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Image by Jaguar

There’s a moment in time, a rare second, when all is right with the world. It is in these times that all people in all areas of your house, your sphere are truly happy.

We had this moment last night. A golden time of slow motion laughter, twinkling eyes and sighs of  contentment. A pure light shining from the clouds kinda time. It went like this:

6 year old son had complained of a sore hip all weekend. He’d played soccer on it, won the game and player of the match and scored a goal –  a mummy boasting moment. Then on the Sunday he couldn’t actually walk. So we carried and hobbled him around like an invalid, poor fella. He was very good through this time and was eating well with no temperature so the fear of infection disintegrated. Sigh. So a bit of a worry but not too much. Me (mother), hubby (father) and sister doted on the little rascal, fetching him snacks and ruffling his Luke Skywalker hair in a friendly manner.

He was happy throughout but needed a little more TLC as dinner approached. The kids were bathed, warmed, dressed and ready for some mighty fine leftovers dinner, a typical Sunday dinner thing. And so the golden moment approached.

I, as the TV guru in the house, realised that season 2 of our beloved Community was about to come on the television around dinner o’clock. It was then that the greatest idea of all time dawned upon my brain! So I chucked the two kids in the son’s bed with massive cushions and my laptop. How to Train Your Dragon was slipped into the disk drive (do they still call it a disk drive?) and they were off into movie land.

A semi-healthy / non-spillable dinner was served upon their laps and their eyes started to twinkle. Meanwhile, the growns switched on the television in the lounge room and ate dinner while watching their fav adults only television show LIVE on TV! Wowa.

Then it dawned on me… the golden moment. Kids, happily tucked up under doona with massive pillows chowing down on dinner and us adults happily sitting watching an inappropriate show. No parental guilt here my friends. Nup. Everyone was swweeeetttt.

It really was an infinitely win-win-win situation. And it’s not one that will save the world or make any huge difference to anyone else but it’s just nice, as a mum, to be able to bring joy to your household, even for just a moment.


There’s something soulful about music isn’t there? Even if you’re tone deaf and musically ignorant, it is universally understood that music is special. It can heal the sick, soothe the crying bubbas and relax muscles.

Nothing else can do what music does. Combine it with lyrics and you have some free or cheap therapy. When a songwriter has experienced something similar to you it feels like they are reading your mind, your life and that they truly understand. You are no longer alone. Music, therefore, is company, can be a friend, a confidant. So comforting.

In film and theatre, music can make or break the story. Half the fear factor in thrillers is the creepy music. You know something is going to happen cos the music is building, it’s low and slow and… da DA! Frightening. Similarly you know everything will be alright when the music starts sounding Disney-like; operatic and filled with bells.

Songs reflect lives and stages in lives. We have a mix on our ipod of songs our kids have loved from when they were very little: ‘If I had Words’, ‘MLK’, ‘Blame it on the Boogie’, ‘Utopia’, ‘Rhythm Nation’, ‘One Little Coyote’ and more… Ah the memories. Then there’s the mix from our world trip seven years ago including: the soundtrack from Amelie (France), ‘Dreaming my Dreams’ (Ireland), ‘Hand in my Pocket’ (Vancouver), ‘Little Less Conversation’ (Vegas!). Whenever we hear a song from Ben Folds we remember driving through Spain, the dry rocky hilltops playing host to strange medieval towns.

Music is crucial at weddings, funerals, 21sts, Bar Mitzvahs and cafes. We live and breathe music especially in a culture that fears silence. We have access to song in film, radio, tv (jingles and such), cds, ipods, iphones, mp3 players. Ditties get stuck in our head so we really cannot escape it! Hooray.

It’s amazing how babies respond to music. My kids have both been beside themselves and the only thing that helped was quiet, soothing music. Other times we have had so much fun dancing around our living room, bopping to Michael or Janet Jackson, Abba or The Wiggles. I love the fact my kids love all kinds of music. It is so special to me.

Music is in everyone. Why is it so important? I wonder about people in comas or others whose minds have gone if music is still familiar to them. Perhaps it is the last thing to go because it is in their soul. Incredible.

Twenty minutes to get my blog done today. A small girl climbs on my shoulders. Many cuddles, how can I resist?  She cackles like a crow in my ear, interrupted only by ee-ii-o, her own version of ‘Old Macdonald’.

She is a talk-a-holic, according to her kindy teachers. Which is a little strange because there’s that shy side as well. She is known by many names: funny bunny, tropical, water, princess (of course), ballie-woo… Some say she is a mini me but she’s no carbon copy. Her face is part me part papa. She has inherited her father’s awesome eyebrows and possibly her grandmother’s mouth. Not sure where that nose has come from, though.

She is bright and focussed, great at fine motor and the like. As I watch my kids grow, it gets me thinking about the ups and downs of being a parent. One of the most rewarding and difficult parts of the job is watching your little munchkins grow. I love seeing hints of who they are going to be in the future. Their strengths and weaknesses and quirks. It’s great fun!

I love/hate the challenge of tantrums. It is exhausting but exhilarating when you get it right! Super mum moment here I come!!! I love being in the zone, saying the right thing at the right time. I love when they get it! When that hard earned and learned wisdom pays off. There is nothing better than using your painful experiences to help others. It is especially rewarding when those people are your kids.

Parenthood is hard but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I firmly believe that the best things are the hardest. So if you’re finding being a ma or pa a bit of a slug, you’re in good company. Keep that chin up and walk on. For, as Anne of Green Gables says, “Tomorrow is a new day without any mistakes in it yet!” (or something like that!)

I’ve discovered the art of sorbeting. Summer in Australia demands something healthy, simple and COLD to get you through those stinky hot days without packing on the kgs!

Sorbet is a simple thing to make. And it gets me thinking about the meaning of life. Like sorbet, the best things in life often take a long time. They are not overly complicated or stressful, just need a little love and care and planning, with a spot of the spontaneous. You can have a recipe all planned out, ingredients at the ready and then a voice inside you says, “too much lemon juice!” So you deviate a little from the original plan for (hopefully) the benefit of the final product.

The key to a great sorbet is time. You must have a great deal of patience. And if you do, your resulting dessert will be better. You cannot mix in the egg whites before the initial mixture is frozen well, otherwise the whole thing will fall apart. Ah, tis a life lesson delivered in a waffle cone. The world is an impatient place with the subtext of “I want it NOW NOW NOW!”. You just cannot do that with sorbet (and other things). What we need is a lesson in delayed gratification and turn our modern noses up at that cheeky, demanding voice that clammers in our ears. We don’t need to have things NOW! Besides which, not everything in life CAN be had now.

My son has been earning pocket money making his bed and emptying the dishwasher. When he gets to around the $5 mark, he begs to be taken to the shops to spend it and every time the same thing happens. Tears! Tears because his $5 won’t buy him the $200 Star Wars Lego, tears because his $5 won’t buy him the $16 Star Wars Lego, tears because there is nothing of substance that he can buy for $5. Life lesson time: I say that things cost more than he thinks and perhaps it would be good to save more money so he can buy what he really wants = delayed gratification. Ta da! It’s so sad to see him in Kmart crying but it really is an important lesson.

The best things in life take time. They take passion and determination. Even saving for beloved Lego or waiting, salivating next to the freezer. The time has come, nay the year has come to embrace the simplicity of yesteryear. When we didn’t have the groovy gadgets that come with instant gratification. Because in the end, that instant is over, well, in an instant and then… it is over!

Check out this Lemon Sorbet recipe (warning! it is VERY lemony)

image by Andre Karwath

image by Luis Garcia (Zaqarbal)

We all hear stories about the ‘bad’ kid. What they get up to, the lack of discipline in the family unit, the shock, the horror, the blame. But what about the ‘good’ kids? How does our world see them? And what effect does this have on our little ones?

Our culture loves to label people, whether it be good or bad. These, labels or  boxes are difficult to handle, even when you find yourself in a sparkly container with neon flashing lights. A box is still a box. You see, being a good kid, means expectations are high and your parents are seen as super duper ‘good’ or incredibly ‘controlling’. To quote Gloria Estefan, “it cuts both ways”.

I have pretty good kids. My son is well-behaved, sensitive, kind and not really a crazy boy. My daughter is spirited but on the whole, loving, kind and shy-ish. Sometimes various parental types will describe my kids to other parentals as well-behaved, good! It’s funny, you know, because I almost take offense to this. Not because they mean it as a criticism but it is as if they are saying that I’m lucky, I’ve got it easy or I’m some kind of super-mum. Which, by the way, is a complete myth! I quickly jump in with an embarrassed, “Oh they have their moments, don’t you worry.”

I don’t like being boxed in and I think it is unfair to label kids anything, even good! Because, I’m afraid that some kids, under that kind of pressure, go BAD! I love the idea that I fail. I have to, because I do it so often. It is a terrible thing for anyone to fear failure. Bring it on. My confession: I am not a perfect mother. I make ridiculous mistakes, I lose it, I have tantrums, (that equal my 4 year old’s sometimes). I get stroppy, cranky, I throw things, slam things and cry. I don’t know why my kids are well behaved and I definitely do not take credit for them. They are beautiful gifts and I’m so proud of them both. I love their personalities, their variety, their passions and beautiful hearts.

I never want them to live in a sparkley box; no one can ever live up to that glitter. It’s just not realistic. Everyone needs to have the freedom to fail and even to misbehave (or else how do you learn?). Otherwise, you have to live up to a perfect reputation which is impossible. It will drive them bonkers and make them miserable.

Maybe I have been strict or particular or whatever with my kids. But most of all I hope they remember that I love them, just as they are, even though sometimes, in those ‘fail’ moments, I wish they were more resilient or more sensitive or more aware or more tidy or ate with their mouth shut or ate dinner with gusto. Seriously, though, it is time we found our box cutters and set our kids and ourselves FREE!

School is back! I’m ready and rearing to go. Walking into the playground this morning felt surreal. I’m a real mother of a schoolboy now. I know the ropes, the people, the uniform and the teachers, no prob.

The familiarity of the school reminded me of a a television show. There in the playground were all the same characters. I was familiar with the plot and the tension. There were reunions, like an old cast getting back together for another season. It felt very Truman-esque. What will happen in the first episode? Will the long lost classmate come back from his world travels or will the directors and writers keep us in suspense?

How will the children cope without their usual teacher? Will the downtrodden finally stand up to the bullies? Will the basil survive the harsh winter and the possums and bandicoots? And when will it be library day? Oooo and who is going to be the new sportsmaster/mistress (?)?

I’m sure we’ll be eased back into the rhythm of the show. We’ll, once again, meet all the characters and observe how they relate to each other. There may be tears or new friendships formed. It will be a settling time once again.

A new term means a new focus with renewed energy. That’s a lot of NEW! But with the new, comes a lot of the old and that’s what makes us feel at ease. We are part of something bigger than a simple story; real community. No tv show can recreate the highs and lows of real life in small suburban Australia.

I love the characters at our school. They are endearing sorts. And I bet at the end of the ‘show’ when we look back, tears will well up as at the end of our favourite tv series. Our hearts will be warmed by the good memories as well as the challenges we were able to conquer together.

No more drop off, no more kids, no more homework, dirty nits.

The school holidays can be hard work for all concerned. Budgets are stretched, patience tested and brains are squeezed daily in a desperate search for the ideal holiday experience. The weather may be bad, or the kids sick or you may be sans car. Whatever the school holiday challenges are, we must be prepared. We must have our school holiday survival kit on hand.

Image by Rama

The Official School Holiday Survival Pack:

  • Movie tickets
  • Zoo, Aquarium, wildlife park etc tickets
  • Cousin / Friend days (share the load, people!)
  • Dvds (for those foul winter afternoons)
  • Kid’s recipe book + grandma/nanny/nanna to cook with them (while you pop your feet up on the lounge)
  • Painting / Play dough (depending on the age of your kid)
  • A trip – be it a weekend away, four days, or an adventure day
  • Special food – holiday cereal, snackage
  • New skills – tying shoes, learning somersaults, playing cricket – time is your friend
  • Bike riding – around and around and around they go as you sit in the winter sun and chat to a friend or two.

Alternate and unusual options include:

  • Backyard camping – for those who just cannot bring themselves to brave the cold of the real outdoors. Dig a hole, light a fire, toast marshmallows then hop in your tent (if you’re brave) or go inside and snuggle in your own bed.
  • Dance party – Hit mix includes a bit of Bon Jovi and lashings of Michael Jackson and his l’il sister.
  • Sand craftilisation competition: Beach, cold sand and beating hearts. The winter wind will fill their sails and inspire some highly impressive creativity. Make sure you bring prizes!

For those of us who have nearly reached the end of our tethers. Take heart. Be kind to yourself and enjoy the little rascals, for next week it’s all over.

It all starts at school. Zero to four are the pure years. They don’t usually know bad words or how to become top dog of the group. Then they begin Kindergarten.

“Dad, what does sexy mean?”, asked our five year old pure blue-eyed lad. What on earth? Where on earth? “Not for kids, son” said the wise father. “That’s what I told the other kids” said the five year old wiseling (“PHEW!”, breathed the parents).

It all starts here and now. The growing, the learning, the eyes widening to the ways of the world. A world that is far from pure, kind or comfortable. What a shock to the system it will be when they know the stuff we know; not that you want your kids wrapped in ‘cotton wool’. But it is a shame that they have to learn the bad with the good. Such is life!

Infants school can bring out the best or worst in a child, depending on where they sit on the social ladder and what kind of child they are. There are the small, weak ones, perhaps younger than all the others. They take longer to learn, they get nervous and do embarrassing things. Their cheeks get redder, their hole gets deeper; it’s a hard place to escape.

It’s so interesting to observe the inner workings of the Kindergarten world. I am humbled by it actually. I see kids behaving as adults do, though kids do it unashamedly, right in your face. Human nature can be so nurturing, kind and equally, damaging, selfish and cruel. It’s built in, taught, modelled. This humbling reflection of the adult world gives me pause. What am I teaching my kids with my mutterings and opinions and behaviour?

Our precious little sponges, sponge off us first, then off to the big old world. Once the Kindergarten train has left the station, this world is opened up. If only we’d kept those rose coloured glasses from our own childhood, they would have come in handy right about now.

In a small African mud hut a sick mother lay on a hard, dirt floor. Her child by her side, she prayed for a bed to experience a little comfort before she died.

Twelve thousand kilometres away, a small boy, only two years old, woke up from his afternoon nap. He had been dreaming about the video his parents had shown him. It was of their trip to Munich, where they spent the day touring the Dachau Museum. This was housed in a World War Two concentration camp and the boy was amazed at how simple and hard the beds were. He could not comprehend that those people slept on wooden beds. They had no mattresses, no sheets, blankets or pillows. His own sleep was filled with questions.

He woke up aware of what needed to be done. As soon as he saw his mother, the little boy said, “Mum, we need to get a poor person a bed.” The mother thought this was a beautiful idea and shared it with her husband who knew a man in a poor country twelve thousand kilometres away. This man was asked if he knew anyone who needed a bed. “Let me see”, he said.

That Sunday he went to his church and asked around to see if anyone had need for a bed. This is when he met the poor, sick woman who had yearned for a little comfort. The man told the happy news to the family far away and things were put into action.

This sick mother received two beds. One for her son, one for herself. She died the following year, having had a little comfort to bring her peace in her final days. This all began with a two year old boy, a dream, an idea. Which goes to show, that no matter how young you are, you can change someone’s world for the better.

This is a true story.

I love the dreams of small children. They see and speak truth. Their ideas are powerful and should always be encouraged. I am amazed at how this tiny child was inspired to bring joy and comfort to a dying mother so far away.

You cannot walk into a family home without seeing a chart. It may have ticks, stickers, or words to encourage small children to do this or that. Charts can cover toilet training, food consumption or chores. It is a visual progress record of the learning process. The most important thing about a chart is the reward.

I have an inner chart. I think if I can get through this day, I will reward myself with my bottom on couch, remote in hand and probably Gilmore Girls or ER on DVD. If I eat healthy food all day, perhaps in the evening it will be PUDDING TIME. Or how about if I do all my jobs (those dirty, messy, unpleasant jobs that make my nose curl) then I can hang out with my homies without regret.

Think of your job or uni degree. There are expectations and deadlines to meet. What keeps us going? Why do we continue to do the necessary and often unpleasant things everyday? Two words: inner chart. There has to be a reward at the end of it all. It has to pay off somehow. Whether it be impressing someone (not always the best motivator) or the old ‘means to an end’ philosophy or perhaps a tangible reward like a holiday, chocolate or a bottle of wine.

The inner chart begins at birth. We are rewarded for good behaviour, for achievements and a job well done. As we grow we get pocket money and outings; a trip to the movies?. As adults we get great jobs, relationships, money, status, influence – they all become our Freddo Frogs! It’s putting in the hard yards, doing the dirty, muddy, unpleasant things that get us those frogs.

I think of what my current chart is… work? friends? purpose? happy kids. At the end of the day, if my bones are warm, my kids are happy, healthy and whole and all is as well as it can be with the world, well, that’s the best frog a girl can have!

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