Postcards From A Temporary Single Mother

I wrote the  column below for Practical Parenting Magazine nearly six months ago, just after Grandpa was diagnosed with lung cancer. The disease felled him swiftly after that, each week grimmer than the one before, although Grandpa, famously, uttered no expletives stronger than ‘oh, boy.’

It’s been a season of illness, stress, worry and sadness, and we are now preparing for Alan’s funeral this week. I will write more about him when the dust settles around us a little. For now, this esteemed mathematician and loving grandfather is now only present in our memories and anecdotes, and a particular cheeky sparkle in the eyes of his grandchildren.

We will miss him very much.

For Practical Parenting, July 2016

Lately, all three of my children have been sleeping in my bed, which is both lovely and terrible. It’s lovely, because their arms and legs are strong and small and cling so tight; and I know that the pure, fierce affection of childhood will shift and change into something else someday, and I will miss it. But it’s terrible, because the children squeeze up so tight to me that I can’t breathe, and feel that I am in some sort of medieval dungeon-prison with no room for all the occupants, where we must turn over in unison on a given signal. Also: wee.

There’s a little more room in the big bed at the minute because Keith is in Europe for two weeks. Sometimes we tick along fine when the big Daddy is away. This is not one of those times.  The system starts crumbling on Day 2, when the fridge coughs and dies. Then, school problems begin with one of the kids, which, over the next fortnight will grow increasingly difficult to manage, and finally, most distressingly, there is a diagnosis of cancer in our extended family.

I find myself swapping between worries, mulling over each in my mind, one at a time. Who’s up next? Move it along Cancer, you’ve had your time. Bullying, where are you? That’s enough out of you. Next worry please!  Form an orderly queue!

The carnage in the kitchen is epic as I try to salvage food from the deceased freezer in an Esky while I wait for the new fridge. Young Pudding, obsessed with craft in the manner of all four-year-olds, takes to glittering and redistributing the contents of the recycling box everywhere.

I’m trying to stay cool but I realise I’m struggling when I accidentally bum-dial myself and record a shameful voicemail where I rant at the kids in the voice we call The Fishwife.

I really miss my partner in crime. There’s nobody here to help turn the small dramas of the day into comedy after bedtime, and most critically, take on some of the kid-energy, so that I have some restorative, necessary privacy with my own thoughts. Without it, bit by bit, I start to go slightly nuts.

Last night I did the full-service final shift of the day, fighting the strong urge to collapse on the couch and watch Wife Swap. Public speaking talks were prepped, homework completed, lunches made and sports equipment set out for the morning.  The kitchen was cleaned, the laundry hung. Children were scrubbed, read to, tucked up, and happily asleep. That final shift of the day required a Coke and two mini Wagon Wheels. But I got there.

This morning though, after a night crammed into the medieval prison bed in which one child wet their pants and another had a nightmare (there is lava on my nose!), I just could not get up.  ‘Five more minutes’ begged Peanut as she wrapped her little legs around mine. ‘Five more minutes,’ begged T-Bone as he clung to the other side. ‘Jus’ five more minutes, Mama’ chimed in Pudding, lying with her dead weight fully on top of me.

I gave in. Five more minutes. Ten, even. We were a bit late to school. In the single-mum zone, with so many tasks to stay on top of, it can feel like there’s not a lot of room for those quiet moments. But in fact, those sweet ten minutes in bed, cuddling all three kids – that was probably the most important job of the day. Certainly it was the best one. And, to be honest, I could not do any more.

 

This Organised House Brings Calm To Every Frazzled Cell In My Body

Times might be stressful, but the work goes on.

Lunches must be packed, pantries filled, clean clothes available in the drawers (or at least in a pile on the lounge). The car still must be filled with petrol, admin forms signed, work deadlines met. Family life is steady and relentless, and there’s always washing-up to be done. Sometimes this is comforting and satisfying, and sometimes it takes all of my available brain-and-heart space; and then life asks a little more.

An unhappy child. A sick relative. Flu. Travel. A list of worries that weigh heavy.

In short, a tough winter.

I think I am tracking along fine, one foot in front of the other, and then my body starts doing something to let me know it’s not OK.

‘Shush,’ I tell my  body.  ’It’s fine, we’re on top of it all, body. Shush…’

‘Stop and listen to me, you crazy witch,’ says my body, via the interesting method of making me short of breath for hours every day.

After a battery of tests to rule out anything sinister, the diagnosis I’m left with is stress and anxiety.

My solution: keep the home fires burning, dole out love and lasagne and priorities those healthy things like walking outside, yoga, making myself leave the hermit-cave and  see my friends. I’m trying not to worry about the things that are out of my control, and trying to be a support for the loved ones around me who are hurting, without  internalising the pain that they are feeling.

Also, I have a minor obsession with this lady.

Alejanda, so uber-American, with ever-so-slightly-crazy eyes, and a serial-killer-level of organisation, is bringing me life.

Chill out, my body is telling me. Spend a little time on the lounge watching YouTube clips of Alejandra bringing lunatic order to her shiny, shiny world. I don’t want to – could not – live like this, but watching Alejandra do it is  inexplicably appealing and calming. Also: My Dad Wrote A Porno is the other shining glory of my existence right now. Listen immediately and then write and talk to me about it. It is the funniest possible present you can give your ears.  And you will never, ever think of the Titanic again without picturing ‘nipples, as hard and large as the rivets on that fateful ship’.

I hope you are travelling well out there, comrades. May life be treating you well and if not, I advise applying 20 minutes of organisation-porn and 20 minutes of Belinda Blinked, painful, fumbling and hilarious erotica written by Jamie’s Dad. Works for me.

 

Sibling Rivalry

This post was first published in Practical Parenting Magazine, June 2016 (but the children were playing Forceful Club only yesterday. The battle over kissing the dead-bee continues.They are SUCH WEIRDOS.  I blame their father)

My four year old daughter walked into preschool recently singing a charming song her big brother and sister had made up. It was called ‘Killer Vaginas from Outer Space’, and although I got out of there very fast, I  expected a stern email all day, because I knew Pudding would perform all the verses.  There’s a bit about Venus, something terrible happens to a penis, and basically, the whole thing is a job for Dr Freud.

Thing is, Pudding’s big brother and sister have as much influence on her as I do.  They, at four, were pure as snow, raised on nothing but Play School, Angelina Ballerina and a little old-school Narnia for balance. Pudding, on the other hand will recite (unrequested) ‘There was an old lady who swallowed a poo. Perhaps she’ll spew.’ Her literary references range from Zombie Bums from Uranus through to Captain Underpants and the Talking Toilet, and when cornered, she’ll shout ‘My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father! Prepare to die!’

Pudding has watched her two older siblings hone the art of war, you see. With three kids under ten, the fights in our house can be epic. Hunger Games, Real Housewives, crisis-in-the-Middle East epic. A lot of my parenting time is spent in negotiating squabbles that are both ridiculous and deadly serious.

Take the Forceful Club, for instance, a trampoline game created by the two eldest. The rules are hazy, but two things are clear: it involves violence, and to join the club, all members have to kiss a dead bee. The four year old cried bitter tears about the bee rule, the big two were adamant and I was shoe-horned into one of my more hopeless conversations. ‘Pudding does not have to kiss the bee! Can’t you bend that rule? Well, can’t she just get her face close to the bee? She can blow on the bee! Be reasonable!’

Basically Forceful Club is like Fight Club except the first rule is that you have to talk about it. Endlessly. Other things my children have fought about lately: who was which number on the digital clock, who would get sucked into a black hole first, who owned the dead caterpillar in a container, whose turn it was to wear the comedy teeth, and (this last involved furious shouting)  how to pronounce ‘Nuttelex’.

I’ve got brothers and sisters of my own. I remember the intensity of sibling rivalry in childhood and these days I love how we facilitate the magic of cousin-gangs. The parental bond may be our lodestar, the central fact of our lives, but siblings are the first scratching posts on which we figure out how to deal with the weird landscape that is other people.  The relationships we have with our brothers and sisters are often the longest and most profound of our whole lifespan – for good, or for bad.

‘Be kind!’ I urge my kids, too fiercely.  ‘Speak nicely to each other! We are never, ever rude and mean to each other in this family!’ This is, of course, clearly untrue, probably impossible, and, like so many other aspects of parenting, driven by the ghosts from my own childhood. It’s hugely important to me, this job I have of nurturing that sibling bond. After all, I hope these three people, who I adore so much, will be looking out for each other long after I have gone.  Today, the comedy teeth; tomorrow, the inheritance.  Good luck, my little loves, enjoy raising each other, and may the Forceful Club be with you.

On Running Low, Saying No and Letting Go

I haven’t been here for a while – my tank is low on juice.

It’s been a fairly depleting few months with Keith travelling a lot and the children having one of those loops of winter sickness.

Running as a constant low sad note through our lives right now is the illness of my father-in-law. He’s a wonderful friend, an important person in my life, a brilliant and kind mathematician with a capricious twinkle in his eye. The  more I understand Alan, the more I understand many parts of my beloved partner Keith, and watching Alan cope with lung cancer has taught me many lessons about dignity and stoicism. I wish I was not learning these lessons, but there we have it.

Being social feels too exhausting right now. I am at peak capacity with these children, this house, this husband, these feelings. It feels good to be honest about saying ‘no’. It feels important to be home, playing chess,sorting the endless washing pile, cooking spicy beans and drawing the blinds down on the outside world. I am trying to find moments to write and trying to conserve my energy.

Sometimes it’s impossible to manage more.

In the meantime, Raised by Wolves, written by my spirit animal Caitlin Moran and her sister,  is bringing me many,  many laughs. (Free on SBS right now – is anybody watching it? It is hilarious), and it was my birthday this week (forty-five!)  Keith and I  went for a lovely quiet date last night. We saw Tarzan – my advice is to suspend the critical eye and enjoy the scenery – i.e Alexander Skarsgard (happy phwooarsdday night!)

Afterwards we ate bresaola, drank Prosecco and talked travel. Home by ten. It was lovely. Quiet. Perfect.

All the best out there, my friends.

 

 

 

 

Girlfriends: The Icing On The Cake Of Life

I had a story in last weekend’s Sunday Life magazine about the joy of girlfriends. It contains that gold-star anecdote about the time I accidentally showed a topless selfie to the deputy principal, and also this tale:

Home from holidays recently, I faced a towering pile of laundry. My friend S came over to help me fold and bring me up to speed on the local goings-on, but she lost her train of thought each time she encountered a pair of my knickers.

She was horrified on a number of levels – age, bagginess, general nanna vibe.

“I’m staging an underpants intervention,” she said.

Yesterday I found a paper bag in my letterbox containing two pairs of new knickers and a letter from The Ministry of Unacceptable Underpants, beginning: “It has come to our attention that you have not renewed your underpants at the recommended intervals. By following our quick checklist you can ensure the reliability and safety of your underpants.”

The list was exhaustive. It included the following questions: can you see through any part of your underpants that were once opaque? Does the elastic around your underpants hold the garment securely in place? Is the integrity of the gusset still acceptable? Can a breeze enter through any part of your underwear?

The Ministry gave me four weeks to update my collection, after which they warned of direct community action.

While underwear-shaming and accidental sexting scandals are key components to my female friendships, this community has another function. We are a safety net for life and all its unpredictable slings and arrows. Here, deep in the trenches with small children, we lean on each other for help. Any time one of us drops, the machine rolls into action. Lasagnes land on doorsteps and schedules to manage the kids start circulating. There is a direct and practical aspect to my female friendships: when we have to be responsible, we are. And when we bundy off the responsibility clock, we are absolutely ridiculous, making each other laugh until our weak pelvic floors give way.

These moments, cackling in the coven of my witches, bring me such joy. They are the icing on the cake of life.

Read the rest at Daily Life online. 

It’s a love letter to all the ladies in my life – word counts made me restrict this piece to only my beloved school mum gang, but I’m lucky enough to also have a school-friend gang, an online lady-squad and a coven of Pink Ladies, all of whom hold sacred spaces in my heart.

Thank you, friends out there. I love youse all!

 

Honest School Notes #10

Dear Office,

I’m sorry the children were late this morning and wearing the wrong clothes.

I lost my Sunday, you see.

There is so much organisation involved in getting three kids clothed and prepared for a school week that I tend to use Sunday to get on top of that stuff. I bake muffins and bread. I freeze sandwiches and squeezy yogurts and make sure there are lots of apples and carrots in the fridge. I do my best to tackle and conquer the washing pile so that there are pants, undies, socks and hoodies ready for the week ahead. This make me happy. I feel I am ready to take on the world.

If the weekly sort out and the night-before planning don’t happen, mornings are a stressful mess of shouting. There is not a lunchbox, drink bottle, hair-elastic or hat to be found anywhere.

We had a thing at our place on Saturday night. Now, I don’t get out much, so  when I do, my latent party animal just goes mental. I’ll leave out the details of what was said and done on the night (I can’t remember them) but let’s just say that there were a lot of pisco sours, one girlfriend left with ‘strippers remorse’ and one did the washing up with such enthusiasm that she smashed two wineglasses. Sunday morning I was not at my peak. There may/may not have been noises at my house that sounded like a giant cat was trying to expel a furball.

By Sunday night I felt human again, but I was not chia-seed raspberry pudding-Martha Stewart- mother. I was Nurofen Plus -stop-breathing-so-loudly-Mummy’s-got-a-headache mother. Plus, I had dressed as a Mexican man for the party and I was having trouble scrubbing off the moustache. I am sure that if this ever happened to Martha, she would know precisely the blend of organic oils and unguents to deal with the problem.

Monday morning was a shambles. There was no little note in the lunchbox; in fact there was was barely recognisable food in there. After a fruitless search, I was forced to tell the nine-year-old ‘Just grab a jumper out of the lost property and I’ll wash it and replace it!’ She did. But the jumper she grabbed was size 4, and she is nine, so that didn’t work out so well for my already shabby reputation.

The truth is, Office, that I can have a wild Saturday night, or I can have the children fully prepared for school on Monday. I tip my hat to those parents who can do both, but I am not one of them.

This weekend, back to reality. Saturday night will see me sorting socks in front of the television with a nice cup of tea and a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, Sunday will see me getting our shit together, and Monday will see the children at school fully equipped for the day ahead.

My apologies, again.

Ms. McIntosh

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Preschooler Fashion: Too Much Is Never Enough

This post was first published in Practical Parenting Magazine, June 2016

Dedicated to Nanna!

Nothing new under the sun, German postcard, 1910

I’m thinking I might start a fashion line called ‘Four Year Old’. Every garment in my first collection (I shall call it More Is More) will be sparkly, glittering or bejewelled. It will be spectacular, and also, utterly mad.

Four is the age of independence, a time when a fierce sense of personhood expresses itself in lots of ways, most fabulously through the wardrobe. I will choose my clothes, Mummy! No! I will dress myself!

Little Pudding is my third child down the runway of life, and I’ve realised a few things along the way. First, resistance is futile. The more you want your child to dress in Fair-Trade neutral organic cotton woven by a feminist collective in Uzbekistan, the more they will assert their right to wear synthetic Frozen-themed sportswear.

I’m thinking, specifically, here, of the pain I felt when my firstborn Peanut became obsessed, age three, with a pair of satin Wiggles boxer shorts that Nanna picked up at the op shop. (Nanna!!) I hated those shorts, and the emotional power this gave Peanut (See Mummy sweat! See Mummy plead!) spurred her on to greater and greater heights of rebellion, until eventually she insisted on wearing, every day, the Wiggles boxer shorts, a t-shirt that read ‘Bring Back Warnie’ and a pair of plastic Wiggles sunglasses. When I insisted on putting her uniform through the wash, she would wait patiently by the window. ‘Is Warnie dwy, Mama? Will Warnie be dwy soon?’

Hopelessly optimistic, I would proffer classic brown sandals, woollen capes and sweet bird brooches, as she pushed past me to get to the pink heels that Nanna picked up for her at the op shop. (Nanna!!)I was so adamant that my first-born daughter wouldn’t fall victim to the Princess syndrome that of course (can you feel what is coming? Nanna found it hilarious) by age four Peanut would not only wear nothing but pink, but also insisted she be referred to as Pinky Winky.

When my son T-Bone was four, he insisted that his outfits be ‘like a fruit salad’ which involved combining colour, pattern and print in such violently clashing ways that passers-by would have to shield their eyes from the glare. Also, he loved to wear his clothes backwards, which made for a lot of bum-flashing.

Of course, now that Peanut and T-Bone are nine and seven, their fashion choices take different forms. Peanut wears two different shoes to school every day, and chooses her outfits on how well they facilitate handstands. T-Bone barely notices whether he has shoes on or not.

It’s my third child, Pudding, who is deep in the pre-school fashion zone now. Bedazzled and glorious, she embodies the opposite of Coco Chanels famous advice: ‘get dressed, and then take one thing off’. For Pudding and her peers, enough is never enough. In fact, the pre-school playground should sport a warning sign: ‘Beware: Intensive Glitter Zone.  7% Chance Of Mild Epileptic Fit.  85% Chance Of Headache. Do Not Look Directly At Children As Costumes May Blind’.

 

This third time round, I surrender. I empty my drawers of all the neutrals, the camel, tan and cream, the darling brown Mary-Janes and the vintage coats. Off they go to the op-shop, for other hopeful mothers of size 3-4 youngsters.  I retain the synthetic fibres, the unnatural colours and anything Frozen. Also, I’ll take notes for the fashion line. And I’ll dedicate the first collection to Nanna, because she knew all along, of course, that this sweet and hilarious time won’t last and the best idea of all is to just enjoy it, in all its sparkly madness.

Taking Stock

Like Pip, I’m taking a minute to stop, smell the roses and capture a little of this moment in time.

Reading: White Eskimo, the story of polar explorer and super-hottie Knud Rasmussen, who mapped and explored Greenland in the early 20th century. I love a good explorer tale – ( here I’ve written a list of some good Man Vs Wild books, and here a list of some women adventurers). Rasmussen is very cool, and also, SO PRETTY.

Come on! Imagine that face, speaking Greenlandic through a mouthful of whale blubber, and you have my dreams.

I’m also loving Edmund White’s ‘Inside a Pearl: My Years In Paris’ ; ‘Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants’ and re-reading the Amanda Foreman biography of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, one of my all-time favourite women of history.  The kids and I are reading Dahl’s Danny, The Champion Of The World.  (So lovely. One of his best.)

Eating: A lot of what we call ‘horses dinners’ – a sort of random snacking plate.  I don’t like to advertise on the social medias when Keith is away, but he’s been in China. I’m in the single mother zone and there are  and Wagon Wheels and Coke in the fridge. Nuff sed. He’s back now. Roast lamb appeared in celebration.

Watching: Things have been quite fraught around here, to be honest. My father-in-law is very sick, Keith is stressed and sad and busy. I was so buggered after he left last week  that I watched Sex and The City 2, just to see if the movie was as bad as I remembered, and it was, of course, WORSE, even, unbelievably, comically bad. Then, later, I found myself watching Sex and The City 1, just to see the progression of shame. So weirdly reminiscent of some pre financial-crisis, gone-forever time, I told my Wagon Wheel.

Also, I went down a delightful rabbit hole of Tate Studio vids on Youtube, and some Vogue 73 Questions (Sarah Jessica’s house is gorgeous, Iggy Azalea is a weird fembot). The kids and I have been enjoying watching Catalyst archives while we eat our horses dinners.

I watched Marley and Me with the girls – beware! Don’t try this before bedtime! The last twenty minutes are tragic. I didn’t see it coming (I’m sharp like that) and it took me forever to calm them down enough to go to bed.  FYI – when you have two daughters sobbing on either side of you, don’t say  ’It’s really OK! All dogs die! Everything dies!’ It does not help the situation.

Resting: my head on the electrical tape the holding my bath together while I dream about interior design projects of the future. (All in good time, grasshopper.)

Sharing: my bed with the children, who take it in turns to ‘be Daddy’ when Keith is away. This means they get to tuck up in the big bed, so important and special, at bedtime, and then I tell them ‘now, prepare to get cuddled in your sleep.’ Frankly, it’s a moot point, whose turn it is to be Daddy, because by the early hours, all three of them are in the bed. They press up so tight against me that I feel as though I am in some sort of old-timey prison cell where there is not quite enough room for us all to lie down together and at some signal we all must turn over at the same time. It’s terrible and lovely – they are so cuddly and warm, their strong little arms and legs so gorgeous – but it is also painful and hideous.

Also, wee.

Pondering: Whether the hat I bought is wrong. In the shop it read ‘boho’ and now it is reading ‘Amish’. Hats! You kill me, Hats.

Listening: Two Dope Queens. Yaaaaas! Also, the Carol soundtrack.

Trying: Not to touch anything on the backseat floor of my car. It has moved beyond disgusting to scientifically interesting.

Laughing: at the children. ‘What you thinking about T-Bone?’ ‘I was imagining what disgusting sandwiches I could feed the dog if we ever get one.’

Scrambling: Under last minute instructions: I need this note signed today. I need a superhero costume for the morning. I need to finish my speech before bed. I need my old soccer socks for tomorrow.

Honestly, this guy captures the tone so perfectly! God this made me laugh.

Writing: Not much. The Mumming has been intensive.

Planning: to get started on my embroidery project. I just need a hoop for the K Dog and I have everything else ready to go. I’m looking forward to some winter fun listening to podcasts about Donald Trump and doing embroidery with my boyfriend.  Once he gets home from his Talking From My Balls mens group on Thursdays, that is. Of course.

Making: A long-overdue photo book of our Tasmanian adventures (and thinking I should really include that story about the topless gardener, which still cracks me up.)
Appreciating- Keith getting home safely. All’s well with my world again. Although, even less room in the bed.

Respecting: As always, when Keith is away, single mothers. You are amazing!

 

 

How are you? What are you watching, reading, avoiding, marinating? I hope you and your beloveds are well and happy out there. x

Bad Buddhist

I haven’t been around here much. I’ve been too busy being disgusting. A mother cockroach scurried out of my linen cupboard last week and when I had a closer look, I  found some big brown balls. Heart in mouth,  I did a Google image search on ‘cockroach eggs’.

Nooo!

Each one of those little bastards can hold FIFTY EGGS.

I had to empty out the whole cupboard (yay! Fun times with laundry!) and in the end, I found about fifteen eggs. ERMERGERD SAH SAH GROSS. Dr Google said that I should bash the eggs with a hammer – if I threw them away, they’d just hatch in the bin. While emptying the cupboard the mother cockroach appeared and tried to make a run for it down the hall.

I chased her and squashed her under my boot and it was awful. Since having children I can’t kill living creatures. Even the ugly ones have mothers. But I did, I chased her, I murdered her and I wailed the whole time like a crazy lady. ‘OH I”M SORRY EWWWWW I”M SORRY’

Then I took all the little egg babies out to the front steps and killed them with a hammer.

I’m not finished. That afternoon, all five us of covered our heads with evil insect-killing lotion and  murdered a whole bunch of lice.

Unfollow me if you must after this. I understand. You probably thought I was a reasonable lady, not a serial killer. At the very least, a terrible Buddhist.

Hey! Come round for sleepovers!

Guys?

Guys?

Watching, Listening, Reading #5

How’s it travelling out there? What have you been scanning with your eyeballs, cramming down your cakeholes, sucking down your earholes?

Oh, this opening is making me feel a little nauseous. My apologies. (note to self: lift tone.)

Reading

I adored Ann Patchett’s Amazonian tale State Of Wonder, a one-more-page-while-the-bath-is-getting-cold type of read. Also the late, wonderful Oliver Sacks autobiography On The Move:  charming,funny and idiosyncratic, like the man himself. Look at him here, so young and gorgeous.

I also loved broadcaster Simon Scott’s memoir ‘Unforgettable: A Son, A Mother and The Lessons Of A Lifetime‘ about time spent at his mothers bedside. She is a racy, witty and kind-hearted showgirl, he’s a moving writer, and their relationship is beautiful. (I must add here while trying to remember Scott’s name,  I thought the book was called ‘Surrender’ and so I googled ‘Surrender memoir’, where I was directed to a Salon.com article called ‘Rectal Romance’ in which ‘Toni Bennett talks about her new anal sex memoir.’  I mean. No.  I know that the young people say that the rump is the ‘hot spot’ of the moment, but Ms. Bennett… think of your legacy!  )

I’ve read some excellent 1980′s tales lately: the astonishing, unputdownable story Octopus by Guy Lawson about Sam Israel and the stockbroking world of the 80s, and Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman, about her trip to China as a young girl in 1986, when everything goes catastrophically wrong.

Keith has just finished the last of the Narnia series with the kids, and they are embarking on Swallows and Amazons. I’ve been reading the first 2 books of the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, which are super fun, punchy, high-octane spy-tales. Great for reading aloud, especially because you get to punctuate  every chapter with ‘Duh duh DUH!’, which happens less often in life than it should. We’ve just moved on to calmer fare though; and I am loving re-visiting My Family And Other Animals by Gerald Durrell; one of my own teen favourites.

Watching

I’ve been doing a bit of the OJ Simpson story and loving my old fave Nurse Jackie on Netflix, but I’m not finding much time for TV at the minute.

I really love both Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb, and so their short, snappy show When I Get A Minute  is right up my alley. These short, chatty programs cover books, TV, podcasts and general media, they are delightful and everything they discuss I have either read or watched, or plan to as soon as possible. Also on iView, Luke MacGregors series Luke Warm Sex was almost unbearably candid, as he goes on a sort of 6-episode sexual vision quest to try and get over his own hang-ups as a shy and anxious person. He is such an unusual comic, disarmingly sincere and immensely likeable, and so it made for wonderful television, provided that you can see through your fingers.

The kids have moved, well and truly, into the Doctor Who zone. Also they love the Slow Mo Guys on YouTube, and the girls and I are partial to a bit of RPA (the more intense the surgery, the better. )

Together, we are loving Survivor, one of my own favourites for at least a decade now. It’s an excellent family show – much strategising, much excitement, a lot of communal maths as we work out numbers and alliances before eviction. (Nerdy good times!) Tonight we stuffed ourselves with spicy bean burritos, then had a special dessert; coconut pannacotta with fresh pineapple, in honour of the tropics.

Friday night Survivor – it’s one of my favourite things.

Listening

Keith and I are really into historian Dan Carlin at the minute; his history podcasts are amazing but we also love his current-affairs show. (Interesting Trump analysis.) The New Yorker politics podcast is also great on the US election. I’ve been enjoying Only Human and The Memory Palace, and as always, Double X, Radiolab and Freakonomics are reliably cracking shows.

On Spotify I’m really liking this indie playlist with the crazy title Skäggiga snubbar sjunger skönsång, which translates to ‘men in beards singing sweetly’ or similar, as well as a bit of Barbra Streisand. T-Bone is very into ‘It’s Raining Tacos’ (do not explore, earworm of epic proportions) and I’ve been pulling out some of the old favourite Dan Zanes for the smallest. (If you have pre-schoolers, Zanes is the best – try Catch That Train.) Here’s a cracking one: Prince’s own party-mix as a Spotify playlist. 

Happy weekending, my friends. May the road rise to meet you,  the wind be at your back, your pannacotta coco-nutty and your earworms brief and manageable.

Any tips for me? Whats good in your world?

x

Watching,Reading, Listening #1

Watching, Reading,Listening #2

Watching, Reading, Listening #3

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