30 May 2011

Jillian Michaels didn't have to put up with this

I am doing Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred, and being up to Day 3, I am hurting.  I have always felt goofy working out in front of my TV in my living room, but this time I choose not to feel goofy and I'll just let Jillian "kick my butt", or whatever they say.

Right now, going to a gym or joining a class would be so inconvenient and difficult to arrange.  And do you want to know how easy it is, working out in front of your TV at home?  Well, I'll tell you.

During the warmups, I tend to hit Woody repeatedly in the head with my arms, especially during the "windmill" moves.  I stop, put Woody on the couch, do a few more windmills, hit Woody in the head a few times, stop, put Woody on the couch, do a few more windmills, hit Woody in the head a few times, stop, and put Woody on the couch.  Then it's time to stop.  Mixing the exercises up like this is a technique called muscle confusion, and Jillian uses it a lot.

Within the first minute of cardio, Jessie starts crying and moaning.  "I don't like jumping!" she says.  "Mum!  I hate jumping!"  This makes me a little bit grumpy.  She should try having a few kids, having a quarter-full bladder and then doing some jumping jacks.  She'd soon see what hating jumping is all about.

The section on Strength is filled with the sound of children grunting and moaning, rolling about on the floor and saying they can't do push-ups.  That's fine by me, because while they're whinging about not being able to do pushups, they are not noticing that I can't do any either.

For the 30-Day Shred, I have taken my small yellow 1kg hand weights out of the box for my use.  MY use.  I have deliberately left the 1.5kg and 2.5 kg weights in the box because as Jillian says, "We don't need any injuries.  Not part of the program."  But while I'm doing strength, Buzz can open the box, take a set of the heavier weights out and start using them, leaving it wide open for Woody to grab the other set of weights and dangle them over my head just as I've got down on the floor to do Abs. 

When Jillian said, "No injuries!" I bet she was thinking of some poor soul rolling their ankle, not being concussed by a falling 1.5kg hand weight while trying to do ab crunches.  *** Thankfully, it has not happened.***  It could have happened, but the worst so far has been interrupting my routine yet again to lock the weights away. 

Once the weights were safe and inaccessible, I got back to oblique crunches.  I lay on my back with one ankle crossed on the other knee and one arm out to the side.  Suddenly, that arm became the pillow for two little heads as they lay beside me, pressing into me as I tried to raise my chest up to my knee.  At least it stopped my arm from coming up off the floor.

Buzz is such a helpful soul.  During the routine, he often pauses to turn to me and repeat what Jillian says, with demonstrations.  "She said you have to keep a little bend in your elbow, Mum.  Like this."  "You have to keep your knee straight."  "She said she doesn't want any of this..." accompanied with a demonstration of The Wrong Way To Do It.

By the warm-downs, the children have often given up and gone to sit on the couch to watch me.  But Buzz is often still watching, giving directions and offering helpful advice like, "No Mum, you're doing it wrong."

It's all so convenient, working out at home.

27 May 2011

Lollipop Disaster

Yesterday was one of those days that makes you want to curl up with a coffee and have a little cry, all before 7am.  Just one of those days.

By midday we were finishing up at the doctors and went to the pharmacy with the prescription for antibiotics that would make our days filled with less of poor Woody's crying.  Is it my imagination, or are juvenile ears less resilient than they used to be?

I had amused Jessie and Woody during the 40-minute wait at the doctor's with books, toys and blowing bubbles in the waiting room.  I was now amusing them with the same bubbles as we waited for the prescription to be filled.  Just when I had it all in hand, a pharmacy assistant appeared behind the counter with two garish orange and green lollipops in her hand and a big smile on her face.  She asked the children, "Would you like a lollipop?"

In the future, I will be ready with The Correct Response, which will be toclap and hand over each child's eyes saying, "Oh no, I'm sorry, but they are sick and shouldn't be eating sugary lollies."  Unfortunately I hesitated long enough for them both to see the lollipops and I made The Wrong Decision.  I reluctantly received the lollipops and started trying to liberate them from their tough plastic coffins.

It was not easy.  The plastic was really thick and difficult to break.  I finally got one of the lollipops out and gave it to Jessie first, hoping that was the right decision.  Aware that Woody was patiently waiting, I hurried as I tried to get the other lollipop out of its packaging.

Epic fail.  First I pulled the stick clean out of the lollipop, then I broke the thing into two large pieces and a million sugary crumbs.  Poor Woody.

He accepted the two large pieces with glee but once they were gone, there was no escaping the fact that due to the pharmacy lady's unhelpful generosity and my own oafishness, we were faced with fifteen minutes where Jessie HAD a lollipop, and Woody DIDN'T.  And there was nothing I could do to fix the problem.  If you are about to suggest that I could have taken Jessie's lollipop off her to at least even the score, please pause and think about it.

I need to be more alert at times when my children are offered with things that will make life more difficult, less healthy and are likely to blow up in all our faces.  Of course, one phrase I will be rehearsing is, "Oh no, I'm sorry, but they are sick and shouldn't be eating sugary lollies."

21 May 2011

Maybe I won't exactly say "No" ...

I was reeling from a little cleanup when I wrote my last post about the painting debacle.  The poor little Jessie girl - she would be devastated if I said 'No' all the time.  I will get more organised and let her paint to her heart's content again soon.  In preparation for this, I will remind myself of all the things I need for happy painting - I thought I'd share, because letting them paint is really fun!

An easel:  I had a tiny scrappy old easel with a whiteboard that didn't wipe clean and a chalkboard section the size of a postage stamp.  Not good enough.  One day I bought some big sheets of 8mm MDF and got busy with my cordless drill.  I am rarely happier in life than when I'm doing stuff with my cordless drill.  10 minutes later - a much improved easel!  (Picture below.)

Some paper:  I only have some tissue-thin cheap paper about A3 size.  Is today the day I head down to the offices of the local newspaper and buy some ends-of-rolls?  Maybe.

Cheap palettes, paints and brushes:  Got them last year from Kmart.  They're great.

Painting shirts for each child:  It's quick and easy to take an old shirt with a ribbed collar, cut all the way up the back, thread elastic through the ribbing around the neck and be glad you didnt have to get your sewing machine out.  Or, for the slightly longer version, you could ask a friend like Crafty Mummy to make a painting shirt for you from an old men's business shirt.  (Pictures below show one of each style.)  The trick is having the same number of shirts as children, and in the last blog post, I had (n-1).  Not good enough, by 1.

A rule where no children squeeze paint onto their own palettes:  I thought that was understood, but it wasn't.

The absence of younger, non-painting siblings in the painting area:  Clearly.

Wash brushes, palettes and children after painting.  It's the ideal late-afternoon activity because they can head straight for the bathroom after creating a masterpiece, just as Monet used to.  Or so I'm told.

When I make sure of all of these things, painting is great!!!  Wanna try it?  Just don't leave the toddler hanging around, that's all.

19 May 2011

Next time, I'll say No

"Mum, can I paint on my easel?" Jessie asked for the fourth time.  I sighed, but painting is usually manageable when she is alone and she has a painting shirt on.  "Okay, sweetheart, I'll get Woody eating something so he won't get his hands in the paint, and then I'll come and set it up for you."

That was the beginning of the story.  For the short cut to the ending of this story, read my post title above.

The long way to the ending is this.  For half an hour, Jessie blissfully painted while singing a La-la-la-la! song to herself.  Woody ate and then came to join her outside.  I tethered him in the Fisher-Price swing above her head to keep him out of reach of the paint.  Mr de Elba came home and stood transfixed at the sight of her painting and the sound of her sweet singing, with a look of love all over his face.  After she had filled four pages with colourful swirls, squiggles and "a seagull carrying a kid", Buzz came home from school and they painted side-by-side.  Then, in a moment of mental abstraction, I absent-mindedly took Woody out of his swing, put him down, and meandered back inside.

Soon after that, Jessie came inside brushing her hair back from her paint-streaked face and announced, "Mum, look what Buzz has done with my new orange paint."

I went, I saw, and I composed the title of this blog post in my mind.  The next five minutes were filled with my annoying voice shrieking from height to strident height as I discovered more and yet more disaster involving acrylic pigment.

"Oh oh oh oh OH!  Buzz, oh sweetheart you aren't allowed to squeeze paint out by yourself, that is a job for grownups and as you can see this new paint is really runny and OH NO can you just grab this rag and wipe the pavers and oh my goodness can I just reach over you there and wipe this off the OH NO Woody stop lying down in the paint, oh no! Can you just - oh my goodness look at your clothes what was I thinking when I took you down from the swing and let you wander around and just look at this over here!  Oh my word are there any more rags over there and can you just OH NO I think it's time for you to get in the bath Woody and Oh don't grab that!  Yes, well you may cry, of course your hands will be a scary blue colour if you grab the palette with all that blue paint on it.  Just come inside and we'll get you cleaned up, you too Jessie, you've done some great painting but now it's time to finish, just come here into the bathroom - NOT you please Buzz, I am going to need you to use up that orange and that blue on these new pieces of paper here, just let me peg them onto the easel - NO WOODY don't touch that, don't step in that either, oh goodness.  Buzz fill those bits of paper with orange and blue and try not to get any on your school uniform - yes I know your uniform is orange and blue but it's not going to look good so do your best to stay clean, now WOODY AND JESSIE!  Come into the bathroom!  WOODY!  Sweetie please no, your blue hands have made the side of the bath all blue, please don't touch anything at all okay, now arms up, let's get your shirt and jumper off and now pants, nappy, socks, please don't touch that stuff, just wait here until the water is nice and warm, now hop in and hold still while I get some soap to get the paint off your face and hands, here rub this into your hands and the scary blue will come off, now JESSIE can you step out of your painting clothes and your dress, leggings, socks, oh goodness how much Napisan do I have? And now you hop in too ... look at your face, hold still while I get some soap on here, now close your eyes and look up at the water with your eyes closed - eyes closed - and rinse it off .... (breathe) .... now just have a little soak."

Hence the title of this post.

11 May 2011


"Are we lost?" Buzz asked from the back seat of the car.

"What?" I asked.  "I'm driving between Daddy's work and our home.  I am not lost.  I wouldn't get lost!"

"Then how do you know the way?" he wondered.

"Um - Mothers' School, again.  They taught us how to find our way around, and how to remember certain trips.  It's been really helpful to me in terms of -um- in terms of not getting lost.  Mothers' School was great."


"Uhhh... is Mothers' School actually ... real?" he asked in disbelief.

Sprung, ten years before I was expecting to be.

10 May 2011

Pilates of the Caribbean

09 May 2011

Watch Ur Bak

08 May 2011

Mothers' School

One of my two best high school friends, who I still fondly remember as ET even though she got married and the T changed to an H, often lamented her inability to do things that her mother could.  Things like slicing sandwiches so the fillings don't fall out, and packing suitcases so that everything fits neatly.

She had a theory that once a woman comes of age, possibly after her wedding but before her first child, she attends a compulsory course at a place called "Mothers' School."

At Mothers' School, one learned how to cut sandwiches, pack suitcases, and all those other things that our Mums were so good at, but that we hadn't come close to mastering.

The other day, Buzz and Jessie asked me how I was able to organise Jessie and Woody into the double stroller, walk to a little convenience store close to Buzz's school for bread and milk, then to Buzz's school to pick him up and then back again.

Okay, so they didn't come up with that, I admit that I had been mightily talking myself up: "How awesome am I that I can get the little guys ready, walk to the shops, get bread and milk and pick Buzz up on the way home?  All without a car?  I am astounding!!!"

Hence the elicited admiration: "Wow Mum, how do you know how to do all of that?"

Inspired by ET, I drew on our childhood legend.  "Well, after I got married to Dad but before Buzz was born, I went to a place called Mothers' School.  It's where they teach you how to -er- to be awesome, like me.  I was in a class with my friend ET, and we learned how to, um, cut sandwiches so the filling doesn't fall out, and how to pack a suitcase so that everything fits neatly, and how to do a school pickup and get groceries even when the car is in the fixing shop!"

They were awed.

Now at this point, I was sorely tempted to come clean and say that Mothers' School was just make-believe and it was a funny thing my friend ET and I used to joke about, but I thought, "No, for once, I'm ploughing this furrow.  I'm going with it."

"Oh, but no, I've always put a clear distinction between Real Life and Imagination for the kids, I can't string them along now!" I countered.

"Why not?" I argued. "It might lend some respect for the position of motherhood."

It was a bit like this:

I stuck with the yarn, worrying slightly about what would happen once I was found out.  But in the end, I decided to set myself a challenge of keeping it up for as long as the children believed in it.  I can't wait for the day when their eyes get wide and a look of complete "A-HA!" creeps upon their faces and they say, "but I thought it was REAL!" and I have to sheepishly admit that I was just born awesome, or some such excuse.

For the moment though, I am enjoying the charade.

"I skipped class on the day they taught us how to do the ironing," I improvised.  I figured there's no use pretending anything about my ironing prowess, and the confession added to the realism.  "Other classes I skipped were on how to motivate myself to fold and put away the washing once it's dry, and being a nice Mummy when I haven't had enough sleep.  Let this be a lesson to you kids: don't skip classes, ever.  But on the up-side, I can't half cut a decent sandwich!"

What classes did you skip at Mothers' School?  What subjects do you wish for a make-up course in?

07 May 2011

OUR ACT: not yet together

Today we turned up an hour and a half late for a child's birthday party, forgetting the present and not in costume.  The first thing Buzz did on arrival was to fill up a large water pistol from the drinks dispenser, which unfortunately contained cordial.  Man, we are awesome.

06 May 2011

Clap for bubbles

05 May 2011

Clown Hair

I have enjoyed hearing from you about any struggles you have that are similar to mine, and would love to talk more about all that stuff.  But today, I don't have my thoughts together on that.  Instead I'd like to talk about my hair.

Do you ever wake up in the morning with absolutely perfect hair?  Strangely, I did today.  I washed my hair last night and not quite dried it perfectly before I went to bed.  I slept on it, expecting it to be hideous when I woke up.

But when I did wake up, I found that the natural wave had sorted itself out into a perfect style.  Without any product or effort, it hung in wonderful twirls, looking splendid.  Even my kids noticed and complimented me on my "nice hair" (although they also use that term for when I have my hair up in rollers.)

I was elated and I stepped into the day with extra confidence, knowing I looked so stylish.  With this new poise, I got ready to walk the children to school because the weather was so lovely.  We all got our shoes, hats and everything else we needed.

Then I was brought back to earth.  As I walked along with the warm sun at my back, I noticed my shadow on the ground.  Unfortunately, what I saw was not a silhouette of awesome hair.  Instead, I saw a shape that was completely unexpected.  It was all because of my baseball cap.

Do you know how some CLOWNS have a huge bald dome-shaped head fringed by grizzled thatch?  That was the silhouette I saw.

Great.  I thought I looked awesome, but instead I was stuck in public with clown hair.

04 May 2011

Embarrassment of plenty

I have been struggling with the kids' attitudes recently.  I don't want to wear those clothes, must get changed again, don't want to go to school, don't want to do this or that, this apple has a blemish so I will need another one ....  a disturbing sense of entitlement has settled over them despite my best efforts to raise them without a sense of entitlement.

Cath has posted a thought-provoking post about toys.  It echoes my frustration with a society that has provided my kids with too much of everything and left them sitting in a pile of plenty with nothing to console their little selves but a constant sense of dissatisfaction.  It is very hard work - VERY hard work - to work in their little souls against the power of having so many clothes and so much leisure and it leaves me defeated and deflated.

I had a little victory recently by removing all my daughter's clothes from her shelves except for a few little outfits. Now when I hear, "But I don't LIKE this one," I can quite honestly say, "Well there's nothing else in the shelves, and it's not going to be good if you go around naked ..."  I have noticed a higher level of satisfaction with the clothes she wears now, and the constant outfit changes are all but gone.

Do you struggle with this?  What are we as parents going to do to raise our kiddliwinks into responsible adults?

03 May 2011

Note to self

If you've been using a grungy Rock Organ sound on your keyboard for the first two songs in the set in the worship band on Sunday morning ...

... and if your next song requires a soft piano sound for the big piano introduction ...

... make sure you hit the button and change the sound from Rock Organ to Piano before that third song.

If you don't, you're just setting yourself up for humiliation.

02 May 2011


What a cool dude.

It's a hairstyle that makes his siblings call him "Spike."

But as you've probably guessed, that's not hair product.

It's cake mix. Of course.

01 May 2011

The most outrageous thing I have ever done.

I have a little girl who LOVES dresses, makeup, jewellery and nail polish.  She is aghast when I tell her stories of how I spent my childhood.  For example, when I was about four, my childhood boyfriend Steven (with whom I didn't enjoy my first kiss, as explained in my About Me page) and I got muddy.

We got my little blue bike with the trainer wheels and placed it on my driveway, a trainer wheel each side of our ditch-like car track with the back wheel able to spin freely in the gravel like an exercise bike.
We filled up the ditch with water and got it all nice and muddy, took it in turns to sit on the little blue bike, and pedalled for our lives.  A huge fountain of mud was kicked up, and splattered all down our backs.  It was awesome.
Jessie was horrified at this story, correctly surmising that Steven and I got a bit dirty.  She isn't keen on getting dirty, the little princess.  I don't know where she gets it from, I really don't.
She isn't really happy unless she has nail polish on.  She won't let me do her nails though, and always insists on doing it herself.  Note to self: research nail polishes with low toxicity.
She has asked me why I don't wear dangly earrings often, why I don't use makeup, and why I don't paint my nails.  I had no real reason for these terrible lapses, and so I resolved to paint my nails.  I couldn't settle on a colour.  My skin tone sometimes looks a little brownish and dirty with delicate pinks or almonds, and I've never tried a bright red or anything dark.  So I decided to do the most outrageous thing I've ever done in my entire life (although my father would argue that my having a third baby should take that title,) and settled on my favourite colour in the whole world:

It doesn't match my new handbag in the background, but today I wore a bright blue top to match.  I felt splendid, and totally outrageous.  I loved it.