A bit of this and that...with added frangipani.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Slowly Letting Go of Helicopter Parenting

Emerald Creek Falls
On the weekend, we went for a walk up to Emerald Creek Falls. There was rough terrain and, on some points of the walk, there was a dangerous drop on one side. There were seven of us, our family of four plus our mate and his two eldest children of the same age as our two.

I didn't really enjoy the scenery much, because I spent most of my time shouting out to the kids:
  • Walk on the left hand side, away from the edge!
  • Walk down the stairs, don't jump down them!
  • Slow down!
  • Don't go so far ahead! I need to be able to see you at all times!
  • Don't climb on the rocks!
  • Keep away from that snake!
The dads, of course, were cool as cucumbers. Frankly, I don't know what alien being took over my husband's body, because he is usually the one freaking out at any infinitesimal possibility our children might get hurt. I suppose I was doing enough stressing for us all, and he assured me later that from his vantage point, he could see the older children ahead of us. I was taking up the rear ensuring the littlies didn't fall. (Looking back, I didn't do such a good job, because while I tried to keep an eye on the two in front, my MasterFive tripped over his own feet a number of times, right beside me. Oops!)

I think my stress levels and the men's more chilled attitudes highlight the fact that we, as parents, all have our own levels of comfort when it comes to keeping the children safe.

Being Helicopter Parents

I am well aware that when MasterSeven was a baby, we were very much the Helicopter Parents--ever hovering. Close friends now joke about the fact that Will used to follow the baby around with a pillow under his bottom, just in case he should fall. This is an exaggeration, but not by much.

How the First Child Learned to Walk

Our lounge room was cordoned off so that the baby could only explore the childproof part of our home, and when I say childproof, I mean padded. There was a foam mat on the...carpet and pillows strategically placed at every sharp corner. We even bought those plastic adhesive corners for all the furniture.

How the Second Child Learned to Walk

By the time MasterFive came on the scene, we had loosened up a little. He learned to walk on tile floors with no padding to protect him, except for the padding of his nappied bottom. He fell, bumped his head, and learned to put his hands out and keep his head up if he fell again.

Protecting the First Child From Germs

I never shared a spoon or food with MasterSeven until he was about 1 year old. This was due to an article I read about a bacteria that is present in an adult's mouth that is not present in a baby's, and that by sharing food and utensils we are inadvertently introducing that bacteria to our child.

Now 30-Second Rule Prevails

With MasterFive, I realised that by the time they start exploring and putting everything but the kitchen sink into their gobs, that bacteria is probably alive and well in the mouths of babes. Then the 30-second rule prevailed.

Playing in the Yard Then

A year or so ago, our children were not even allowed in our front yard, because there were no fences and I  didn't like them being close to the road.

Playing on Our Street Now

We have since moved to a quieter neighbourhood and now the kids have the freedom to ride their bikes on our cul-de-sac, and if they are very careful they can cross a similarly quiet street to fetch their friend who lives kitty corner to our street.

Thankful For His Little Brother

MasterSeven owes a lot of his current freedom to the existence of his little brother. If it weren't for us having another child, about now, he would probably be looking pretty silly at school with that cotton wool suit we would have had made for him.

My point is that although we were hovering as newbie parents, experience has taught us to relax a little and to assess the situation without always thinking the worst is going to happen. That's not to say that the Helicopter Mum in me doesn't make an appearance every once in a while. Friends and family in real life need not comment to attest to that fact.

Do you consider yourself a Helicopter Parent or are you more laid back in your approach? How do you feel when the parenting styles of friends and family differ to yours?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Brain Power: No Longer Firing On All Cylinders

I went with a friend to see Limitless the other night. Here's the trailer, if you haven't seen it:

This got me to thinking about how wonderful it would be to be able to fully use all our brain power, not just the 20% they say is all we actually use.

Then I got to thinking how much brain power I have actually lost over the years:
  • It used to be that you could tell me your Tax Number once and I would be able to recall it weeks or even months later. I was really cool like that. You should have been my friend when I was 19. Now I am lucky if I can remember my children's birth dates.
  • I used to be able to do maths in my head, but now when it comes time to split the bill at a restaurant, you can find me hiding under the table looking for my 'dropped napkin' until someone else has it figured out and can tell me how much I owe.
  • I notice that my children can recall the precise date and time that they received the black Hot Wheels car with the red stripe. It was on 14 July 2007 at 1:40 pm. I, on the other hand, am lucky if I can remember what I had for breakfast or I am lucky if I even remember to eat breakfast.
  • I tried to keep score at MasterSeven's tennis lesson a few weeks ago, and I came very close to getting kicked off the court by a bunch of seven-year-olds. I couldn't for the life of me remember whether the score was 15-Love, or Deuce, nor could I remember what that meant.
So, as I am only 40, that doesn't bode well for the future does it? I have my hopes pinned on entering my second childhood in about a decade, so it should all improve from there, right?

Do you find that you are no longer firing on all cylinders? It could be due to mummy brain or just the fact you aren't 19 anymore; if so, what are the telltale signs?

It's FlogYoBlogFriday! Go on over to Glowless to read the rules and link up.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Nice Break From Cooking Breakfast - Plus a Giveaway!

I was on Twitter the other day, and I saw a contest to win a meal at Mizuna Restaurant at the Novotel Oasis in Cairns. All I had to do was follow and retweet, and I was in it to win it. I  thought that was the end of it, but then I received a very kind personal invitation to join them for their breakfast buffet. 

I had to think long and hard about that one:
  1. Would I have to cook the breakfast? No.
  2. Would I have to take the kids? It was during the week after school drop-off. No.
  3. Would I have to clean up after breakfast? No.
  4. Could I bring another mum who would also appreciate a meal that met criteria 1, 2 and 3? Yes.
No further questions needed asking.

After a false start, with one of the kidlets ending up sick on the day we originally planned, we finally got there yesterday. I am glad, because it was a glorious morning in Cairns.

We enjoyed our breakfast of the usual fare that one finds at a breakfast buffet, but I have to make special mention of these three things:
  1. They offered French Toast, which if I had seen it before I loaded up with savoury food, I would have pounced on it in a second, as it is a childhood favourite. I don't see it very often since I moved to Australia.

  2. They had Organic Banana Bread. I don't know if Organic Banana Bread tastes any different than normal Banana Bread, but it does really sound like you're having something yummy.

  3. They had what I like to call 'yoghurt shots', but I kept getting it mixed up and I called them 'jelly shots'. You can see that I might have had a fair few of those in my pre-motherhood days. Anyway, these were shot glasses filled with Berry Infused Organic Greek yoghurt, or you could have it with passionfruit instead of berries. I adore Greek yoghurt. I had both.
The lady who served us was so very helpful and made us feel welcome from the moment we arrived. When the cappuccino machine didn't seem to be giving any milk, she organised two freshly made coffees, as quick as a wink.

Upon meeting our friendly host, Robert, I wanted to know more about my favourite meal of the day, the one that ends in dessert. Robert kindly let us peruse the dinner menu, which is offered buffet style also. This is because, for the benefit of the tourists, they offer the Aussie tastes such as crocodile and kangaroo. Most people like to sample these rather than order a whole main. There was a whole page of scrumptious sounding food and not just tourist fare, but these are the things that I would definitely be putting on my plate given the chance:

Asparagus and Parmesan Salad
Crab Cakes on Shaved Cucumber with Chilli
Pumpkin & Sage Gnocchi with Chorizo
Plum and Maple Syrup Cheesecake

and la pièce de résistance...

Rich Chocolate Fountain with Chunks of Fruit and Marshmallows.
 (Really, on a particularly harrowing day, I could skip all the other stuff and just sit down to this.)

After breakfast, we had a sticky beak at the pool area and had to drag ourselves away. The pool area and bar looked particularly inviting, and it is a good thing the bar was closed at the time of our tour, or we might have extended breakfast into lunch and a glass of vino. The hotel itself is quaint in that the floors only go so high, so it doesn't have that huge hotel feel.

So here are the facts that you might want to know:
Breakfast: The breakfast buffet that we had is priced at $28 pp
Locals: You get a discounted price of $19 pp.

The dinner buffet has a good range of choices, including some seafood, and they do live cooking of some of the dishes. During the week it is $49 pp, but on Fridays and Saturdays it is $60 pp, because the selection of seafood is greater.
There is an Early-Bird Special from 6 to 7 pm, with 20% off both food and drinks.

Locals Rates on Rooms:
Whilst I was there, I priced a double-double room for locals. It is $125 for room only and $140 if you want to have breakfast included.

The hotel is centrally located within walking distance from the Esplanade and Cairns Central Shopping Centre. Personally, I would consider it for a mini-break with or without the kids.
Thanks to the  Novotel Oasis Cairns for giving these two mums the chance to sit back and relax during breakfast--and it wasn't even Mothers' Day!

And now for the fun part! Robert at the Novotel Oasis Cairns has generously offered my readers a voucher for dinner for two people in Mizuna Restaurant valid 1 April 2011 – 30 June 2011. Here are the rules:
  1. The competition is open to Cairns residents, or if you plan to be in Cairns during 1 April to 30 June 2011, you are also most welcome to enter.
  2. The competition ends at 10 pm (Brisbane Time) on Thursday 31 March 2011.
  3. The winning entry (in the form of a comment left here on the blog) will be drawn by random number generator at random.org.
  4. The voucher is not redeemable for cash money, and if for some reason you can't make it to the restaurant in the period that the voucher is valid, give it to someone who can use it--they will love you  for it. ;-)
  5. If you want to comment on this post to let me know I need a new wrinkle cream or that you love Greek yoghurt as much as me, please do (OK, maybe you can keep the wrinkle cream comment to yourself), but just let me know that you aren't entering the competition. That way I can exclude your comment from the draw.
 How do you enter? 
  1. Make sure you are following this blog by your preferred means (e.g. Google Friend Connect or RSS Feed) and comment to let me know you have done so or that you are already a follower. 1 entry
  2. Follow @Troppomum on Twitter and leave a separate comment here. 1 entry
  3. Follow @NovotelCairns on Twitter and leave a separate comment here. 1 entry
  4. Retweet this post and leave a separate comment here. 1 entry
  5. Share a link to this post on Facebook and leave a separate comment here. 1 entry
Totally optional and doesn't get you an extra entry, but gives you a warm fuzzy glow that you made someone's day:
 Good Luck!

Edited: This competition is now closed. The lucky winner is Keithea Schaedler of Port Douglas.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Parenting Pet Peeves: Is She Your Little Girlfriend?

I was having a chat with my friend the other day, and we were talking about how she was enjoying a bit of quiet, because both her eldest son and her daughter were having a play date at the home of a couple of girls from school. My friend's seven-year-old boy was looking forward to having a play date with this friend-who-is-a-girl.

We discussed how, at this age, our boys seem to get along with girls just as easily as boys. Then we talked about how it is the grown-ups who ruin things by saying silly things like, "Oh, aren't you two adorable! Is she your little girlfriend?" I have heard people say this to toddlers for goodness' sake! I know that no ill is intended (and please don't be offended if you have said this yourself); it is just my thing. It's like rubbing two pieces of Styrofoam together; it drives me barmy.

I suppose I've heard it quite a lot. Since he was a toddler, MasterFive has been close friends with my friend's little girl of the same age. They were pretty adorable, but why do we feel the necessity to make every male-female friendship that our children have into something it is not? Children lose their innocence all too quickly as it is. Why do we need to accelerate this by forcing romantic love onto them at an age when they are only thinking that Suzy is pretty cool, because she can run really fast and huck a loogey at 20 paces?

Having said that, I have started noticing the girls in MasterSeven's age group have started to notice my MasterSeven. Eyelashes have been batted, notes have been written, kisses have been stolen (but not reciprocated), and it won't be long before I'll have something real to be concerned about. 

Can't I just have them cryogenically frozen so I don't have to deal with them morphing into hormone-rampant teenagers? Girls: Keep your hands off my boys. Because. I. Am. Simply. Not. Ready. For. This.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Session: 'Falling' in Love with The Waifs

On Sundays, I join Thea at Do I Really Wanna Blog? in popping 
two favourite songs on the blog.
An oldie but a goldie.
And a newbie, fresh from the charts.
Here are my picks for this week.
You can play along by linking up with Thea.
Happy Sunday!

Here's my oldie. I was listening to this whilst doing some housework the other day--yes, I actually do housework once in a while. I loved this song from the very first time I heard it, and I still love it to this day.

And for my newbie, I still couldn't find a video of the new song 'Falling' by The Waifs, but I did find this audio of the song. It is just so catchy. This is another one that I loved the minute I heard it. I hope you enjoy hearing these picks as much as I did sharing them!

The Waifs - Falling by sgcmedia

Friday, March 18, 2011

Should-a Would-a Could-a

I should have gone to the movies.

I should have invited a few girlfriends out for a night on the town.

I should have at least rented a video, anything to take my mind off the fact that I am not in Sydney attending the Aussie Bloggers Conference.

I should be in Sydney meeting all the lovely Aussie bloggers that I have connected with over the past year or so.

I should be sipping bubbles and enjoying a laugh. 

I should be having a lie-in tomorrow instead of getting up at the usual 5:30 am.

I should be listening to all the wonderful speakers tomorrow and learning how I can be a better blogger.

I should have done everything I could to get myself to the conference.

But fate and fortune (or lack thereof) had other plans for me.

I will try my hardest to be there next time, because hey, a weekend away in Sydney (or anywhere really) is right up my alley.

To all those who didn't just say Should-a, hope you have a great time, and I look forward to reading all about it upon your return. On this end, there will be much teeth-gnashing and kicking of myself, but I look forward to reading it nonetheless.

I know it's late, but it is still Friday, so it is FlogYoBlogFriday. Visit Glowless to read the rules before linking up.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Bit of Craic for St Patrick's Day

Q: What's Irish and sits in your back yard?
A: Paddy O'Furniture <= Drag your mouse over here.

Wait, don't go away! I promise I won't tell any more.

Happy St Patrick's Day!

You won't find me enjoying a pint of Guinness at the nearest Irish pub on St Patrick's Day. School authorities might frown upon me turning up at school pickup in my leprechaun suit, smelling of beer--funny that. So, I thought I would celebrate on the blog. Let's have a bit of craic:

Here have a beer:

green beer!

And what St Paddy's day would be complete without some Irish music (Warning: Language and fart reference)

Here is a picture of me kissing the Blarney Stone. Kissing the Blarney Stone is supposed to give you the gift of eloquence. I am still waiting on that one, and no, I don't want to hear about what exactly the locals are said to do to the Blarney Stone for fun when no one is looking. If you haven't already heard, you don't want to know, honestly. I have my hopes pinned on that being an urban myth.

The best part about having a virtual St Paddy's Day celebration is that I won't be waking up with a hangover tomorrow.

Hope your day is grand!

A special message to my sister: Happy Birthday! Hope you have a great day. I suggest you embrace this whole being born on St Patrick's Day thing and eat lots of green things today, like cupcakes with green icing, Mint Aeros, green jelly beans and my personal favourite, Dill Pickle Potato Chips. However, healthy green things like broccoli or lettuce are forbidden--where would the fun be in that?

So if you celebrate St Patrick's Day, what will you do today? If not celebrating much this year, tell me about a past celebration you might have had.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Women Can Do Anything

It is a long-running joke that our vacuum cleaner is still working after 15 years, because I never actually use it. So, on International Women's Day, Will thought he would play a little joke by putting this sticker on. 

I ruined it for him though; he had to wait a week before he could laugh at his own practical joke, because it took me that long before I finally got fed up with the dust bunnies multiplying and pulled it out of the cupboard.

Linking up for Wordless Wednesday with Marilyn at A Lot of Loves and Trish over at My Little Drummer Boys.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fussy Eaters: Conflict or Compromise?

There is an ongoing argument around our house about how to approach the problem of fussy eaters.

The Background

I can use two fingers to count how many foods Will dislikes. As he would have you know, he came from parents who practised no-nonsense parenting. He was forced to eat everything and as a result he will eat anything. He is so easygoing about his likes and dislikes that he will defer to me when it comes to how he likes his food. If I am putting Parmesan cheese on my pasta, he will ask for it too, but if I am not, oh well, he won't either.

I on the other hand, am more discerning in my tastes, but generally there are only a handful of foods that I absolutely detest, and I will try most things, but this was not always the case. I could not stand asparagus, curry and most types of seafood until I became an adult, and now I love, love, love them.

My children are complete opposites to one another.

MasterSeven, after having been deprived of a lot of foods due to his former allergy to milk and egg products, will try anything. I can't think of anything he really doesn't like. He loves olives, pickles, seafood, blue cheese, pate and in general, foods you would associate as being 'grown-up' foods.

MasterFive is picky. One day he will like a food and devour it promptly, and the next time I cook it, he will say he doesn't like it. He detests mushrooms (and gags on them), he can't stand the more exotic seafoods, such as mussels and he's not a true Aussie, because he has decided he no longer likes prawns. Bok choy, capsicum and sometimes zucchini are not his favourites.

They both LOVE broccoli however, go figure.

What We Want

I think I speak for most parents when I say that what we want for our children is this:

  • We want them to get a variety of nutrients from a variety of foods.
  • We want them to enjoy healthy foods and not just the junk.
  • We want them to savour their food and enjoy trying new things.
  • We want them to be welcome in other people's homes, because they know how to behave when faced with a food that doesn't appeal to their palates.
  • When we have spent most of the afternoon slaving over a new recipe, we would love for the effort to be appreciated by each and every member of the family.

The Obstacles

Well, children have their own idea of what they think should happen at mealtimes:

  • Some (most) would prefer to eat junk than that meal you slaved over.
  • Some won't eat a morsel of the food on their plates, but the minute it is not mealtime, they are hoovering up everything within a 10km radius.
  • Some won't eat off their own plates; they want to eat off yours.
  • Some find the texture and the taste of some foods so revolting that they will regurgitate said food for your viewing pleasure.
  • Some will eat nothing but Vegemite sandwiches, and I mean nothing.
  • Some won't eat mushrooms in a stir-fry but will eat it as mushroom sauce on pork chops.
  • And I am sure that my readers could add many more to this list...

The Approach

So here's the tricky bit. How do we get to 'What We Want' and bypass 'The Obstacles' yet still keep our sanity?

If you asked Will, he would be prefer to be standing on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise saying "Make it so." He has a lot to say about how soft I am on the kids when it comes to this issue, but I think he recognises that the autocratic way takes a lot of energy and saps the enjoyment out of mealtime, so he tends to let me give my approach a whirl.

The approach I have takes into account something I read somewhere that children have thousands more taste buds than grown-ups, and that our sense of taste dulls over time. This is said to be why children have a harder time with more adult flavours (MasterSeven disproves this theory, but never mind that), because they can taste them exponentially more than we can. This makes a lot of sense to me, so I try to implement the following rules:

  1. When it comes to newly introduced foods, you have to try it before you say you don't like it. If you don't like it the first time, you don't have to eat it, but I'd like you to try it again on another occasion, because you might change your mind.
  2. When you are at someone else's house and you are faced with a food on your plate that you really hate, then I want you to discreetly put that food to the side of your plate without making a big song and dance about it.
  3. BUT, if I have slaved over a hot stove making this food for you and the last time I made it for you, you gobbled it up, but you have since decided that you no longer like it, TOO BAD, you are going to sit and eat it if it takes all night, and if you don't eat it tonight is will be waiting for you in the morning for breakfast, and you are going to like it. Do you know why? Because there are starving children all over the world and you just don't know how lucky you are...!
Exaggerating about that last one, but that's not to say that at least some of those words haven't been uttered in moments of sheer desperation.

'Food For Thought'

When we were fleeing from Cyclone Yasi, we brought a limited amount food with us to the evacuation centre. By the time nightfall came, the kids were pretty hungry with having only had crackers and muesli bars, so when I opened a cold can of spaghetti, I had to fight them off to make sure everyone got some. If you had offered them a cold can of spaghetti normally, you can bet noses would be turned up.  

So is the solution to make sure that no snacks are had between meal times? That's what our parents did for us, and we survived it, but with childhood obesity becoming an increasing problem, isn't it better to allow them to eat smaller amounts throughout the day?

Which is your approach? Are you the autocrat or the diplomat, or somewhere in between?

Some Related Links

Here are some other excellent posts on this topic:

Marita at Stuff With Thing shares a great post on how to put some fun in the meal and still get around a fussy eater or two.

Donna at Nappy Daze talks about a Fussy Eaters seminar she attended and her mealtime trials and tribulations with her toddler. See? This is such an issue, they hold seminars about it!

Kellie's husband, Julian, over at Three Li'l Princesses tells us about one time when trying to disguise the veggies in the food just didn't work.

Susan at Reading Updside Down has kindly suggested the book More Peas Please from Kate di Prima and Dr Julie Chichero.

Rachel at Because I said so! also shares a creative way to make food fun for fussy eaters.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Exacting My Revenge on the Table Manner Tyrant

You might have read in Friday's post that I grew up under the ever watchful eye of my father, especially when it came to table manners. So, you  might be able to imagine my elation when, many years later, as a grown woman, I was able to turn the tables on dear Dad and give him a taste of his own medicine.

The year was 2000. Dad and Mom made the long journey from Vancouver to Sydney to visit us for the very first time since I left home so many years before. We wanted to treat Mom and Dad to a lovely meal in a pristine setting, so we took them to a sophisticated restaurant overlooking the water at Manly Ferry terminal. I think it was called Archibald's or something like that. There was linen everywhere, wine glasses that sparkled and gleamed, and the menu was well and truly posh. You know the type, where you have to get your pocket dictionary out just to figure out the meaning of the some of the words they used--words like skordalia, fregola and Burrata (Don't ask me).

So when Dad scanned the menu, his eyes locked on to something he knew: Calamari. He thought that would be a safe bet--little rings of calamari dipped in batter and deep-fried, he couldn't go wrong with that. You should know that, as I mentioned in my previous post, Dad always said that you have to try something before you say you don't like it. Having said that, Dad grew up in Scotland in the 30s and 40s. His tastes weren't exotic, despite years of foreign travel with his jobs in mining.

So when his meal arrived, complete with all 10 tentacles waving up at him on each of those slippery little suckers, after having been only briefly shown to a pan of olive oil, Dad visibly paled and immediately pushed his plate away. It was then that I pounced. I said in a sing-song way, "What's wrong Daa-aad? Don't you like it?" and then in a good-natured way, but in a tone that showed him I wasn't going to back down (I have never before been one to give my dad attitude, but he wasn't going to get off lightly this time), "Well, you can't say you don't like it unless you try it!", as I chuckled with glee.

I had to give him this much, he knew when he was beat, and he did take a tentative bite, before declaring that he indeed did not care for calamari cooked in this manner. I let him off the hook then, and we organised for him to trade with Will, who was wise and chose the more conservative, but still gourmet version of, Fish and Chips.

This memory of the one time I was able to get Dad back for a childhood of table manner torment has sustained me for the last decade or so, and I would often bring it up in conversation whenever I had the chance. The funny thing is that I actually very much agree with the rule that you have to try it before you say you don't like it, but I still revelled in the fact that I managed to get one over on my good ole Dad. It didn't happen very often, so I was going to milk it for all it was worth.

So, now that I am the one who is starting to crack down on my sons' table manners, I wonder when it is all going to come boomeranging back at me, and they will catch me disobeying one of my own rules. Who am I kidding? It will probably be next week, when they clock me with my elbows on the table or reprimanding them with my mouth full.

Have you ever caught your parents disobeying one of their own rules? Did you call them on it?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Session: Sun, Dirt and Water

On Sundays, I join Thea at Do I Really Wanna Blog? in popping 
two favourite songs on the blog.
An oldie but a goldie.
And a newbie, fresh from the charts.
Here are my picks for this week.
You can play along by linking up with Thea.
Happy Sunday!

Here's my oldie. This one is one I would want with me if I were stranded on a deserted island, you know, with electricity and stuff.

And for my newbie, I heard the new song from the Waifs on the radio the other day and found myself humming along. I tried to find it to share it with you, but couldn't and serendipity offered up this fabulous song to share with you. I know it is from 2008, but the Waifs are new to me, so I reckon it qualifies. Enjoy! I will try and find you the new release another Sunday.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Grateful for...Movies That Make You Feel Young Again

Last night, I watched St Elmo's Fire for the first time since the late 80s. I was a bit worried that I had matured so much that I wouldn't appreciate the movie as much as I did as a teen. Not to worry, I am just as immature as ever. I did, however, cringe whenever they did that group chant, Booga-booga-booga-ah-ah-ah. I won't even talk about the fashion and the hair!

The movie succeeded in reminding me of just how much I have aged since then. Those actors look so much older now. I wonder what that means for me, a person of limited means without the money to spend on plastic surgery, personal trainers and personal chefs. It also succeeded in reminding me of a different Shelly, the one who enjoyed watching the brat pack movies. It brought to mind Shelly as she was before meeting her husband, before leaving her home country, before travelling the world, before having a career, before having children. It was a nice memory. I then remembered all of the movies that I have enjoyed over the years, before others had a say in the choice of movie being played:

  • Sixteen Candles
  • Youngblood
  • The Outsiders
  • The Breakfast Club
  • All the Right Moves
  • Pretty in Pink
  • Top Gun
  • Dirty Dancing
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Flashdance
  • Ghost
  • Cocktail 
  • Circle of Friends
Nowadays, obviously, my taste in movies has changed and matured, but these movies bring back some fond memories. I am taking part in Maxabella's Grateful Saturday. Today, I am grateful for these movies that entertained me in my teens and early twenties, and for knowing that whenever I need to feel like a girl again, all I have to do is load up the DVD player.

To link up with Maxabella's Grateful Saturday, go read her instructions here.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Return of the Table Manner Tyrant

Now that the children are getting a bit older, I have been focussing on their table manners more than before. Piggies at the table makes my blood boil, and I come by it honestly. I have mentioned before how my dad was a stickler for table manners. I have previously referred to him as the Table Manner Nazi, but I now prefer the Table Manner Tyrant. If Dad were here today, I think he would get a kick out of the moniker, either that or he would rap my knuckles with his fork. Growing up, we kids all lived in fear of the fork; those were different times, the 70s.

Here are just a few of the rules to which we had to strictly adhere:

  1. Take small bites
  2. Chew your food 26 times
  3. Hold your fork like a pencil not a spade
  4. Eat every food on your plate, taking it in turns
  5. Elbows off the table
  6. When you are not cutting your meat, your other hand is at your side
  7. Finish what's in your mouth before putting more in, even better...
  8. Wait until you are finished what's in your mouth before loading up your fork with the next mouthful, and...
  9. If you can't remember that, put your fork down between each bite
  10. Use your knife to push food onto your fork, not your thumb
  11. Don't lick your knife
  12. Chew with your mouth closed
  13. Don't talk with your mouth full
  14. Don't gulp your drink
  15. Don't slurp your drink
  16. Twist the spaghetti onto a fork, don't suck it up
  17. When you get to the bottom of your milk shake and the straw starts to make a slurping sound, stop drinking, it is done
  18. No singing at the table
  19. No playing with your food
  20. Sit still
  21. Sit on your seat properly
  22. Eat over your plate
  23. Don't drink the last of your milk in your cereal bowl, use your spoon (I am not great at enforcing this one purely because of my impatience to get on the road of a morning), and...
  24. Don't fill your spoon so much that the milk all dribbles off
  25. Sit close to the table
  26. With regards to cutlery, start from the outside and work your way in
  27. You have to try it before you say you don't like it
  28. You don't have to finish everything on your plate, but don't take more than you can eat, and see rule #4
So you can see why I am probably a good candidate for therapy? The really crazy thing is that now that I am a parent, each and every one of those rules makes sense to me. Of course, I am not trying to teach the kids every rule all at once, but I am certainly trying to get some of these across to them. They don't have to live in fear of the fork, but they do have to live in fear of the the Evil Eye, the stern voice and the poke-y finger.

What are your views on table manners? Are these rules OTT or do you think they have value? Do you enforce some of these rules in your home? At what age do you think it is time to start cracking down on poor table manners? 

It's FlogYoBlogFriday! Visit Glowless to find out the rules, and you can link up below or over there, whichever.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Today Is Not Monday

Yesterday was somewhat eventful--nothing catastrophic, but eventful just the same.

As usual, I started off with the best of intentions. I wanted to  leave the house by 8:30 a.m. so that the kids had time to meander to their classrooms instead of the usual mad rush through the door at bell time. The kids' intentions were to see how far they can push their mum before she would ground them for the rest of the week--they soon found out.

So, at 8:38 a.m. we headed out. We found that the traffic was lined up at the roundabout near our home. This was not unusual as that roundabout could be a nightmare to get through at the best of times.

But no, this was different. Traffic was lined up to the next roundabout too. I said to the kids, "there must be some road work up ahead", and then I remembered, as I entered the queue of traffic on the main highway, that I had forgotten MasterSeven's swimming things for phys-ed. No problem. I would just nip back home after I dropped off the kids and fetch them. It would mean an extra half hour out of my day, but with the traffic the way it was, I wasn't about to lose my spot in the queue. What I didn't know was that I was never going to make it to school at all.

30 minutes later, I figured out that this was no ordinary delay. What was my first clue? It was the fact that we hadn't moved 100 m since we first entered the traffic.  I called Will. "Oh, yeah," he said, "I was meaning to ring you to let you know about the traffic delays." Thanks.

I listened to the radio, and they said that the highway was shut due to flood waters crossing the road at Thomatis creek. This meant the main way that everyone takes to get to work each morning was no longer passable. They diverted traffic up a different way, but because of the amount of cars diverting, it was gridlock. Also, there was an accident up that way, so traffic was reduced to one lane of traffic. I was looking at a path I usually follow on my runs, we were that close to home, so we inched our way along, changed lanes and as soon as we hit the next roundabout, hightailed it outta there. We got home 50 minutes from the time we set out, having only travelled about 200 m.

So, we went home and listened to the radio, and eventually I just gave up, called in to the school to let them know we weren't going to be there, and resigned myself to the fact that I would have yet another day of working with little people around. Also, these little people were grounded from computer and TV. What was I thinking?!

Well the day pretty much continued in that vein. Everything I touched at work disintegrated into ash, and just as I was looking forward to putting my feet up and watching one of my new favourites, 'S#!^ My Dad Says', I remembered that I had a monthly conference call to attend. That didn't go well, and I went to bed feeling less than positive. I worried about about work, study, money, the very real possibility of another day off for not only the children, but hubby as well, and that painful hang nail on my left hand...

But, today is Tuesday. Today is a new day. Today is not Monday. Wipe the slate clean. Relax. It may never happen.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Considering Banning Them From the Computer...Indefinitely

Before the Bickering Started
Today is a pupil-free day, or "People-free" Day as MasterFive likes to call it. Well, it's certainly not a people-free day around this household.

My little people are busily playing Star Wars Lego on the computer. One has his eyes on the microwave clock to see when it will be his turn to take over control of the mouse and keyboard. The other is oblivious, but you can bet when it is time for him to hop off, there will be much whingeing and carrying on:

"I didn't even hear the timer."
"But I was in the middle of a game!"
"Just five more minutes, pleeeeeeease?"
"MasterSeven got more time on the computer than I did. It's not fair!"
"MasterFive is clicking on things he's not supposed to!"

I have taken to banning the computer during the week, because I am just completely over all the hassle it causes. Nevertheless, I have resorted to letting them play on it today, because I am still supposed to be working, even though I have two little people at home. I will probably regret my decision, because I just know they will be at the ready, just waiting until I am in the middle of a meeting or am focussed on something tricky. Then they will come running up with something extremely urgent to tell me, like about a brother who is being annoying or not hopping off at the end of his turn...


What are your rules surrounding computer time? Do you ever have bickering over the technology? What do you do to combat this?

It's FlogYoBlogFriday. If you want to join in, head on over to Where's My Glow? to read the rules.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bowing Out of a Cherished Weekly Ritual

Today is the end of something I have enjoyed every Thursday for the last four and a half years. Today is the first day that I won't be joining the mums for our Thursday swim. Some of my long-time readers may recall that this is one of my favourite things to do.

Why am I giving it up if I enjoy it so much? There are a number of reasons, such as:

Pulling My Weight: Now that both children are at school, I feel like my daytime hours should be devoted to constructive activities such as work, study, errands or housework. I can no longer use the children as an excuse for social activities with other mums, if my children aren't even present! It's not fair on Will to expect him to be the main breadwinner now that I have more time and am able to contribute more significantly. I was finding in the last few weeks, that I just wasn't enjoying the swims as much as I used to, because I felt like I should be at home doing other things, like work.

Cost: It costs me money for my swimming pass, money that could be spent in other ways. It costs me time that I could be working to help us get on top financially.

Kid-Free Time: After seven years of wiping tears, noses and bums, I am looking forward to some kid-free time.

There are some things I am really going to miss about our weekly swims:

Friendship: These mums are a special bunch, and I have come to care for them a great deal. I am going to miss catching up each week, learning about what new milestones their children/grandchildren have reached, exchanging yummy recipes and just venting when needed.

Exercise: Even though I often would skip out on the last few of my laps in favour of a cup of a tea and a chat, I still managed to get in most of them, and the exercise did me good. I am still doing my running and walking on alternate days, but this swimming session broke it up a bit and worked a different set of muscles in a different way.

The Grub: The best part of this weekly get-together was that we took turns bringing some food to share. We have enjoyed from simple to gourmet and everything in between. This probably counteracted any exercise we did, but it was so worth it.

It has been wonderful to watch our children grow together, to lean on each other when the need arose and to share good food and good company. I was very lucky to have been invited to join this special group, and I look forward to continuing the friendships, just at different times, at different venues, and every once in a while, with a glass of wine while the kids are with babysitters!

What about you? Do you find yourself at a changing point in your life? If you have children who are off to school, is there anything you are doing differently now as a result?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Can't I Just Leave Out the Boring Ones?

So, I'm in a spot of trouble.

On Monday, I started my studies again. I thought I would take a Creative Writing subject as an elective for my technology degree, you know, for a lark, a bit of fun, easy credits. I enjoy writing on this here blog, and surely it can't be much different than that? (I know I probably just offended every person who has the word 'writer' in his or her bio, but I have never considered myself as such, so please forgive my appalling underestimation of the complexity of your craft) The stories would be about other people instead of just about me. That would be a refreshing change for sure.

Well, you can imagine my surprise and horror when I read through the material and found that they expect me to think, to think critically even. My eyes are glazing over at the thought of it. I truly sucked at the critical thinking subject I took a while back. I only just squeaked by. I don't want to write about whether so-and-so defamed someone else's character in that political piece she wrote. I am not interested in Wikileaks and the ethics surrounding its whistle-blowing practices. Of course, I am not completely without a clue, I knew I wouldn't be able to wax lyrical about farts and dirty toilets, but I didn't expect to be made to analyse and come up with valid arguments about...

...Wha? Sorry, I must have dozed off just thinking about it.

I was wrong in thinking this was going to be an easy subject. I realise my mistake now, but surely with as many genres of writing that are out there, do I have to try them all? Can't I just leave out the boring ones?
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