not be served that night. The person who took the call was the birthday girl.

Surprise! You're getting a cake, but you can't eat it.

When I found this out, my shitty customer service radar started tooting its hooter at an alarming rate. Looking around though, I saw the big cake sitting reassuringly on the table. We sang happy birthday, she blew out the candles with cameras flashing, and we cut the cake.

And then, the strangest thing happened.

We all left the restaurant and ate the cake on the steps outside in the freezing night air, napkins stashed in our pockets. We took a photo for posterity, and probably, to stick it to the owners, who I had politely asked on my way out about their confounding new approach.

He explained that it was about their bottom line, said there were desserts on the menu, and if they did plate the dessert they would need to charge us $8-9 per person extra. Oh, and that it was a health and safety issue. He did mention that BYO was still available but didn't argue the point when I mentioned $10 corkage per bottle was probably not conducive to bringing a bottle of plonk along.

Still, I smiled, commented that I found it very surprising for what used to be such an accommodating venue, that many other restaurants didn't appear to face the same insurmountable problems serving birthday cake, and departed into the night, never to return.

It was fun, eating our cake on the footpath like dessert renegades, but the problem with venues who have been in business a certain amount of time is that they can become smug and run the risk of alienating their most loyal customers.

Sadly, I am no longer a loyal customer. There are too many venues in Sydney to enjoy without returning to the ones that have decidedly lost their shine and charm.

Now, with an unpleasant taste still in my mouth, how else am I to speak of the experience? And since many of us also socialise with our friends and networks online, what could these poor standards mean for a business's bottom line? If each of the twenty people at that table mention it to ten others, that's a couple of hundred people. But what if five of those at the table also Facebook, tweet or blog about it? Suddenly, thousands of people could be in the know.

After all this, perhaps it would have been easier for the restaurant, having accepted the cake, to have gone the extra mile and let us eat it. As a venue that prides itself on word-of-mouth marketing, they have taken customer service to new lows.

A love supreme? More like a no-name experience. And what a shame, too.

ASIDE: We ended up being charged $44 corkage, for two bottles that cost about $25 to buy. Go figure. 

Have you had a bad dining experience? Leave a comment and tell us what you did about it!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ten things I wish they’d told me about breastfeeding

Firstly, and for the record, I really don't like those articles or blogs that begin 'As the proud mother of a baby boy,' so I won't go there. Suffice to say that going through breastfeeding as a complete L-plated newbie, I'd read every manual, book and pamphlet there was to read and I attended as many 'breast is best' classes a reasonably sane girl can handle.

Following is what I didn't find in any of those forums or media, but rather discovered in real time, feeding my boy, usually at some objectionable hour of the night, when I used to be stumbling home from a trendy wine bar – back in the day. Anyway, I digress...

For all of you gals out there who can stand some home truths and insights into breastfeeding, or if you are simply right into reading about your boobies at the moment, here's what I now know:

Number One. Breastfeeding is a game of snakes and ladders – get used to it

One day they're perky and bolt upright and, the next, they're sideways with gallons of milk dispensing with abandon. These are the artists formerly known as your erogenous zones! Now because of these constantly shapeshifting conditions, each and every time you feed your baby may be different. So, here's an important safety tip: try not to take it personally if your bub rejects your boobs or gives you blisters. Just remember, these little cherubs grow fast, and for now, you are their lifeline!

Number Two. Embrace your inner milkmaid

In the very first weeks of your baby's life, you will spend more time with your bangers out than all your wild nights out with the girls put together. Now, your significant other will most likely not mind this one little bit – mine certainly didn't. You, however, will feel like the local milkmaid.

Number Three. From boobies to... well...

Now, apparently, after years of breastfeeding your once beautiful, sexy nipples will likely look like elongated teats. This, told to me by my sister-in-law with three kids! Sigh. I might as well put this early on the list so there are no surprises after you've breastfed five children. Look, on the upside you won't have to buy many scarves during winter.

Number Four. Is breast really best?

Well, of course it is but breastfeeding is not always possible for every new mum. So, beware: breastfeeding zealots do exist. You'll normally find them in the form of your local, friendly lactation consultant. Obviously, most lactation consultants espouse the adage that 'Breast is Best'. Why wouldn't they? That's their job. However, if you happen to find a consultant or nurse who can actually acknowledge that there are other ways to work it, dip them in platinum and place them in a luxuriously appointed, gilded cage – oh yeah, not before milking them for every single bit of advice and information you can. And yes, I wrote 'milk' deliberately.

Number Five. Top her up, love! Have you got the bottle for it?

You may find this hard to believe but there exists among us a scurrilous subculture of breastfeeding mums who (OMG) top their kids up with – I struggle to even say the word – formula! I mean, these women actually breastfeed and then supplement their baby's diet with the bottle! The culprits only admit to this scandalous behaviour in hushed tones and with guilt oozing from every pore. And yes, absolutely right, I'm one of them. Trust me , there's no need to feel bad at all, it's perfectly fine. Just like it's fine to feed exclusively from formula if that's your situation. It's your body and it's your baby. So, do what's right for you.

Number Six. Hitting the bottle (Mark I – Baby)

Following on from number five: formula is pretty amazing these days. It's got absolutely everything that your bub needs. My husband was brought up on it decades ago and only occasionally shows signs of well, we don't like to call them problems so much but... :)

Number Seven. Did I ask for your advice?

As you wander through the murky waters of the breastfeeding academy, I guarantee that the advice you receive from friends, family, and complete strangers will conflict with every other piece of superfluous information you've ever heard. Try what you will, but remember to use that nifty thing you got when baby was born, your motherly instinct!

Number Eight. When the going gets tough

Yes, it is possible to endure Olympic-level bouts of mastitis, cracked, blistered and bleeding nipples, under and over-supply, problems latching on etc etc etc ... and still come out at the other end breastfeeding your bambino. But it's no crime or shame if you eventually throw your hands in the air and scream 'enough is enough'! After all, a distressed mummy does not make a happy baby.

Number Nine. Hitting the bottle (Mark II - Mummy)

After a day of baby joy, you are entitled to a bucket glass of your favourite wine. Enjoy... you deserve it. Most of my new mum friends say it's an indispensible part of their routine. And don't I know it!

Number Ten. Take the pressure down

A warm shower or bath is a marvellous tear buster when the going gets tough - and combines well with or immediately preceding point number nine!

So tell me, what has been your experience of breastfeeding your baby that you never read in a book? Leave a comment and let me know.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

On Autumn

I love autumn. As I tweeted recently, it’s by far my fave season. The beautiful Indian summer days, the chilled nights that call for the winter jammies and warm sockie-wockies, sunset-coloured trees and leaves that crinkle and swoosh, inviting you to stamp through the streets without a care with dramatic flair.

But this autumn has near passed me by.


Well, I am a new parent, and not savouring early sunsets over a glass of red as much as I used to. As we know (all too well these days!), with parenthood comes a whole new set of joys and priorities. I have exchanged leisurely conversations for energetic bathtimes, lazy cuddles for exploding nappies and one pot screamers for, well, one pot screamers. Fortunately, I’ve still been able to walk little Morgan in his pram enough to know that autumn is in full bloom.

The problem, though, is this:

Since baby Morgan arrived, and I became a stay-at-home-yummy-stroke-sleep-deprived-mummy-who-works-occasionally-and-also-considers-herself-a-lady-who-lunches-somewhat-sporadically ... well, I’ve become addicted to admin.

You heard me.

Admin. As in, administration.


This from a gal who used to delight in letting her parking tickets pile up until there were enough to start a small bonfire! A gal who had no trouble in waiting until the dishwasher AND the sink were full before putting an exquisitely manicured hand into the dishwater!! A gal who preferred to let the car and the poodle self clean!!!

These days I catch myself eyeing off a glass-top table not unlike a coke addict, except armed with Windex and a roll of extra-absorbent paper towel rather than a tightly rolled C-note. I take the baby and dog for a walk, only to wipe down the pram wheels and dog paws before either are allowed back inside. And I considered for a full minute yesterday whether to start asking people to take off their shoes before entering the house, before realising this was THE DEFINITIVE SIGN that I had lost the plot.

I’m no clean freak now, I mean, who has time with a small, demanding, full-time dictator who must be obeyed? But I feel this anxiety over admin. An all-consuming, OCD-like sense of anxiety.

I jokingly have become known as the ‘Temptress of Admin’ around my house. I call my husband at work to announce triumphantly that the garbage has been collected. I delight in writing letters that challenge and complain about poor service standards. My skin starts to itch when I see a coffee mug mark on a white bench top.

I’ve finally realised though, it has gone beyond a joke when autumn is in her full regalia, Morgan is babbling gorgeously in his pram, Coco is bouncing and wagging alongside as only a poodle can, and I’m too busy considering the pros and cons of vacuuming, tidying or paying bills once I get home to enjoy it all.

And thus, this blog serves a solemn purpose: to invoke the gods of the admin world, exorcise them from what used to be a reasonably educated brain, and get on with enjoying life as it happens.

Here goes...

Away, God of Obsessively Putting Away Clothes!

Begone, Floor Fluff Picking Up Demon!

Disappear, ye evil Bench Top Wiping Behemoth!

Vamoose, thine Pernicious Bathroom Tidying Strumpet!

Stop There, Naughty Goblin Rearranging the Cushions!

You know, we enjoy a golden existence and now have this beautiful baby. I’m all too aware that life is short, and as my dear dad says “it’s a one way trip”. So the last thing I want is to look back on our happiest times and remember an all-pervading sense of anxiety over... well, the everyday. And in the final analysis, does a generous covering of dust on the piano really matter?

I read recently a quote that life is about the moments that take our breath away. Personally, I feel like it’s about those little things that create happiness: a smile and chuckle, little fingers tickling my arm, a big sigh after a job well done, waking from a good night’s sleep and the first sip of a yummy bottle of wine that makes me want to bathe in the stuff.

So, please, may the Temptress of Admin take a long hike and the God of Small Things return? Allow me to take on one task at a time and leave the rest. Most importantly, pretty please, release me from the unattainable ideals of perfection and instead allow me to fully appreciate the small but perfectly formed child we call our own.

Signing off now, as I can hear that Captain Morgan has gurgled himself awake. It’s time to dance cheek-to-cheek with him to jazz tunes until his Daddy arrives home – ignoring the glass tabletops, leaving the rugs unstraightened – just enjoying a little slice of heaven in our lounge room.

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