A BAD HAIR DAY

I don’t know why I woke up like a bear with a sore head this morning. Perhaps it was the fact I drank too much red wine last night? Perhaps it was because today was just going to be one of those kind of days, the kind of days when you just feel flat and sorry for yourself. You see now and again, and particularly, for some reason today, I get fed up with the discussion around money in our daily life. I know there are a gazillion people worse off than us. I know I’m lucky to have all of the amazing things I have in my life. But some days, the discussion just gets me down.

Frustrated, and in an effort to save some cash, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I took the scissors out of the bathroom cabinet and like any hungover, grumpy, frustrated bear with a sore head would do – I cut my own hair. I mean seriously how hard can it be?

I should mention that I am not a hairdresser. In fact, my only experience in the hair cutting department was with clippers when I trimmed an ex’s hair almost 2 decades ago and cutting hacking my 4-year-old daughters curly locks last week. My daughter did mention afterwards that she looked like a boy. If I’m honest her new cut does bare a strong resemblance to the bowl style that was so fashionable back in the 80’s and early 90’s. That said, all things considered, I  thought I did an ok job. It was straight (ish) and with her continued aversion to washing or combing her hair, the new do was considerably easier on the eye than the nest that had been growing there previously.

I had a taste for it now.

As I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, my arms bent and hands contorted like an octopus, It soon became apparent to me that cutting one’s own hair is incredibly awkward, unless you are double jointed or indeed, an octopus. Initially tentative, I made a few small snips here and there. Soon I was feeling more confident and began chopping larger clumps of hair off and placing them into the bin. I couldn’t really tell how it was going at the back but from the front, it seemed ok.

Unfortunately my husband’s facial expression when I walked out of the bathroom suggested otherwise and only added to my bad mood.

So, it’s fair to say the day didn’t start out on its best foot. Although my bad mood came and went throughout the day, on the whole, it clung on like a quivering crustacean to a rock. I knew I was being dreadful, like a spoilt ungrateful brat. I couldn’t look my husband in the eye as I moaned away with my self-pitying tirade.  I willed a wave to splash me in the face and wash my bad mood away with it far out to the horizon.

That’s when it happened.

I got way more than I bargained for.

The wave came. It didn’t just splash me in the face. It enveloped me, sweeping me up in its undulating swell.

The girls, of which I have 2, requested some music. We dug out the cable for the iPod docking station and began to recharge my iPod. They waited patiently for the iPod to charge. I went out of the room for a moment. When I returned the music was playing and my 2-year-old daughter was held up in her  Daddy’s arms giggling hysterically as he danced with her around the lounge. My eldest daughter, age 4, was on the sofa laughing. I bundled her up into my arms and began swinging her round and round dancing to the music. We danced and laughed until we felt dizzy.

Rushes of ecstatic joy and gratitude ran through my veins. How did I get so lucky to have these 3 people as part of my life?

I was no longer a bear with a sore head. The day wasn’t so bad after all, even if I did have a terrible hair cut.

We need to listen to music and dance more.

 

 

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AN EXPAT AUSSIE CHRISTMAS

‘Twas the night before Christmas, it was 28 degrees and the sky was light and blue.

I have experienced a total of 6 Christmases in Australia. Two from my travelling days (2001 and 2006), and four since we made the move here in 2011. No matter how hard I try, I still find it strange Christmas shopping in the sunshine and donning a bikini and Santa hat on Christmas day.

This year we deviated from a bbq and opted for turkey with all the trimmings (even sourcing bread sauce from the UK). Our children are now two and three so are beginning to get into the Christmas spirit (well they liked the fact they got a chocolate for 24 days and that some man was bringing them presents). I, like many parents, have exploited the fact that Father Christmas was coming using it daily as a form of bribery on the lead up. Sadly, as with last year, they totally freaked when I took them to meet the big fella in person at the David Jones Santa’s grotto – #nofilter #nophoto.

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They were a little happier waving to him from afar as he flew by our house in a helicopter two days before – something I have yet to witness in the 30 UK Christmases I’ve experienced.

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HOW NOT TO DO A FAMILY HOLIDAY TO BALI

The pre-holiday build up was chaotic. I had written lists, new lists, and lists within the lists. I had sourced info from mates who travel to Bali frequently with young children and I was feeling confident that we had everything covered. Every type of mosquito repellent on the market had been sourced, transfer to hotel arranged, travel insurance bought, toys to keep the children amused on the plane purchased, local Bali Nanny confirmed, and of course money and passports in order.

Gone are the days of partying until the break of dawn, my husband and were united – we wanted a relaxed family holiday, intending to max out on the Nanny. The day before travelling, I sent my husband off with the kids so I could begin the mammoth task of packing. It started well as I fastidiously ticked items off my list. However it wasn’t long before the list was abandoned in favour of a more ‘chuck it in just in case’ approach took precedence.

The next morning we woke early (standard with 2 under 3 year olds) and set off in the maxi-cab to the airport. The idea was to arrive at the airport with plenty of time for a leisurely breakfast, followed by the obligatory gander around duty free, maybe even a beer and then all aboard the plane, flying off to paradise for our first proper family holiday.

As we queued up at the check-in desk our 2 girls were busy entertaining the other passengers, informing them that we were going to Bali. We were all on a high and grinning like Cheshire cats, we stood at the desk and proudly handed over our 4 passports.

“I’m sorry Sir, you won’t be able to fly today” the lady at the check-in announced casually. Like she was telling us the time, like it was just so normal and like not gonna bother us in the slightest.

WTF?

My husband and I stared at the lady in disbelief. Was she winding us up? Ha ha, very funny – now give us our tickets lady. ‘Silly Billy’ as my 2 year old would say.

“You passport only has 5 months left on it. You need 6 to travel to Bali” Her lips remained stoic like in their pose, I was desperately willing her mouth to turn up at the ends, a cheeky smile followed by laughter and ‘only joking, Silly Billy’. It didn’t.

I stared across at my husband. He looked at me. 30 seconds of everlasting silence. I felt sick. I looked at the girls, still giggling and rolling around on the floor repeating “Bali, Bali, Bali” over and over again.

My husband’s initial reaction, anger. As was mine. Only his, with the lady on the check-in desk and mine, with him. I asked him a few weeks before if all the dates on the passports were ok, obviously I reminded him of this fact. I immediately regretted saying it. I know nobody had died BUT…this was our family holiday, the one we procrastinated about for months, the one we have looked forward to for weeks, the one we have used to bribe our children with in order to get a modicum of good behaviour, the one we chose specifically because you can book a nanny to help you and babysit and it doesn’t cost the earth and they are amazing with kids and we might actually get a couple of nights out together. It was the one family holiday that we were all so excited about, at that precise moment it meant everything to us. We’ve both watched the airport shows and seen people turned away at check-in for one reason or another, but that was them…we wouldn’t be such Silly Billy’s.

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WHEN SCREEN TIME FOR CHILDREN IS A GOOD THING – KIDLOLAND APP REVIEW

I must confess that pre-kids I swore I wouldn’t allow my children too much (if any) screen time. As soon as my eldest hit 2 this went out of the window. There are so many shows on the television that she loves, they are educational and fun and also mean I get a few minutes to do some chores or go to the toilet without a child hanging off me.

There are certain times of the day that I let my two girls watch television and I always control exactly what they watch. I’m not sure when the iPad was introduced but I guess it was when she was about 3. I limit her time on this too, it’s usually only for 20 minutes in the morning when she wakes up – this is because she is an early riser and stops her waking her sister!

When Kidloland approached me to review their app I was dubious. I am trying to limit her screen time not encourage it. That said I was keen to see if there was an app available that would offer a fun, interactive and educational option instead of just children’s programmes.

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Why Waking A Sleeping Child Is A Little Bit Like Child Birth

Waking a sleeping child is a little bit like child birth. You know you have to do it, you know it’s going to hurt a bit and change the status quo but it will be worth it in the end!

My 2 girls have generally been good at going down for day sleeps. Usually, when they go…they are gone. Into a deep, peaceful, silent sleep. As much as I adore my 2 bundles of delicious cheeky chattering children – I also adore these day time sleeps and the peace and quiet this time offers me.

I often become like a woman possessed, running around desperately trying to get all of my jobs done as quickly as possible in the hope that I can have some precious and rare ‘me time’.  If I manage to achieve this, I sit down and either do some writing, enjoy some lunch without the children climbing on top of me and taking food off my plate or out of my mouth, chat to a friend or my husband on the phone without screaming children in the background or now and again I have been known to have a sneaky siesta.

I don’t mind admitting that I’m a little bit in love with day time sleeps!

The problem with daytime sleeps is that often my children would sleep all day if I allowed it (probably as a result of refusing to go to bed at a reasonable time or being up during the previous night). I have to confess there are certainly occasions when I have considered leaving them to sleep all day as I’m enjoying a snippet of relaxation in my usually chaotic and noisy life.  The reason this is a problem is that if they did sleep all day, as I’m sure every other parent is aware – there would not be a great deal of sleep happening for anyone that night.

Occasionally I have been known to let them sleep a little longer than the agreed time limits my husband and I have discussed (I don’t usually volunteer this information to him when he comes home later wondering why they don’t seem even slightly tired, running around like little grenades and climbing all over us, each other and the walls).

As the end of their day time sleep approaches I anxiously and continually glance at the time, wishing that (for today at least), it could just go a little slower than usual. I leave it to the absolute last-minute possible before accepting that my quiet time is over for the day. Once I’ve dragged myself up from the comfy couch, away from my laptop or even harder from my snuggly afternoon siesta,  I rather reluctantly begin my approach to wherever they are sleeping (my 3-year-old tends to have her day sleep on the sofa). Such a big part of me is desperate not to do what I am about to do.

IMG_3188.JPGI step away – for a second. As quickly as I step away I am reminded of the many nights when they have refused to go to bed and/or been up several times in the night. I know what it is I must do. I feel like I’m attempting to jump off a very high and slightly scary diving board. I will get there, I’m just taking a moment…to appreciate the calm before the storm.

I move back towards my sleeping child and this time I say their name a little louder, giving them a slightly more forceful stroke/shake. “Wake up baby, it’s time to get up now”. This tends to be met with a few grunts, as they retract and shrug me off them. My inner voice cranks up again, “This is so wrong, it feels wrong, they obviously need the sleep. She did have a bit of a cold earlier. Maybe she’s poorly and needs a bit longer today?” Hmmmm, pause. I look at the clock again. Already 10 minutes over the agreed time limit. Sh*t. Taking control of the situation I become a little more insistent/brutal. I draw the curtains back forcefully as I sing/shout out “time to get up girls, wakey wakey”.

Their eyes slowly open one by one as they sleepily rub them and start to move their little bodies around. Sometimes they just lie in the same position for a while with their eyes open, playing with the label on their teddy bear or sucking forcefully on a dummy. Each time I approach they recoil. They often cry – for the next half an hour. It’s very rare that I’m met with a big smile and look of “Hi mummy, thanks so much for waking us up – we really love you”. Nope, I generally feel like Cruella Deville which I find rather ironic considering I didn’t really want to wake them up in the first place.

I have to wait until they are ready before I can lift them out of the cot or from the sofa to give them a cuddle, the timeframe for this varies from day-to-day and child to child.

Now and again they wake up of their own accord. Is it wrong to admit that my heart does sink a little bit as I hear them cry out “Mummy, Mummy, Mummy”? I reluctantly accept that my precious and rare ‘me time’ has come to an abrupt end (this is especially disappointing if they haven’t met their full sleep quota – on these occasions I feel a tad cheated).

Once I have accepted that quiet time is over for the day and all the grumpy sleepiness has evaporated, the day begins again as it did that morning. With fun, laughter, cuddles, tears, tantrums, noise and so much love…..I soon forget my need for solace as I embrace the joy my children give me and remind myself…….there’s always tomorrow!

 

 

What’s Mine Is Mine And What’s Yours Is MINE!

 

 

 

Today I bought my youngest child (16 months), a brand new pair of shoes. This is very special for two reasons. Firstly – they are the first pair of shoes that I have bought for her, she’s been waddling around in her older sister’s scuffed cast offs since she started walking. Secondly – because they are too small for her older sister (nearly 3), so there is absolutely no way that she can claim them as hers.

When I discovered I was having another girl I was delighted. I hoped that one day these sisters would be best friends as I am with mine. However I can’t deny that some of that delight was due to the practicalities of having 2 girls. I had cupboards bursting with girl’s clothes. Having a second child required a lot less preparation too. We already had all the equipment and toys we needed, even if they were a little stained, worn or broken – they’d do!

I have moments of guilt when I realise the extent to which I sterilised and cleaned everything for my first born. With my second child it’s more a case of lick and spit and off she goes. I actually went and bought a heap of batteries a few months ago when I realised most of the developmental flashing and talking toys she was playing with were no longer functioning as intended.

At Christmas the presents ‘Father Christmas’ bought my eldest were fun and, on the whole, things she’d requested. Whilst my youngest received more practical gifts such as beach towels, lunch boxes and a ladybird icepack to put in the freezer in case of an emergency. Despite the practicality (and rather boring nature) of these gifts, the octopus hooded beach towel with the red fish on it, only stayed in her possession long enough for her to rip off the wrapping paper. It was immediately claimed by her sister in exchange for her older, tattier and very well used purple princess one – all this performed under the guise of kindness when it was nothing more than blatant stealing.

Meanwhile, the giant rabbit teddy with pink hands and feet that my eldest so specifically requested from Father Christmas, has not received anywhere near the same level of love and attention as the towel. In fact, said bunny teddy sits rather depressingly hunched over in the corner of her bedroom, neglected and unloved.

Almost every other gift my youngest received for Christmas or her birthday from friends and relatives has been stolen or swapped with the older, worn or used versions of her sister’s.

When giving them food, I am careful to distribute  everything evenly. However, the minute my back is turned my eldest is on the prowl. Grabbing her sister’s food out of her hands or directly from her mouth, if it looks appealing enough. If they are sitting down to eat at the table, she is usually to be found leaning across the table with her fingers wriggling around in her sisters bowl; busily picking out the items that take her fancy and, (if she’s feeling generous) exchanging them for her rejects. Occasionally my youngest squawks at her, grabbing hold of her bowl or toy and wrapping her arms around it as though her life depended on it. On these occasions my eldest will use all of her might to extract the item from her sister’s tight clutches. If this proves unsuccessful she starts chanting ”sharing’s caring” – a rather one dimensional view on sharing. However, more often than not my youngest  gives in, resigned to the fact that her sister will usually win.

I have learnt that literally whatever the youngest has, her sister will always want – at that precise second. There is no negotiation. Even when I try to step in, in an effort to teach her about sharing or inform her that it’s not actually hers, she has no interest in what I’m saying. Somehow she always manages to walk away the winner with a rather smug satisfied smile on her little face.

On the couple of days a week when the eldest goes to kindy, I love watching my youngest enjoying the freedom of playing with each and every toy (especially the ones that are 100% her sister’s that she never usually gets to lay a finger on). You’d think she would be so happy to not be bossed and pushed around by her elder sibling, however I sense that she  misses her.  As soon as they are reunited, her face lights up like a ray of sunshine and she squeals in delight.

Since returning from the shops this morning and waking from her day sleep my youngest pulled her new shoes from the cupboard and brought them to me. Insisting that I put them on her feet immediately, she sat down and held one chubby little foot up in the air, eagerly waiting for her new shoes to be placed on her feet. I wonder if she somehow knows that these are HERS?

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Eagerly holding her feet out to wear ‘her very own’ brand spanking new shoes

 

 

Food For Thought

imageYesterday, whilst at the playground I had to admire my 3 year old for her persistence.

It was New Year’s Eve. We took the girl’s and their dinner as well as some snacks and wine for us, to the playground at the back of the beach. I rarely leave the house without food for them as it appears to be the main bribery tool that works when trying to get them to complete the simplest of tasks.

The girls opened up their Peppa Pig lunch box, as they do every day, in excited anticipation to see what goodies lay within the pink canvas casing. Sometimes I can sense (and understand) their disappointment- it’s usually some variation of the same 3 ingredients: yoghurt, pasta and eggs. However today (as it was NYE) I’d tried to make it more interesting. I’d go so far as to say I’d possibly gone a little overboard with the amount and variety; chicken, avocado, crisps, yoghurt, nuts, grapes, cherries, dips and crackers – no egg or pasta in sight for once! Initially most of the contents seemed to meet their approval- this was evident by the way they were busily tucking in. Obviously not all of it was a winner, every now and again an item of half nibbled, sucked, licked or untouched food landed on or near me as they discarded it.

After a few minutes my 3 year old hot footed it to the other side of the playground where she promptly stood and stared intently at a family who were sitting down to enjoy their own picnic. They gave her a couple of token/awkward smiles as they tried to carry on enjoying their dinner in spite of her watchful eye.

After a good ten minutes of some hard core staring and probably making them feel immensely guilty with each bite they took, they caved in and passed her a strawberry. Without hesitation she took it from them and ran back to us, grinning with pride and satisfaction at her achievement/steal.

When I was a child it was drummed into me daily not to take food from strangers. I can’t remember what age I was when I started to understand this. As you can see, I haven’t started teaching this to my girls yet but I guess it may be time to start.

I remember the first few times my daughter got ‘food envy’ when we were out in public. I’d desperately try to explain and show my friend or the stranger she had approached, how much food I had brought so they didn’t think I was a terrible or unprepared mother. The shoe has now been on the other foot as it’s happened to me many times with other children. I have to say I find it a little awkward. I have no issue giving the child some food but it’s often tricky to know what is the right thing to do, especially if the parent is nowhere in sight.

It made me wonder why it is that children get food envy? My youngest will vigorously shake her head from side to side and throw food off her high chair in disgust, 5 minutes later if I’m eating the exact same thing she stares at me longingly and opens her mouth wide waiting for me to shovel some in. Once I do as she requests, she has a look of immense satisfaction on her face and opens her mouth even wider in readiness for the next deposit.

Is it because other people’s food actually tastes better or is it the satisfaction they feel when they get something that isn’t actually theirs? I’m inclined to think it’s the latter however I’m no child psychologist so unfortunately I don’t have the answers. Just food for thought!