Monday, December 10, 2012

5 Things about Christmas shopping

Waiting to be's only the beginning!
I finally started my Christmas shopping on the weekend.  There are 25 people on my list. You read right. T-W-E-N-T-Y  F-I-V-E. Now this blog isn't going to be about how crap it is to find parking, or how crowded the shopping centre is, this is the real hard bare ass-and-bones of my personal struggle each year to find something suitable, age-appropriate and cost effective for each of these 25 people...

1.  LITTLE GIRLS ARE EASY - Not my little girls - we'll get to them later, but other people's little girls, easy-as.  Make-up, craft, pencils, textas, anything from Smiggle. Diaries, bubble bath, perfume, nail polish, Barbie and any one of her thousand of accessories, ponies, sewing kits, doodle books, normal books, swimming costumes, hair accessories, I could go on forever. There's so much variety of girly things and better yet, there is a style of each item suitable for any age. Eg. There is make-up from 5 year olds to 95 year olds (think strawberry shortcake to Chanel). Ditto perfume. Ditto hair accessories. Ditto swimsuits. Get it?  Girls are easy.

2. YOU CAN'T BUY LEGO EVERY YEAR - Up to the age of about 9, it's acceptable to buy Lego for boys every single Christmas. Star Wars Lego, Harry Potter Lego, Pirates of the Caribbean Lego, Ninjago Lego, the Legos that look like machines. The ones that look like aliens. The ones that look like aliens' machines. In fact, in this age group, it's virtually impossible NOT to buy lego for a boy, as Lego takes up approximately 87.65% of the toy department. In a weird ironic twist, up until last year, lego was pretty much the only thing you couldn't buy for a girl. Other than the pony and stable Lego, there simply was no 'girl Lego.' Apparently it took 78 years to realise girls like building stuff too (?!).

3. OLDER BOYS ARE DIFFICULT - Now those Lego-loving boys are approaching their teens. Teenage boys like expensive stuff: surfboards, skateboards, X-Boxes and electrical things I can't afford because I have 24 other gifts to buy. So I resort to clothes. This is a real worry, because I only ever dress two little girls who are pretty happy with anything pretty and pretty well anything that's a dress. Boys however, especially boys who want to be cool and boys who aren't yet men and who I wouldn't even call blokes yet, they're difficult. I want them to like my gifts.  I want them to think I'm cool.  I certainly don't want my gifts to be opened and the kid to think 'gay.' (No offense to gay people - this is actually the kind of stuff they say). I can already feel a trip to the returns counter coming on, and then I probably will blog about the perils of parking and people in the pre-Christmas rush. Stay tuned.

4. I'LL NEVER FIND A GIFT MY DAD LIKES - I resigned myself to this a few years ago. There are three dad-giving events per year (Christmas, birthday, Father's Day). After about 32 years (that's 96 gifts), I finally realised I could never make him happy. Since then, I just buy him a case of beer and some lotto tickets for all 3 events. At Christmas, I might splash out with an expensive bottle of scotch, which he actually does appreciate. Last year I thought I was pretty cool, buying him a bottle that cost over $100 from Duty Free, but I was trumped by some young and apparently hot Brazilian chick who he'd recently done a job for, and who bought him the exact same bottle and gave it to him before Christmas. The bloody hide! Now I'm stuck again. And I might have to resort to clothes.

5. THE TOY DEPARTMENT SCARES ME - I spent about 50 minutes circling the toy department in Target. I used the bar code scanner about 6 times. I love that thing. I looked at the Barbie speedboat about 12 times. I called my husband, he didn't answer.  I looked at the speeedboat again and then moved on to the Dream House. I looked at that probably 21 times and still couldn't work out if my kids would like it. Then I looked at the Furreal Friend for $99 who walks on a lead. I wondered if I should get both girls one, even though only one had asked for it. I looped the aisle and went back for another look and then I realised we actually have a real dog, so they probably didn't need this imposter. I scanned something else, just for the hell of it, bought something for my niece and nephew and left without anything for my own kids because the toy department is so overwhelming it scares me. Except for the scanner, which I really, really, really love.

Monday, November 26, 2012

5 Things to love or hate about a Club Med holiday

How good is this shot?
We recently returned from a much needed and long-awaited family holiday. Eight days at Club Med Bali. People smirked when we told them. Some laughed outright. One actually said he wouldn't speak to me again. What's with the snobbery? I have five and six year old daughters. I'm not a backpacker. I'm not looking for a cheap full-leg tattoo and disappointingly I'm not in the market for a yoga retreat. Club Med was the only place I looked at. Judge after reading...

1.  IT'S FRENCH - Of course. You'll love this because it means delicious baguettes, loose-layered croissants and a variety of smelly, creamy scrummy cheeses. A week later, you may hate it for these exact reasons when you look at the size of your new arse. You may also hate the fact that the many French staff seem to be employed with the sole purpose of kissing the arses of French guests. Aussies don't get this treatment. We get a weird 'hellooo' each time we cross paths, which I actually preferred, because it left me free of bullshit small-talk with the handsome young strangers, whilst allowing me to appreciate their buns in tight white pants from afar. Pity there was no French Champagne though.

2.  MINI CLUB - There's nothing to hate about mini-club. It runs from 9am till Midnight (!), and the kids can go in or out whenever they like. Every day has a new theme and every evening ends with a spectacular spectacular from the kids or from the mini club organisers. Either way, parents can loll about in comfy lounge chairs drinking cocktails and clapping excessively when their kids hit the stage. The excessiveness of clapping is dependent on the number of cocktails consumed. It goes without saying that our children frequently received the amount of applause normally reserved for A-list mega-stars.

3.  ALL YOU CAN EAT BUFFET - Club Med or not, you either love it or not.  I'm a notter, but even I was impressed on day 1. The Club Med smorgasboard is outrageously over the top. There are food stations for Chinese, Italian, Japanese, French and Indonesian cuisines. You mix these with a selection from the carvery, bakery or salad bar and top it off with a visit to the dessert bar. Embarrassingly, my partner and his travel pal made animals of themselves day and night. Not surprisingly, each brought home an extra 5kg and it wasn't in their luggage. If you love stuffing your face and have a 'something for nothing' mindset, you'll love Club Med smorgasboard. I just can't do overeating anymore, and wondered continuously about the over-consumption and wastage in comparison to the lacking about 100m down the road, but I guess that's typical of western hotels in third world countries, not just Club Med.

Every night, a new extravaganza to occupy them
4.  OPEN BAR - ALL DAY!  - The same unnamed person who put on 5kg also started each day with a poolside Bloody Mary. He finished it in the same place with a Margherita. LOVE THIS! The bar is open for a refreshing bevvy any time of day and it's all covered in the cost. While the sensible among us waited for an appropriate hour to relax with a Vodka and Lemon soda, the ability to have a few, poolside, beachside, inside or outside was marvellous. It was even better to do so knowing your children were safe, nearby and having just as much fun as you, only without the vodka. No need for unknown babysitters, late night taxi back to your hotel or a 'what to do after dinner?' scenario. There are activities for the kids till midnight, a show for all guests every night and your room is a short stumble through a beautiful garden away. What's to hate? Crap, crap, crap wine. That's all.

5.  THE CLUB MED SONG - It's so tacky it's hilarious. Every night, at the end of the show, the 'Chef of the Village' (hilarious in itself), leads the entire audience in a dance routine to one of the most kitsch songs imaginable. This is intended to kick off the evening celebrations, although at 10.30pm, it was our signal to hit the sack before the kids hit the wall. Again, you love it or hate it. Me?  I loved it! Just as you wear things you wouldn't normally be seen dead in, floss around without a skerric of make up and see how long you can get away without doing your hair, you get in there and fully embrace this kind of holiday kitsch - it's the stuff you will always remember. 

The verdict?  I couldn't imagine a more relaxing holiday with young kids. Once booked, you don't have to think of a single thing. There's no planning, scheduling, driving, running for buses, haggling for taxis or deciding where to eat. You can do as much or as little as you want. You come and go as you please. Your children are safe and entertained ALL the time.  I had me at 'you don't have to think,' and as far as mums go, I'm sure I'm not the only one. I heart Club Med. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

5 Detox Tips for the Party Princess

The silly season hasn’t even started and I’m already kicking off Monday morning with a cleanse for my normally well-cared for temple. It’s currently the temple of doom.  This party girl is coming off the back of four nights of eating crap and drinking more champagne and red wine than I’d normally have in a month. It's been a similar story three weeks running, and up ahead is the week-long holiday with an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord and open bar.  God help me! This week is a little more commitment free, so I’m making a commitment to self: A 5-day urgent body-repair workshop.  That’s providing I can get through Halloween without chocolate. I'm putting the Monday-Friday Detox Action Plan into, well, action.  Here's how:

1.     HAVE A JUICE DAY:  Sometimes a juice fast is exactly what you need to cleanse the bod.  That doesn’t mean going to Coles and buying as much Just Juice as you can fit in your fridge, it means dragging out that massive contraption of a juicer you spent $400 on three years ago and never use because it takes up too much bench space and is such a pain in the arse to clean.  Get it out, get out your veges and get juicing.  If you can manage two or three days, then bully for you – you’ll be feeling refreshed and energetic again in no time!  And just a reminder, even though you’re juicing,  keep drinking your water in between; you still it to flush out your system and keep yourself regular!

2.     SWEAT IT OUT:  For me this means a hot yoga class, but it can be any exercise of your choice.  When you’re all slugged out from the food/drink overload, exercise is the last thing you want to do, but it makes a massive difference.  Make sure you get at least three workouts in.  Sweat as much as you can.  Drink as much water as you can.  This will help get rid of the toxins you so kindly dumped on yourself, and help restore the fluids you lost in doing so.  

3.     VEG OUT:  Make a commitment to veg out for 5 whole days.  That is, stuff yourself with as many vegetables as you possibly can in every meal.  Ideally, cut the proteins too, especially meat and dairy. If you can’t live without carbs, have them only at breakfast, and veg yourself silly the rest of the day.  If you think this sounds limiting here’s a selection of what you can have: lettuce in every variety, cucumber, capsicum, celery, beetroot, tomatoes, avocadoes, broccoli, carrots, fennel, eggplant, sweet potato, beans, sprouts, squash, cabbage, Chinese greens, peas, spinach on and on… There’s so much to choose from and tons of ways to cook them.  If you’re stuck, check this gorge website for ideas:

4.     GREENER IS CLEANER: (And generally leaner too).  If you’re veging out beautifully, then you’re already getting lots of good nutrients and giving your bod a good internal clean out, but you can go one step better.  Use a green powder like wheatgrass, barley grass, spirulina or a greens combo in your juices to give an extra cleansing edge. Adding liquid chlorophyll to your drinking water is another way to cleanse you blood, help remove toxins and nourish your cells.  You can get all of this at any good health food store. Drink up pup. - you asked for it! 

5.     GET A MASSAGE:  So you’ve eaten every soft cheese on the market, at least four bags of Doritos, a few slices of pizza and slipped in a sly Cornetto on the side.  You drank too much, danced all night and maybe even rode the porcelain bus home…do you really deserve to reward yourself with a massage?  YES!  Wait till the end of your detox week when your body has had the time to regain some of its former glory, and then treat yourself to a full body massage and body brush.  As you cleanse internally, the massage action will help release even more toxins and the body brush will remove any of the flaky gross stuff coming out through your skin.  True story, this really happens.

By the end of the week you’ll feel brand new. Or at least back to your old self.  When Saturday hits and you have another hen’s night/40th/kids birthday/ neighbours nibbles or all four of them, you won’t feel so bad about tucking into the chocolate crackles and caviar. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

5 Awesome Spring cleaning ideas

I don’t know why, but it’s universal – Spring makes you want to clean things out, shed your skin and come out of the darkness and into the light. Or something similarly metaphoric. There’s something primitive about it that I love. I’m about to get serious about my Spring-cleaning and I’m bringing out the big guns. These are my 5 big-ticket Spring cleaning recommendations:   

1.     GET YOUR LOUNGE CLEANED – My lounge is putrid.  It’s almost ten years old too, which doesn’t help, but the constant filth it’s exposed to each day is just unfair.  I thought it couldn’t get worse after the breastfeeding years, when it was covered in spew and rancid breast milk, but it’s only been downhill since then.  Enter peanut butter, vegemite and fingers sticky with jam or honey.  Add snotty noses wiped haphazardly pillows, lolly wrappers hidden by small people who weren’t supposed to eat lollies, filthy feet dancing on cushions and my very favourite, popcorn that hides where even a Dyson can’t reach.  This is my lounge at the moment.  I’m not buying a new one until the kids are 21, so instead, I have it cleaned once a year.  See details of my awesome cleaning dude below…

Watch this space...
2.     GET YOUR CARPET CLEANED – Our carpet is ten years old too.  And almost white.  We were a drunken blur of DINK-dom when we layed it.  (Remember? Dual Income, No Kids...It was a lifetime ago). I must say, it’s held up pretty well, probably because of my incessant vacuuming, but if you take all the crap the lounge gets hammered with and add juice, paint and coffee spills, you start getting a picture of what the carpet is really like. Our recent addition to the family, Ralph, hasn’t helped much.  Tiny poops and yellow puddles are the latest carpet trauma.  Luckily I have William.  He comes once a year to clean my carpet AND lounge with his magic, and is more responsible for the relative good looking-ness of my carpet than any amount of vacuuming could ever be. He has removed some killer stains, and this week I’m giving him a challenge with the one attached.  I’ll post the result after the cleaning takes place. Stay tuned.

3.     GET YOUR WINDOWS CLEANED – I haven’t done this for ages, but am well and truly ready for it.  Last time, my sister-in-law recommended her cleaner, who was not only reasonably priced and did a very fantastic job, he was also young, ripped and took his short off while he worked.  I liked that, so I called him immediately.  His father turned up.  He was little, old and a bit grey all over. I really didn’t want to see him without a shirt and thankfully I was spared. That’ll teach me for being an old cliché pervert.  Still, Pops did a great job on the windows, and although my husband tells me he’ll get the gurney on to it and save us $200, I’m planning another visit from the window-cleaning fairy.  I just hope he’s not wearing a tutu. 

4.     HAVE A BIG THROW-OUT – Choose a day when the kids aren’t home, because if you throw out the Zhu Zhu Pet burger joint and ballroom there’ll be hell to pay.  Ditto their thousand craft creations, ant farm and blow-up guitar. Start with one room and 3 garbage bags. Use one for things you'll pass on to charity, one for things you never want to see again. The last bag is for passing old crap to unsuspecting friends and relatives whose kids are the right age for your kids' battery-chewing pink barbie car, toys that take 20 minutes to set up and 1 minute to play, and annoying magic wands that play repetitive songs in Chinese. Don't stop with the kids stuff, do your husband's crap too!* They don't throw ANYTHING out. My friend's husband has 44 pairs of undies in his drawer (she counted them during an argument) and I'm sure my husband has at least 625 T-Shirts. Be ruthless and throw.
*Disclaimer - The writer will not be held liable for any argument or marriage breakdown following this suggestion. It is a suggestion only and has not yet been trialled in a proper household. 

5.     GET YOUR INSIDES CLEANED – If you don’t like gross stuff, don’t read this, it’s gross. Just as junk collects and sticks in your home, it collects and sticks in your gut too. Especially in winter. A good cleanse helps get rid of that winter sluggishness and gives you the little kick up the butt you need to spring into summer.  You may have guessed that butts are where I’m heading with this. The gross bit. But I’ll do the nice bit first. Try a green smoothie cleanse. You can do a quick little three day cleanse, or something more radical.  Check out the green smoothie website.  After that, if you dare, try a colonic.  I won’t go into it, it really is gross, but you’ll feel amazing afterwards. Fresh, clean, energetic and clear-headed. It’s the physical and mental equivalent of cleaning your rooms, your lounge, your carpets, your windows and even your garage.  If you’re in Sydney, go to Boda. They’re awesome.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

5 things about same-sex siblings

Must I buy a new one every time?  Anyone want them?
I was recently in one of those conversations with some soon-to-be-second-time parents, when they were asked if they knew the sex of their unborn child. Of course they did - it would be a boy, to go with their lovely little girl. This was followed by the usual oohs and ahhs, starting with ‘now you’ll have one of each,’ and ending with ‘just as long as it’s healthy.’ Personally, I'm of the mind that you get what you get and you love it regardless. Having said that, as a mum of two girls born very close together, I see pros and cons for same-sex siblings each and every day - from everyone’s point of view!  Here are 5 of them…

1.     RE-USABLE TOYS – On the plus side for baby number 1, she gets mountains of brand new everything; toys, books, games, puzzles, DVDs, Barbies, ponies.  You name it, she’s got it. New. On the downside, she has to share it all with a slobbering infant.  The upside for the slobbering infant is that she gets to play with things that are just beyond her skillset, making her a fast learner and turning her into a baby genius. The downside is they may be pre-coated in slobber and year-old mashed banana and if they actually still work, they’re likely to be in need of new batteries, which Dad is never going to replace.

2.     HAND-ME-DOWNS – Baby girl number two is the unwitting recipient of tonnes of used and unused clothing.  While previously spewed-on Bonds baby rompers may not bother her as a 6 month old, the jeggings that weren’t cool enough for Miss 6 and the stockings that made her legs itchy just give Miss 5 the shits. The real winner here is that mecca for children’s fashion, Target, because with the usual pangs of motherly guilt, I inevitably over-shop for Miss 5 during every 20% Off Kids Clothing Sale, only to return days later when I realise Miss 6 will be walking the streets practically naked in comparison to her decked out fashionista younger sister.  

3.     BIRTHDAY CANDLES & CAKES – Do you re-use the red and white numeric candle you’ve bought every year for your firstborn?  It’s only been used for a moment before being blown out with 15 kids’ spit and shoved back in the cupboard, but when your next child turns one there’s something that screams ‘TIGHT-WAD’ if you re-use it. Ditto the cake.  Does it matter if they get different versions of Dolly Varden or different colours of the Princess Castle? Of course it does! They’re indi-bloody-viduals, and you can’t fool them with a different shade of icing. So far I’ve clocked one Dolly Varden, one princess castle, one sand castle, ponyland, a fairy garden, the Number 1, a toadstool house and a replica of Boo Boo – my second child’s teddy bear.  Seriously, I'm surprised and impressed myself!

4.     SCHOOL UNIFORMS – Number 2 will be starting school next year, presenting another conundrum; new or recycled uniform? When your first one starts school, you love how perfect, girlish and nerdy she looks in her navy and white dress with matching hat and little socks.  The winter uniform is even more exciting because the navy and grey pinafore, hat and stockings remind you of the French girl in the Petit Miam commercial, but altogether it amounts to about $250 and you know it’s just going to get trashed and washed and washed trashed and tumbled dried forty thousand times.  Surely last years’ stuff is OK, isn’t it?  Then again, if number two was a boy, this wouldn’t even be an issue, would it?  Can you see where I’m going with this?  Can someone please get me my wallet?

5.     SEEING DOUBLE – The negatives: Sometimes, they just loooove the same thing.  It’s usually something very annoying and faddish.  Dizzy dancers, Zhu Zhu pets, Mermaid Barbie or baby Care Bears in balls. This means you have to buy two of each, otherwise someone’s going to end up with a patch of hair missing (Yes. Girls pull hair. It’s not cliché, it’s very real and painful). This is costly and doubly annoying when one sibling loses or breaks their precious object and the other refuses to share the surviving one. The positives: Sometimes you get two for one deals, so you can avoid arguments AND save money.  This applies to meals and transport and extends to toys and clothes. Basically, you buy two but in different colours or styles. Unfortunately when it comes to clothing, this leads to a certain kind of Von Trapp-ism, which I’m sure is a mega downer for the kids! 

 The moral of the story?  I don't think there is one this week.  Just that whatever your family gender mix, there are going to be crazy moments, blissful moments, arguments, shared toys and shared spit.  As long as everyone retains their hair, everything is fine. Except for Dads, who might have no choice in the matter.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

5 totally awesome things about yoga

Ahh, no. This is not me.
If you know me, you know I yoga.  I’ve been doing it in some capacity for about 12 years, and have just upped my dedication to 4 times a week. Yowser! It’s not everyone’s cup of chai, so I don’t like to harp on, but given it’s such a massive part of my life, it would be amiss not to blog about it at least once. So now I’m going to torture you with the 5 things I love about yoga, and then I’ll shut up about it.  Promise. 

1.     YOU CAN ARM WRESTLE BLOKES – I’m a small chick.  Some of the 5th graders at my kids’ school are taller than me, and I could probably wear their clothes and shoes.  But I’m tough!  I can arm-wrestle grown men and if I don’t win, I put up a bloody good fight.  I can hold my own body weight in a manner of positions and do push-ups without having to go the lady version.  If things need to be lifted, moved or carried, I can do it, which is handy when you have two kids and the travelling caravan of crap that goes with them. I may be a pygmy person, but I’m a strong one. 

2.     IT’S A ONE-HOUR ISLAND RETREAT – Life’s bloody busy.  And sometimes hard and stressful and tiring.  Even when it’s none of those things, it’s still noisy.  Some people go on holidays to escape, and while I wouldn’t knock back a trip to Bali, an hour on my mat is almost the same. It’s pretty much the only time I’m quiet (like, ever!).  Not only am I quiet, I’m not focusing on my silly self and all that junk that goes with me. I just go with the flow, switch off, zone out and let time pass. It’s my daily peace and the closest to relaxed I am. Ever.

3.     YOU FINALLY ACCEPT YOUR BODY – Pre-kids I was like most women, constantly worried what my body looked like.  After carrying those kids, shooting, well, sort of having them tugged out, feeding them and watching them grow, I’m more amazed by what bodies do than what they look like. Lots of running and stacks of yoga later, I’m more amazed by this than ever. I can’t lie and pretend I don’t care at all about my body, but instead of bitching and sulking about the bits I don’t like, I'm more interested in how it’s working, what it can do and how it feels. This makes me happy. 

4.     IT’S OUT-OF-YOUR-COMFORT-ZONE EMPOWERING – Every class is different, and every practice is a path. Sometimes you’re just there, going through the motions, sometimes you’re off with the fairies or having a rest, but sometimes, you challenge yourself so hard that by the time you finish, you feel like you’ve conquered Mt Everest. Not that I have, but I imagine this is how it feels. You try things you wouldn’t normally try and push to do things that seem impossible and when it hurts and you want to stop, you just hang out and breathe until you realise you're doing it. You turn yourself into a pretzel and suddenly feel like you can do anything you want to. And then in the real world, you try to.  

5.     YOU FEEL ALL WARM AND FUZZY - At my yoga, just about everyone has a tattoo.  There’s lots of young, fit, type A personalities with dragons on their legs, lotus flowers on their backs and lovers’ names on their wrists and ankles. While I’m probably older than the average devotee and sport no body art other than shopping reminders on my hands or texta from the kids’ drawings, I still feel a lovely sense of belonging when I walk into the studio.  We’re all there for the same thing and have some connection to each other, if for no other reason than we continue to show up and do something we love together. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, without using butterscotch schnapps.

So there it is - my yoga rant.  I promise not to go on about it again, but F#@* I love it!  I need a bumper sticker that says ‘Yoga makes me happy.’  You think I could make a million bucks selling them? Maybe I’ll try.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

5 things I wish I could ...

I don’t like the C word.  I try not to use it and I strongly discourage my kids from using it. I’m a yes-person, a can-doer.  The C word, ‘Can’t’ just doesn’t cut it - there simply must, must be a way!  Lately though, I’m starting to choke on my C’s. I may soon have to admit there are some things that no matter how I try, I just…well, you know. Not the way I want to anyway.  Everyone has their thing. These definitely aren’t mine. 

I really, really wish I could…   

1.     COOK LIKE MY MOTHER – We recently had international guests, and in the space of a week, my mother and I each hosted them for dinner.  I did my best trying-to-entertain-mass-numbers spread; three varieties of entree, a roast beef main, green salad and baked potatoes that once again failed to cook through. The dessert from the patissiere was the dish of the night. 3 days later at mum’s, we were treated to prawn linguine, eggplant parmegiana, rolled and stuffed pork belly, 2 varieties of salad and a plate of perfectly steamed greens. We ate in silence except for snorting sounds from people whose mouths were too full to breathe, and intermittent requests for seconds. Then the homemade tiramisu came out.  Mum blows me out of the water.  She’s amazing! Cooking is totally her thing. Mum CAN.  I c…ook.  Just not like her.

2.     MEDITATE – After 40 Days of Personal Revolution (hence my hiatus from this blog) I still couldn’t manage to be still without thinking, fidgeting, wondering what to cook for dinner, listing my chores for the next two hours, scheduling the kids activities for the next two days and wondering why my boobs hang out of sports bras more than the other ladies’ at yoga. Why?  Why can’t I shut up, even when I put aside time to do so? Is it because I’m fascinating with extremely important stuff to say about all the big issues? I don’t think so.  For meditation, I c… am continuing to try.  You may hear more about it some day, unless I actually master it, because then I’ll be too zen to write a narcissistic blog like this. 

3.     HAVE SOME QUIRKY, ECLECTIC COOL – Do you sometimes go to people’s homes and think wow – awesome chair.  Cool rug.  Great picture.  Each ‘piece’ has been carefully selected, has a meaning or experience attached to it and tells a little story about its owner. There’s nothing from Freedom, Target, and definitely not K-Mart, and nothing bought as a set. They are the pieces of the quirky and eclectic owners life and have just been thrown together for a fabulous look of fabulousness. And uniqueness.  And individuality.  Some people do it with clothes too.  They just know what goes, and more specifically what says ‘this is who I am.’ I love those people. Sadly, I’m not one of them.  

4.     SAY NO – I’m getting better at this but it’s still an almost daily dilemma.  People invite me to things - a quick cuppa, a long dinner, a play at the park, a tupperware party, baby shower, bridal shower, personal shower, whatever, I’m invited, and I always feel compelled to go. Yes, yes, yes!  Yes I’ll come, even if it means leaving one place early, eating lunch in the car, making 3 phone calls at the wheel, dropping the dog off in between and turning up in my sweaty gym gear because I had no time to change. Sure, I’ll be there. The problem is I often end up double, sometimes triple booked, can’t relax at any one thing, feel overwhelmed, forget stuff and wind up buggered at the end of the day. It' a double-dilemma because not only do I have to master saying ‘no’ I also have to say the C word.  “Thank you, but no.  I can’t make it to your party.”  Copy/Paste, send.

5.     KEEP MY COOL WITH THE KIDS – Staying calm in the face of stupidity, defiance, frustration, revolt, manipulation, complete ignorance and frequent bouts of hysteria is a real challenge.  Weeks go by, and I’m patient, capable and reasonable, but sometimes I go from semi-comatose to breathing fire within a half hour of waking because sometimes, no matter how hard I try, I just CAN’T keep my cool with the kids!

Insightful endnotes…
I love saying I can. Doing and achieving is empowering. Trying and failing is enlightening. Can’t sucks. Of course you can. But it might not be perect. Or pretty.
And FYI, when I make calls at the wheel, I have a hands-free car kit.
Just so you know.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

5 Things you buy because you feel guilty

I don't know if I'm some kind of sucker, or if this happens to everyone, but I often find myself forking out cash for things I don't really want, and then feeling crap about it afterward.  The reason?  Some smart-arsed sales assistant has worked out how to push my guilt buttons, of which there are many, forcing me into a purchase of something ridiculous, unneeded and overpriced. Does this happened to you?  Here's a few ways it can..

1.  BEAUTY AND FACE STUFF - You rarely treat yourself to a facial, so when you do, you want to lie down, relax, switch off and be pampered.  You don't want to be told your skin looks dry. You don't want to be told about fine lines or wrinkles - especially if they're yours.  You don't want to hear that after 30 your skin starts losing elasticity and after 40 it no longer regenerates itself. You certainly don't want to be asked if you'd consider botox. And when the therapist asks what you use to care for your skin, you lie, because you don't want to admit that you would never cleanse, tone, exfoliate and moisturise, even if you were at a Nutrimetics party, and that's why your skin is so sallow, you have bags under your eyes, big pores, lots of little lines and the occasional zit. So when she tells you your skin 'just gobbled up' the $650 worth of 'nutrients' she sloshed on your face, you grudgingly buy the cheapest one and go home with a shiny face and empty purse.

2.  HAIRCARE PRODUCTS - You go to the hairdresser which is already exorbitantly expensive, and you sit in the chair for 2 and a half hours, and somewhere during the conversation about your hairdresser's love-life and your kids' gymnastics prowess, you hear that your hair is dry. Or yellowed.  Or weak, or frizzy or split or something generally unpleasant which makes you feel like only half a woman. So when you hit reception with your wallet open and the new product for frizzy, weak, split and unpleasant hair comes out, you shell out, not just for the  cut, colour and blow-dry, but also for a product you would never have normally bought and which you will inevitably use only for a week before shoving it to the bask of your bathroom cupboard with the other 33 similarly unused haircare products.  Because you are only half a woman.  Half mum, half woman.

3.  SHOE CARE PRODUCTS - No one is actually in the market for these.  They're a pure, pure upsell.  Just like spray and chamois cleaners for your sunglasses - both of which I've been guilted into buying.  This time the sneaky salesperson is suggesting you don't have the panache to look after your special stuff, and you DO have panache, you know it! This is what happens: You've just bought these fantastic leather boots.  Ooooh, aaaah, aren't they lovely, you're going to look gorgeous, what a great buy with such soft Italian leather, and such a great price, but are you going to buy the leather care?  Oh you must, or they simply won't last. They're so superb and you're pretty much going to go out and trash them tomorrow with your cheap, non leather-caring ways aren't you?  So you'd better buy that stinky spray with enough chemical fumes to kill a baby chicken, and use it, otherwise risk wearing half-baked boots that match your half-baked attitude. Sold.

5. ULTIMATE CAR WASH - Your car is covered in bird and possum shit.  Ok, yours may not be, but mine is. Inside the car - and no-one with kids can deny this - you could collect enough biscuit crumb to make cheesecake, there are lolly wrappers from the last 15 party bags your kids received, plus the actual bags themselves. There's general shoe-dirt, a few pencils, hair clips, some works of art and a few of the craft items from kindy that were too ugly to bring into the house.  Yes?  So when you say 'standard thanks,' and the guy at the car wash takes one look and goes 'need polish,' you feel guilty and embarrassed and you say, 'of course. OK.'  Then you go get your coffee and when you come back an hour later, the car looks fabulous and the cashier says '$95 thanks,' and you crap yourself wondering how you're going to explain that to your husband, which of course you're not going to, because you'll keep it to yourself and feel guilty about that too!

5.  DISNEY PRINCESS STUFF - I can't stand the cheesiness, the princess-ness and the crappiness of this stuff but my house is full of it!  The worst are the movies, which undo years of hard work teaching your girls to be strong independent young chicks, and in less than an hour, impart the high value of being beautiful, rich and wearing pretty stuff. They also teach that rich people are always happy, well dressed and have good luck in love. Poor people are generally sad and unattractive, and are orphans or motherless, which takes alot of explaining. If they have a mother she's mostly awful or not the real mother and still awful, which requires even more explaining. So when you try not to buy this shit and it's the first thing your kid looks at, and the salesperson shakes her head and says 'It's not for you, it's for her," (this actually happened to me), you buy the Disney Princess bedspread, and take it home where it will live happily ever after with the DP beach towel, DP lunchbox, DP shoes, make-up, singlets, gumboots and colouring-in pads.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

5 Things grown women should remember before a girl's night out

 After the hard yards of early mummy-hood, when the babies are no longer on boob, the nights aren’t so sleepless and 'the day after' involves school or pre-school, mummies everywhere are taking advantage and heading out for a good old-fashioned hoo-ha.  A bunch of girls, a bunch of drinks, and a bunch of laughs.  I did one of these last week with some of the best and funniest chicks in the world, and it reminded me there are some things grown women seem to forget somewhere between that fourth drink and home time that really ought to be remembered... 
1.     YOUNG MEN DON’T NEED LIFE COACHING – At some stage during the night, some poor bastard – often a waiter, bar person or the bloke you ‘borrowed’ a cigarette from because you don’t smoke – ends up at your table copping an earful of advice. They seem to like volunteering information about the girlfriend who wants to have kids/doesn’t want to have kids/wants to get married/won’t get married/the girl they’re trying to chase/dump etc. As the motherly mothers you are, you can’t help but offer your incredible wisdom, loudly, and generally all at once. Imagine your husband sitting there while 4 half drunk buzzards screech their recommendations for his future!?! It’s an unusual phenomenon, but weirdly, it often results in a prize - a couple of cigarettes for later consumption, an extra bottle of wine or in special cases, a discount on your bill!    

2.     BOUNCERS REALLY DON’T WANT TO SEE YOUR ID – Bouncers ask for ID from people who look under 21.  You have had children.  You have bags under your eyes.  You have a skirt that covers more than your arse and are carrying a jacket for later when it gets cold.  YOU ARE CLEARLY OVER 21!  They’re not going to ask, so keep it in your wallet.  Under no circumstances should you pull it out and ask them if they want to have a little look, as this will result in the suggestion that you and your friends  move right along because you are clearly too intoxicated to attend this very classy establishment. 

3.     IT’S STILL NOT COOL TO DANCE AROUND YOUR HANDBAGS – In fact, I don’t even think having a handbag is cool.  I don’t know where girls carry their crap these days, but no-one seems to have a bag.  They don’t shove money and lipstick down their tops either, because there’s not enough fabric to hold it there. It could be shoved down their FMBs – the only thing that covers a significant amount of flesh.  My husband once told me that I was obviously the oldest woman in the bar because I was wearing a scarf.  I said it was winter.  He just said ‘you’re old’.  But back to the bags.  Don’t put them on the floor.  Don’t step touch around them.  Don’t flash-dance, slam dance or attempt to pole dance around them either.  They’ll just get beer and vomit and shoe muck on them anyway, and by now your bag should be expensive enough that you don’t want that kind of crap anywhere near it.  Put your money in your bra.  At least you’re wearing one.

4.     RESTAURANTS DON’T SERVE FOOD AFTER 10PM NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU BEG – Because you shared the mezze plates or went for the set menu tapas, and because you spent most of your time either talking or drinking, when midnight hits (unless you’re on the dance-floor with your money down your bra) you’re absolutely starving and there’s nowhere to get food.  You can beg the guys putting chairs on tables, you can ask to see the manager and you can tell them you’ll put your complaint in writing, but no-one, I repeat no-one, is getting back into a kitchen to make you a meal.  Especially not the way you look by this time sister, no matter how hot you thought you were 6 hours ago. 

5.     PIZZA, KEBABS AND MEAT PIES HAVE A SPECIAL PLACE IN THE WORLD – After the final restaurant rejection, you realise you’ll need to embark on a search for the best food you can possibly find.  The smell usually gets you first, but only after an infinite period of walking, after which time you’re pretty much ready to eat your own leg.  Hence, regardless of the type of food you find, it will taste like absolute heaven, and you will eat lots of it, very quickly, speaking loudly about how good it is to anyone who’ll listen.  The next day you’ll have happy recollections of this clandestine activity, as will those around you, as the whiff of garlic wafts up now and then as a reminder.  One word of warning: avoid Indian Take-Away at all costs, especially Chicken Tikka, otherwise, you may find a little more than a whiff popping up to remind you of the night before!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

5 things every woman should know about waxing

Last week I went in for my 5-weekly ‘wax job,’ which involves some form of bikini wax (stock-standard, G-string or Brazilian), plus an eyebrow tidy up.  After this particular episode, I somehow walked away with a piece of skin missing from my thigh crease, and two days later was sporting a mask of about 23 pimples across my forehead, including a trio of spots between my eyebrows and my nose ridge which I’m now referring to as the ‘Bermuda Triangle.’  While I continue to wonder why we bother with this painful and dangerous beauty ritual, I’m offering up my 5 best waxing tips for those of you who are brave enough to continue this now ancient tradition...

1.     BEWARE OF PIMPLES – As you grow older gracefully, may you find peace in the knowledge that you’re never too old for a pimple.  Or ten. Waxing of any facial region can bring them on. Thankfully I've no need for a mo’ wax, but God help those of you who do. The pimples (which are actually whiteheads) appear only sometimes and strike a few days after the wax.  I have no idea what triggers them – a different type of wax?  Your skin on the day?  The soothing product afterwards?  Who knows?  And sorry, this one’s clearly not a tip.  I have no help to offer and am still trying to cover my spotty brow and keep myself from squeezing.(Beauticians – any advice?  Please comment!)

The lovely smelling Bump eRaiser
2.     BEWARE OF IN-GROWNS– These are on a par with pimples and can be painful, ugly, and can get awfully infected (though at least they’re not on your face for the world to see).  I get the odd ingrown, but they're a big problem for some people, especially if you're going the whole hog. My awesome waxing lady Michelle from Belle Isle in Manly recently put me on to this stuff called Bump eRaiser, which works a treat to keep in-grown hairs at bay.  Even if you do get the odd one, Bump eRaiser seems to soften them so much they just fall out.  It smells lovely too, which is a bonus.  Highly recommended.

3.     IT WILL ALWAYS HURT – I’ve been waxing for what – 20 years now? - and it STILL hurts!  No matter what they tell you, being waxed more frequently doesn’t make the hair finer nor the process less painful.  It hurts every time and more if you’re pre-menstrual, so don’t go that week!  Some people recommend taking a Nurofen about an hour before your appointment to relax your muscles a little.  I’m not a big fan of painkillers if they're not totally necessary, but if you don’t mind, I hear it really helps.

4.     DON’T BOTHER WITH DISPOSABLE UNDIES IF YOU’RE GOING BRAZILIAN – Seriously, there’s no point.  It will be pushed aside, away and may as well not be there.  Just get naked.  It helps if you’ve had a baby, because you’ve already had several strangers get acquainted with you down there and you probably don’t care as much.  You’ll want to find a ‘specialist’ - someone who does this all the time and is very quick – both with the wax and the timing (like Michelle). No one wants this experience to last any longer than it needs to! You’ll also want to know your beautician preeetty well, trust them, and trust the cleanliness of the salon, because there’s not much room for prudishness, queasiness or dignity! 

5.     DON’T BE BULLIED INTO A BRAZILIAN – When they first became the hot new thing, everyone was doing it and I still wonder why.  I get that Brazilian chicks get about in really tiny bikinis, but the rest of us generally don’t, and we don’t participate in Mardis Gras with feathery headdresses and tassels either (though that would be fun).  Lots of young chicks are ‘going Brazilian’ purely because the young blokes expect it which just ain’t grand.  Everyone’s heard the claim that most Gen Y males haven’t even seen a naturally hairy v-jay jay, which is a bit creepy, partly because totally hairless is just plain weird and also because it reeks of porn industry imagery.  Some beauticians push it too, and even among girlfriends it’s almost a dare or a physical challenge to see if you’d go there.  It’s fine and fun when it’s your own choice, but it’s a big, invasive and very personal deal that you probably don’t want to go through if you’re doing it for some other reason. If you have teenage girls, you probably want them to think about all this first too.

So I’ve gone all mummy at the end, but I can't help it! As a mother of two young girls and a friend and relative of several teenage ones, I can’t help but throw in a dose of concern and protection for the next gen of chicks.  It’s our job as the older, more experienced, still stupidly waxing 20 years later women, to share and pass on this kind of wisdom.  So there you have it.  Go forth and share!