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Sorry you’ve been living your life wrong, according to Enid Blyton

Tuesday August 29th, 2017 in Enid Blyton, Parenting | No Comments »

Old fashion blue upholstered wing chair with red wings drawn onto legs.

Enid Blyton lived before the age of the blog, internet article or listicle. She wrote narrative fiction for children with paragraphs and no headings, except for chapters. Who has the attention span for that? Not me really, but I’ve come up with some article ideas to impart Blyton’s wisdom in a more accessible modern form.

1. The 5 best foods for a midnight feast 

They are all sausages.

2. Should you be elfing you children? 

There’s a new parenting trend of allowing mythical forest folk to care for children for up to twelve hours each day. Experts quoted in the article are divided but strident on the subject.

3. Why I won’t elf my children

In a follow up personal piece a mother details how her mothers group nearly shamed her into elfing her children. She’s glad she didn’t, because her friend’s fairy-carer turned out to be a real estate agent with no access to the magical realm.

4. Do you know the signs of a toxic friendship?

Is your friend different to you in any way? If so, don’t put up with it. Hit them with a hockey stick until they fit in.

5. These life hacks will change the way you fly your furniture forever

Who knew you were supposed to land the back two legs first! But it makes so much sense now! Share!

6. The 10 worst things about travel and why I won’t stop

Everyone wants to go on adventures and then complain when they get there. This article will validate that instinct.

My hobbies

Monday August 7th, 2017 in Parenting | No Comments »

Floral colouring in with words Wees, Poos, Bum

I’m very busy and important, but that doesn’t mean I don’t make time for hobbies. Here are some of my faves.

1. Sticky taping the flaps back onto lift the flap books

I often delay delving into this hobby, but once I start it’s very satisfying. There are usually a number of flaps scattered around my house. I have to guard these against people who want to put them in the bin even though they are obviously part of an ongoing book restoration project. Once or twice a year I gather up all the flaps and stick them back in their original books. It’s very satisfying and Where’s Spot? makes a lot more sense.

2. Looking in the couch

I take off all the couch cushions and partially unfold the sofa bed. This allows me to more evenly scatter crumbs across the room and find lost items such as pencils, puzzle pieces and bits of Lego. If I find a flap I will put it on a surface to be dealt with when I dip back into hobby No 1.

3. Visiting The Age website and hating myself

I often wonder what’s going on in the world and visit The Age website. Once I’m there I read about parenting trends and celebrities. This happens several times a day.

4. Allowing the furniture to be repainted

I enthusiastically start craft projects with my children, but unfortunately we rarely share a vision. I often think of this French and Saunders sketch when I find myself trying to micro-manage the creative expression of preschoolers. I generally end up ignoring the children while I concentrate on my own project. This leads to a bit of mess and ingestion of craft materials. But paint either washes off or eventually rubs off with the dead skin. It is also quickly excreted when taken internally, I tell myself.

In conclusion, even if you are absolutely flat-chat there are ways to incorporate your hobbies and me-time into your routine. You just need to be creative, flexible and have very low standards.

Five things to avoid when visiting new parents

Sunday June 25th, 2017 in Parenting | No Comments »

Val and Leo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Poo on the carpet

Yes, their carpet will almost certainly be pooed on in the next two years, but that doesn’t mean you should be an early adopter. The last thing new parents want to do in their sleep-deprived state is to dab at your excrement with a sponge until they decide to pretend that it’s clean. If you must do a poo while visiting, use the toilet for once.

2. Set anything on fire

Most modern houses have working smoke detectors because of the law. Even a small bonfire in the lounge room can set these contraptions off and they make an infernal noise. If this wakes the baby the parents will be cross and won’t appreciate the effort you made bringing marshmallows to toast and kindling.

3. Bring the gift of a puppy

It’s political correctness gone mad, but people these days want to choose their own pets and when they get them. I know from personal experience that a puppy presented to the new parents of triplets is not always met with the grateful squeals you would expect. Remember, these people have read many, many articles about how parenting is the hardest job in the world, and they actually believe they’re too busy for a golden retriever.

4. Begin major structural renovations

I know this sounds weird, because they say you should help. However, unless you can stay to see the job through, it’s probably best not to rip up floor-boards or dismantle the portico on your own initiative. Someone will eventually make you a cup of tea, and then you’ll have to stop with the job half done and who knows when they’ll get around to finishing it.

5. Remove any parts of the baby

It can be tempting as well as useful for spells and cooking, but this is not the time for souveniring. Think of it like visiting a national park – what grows on the baby, stays on the baby.

Questions for Barbie

Friday December 2nd, 2016 in Parenting | No Comments »
SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

(Picture shows the first Barbie wearing a black and white striped swimsuit with white sunglasses on her head.)

This week a child showed me her Barbie doll. Quick as a flash I said, ‘That’s nice. What job does she do?’ Child looked confused but eventually agreed Barbie is an engineer. The child then wandered off presumably to play a game of Suspension Bridge.

I felt triumphant to have used this simple interaction as an opportunity to spread my radical feminist agenda. With that in mind I have prepared this list of questions to ask about Barbie.

So, Barbie?

What job does Barbie do?

What kind of super fund does Barbie have?

Does Barbie have any good tips on how to successfully ask for a pay rise?

What sport does Barbie play?

Which AFL team does Barbie play for?

What’s Barbie’s favourite science?

What’s Barbie’s favourite physics sub-field? (If Barbie says string theory, gently suggest there are better options, but don’t be strident about this.)

What is Barbie reading at the moment?

What book does Barbie think should win the Stella Prize this year? (If Barbie thinks there shouldn’t be women only prizes for literature, this is a good time to get strident.)

 

(This next one’s genius. Hold on to all hats.)

Have you ever met anyone who has legs as long as Barbie’s, a waist that small and boobs that go out that far? No? That’s okay Barbie. It’s good to be DIFFERENT.

 

Podcasts

Sunday October 2nd, 2016 in Audio books, Comedy, Parenting, Podcasts | No Comments »

tapephoto4

The rise in the popularity of podcasts has been an absolute boon for me. I have listened to audio books since a tot, but podcasts have added an embarrassment of riches to my audio options.

Here are the podcasts that I regularly listen to and what they bring to my life.

1. My absolute favourite podcast dares not speak its name on this blog. However it is extremely popular so if you google “My Dad Wrote a” all will be revelled. I have become evangelical about this podcast and regularly and annoyingly proselytise to friends about why they should listen if they want to have happy and fulfilled lives.

2. Chat 10 Looks 3

Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales put their dazzling friendship on display while chatting about politics, films, books, art and cooking. They jam recording in around midwinter balls, television appearances and apparently cooking more biscuits than seems feasible. Crabb and Sales’ all-round competence in their hectic lives and brilliant careers is almost annoying, but they have enough self-depreciation and awareness to stop my smugdar from raising the alert and making my arms throw things. They also recommend a lot of good stuff and have a list of links to follow up on.

3. Neighbuzz

Bit of disclosure – I am sometimes on this podcast but far more often I am just listening and laughing. Hosted by my good friend, Vaya Pashos, Neighbuzz brought me back into the Neighbours fold after years in the wilderness. Before Neighbuzz was invented I hadn’t watched Neighbours since Karl and Susan were having marriage troubles! (Sorry, that doesn’t really pin the timeframe down.) I enjoy listening to Neighbuzz even when I don’t watch the show because it’s funny.

4. Bodgy Creek Football Club Podcast

Damian Callinan performs all the roles on this very clever and very funny podcast. The only problem for me is that you do actually have to listen to it. I often consume podcasts while pretty actively involved in housework and letting my children develop independence by unsuccessfully trying to ignore them. Bodgy Creek does not work for that. You can’t appreciate it properly while having a conversation about making playdough, which we don’t need to do because we made playdough last week and it is in the fridge and we’re not making any more. So Bodgy Creek is a treat podcast for me when I have time to concentrate.

5. American election

I have been checking out some podcasts about the US election, however, often I become just too terrified by the whole thing and disengage. Then I go back to my number one podcast at the top of this list. You should listen to it. Really, you should. It will make you happy even if the world as we know it is going to end. We have a rogue comma. Just try and forget about it.

PS: Obviously, I don’t listen to the first podcast mentioned in front of the children either.

Party

Sunday July 24th, 2016 in Parenting | No Comments »

DSCF1863 (Large)

I borrowed a book from the library called ‘Naturally Fun Parties for kids’. It is about, ‘Creating handmade, earth-friendly celebrations for all seasons and occasions’.

It’s no surprise that I found this book to be ridiculous. However, I was slightly surprised that it is actually less politically correct than I would like.

So I’ve fixed some of their kids party themes to make them more appropriate.

Natural Spa Party

I don’t really care if the grapefruit sugar scrub is made from natural, organic ingredients; 8-year-olds should have something better to do than lounge around being ‘pampered’. This is the kind of thing adults resort to when we’ve realised that life is not one long adventure, we’re never going to the Olympics, and we’d rather lie down and try to forget.

So my suggestion is to have a Factual Spa Party where the children learn about the geological causes of natural hot springs in a classroom setting with a test at the end. Actually, that is just going to school rather than a party, but I still think it would be more fun for kids.

Gratitude Party

The idea here is to ‘spend the afternoon honouring a friend’s birthday and engaging in a gratitude treasure hunt’. The birthday girl/boy makes a list of things they are grateful to and hide treasures representing each of these things.

It’s all a bit smug.

Instead, I suggest holding a Guilt Hunt. The lucky birthday girl/boy makes a list of things they feel guilty about and you hide detritus representing their angst for the other children to find and be disappointed in. For example, climate change could be represented by a decapitated polar bear toy. Crop Failure could be represented by a chewed banana lolly with no food value. Your divorce could be represented by two dead sticks.

Wild Girls Tepee Party

This is a great idea for a party theme if you want to engage in cultural appropriation while reinforcing gender stereotypes.

Assuming that you don’t want to do that, I suggest holding a Dress Up as Your Parents Party. Games to play include Small Talk, Cracking the Shits and Pretending You Haven’t, and Alternating Between Sweet and Savoury Foods Until You Feel Sick.

Yes. I should write a book about this.

Baby-Sitters Club as Parents SUPER SPECIALS

Monday July 18th, 2016 in Baby-Sitters Club, Parenting | No Comments »

The Baby Parents Club

Super Special

The Baby-Sitters Club were really at their best when they were on holidays, particularly when it was a Super Special. The books were fatter, the covers were white, and everybody got a say.

Their experiences were very different from my summer holidays as a kid. It was like glimpsing a different and slightly anxiety provoking world. They called it a ‘vacation’, kissed boys, and sun baked without getting a lecture on skin cancer.

This is how I imagine their group holidays might be now that they’re parents.

Baby-sitters on Board!

Kristy organises a Caribbean cruise for all the ex-BSC members and their families. No-one except for Kristy and Mary Anne can afford it. Rather than admit this to Kristy they all pretend to have scheduled surgery. Kristy sends lots of postcards telling them about the fun they’re missing. Mary Anne writes a postcard to her husband that she will never send. Little Logan splashes in the pool and she thinks of what might have been. Kristy’s son harpoons a dolphin.

Baby-sitters’ Summer Vacation

Kristy organises a fun camping trip for all the ex-BSC members and their families. Only Dawn wants to come. The others all claim to have whooping cough, which is weird because Dawn’s kids are the only ones who haven’t been fully vaccinated. Dawn takes this as proof that crystal inoculations really do work. On the first night Kristy and Dawn have a massive fight about raccoon behaviour but it’s really about Mary Anne. Dawn’s daughter gets gastro in the night and shits in the sleeping bag they have borrowed from Kristy. Dawn and her family leave at daybreak. Kristy and her family can then fish and trap food like normal people.

Baby-sitters’ Winter Vacation

Kristy invites a all the ex-BSC members and their families to her ski lodge in Vermont. Everyone says yes because it’s free and there’s a spa. Claudia’s daughter is a very light sleeper so no-one is allowed to flush the toilet at night unless it’s a poo. Mallory’s children pretend they have done poo when they really haven’t. The next morning at breakfast, Claudia yells at them for flushing too often. Mallory and Claudia have a big fight. The baby-sitters take sides roughly based on whether their children can sleep well through noise. None of their partners say anything and retreat to the rumpus room (whatever that is). Kristy puts on a visor and tries to mediate but no-one listens.

They hit the ski slopes. Stacey brings five hat changes. Her son refuses to talk to her when she is looking ridiculous, which is always.

In the evening Jessi’s son eats a battery, nearly dies and everyone gets a sense of perspective.

Life Advice for Doing it ALL

Thursday July 7th, 2016 in Office, Parenting | No Comments »

28 June 2015 20150628_123026

(This duck looks calm on the surface but is actually on fire underneath the water.)

I pretty much have it all.

A house, children, sometimes a job and appropriate footwear. I’m very busy and important. So how DO I do it? I’ve squeezed yet another task into my hectic day and written a list of my top life advice on how to do more and be more like me.

As you’ll see from the list below, no socio-economic issues or privileges are involved at all. It’s all just about phones, coffee, water, exercise and stuff.

1. Coffee

When I make myself a coffee (I indulge in Nescafe Gold but you do what you can) I always put the milk in the cup first and dissolve the coffee granules, before pouring in the hot water. I think it tastes better and adds a little element of luxury to my day.

2. Coffee again

Sometimes at work I stir a spoonful of Milo in with my cup of Blend 43. I call it ‘a delicious Nescafe mocha’ and my workmates never get sick of hearing about it.

3. Podcasts

These days I never listen to podcasts in the shower. I used to, but the volume wasn’t loud enough so I couldn’t hear them properly. Now I pause the podcast just before I get into the shower and switch it back on when I get out to dry myself. That way, I don’t miss anything but also minimise the moments of silence where I might contemplate the meaninglessness of existence.

4. Stairs

I always take the stairs at work. It is good exercise and for a short time, no-one can see me in the stairwell so I can let my face relax and express my true desperation or laugh.

5. Phones

When I’m with my children I  never look at my phone while I’m looking at other parents looking at their phones and judging them for looking at their phones. Most of the rest of the time I am looking at my phone for a very good reason.

6. Water

When I’m thirsty I’ll have a drink of water. This is absolutely essential if you want to keep up with a busy schedule and not die.

7. Make-up

I don’t wear make-up and this saves a lot of time. How do I disguise bags under my eyes? I let all my minimalist grooming habits distract from each other in a virtuous circle.

The Baby-Parents Club (Part 2)

Friday June 10th, 2016 in Baby-Sitters Club, Parenting | No Comments »

The Baby Parents Club

This is a follow up to my post last week about what the Baby-Sitters Club members would be like as parents. I’ve written this follow up partly because I couldn’t stop. Actually, that’s the full reason (thinking while typing).

In the second set of ten Baby-Sitters Club books we are introduced to two new baby-sitters, Jessi and Mallory, who are only eleven years old. This means it is even more illegal to leave your children alone with them but no-one in Stoneybrook seems to give a fat rats.

This is how I imagine things might have turned out for them.

#11 Kristy and the Snobs

Kristy meets some parents at the park who are using a different pram to her. She decides they are stuck up and won’t talk to them.

#12 Claudia and the New Girl

Claudia doesn’t love her second baby until she gets its ears pierced then they start bonding and everything’s fine.

#13 Good-bye Stacey, Good-bye

Stacey keeps trying to leave the house but forgets her wallet, her beret, her son’s gym clothes. Eventually she thinks she’s remembered everything and goes to work but she leaves the iron on and burns her apartment building down.

#14 Hello, Mallory

When her youngest child starts school Mallory needs to find herself again so she writes and performs a one-woman cabaret show about her life entitled, ‘Hello, Mallory’. All her friends and family come to see the show and clap a lot, but nothing comes of it and she goes back to her former hobbies, scrapbooking and crying.

#15 Little Miss Stoneybrook…and Dawn

Dawn stages a protest outside a toddler beauty pageant. Some people don’t understand that dressing up her four-year-old in fish-net tights and making her dance around a street sign is protest art. Dawn gets investigated by family services when they should be investigated the REAL CRIMINALS.

#16 Jessi’s Secret Language

Jessi is black. She teaches her child baby sign language and feels really good about herself. Six months later all her friend’s babies learn to talk anyway so she starts taking her child to a French Playgroup.

#17 Mary Anne’s Bad Luck Mystery

Mary Anne can’t understand why she never gets a car park close to the supermarket. She starts an on-line petition for more parent parking spots but only 23 people sign it.

#18 Stacey’s Mistake

Stacey thinks her son’s softball practise is on Wednesday night, but it isn’t, it’s on Tuesday. Luckily her son finds his own way home and he already hated her anyway.

#19 Claudia and the Bad Joke

Claudia has had a gutful of people comparing owning a dog with being a parent, even if they’re only joking. She fires up in the comments on a friend’s post and has to apologise for dropping the c-bomb.

#20 Kristy and the Walking Disaster

Kristy decides to walk to swimming lessons with her three boys. Unfortunately, half way there, her youngest sits in the middle of the footpath and won’t move. Kristy tries all of her tricks but can’t persuade him to get up. Kristy can’t carry him because of her lumbar surgery. Then her son wets his pants and it starts to rain. Her two older boys chase a raccoon and beat it. They miss the lessons and the swim coach questions whether they are a family committed to excellence even though they are.

The Baby-Sitters Club as Parents

Friday June 3rd, 2016 in Baby-Sitters Club, Parenting | No Comments »

The Baby Parents ClubThe other day I was thinking that Claudia Kishi probably has Type 2 diabetes by now due to all the Twinkies and Hershey bars that she secreted from her room and then consumed. This is nice because it will really help her relate to her best friend Stacey.

That got me thinking that the Baby-Sitters Club members are also probably parents by now (assuming that time applies to them in the usual way, although it doesn’t. I do understand that they’ll be in eighth grade forever).

But let’s say they did grow up and reproduce this is what I imagine:

#1 Kristy’s Big Idea
Kristy creates a colour chart to map the activities of her high achieving children. This improves the efficiency of her household (although it’s really more of a business) by 92%.

#2 Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls
Claudia’s toddler, who has almond shaped eyes, keeps making ghost phone calls to people in her address book. This is hilarious! until he calls her new boyfriend from the bathroom while Claudia is doing a poo. Can a pair of fluorescent leggings and some wild earrings win back Claudia’s dignity?

#3 The Truth about Stacey
She has not done a sneeze without weeing for a decade.

#4 Mary Anne Saves the Day
A strange man is taking photos of children in the playground. Mary Anne films him at it and then posts the video on Facebook. The man is hounded out of Stoneybrook by an angry mob and dies alone. It turns out he was taking a photo of a park bench where he met his late wife. Still. Mary Anne is allowed to wear hair however she wants but she still prefers a manageable bob.

#5 Dawn and the Impossible Three
Dawn can’t flipping stand her mother’s group because they use controlled crying and feed their children non-organic food. Dawn cuts them with a knife.

#6 Kristy’s Big Day
Kristy’s son is headlining at his piano recital. Kristy wears a dress instead of a turtle neck and hates herself.

#7 Claudia and Mean Janine
Claudia’s sister Janine is always comparing their children and criticising Claudia’s parenting. Then Janine’s son is diagnosed with childhood depression and Claudia feels smug about it and keeps sending Janine links to mindfulness articles.

#8 Boy-Crazy Stacey
Stacey has an affair with her teenaged son’s friend. Some people are really judgey about it and she has to go to jail.

#9 The Ghost at Dawn’s House
Dawn wakes up in the night and can feel a ghostly presence at the end of her bed. It turns out to be her son holding a dead rabbit. This is not the first time Dawn has suspected he’s evil.

#10 Logan Likes Mary Anne
Mary Anne calls her first born son Logan. Will her husband Derek find out the truth behind why she chose that name? Probably not because he’s always ‘working late’ and never speaks to her. Oh well. At least someone called Logan still likes her.