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Most of us parents try so hard to give our kids the best start in life. We may invest in their education, take them to soccer training or teach them how to cook, but somewhere along the way we stuff up. There are those little moments in our busy lives where the cracks start appearing in our ‘perfect parenting plan’ or PPP for short. Sure, we’d love to always say the right thing to our kids but sometimes they just get under our skin even though they are as cute as two boots.

There is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ childhood. As much as we try and try and try to be awesome parents, sometimes we just aren’t and I’ve realised that it’s ok if there’s a few moments of ‘reality’ flung in there because it keeps them grounded. Real life will not be such a shock when they’ve had a parent full of flaws, as long as I am humble enough to apologise when I’m in the wrong and as long as I can shake off the ‘perfectionistic parenting’ thing and the guilt that goes along with it. As long as they know I’m trying and that I love them, I can’t ruin them too much can I?

On certain days I feel like I’m at the top of the parenting scale; I’m ticking all the boxes, giving my kids the encouragement they need, and squatting down and looking them in the eyes as they tell me the detailed story of ducky and the garden full of bears for the umpteenth time. Ah, yes, those are the good days. But, as with most things, it can turn in an instant and I can go from super-mum to super-dud-mum depending on my mood and spitty-spatty words that somehow just come flowing out of my sometimes careless mouth. And then it’s like I’m hit with an anvil of guilt which hits my head and pounds me into the ground like a hammer to a nail. And it’s a bugger trying to climb out of that claustrophobic hole.

As much as I try not to ruin my kids, I know that somehow, sometimes I do hurt their feelings and build horrible walls between us that may last for a moment or longer, I’m not sure. But above everything else I’m just desperately in love with those two little souls and I tell them that every day which, I’m hoping, will cover over a multitude of sins…as they say.

Do you have those bad-parent moments as well or is it just me?

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Image by Asterio Tecson

When I was twelve I discovered music. It wasn’t as if I was deaf to the stuff before that. We were brought up with the Little River Band, Boney M and the dreaded Aled Jones. But they were my parents’ choice.

In the late eighties there was something called a record club and if you bought a certain number of records they would be cheap. You’d send a piece of paper away in the snail mail (yup, no internet then) and a few weeks later there would be a knock at the door and hey presto! your music would arrive.

This was when I met Whitney. She was a young, sometimes bald lass with long legs, a gorgeous smile and an incredible voice. She had a little bit of grunt to her, she wasn’t all sugary sweetness. My brother thought she was a bit too daggy, too girly for his liking. He ordered records such as Warrant, Public Enemy and Paula Abdul (busted! she’s a girl brother!!!!!).

So it was just left to me to dance around crazy like to the boppy tunes of miss Houston. And yes I did use the hairbrush to sing those love songs to my future love. I also used to pretend I was a pop diva like Whitney. Crowds of screaming fans adoring me for my awesome talent as I belted out a few tunes with incredible hip hop style dance moves! I thought I had a future there, but it wasn’t meant to be. Sigh.

So this week my first pop hero died, way too young, too troubled. It is so sad what fame and money  and dumb husbands and drugs does to a person. It was hard to believe that she had lost her voice last year when she came to Australia. It was like the door had closed on a more pure and beautiful era.

It was clear she had lost her way and was struggling. If only she had bought an island and lived out the rest of her life in luxury, peace and happiness. Surely that would be better than continually putting yourself out there when you know your talent is slipping away. But perhaps fame is an addiction, just like the drugs.

I’m going to embrace my inner 80s girl nerd and say thanks to Whitney for many hours of entertainment, soulful singing and hip hop dancing. So very sad that she is gone.

December. A time for parties, Christmas, sun, sand and holidays. It’s also the time of farewells and new challenges… for me anyway.

My littlest kiddo is off to school next year, which means the Christmas concert at her kindy will also be a graduation. After 4 years at the one preschool, it’s going to be hard to say goodbye. But it is time, the little lass has to grow up and we have to move on.

This limbo time before big school must be a funny one for our 5 year olds. Their crazy mums are tearing up when they try on their new uniforms and the teachers at kindy start talking letters and numbers, not just painting and craft! What the…?

In this time, the pre-schoolers may start to get a little over-emotional. Screaming, tears and airborne toys may drain us mums of our energy as we explain for the umpteenth time why they can’t have it, eat it, do it, say it, throw it. I keep saying to myself that little girl is just overwhelmed with all the changes. Her skin is mighty thin and some wise old tiptoeing is needed to keep some semblance of peace in the house.

My son went through a similar thing before school. There’s such a long build up before the big day and then a sense of normality, a routine sets in and they seem to settle down… in a tired kinda way. I’m hoping this will be the case for my daughty. She is so very very nice when she wants to be but extremely high maintenance when she doesn’t. Hmmmmm I wonder who she gets that from?

Next week is a big one. End of year concerts and those tearful farewells. Oh how will I cope with 2 kids at school? Will somebody please pause time so I can keep them at this age of innocence, joy and snuggliness?

Before I know it my little man will be a stinky old teenager with a limited vocab and a scratchy beard. His room will smell musty and he’ll start to look at me like I’m a crazy, naggy old lady. Frown. And then there’ll be the hormone battles, woman against miniature woman. Screaming, crying, foul words and slamming doors. Boyfriends I don’t approve of and skirts that are a little too high for my liking. Or maybe my kids will both be quiet, lovely nerds whose idea of a great Saturday night is to stay home with the family and play Monopoly. (Tell her she’s dreaming!)

But back to reality. Back to the countdown of yet another milestone. Will I survive without copious amounts of tears and lumps in throat? Will my little girl get a great teacher or be in the same class as her bestie? What will be will be I guess. It’s another motherly challenge to conquer. I’m just hoping and praying for the best! Eeeeek.

Meet Two-ee. He is a bear with a stinky stomach and a greying fur. His brown eyes demand snuggles and his ears demand attention. He’s a sad sort of bear, with a traumatic past. You see, Two-ee was unwanted, unloved and unseen until…

Meet Ducky. This gal is ready to play, to fly, to live. Ducky has had many adventures over the years, without anyone really knowing. She’s a kinda superspy duck. And she knows everything. She has spunk, ideas flowing out of her tiny little ears and well… she’s just a little bit naughty. One day …

Meet Neigh. Named so because of his horse-like appearance. Having asked two year old son, what shall we call this toy, he answered with wisdom beyond his years… “Neigh”. And it has stuck. Neigh has been thrown around, left under beds gathering dust and snuggled until he thought he would pop. He is a loyal horse-toy. Despite years of neglect, he still loves to be loved when it suits the kid. But he dreams of…

Meet Isabelle-Amelia. She is a guard dog with a massive head and a small body. Her sad eyes pierce through the darkness looking for trouble. Her greatest gift is her cuteness (think Puss-in-Boots from Shrek 2). Whenever the boogie man comes near she pouts and looks up and he disintegrates. One look… she is that powerful. She came from a supermarket along with thousands of other cheap snuggly toys. She thought she would never be loved until…

Two-ee’s Story

…until Baby Bear was lost. Baby Bear was the first and most loved bear in the house. He had a long nose thread that set him apart from any other toy. One fateful day Baby Bear was lost. Was it at the KMart toy sale or the walk to the local cliffs? We will never know. All we know is that Baby Bear went to another world and Two-ee stepped up as the new favourite bear. Ironically, Two-ee now has a long nose thread… perhaps he’s trying to live up to Baby Bear, maybe it is a tribute. Our little insecure bear, you are loved even though you were 2nd!

Ducky’s Story

…one day Ducky ran away from ‘home’. She was at the treetop adventure park, looking up at the trees and longing to take flight. She giggled at the humans trying to fly strapped in tightly to their climbing apparatuses. She scoffed at their efforts to get back to nature in such a contrived manner. She sat on the picnic table and forgot about her little girl. The sun went down and still Ducky sat. The kids went home and still she stayed until a person in a strange shirt picked her up and took her inside. Panic set in. This was not her little girl. She started to cry, regret seeped through her stuffing and she called out to her little girl. The next day, to her relief the little girl’s cousins and grandma rescued her and on that day she vowed never to make fun of humans again!

Neigh’s Story

…he dreams of being number one. On his darkest days he even considers knocking Two-ee out of the window, or dragging his grey little form out into the garden, perhaps into the vege patch and leaving him for the possums. Under Neigh’s sunny exterior, there is a horse, one rejection away from despair and madness.

Isabelle-Amelia’s Story

She thought she would never be loved until… she met little girl. Little girl looked into her sad, lonely eyes and took pity. Little girl had just received her first present of money and was keen to spend it asap. Off to Coles she went, for her mother was a tightwad and loyal to her local checkout chick. The little girl rummaged through the box of snugglies. She considered the turtle but it was too green, she thought about the lion but he was too fluffy, then she spotted Isabelle-Amelia at the back of the box. Their eyes met, her barcode was scanned and I.A vowed to always protect little girl. And she has, ever since.

(My cousins, my brother and I  and 2 ring-ins)

This weekend I’m hanging out with my cousins. They are a special group of peeps who I love to bits. Firstly because they are really nice individuals and second because we know each other intimately> We are family and we’re fine with that.

I only have 3 cousins. Maybe that’s why they’re so special.

The first is a female with a shrill laugh and a joyful disposition. She is overly generous and ‘real’. You can just let it all hang out with her and she’ll never judge! She has a great sense of humour and a deep love for all people. When we were kids, she was my idol. She is three years older than me and in kid years that is for-e-ver! She was the first to go to High School, go to University. The first to be drilled by my grandfather about what she wanted to do with her life. Not sure if he had nursing in mind… because of the money. But she just laughed, patted him on the shoulder and  became a top notch nurse, married and now is a great mother to two beautiful kiddies! We are closer now that the age gap has shrunk and we have kids the same age. We laugh, we cry, we are great friends. Gush!

My second cousin is a male. He is one year older than me. And yes we married each other when we were kids. It didn’t work out. Ha ha. He is a gentle, quirky, fun musician type of man. Tall and lean. He pleased the grandfather no end when he proclaimed he was going to join the Air Force Jazz band troupe. This still included jumping out of planes and such. I still can’t picture him holding a gun and firing without a wry look on my face. It is just not him! But he’s made a great career out of this and travelled the world and we’re all proud of him. This pride isn’t just based on what he does but who he is. He is a man of deep integrity and weird humour. He is loyal and kind and sweet… in a manly way. He now has a lovely family and I imagine he is a great papa to his two little munchkins! Much love. Mwa.

The third and last cousin is a female, one year my junior. I call her spicy cous. She is a ball of passion and goodness. She loves fiercely, plays fiercely and laughs fiercely. I love that she is different to her siblings. We’re a lot alike which is why we fought a little as kids. We can laugh about it now, but we both always wanted to be heard and wanted control. But we had the best times together as well, making up dance routines, having sleepovers, hanging at the beach. There was never a dull moment when us spice girls were together. I love her honesty and her determination. I really respect the life she has built for herself with her family and her career. She has a deep passion for justice in the world which I really admire. She is loyal and kind and gorgeous and I love her muchly. Group hug!

These people have brought humour, fun and joy into a family that often took itself way too seriously. They brought music and laughter and spontaneity. I feel so blessed to be family with them and can’t wait to share some more ridiculous moments REAL soon!

  1. Pick their nose in public
  2. Have a screaming tantrum in K Mart
  3. Walk around the beach completely naked on a busy summer’s day
  4. Point their finger like a gun and shoot at people
  5. Ask questions loudly while watching at the movies
  6. Wear weird clothes that don’t match ie: gumboots, board shorts, t-shirt and vest.
  7. Point out imperfections in adults – “That lady has a fat tummy” or “Your hair looks weird” or “Look at all the wrinkles on your face” or “Have you got a baby in your tummy?”
  8. Eat tomato sauce with a spoon for dinner
  9. Burp the alphabet
  10. Tell the truth without any filters
  11. Jump in puddles
  12. Fart loudly
  13. Cry when they’re disappointed
  14. Have public rumble sessions, all in good fun
  15. Toilet talk – poo poo, bum head, toilet wee, fart face
  16. Go to sleep in the car and be carried into bed, still asleep
  17. Sing the wrong words to songs at the top of their voice
  18. Touch their toes
  19. Have play dates where they actually play
  20. Have their teeth brushed by someone else
Oh to be a kid again. Or not! Go on be funny. What else can kids do that us adults miss out on?

As a kid I truly believed that the perfect family existed. It wasn’t mine but, like all fairytales, I believed a prince and princess would marry and they would live happily ever after with their perfect offspring. Sigh. The sunset would have ridden into and a wedding would happen in a castle heated by love. Blergh.

If you still believe in such fairytales, excuse me while I bust your bubble. Revelation time: there is no perfect marriage and there are no perfect families. Now, take a moment for that to sink in… and we’re moving on!

I’m sure you can remember when you looked at some families and believed that they had it all together. The marriage seemed hunky dory and the kids seemed to gel. They had the BEST toys, a great dog and friendly neighbours. Everyone seemed to love them and all was rosy. Perhaps compared to your life it was heavenly but heaven ain’t on earth, no matter how much we want it to be.

I remember when my ‘perfect family’ bubble burst. It was the moment my friend came to me in tears after a fight with her mum. A fight? In their house? Never! Sad but true. And over the years the golden shine of that family has tarnished. I’m kinda happy about that. It’s a lot to live up to. I have a lot more respect for my friend and still hold much affection for her family but they’re not a perfect unit. How good is that?

I look at my own little family and wonder how we seem to the outside world. We try very hard to be a happy family but I never want anyone to assume it’s all roses and rainbows behind closed doors cos it’s not. Our kids get on pretty well but aren’t perfect, nor do I want them to be. My little man seems to hate conflict and runs away from it. Sometimes that’s good cos it keeps the peace but I worry about how that will effect him in the future.

My daughter and I tend to provide the ‘interest’ in the family. Meaning that we’re a little bit spunky and have tantrums from time to time. We can be ever so loving and the next minute spittingly frustrated. We take out our enormous feelings out on whomever is closest and that is often the boys. Sorry fellas!

It’s all about balance and being honest, I reckon. About letting each other be who they be without causing too much pain and conflict. Though my girl can scream and yell that I don’t love her, I have to hold that, have to just walk her through her feelings and teach her right from wrong without losing my temper. It’s hard work. And it’s not always pretty. My neighbours can vouch for that!

We need to get it firmly implanted in our brains that there is no perfect family. Yippee. It’s kinda unfair putting that label on anyone;  no one can ever live up to that. So let us join hands and embrace our imperfections, have a giggle and let it all go!

Image by DeFacto

One of the great pleasures of summer holidays was visiting my grandparents at Brunswick Heads with the cousins. I reckon we only saw our beloved cousins once or twice a year so it was always a thrill to have some solid playtime with them. We would rock up, squeal, hug them and track down our favourite toys.

Then we’d head to the beach, towel swung over shoulder, together as a mob. Sometimes when it was just my brother and I, we would be treated to a ride to the beach in my grandfather’s little yellow (?) moke. This is the original beach mobile. It always felt a little wild, zooming down the cruisy streets of Brunswick, tongues flapping in the wind. We would have to hang on tight to whatever beach toy we’d brought and hope that no other ‘proper’ car would bash into us. Finally we’d arrive, hair matted in the salty air. But we didn’t care.

Sometimes it was hard work visiting the grandparents. They were kinda strict on clean rooms and table manners and made us watch opera on tv with massive earphones straddling our head. But a ride in the moke and a trip to the beach made it all worthwhile.

Fast-forward twenty or so years and here I am. Back in a seaside town. Though it is a lot more upmarket than downtown Brunswick Heads. But, to my surprise, mokes are making a comeback. Though we are a safety conscious generation, the mighty moke is back and back with a vengeance. People have done away with their Audis and BMWs and embraced this humble little vehicle. Awww, I just want to give it a hug, cutie patootie. I’m not sure if I would take my kids down to the beach in one but if it was good enough for mini me, why not?

Did you have a moke in the 80s? Would you buy one today?

I just spent a glorious short weekend at the ‘family’ farm with one of my closest friends. There’s something special about this place. Every time I arrive I let out a giant sigh that leaves my body feeling like a wrinkly, deflated balloon… in a good way.

My mother in law bought this house several years ago and it oozes her. I call it an ‘Anne of Green Gables’ type of house. It is an A-frame house, two storeys and sits in the hip of a small hill. Inside, the house is full of memorabilia, mostly photographs of the family, the kids when they were babies and some of the older gen who are no longer with us.

There are also knickknacks from various trips around Australia, Europe and Hong Kong. There’s the little cow ornament, St
Moo-low that we brought her back from St Malo and the soft choir-boy teddy from the time they sang in Winchester Cathedral with their own choir. In the bathroom there is a curious mobile that has always dangled over their shower. It’s like a quirky tradition that no one ever questions.

If you look carefully you may spot some pink birds attached to the curtains or the scary man’s face in the wood panelling of their wardrobe. My little daughter refused to sleep in this room because she could see a scary face in it. It’s things like these that make childhood memories.

As you go up the stairs, you’ll see beautiful paintings of ancestors and landscapes. There are photos, drawings and paintings of important houses and places that have been special to the family. It’s like every piece has a story… a memory. When I sleep in one of the top rooms I look up at the complex and beautiful roof and remember when my kids were babies. They slept in a cot in our room. It was always dark when they woke in their fluffy green, red or white sleeping bag. Their cheeks were freezing so we bundled them into bed with us. Ah.

Or the time everyone was about for someone’s birthday. Or when the fire pit was built and we all had pancakes. Or the weekend every single child had an accident. Or the tree that my son has claimed as his own. There are memories in toys, dress ups and chairs. We all may grow older but somehow this house stays the same. It’s a comforting thing.

The view is incredible. The sky seems so big out there in the country. Down the bottom of the property is the parachute club that provides hours of entertainment with its sky divers and planes. There is something soulful and exciting about this place. Spiders and snakes and sky divers, trees, old gates and quirky cows who demand more bread.

This place oozes love and memories and family. It is a generous and welcoming place. You are guaranteed not to go home hungry, lonely or tense. The wind may blow, the rain may fall (or not) and the cold may whip but in this place, you are part of something sweet. I just love it!

Image by Duncan Kenneth Winter

  1. My daughter has confused freckles with nipples. So she thinks random people have nipples on their face.
  2. On the same subject, my son once pointed to his chest and said, “What are these, mum.” I replied, “Nipples”. He said “Oh like Nanny’s nipples. Um… uh huh!
  3. My son was running around in the house with no undies on, like all kids like to do. I said to him, “What would people say if they saw Daddy running around with no undies on.” The reply, “Wow, you’re a handsome Daddy!”
  4. One day my daughter was admiring my new haircut. She said, “Oh, Mum, you’ve had a haircut. You look just like Darth Vader.” She wasn’t joking.
  5. The same daughty calls Chewbacca from Star Wars, ‘Funny Monkey Jarmies’.
  6. I said to my son that I wasn’t going to be home for dinner. His response? “I’ll miss you as much as I can.”
  7. Daughter, expressing her opinion of the news, “I don’t like news. It’s ewwwwww. It’s so newsy.”
  8. We were having a deep existential conversation at the dinner table, as you do with two small children. And when there was a break in conversation, daughter said, “After this, do you want me to show you my belly?”
  9. When asked what God is saying when he puts a rainbow in the sky, my son, in a deep voice said, “Wow, that’s a nice rainbow.”
  10. From one of my kids, a moment to treasure, “Mum, I love you too much!” Awwwwww

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