Thursday, April 29, 2010

"Ham, chicken thighs and public humiliation please"

I've entered into yet another new territory in Parent-land. The one where you find yourself hissing at your child to shh-be-quiet-yes-I-know-but-for-the-love-of-God-just-please-shut-up!

Don't you love each and every new phase that comes along as your little one grows and flourishes under your tender care? Yeah, me neither.

So GG is about to turn 3 in May, and her talking is getting really good, full sentences, very clear and she is a real chatterbox. She's also getting so clear that complete strangers can understand her, and herein lies the problem.

Yesterday, we had a carpenter come to fix some cupboards in the kitchen. GG spend the whole time glaring at him suspiciously and loudly asking, "Mummy, who is that man?" "What's he doing?" "Why is he wrecking the kitchen Mummy?" "Does he need a timeout?" Luckily the guy was lovely and thought she was hilarious.

Then today at the deli counter in Coles, just as the young guy behind the counter took our number, GG yelled out, "Mummy, that man looks like Merlin!!"

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1. Truth be told, he really did, all ears and dark dorky hair, but they aren't really qualities most people want brought to public attention.

2. Yes, GG watches Merlin. Sub-prime parenting I realise, but something about it really catches her attention, she will sit and watch a whole episode, and she never sits still. When I ask her if she finds any part scary, she looks at me with derision and says, "It's just pretend Mummy".

So back to the weird-lookin kid. I think he missed it the first time, but GG kept saying it, over and over, louder and louder. I muttered under my breath, "Uh-huh, that's nice honey, oh look over there!" but she wasn't to be deterred. "But he really does Mummy! He looks just like Merlin!"

As I am trying to shush her, and looking around wildly at the other customers sniggering behind their hands, I glance up and lock eyes with the guy. "Did she just say I looked like Merlin?"

"Ummm, well, yes but if it makes you feel any better, she really likes Merlin. And of course she means the young version, you know from the TV show - not the old guy with the beard, I mean of course not, you don't have a beard do you AHAHAHAHA". (Okay, so I babble when I'm nervous.)

He turns to address GG, "Cool, I like Merlin too. Do you want a cheerio?"

Needless to say, GG's in love.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lest We Forget

Today is Anzac Day, where we commemorate and pay respect to all Australian and New Zealand soldiers, especially those who have given their lives in defense of the country. It was originally a day of rememberance specifically for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps bloody and terrible landing at Gallipoli during the First World War, the first major military operation for our country.

One thing that always comes to mind to me on Anzac Day, and always gets me emotional any other time I hear it, is the Song I was Only 19, by the band Redgum. It was written by the band's singer, John Schuman, based on personal experiences of his brother-in-law and other returned veterans who served in the Vietnam war. I've embedded a clip and the lyrics below.

Music and Lyrics by John Schuman, performed by Redgum.

Mum and Dad and Denny saw the passing-out parade at Puckapunyal
It was a long march from cadets.
The sixth battalion was the next to tour
And it was me who drew the card.
We did Canungra, Shoalwater before we left.

And Townsville lined the footpaths as we marched down to the quay
This clipping from the paper shows us young and strong and clean.
And there's me in my slouch hat with my SLR and greens.
God help me, I was only nineteen.

From Vung Tau, riding Chinooks, to the dust at Nui Dat
I'd been in and out of choppers now for months.
But we made our tents a home, VB and pinups on the lockers
And an Asian orange sunset through the scrub.

And can you tell me, doctor, why I still can't get to sleep?
And nighttime's just a jungle dark and a barking M16?
And what's this rash that comes and goes
Can you tell me what it means?
God help me, I was only nineteen

A four-week operation
When each step could mean your last one on two legs
It was a war within yourself
But you wouldn't let your mates down till they had you dusted off
So you closed your eyes and thought about something else.

Then someone yelled out "Contact!"; and the bloke behind me swore
We hooked in there for hours, then a God almighty roar
And Frankie kicked a mine the day that mankind kicked the moon,
God help me, he was going home in June.

I can still see Frankie, drinking tinnies in the Grand Hotel
On a thirty-six hour rec leave in Vung Tau
And I can still hear Frankie, lying screaming in the jungle
Till the morphine came and killed the bloody row

And the Anzac legends didn't mention mud and blood and tears
And the stories that my father told me never seemed quite real.
I caught some pieces in my back that I didn't even feel
God help me, I was only nineteen

And can you tell me, doctor, why I still can't get to sleep?
And why the Channel Seven chopper chills me to my feet?
And what's this rash that comes and goes
can you tell me what it means?
God help me, I was only nineteen


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Are you there God? Can you put Buddha on the phone?

I've been thinking a lot lately about my spirituality and faith. Ever since someone called me out during one of those deep and meaningful conversations that take place over a bottle or three of good red.

When asked to clarify my position on God and religousness (religosity??), I found it very difficult. I was raised and christened into the Uniting Church, kind of a blend of Methodist and Presbyterian, and still feel a pull to go to Church during holidays like Easter and Christmas and take part in those timeless rituals, but find it increasingly difficult to limit myself to this definition. I have never believed in the Bible as a literal interpretation of the word of God, I think we need to remember it has been written and re-written again and again by mere men. Okay sure, they were kings and what not, but still just men, and they surely had their own agenda, right?

And how can I ignore evolution? Sure Adam and Eve is a nice story, helps explain away how God can let all the tragic things in the world happen... "Hey, don't blame me, blame those two, they ruined Paradise for you" but we have pretty conclusive proof that dinosaurs did in fact roam the earth. Oh, and thanks for making woman the downfall of humanity, that hasn't affected us through the centuries at all.

I also don't like the judgement that comes along with organised religion. Take for instance homosexuality. I have very dear friends who are gay, and if I were to take Christianity's teachings to heart, I would have to believe that not only should they not be allowed to get married, but that they as people aren't right, and are "afflicted" in some way. This is patently ridiculous. Quite apart from the fact that they are some of the most genuinely warm, fun, thoughtful and lovely people I've ever known, imagine being told by some stuffy organisation that who you are as a person, how you think, how you feel and who you love, no matter how good a person you are, is wrong and you are damned for all eternity. Not exactly the limitless love and tolerance they preach about is it?

Then of course there are the countless wars waged in the name of religion, and it's contribution to poverty worldwide. Look at the Catholic third world nations. Barely enough food to feed the children they already have, some out of touch old man with no knowledge of life in their shoes tells them that it's a sin to use contraception, thereby keeping the family growing, and even hungrier. Not to mention the battered wives who won't leave their abusive husband because getting a divorce will send them to hell. Like they're not already there.

And I just can't get my head around the thought that Christianity is supposed to be the one true faith. I'm currently reading a bit about Buddhism, and find a lot of the teachings resonate with me, it seems a very beautiful, gentle and loving pursuit of personal serenity, enlightenment and acceptance of others. It just doesn't seem right - are we supposed to believe that just because they don't believe what others do, these light-filled souls would be damned to Hell?

So I am increasingly taking a kind of 'Pick n Mix' approach, which I can't decide whether is just a bit of a cop-out because I haven't the cojones to pick a religion and stick to it, or an intelligent decision to focus on spirituality and enlightenment rather than a list of dogmatic rules. The jury is still out. I am still a work in progress in many ways, most certainly in respect to my spiritulaity. But what I think is important is that I am searching, asking questions, and seeking that feeling of enlightenment. What's that saying the Jewish have? "Knowledge is Light", and at least I'm looking for the light switch.

I certainly believe in a higher power, who I choose to call God, but am slowly starting to think of more as "the Universe". I believe in prayer, but couldn't prayer also just be a wish made to the universe and fulfilled by our very desire to make it so? It's been proven that sub-atomic particles will behave differently in situations during which they are observed by humans, rather than just recorded, so in quantum mechanic-speak, we know that human intention can change the outcome of the physical world, at least on a sub-atomic level. Why not on a grand scale?

What if all the organised religions in the world, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Hindu, Shinto, Muslim, Jedi, what have you, all started from different people, with different cultural histories, all attempting to define the same feeling. The feeling that there is something greater than ourselves, an order to the Universe that is just beyond the grasp of our feeble human minds, and that if we could just explain it, have it make sense to us, maybe if we could earn it by behaving better and treating each other better, then we would glimpse Paradise, Heaven, Nirvana??

Having just re-read this, I am not changing anything, but I feel I've been a little harsh and negative about organised religion, especially Christianity. I don't want to offend anyone, or tell they are wrong to believe a certain way. This is just my personal search for meaning, if you've found it, through whatever religion, and believe deeply in it, and gain comfort from it, well than, I envy you that and wish you all the best. Namaste.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bad Mummy Diaries: Part Two

I don't have a lot of bad habits these days. I've stopped smoking, I don't drink that much, I don't do drugs and I only occassionally binge myself into a choc-coma. I do however, swear. Quite a bit. So fucking sue me.

However, in an effort to be a better mother, I try not to swear in front of GG. Mostly, I succeed. There was the time I shot myself in the foot by exclaiming to my husband that "parking will be a bitch in the city". Guess which word GG choose to pick up out of that? Parenting: fail. Although we did kind of manage to kind of convince her I said "beach". Kind of.

Anyprofanity, in an effort to not swear so much, I have had to radically alter my lingo when behind the wheel of my car. This is when you are most likely to to hear a litany of just about every swear you can think of (yes, once I even shocked myself when I used the C word). Hey, don't blame me, blame the fucktards who got their licence out of a cereal box. Now however, when GG is in the car, I have re-programmed myself to say the word "muppet" in place of the more colourful words in my vocabulary. "It's called merging! Ever heard of it? You MUPPET!!!!" You get the picture.

So the other day, we are all having quality family time in front of the TV (shut up, is so not an oxymoron) and GG happens to see an ad with these weird fruit-humaniod amalgam puppets in it. When she asked her Dad what on Earth they were, he replied with, "They're sort of puppets, you know like Fraggle Rock, or The Muppets?"

GG pipes up, "No, Daddy, muppets drive cars and make Mummy cranky!".

Turns out there's a lot my husband can say with just a raised eyebrow and a smirk.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

That's one step closer to world domination!

I've been featured by the gracious Sharni on her wonderful site Sharnanigans as part of a new regular feature: Friday Fertilisers. The title refers to her site's motto, "...the grass isn't greener on the other side, it's greener where you water it.." well, that or she's refering to the amount of "fertiliser" I regularly spout on this little blog of mine!

Sharni started blogging around the same time as me, and has gone on to create her own website full of life lessons, interviews with inspirational and funny people like Alice Grist, Jane Kennedy and Wil Anderson. It's a site of explorations: she explores her new mama-hood, her spirituality and life as a big city gal adjusting to life in a tiny One Horse Town.

I highly recommend you go check her out, there's lots to explore over there!

After reading Sharni's impressions of this blog (and it's superawesome modest author), I've realised that maybe I'm closer to my goal of being more Zen and philosophical, rather than the neurotic mess who over analyses everything that I used to be, and am trying very hard not to be anymore.

It's funny how sometimes when you see yourself reflected back from another person's perspective, the view is better than from inside your own head. :)

I've also realised that I was right to question the name of my blog, I did wonder back at the time whether it was a bit too "huh?", but I have always loved the description of the word; wildly impractical and romantic, given to flights of fancy. Plus I regularly find myself "tilting at windmills" when I gnash teeth and rail against everything from corporate media and truth in advertising to why do they make those darn Rice Wheel packets so hard to open!!!

I also didn't want to be restricted to being "just" a Mummy blog, and it sounded suitably vague enough to cover whatever I may end up writing about!

So there's the story behind this blog's name - now go visit Sharnanigans and give her some love!


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Do you want some porn with your petrol?

An Australian Mum, Catherine Manning, founder of Say No 4 Kids, has appeared on a prime time Channel 7 current affairs show, The 7pm Project, Tuesday night (I know, I know, I wanted to post this earlier, but I wanted to get some research behind me before I started venting!) to speak about her petition to have adult magazines moved out of children’s eyeline in milk bars and service stations.

Some people are dismissing her as a wowser or a prude. I’m willing to bet those people don’t have kids. One such person who was clearly dismissive of these idea, and shame on him, was The 7pm Project’s panellist Steve Price, who was clearly dismissive of this idea and very condescending towards her. I am well aware it’s a journalist’s job to question stories, but he showed a very unprofessional personal bias, both during the interview and in the brief discussion afterwards. You can view the episode here. You want the 9 minute mark. You can contact Steve Price here... oh no, wait, seems Mr Tough Guy has no contact information anywhere on the web. I wonder why? He’s perfectly happy to dish out his opinion to all and sundry whether we want it or not, but isn’t willing to hear what we have to say in reply? Way to stand by your opinions, Mr Price.

Plus, I don’t think he was actually paying attention. Steve seemed under the impression she was worried about kids opening and reading the magazine, whereas in reality just the covers themselves are a problem. One argument made was that a seeing a woman in lingerie on the front of an adult magazine was the same as seeing a woman in a swimsuit. In other words, seeing this...

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... was just the same as seeing this:

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Uh-huh... right.

Apart from the fact I couldn’t agree with her more, I think she’s being pretty reasonable. She isn’t saying there’s anything wrong with selling the magazines, or adults buying them, she just wants them moved. Pretty tolerant actually, considering many child experts want them banned all together from these outlets and sold only in adult stores.

And she’s right, every time I go into a service station, there, right by the door, and usually right across from or beside the chocolate bars and lollies, are various women in various slutty poses, vacantly staring open-mouthed right at my knees. In other words, right at GG’s eyeline.

So why do we need to protect our kids from these magazines? Well, apart from the fact that the images and captions lead to some very uncomfortable questions ( “Why is that lady nudie rudie Mummy?” is one I’ve already had to deal with), they are part of an insidious sexualisation of children that is starting to permeate every aspect of popular culture these days.

In The Australia Institute’s discussion paper “Corporate Paedophilia, Sexualisation of Children in Australia” Emma Rush and Andrea La Nauze detail how the early exposure of sexual images helps in the “grooming” process paedophiles use to abuse young children, as well as the development of body image issues and eating disorders in young girls.

Various studies have also shown a link between exposure to pornographic images at a young age to paedophilia. One such study available online here.

To get more information on the group Say No 4 Kids, or to sign the petition, you can visit their website.


Monday, April 5, 2010


I've been daydreaming about living Amish lately. I think it's either a sign that technology in all its forms has been intruding in my life just that little bit too much lately, or I'm having an episode of some sort. I'm going to go with the former.

Lately, I have been feeling intruded upon when I'm out and my phone rings, I have been resenting my laptops insistent little blinking lights imperoiously wondering why I am ignoring it AGAIN when GG and I are snuggled on the couch reading.

Don't get me wrong, I still love my cute little laptop, and the mobile phone does come in very handy when I lock myself out of the house for the upteenth time or can't find my husband in Bunnings. And I do still seriously love blogging, even though I have been suffering with writers block for a bit now, both here and in the book.

But doesn't it all seem a bit much lately? We've got technology everywhere we go, in every facet of our lives. In the 60's the marketing hype was that the technological age was going to make life easier, and give us more leisure time, but it feels like it done the opposite. Now we are running around like over-caffinated ferrets, trying to keep up with our jobs, family and friends and all their associated voicemail, email, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter updates and the like. And part of this is great, I have friends, very good friends, far away who I have not seen for ages, or even spoken to on the phone in months, but still can stay in touch with, share photos of our children smeared in Easter chocolate and the like. The opposite is that I haven't hugged my best friend in yonks, but know that Jane Doe is having soup for dinner. Hold the presses.

Yesterday, Easter Sunday, my family and I all went down to a local park to spend the day together. Kids swung on swings, narrowly avoided permanent injury on the monkey bars and ran around screaming til the sugar wore off. Dogs ran, wrestled and swam til they dropped. Adults barbequed and chatted, even charming the people at the next gazebo over into using their camp oven to boil a kettle for us so we could have a cup of tea. Gold. We sat around talking, we sat around playing board games, we sat around swapping family stories we've all heard a million times before, but still crack up at when they are told. It was just a simple, relaxing, fun day. I didn't pick up my phone all day, I didn't even glance at my laptop. It was awesome.

So while technology is probably a very good thing all up, I have been craving a bit of space from it, a chance to enjoy the simple things in life, and connect with people face-to-face, rather than electronically, or in fact not at all if I feel like it. I have always been one of those people that need time alone to decompress, I am comfortable in my own company, and often simply 'forget' to take my phone with me places, just so I can toddle about on my own, with no interruptions.

As a kid I would often take off on my horse for the day, usually with a friend or two, but often alone, and just... ride around. Follow the trail, see where it went, swim in a creek, dry off laying around in the sun, saddle up again and wander on home just in time for tea. This was waaaay before mobile phones, if I ever got into trouble, I was on my own to figure it out for myself. But it was sheer bliss.

I have been reminicing about those days a lot lately, and no doubt they are fairly rose-tinted and romantacised, but they represent such a lovely thing don't they? Solitude, getting back to nature, living simply and working out how to get yourself home.