Tuesday, November 26, 2013

You can't have it all

In the 90s I did an arts degree (journalism major). All my life I have loved to learn - especially history - and doing my degree gave me lots of opportunities to spend time pondering the past.

With Spring nearly over (only a few days left) I have been doing a spot of 'culling'. Nothing like throwing stuff out to make room for the unstoppable invasion of plastic knick knacks that attack my house each Christmas.

Going through my filing cabinet I stumbled across these assignment notes. They were from a course called Myth and Ideology and we studied Greek mythology and its impact on the world.

Now there's a fun way to blow a thousand dollars! I just loved this subject.

The premise of the assignment was Antigone encounters opposition not because she is strong minded and transgressive, but because she's a woman. How much fun I had reading the old texts and coming up with arguments to support my ideas.

Back then, I was quite the feminist. I was going to be someone. I wasn't going to let 'being a girl' get in the way of my success. I wrote for smaller newspapers and envisaged a life with a briefcase and BMW. I had planned a law degree after finishing my Arts (unless Getaway called and offered me my dream job as a location researcher).

Fast forward 16 years - here I am with a dusty briefcase under my bed, three kids arguing over who gets to shower first today and a stack of report cards to complete.

What would my younger self think? That I've failed? Like Antigone, I've been a victim of my own femininity? Would she wonder what happened?

This is what happened. I made a decision. A decision to follow my heart to a boy in a country town. I went into a job that wasn't my first preference but one I knew could make me happy. I made a decision to have children in my twenties because I knew I really wanted a family more than anything else in the world. I knew I couldn't possibly build the family I wanted and climb the career ladder at the same time (although I did try it for a bit).

Maybe other people can. I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm just saying I couldn't do it and be happy. I don't think that makes me a failure.

I'm still in contact with some people from my uni days. They're either like me - having chosen other dreams over career-success, or they're enjoying career success sans family.

If I could go back to my younger self, I'd tell her it's not important to have it all. What is important to have priorities. And do what makes you happiest.

Works for men, too. When our eldest was a baby, my husband was busy building an empire - determined to climb that career ladder all the way up. Mr Z and I watched Gilmore girls and ate steamed veges on our own every night while Daddy worked himself ragged in the office. He missed the first steps, the excitement of the first words - he missed putting that sleepy baby down for his sleep at night.

By our third child hubby had discovered that some dreams are bigger than an enormous bank balance and had changed his priorities. He downsized and even took a year working from home so that he could enjoy playing with our Small Boy while he was still an infant. He is happier than he has ever been.

Am I glad I chose family over career? Yes. I can live with not having a BMW, but I couldn't have been content without having had kids. Seeing friend struggle with infertility, I thank my lucky stars every single day for these small people who have blessed my life.

Do I wonder what my life could have been? Of course I do. But I wouldn't change it for the world. Do I feel I have failed, given that I haven't reached my career potential? No. I might not have a BMW but I do have a happy family, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Wondering what inspired this rant reflection? This article. It sounds like one I would have written in my early twenties. If you're on team contented is enough, read the comments. They made me smile :)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The very last one...

A milestone crept up on me this week.

My last playgroup. Like, ever.

After eight years of weekly meet ups (excepting that one crazy year when I worked fulltime) with other mums, I had my last one last Tuesday. Next year my Small Boy goes off to 'school'. A couple of days at Kindy and two days at the ECDP where they will get him ready (listening and talking-wise) for prep.

I thought I would be sad. I thought I might even cry. But in actual fact, as I walked through the door for the last time, I breathed a sigh of relief.

It's not that I haven't loved playgroup. I really have. I've made some (quite possibly) lifelong friends. I've had help and advice and support when I've needed it (sometimes when I haven't needed it too, if you know what I mean).

I've sort of grown up at playgroup. I've gone from a brand new mother, gingerly laying a milky newborn on a blanket (far from all the other children, brandishing cars and trucks) to the sort of mother who can watch her brood with one eye while scoffing down tea and biscuits and recounting the latest antics of her tribe.

source: unknown
But I feel okay that that part of my life is over. Playgroup used to be the place I went to for conversation. Now I have conversations with Mr Z and Miss Piggy. Playgroup used to be the place I went to for support.
Now I can giggle or cry (as the occasion demands) with girlfriends over coffee once the kids are in bed. No more nappies, no more mashed bananas, no more waiting up for 11pm feeds.
Feels kind of liberating.
Linking up to Maxabella's Weekend Rewind

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Reading the warning signs

Interesting time at the dentist. Sigh.

Mr Z got a bit over-excited at the playground and smashed his front tooth (his adult tooth) on a concrete dolphin. As you do. Who on earth puts a CONCRETE dolphin in a playground?!

Cue panicked phone call to dentist. An after hours one. Dollars. Sigh.

Cue hurried introduction to dentist I don't know who's probably hungry and tired and just wanting to get home to his dinner.

Cue panicked 8 year old, huge injection and eyes wide open in fear (mine).

Poor Mr Z, trying hard to be brave. I'm trying hard to be brave.

Then I saw it. Something I hadn't seen in years. An odd jiggle in one of his legs.

You see, Mr Z has inherited my panic attacks. When he was small (between 18 months and the age of three) he used to have at least one, most days. He would drop to the ground, rigid with fear and start thrashing around while turning blue. Then he'd pass out, regain his colour, and go on almost as if nothing had happened. Scared the life out of me the first... I dunno... fifty times they happened. Scared a lot of innocent bystanders too!

Initially we weren't sure what they were. Were they fits? Was it asthma?

We had electrodes stuck to his head, visits to paediatricians and other people before we worked out they were panic attacks. Plain and simple. Over minor things like spilling his milk or losing his truck or stubbing his toe. Often they happened at playgroup or the shops or places he felt out of control. They were often about things I couldn't see/find/work out at the time of the attack.

We worked on relaxation techniques and a plan for when he felt 'wobbly'. I learned to watch for the signs - that restless leg, the sudden stillness - and help him to feel safe before the panic had a chance to take hold. Helping him helped me with my panic attacks, too.

So, when I saw that jiggle in his leg, in that huge dental surgery, I had a moment of panic. What if he started thrashing while that injection was going in?

I acted. I don't know whether I made the situation better or worse. I blurted, "Um... he has panic attacks! If he goes blue or starts thrashing, don't panic, he'll be fine". The dentist turned to me, with fear and perhaps anger (I'm not so good at reading people so not really sure), "Why isn't it in his file? What medication does he take? Why wasn't I told?". Of course, then Little Z did start to panic. By the time I'd mumbled something about it not being part of their form, no medication required, just calm voices and explanations about what was going to happen, he was in full twitchy glory.

I eventually calmed us both down but repeating, over and over, "We are BRAVE, Z. We are brave." I was comforting myself as well as my son.

So.... There's now a temporary cap on his tooth. It's wonky but functional. We have to wait to see if the nerve will die and then go for a more permanent solution.

Little Z seems OK about it all. Now he knows what it will feel like (both of us hate that numb feeling) and look like (injections and all) when it all happens, he says he'll be more brave next time. I believe him.

I wonder what that dentist thinks of me. Probably hysterical mother who caused her son to have a panic attack by mentioning it in the first place. But. He didn't know about the twitchy leg. He doesn't know Mr Z's signs.

I do.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Beauty Disasters

I'm not one who pays much attention to my appearance. I mean, I like to dress well but I find makeup a tedious bore (mostly in the removal) so I rarely bother. Usually, I just smear on a moisturiser with sunscreen and put on a smile.
My friend Jo is awesome at selfies. I, clearly, am not!

Despite rarely bothering with beauty, I seem to have a bathroom full of products. Some are left overs from the time I tried to sell Avon (disaster), some are bargains I picked up on impulse (I love a bargain bin, especially after a disastrous day), others are gifts from people.

Who buys beauty gifts for others? Are they trying to tell me something?

Anyway. I've discovered that the most frightening mirror isn't the one in the Big W change rooms (fluoros and cheap mirrors are a bad combination, I'm sure you'll agree). It's the little mirror in the sunvisor in the front seat of my car. In that little mirror, I've discovered that you can see your wrinkles up close and personal, without even wearing your prescription sunnies. Eeeeek!

Which brings me to my latest disaster. After said discovery of road map of fine lines on my forehead, I brought out all the bottles that said anti-wrinkle, anti-aging, anti- anything.

They had collected a lot of dust and all had tiny writing which I had to find my glasses to read. Dust and glasses. That doesn't scream old person, does it?!


My bathroom basin is sporting a vintage look thanks to Vit-C serum that has gathered some colour with age. As my friend said, you don't want a vintage glow to your face. So probably good that a small person seems to have tipped most of it down the drain. After using a night cream, my skin is still wrinkly but now sporting pimples (do pimples count as anti-aging? I look like the wrinkliest teenager in Australia).

So, am giving up. Wrinkles draw attention away from my grey hair. They show you have lived. They show character and courage and perseverance, traits I'm wishing for my kids. Why bother? Really, what can I do about it?

I resolve to drink more water, keep slapping that coconut oil* on (it has improved the redness on my neck) and not look in the sunvisor mirror again.

That's a plan, isn't it?


* Coconut oil is great for killing lice, apparently. I tend to pour it in once a week or so, leave it for an hour while I do housework eat tim tams and then wash it out. Hairdresser says that hair is lovely and shiny. While I wash it out, I let it run all over me, makes my skin soft, too :)
Linking up with Maxabella Loves Weekend Rewind

Knowing you're done

The other day a colleague brought her newborn niece into our staffroom. While I watched everyone fussing over the tiny little thing I felt pangs of actual pain in my stomach. So much so I actually got up to have a chat to someone on the other side of the room just to take my mind off it all.

It was the end of a long day and I could have just gone home, but I felt a sort of internal conflict going on in my body - some sort of strange baby-magnetism kept me there, despite my feet wanting to take me elsewhere. M, a new grandmother whispered to me as she sidled past to get a closer look at the little poppet. "It's ok - we know you're a breeder," she winked conspiratorially.

It's true. I think that had I been born a hundred years ago, I would now have ten or eleven children. All driving me insane. Perhaps I may not have wanted ten offspring, but some sort of biological urge would have kept me permanently knocked-up, I am sure of it.

I know that for my circumstances, three is my absolute limit. When Small Boy was born, I wished that we had the opportunity for one more - for a little 'mate' for him to play with. I've always loved that closeness my older two share. As time has gone by, I've realised that one more would have meant that I had no time/energy to do all the things that Small Boy needs me to do for him. But part of me still wonders what just one more would have been like.

I am so lucky - THREE little children to call my own. I know I am blessed with the most amazing gifts that life can offer. I feel greedy even thinking about wanting a fourth when I know so many people are desperate to have even one.

There will be no more babies (Hubby has seen to that). I am perfectly content with my three little people who I love wildly. At least until the next little newborn visits our staffroom ;)

This is a self-portrait I took while 32 weeks pregnant
with little number 3. He was a whopper!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

This is the life

I feel like a posh lady today. I'm not at work, my hair is wound into tight curls at the back of my neck and my nails are done.

This morning, I drove my kids to school and dropped them off, wiping lipstick kisses from their cheeks.

"Have a great day, I love you!" I called cheerily as I waved them off from the car park, knowing that nutritious snacks were packed away in their bags.

It's quite a departure from a normal school day, where I hurriedly put my hair in a bun, wipe any toothpaste that might be lingering on my face and literally shove small people from my car as I wrestle with the bag of marking/craft supplies/sporting attire I need for the day. Usually, Daddy has packed the lunchboxes filled with all sorts of packaged treats and a few healthy things to placate me.

Usually I'm stressed and tired and grumpy and rushing to get into work.

But today, I am on leave from work and I am going to a Melbourne Cup function. I feel like a proper lady. Later, my friend's nanny is going to drop me and a friend at the track, all frocked up in our finery. Just like Gwyneth might do. Or Madonna. Or Danni Minogue. I am so excited, I could almost pop!!!

Mind you, I've been up since the crack of dawn - nutrition-and-makeup-and-painting-of-nails-and-fancy-hairdos all take time and straighteners and that bottle of 'goddess for a day' hairspray that I finally tracked down at the bottom of a drawer. I hope I don't fall asleep after the first wine!

My makeup is probably a bit wobbly because I can't see what I'm doing without my glasses on and I realized that while dirty hair makes for easier upstyling, it also makes your greys stand out like neon lights. My dress (under $40 delivered from ebay) may have an iron mark on it, but it's hardly noticeable and I'm sure I'm going to get rained on/spill something anyway...

That sounds a bit more like me, doesn't it? I'm still in there under all this.. fancy.

Breathe in. Breathe out. This is no time for panic, self-criticism or doubt, this is MY day and I'm going to enjoy it :) And just hope nobody else is wearing their glasses, either.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Misunderstood Child - by Kathy Winters

Love this poem. With help (and fantastic teachers), this child grows into a thinker, a doer and a generous person with a deep heart.

The Misunderstood Child

I am the child that looks healthy and fine.
I was born with ten fingers and toes.
But something is different, somewhere in my mind.
And what it is, nobody knows.
I am the child who struggles in school.
Though they say I'm perfectly smart.
They tell me I'm lazy - can learn if I try -
But I don't seem to know where to start.
I am the child that won't wear the clothes
Which hurt me or bother my feet.
I dread sudden noises, can't handle most smells,
And tastes - there are few foods I'll eat.

I am the child that can't catch the ball
And runs with an awkward gait.
I am the one chosen last on the team
And cringe as I stand there and wait.
I am the child with whom no one will play -
The one that gets bullied and teased.
I try to fit in and I want to be liked,
But nothing I do seems to please.
I am the child that tantrums and freaks
Over things that seem petty and trite.
You'll never know how I panic inside,
When I'm lost in my anger and fright.
I am the child that fidgets and squirms
Though I'm told to sit still and be good
Do you think that I choose to be out of control?
Do you think that I would if I could?
I am the child with the broken heart
Though I act like I really don't care.
Perhaps there is a reason God made me this way -
Some message he sent me to share.
For I am the child that needs to be loved
and accepted and valued too.
I am the child that is misunderstood,
I am different - but look just like you.

Kathy Winters

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I caved... Aussie Animal Cards

When Woollies announced their swap card promotion a few weeks back, I barely registered it. How could I possibly get involved? I mean, I shop at Coles!

When I realised the promo ran over school holidays, I pushed it even further back in my mind. No peer pressure, the kids wouldn't even notice it was on. But then...

A trip to another town where we were forced to visit a Woolworths combined with late nights up watching 'holiday viewing' (lots of Woolworths ads), card mania kind of crept into my house.

We started with twelve cards piled under the TV.

Then, Miss Piggy asked her grandparents to collect cards for her. After a few generous donations from workmates (who heard we were collecting), she had quite a collection of cards. Enough for a good sized rubber band, but I didn't think it warranted an album. After all, she was just going to be disappointed by all the empty spaces.

Then hubby switched to Woollies for the twice weekly pick up of milk and fruit. Apparently if you are a thirty-something dad with a small pig-tailed girl in tow, you are entitled to more than the stipulated 1 set per $20 spent.

Suddenly we had HUNDREDS of cards. And when I counted the cards out, we were actually close to having the complete set.

Time to cave. Yes, we ARE a Woolworths Collect-a-card family. Yes, we need a few to complete the set. But... I wanted Miss Piggy to play a role in completing the set - I didn't want to be the one sorting and ordering for the tenth time after the Small Boy had knocked the pile over again inspected the cards in non-chronological order.

So this afternoon, I made her a deal. If she completed the table below, I would help her to ring her aunties and friends and see if they could complete the set. It was great for her because she got to:

1. Dial numbers on the telephone
2. Practise having an actual, meaningful conversation via phone (as opposed to rabbiting on about ballet and Taylor Swift as she normally does)
3. Practise writing her numbers (she is year 1 and still sometimes reverses the digits)
4. Realise that projects take time and effort to finish.

Good news - we made it! We tracked down all the missing numbers and (once the postman delivers a few envelopes) will have the complete set.

If anyone wants a copy of the sheet we used, here it is.

It was a great reference for Miss Piggy to use when brokering her trades. She's going to take it to school tomorrow to see if she can help her friends to complete their sets too.

Linking up with Maxabella's Weekend Rewind

Facing your fears

I've always fancied being part of the chorus for a show. I love to dance and while I wouldn't say I sing well, I sing well enough to have been part of a high school choir many moons ago. It's not so much that I want to be on the stage with people staring at me, because that is, quite frankly, the stuff of my nightmares. It's more that I've wanted to feel that camaraderie that I imagine happens between the members of cast. I know - sad loser stuff... and probably too much Smash (the TV show).


A couple of months ago, we lost our dear old Ellie. Ellie (Elspeth) was an almost 17 year old Louchen. She was loyal, friendly, gentle, grey woolly mess and we loved her like a child. She slept on my feet every night, she sat beside me through illness and sadness - I can hardly remember being without her. Her name was among our kids' first words, she slept beside their bassinettes and followed their first steps with gentle motherly concern.

So when she left us, I was a complete and utter mess. (Ten weeks later, I'm still a bit of a mess - still looking for her in the morning, forgetting she's gone. Had to change my curtains in the front hall because it made me too sad to see them still instead of rustling with her delight at my arrival home)

Anyway, that particular week I was a real can't-go-to-work, can't-stop-crying, can't-sleep kind of mess. Such a mess, in fact, that I was convinced to audition for a local show. My sister-in-law talked me into it, "just to get you out of the house - c'mon, it'll be fun!" I went along with her imagining (as did she) that we'd just be asked to learn a dance and perform it as part of a small group. Again, probably too much Smash.

When we got there, we realised we were a little bit out of our depth. Not only did we have to do a dance, but we had to do it alone, on a stage, under a spotlight while singing. The other people had been to rehearsals. I had not. And... I felt stupid when I stopped to think about it - I was auditioning for the CHORUS, of course they wanted to hear me sing. Aloud. Alone. In public. Something other than the national anthem.

I considered walking straight out. I joked that we could go to McCafe for cappuccinos and just tell our families that we auditioned... I think I had SIL almost in agreement... but then I thought about what I would tell my daughter if she was in the same situation and feeling doubt.

Who cares if they hear you sing? Who cares that you're gonna stuff it up? Who cares that it's you, all alone in the spotlight, singing and dancing for strangers? When will you ever get this opportunity again? Just do your best, pat yourself on the back for your bravery and walk away with your head held high.

So I did. It was terrifying. It was terrible. It was just what I needed to feel a little bit alive.

Last Friday night I went to see the show - it was absolutely amazing. I enjoyed it and I enjoyed the feeling of having dodged a bullet. What if I had got in?! I would have looked ridiculous in the chorus, and my voice would certainly not have complemented the rest of the cast. I was so glad not to have been the liability on that stage on Friday night! But I was proud of myself for taking the plunge.

So that's something I can cross off my list: Audition for a stage show. Hmm... what shall I do next?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Christmas shopping ideas

I both love and loathe Christmas shopping. I love the presents that are easy to buy - the ones that seem to jump off the shelf in your direction screaming, "This is so (insert friend/relatives name here)!" It's the other half of the gifts that get me down - the ones you seem to spend the weeks up to Christmas stressing over. They also seem to be the more expensive gifts and I'm usually not quite what the recipient had in mind.

Each year, my shopping list seems to get longer - with the birth of new nieces and nephews and the introduction of special people I want to thank. I like to space the buying throughout the year if possible, lessen the Christmas 'crunch'.

Yes... it IS all extremely colour co-ordinated! Two colours per year, that's our rule!
If you think that's a bit weird, you should see my clothes line!
This year, I'm being proactive. I bought all the gifts that screamed at me from the shelf. Specialty board games, concert DVDs, cute clothing for my nieces, toys and funny books.  Then I bought a bunch of other gifts that would be cool 'just in case' gifts - a sort of one-size-fits-most for gifts:

* Recipe book
* Gum ball machine (although the kids found this and have declared it a family appliance)
* A reasonable chick-lit (Jane Green or something equally crowd-pleasing)
* Pretty glassware
* Long handled ice-cream spoons in a bigger box (waiting for me to add sprinkles, crushed nuts and two bottles of flavoured topping)
* Pretty brooch
* Assorted jewelry

Then I made a list of things I could buy 'last-minute' if necessary

* Movie vouchers
* iTunes voucher
* Restaurant voucher
* Bowling voucher
* Coffee voucher

And a list of experiences to somehow gift-wrap

* Trip to the driving range with one bucket of golf-balls
* An afternoon of kite flying (along with a kite)
* An afternoon chatting on the beach (complete with bottle of wine and a voucher for a kilo of prawns) - I'll admit, this is probably a gift to myself as well as my friend!

I wish I could cook confidently enough to offer a Mexican feast as a gift. Or if I was better with contact maybe offer to cover one kids' books!

Anyone have any ideas to add to the list?

I'm seriously hoping to avoid the Christmas panic this December. Now I've just got to work out who gets what... and where I've hidden all the gifts!

Linking up with Essentially Jess - IBOT. Trying to make it a habit. Apologies for the 'nothing' sort of post!!! Will start thinking about next Tuesday's post right away!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Monkey madness - link to free pattern

My cousins are expecting within days of one another and I wanted to send something handmade for their little bundles of joy.

I found a pattern for 'Molly Monkey' by mmmcrafts several years ago and have been waiting for an appropriate time to give it a burl. Larissa has been so generous as to offer the pattern for free/donation.

I love this pattern. Having made lots of other softies, I love how easy this one is to turn inside out. I altered it a little bit to make the ears bigger and the faces easier to complete. I tried to make gender neutral versions as I'm not sure what 'colour' these new babies will be.

As a kid, my favourite toy was a monkey puppet my Dad bought me so this seemed like a nice gift to pass on.

And here they are - not quite finished, but almost ready to take their long voyage over to Europe to be with their new little owners :)

Queen for a day

Today I was a lady of leisure.

Yesterday I made tonight's meal so that today I could just do the things *I* wanted to do... like play with my sewing machine, watch a movie that nobody else wanted to watch, sit in my pajamas all day and drink lots of coffee.

It was great!

The kids were a little bit confused but quickly got on-board when I explained the situation. One day to have a holiday from being a 'mum'**... they thought it was reasonable.

They made their own lunch (it was cereal but it could have been worse). They even hung out the laundry and unstacked the dishwasher WITHOUT COMPLAINING. Miss Piggy brought me a gong (a saucepan and an egg beater) so that I could summon her for random cups of water or biscuits.

It was great! Don't know why I hadn't thought of it before!

** No housework, no taking of random requests, no cooking or cleaning, no chauffer duty... Kisses were still on-tap ;)

Linking up with Maxabella's Weekend Rewind

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Are we just showing off?

As a small child, I thought my Dad was the smartest person alive. This despite the fact he never finished school, lasted only days at some sort of tertiary facility (not even sure what it was, just remember sitting in the car while Daddy went to 'school') and readily told us that the only way he passed his last exams at school (equivalent year ten) was by scamming notes off my mother.

When he was feeling 'well', he was a font of useful information. And I when I say information, I mean detailed information. His answers would usually always start with, "Well get me a pencil and a piece of paper!" He never waved us off with an, "I don't know," - if he wasn't sure, he would take us to the library to look up answers to our questions. He was someone who started impossible projects, who taught himself to do so many new things (even if his backyard mechanics usually ended up with him putting a paper bag full of unknown parts in the boot, with the promise to work out where they went 'later').

Here we are in happy times, circa 1986. I'm the one chasing my sister with a spud gun!

My Dad was the one who taught me the importance of proportion and perspective. "Draw what you see, Sam!" was the catch-phrase of the time. And I tried my best. I would have done almost anything to make him proud, despite the fact what I really wanted to do was get out of the hot sun, away from the too-hard-to-draw gum tree and play with my Barbie.

Until I hit double figures, I also thought my Dad was the world's greatest driver - probably due to the fact he used to tell us what a great driver he was all the time. Looking back, I'm quite sure he wasn't the most fabulous driver - he didn't believe in seatbelts (lots of our cars didn't even have them), he thought nothing of a lot of drinks before driving us home from the pub. He smoked heavily while he drove - almost as though the whole driving thing was a bit of a yawn, really. Yet, he continued to spruik his driving prowess.

While for a lot of years after his death, I tried very hard not to think about him at all, lately I've been thinking about why it was so important for my Dad to have us believe he was a great driver when clearly he was not.

Yesterday, when I took a wrong turn and ended up 40ish kilometres up the wrong highway it all became a little bit clearer. After my initial swear-fest, a short bout of crying (I was tired, I was running out of petrol and my iPhone didn't know where we were) I started my positive self-talk. Although it wasn't self-talk at all...

In my rearview, I had seen Small Boy's bottom lip trembling as he saw his mother looking stressed and frightened. I started telling him, "It's OK. Mummy's a good driver! I've been lost before but I always find my way." I'm not sure what else I said, but before I knew it, the Mr Z and Miss Piggy were chiming in with, "Yeah, Mummy is a great driver. She always gets us where we need to go, even when the road is new and we don't have a map!"

All this smiling and 'showing off' was serving a purpose. Consoling three very tired little people who were hundreds of kilometres from home.

Is that what my father had been doing all those years ago? Masking his own anxieties with positive talk? Were we just hearing the positive side of all that inner-talk he had going on?

Having worked with kids for so many years, I'm always amazed at the faith little people have in their parents. As we grow, we begin recognise their flaws and become bewildered by their 'weird' behaviours. And I wonder... as we get older and have our own kids, do we start to understand them? Are our thirties a cathartic period of forgiveness?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Party Shoes

I've just gotten in from a visit from my younger sister. She lives about 2.5 hours north of here - although yesterday it took me more than 3 hours due to a new 'upgraded' part of the highway which forced me to miss a turn-off, but let's not mention that now*.

I left my new party shoes with my sister. I almost physically winced as I handed them over - they were sooo pretty. Shiny black satin with a pretty bow at the front, a cute buckle around the back and sky high heels below. I've worn them once. So why was I giving them away?

Long ago I used to wear ridiculous shoes. Platform sneakers, Doc Martens, three inch heels and what I called my "Minnie Mousers" - a patent leather platform heel which was so heavy I once blackened both my big toenails during a seven hour dancing marathon.

For several years I have lamented the dust covering my 'party shoes' as I have carried toddlers and nappy bags and done the 'mum-thing' around town in my jeans and black tees.

This year, for my birthday (given that my youngest was now three and perfectly capable of tottering around under his own steam) I bought myself a pair of new party shoes.

 These shoes are available from ASOS
I'm too lazy to photograph my own shoes, so I found this picture!

Excitedly, I teamed the black satin heels with the bow with a short-ish teal dress and some dangly earrings and set off to our local Chinese restaurant with the family. "You look fancy," whispered Miss Piggy as we got out of the car. I felt fancy... almost.

The problem was that I'd forgotten how to walk in heels. Or maybe it was that my middle section was decidedly 'heavier' and it was harder to totter around. Or maybe I'd been looking back at high-heeled memories through rose-coloured glasses (most likely the latter - my friends like to remind me of several well-timed tumbles down the staircase at the Mary Street nightclub in the nineties).

I was exceptionally wobbly and didn't feel in the slightest bit glamorous.

To cut it short, I felt like a teal-coloured, baby giraffe.

Younger me would have snapped these up - also available from ASOS

No more sky high heels for me! I wish my younger sister luck with my fancy black heels. I hope she loves them :)


*The kids are already telling everyone about how we took a detour around a whole mountain. A whole mountain!

Linking up with IBOT at Essentially Jess :)  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Healthy lunchbox filler: noodle pies


2 packets of 2 minute noodles, cooked to packet directions
2 eggs - beaten
1/2 cup cream/sour cream
1/2 cup grated cheese
2 cups of 'filler' (see below)

1. Preheat oven to 160C 
2. Grease a muffin tray
3. Combine all ingredients and spoon into tray

Makes approx 9 large muffin sized pies

Filler ideas:

Pizza: diced fresh tomato, capsicum, carrot and salami
Vege: onion, carrot, zucchini
Hawaiian: ham, pineapple, zucchini
Tuna and sweetcorn with onion

Linking up with Maxabella Loves Weekend Rewind and Flamingo Toes Think Pink Sunday

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How to make a mermaid tail

The things we do for kids, hey? 

A few months ago Miss Piggy asked me if I would make a mermaid tail. I, of course, was very non-committal, suitably vague and said something along the lines of, "Well, maybe in the holidays.." I hoped she would forget about it. She didn't. 

On the weekend I took a trip to Spotlight to buy some new blinds and Miss Piggy innocently volunteered to come with me.

When she mentioned a tour around the fabric section I began to smell a rat, but it wasn't until she produced a $20 note and said, "Daddy said I could buy the fabric for my mermaid tail," I realised I'd been conned. 

So we wandered through the dance fabrics and swim fabrics perusing all sorts of shiny, scary, sequinned type material until we found one that was just right. Green and shiny like Arials. Luckily it was on sale. 

On the way to the counter I reminded her mummy is a beginner with sewing, that mummy would try her best but couldn't make any promises - this mission was bound to end in disaster. At the counter Miss Piggy cheerfully announced to anyone who was listening, "My mum is making me a mermaid tail!".  All the ladies around the counter looked at me with pity and smiles. It seemed like an impossible errand. 

But today was a designated crafty day for Miss Piggy and ... guess what? By some miracle, we managed to make a mermaid tail!!! The stitching may not be grand - and it may have lost some of it shine on its first trip out - but we achieved our goal, nonetheless. 

Step 1: trace around the legs of the prospective mermaid, leaving a seam allowance. Trace onto folded fabric (right sides together). Make sure the stretch goes ACROSS the body. I traced all the way up to her arm pits - just in case!

Step 2: draw in the flume

Step 3: pin, cut and sew around the outside of your pattern, leaving the top and bottoms open
Step 4: turn right side out, mark and pin flume.Sew along the marked line.  I marked the shape of the tail in yellow texta, it rubbed right off the shiny fabric when I was done.

Step 5: cut strips along the bottom of the flume, being careful not to cut your stitching. 

Step 6: cut the strips into waves for that 'floaty' effect in the water

Step 7: try on! Enjoy! 

I scrunched and folded the top to form a waistband at the appropriate height, this allowed for some slippage in the water without the tail falling off. You could add elastic for the same effect. 

Here are some action shots:
We had to race straight over to Nana's pool to try it out!

Actually, this project was simpler than I thought. The only real issues I had was having the wrong needle for sewing Lycra. Luckily, after a quick 'emergency' phone call, 'Daddy' visited the fabric shop and brought home the correct needle during his lunch break - Miss Piggy can be quite persuasive, especially when it comes to her daddy!!!  

I wonder if today is a day she'll think back on when she is older? I hope so, it was a good one :) I'm happy I made her smile :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


A fortnight ago we did something completely selfish. We took a holiday WITHOUT our kids.

I say selfish, because I really did feel bad when I was telling my little people that we were going away in a plane, I felt bad when I booked a swanky hotel where the kids have never been and I felt bad when I asked the grandparents to take a night each in babysitting. 

I felt so bad, I almost considered cancelling! The plane tickets had been a prize (someone has to win the raffle!) and so I knew it would likely be a one-off experience - jetting off for a weekend in the city for some romance. I decided I had to do it. What's more, on behalf of busy parents everywhere, I had to enjoy it, too.

To be fair, since the kids the only 'grown up' holidays we've taken have been separately - a girls weekend here or a boys trip there. We've had the odd evening out together for a wedding or a 40th - but our kids had never spent more than a few hours out of a parent's care. After eight years of parenting, I told myself we deserved a weekend off.

At the airport we both admitted to feeling a little lost. For the first time in eight years, we queued side-by-side and silently, we checked all our luggage through and we read in the departures lounge. We live in a largish country town, so of course we knew half a dozen of the fifty passengers on our plane. A couple of them mentioned, "You look lost... where are your kids?!" We weren't tag-teaming like usual, one kid-wrangling while the other juggled five travel coupons and assorted nappy/toy/overnight bags.

And... it felt good! It felt calm, it felt relaxing. I found that I liked it.

On our little child-free trip, we walked ridiculous amounts - I clocked over forty THOUSAND steps in forty hours. We did things the kids would have found boring... like visiting the gallery and having quiet coffees (OK, J found those things boring too). We also did things that we knew the kids would have loved (eating ice-cream and riding the glass lifts) and promised to let them do those next time we visit the city.

We slept, we joked around, we went out in the evenings for dancing and drinks. We shopped in places that had many, many shiny breakables, shops that were too narrow for a pram and shops that *didn't* have a toy section. 

We remembered how good I was (when my hands were free of children) at dealing a loud slap for his impertinent remarks**. We felt young. We felt connected, we really looked at each other for the first time in months and appreciated one another. If you know my husband, you know he's one of the best - and I sometimes forget  just how lucky I am.

Then.. we came home to our children (who we had missed) - happy and ready to face another week of school drop offs, speech lessons, basketball training and missing ballet shoes. 

We have promised we won't leave it another eight years before we prioritise some quality time together. 

**It's our 'thing'. He insults, I slap. We both enjoy it, honest!

Linking up to IBOT on Essentially Jess

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Earlier this year I was lucky enough to see Pink performing live.

After such a stressful year, I really needed the 'escape' from reality that a trip to the city with 'my girls' entailed. We stayed in a nice hotel the night before, slept in til nearly noon (can't remember the last time that happened) and then got ready for the concert.

It felt like being sixteen again. We talked and sang and did our hair and got way too excited about our special night out. Instead of ringing our parents to let them know we were OK, we rang our husbands to check our children were OK.

Yes, we did have matching PJs - it was a girls' weekend, after all!!!
Part of me wanted to be the sensible grown up who sat on an elevated seat and could relax while watching the show. But the part of me who loves a live act, who gets a thrill from arriving early to get a great view won out. We took the train from the city to the venue, arrived in the pouring rain. But not even soggy hair could dampen our enthusiasm.

We were right in front of the stage and it took a bit to stand our ground, but we ended up in almost perfect position to see the show on the stage and above us in the air.

Not everything was to my taste but it *was* a spectacular show. I found myself marveling that someone (who herself is just five weeks younger than myself) could have that level of energy, creativity and stamina after motherhood. It was every bit as entertaining and wonderful as her previous show, I found myself wanting to go again the minute the curtains dropped.

I relived so much of my young adulthood through her set list. I can't think of another singer who has meant so much to me over my adult life. The anxiety, the self-doubt, the love, the loss, the misery and the joy that being a grown up brings... she nails it every time. Don't let me Get Me, Most Girls, Leave Me Alone (I'm Lonely)... I sang my guts out and loved every minute.

"Just Give Me A Reason"(feat. Nate Ruess)
Right from the start
You were a thief
You stole my heart
And I your willing victim
I let you see the parts of me
That weren't all that pretty
And with every touch you fixed them

Now you've been talking in your sleep, oh, oh
Things you never say to me, oh, oh
Tell me that you've had enough
Of our love, our love

Just give me a reason
Just a little bit's enough
Just a second we're not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again
It's in the stars
It's been written in the scars on our hearts
We're not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again

I'm sorry I don't understand
Where all of this is coming from
I thought that we were fine
(Oh, we had everything)
Your head is running wild again
My dear we still have everythin'
And it's all in your mind
(Yeah, but this is happenin')

You've been havin' real bad dreams, oh, oh
Used to lie so close to me, oh, oh
There's nothing more than empty sheets
Between our love, our love
Oh, our love, our love

 Our tear ducts can rust
I'll fix it for us
We're collecting dust
But our love's enough
You're holding it in
You're pouring a drink
No nothing is as bad as it seems
We'll come clean

 Just give me a reason
Just a little bit's enough
Just a second we're not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again
It's in the stars
It's been written in the scars on our hearts
That we're not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again

Oh, we can learn to love again
Oh, we can learn to love again
Oh, oh, that we're not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again

To me, Just Give Me a Reason to me is the best song on the latest record. It just says everything *I* have learned about love, but way more elegantly than I could ever explain it. Makes me fall in love with Alecia Moore's song writing just that little bit more, and makes me want to hug my husband just that little bit tighter.

If she does another concert tour, I'll be there. Even if it means wearing depends, I'll be standing as front-and-centre as I can afford, singing along.

Are you a fan? What's your favourite song? And does anyone else think the song Leave Me Alone (I'm Lonely) is the perfect harried mother anthem?!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How to really talk to your daughter...

I recently read an article called "How to Talk to Little Girls" by Lisa Bloom. It's making the rounds on facebook and focusses on getting people to really talk to the little girls in their lives, rather than just praising them for their beauty. It suggests really engaging your daughter/niece/friend in meaningful conversation about their goals and aspirations, their accomplishments and achievements.

It is something I have been mindful of as I have begun this journey of raising my daughter.

The thing is, all the little girls I know already open these sorts of conversations, without being prompted. Little girls don't just seek praise for their cuteness and beauty. They want to show you things - things they've made, things they've seen, things that have made them laugh. They want to show you how much they have going on inside their head, the knowledge they've gained since they last had your undivided attention. They are full of words of wisdom, strange facts and beautiful aspirations. They want to prove to you that they matter, they've grown and they have something to contribute.

I really don't really see the problem with telling a little girl she is beautiful. I tell my little Miss Piggy how gorgeous she is almost every day. If not in conversation, with the looks I give her every time she takes my breath away with her radiance and happiness. Of course, I also tell her how much I love to hear her sing, see her dance, how I love her infectious giggle and her big heart. I'll tell her how proud it makes me to listen to her read, to see her explain something with clarity and tenderness to her little brother; her ability to know just when a little squeeze of my hand is going to make my day infinitely better.

Back when my hair had less grey and I could still run faster than Miss Piggy
I can't believe that praising her for her beauty is going to encourage her to one day argue with me over make-up and boys and other grown-up stuff. I refuse to believe that any daughter of mine, raised in this house where civility and  working hard are a prerequisite for parental approval, will honestly ever truly believe that being Australia's Next Top Model is the ultimate honour just because we praised her for her appearance as a tween. 

Soon enough, she will be an awkward teenager, struggling with self-esteem and self-worth when other, far less complimentary, voices drown out my own... so for now, (and forever) I will tell my daughter she is beautiful! And, I will teach her to accept the compliment with grace.

 I agree with Lisa Bloom. We need to listen to the little girls in our lives. Really listen. We also need to praise, encourage and nurture them in ways that gives them the confidence to achieve. But I don't agree that we should stop reminding them of their beauty. We should model for them what a thinking woman sees as true beauty. That beauty is in a smile, a kind word, a gesture. It's in health and happiness. It's in self-confidence, self-worth and pride in oneself. 


Oh my goodness!!! This post was featured on Maxabella's Rewind last week!!! How very exciting :) When my work week is too busy, dropping into Maxabella Loves with a cuppa in hand is almost like catching up with an old friend for coffee. Thanks for the link :) 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cheesy Chicken Triangles

These used to be in regular rotation at our place, pre-kids. This afternoon I quickly threw a few together. They're so easy, I could do them quickly despite heavy eyes and aching legs.

Just leftover chicken, some shallots and grated cheese, folded inside a quarter sheet of puff pastry and baked at 180C for 15mins. Yum.
I served with snow peas, cherry tomatoes and shop-bought pasta salad, but they are just as yummy with steamed veges. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Too easy Pumpkin Soup recipe

I love soup. I know some people say soup is not a meal, but I beg to differ.

This year our favourite is pumpkin. I generally use a nice butternut pumpkin as we enjoy the sweet flavour - but I have been known to sub-in some sweet potato or carrot if they are cheap. My kids actually seem to prefer the 50/50 pumpkin/sweet potato blend best :)

Here is my lazy mothers' recipe for Pumpkin Soup. I always double it - that way there's enough soup for two hearty meals!



750g pumpkin
250g potato
700 ml of vegetable stock
1 large onion
1 tbs crushed garlic (I buy the kind in a jar)
tbsp oil (to fry)
1/2 tsp ginger (optional)

Cream if desired

You will also need a very large pot and a stick mixer

1. Preheat oven to 175C degrees.
2. Peel potatoes and cut into halves/quarters
3. Place pumpkin and potatoes into oven to roast for 45 min

This is a double quantity batch

4. Fine dice onion
5. When pumpkin and potatoes are done, cut into large chunks. Pumpkin skin will come away easily. Discard skin and seeds. (leave browned outer layer of potato, it will add flavour)
6. In a large pot, fry oil ,onion and garlic. I let mine brown a little, but you can just fry til onion turns translucent if desired.
7. Add ginger and stir
8. Add pumpkin and potato and stir until well mixed.

9. Pour in stock
10. Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer for 30mins
11. Allow to cool before blending with a stick mixer
12. Add boiling water if you prefer a thinner soup. Add cream as desired (not necessary, but we like it)
13. Serve :)

Makes well over a litre. I find I can roast the vegetables while the kids do their homework or I put them all through the shower. Roasting them first makes them easier to peel (I hate peeling pumpkin) and also gives a nicer flavour and slightly darker colour to the soup. Actual 'cooking' time is quite minimal and I know that this is a healthy meal my kids will love.

Leftovers can be reheated or even frozen (I prefer to freeze it before adding cream but it's ok to do either). I have also stirred left over soup through a pasta dish the next day instead of tomato based sauce.

Let me know if you give it a try!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Houston... we have a problem

I caught up with an old friend last week. A friend I hadn't seen in eighteen months, despite the fact we live within walking distance of each other. I brought fruit, she brought coffee and cake, we both brought kids and met at the local park.

After all the greetings were done, and we let the kids loose on the playground, I saw her watching my Small Boy extra carefully. It's a look I've seen before. "What's wrong with this picture?"

It's kind of hard to blurt it out. How can you tell people your child has a problem without feeling like you are letting our child down? Every time I tell strangers, "He's hearing impaired, I'm sorry," when he takes the lollipop/balloon/whatever they are offering without a "thank you", I feel like making those excuses for him might be hurting his little ego.

I find myself pushing him around Coles in the trolley saying things like, "Oh, you are a lovely boy! You're so handsome and I love you so much" just to sort of reaffirm to him that he is just such a delight to mother. I don't want him feeling anything less than the wonderful, smart little person he is. I suppose I'm putting myself in his shoes. Imagining how much I would hate for everyone to know that I was behind in such important skills - listening and talking.

You might be thinking, "why isn't she worried about him being trapped in a body with no way to communicate his ideas?" and that's because despite the lack of speech, he communicates beautifully. He has an expressive little face with dimples when he smiles. He does some signing on the important things. Apart from this - between his pointing and showing he always seems to get his message across. And when he can't? Well he does it himself. He's been pouring his own milk and cereal for eighteen months now (sometimes at 3am if he gets hungry). He drags a chair to reach for things like the secret m&ms in the fridge. He pours his own water and peels his own bananas. He can even turn on a computer and put his favourite show on iView! So, there's no need to be feeling sorry for him. He's quite content.

So... back to my playdate.

I have a system of sorts. When I need someone to know what is wrong with the picture I sort of casually slipped the following phrase into conversation, "...since the surgery..." For some reason, if you mention surgery, people will always always say, "Oh... what surgery?" That's my cue to let them know about his ears and how now he can hear and how with only a few months of hearing under his belt he's doing quite well with his talking.

It's the only way I know how to put a positive spin on the whole thing.

If we open with surgery, people are suddenly filled with admiration for my brave boy. They want to hear about his successes with his talking instead of commiserating the fact he's behind. I don't want to hear anyone saying things like, "Oh, he'll catch up when he's ready" or saying things like, "Must be because he has older siblings to do the talking for him." I want to hear, " - it must be like a whole new world has opened up for him! Isn't he doing well to be so happy about it all?"

He's ready. He's working hard. I have no doubt speech will happen and the less pressure on us, the easier it will be. It makes me feel so much more confident when people acknowledge the effort he's making, how brave and smart and happy he is.

In the next few months, we find out if he needs more surgery. I believe in the power of prayer... if you do too, please add us to your list? Pray that this first surgery was enough to correct the issue in his ears and the only other hurdle we have is getting him speaking.

Thanks for listening  :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

My favourite wall

We have a huge wall that runs up along our staircase at home. It is visible from our lounge/dining and kitchen and was so bare and so blank for so long (ten years in fact).

The problem was not so much deciding what to put there, it was more the whole putting my money where my mouth was and getting something printed.

I knew I wanted canvas. I knew I wanted happy memories. I knew I wanted photographs we'd taken. Picking them was the first hurdle. On the one hand we had pretty good photos we'd taken - but they seemed to lack personality and... happiness. Then we had photos that were great mementos of fantastic days, but they fitted more into the snapshot variety.

In the end I decided on happy memories. After all, who cares if it's a masterpiece - I wanted something that made me smile every time I looked at it.

Then we had to find the right deal. Anyone who knows me well knows I'm a bargain hunter. I wanted HUGE but on a TINY budget.

I ended up finding a couple of deals through Groupon with Fabness and a fb site "Cheap Canvas Prints". In the end I was able to do the more grown up landscape prints I wanted AND the fun family memories. I got seven enormous prints (ranging from 40cm x 60 to 100 cm x 50cm) for around $200 delivered.

So here it is... my favourite wall

The top image was taken in Verona last year - after a trip to finalise some details with my Grandfather's estate (and a visit to other relatives) we took a detour on the way home. Italy always lifts my mood after saying goodbye to my family. This photo was taken at the end of a long and satisfying day - full of crepes, pastries and hot chocolates as we strolled along cobbled roads and shaded pathways.

Miss Piggy and I had been pirouetting in the town square just before taking this photo - we looked downright crazy, but why not? We were in a magical place where nobody knew us!  We balanced the camera in the seat of the stroller outside the front of our hotel. After the photo, we climbed the stairs to our ancient but gorgeous hotel room - with a huge comfortable bed under a skylight that let us see the stars. A day that will be hard to beat.

I don't care that a lamp post dominates the picture or that the lines are not really in keeping with rules of photography. I love the colours and the feeling it gives me when I stop to look at it. It really takes me back.

The bottom image was taken a few months later - under a setting sun at a local beach. It was windy Wintertime but we had so much fun chasing the kids on the wet sand. We have lots of snaps from this happy afternoon. And I love that J's hands are on Small Boy's chumpy little legs - it reminds me of that newly-two-year-old who just loved to run and whose little legs didn't listen to mummy.

We used a tripod placing the camera above our heads, a timer and some long arm stretches to press the button. The sand around our feet is pretty messy - but that's because we've been running around like maniacs for an hour.  I'm sure a professional could pick dozens more faults with this photo... but I love it.

I'm so glad that I waited those ten years to fill this wall - because I filled it with pictures of our completed family. We're all there, and we're all happy and for that reason these photos are the epitome of perfect to me :)  

(Inspiration for this post comes from reading Kate's post at Picklebums)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Long overdue

Wow... it has been a long time since I touched this poor neglected blog! I'm not making an excuse but so much has happened over the last nine months.

In amongst the usual craziness that comes with work and three children, I ran myself a bit thin. And... I started to doubt myself as a mother. I really got myself into a place where I started to doubt my ability to cope, to judge, to understand my own children.

I felt something was wrong with my youngest but listened to everyone who told me, "He's fine. He'll talk when he's ready." I started going to seminars on autism when people told me that his reluctance to talk may be behavioural. But I couldn't quiet this small voice in my heart that told me what I knew.

The signs were there. Not responding to his name. Communicating with his hands and with a series of grunts. Slow reaction time. Siblings who just stopped talking to him. Thank God for a GP who didn't treat me like a hysterical mother and who sent me for another hearing test - this time one that used technology to measure hearing rather than the behavioural tests I was sure the Small Boy was fluking.

I knew it. I knew it. Now I was mad at myself for not making more noise, for not making someone listen to the truth I already knew. My son was deaf.

I saw was because when we were told (two and a half years into his little life) that he was hearing practically nothing, a crazy medical machine was put in action. Suddenly, after being told on a Tuesday that he was impaired, we were booked in for a Thursday exploratory op with surgeon I'd just met in the hospital where every elderly family member seemed to go at the end. At end of term, no less. And with Miss Piggy's birthday on the Wednesday.

I felt like I was being sucked into a tornado - the very same people who told me his mutism was selective were now saying there was a very real and medical reason for his not talking. I started worrying about the affects of anaesthetic, of staph infections, of doctor error. I started trying to convince myself it wasn't his ears. I cried and I cried and I howled hysterically. I rang our GP at home to ask a billion questions. But in the end, what choice did I have? I knew they were right. I'd known before they'd known.

So... my Small Boy is no longer deaf. Thanks to the miracle of modern medicine we have a temporary 'fix' that means he now hears in excess of 95% of the world around him. We have spent the last few months teaching him about the hearing world (along with dealing with floods and tornados, but that's another story). Is anyone out there interested in hearing about our journey? Is there anyone out there with tips on teaching a now three year old to talk? Has anyone got a similar story to share?

I'm doing OK - really I am! I'm feeling positive about my Small Boy and his ability to cope in the big world. He's learned that people talk with their mouths open, that hand dryers (despite their ugly growling sound) won't hurt you and that saying, "Maa," is bound to make his mother cry.

So far to go... yet we've come so far already. Thank you for listening :)
I love reading your comments, thanks for stopping by :)