Accidental Party Babies

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Swinging grannies, 1966. 

Nervous about surgery tomorrow. I’ve got two kids instead of none today (sometimes the delicate, complicated holiday child-care shuffle all falls apart…) So much to do. I’m trying to get a writing deadline out of the way so I can not worry about work, and I’m cleaning and sorting out my bedroom for when I get home, packing a hospital bag (a shirt that buttons down the front? have I even got such a thing?) , and finishing up all the post-holiday laundry and sorting-out.

I’ve been thinking about last week, when my friend Mindy and I remembered the time we accidentally took all the kids to a late night Holly Throsby concert. We laughed and laughed. I found this piece about it on my old blog. God I’m an idiot.  But these memories really make me laugh. Today, I’m in need of the funny.

A long time ago, Keith and I got kicked out of a nightclub to which we had inadvertently taken our newborn baby. It sounds like something you would only do once, but recently, we sort of did it again. We took all three kids to a late-night music concert.  By accident.
 

On the whole, we don’t like leaving the house, but the Holly Throsby kids show sounded like a fun family night out. We love her CD. Unfortunately, this show wasn’t for kids.  Nope, it was an adult gig, in a drafty hall, featuring two interminable support acts and uncomfortable chairs. You might imagine that by 10pm our three kids under six were getting a little ratty.

I had stuffed up, big time.  We really had to exit, but even then, Keith and I pushed things just one step too far. ‘Two more songs?’ we mouthed to each other. During the next number things were going beautifully. The baby was asleep in my arms, the sweet faces of the big two gazed at the stage as they curled up against their dad, and people in surrounding rows were glancing and smiling at us. I felt like a total funky hipster mama.  But we were on borrowed time. As the notes for the second song began, it all fell apart dramatically.

‘I – haffa -go-hoooome!’ said three-year-old T-Bone suddenly, and burst into noisy tears.  He woke the baby, who started to cry too. Keith and I looked at each other in horror and quickly started to gather our obscene pile of possessions – slings, nappy bags, snack packs, handbags, hats, and jackets, while the wailing rose in pitch and volume.  Eventually Holly Throsby had to stop the show. She made a few gentle jokes, and the whole audience watched as we wrangled our weeping, stumbling pile of children down the aisle.

‘Worst parents ever,’ I joked weakly in apology. ’Coolest parents ever!’ shouted one kind and deluded bastard down the back.  Thanks, buddy, I thought.  I’ll hold that close to my heart tomorrow as I fold washing and listen to Radio National in my fluffy bed socks.

Long before Holly Throsby,  there was the incident of the baby in the nightclub.  When our eldest daughter Peanut was born, she preferred screaming over sleep.  Breastfeeding was difficult to establish, and the whole experience was a massive shock. When Peanut was three weeks old, my best friend had a dinner for her birthday. Keith and I decided it was time to discard our stained tracksuit pants, and take the baby on her first night out.
Unfortunately, the restaurant turned out to be a cocktail bar in Kings Cross.

 After parking, we had to walk the main strip with tiny Peanut clutched to Keith’s shoulder.  Strip club bouncers heckled us as we passed, and things went from bad to worse when we found the bar and went inside to tell my friend Lucy that we couldn’t stay. The bouncer followed us in and tapped me on the shoulder. ‘You can’t have that baby in here,’ he said slowly, looking carefully into my eyes as though he was talking to a psychiatric patient. ‘Yes, yes, of course,’ I said, ashamed. We retraced our steps, back past the hookers and the winos and the bikers, home to the lounge room, where we put our tracksuit pants back on, ate a pizza and toasted our tiny daughter, who had just gotten kicked out of her first nightclub. I only hope it’s not a portent of the future.

Stories: Sex, Birth and Miscarriage

Oh, yes, hello. Are you well? I’m home from our busy Easter. Settling in for a lengthy session of unpacking, cleaning, washing and preparing for hospital on Thursday.

Three great long-form reads for you today.

Happy reading!

x

1.  The Lavender Room – a true birth story from Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild.

It went on. And on and on and on. All through the day and deep into the night. I laughed. I cried. I despaired. I pondered the possibility of going to a hospital and getting a C-section or at least an epidural. I resolved to stick it out so long as my baby was okay. I remembered to feel grateful. I told dirty jokes. I swore. I surrendered. I begged the spirit of my mother to come to me and help and she did. I refused to do another lunge or to get into the tub. I was ravaged and exhausted. I was blown away and forever altered. Aware of physical capacities and spiritual realms I hadn’t known existed before. I went to the deepest place within me and found there was a place deeper still. I drifted off to sleep on the bed in the Lavender Room, and woke every few minutes with a roar. I pushed so long and hard I didn’t know what I was pushing anymore—my baby’s body or mine. We merged most profoundly in the panting moment that he ripped my flesh open as I forced him into the world.

2. Thanksgiving in Mongolia - a moving, beautiful personal story of miscarriage from Ariel Levy. (You might not want to read this story if you have a raw experience of pregnancy loss. It is graphic.)

3. All My Exes Live In Texts - fascinating article on what the youngsters get up to these days.  Seckshually. And how social media has profoundly changed how we relate with our exes, making them part of our ‘permanent present.’

Like “dialing” a cell phone or “filming” a digital video, “one-night stand” is an anachronism. Even if you only have sex once, you will spend time with your hookup when he finds you on Facebook, appears in a mutual friend’s Instagram, or texts about a weird bump he found on his penis. Older generations didn’t have a word for this kind of thing—they couldn’t have. But these are, in fact, relationships. Even casual dates have expansive biographies to plow through and life narratives you can follow for years. You hear about their hangovers when you check Twitter for the morning news. You see their new apartments when you browse Facebook at work. They can jump into your pants whenever they want by sending text messages that land in your pocket. Online, you watch your exes’ lives unfold parallel to yours—living, shifting digital portraits of roads not taken with partners you did not keep.

 

For A Sweeter Marriage: Just Add Sugar

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Stop!

Don’t quit sugar!

Science says its bad for your marriage.

In a 21-day study of 107 married couples in the US, researchers found decreased blood glucose levels correlated with decreased self-control and increased aggressive behaviour toward participants’ spouses. Participants were given  voodoo dolls and pins (!) and asked to record their anger levels at different times of day.

In particular, spouses with lower evening sugar levels showed increased aggression towards their special someone.

So there you go folks!  Put the kids to bed, whip out the  Old Jamaican Rum and Raisin and give your spouse a great big kiss.

Science says.

Happy Easter weekend- we’re off road-tripping around visiting relatives and friends for a few days, and I fully intend to eat Easter eggs for the good of my marriage. Generally, I’m out of juice. My body is fighting me, and I’m spending a lot of time in the bath and in the cave. Those of you with any kind of chronic pain know that the cave is not the best place to live.

But onward, upward – all is flux, and all will be well.

Going off line for a few days , and I’ll see you all next week.

x

 

Whipped Lemon Coconut Body Butter: A Five-Minute Tutorial

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(Seven-year-old presents to you her dirty nails and afternoon pajamas and says ‘Hooray for school holidays!’)

Och aye, I’m tired of whinging.  Let me pull focus to something creative and lovely instead: a recipe for this beautiful, simple moisturiser.  I made a batch for all my sisters last Christmas, and since then,  have whipped up a new pot every month or two. It takes only minutes to pull together, and the final result is very pleasing. As in, your old bones might still hurt, but at least they smell nice.

1. Place about a cup of coconut oil (in solid state) in a mixmaster.

2. Add a teaspoon of pure Vitamin E (available at health food stores and pharmacists)

3. Add about ten drops of pure lemon essential oil (or whatever scent and mix you prefer.) Me, I love using lemon for everything.

4. Beat for about ten minutes, until mix is frothy and beautifully light.

5. Transfer to a jar. If you live in a very warm climate, you might want to keep this body butter in the fridge, but in most circumstances it’s fine in the cupboard. If you have a hot day and it reverts to liquid, just give it another good whipping. It  works nicely as a bath oil too.

Happy slapping!

ps - If you’re into home DIY, you  might like these other homesteady posts:

Home-made laundry detergent

Home-made lemon and vinegar surface spray

Cold-pressed zesty lemon soap

Sensing a lemony theme here? Maybe I should spread my wings a little…

 

 

On Meeting Bloggers In Real Life (and a Giveaway For You)

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Look guys, here’s Katherine Hepburn: strong, vital, glamorous.

Now picture the opposite.

Oh hai! It’s me! Wreck of the Hesperus!  Sinusitis (surgery next week, bloody ell), bursitis (argh, me old-lady-hips) and period pain have combined in a perfect storm of End-Of-Termitis. I’m buggered.

Running on the last puffs of gas in my tanks, I went into Sydney for a Kidspot function on Saturday – my first ever bloggers gathering. I arrived late, feeling nervous,  and ran immediately into Pip Lincolne. 

‘Pip!’ I blurted like a weirdo.

‘Hi!’ she said – ever so normal, so nice. Just as you would imagine Pip to be.  She delivered me straight to Ruth and Luisa. I’ve collaborated with them both online, and I admire them hugely. They were so warm and kind in real life. (Ruth is hilarious!) I met Beth too (a charismatic force of nature) and then both her and Mrs Woog were standing next to me at once and my brain couldn’t psychically process my online world imploding with my real one. I murbled something along the lines of ’I carried a watermelon’.

I fell into easy conversation with the gregarious and witty Bron, and at the end, hello, a goodie bag. Just like the Oscars.

I quickly ate the chocolate, but sadly, the K-Dog and I have no need for a new Baby Born carrier. We’re done with babies (old-school readers might remember that my final pregnancy was a series of comic and tragic disasters). Until we get everybody off to school and start (we hope) to foster, there will be no more tiny people here.

So I have no use for this lovely new baby sling – the latest model, which straps on the back as well as the front. Here it is, modeled by a fine looking Dad.

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Are you pregnant? Do you have a pregnant friend? Or do you have an inordinately close relationship with your small dog? (No judgement.) These Baby Bjorns are worth about $170. More details here. 

If you would like this carrier, please comment below, I’ll choose a random entry and I’ll post it to you.

Apologies for the scattered post? I’m about to struggle into a bra so that the little bobo’s and I can hit the $2 shop for some holiday craft-material stock-ups and then we’re retiring to the couch to watch Harry Potter.

Happy holidays, my friends. May you spend this week in better physical shape than I feel today, and if you ever get the chance to meet Beth, Ruth, Pip or Luisa – snap it up. They’re fantastic. And if you don’t already read their blogs, you should! (Linked above.)

x

 

Comedy Will Bite You In The (Hole In Your) Bum

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February 1943. Moreno Valley, New Mexico. Mary Mutz making an apple pie on the Mutz ranch. Via Shorpy.

One of the great joys of life is being silly with kids. I’d say eighty percent of my time with our three is spent playfully (and the other twenty with me shouting ‘Get in the car! Get in the car! Get in the car!’)

It’s almost always a great time. But sometimes comedy can backfire (and often in humiliating ways.)

Anything to do with bums or poo is champagne comedy to kids. It’s like Kid Shakespeare. I try to please my audience and so one of my gags is to pretend that the whole idea of defecation is impossibly vulgar. ‘Poo? Out of my BOTTOM?’ I shriek, hamming up my best prissy voice. ‘That is a disgusting thing to say about your mother! Your mother!’

The kids will up the ante. ‘The Queen goes to the toilet,’ they will insist as I  act increasingly horrified, until I have them shouting ‘The Prime Minster does poo! It comes out of his bum! It does Mum!’

Classy good times at our house.

Lately, though, Peanut has taken to trying to get me to do this gag in front of other people. She’ll wait for a break in the conversation  and then say, eyes shining with anticipation,  ’Mum, you have got a hole in your bum.’ It’s never the right crowd or moment to perform the whole routine, and it’s even more impossible to explain it. So I have to shake my head and hiss ‘Not now,’ at Peanut.

‘But you do,’ she insists. ‘You’ve got a big hole in your bum…’ I give her the mothers hiss, short and sharp. ‘Stoppit.’

She knows I mean business then and disappointed, lets it go. But then the whole thing hangs in the air – do I have some sort of secret, shameful medical issue? Hemorrhoids? A fistula perhaps? Or is the child just very, very strange?

Comedy children. They are my curse and my blessing.

In other news, I am so happy that today is the last day of school before the Easter break. All the Tupperware lids are missing, as are all the socks, and the couch has disappeared under all the unfolded washing. My kindy boy is all tuckered out and more than ready for a break from the routine.

This afternoon, a surprise celebration movie (Frozen, I think), popcorn, an apple-pie baking session and a huge, collective sigh of relief. I hope you have a wonderful weekend ahead.

x
ps – Tomorrow I’m off to Sydney for a Voices of 2014 blogging class (If I am nominated as a Voice of 2014, I fear it means 2014 will make a lot of poo jokes.) Are you going? Please come up and say hi. I’ll be the one with a red carnation between my teeth and a hole in my bum.

May You Have A Really Excellent Wee Today

“To relieve a full bladder is one of the great human joys.”

Henry Miller, 1962 /Manfred KREINER /sc

Photograph 1962, by Manfred Kreiner, Henry Miller’s thoughts on urination via Maria Popova at Brain Pickings. 

Sometime we need Henry Miller to remind us to stop, be in the moment, and enjoy the small wondrous pleasures of being alive, like a nice wee.

Also from the wonderful old goat in 1950: “Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.”

 

Honest School Notes #2

Dear Office,

I’m sorry Peanut and T-Bone were late this morning. In the middle of the night a little person climbed into our bed. They patted my face and said ‘I love you Mummy’ and then they cuddled up very close, and some hours later, urinated on my back.

I woke up cold and soggy and so I had to have a bath, but once I was in there with a cup of coffee, an English muffin and Sue Sylvester’s memoir, it was very difficult to get out again. I chatted across the hallway to the seven year old. I had delivered her a muffin in bed on my way to the bath, and she was snuggled up reading Harry Potter. She wasn’t going anywhere either.

The five year old had  dressed his the top half, but then he starting illustrating a complicated battery-power machine drawing, and forgot about his pants. The toddler was fully nude and lining up her stuffed animals on an imaginary bus.

Keith wasn’t getting anybody ready for school. He was trying to work out the chords for the ABBA classic ‘The Winner Takes It All’ on the piano. Finally I got out of the bath so I could help him with the high notes.

All of this was happening as we picked our way through a sea of playing cards, toy food, puzzle pieces and unfolded washing, and so I had significant  trouble finding shoes, hats, lunchboxes and reading folders in the chaos. I know this is an unreasonably long explanation, Office, but basically, it’s the last week of term, I can’t find the source of everything-smells-like-wee, and we’re all just staggering to the finish line.

Apologies,

Ms. McIntosh

Honest School Notes #1

Miranda Kerr, Bearded, Finds Pleasure ‘Alone…And Together.’

Have you ever railed at the fact that we ladies are denied the erotic pleasure of idly perusing  a glossy magazine spread featuring a bearded long-haired hipster sprawled on the floor wearing thigh-high stockings, eye-fondling us intensely while holding his scratchy vest provocatively away from his naughty, naughty chest?

It’s always Miranda Kerr, right? With her perky boozies and her non-frizzy hairs and her round rumptacular buttocks? Women buy these magazines, dammit. When will we get to pant ( tongues out like Labradors) at the sight of some hairy man-meat artfully arranged in pleasing poses?

Right now, sisters.  Worry no more! The Bondi Hipsters have delivered.

Here y’are!

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I love how these photos make the whole ‘sex-bomb’ shtick looks so absurd. He plays it so beautifully straight, and I think I love him.

This interesting piece from Peach magazine deconstructed Miranda’s super-saucy GQ spread and accompanying interview, which included remarks like these:

I love the female body and truly appreciate the female form… I definitely need a man in the bedroom, however — a nice strong chest to lie on. Still, I want to explore… One-night stands aren’t my thing. I made Orlando wait six months until I even kissed him.

I always ask for a critique on my performance. I always want to better myself in every way. The older I get, the more confident I am about asking for things I enjoy. One thing I’ve noticed is now that I’m having less sex my body isn’t as toned. The more sex I have, the more defined my arms and stomach get.

From a star with such a highly managed image, Peach writer Amelia says, this narrative of sexuality is  carefully crafted image, and it’s a disappointing narrative.

Her comments reinforce this pervasive ideology that women’s sexuality is something they have, and use, and give up, as if it is something separate to them as a human, and not stitched into the fabric of their identity in an incredibly complex and nuanced and beautiful way. It is this ideology that tells us that in order to be truly valued, women must be hot, cute, sexy, pretty, fun, outgoing, playful, feminine, accessible.

The truth is, female sexuality is far more interesting and multi-faceted than this one-dimensional, cloying “cool girl” parody created by the media culture we live in.

It is easy to dismiss this as unimportant, and there are far greater battles that women are fighting than arguing over a lascivious nude photoshoot in a men’s magazine. In the relentless media cycle, this is just another story, which will be quickly replaced.

But these issues are part of a much more complex and varied continuum in which women are defined by their sexuality and men are encouraged and educated to hold a certain set of standards and values around the way women experience and express their sexuality. This causes harm to women and men, and plays out in our society ways large and small.

What’s your take on Miranda? And do you also love my Bondi hipster boyfriend?

Bookshelf: 5 Great Read-Aloud Chapter Books For Kids Under Seven

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Fred Stein, Children Reading Newspaper, Paris, 1936.

Research shows that reading aloud to kids from birth supports their language development and literacy skills. It also helps foster a love of reading, which is, in my opinion, a great gift, and can also be a factor in future academic success.

But research smesearch! What’s true for us is that the ritual of curling up together at the end of the day and spending some quiet time immersed in another world is really a beautiful thing, and can be a good antidote to the go-go-go energy of the homework-dinner-bath-bed shift.

To stick through a chapter book night after night can be tough when the book itself is badly written (I’m looking at you, Wiggles marketing department), and it can be hard to contain the energy of smaller audience members when the language is rich and interesting, as is the way with the best kids books. It’s hard to find books that distill complex ideas into simple words, but here are five that we have found to be enjoyable for both reader and listener.

Anna Hibiscus

Anna is a little girl who lives in Africa, and her adventures are presented in short, easy-chunk stories.  These moral fables are modern, but have an old-timey charm. Adult readers will love the eccentric characters in Anna’s family, and the books are excellent as first chapter-books for  early readers to pick through alone. Anna is seriously adorable.

The Faraway Tree

Enid Blyton’s classic series of stories about the Enchanted Wood are a perennial favourite in this house. The audio-book collection is beautiful too. Both 7 year old Peanut and 5 year old T-Bone love these whimsical stories about a gang of children adventuring in magical lands like  Take-What-You-Want, Do-What-You-Like and the Land of Birthdays.

Nim’s Island

A cracking read. This was young Peanuts first favourite chapter book. She read it over and over (and watched the movie too. ) Eleven-year-old Nim lives on a tropical island with just her Dad and her animal friends. She’s feisty, practical and adept at bushcraft: a really interesting heroine.

The Fantastic Mister Fox

Everything Roald Dahl touches is magic, and we have loved all of his books.  But I have a special Mr Fox-shaped place in my heart, not least because my T-Bone has the middle name Fox in honour of the party-loving, strategic, brilliant hero of the story. It’s also a shorter read, split in nice chunks for younger attention spans. (The full Roald Dahl audio-book set has also been a huge hit with our kids.)

Wonder

My hands-down favourite book of recent times, Wonder spends a year in the life of August, a fifth-grader with a cranio-facial deformity. It’s beautifully written from a number of different perspectives, and I cried floods of tears at the finish. Seven year old Peanut turned straight to page 1 and started reading it again, and we’ve had several interesting conversations about disability and kids and ‘walking in other people’s shoes’ since.

Happy reading!

x