Thursday, 18 December 2014

Glad Wrap - What Have You Done?

Back in October, I finished a box of cling wrap that my dad had given me. It was 600m of plastic goodness that had wrapped my sandwiches and left-overs for 3 years and 4 months and left me feeling a little empty inside when it was gone. You can read about that here.

After wiping the tears, I advised my parents that the cling wrap was finally finished, only to receive the wonderful news that my dad already had a replacement. He'd been storing it under the bed, waiting for me to finish mine so he could surprise me with another. He's a good man.

The catch? He couldn't get it to me before Christmas. That was a long time to substitute foil and zip lock bags for jobs that clearly weren't theirs. So I bit the bullet and bought some, a modest 100m of Glad Wrap, the real stuff.

And that's when the shit-fight began. Watch:

video


You see, the cutting edge is above the cling wrap. Above. So you  have to pull out the plastic,  then lift it up to tear it. It's at this point that the plastic decides  - EVERY TIME  mind you -  to attach itself TO ITSELF and RUIN YOUR DAY.

My kid's lunches usually get made in the mornings (because I mostly only dream about being that organised that I will have prepared them the night before) which means I'm starting every day with a mother of all battles. And that's before I even start with the children.

Initially I thought it was just me, particularly when I saw the way husband looked at me, all eyebrows raised and lip curled, judging me for my inability to manage a small square of plastic. So I asked him to do it.

HA! COP THAT! He studied it. Oh, did he study it. "We must be doing something wrong," he said. "There must be a trick to it."

No. NO. It's just stupid.

Still, I was concerned that this was just a problem that affected only the two of us. Perhaps we'd lived together so long that we'd absorbed each other's inability to manage simple tasks. That may be fair and even likely, but I know now that we're not alone.

When friends visited last weekend, I let out a little grumble (or a cray-cray wild rant?) when trying to wrap some leftovers in Glad Wrap. What I didn't expect was the support I was about to receive, for they too had been struggling with this stupid bloody thing that destroys lives. Together we raised our glasses and bitched for a good half hour about why this is happening, the  design of the box, the required angle of the arm and the sharp edge versus the slidey-cutter on my previous and much loved 600m box.

I get that there  are different ways to use cling wrap. Yes, you can lay the plastic over a bowl and provided you can stick the wrap to one side before cutting, this usually works well (unless you're trying to stick it to Tupperware or plastic containers.....which is a whole other battle). When you just want to lay a large sheet of it onto the bench to then place your sandwich onto, it's not cool.

It's quite possible there are just four of us who have an issue here and every other human is capable of using this Glad Wrap box with ease and joy.  But I suspect not. I think there could well be an entire nation of us and we will rise. Oh yes, we will.

Which household item ruins your day?

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Why So Many Haters?

Tonight I saw some posts on Facebook that made me feel cranky. Really, really cranky.

A friend of mine experienced some poor service from a well known company and made a complaint via that company's Facebook page.

Well knock me down with a cotton ball if the haters didn't come flooding in with comments that were mindbogglingly mean.  Granted, there were a couple of comments from people who were genuinely trying to help by offering suggestions, but the bulk of responses were from people who seem to think she had no right to complain.

Why? Why is she wrong to complain? She's paid for a service that hasn't delivered. Is it wrong for her to want that rectified because bigger problems exist? On that logic, we'd ignore everything that happens every day, because there's always something bigger or worse going on.

What's so particularly strange about this is how many people felt it was their right to comment in the first place. Seriously, do you care about a random person's complaint to a company that has failed to deliver? Do you care so much that you would not only read the complaint, but then slam that person for raising the issue?

Far out, I'm totally bewildered.

I'm not going to name the company or the details because my friend's problem isn't really my point.

My point is that there are so many rude, nasty and interfering people on Facebook and I just don't understand it. If you don't agree with someone, is it really necessary to respond at all?

I think I need a wine. Comments welcome.

Friday, 28 November 2014

The Mapmaker Chronicles Improved my Life. For Real.

Bedtime. If you have had any involvement in getting kids into bed, you know that this event can make or break you.

Trying to get young children into bed takes planning, persistence, patience and often the promise of a bottle of wine at the other end of the ordeal. Sometimes, just the thought of having to go through the process is enough to make you want to get in your car, reverse like a crazy lady out of the driveway and speed off to the local RSL to watch a Roxette Cover Band because surely, it would be more fun.

Parents, I know you hear me. This is not about children being naughty, or not wanting to spend time with them. It's simply about the time and effort involved here. It's about running a bath and remembering to turn it off before you flood the house. It's about convincing the children to get in; then convincing them to get out. Then realising that no child actually used soap.

It's about putting pyjamas on properly, not wearing them as hats. It's about wet towels on floors and life threatening puddles. It's about brushing teeth. With toothpaste. It's about WHY we go to the toilet before bed. Every freakin' time.

It's about turning off the TV, then turning it back on to ensure unfinished show is recording. It's about all of this while breaking up fights, answering the phone (because who doesn't want telemarketers to call?) and trying, just trying, to not lose your shit. And just when you think it's all over, just as you switch out the lights, one kid announces that they need to wear (currently dirty) sports uniform again the following day because "someone said so".

All of this goes on while you anxiously prepare a mental plan of all the things you have to do once they're finally in bed, a plan that now also includes 38 Facebook posts to determine the validity of the uniform announcement, followed by a panicked and unscheduled washing of the freaking sports uniform.

It is exhausting, but we all do it and over time, we all develop our own routines.

Each night in our house, husband reads with Miss 5 and I read with Master 8. To be fair, this is the calmest part of the bed routine and it's the light at the end of the long, repetitive tunnel.  But getting there is so hard that it can be hard to enjoy it.

Master 8 argues relentlessly every night about what we will read. We've attempted many novels together but frankly, he just can't be arsed sticking with it. It's often because he's seen the movies so there's no surprises (Harry Potter) or he just gets bored. And then it's back to Find-a-Words. There's only so many of these I can enjoy in one week.

In October, however, there was a shift in my house. It came in the form of a book.

Admittedly, I built up a little hype at home by announcing to Master 8 that I had pre-ordered a copy of The Mapmaker Chronicles: Race to the End of the World on my kindle for us to read together.



Was it the title of the book or the fact that I would be sharing my beloved Kindle that took his interest? I don't know, but he was dead keen. And on the day the book came out, we settled into bed and began to read.

After an intriguing discussion with him about the length of the prologue (he was impressed by it; I was impressed that he knew what a prologue was) we found ourselves stretching reading time out by a couple of extra minutes.

The following night, I wandered around the house looking for Master 8 at bedtime, only to discover he was in bed, holding my Kindle, waiting for me. I stared at him with caution, asking "Who are you and what have you done with my son?"

The night after that, my husband came into the room to suggest gently to me that our boy needed to sleep now, so engrossed were we in this book. Son and I whined in unison at the unfairness of "book down, lights out".

Soon Master 8 and I were agreeing to go to bed a bit earlier, so we could get a little more story time in.  And so, with The Mapmaker Chronicles, bedtime became something that we both looked forward to. For those few weeks, there were no arguments about lights out, because neither of us wanted to stop reading!

Why's it so good? Well for starters, it's not a diary or comic strip style book. Nothing against Diary of  a Whimpy Kid or any others like it, it's just that, for me, it was good to enjoy a book with my child without pictures.  A nice change of pace.

The story follows Quinn, a boy with an exceptional gift who has been chosen to take part in a race to map the world. It's an adventure story, with plenty of battle scenes, suspense and rich characters you can really fall in love with, along with some you can loathe.

Master 8 liked Quinn "because he was really smart". My favourite character was Zain. I'm not ashamed to say that I suspect I'd fancy him in real life. Just sayin'....

Whilst A.L.Tait's The Mapmaker Chronicles temporarily improved my life, there was one downfall: we finished it. I entered into that phase of grief that follows the completion of a good book, while Master 8 entered into that phase of repetitively asking "when's the next one out?" followed by "I can't wait to see the movie!"

Thank God it's a 3 book series. It's good knowing there's something on the horizon guaranteed to ease the pain of bedtime.


Do you read with your kids? What are you reading?














Thursday, 27 November 2014

Serial Podcast - I'm Hooked - Get Into It

Serial. Have you heard of it?

This isn't the Cornflake kind, this is the podcast kind. Lost?

OK. There is a podcast called Serial.  Each week, a new episode is released. The story unfolds with each episode, much like watching House of Cards or Ray Donovan.

Only this is a podcast, so you're not watching, you're just listening, much like listening to stories on the wireless back in the day. But you don't need to gather around the big brown box to tune in, because iPhone.

So what's it about? Well, Serial is hosted by Sarah Koenig, an American journalist who is investigating a murder case that took place 15 years ago.

When I first tuned in, I knew nothing about Serial and I actually assumed it was fiction. I quickly started wondering, however, if there was truth behind this story and discovered that yes, there is.

Serial is the story of Sarah's investigations into a case that seems to have a lot of loose ends, even though a man has been in jail for the last 15 years, serving a life sentence for murder.

Is he innocent? We don't know. I'm eight episodes in, completely and utterly hooked and dying of suspense to know how this is going to pan out.

But the reality is, we may never know. Apparently, Sarah doesn't know yet - it's an ongoing investigation. Unlike a murder mystery movie or novel, this  may not have an ending, certainly not one that will satisfy.

And yet I can't stop listening and I can't stop forming opinions about what I think SHOULD happen.

This is the first podcast of this kind that I've ever listened to. In fact, I didn't even know there was such a thing until a friend mentioned it to me last week. Since then, I've looked forward to going to work, just so I can tune in to the podcast in the car.

I wouldn't have thought I could listen to something like this without getting utterly bored or distracted by something, anything, shiny. The experience has been quite the opposite, though, as I find myself involved with the characters and praying for Sarah to keep digging, to not give up as you can't listen to her findings and not doubt this guy's guilt.

If he's guilty, sucked in. Do your time, you deserve it.

But what if he's not? What if this guy who has been in prison for nearly half his life, simply didn't do it? Imagine.

Serial. Tune in. Give it a go. It's free (for now at least; I got it from iTunes) and might allow you to join a conversation because I suspect plenty of people will be talking about it.


Are you listening?

Thursday, 20 November 2014

One Good Reason Why You Should ALWAYS Read the School Notes

Wow, this morning was a close call.

I'm usually up and out of bed at 7am, although the hour  prior to that is mostly pretending to sleep while listening to my children argue over any bloody thing they can think of.

I'd had a rough night's sleep (I blame the dog) and because my kids chose today to NOT argue, I didn't wake up until 7:30am. At this point, I joked with my kids that we needed to panic because Mummy had slept in. (7:30am = sleep in. Tragic.)

Husband surfaced and announced he had to go. He knew I was behind the eight-ball (no lunches were made, nobody had eaten breakfast, uniforms weren't out, we were all still in our PJs and everyone was in  slow-mo mode) and offered to help before he left.

I  knew he had to get going, so I said no, I'll be fine. (I actually said "Go. Stop distracting me" but what I meant was "Can you do all this while I go for a walk?").

Just before he walked out the door, I asked him to read Miss 5's school excursion note in case there was something random in there that I needed to know.

That was the smartest thing I've done all day because Miss 5 had to be AT SCHOOL by 8am. It was 7:49am.

Husband and I stared at one another for a split second, each of us thinking "it's her first excursion and we've stuffed it" and then flew into action.

My usually hopeless memory told me EXACTLY where to find each item of required clothing and, after taking the grilled cheese and tomato toast out to cool (which I had earlier agreed to make for her in a blase, yeah-it's-Friday way), proceeded to prepare a full lunch box in record time. A cheese and ham wrap and....well to be honest, I don't know what else went in there, it's all a blur now, but let's just assume it was low GI, high fibre super foods.

Master 8 was summoned to help and to his credit, he did just that without complaint. I must remember to put something that's not a high fibre, low GI super food in his next lunch box.

At 7:55am, she was dressed,  groomed and ready to go. I couldn't help  myself. I let out a "See how quickly you can do it when you try?"  Even I hated me at that moment.

We said our goodbyes and husband and Miss 5 left. It was then that I walked back into the kitchen, about to give myself a much deserved high-five when I saw her toast sitting on the bench.

THIS IS WHERE I'D NORMALLY SHOW YOU A PHOTO OF THE TOAST BUT AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR DAT.

You do NOT want to be around this child when she's hungry.  Seriously, love her to death but "unreasonable" is the only delicate and acceptable term to describe her when she needs food. This toast was her breakfast. She had not eaten since the night before. This excursion to the zoo was unlikely to end well; I had visions of my daughter fighting a monkey for half a banana. She would win.

So I ran, bra-less I might add, down the driveway, waving a folded slice of cheese and tomato toast in the air like a crazy woman,  desperate to feed my child before she arrived at school. I heard the Chariots of Fire music crescendo as the window came down, the little fingers reached out and the toast went seamlessly into her mouth in one swift move.

I turned to see Mr 8 standing at the front door, nodding approval. Job well done Turners, job well done.

Then I went inside and saw her other slice of toast on the bench.

It was too early for wine.

Is this kind of panic typical in your household?

Thursday, 13 November 2014

How Wine and Facebook Led 4 Women to Coastrek 2015

This is a shout-out to 4 women I know who are doing something cool.

One Friday night, whilst relaxing on their respective lounges with a glass of wine in one hand and preferred device for Facebooking in the other, they made a collective decision.

I'm not sure if it was the wine, the mood, or the "good cause" that seduced them, but somehow, they all agreed to take part in a frighteningly long walk to raise money for the Fred Hollows Foundation.

This is no walk in the park, people. We're talking 55kms here. Fifty-five kilometers.

Just take a minute to consider that distance.

Do you know how long that would take?

We're talking somewhere between 12 and 15 hours, assuming you're keeping a decent pace and, the clincher, you're fit and prepared.

Now think about what you normally do in 12 to 15 hours. I'm tipping you would dress yourself and the little ones, make 3 - 5 meals for yourself (and family), you would eat these meals (fresh, organic, grain fed of course), perhaps do an hour of exercise, drive the kids to and from school, work, do two loads of washing plus dishes, bath the kids, help with homework, make a few phone calls, check in every hour on Facebook and watch Modern Family.

Now imagine WALKING for all that time. Oh. My. God.

One of the people in this photo is not in Team Red and White


Sydney Coastrek, raising money to restore site to people who are needlessly blind, will take place on March 6, 2015. This is 112 days from today. Now I don't know about you, but I certainly couldn't get up tomorrow and walk 55kms. Well, maybe if Season 3 of Ray Donovan was waiting for me at the other end I'd make it, but otherwise, no.

So that means training. Lots and lots of training. Over the past couple of months, these amazing women, now affectionately known as Team Red and White (yep, it all comes back to the wine) have adjusted their schedules and reworked their existing exercise routines to prepare for this event. And man, have they been working hard.

It's not just the fitness work, either. This is a fund raising exercise, so there are hours and hours of behind the scenes activities going on to help raise money, not just from friends and relatives but from the whole local community.

There's a Facebook page where you can follow the journey and get some great insights into how the girls are travelling: Team Red and White Facebook Page

There's also a blog written by one member whose involvement in Sydney Coastrek 2015 has led to personal changes that will ultimately shape her future into one of sustainable health and fitness. This is a great read and I really recommend checking it out: fatgirlcan

Apparently, 4 out of 5 people who are blind don't need to be. Team Red and White are doing what many of us, including me, just talk about. They are actively working to raise money to support this fabulous cause and believe me, it's a big deal.

If you wish to support the girls in their quest to raise funds for the Fred Hollows Foundation, you can do so here: Sponsor Team Red and White

Or tonight, when you're relaxing on the lounge with a wine and your iPad, stop by their Facebook page and leave some words of encouragement for them. I'm sure they'd love to receive it.



Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Veggie Growing. It's Not That Hard!

We are sooooo sustainable.

Not really, but it's such a buzz word. We are doing our little bit though.

Husband made a veggie patch last year. This is what it first looked like:

 
Our first crop. 
From that first crop, we ate (albeit  in small quantities) cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce and spinach. As the  cooler weather came on there were peas too and the spinach just kept on coming!  We learnt that if you just break off the leaves, it grows more. Cop that Coles. 



We had a lot of fun and although we didn't exactly fill our plates for 3 months with food, we did get a decent crop for our first go. We learned a lot too, like how much space certain plants take up (and the fruit to space ratio) and how many of each plant you need.

We are hesitant to turn our entire yard into working land, but we did make the decision to give up a little more grass recently.

Those rocks came out of there. Not good.
When husband first dug this, I immediately thought grave, followed by too shallow. But we had no bodies to dispose of and I knew it wasn't meant for me (he's got it too good, my man) so I moved on to the fact that I'm a Virgo, and this plot was NOT PARALLEL TO THE FREAKING FENCE.

Having watched husband dig this out with nothing other than a shovel on an unusually hot day, however, I let it go. Until now. Cue witch-cackle-laugh.

Anyway,  all jazzed up with stuff growing in it, the lack of symmetry is no longer visible or important. Lucky for him. Check it out:

Don't be fooled by the fence. The bitch can jump that in a heartbeat. And did.


We will have tomatoes coming out of our tomatoes and I can't wait. On top of that, the original garden bed is now filled with beans (which we are eating daily), carrots, strawberries (not doing it for me though) and more lettuce. The back corner is another (self-sown) tomato plant and two citrus trees.


Spot the tomato

I must buy some hemp clothing because we are so hippy.

Do you grow stuff?


Thursday, 6 November 2014

The Storm in Review - How the Dog Ended Up ON MY DESK.

I know, I know, you're sick of hearing about a staffie called Lucy who freaks out in a storm.

Just one more?

I thought I'd take you through a quick sequence of events that I managed to capture on film a couple of days ago.

One may argue that I could have put the camera down and comforted the dog.

Apart from the fact that this was way more entertaining and gave me something to talk about afterwards, I should assure you that it wouldn't have worked. She can't actually get close enough to me in these stormy situations. It's simply not possible and her constant attempts end in anger and sometimes injury (to both of us). So I just watched her instead.

Storm's-a-brewing, so singlet goes on. Her expression is judgemental, like the storm is my fault.

Thunder. It's coming, Human. It's coming.

It's getting closer. She starts fretting and pushes her way past my legs, under my desk. She is squashed in a space that's not quite big enough for chair, human feet and chunky dog. She rubs her nose on my knee, dribbles down my leg and sits on my feet. It's not enough.

If I can just climb onto that lap.....

Lap access is denied and the skies begin to rumble loud enough for my own ears to hear it. Lucy scrambles out from under the desk, huffing and puffing with distress. There's a flash in the sky and she does her best meerkat impersonation before deciding she must see more. It's petrifying, but she MUST SEE MORE.

Oh, I can see a ball....down there, in the yard....Oh Shit, thunder.
I roused on her to get down. She knows the rules about being on the furniture but a momentary lapse of reason is expected in these circumstances. Eleven years of storms has taught us this.

The whole thunder/lightning thing erupted and then it was all on. There was a fury of lounge hopping and chair jumping and an attempt to leap from the lounge onto my back. That was fun.

When she realised that my shoulders were not an accessible or acceptable landing pad, quick thinking led to a total brain explosion on her part.

Maybe human will think twice next time before telling me "it's OK". Idiot.
Yes, that is the 24kg dog, wearing a singlet, sitting on my desk. Old and arthritic maybe, but she can still jump.

Bitch.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

I Just Want to Write About Kevin Spacey

Kevin Spacey. Yep. Kevin. Spacey.

I've always liked him as an actor. How could you not? He was unforgettable in The Usual Suspects (I'm still scared of Keyser Soze) and, let's face it, shone in everything else he ever did.

Rocks my World
Did you see K-PAX? Now that's a slightly strange movie where Spacey plays the role of a man who claims to be from another planet. He did well. Really well. I think he may actually be from another planet.

He seemed to lay low for a while after K-PAX, although that might be more about me having children and devoting all my attention to The Wiggles for 5 years straight. I can't say.

What I can say is: House of Cards. Quality. Seriously, that's a top notch show. If you're already watching, you know what I'm talking about. If you're not, stop what you're doing and get on board. Like my rant about Ray Donovan a month or two ago, I promise you, House of Cards is worth the investment. Ridiculously good.

It was this week, however, that Kevin Spacey became the number one man in my guys-who-are-tots-cool book. Behind Dave Grohl of course, so I guess that makes Spacey number two, but let's not get caught up in semantics.

Why? He impersonated other celebrities on The Tonight Show. Look, I'm a simple girl and easily impressed, what can I say? It was this five minute clip I caught online yesterday that made my day and impressed me so much that here I am writing about it 24 hours later!

If you want to see it, here's a link:
Wheel of Impressions on The Tonight Show

So, tonight when you're thanking God or the universe for everything that's good in your life, maybe think about adding Kev to your list. He brings us joy.


Who's rocked your world lately?

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Is This Your Washing Story?

Washing. I've calculated recently that I average about 10 loads a week. Any wonder I had to abandon my colour-coding peg thing. It's crazy.

I'm quite sure many of you would would have even more loads in a week. You just need a change in weather, a short family holiday or have ONE spill or bed-wetting episode and BOOM. You're surrounded by it. It grows before your eyes and it is NEVER all done. EVER.

I wonder though if this anomaly applies to anyone else: my own clothes are outnumbered 20:1. Husband and two young children make up 95% of the clothes that go through our wash. I'm not kidding, for every 100 items of clothing I wash, hang, fold and put away, only 5 would be mine.

Maths skills aside, what does this mean? Are my clothes just always dirty? Am I naked more often than them? No, I don't think so. Well maybe a little but not enough to justify these stats.

If I take a step back and think about it, it's fairly obvious:

  • Jeans. I  wear them often, wash them rarely. They don't get dirty. Really. Don't judge me. 
  • Shirts. I work in an office. It's air conditioned. I can get through most days without sweating OR dropping food on myself. Kids and husband can't compete here.
  • Makeup - I don't wear it often so rarely face the problem of smearing it on my clothes when changing. An upside to looking boring (but recently countered by wearing heels).
  • Cooking - I avoid it as a rule, meaning less spills.
  • As the primary laundry worker in our house, I also think more about what I'm putting into the wash, whereas other family members will throw something in to avoid the effort of putting it away. Sound familiar?
Anyway, washing drivel aside, I really had an "awwww" moment about this:


Miss 5's pile, Master 8's pile and Lucy's pile.



My staffie has her own washing pile. My life is complete.


How many loads do you do? Do you wash something just in case it's dirty?


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Week I Wear Heels Is The Week They Die

Gimme a break!

I don't wear heels often. I'm not gawk-at tall, not even noticeably tall (thanks more to my terrible posture than my actual measurements) but I am on the tall side. Consequently, heels have always made me feel like I don't fit. Literally. Like I'm going to bump my head on a low hanging pendant light.

The dress code at work is smart casual and let me tell you, it's a very loose use of the terms "smart" and "casual". It's almost anything goes.

So with my bumping-head paranoia and the lack of need to dress up, I just don't bother too often.

Until this week.

When I got dressed on Monday, for some reason I decided the outfit called for heels. Strange, since I wear the same things day in and day out, but I went with the epiphany.

What these? Just a little something I picked up in France, darling.

Everybody noticed and it felt good. Just a simple "you look nice" goes a bloody long way these days! Concerned that boss may think I was going for a job interview at lunch time, I decided I should back it up the next day. I seriously doubted he'd think I had TWO job interviews.

Tuesday got heels as well and, as hoped, I felt good. It's weird, but the heels seem to make me walk a little taller and also seem to remind me to suck in my gut. It's just one juicy benefit after another.

Imagine my horror, then, when I come across an article online ON TUESDAY stating that heels are dead. They're out. No more. Fashion is The Flat. The sensible, comfortable flat shoe that has dominated my life for decades is now in. THE DAY I DECIDE TO EMBRACE THE HEEL.

Pfft.

Well call me crazy, but I'm going to ignore this fashion news I stumbled across and not just because I'm not a fan of the Birkenstock look.

Am I going to wear heels everyday? God, no. I'll be lucky if this "heels make me feel good" phase lasts till the weekend, but I'm not giving them up just because someone else said I should. No way. I'm no slave to fashion (those who know me will sadly back me up there). I'll continue to choose my shoes based on ceiling height, occasion and. most importantly, state of toenails.

What's your position on heels?

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

My Strange Invisible Neighbour

It's been 4 years since we moved into our house. We love where we live and we're glad everyday that we made the decision to move to Sydney's south. It's just a typical residential street with neighbours in every direction, even where the waterfront view is supposed to be.

Something, however, is weird.

Our next door neighbours (on one side, not both, for that would be creepy enough to move out) are practically invisible.

Since moving in, I shit you not, I have seen them less than a dozen times. In fact, if I really thought about it, it's probably more like 8 or 9 sightings. Way less than Big Foot.

During the 4 years, these neighbours have had two babies. I made the awkward effort to visit the first one and I did not glimpse that child for at least another 12 months. Our windows are only a few meters from each other, but I never heard that baby cry. Ever.

I've heard the second baby cry on several occasions, but have never  seen it. I say it because I don't know if child two is a boy or a girl.

We see the neighbours on the other side at least once a week, usually loading into our cars in the mornings. I see the neighbours  across the street almost daily, sometimes twice a day, so in sync are our activities. But low-talkers to our left? Never.

I do not think something sinister is going on. They seem (from the annual encounters we've had) like decent, normal people. Their child (the 3 times I have seen her) seems perfectly happy and they even went out of their way once to tell us we'd left our car's headlights on. Thanks friendly neighbour!

Strangely, I can only deduce that their times of  residential  departure and arrival are COMPLETELY different to ours. So different that it's uncanny. They never leave home between 8 and 9am on a weekday, never arrive home around 3:30pm or around 6pm and they obviously put their garbage bins out at 3am when we're usually asleep. Usually. (Once a year or so, husband and I forget we're not 20 anymore, go out, get blind rotten drunk and roll home around 3am, but clearly that's never on bin night.)

It doesn't bother me; I'm not upset that we haven't forged a lifelong friendship (especially since they don't own a pool!) but I just simply think it's weird.

Do you?

Monday, 27 October 2014

Cling Wrap - From Dad with Love

In 2011, my Dad gave me a present.

He bought it at Aldi on the Gold Coast, packed it into his check-in luggage and brought it to Sydney.

He was impressed with the gift, saying he'd got himself one as well and advised in a manner not to be argued with that it was imperative to write down the date on which I opened it.

So I did. I marked the present "Opened Friday June 24, 2011".

I am sad to say that as of today, the present no longer exists. I am left with the box, a mere shell of what was once the most practical and well planned gifts of all time:

600m of Cling Wrap
That's right. Cling wrap. 600m of the stuff.

Husband wasn't convinced when this little baby first made it's way into the kitchen. It's too heavy, he said. It's too big, he said. He was right, it was both of those things. We had to rethink where we stored the cling wrap and we had to take caution, using both hands to retrieve it from it's resting place for wrist safety.

He came around, however. He grew to love giant cling wrap just as much as I did and learnt to share my joy and awe as we passed each 6 month milestone.

"It's been 2 years, husband. 2 YEARS. And it just keeps on giving." Oh how we laughed.

Today, I have mixed feelings. I'm yet to break the news to Dad that the party has finally come to an end. I'm at a bit of a loss as to my replacement strategy and I'm also a bit disgusted by the realisation that our family unit has used 600 meters of dolphin choking evil.

Is that bad? Is 600m in 3 years, 4 months a lot? Or do other households crank through one of these puppies in a few months? Do I feel ashamed or proud? I don't know. These are the big issues that plague me.

What do you think?






Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The DIY Window Fix You Didn't See Coming

Do you ever come up with really shonky ways to fix something in your house to avoid getting it actually fixed?

I bet you do. Everyone does. It might look bad, it might even cost you more money in the long run, but you just can't be arsed dealing with it properly.

Well we do. I wish things were different, but they're not. So I hold my head high and be proud of our collective resourcefulness.

Here's an example.

Some time ago, Mr 8 (who was probably Mr 7 at the time) sent football spiralling into the window of our bathroom. This bathroom is small, housing just a toilet. The original toilet from the '70s I might add, with a fabulous powder-blue seat that perfectly matches the original wall and floor tiles.

The window was essentially two frosted-glass panels that sat one behind the other so that there was a permanent opening. It broke, very stylishly, creating a half moon shaped opening in the top section.


The room needs complete renovating, (despite the picture I may have painted of it earlier), so we were reluctant to get the window repaired when we really want to get it replaced. On top of that, it was summer at the time, so we didn't really care. The window had never actually sealed anyway, so there was no increase in creepy-crawlies and the breeze was quite pleasant.

When winter hit, however, things changed. Namely the weather. That little gap sent a gusty, icy wind blowing up the hallway, caused the door to slam and forced a really tough decision between urinating and staying warm.

Husband fixed it and not the old fashioned way. No, no, no. There was no glass needed here. A beach towel and a ruler ought to do it.

You too can try this if you're lucky enough to have a window that's older than you. 

I was impressed.

"Nice work," I said, patting him on the back while he looked around to see if anything else needed fixing.

Why did I choose  this example to show you?

It's been close to six months since the installation of the towel/ruler combo but I'm afraid this weekend, I must request some additional work from husband. It's heating up in Sydney you see, enough to go swimming during the day, but the nights are still quite cold.

So this weekend's project is to remove the towel, making it available for more traditional towel duties and replacing it with a blanket, who's usefulness is coming to an end.

I look forward to the day when we finally get it fixed, you know, for real by a tradesperson. But until then, I like the splash of colour it adds to our loo.

Got a shonky fix-it story to share?

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Topic Challenge - Week 5 - Thunder

Thanks Fiona for this week's topic challenge, thunder.

If you're in Sydney, you know what I'm talking about. For those who aren't, let me explain.

Last night, Sydney copped the mother of all storms. We're talking hours of thunder, lightning, gusty winds and rain coming out of our rain.

It was so miserable, our tap dancing teacher cancelled our class. That's right. I do tap dancing. Let's park that for another day, eh?

The kids handled it pretty well. They didn't get scared, just a little hyped up as kids always seem to get in a storm. I think it's the thrill of loud random noises that Mum can't simply turn down.

So the kids were OK, and we were OK. In fact, we were more than OK because Ray Donovan. More on that another day.

You know where this is going, don't you? Yes. The dog. The bloody dog. She was manic. She was inside the house and constantly reassured by humans, but it wasn't enough. Thunder is simply dog's nemesis.



I found her on my bed pillows, squashed between the bed and the wall. I was thankful she wasn't on the bed (let's remember this isn't a cutesy, fit in your handbag kind of dog) but not happy with the scene by any means. Still, I let it go.

That wasn't good enough though. We got distracted by TV (it happens) and were unaware that she'd found a better place in my bedroom. Bitch was inside the washing basket, laying on the clean, folded washing. We swore.

At bed time, we pondered our predicament. Outside was not an option. We could leave her in her usual inside spot, under the stairs Harry Potter style, but we feared she'd take herself onto new lounge and sign her own special injection notice.

When I caught her trying to jump onto Miss 5's bed, I knew I had to take drastic action. So we made her a little washing basket hideout in our bedroom and politely asked her to fit her fat arse inside it so we could go to bed.

Naturally, she played us. If the humans are prepared to go to trouble here, I'll see how far I can push it. I'll pretend I can't fit in there any more. I'll pretend I grew last minute.

Bitch ended up with a beautiful, coastal themed pillow bed with canopy right next to yours truly. I couldn't wait to view the countless number of 1cm long hairs on my spare pillows in the morning. She got comfy, and she slept. Husband and I drifted off. Peace.

Until she farted.

It may have been 8 degrees, but we slept with the ceiling fan on high, recreating the outside chaos in our own room.

Husband still cranky.


Do you break the dog rules in a storm? And is your house still in one piece today?

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Topic Challenge - Week 4 - Goosebumps

This is the fourth blog post in my series "Topic Challenge". Each week, my friend Fiona is submitting a topic which I have agreed to cover in my blog. This week, the topic is goosebumps.


Goosebumps. Cold, shivers, freaky stuff. That's what comes to mind. Who doesn't love a good goosebumpy story?

We've all heard many over the years, some are much creepier or freaky than others, but even the pure coincidence stories can give me a little bit of chicken skin. The best ones are often those that have happened to yourself or to someone close to you, rather than the "I know a guy who knows a girl who's mother's brother blah blah blah". Closer to home is easier to believe, even if it's not as juicy.

So I dipped into my memory to pull out a couple of personal stories that have given me goosebumps over the years. They're not the freakiest things I've ever heard, but they're true. I hope the thrill isn't lost in the delivery!

THE GHOST OF BOYFRIEND'S PLACE

When husband was still boyfriend, he lived in a unit in Randwick, Sydney. Some unexplained things went on there. Nothing scary, just weird. It was as if a classic prankster ghost was sharing the apartment. Here's a snapshot:

  • Boyfriend steps into shower, turns on water. It sprays directly into face because shower rose has been turned up - defying gravity.  I was the only other person in the unit. I got blamed for it and whilst I WISHED I had done it, I didn't. Very cool prankster ghost did it.
Reenactment


  • Eight tea-light candles lined up along window sill at night time. Candle 3 is on floor directly in front of window sill in the morning. The window was not open; the other candles were not disturbed. After conducting numerous tests (pushing candle 3 off window sill and watching it roll away every time), we could only conclude that it had NOT fallen or been pushed off the sill by a mouse or any other logical culprit. It had been removed from the sill and placed on the floor by very cool prankster ghost.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Dog Shaming - Lucy's Bean Digging.

She's been at it again. It was no real shock, but that doesn't make it any less painful.

Husband planted beans. There were 9 to start with. They were not magic beanstalks. This was disappointing because I think geese are funny and golden eggs are always useful.

Magic aside, we were excited about future beans. I could hardly wait to top and tail them, pop them in the microwave and forget all about them while family ate green-free dinner.  Seriously though, we were hoping to eat these ones.

Then this.


How guilty does she look? Very. She knew. She was just hoping we'd blame, oh I don't know, a large bird wearing paw shoes? 

There are now 5 plants left, one of which is in the critical ward. 

Her punishment was to pose for this next shot. I fear, however, she is growing used to the camera, enjoying the negative attention. It's like she understands her role in this game.



She also got a bath for her trouble. Lucy doesn't like baths. Perhaps that will make her stop and think next time.

Maybe, just maybe, she feels her diet is lacking the goodness of fresh vegetables? If that's the case, I'd like to point out that her diet would be much better if she stopped eating her bed.

Do you have a dog shame story to share?



Thursday, 2 October 2014

Can You Save These Forgotten Paintings?

There's a little corner in my house where paintings go to learn their fate. A painting purgatory if you like. They're far from finished but I'm not quite willing to give up on them yet.

Some are  recent additions, while others have been there for over a year. Will they ever receive another stroke of paint? Or will they find themselves on the next council cleanup pile? It's the not knowing that's the hardest.

I thought I'd share them (most of them) with you. My hope is that making them public will help me decide to either push forward or cut my losses. For those that fall into the push forward pile, I also hope to find the motivation to finish them sooner rather than later.

So please, leave a comment with your opinion and if the decision is to finish them, I hope to show you a finished painting before the end of the year.

1. TURTLE

Turtle


Poor turtle was the first to enter painting purgatory and probably the least likely to hit the rubbish pile. But it needs a lot and I lost my groove with it. Save the turtle?

2. PURPLE SKY

Purple Sky

Don't be deceived. This painting is tiny, roughly 10 x 30cm. You can probably see where it was going but to avoid the awkwardness,  it was a panoramic beach scene at sunset. Just not sure if it's worth the effort.


3. ANOTHER PEAR
Another Pear

If you're familiar with my other fruit paintings, they're a little more expressive than this. I think I got confused by the attempt at realism and bored with the lack of big fat brush strokes. Meh.

4. IT'S A BOAT

It's a boat (that big white blob)

I have seriously mixed feelings here and already have a number of different painting styles on the canvas. I was trying to be fancy pants with a pallet knife and, well, no. So much work needed. I think the end result could be very different to how it started.


5. BORING

Boring

I love the water but it's dull. There was originally going to be a lone person walking up the beach but....I don't know. Definitely no flamingos though!


I'd love to know what you think, so please leave a comment on the blog or on Facebook to save these paintings from the torture of painting purgatory.





Monday, 29 September 2014

Topic Challenge - Week 3 - Glue

This is the third blog post in my series "Topic Challenge". Each week, my friend Fiona is submitting a topic which I have agreed to cover in my blog. This week, the topic is glue.


I'm now questioning my friendship with Fiona. What am I supposed to do with glue? Pft.

When I was given the topic of glue, I was a little stumped. I am not opinionated on the topic of glue. But, even things to which we are indifferent evoke thoughts and memories. These are the first three that came to my mind:

1. Perkins Paste. Remember that? Damn, that stuff smelt good. Here's a pic to get you all nostalgic:

Can you smell it? I can practically taste it. What I didn't realise until I went searching for this image (or perhaps I've forgotten?) is that kids actually used to eat this stuff. Eat it. You know, a little for the cut out shapes, a little for the tongue. Maybe that's why I feel like I can almost taste it? Non Toxic - a small gift from the heavens.

My clearest memory of using Perkins Paste is, at the age of probably 3 or 4, cutting out little suns off some biscuit packaging and sticking them onto a piece of paper while my mum watched Days of Our Lives. I suspect they were not safety scissors (because kids were allowed to get hurt in the '70s). Good times.


2. Clag. I think it was the early '80s part of my brain that brought Clag to front and centre. This guy had a brush, not just a plastic stick to apply the glue. I remember feeling I'd hit the big time with this gear.



3. Mike Willesee.

I recall, as a very young person, watching TV with my parents. Well, to be fair, they were watching and I was in the room because one TV! Mike Willesee interviewed a guy who'd been sniffing glue and as a result, couldn't do the fly up on his jeans.

Yep, that's what I remember. It's possible that the guy had been sniffing petrol. He may not have been sniffing anything. Perhaps he was smoking joints for breakfast? Or too much acid? It may not have been Mike Willesee on the TV at all. How could I really know? It was a long time ago and I've had a lot of wine since then.

Point is, when someone mentions glue, I see a sorry looking guy on a very old TV with a piece of string connecting his fly to his finger. The soundtrack to this memory is my Dad's classic tsk, which, incidentally, is the soundtrack to most of my childhood. Even friends may be haunted by my Dad's tongue clicking. He still does it, by the way.

So, Fiona, that's it. Glue, short and sweet. I thought I'd get stuck with this one; it was hard to adhere to the rules. But my agreement with Fiona is binding, so thanks for sticking with me.


What's the first thing that comes to your mind in response to "glue"?










Tuesday, 23 September 2014

8 Signs of Summer

I love summer. Long, warm days; eating dinner outside. Not wearing 27 layers of clothing. Love it.

The good news? It's getting closer. I can practically taste it. In fact, today, I got such a summer feeling when I left the office at lunch time without a jacket (crazy lady that I am) that I began thinking about the things that are specific to summer. Here's a short list:

  1. Walking around the house barefoot. It's time everyone got a glimpse of my stunning size tens again.
    These may or may not be my feet. (Go Roosters)
  2. Hosing  my children. You get shamed for doing it in winter. Seriously, watching them run away from the water just 2 seconds after begging me to hose them is just plain fun.
    Miss 5 running from hose last summer.
  3. Having water-balloon fights. Closely  related to point 2, but with bombs. And if you recall my recent post about Zuru's Bunch O Balloons, this one's only going to get better.
    Fill 100 in less than a minute. Bring it on.
  4. Sand in the bed. Not good. It's a mystery how it happens, but you've got to take the good with the bad. No image necessary.
  5. Early morning and late afternoon beach trips. The best way to avoid the parking hassles and the sunburn. 
    Good times.
  6. Cold, cold beer. Enough said. But I'll give you a picture anyway. Mmmmm....
  7. Swimmers and towels on the line all the time. We don't even have a pool! (refer points 2 and 3)
  8. The feeling that you're on holidays but you're not. You're just outside late wearing holiday clothes. Bummer.
What does summer mean to you?

 

Monday, 22 September 2014

Topic Challenge - Week 2 - Stack Wine

This is the second blog post in my series "Topic Challenge". Each week, my friend Fiona is submitting a topic which I have agreed to cover in my blog. This week, the topic is stack wine. So, here we go.

If you're like me, the first question was "Huh? What's that?"

Google was quick to sort me out and, I suspect, suck me in. For I see Stack Wines in my future.

To answer the question I assume you're still asking (if you haven't left for Google already), Stack Wine is wine that comes in stemless glasses, each with it's own lid, stacked on top of one another in a shape similar to a regular bottle of wine. 

Why?

So you can take it to your picnic, friend's place, party (or just into your bedroom if you want to - I'm not judging) without the need to also take glasses or a bottle opener (if you've somehow managed to buy yourself a bottle with a ....what are they called again? Cork?).

Here's what they look like:


I love any idea that makes wine easier.
Is it really that hard to pack glasses? Yeah, sometimes. I'll admit, my picnic-with-wine days are few and far between, but when they happen, this will be my solution. It's a great gift coming into summer. That was a hint.

Unfortunately, however, I don't think it's available in Australia. These little beauties come from the US but they're not currently supplying here. 

Do you know where to buy Stack Wines in Australia? Please help the rest of us if you do!



Thursday, 18 September 2014

It's a Big Day for Small Reasons

Today is the last day of Term 3 and the kids now have a well earned 2 week break.

Regardless of the difficulty of managing school holidays (the ol' 12 weeks off school vs 4 weeks off work chestnut), there's more to school  holidays than simply getting more time with your kids (I may or may not be smirking as I write that).

Here is a short list of the benefits of school holidays for me and my family:

  1. Not stressing about having fresh enough bread to make lunches.
  2. Not stressing about having something nut free to go on the just fresh enough bread.
  3. Not chopping up fruit and vegetables at 7:30am for lunch boxes, knowing there's a solid chance you'll be throwing them out that evening because "I forgot to eat it".
  4. No homework to follow up on.
  5. Not having to locate, read, sign and return notes (knowing that the process can fall down at any one of these steps).
  6. Not having to remember which uniform they need to wear. And then realising the one you need is wet. Or simply missing.
  7. Not having to locate and pack books, coins, drink bottles, hats, jumpers and "special projects".
  8. No "special projects".

And these are just some of the choice phrases I won't be throwing around as often over the next two weeks:

  • Get dressed.
  • Eat your breakfast. Now. 
  • Why aren't you dressed?
  • Tuck your shirt in.
  • Put your tie on.
  • Where's your lunch box? 
  • Where's your hat?
  • Brush your teeth (I'll still say that (maybe) but with a little less urgency).
  • Pack your bag.
  • Why aren't you dressed?
  • Move your bag.
  • GET DRESSED.
  • Do you have your hat?
  • MOVE your bag.
  • Put your pyjamas away.
  • When was the last time you saw your hat?
  • It's the rule, deal with it.
  • If you'd put your shoes away in your shoe box, you would be able to find them now.
  • No you can't have a lunch order. Because I actually have fresh bread!

I'm exhausted.

When the kids return for Term 4, they do so in summer uniform. This is considerably easier to manage. No ties, for starters. Damn those things. (Mr 8's is the ready knotted version on elastic. Of course, Mr 8 decided to undo that knot and believe me, trying to re-tie them is like trying to refold a 3m x 3m map in a wind storm. It ain't happening.) 


So I'm rejoicing in the holidays for now, but experience tells me that I'm not sure the joy will last for the full two weeks. I dare say in a few days time I'll be pointing out all the benefits of kids going back to school. You know what I'm talking about.


What do you love about school holidays?


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Topic Challenge - Week 1 - Socks.

This is the first official blog post in my series "Topic Challenge". Each week, my friend Fiona is submitting a topic which I have agreed to cover in my blog. This week, the topic is socks. So, here we go.


I'd like to think that there will be fewer pairs of socks going through the wash as we move towards summer.

Like most in these parts, my family share a love for thongs and even bare feet in the warmer months. In fact, I've had many (infuriating) experiences in recent years of my kids leaving the house with nothing on their feet only for me to discover this at the "we're here" part of our journey.

But alas, while husband continues to wear boots to work (that require socks) and school's still a happening thing, socks will continue to move through the laundry cycle at a rate of stupid to one.

Now I am NOT a go-to girl for practical household suggestions or life hacks. Know that I am barely keeping above water in the flood that is my life. My version of cutting corners and saving time is, more often than not, simply not doing. Or at least, not doing as often as I know I should. Pft.

If you consult the webisphere on matters such as "how to avoid losing socks in the wash" you will come up with perfectly sound suggestions such as:

Courtesy of Lifehacker.com - Clip them together before putting them in the wash

A great  idea but it's not for me. That implies that I have even the smallest idea of what's going into a load and the energy and forethought to organise it. Nope.

I deal with the sock void like this:

  1. Wherever possible, I buy the same socks. This increases the chances of matching clean socks. This is acceptable because socks are boring anyway.
  2. Odd socks are put into the sock owner's drawer without the mate. Crazy, but eventually the mate gets put in as well. And then, one day, someone (OK, let's stop pretending it's anyone other than me) notices sock soul mates that need help reuniting and voila, a pair is born.
  3. My kids sort the socks (and undies, face washers, tea towels and pyjamas) and are charged with matching them up and identifying whose drawer they belong in. This has removed me from the painful process of matching whilst teaching my kids that washing sucks. I mean, that washing is part of our life and we must all contribute to the running of a household.

Lastly, I'd like to point out how efficient it would be to use the spelling sox rather than socks. I realise this poses a problem when referring to the singular sock. And I'm not Dr Seuss so.....socks. (And blocks and rocks and clocks.)

Are socks ruining your life?  Do you have a sock system we should know about?

Monday, 15 September 2014

Dog Dress Ups - Perfect for Stormy Weather

Ever wonder what goes on at home when you're not there? Well husband just sent me a photo of what's happening at my place:


It seems, from this image, that husband and staffie are playing dress-ups. Intriguing.

Staffie's been part of the dress up game before. As you can tell by her expression, she loves it, especially with this superhero look:


As it turns out, there's thunder and lightning in the air. You may recall from a previous post the damage she did to our door last summer? Here's a reminder:



So husband just happened to hear a segment on the radio advising dog owners to dress their shit-scared dogs in a tight-fitting shirt to help calm them down. Lucy, the cowardly staffie, is frightened. And now she's sporting a lovely grey singlet.

Perhaps the fear will just turn into embarrassment?

Does your pooch flip out in a storm?

Ray Donovan - The BEST TV Show Ever!

What? You’re not watching Ray Donovan? I’m sorry, did you say NOT watching Ray Donovan? I’m not sure we can continue.

Seriously, get on board. It’s good. Ridiculously good.

What’s it about? Oh, I thought you’d never ask.

It’s about a Hollywood Mr Fix-It guy called Ray Donovan and his troubled, dysfunctional family. He’s played (incredibly well) by Liev Schreiber (Naomi Watts’ man in real life) and supported by other sensational actors like Jon Voight, Elliot Gould and Paula Malcomson.



It's impossible to look away

Whist we see the situations a Hollywood Mr Fix-It has to deal with (and I sincerely hope these are dramatised for our viewing pleasure), the show is really about the personal struggles of Ray and each of his family members.

Ray's Dad. They're not close.
It covers marriage, sex, abuse, mental health, alcohol, drugs, parenting, fame, talent, fitting in, finance, discrimination, prejudice, violence, friendship, loyalty, mystery and pretty much anything else that I haven't mentioned.

And most of the time your mouth is gaping and you're pausing the show to say "Did he? Did they just? Was that? OMG!"


Ray's wife. She puts up with a lot. She also likes wine.

We're currently in the middle of Season 2 but I urge you to start at the beginning. Don't "give it a go" with the latest episode. Do whatever it is you do to get access to TV shows and commit. You won't be disappointed.

Are you watching yet? Who's your favourite character?