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Sunday, September 30, 2012


I get it now - being a mother is hard.

What with Tracey working all through the long weekend we swapped roles last night - I got up to the kids and Tracey stayed in bed and stole the blankets.

It's been one night and I'm exhausted.

Earlier this evening I was making myself a coffee so I could keep my eyes open while I put the kids to bed. This in itself is not unusual. Ever since Master20 was a toddler I've had difficulty reading bedtime stories to the kids because I inevitably fall asleep before I finish the book. Seriously, I'm generally yawning as I open to the first page.

But tonight the coffee was needed so I had the energy to walk to the bedroom to pick up a book and start reading it without nodding off because after last night I'm not just a little exhausted - there is no expression on my face.

To give you an idea of how mother-buggered I am, I considered takeaway for dinner tonight so I could get out of cooking but then realized I couldn't trust myself to drive to Pizza Hut and not fall asleep behind the wheel. So the kids had plain rice with soy sauce for dinner.

And I've still got one more night to go!!

I can't complain either. I can't bring myself to say, "Tracey, I'm buggered. Now you're home from work I'm off for a power nap." Tracey doesn't do that so how can I?

So, as I say, I was filling up the plunger with coffee (because instant just wasn't going to cut the mustard) so I could read the kids a story and I didn't quite have the energy to lift the heavy spoon of granules up over the lip of the plunger, so I spilled them - into the steamer containing the baby bottles.

'She'll be right,' was my first thought as I dusted the bottles off and put them back.

On any other night I might have gone with that, but it very quickly occurred to me of all the food substances I don't want to introduce my 10 month old, caffeine would have to be right up there in the top ten. So all the bottles, and the steamer, had to be thoroughly washed and re-steam cleaned.

Mind you, I already know I'm in for hell tonight because I let the baby sleep for more than two hours late this afternoon while I stared dumbly at the wall and ignored the kids as they dismantled their wardrobes and stripped the beds. But heaven help my little darlings tomorrow if I don't manage more than a couple of hours sleep tonight - If rice was hard today I'll probably just stick a raw potato in front of them for tomorrow night's dinner.

Yep, I'm ready to give up this mother caper. Although it could (regrettably) be argued I have the breasts for the job, it turns out I just don't have the balls for it.

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Ten Things Which Were Different In My Father's Day

  1. BIRTH. When I was born my dad wasn't allowed in the birthing suite. He took this a step further and left the hospital. 
  2. NAPPIES. Apparently, in the sixties, nappies couldn't be changed by men. My mother went into hospital to have her tonsils out when I was five, my sister was three and my brother was one. Dad didn't change a single nappy all week. He'd walk my siblings next door so our neighbour lady could deal with it. 
  3. DRINKING. Mum wasn't allowed into the pub. Dad would bring her out a lemonade while she sat in the car. He was a responsible drinker too. Yessiree. Drink driving was firmly frowned upon so Dad always made sure he took the back streets.
  4. KIDS. I did what I was told. My kids, not so much. 
  5. WIVES. Wives did what they were told.....yeah, I'm not so sure about this one. My mum might have appeared to do what Dad suggested but I'm pretty sure he was only suggesting what she'd suggested, if you know what I mean. My wife? Don't even ask. Sometimes I think she does the opposite of what I suggest, even if it was her suggestion originally, just to show me who's boss.
  6. DENTISTS. Dad's always been a stickler for regular check ups. Every twenty years, whether he needs it or not, he gets a check up. When I was fourteen, despite my solid argument it was six years too early, he sent me for a check up. The dentist took one look at my surname and burst out in hysterics. Seems my father was the only patient he'd ever had to bring in an anesthetist for a few simple fillings. I did ask if this was still an option but it wasn't.
  7. FOOD. My Nanna had seven meals she'd work her way through every week. If it was Sunday, you ate roast. If it was Monday, you had cold cuts from Sunday. Visitors tended to avoid Monday. My Mum, on the other hand, was cutting edge. She was cooking spag bog back when you went out for that kind of fancy schmancy food. 
  8. FASHION. I've seen the family photo albums and I'm convinced there wasn't any. In my father's hay day everyone in Australia wore the exact same clothes and that's not fashion, that's communism. When the seventies arrived, and people discovered the colour wheel, my Mum dyed all Dad's white shirts vibrant colours rather than buy new ones. He even had a pink shirt which, she assures me, was the seventies equivalent of a metrosexual.
  9. ROAD RULES. Back when Dad learned to drive you didn't need things like indicators or an understanding of how stop signs work. My Dad is very nostalgic and to this day he still drives like it's the sixties.
  10. GENDER SPECIFIC ROLES. Dad worked hard while Mum only had to clean the house. Or that's how he saw it. What actually happened was Dad went to work and Mum stayed home and cooked, washed, shopped, mopped, vacuumed, swept, helped with homework, mowed, weeded and did all those other irksome little woman's duties. Dad was so good at his work some of it could even be done while drinking beer: none of Mum's was. Dad has finished his work and retired now. Mum isn't as efficient and so hasn't stopped yet. 

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Can't Fight Literally

It seems, when it comes to fighting, my son is a chip off the ol' block - that is to say, he has no idea.

Tonight I walked into the lounge room and found him on all fours, chasing after Miss5 and, when he caught up with her, ramming his head at her bottom.

"What the hell are you doing?" I asked him.

"I'm headbutting my sister," he said matter-of-factly. I guess he's into interpretive fighting.

I've always maintained I'm a lover not a fighter, although I said this to Tracey back when we were dating and she asked me if I had a back up plan.

When Master20 and Miss17 were much younger I started taking them to Tae Kwon Do during the week. I figured it would be good for them to learn discipline and self defense. My big boy was into Power Rangers at the time and was always disappointed at the end of a lesson when they didn't give him a zord.

Before too long Tracey and I started joining in as well. Tracey was really good at it. I sucked, black hole style.

In my defense, though, it was difficult to fully concentrate on the routine when there weren't many adults in the class so I often sparred with kids. My punches went well over their heads but their punches, which as instructed they mostly managed to pull up short of the mark, were headed squarely for my groin.

It's not that I'm competitive or anything, but when Tracey managed to triple grade while I only doubled at our first grading I hung up my yellow belt (which basically means I've learned how to bow) and took up a far less confrontational form of self defense called doing whatever the hell my wife says.

Besides I figure if some idiot shapes up to me in a car park I'll tell him, "I'm not your problem mate. My wife's a higher belt than me."

As for Master7 and his unique fighting style, well I can't wait to see his idea of king hitting someone - it'll probably involve his sister's tiara.

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Maybe I should get him to watch this :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Wrong Room

Technology can be a little bit frightening when you've got kids.

I remember when I was growing up, the video player would absolutely baffle my parents, leading me to think they'd hit their heads and their brains were addled.

I suspect my kids think similar thoughts when they see me trying to answer our iPhone or, heaven help me, send a text.

Grandma's tenuous grasp of modern technologies, like the internet and buttons, has become the hot topic of conversation since she arrived home from a couple of months visiting my sister up near Port Douglas. Kerri and her partner, Darryl, run the Pinnacle Village Holiday Park on a lovely stretch of beach (thought I'd give them a nice little plug).

Naturally, the moment I heard my mum had arrived home we phoned her up. The kids had all sorts of questions.

"Did you go on a train? Did you fly in a plane? Did you miss us? Did you bring us anything?" 

I had one.

"Can you look after the kids on Monday?" It's been a hard slog without our babysitter. 

So Miss8, Master7 and Miss5 went to Grandma's on the first Monday of the holidays while Miss0 & Miss2 went to daycare and Tracey and I went to work. 

When we picked them all up in the afternoon the middle kids were talking excitedly about what a great day they had.

"We went into a room and chatted with people," said Miss5.

"It was on the computer," said Miss8.

"There were lots of Ashes and one weird old man," said Master7.

"It was fun!" said Miss8.

One weird old man? There's a phrase to make your hair stand up on end. 

"Umm, Mum," I said when I caught up with her, "just wondering...the kids...something about playing on the computer? I think it was a Pokemon based thing?"

"Oh, yes," she said airily. "They played Pokemon on the computer."

"Umm, I think they might have been in a chat room, Mum."

There was an awkward sort of pause. "Oh, dear. I thought it was just some sort of game."

I think she'll probably stick with watching movies from now on. If she can just get that dang Blu-ray thingame to work.

Gorgeous converted train carriage - one of the lovely
accommodation options at Pinnacle Village Holiday Park 

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Our Smart Car

As shown here, doors can be a
real problem with smart cars.
I've always wanted to name our car.

I've been bitching and carrying on about our Pajero for years. Its old, its noisy and its roadworthiness is dubious at best. It sucks in fuel like vacuums suck up dirt and is heavily addicted to oil.

Over the years the only redeeming feature of our car has been its ability to transport the whole family from point A to point C - with point B usually a service station. Of course, two kids ago it stopped being able to do even this. I don't really blame the car for its lack of seats: I blame how irresistible I am when my wife is drinking Southern Comfort.

Our car is essentially a dump on wheels.

Which is why the problem has always been the only names we've been able to come up with we couldn't repeat in front of the kids.

But all that has changed as of Saturday because our Pajero effectively named itself - from this day forth our car shall be known as Kitt.

It started when we arrived at Tin Can Bay to spend the day riding bikes and eating sausages and ice blocks with the kids. I should have known pulling a small trailer full of our gear would have been too much for the old girl. Within minutes of arriving things started to go wrong.

"Let's go!" I called at the kids and opened the back door of the car.

 And my fingers nearly tore clear off my hand.

The handle wouldn't open the door. I pulled it and reefed it and hit it and thumped it and cussed it. I locked the door and then unlocked it again. Nothing. That was one closed door.
Tch Tch. More door trouble with a smart car.

Which was a shame because its the door four of the kids use to get in and out of the car. The other door is blocked by the baby seat.

"I'm glad we brought the bikes," said Tracey, shaking her head at our disaster-prone car. "We might need them to ride home on."

But as inconvenient as a jammed back door was, Tracey brought up the real concern we had.

"What if we're in an accident before we get it fixed? The kids won't be able to get out."

Which was when our smart car decided to come up with a solution all by itself.

While I was busy cussing at the unopenable door our car allowed Miss3 to break a latch on a back window, making it unlockable, so the kids can now crawl out the new 'emergency exit' in the event of an accident.

What a clever car our Kitt is.

And best of all, I, by association, shall be The Knight Rider.

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Tip

My lack of night vision has again given Tracey a hearty laugh.

Tonight I was putting out the rubbish after dinner. The bin was so full and so heavy I didn't want to risk pulling the bag out so I carried, grunting and straining, the whole bin out to the wheelie bin.

Heaving the bin up to empty it, I heard a few things fall out.

'Bloody hell!' I thought to myself. I couldn't see a thing so I fumbled around the ground and picked up some papers and empty strawberry punnets and rockmelon skins and -

- an opened dirty nappy.

Tracey, who watched the whole thing from the kitchen window, was mightily amused. When you've got kids life has a shitty sense of humour, doesn't it?

Meanwhile I've decided tonight might be a good night to stop biting my nails.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Heads Down, Thumbs Up

The last day of school for the term is always a lot of fun for the kids. Tracey worked at the video shop last night and said heaps of teachers were borrowing out movies for the kids to watch.

All day the kids have games, movies, sports, art, craft and no learning at all. It's what school would be if kids wrote the curriculum. But unfortunately for one of our munchkins, the day wasn't all shits and giggles. Or actually, it kind of was.

One of the games Master7's class played was Heads Down Thumbs Up. He explained the rules to me. Kneeling, they close their eyes then bend over so their noses touch the floor, all the while giving two thumbs up. Someone then gets up, touches someone and sneaks back to their spot. When the teacher gives the all clear the person who was touched has to guess who the toucher was. But the trouble started way before they got to that.

"We all bent over and pointed our bums in the air and I accidentally farted," Master7 told me.

"Oh, dear," I said, stifling a chuckle. "Did you get away with it? Or was it a stinker?" My boy produces a gas which can strip paint.

"It wasn't a stinker," he assured me. "I didn't follow through either."

"So it was loud? Did anyone hear?" I haven't yet taught the little kids how to cover up a arse blast by coughing, stomping or turning on the radio.

"Everyone heard," said Master7. "It was really, really loud."

"Oh, dear. Did your teacher hear?"

"Yeah. She got really angry," said Master7.

"Because you fluffed?"

"I didn't fluff, Dad, I farted," he corrected me, his emphasis on the word 'farted' left no doubt as to the enormity of his bum belch.

"So you got in trouble because it was loud, eh?"

"Not me. Another boy got in trouble."

"You farted in a room full of kids and someone else got the blame?" My chest swelled - I was filled with pride. I know you're not supposed to live through your kids, but I was taking this one.

"No. Everyone knew it was me," he grinned. "Everyone thought it was funny. That was the problem. You see, one boy couldn't stop laughing. He had to sit out the rest of the game cause he just kept looking at me and laughing, over and over. That's why the teacher was mad."

She might have been frowning but I'm guessing she was laughing on the inside. I am.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

We're hooked! Arrr!

This morning was progressing with the usual military precision - that is to say there was the barking of orders and everyone scrambling to get into uniforms. I was working the poop deck - changing nappies on the lounge room floor.

"Hey kids," I whispered loudly as they passed through the lounge room. They immediately forgot whatever they were supposed to be doing and gathered around me and my laptop. "Do you know what today is?"

"Is it your birthday?" asked Miss5.

"No. Even better," I told her.

"Is it a holiday?" asked Master7.

"No. Not quite that good. Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day," I told them. They were mightily impressed. "Today, instead of saying 'hi' when you see a friend you have to say 'ahoy'. And instead of saying 'yes' you have to say 'aye'. And 'my' becomes 'me', as in 'Where's me homework?' And you have to call your teacher 'Cap'n'. What do you think?"

"Can I write this down?" asked Miss8.

When Tracey came into the lounge room a few minutes later she brought with her a nasty looking frown. Instead of putting on shoes and socks the kids and I were all looking at my laptop screen. "What are you doing?" she asked me.

"We're watching an educational video," I told her.

"About what?" she wanted to know.

"I'm teaching them another language," I told her. Her look was disbelieving. I paused, knowing I'd have to come clean. Given everyone still had their pajamas on I suspected this might not go down well. "It's a video on how to speak pirate."

She paused. "How long does it go for?"

Looking at the screen, I said, "Another five minutes."

"I don't think so," she said. "But we can chat about it while everyone gets dressed." It was a better response than I'd expected. I guess Tracey realized how important it was the kids showed up at school speaking pidgin pirate, so they wouldn't appear foolish in front of their mates. "Just add 'Arrr' to the end of all your sentences," she told the kids.

"What's my pirate name?" Miss8 wanted to know.

"Sea Witch?" I suggested, again referring to my laptop. Let me just say, there is a wealth of pirate information out there if you know where to look.

"Captain Sea Witch," she said, instantly liking it.

Miss5 decided she would be Captain Pee Pot. "Like pee pissy piss potty poo," added my gutter mouthed young miss. Nothing is as funny as toilet humour to a five year old. Especially five year old boys, although by the time they become seven year old boys their sense of humour is far more refined.

"I'll be Captain Hairy Deck," said Master7. "And what do I call these?" he wanted to know. He'd ducked back into the lounge room, naked, and was pointing at his junk.

"Your sea urchins," I told him after consulting a pirate speak list. "Not that I think you'll have any reason to," I shouted after him as he ran back into his bedroom.

I quickly named Miss2 Captain Squid Lips and my darling wife Captain Black Bearded Woman. We even named our canine friend, Jazz - she's Hair Of The Dog for a day.

After twenty minutes of saying 'arrr' a lot the kids were prepped and ready. They even made Tracey write their pirate names on their lunch boxes.

"Wait a minute," said Miss8. "Daddy doesn't have a pirate name."

"I'll be Captain Jolly Rogering," I told her.

"No you won't," said Tracey.

"Captain Long Plank?"

"No." She was smiling. Never a good sign.

"Captain Hard Mast?"

"You can be Captain Limp Wood," Tracey said and winked at me. The wench! But the kids all cheered so that was settled.

I'll consider it a warning shot across my bow.

A pirate's life sure be the life for me. Have fun everyone! Arrr!

Pirate Name Generator
International Talk Like a Pirate Day
Pirate Speak
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Monday, September 17, 2012

We help a young man in Dominican Republic refinance his crippling debt

This month the Devereaux bunch is helping Wilfredo from the Dominican Republic. This is our 49th US$25 loan through Kiva.

Here's what Kiva had to say about his application:

"With a loan of 51,750 pesos, Wilfredo has been able to pay off a loan that had an excessively high interest rate. 

Wilifredo has been a transportation route driver in his community for 10 years. The monthly payments that he had to pay on the loan for his vehicle were so high that, along with monthly maintenance costs for the minibus, he was left with hardly enough money to maintain his home.

Wilifredo is married, his wife sells empanadas at the public school in the community. They have two children, aged 14 and 7, who attend that same school.

Wilifredo plans to change the vehicle once he has finished paying off the loan. Wilifredo wants to finish high school, and in this way set an example for his children to motivate them to continue their studies."

The average annual wage in the Dominican Republic is US$7611. Hopefully this loan will help Wilfredo to keep more of his hard earned cash in his pocket.

Here's what Kiva says about itself:

"100% of every dollar you lend on Kiva goes directly towards funding loans; Kiva does not take a cut. Furthermore, Kiva does not charge interest to our Field Partners, who administer the loans.
Kiva is primarily funded through the support of lenders making optional donations. We also raise funds through grants, corporate sponsors, and foundations.
Making a loan on Kiva is so simple that you may not realize how much work goes on behind the scenes.
Kiva works with microfinance institutions on five continents to provide loans to people without access to traditional banking systems. One hundred percent of your loan is sent to these microfinance institutions, which we call Field Partners, who administer the loans in the field.
Kiva relies on a world wide network of over 450 volunteers who work with our Field Partners, edit and translate borrower stories, and ensure the smooth operation of countless other Kiva programs."
Kiva gives you the chance to make small loans to borrowers working to start businesses and improve their lives. I’m already lending on Kiva and thought you'd like to join me with a $25 Free Trial. Redeem your Free Trial while they last!

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Wheel good fun

Me, feeling pretty 'super' after completing the ride.
Mind you, this was after the mainly downhill ride. I
wasn't looking quite so dashing after the ride back
up the hill.
Although chuffed with my personal best of 54km today on my bike, I'm feeling bushed.

My knees, in particular, are protesting against today's efforts. Walking is fine but if I sit down they refuse to assist me in standing.

Today I rode from Cooroy to Noosa with my excellent friends, Karen & Luke. It was a Bicycle Queensland 8 day event which we rather cleverly attached ourselves to for the last day, meaning we got clapped and cheered over the finish line without really having earned the accolades.

But I took them anyway, grinning and waving like I'd just finished Tour De France.

I don't understand why I'm feeling sore - my preparation for this event was perfect. It was to be a 30km ride so I spent the last week doing daily rides which almost, but not quite, added up to exactly 30kms. Plus last night I practiced drinking Gatorade.

On the ride, people kept calling out things like 'Passing!' (letting the rider in front of them know they were about to overtake them) and 'Car Back!' The first time I heard the latter I thought I was being insulted. Fortunately one of my friends was able to explain this meant there was a car behind me and to be careful before I could yell 'Bus Ass' back at them. That might have been awkward.

And then, after the official 30km ride to Noosa, rather than catch a bus back to collect our car we decided to ride back to Cooroy. When Luke asked I fair jumped at the idea (because I'm 18 and bulletproof). We did manage to shave 6km off the ride by going a different route, but because it was uphill most the way it still took an hour and a half.

But knees and all, it was worth the effort today. Not least because I finally got a big wedge of weekend time without any kids, meaning I could indulge in a couple of coffee stops and even enjoy a relaxing Thai lunch without the usual kiddy distractions. I love the noisy little buggers, but Jeez it's nice to have some me time.

If anyone is interested, and I really can't imagine why you would be, here's the route we took :)

My new Bicycle Queensland water bottle saving the day.
My $40 entry fee got me this and a stubby holder, meaning
they cost me $20 each - but I'm stoked!

Our first coffee stop was a mere 1km into the ride. That's why
I'm grinning like an idiot - I haven't ridden up any of the hills yet.
The Grizzly Adams lookalike is Luke. He assures me he's smiling in
 this shot, although it's difficult to tell with all that fuzz in the way.

Karen in a self portrait - I should have offered to take a photo
of her but I quite simply didn't think of it until I saw this shot.
You can't really see us but Luke and I are in the centre of the shot
looking smug and very pleased with ourselves. This is because
we thought the ride was over and hadn't decided to ride back up
the hill yet.

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

No Charge

Sometime around 9 this morning Tracey and I realized something very strange was going on - we hadn't received a single phone call since we'd woken up.

This simply doesn't happen.

We soon discovered the reason for this lack of communication from our parents, our older kids, our siblings, our friends and our foreign call center stalkers - the cordless was out of charge. 

I have a real issue with ignoring the phone when it's ringing. I usually announce I'm going to ignore it, but before it can switch over to the message bank I've snatched it out of the cradle - I just can't do it. So I've got to say, when I discovered the phone was flat I mentally slapped my forehead and thought, 'Brilliant! Why didn't I think of that!' 

And the reason it was out of charge?

The previous evening Miss2 had obviously decided her phone needed charging more than ours.

Bless her little cotton socks.

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Friday, September 14, 2012

"When I grow up I want to be a ..."

Me as a pirate. Don't be deceived by the grin, I was really pissed off here
because Mum wouldn't give me a real sword or even a scummy kitchen
knife to take to the school dance.

"When I grow up I want to be a cowboy."

I said those actual words. I did want to be a cowboy. I really did.

Oh sure, for a while I liked the idea of being a pirate, but turns out I don't like water - or more specifically the idea of drowning in deep water while being eaten by a shark. Plus, due to a dodgy eye I wore a patch for most of my preschool years and it turns out it wasn't anywhere near as cool as they make out in the movies.

It's not like I even had cool cowboy movies like Toy Story to pique my interest. I just liked they got to shoot at stuff and chew gum. When we were kids the must-have jobs were things like firemen, princesses, ballerinas and football players. But for me it was the chinking of spurs and the tipping of hats all the way.

I asked a couple of my kids tonight what they wanted to be when they grow up - despite fairly conclusive evidence in this house to the contrary, Miss8 thinks babysitting would be pretty cool, and Master7 has his sights set on playing computer games. But as I've now learnt with my cowboy aspirations, you've got to be careful what you wish for: life sometimes likes to make its little joke.

I never wanted to be a banker, that's for sure. Most real jobs don't even exist in the eyes of a preschooler. I don't think there are many kids who at 5 or 6 say they're considering a job as a marketing consultant.

Or, for that matter, a radiographer or sonographer.

I only mention the latter because I had xrays and scans done on my ankle this week.

I've been limping around on a sore foot for a year wondering when the hell it's going to get better and avoiding going to the doctors. But eventually the pain (and Tracey's incessant and increasingly forceful 'encouragements' to go get it looked at) got too much for me and now I know what the problem is.

Turns out I've got spurs.

Which, as I see it, means I've kinda got my childhood wish after all and I'm turning into a cowboy - except my dang spurs are on the inside of my cotton-pickin' boots.

Ha ha, Life. Very funny. No doubt if I'd stuck with my pirate fantasy I'd have lost a leg by now ;)

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I can change

I've never understood the whole concept of a change table. It's always looked like nothing more than a huge waste of money and space to me.

Until tonight.

Tonight, seven kids in, I learned why someone might consider buying a change table.

Let me say it's not for convenience. You know what's convenient when your baby has pooed? The bed. Or the lounge. Or the floor. I don't want to have to run through the house to the designated poo spot. I'll change the nappy wherever I am when I find it. Well, assuming I can't pretend I haven't smelt it and can let Tracey discover it for herself. I've changed babies in car seats, on bonnets, in prams, in shopping trolleys. I really don't care - the nappy needs changing I change it. In lieu of a flat surface I've even changed a dirty nappy while Tracey's dangled the baby in her hands.

So it's not convenience which has changed my mind.

It's also not so we have all the baby creams and powders in the one spot. I can't think of a worse idea. I mean, I change more nappies on the floor in front of the telly than anywhere else so I don't miss a plot point. We have nappy wipes, and piles of nappies for that matter, in a number of drawers and bags around the house.

But tonight I was changing young Miss0 on our bed (Tracey's side of course, just in case she backfired) and suddenly the good sense of a change table became clear to me. You see, change tables are a lot higher than beds - an excellent feature if you're worried about your back. My back is always something I'm keen to protect.

But that's not it.

The reason I'm considering changing my mind on the benefits of a change table is if she'd been on a change table earlier tonight instead of our bed Miss0 wouldn't have been able to kick me in the nuts like a mule.

Yep, while I lay on the floor catching my breathe I decided a change table would have made all the difference.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mirror Mirror

"I think I have a self image problem," Tracey told me last night.

"You?" I said. "But you're beautiful! You're hot! You're sexy!"

"I know, right," she said with her usual sass. Damn right she should know - it's true. Plus I tell her all the time. "But I'm starting to think that's the problem," she said. I told her I didn't understand. "You know half my wardrobe doesn't fit me?"

"So? Me either," I told her. They just don't make XXL's as big as they used to.

"Yeah, but I didn't realize how it had snuck up on me," she said. "I didn't realize how big I actually was."

It seems today Tracey was getting dressed and was checking out how much weight she'd put on. She looked at her bum. 'Not too bad,' she thought to herself. But then she started to wonder if maybe she was seeing herself through rose coloured glasses.

So she decided to test herself: she decided to pretend she was looking at a stranger's bum.

Facing away from the mirror she closed her eyes and pictured herself walking down town past a group of women. Tracey opened her eyes and spun her head around, looking over her shoulder at the woman she'd just passed.

And this is what she thought.

'Oh my god she's got a big ass!' Then she added, without missing a beat, 'I'm glad my bum isn't that big.'

And then the penny dropped.

"So you see," she told me, "my self image is at odds with my reality."

Maybe. But I don't see that as a problem.

The real problem, as I see it, is if she starts noticing what's actually there I dread what she'll see when she looks at me.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Let them eat cake

Usually it's our kids creating a stir around the food table at birthday parties.

Last Friday we were at a local park with friends, celebrating a kid's birthday party. It was a stellar party - there was cake, cake icing, cheese flavoured yummies, yummy flavoured yummies and, oh yeah, stray kids no one knew shoving all these goodies into their cute, freeloading mouths.

The four year old girl had taken up prime position in front of the half eaten cake for about five minutes before she was noticed.

A lot of whispering behind hands and subtle pointing of fingers occurred before we finally had it sorted she didn't belong to any of us.

"Sweetie," said one of the parents. "Where is your mummy?"

She answered us between mouthfuls of cake. "She's gone."


"Then is there someone here who's looking after you? Someone you know?"

"Yep," she said. She switched her attention to the biscuits.

"Umnn, maybe we better go find them then?"

"No, it's okay," she said, grabbing a handful of Twistees and shoving them all in her mouth at once.

"But this isn't your party," she was reminded.

"That's okay," she said. "I don't mind."

Shortly we worked out how she came to be at our table. Her name, and not a common name by any means, was the same as one of our friends kids, so that when our friend called her daughter over for some cake this girl also answered the call, thinking she was being invited to a tea party.

Several minutes later she was presented, still chewing on cake and lollies, to a woman she pointed to at the far end of the park who was chasing after a couple of kids.

"Lose something?" the woman was asked.

"Ah! Thank you," she said. "Her mother's gone home for a minute. I'm watching over her while she's gone."

Doing a great job too.

And, amusingly, she continued to do a great job for about fifteen minutes, after which the hungry little cherub was back sitting between two of our friends and asking for more cake.

Only this time she brought a friend.

Kids grow up so fast these days. We didn't start gatecrashing parties till we were in our late teens. Next time we have a party for a seven year old we might have to look at hiring security. Or buying a bigger cake.

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Ten Things I’ve Learned About Housework

When I walk into the kitchen and Tracey is a blur of spray-bottled activity, I know enough to throw out a ‘What can I do to help?’ The worst possible answer is ‘Nothing.’ Let’s be clear, she’s describing the past, not the future, and is saying how much work she thinks I’ve done, not what she’d like me to do.

1.      CUSSING. Housework isn't a dirty word. The dirty words tend to come if I don't help with the housework.
2.      RUBBISH. It's my job to take the bins out. I’ve learned not to argue or I might end up swapping bin duty with toilet cleaning duty. Both jobs stink but only one bears the risk of being splashed with dunny water. Also important to note: despite how important putting out a bin seems it doesn't mean I’ve done half the housework. I must always be vigilant in remembering not to strut around the place like a peacock and expect praise.
3.      TOILET.  For years it never occurred to me to wonder why the toilet didn’t stink. Then we had a baby and my wife was in hospital for a week and suddenly the realization hit me like a truck (a sewerage truck): my wife had been cleaning our loo behind my back! Once this little deceit was pointed out to me I naturally went on the defensive and attempted to argue I had also been cleaning the toilet. But apparently pressure cleaning the skid marks off the inside of the bowl while taking a leak doesn’t count.
4.      JOBS BY GENDER. One of the first things I learned when I moved out of my parent’s home was housework is not gender specific. The phrase ‘women's work’ is reserved for birthing. The washing machine, for example, doesn’t care if a guy or a gal presses the buttons and neither does the dishwasher or the vacuum. Plus, it’s been pointed out to me, saying I’ll take care of the outside of the house while my wife can take care of the inside is not an equal division of the work load. Even if there's a lot more outside than inside. Even if we lived on acreage. Even if our nearest neighbour was an hour away by air.
5.      JOBS FOR KIDS. Getting the kids to help out with cleaning is like the Holy Grail of housework. I can’t do it but Tracey thinks the trick is to play to their strengths. Need to clean out the fridge? Open the door and stick a teenager in front of it. Want the house washed? Give the hose to a preschooler and tell them they’re a fireman. Got a crawler in the house? Slip Enjo mitts onto their hands and feet and place them in the kitchen. I’m not going to admit to us having done any of these.
6.      CLOTHES WASHING. Washing clothes is hard. Firstly, you’re rushing because you’re trying to get the load on during an ad on the telly. Secondly, you can't put everything in the machine at the one time. I’ve now learned when my wife says ‘fill up the washing machine’ she doesn’t mean ‘to the brim’. Finally, clothes need to be sorted – washing whites separately is a good idea for starters unless you’re into powder pinks and blues. I wasn’t, but now they’re growing on me. So much to remember.
7.      FLOORS. Brushing crumbs and stuff off tables isn’t necessarily helping. Neither is letting the dog in the house to Hoover the floor. Go figure.
8.      PRAISE. If I come home from work and the place is tidy I like to consider the following questions: Do we have a maid? Have I entered the right house? Am I asleep? (Warning: do not actually ask these questions out loud unless your wife is deaf). At this point I’ve discovered a few encouraging words of thanks, or even a hug, can go a long way towards letting my wife know I appreciate all her hard work. Here’s an interesting thing I’ve learned about hugs which some guys might not be aware of - hugs aren't just an invitation for the horizontal two step and can sometimes be given without expecting anything in return. (No, seriously).
9.      CARWASH. I’m not allowed to count washing the car as helping with the housework. Once, when I tried to argue this point, my wife asked our kids if they’d like to clean the shower or wash the car and I don’t think you’ll be surprised to learn within seconds they were heading outside with buckets. Why? Because washing the car isn’t housework, it’s playing.
10.  CLEAN OUT. When we clean house our kids tend to follow us from room to room destroying all our good work so that at the end of two hours our house can look just as messy as at the beginning. Even on a good day it takes three times as long to do something when the little kids are in the house because of the endless questions and demands. The clever solution is often for me to generously and selflessly volunteer to take the kids away from the house. Tracey gets so excited to have some alone time she doesn’t care she's spending it doing the floors and folding. We’ve tried this the other way around but if I’m left in the house by myself I just take a nap which, once Tracey and the kids arrive back home, brings us inevitably and loudly back to the cussing and dirty words I was telling you about earlier.

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

The apple never falls far from the tree

You know that whole thing where we become our parents? Well it's happening to me.

As a young sprog at school I remember hearing this expression and wondering which parent I'd become.

Being a bit of a mummy's boy, I thought I wouldn't mind turning out like my mum. At the very least she could really cook.

The idea of turning out like my dad was scarier. As a child he was always big and loud and the disciplinarian. But then he also cooked a mean BBQ.

Ultimately, though, I didn't see myself turning into either of them. I mean, they were old, to a teenager. Well, mum was. Dad was old and fat.

That chin does look familiar.
So when I was looking at a new picture book Tracey had ordered of old family photos and Miss5 came up and pointed to an upside down photo of my father and said, "That's you daddy!" I I balked a bit.

That can't look like me! I thought. But then I looked at the photo and, upside down anyway, it certainly does.

So I guess that answers my teenage question: I've turned into my father. Except....

This morning I was racing around getting ready for work. I'd showered, shaved and brushed my pearly whites when I realized when I'd brought the wrong shirt in.

I stepped into the hallway just as Master7 was coming through from the lounge room. He took one look at my naked chest and his face exploded into a huge grin and basically said something which tells me I've become a little bit of both my parents.

"You've got boobies!" he yelled.

Not quite sure how I feel about that. Poorly is my first thought.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012


We had no idea how our young son has suffered through this winter.

"Winter sucks. I hate cold," he told me this morning as he undressed and threw on his uniform. The temperatures dropped again on Sunday morning to unreasonable levels it seems.

Personally, I love winter. Mainly to do with sleeping. I love how I need to rug up and wear socks to bed. I love diving under the huge pile of blankets and doonas, so only my head sticks out - and that's in a beanie. I love getting into bed first and working up a nice dutch oven to share with Tracey when she follows me in. You know, the little things.

The kids have it harder than us though because they're in bed by themselves. No thoughtful husband to turn on the gas and warm things up. Ours are forever tossing and turning in bed - they throw their blankets on the floor, freeze and then come into our bed to share the lack of sleep.

But then that's something else I love - when the little kids jump into bed with us. They're so cuddly, aren't they? What's a little lack of sleep compared to having them snuggling into you. And by snuggling I mean kicking, hitting and generally causing pain.

Miss17, when she was Miss3, loved being close to me. Even after she'd wander through the house and jump into bed with me she'd want to get closer. She'd wake up a while later in my bed, sit up, see me and then collapse onto my face. I lost track of how many times I woke up to my nose exploding from her headbutt. I eventually learned to sleep with my arm draped over my forehead as a barrier.

But I'm digressing. The point of all this is Master7 isn't a lover of winter.

"Why don't you like winter?" I asked him. "Is it because you shiver?"

"No," he said.

"Are you upset because you can't get warm?"


"Cause you have to wear pants?" Master7 loves to wander about the house in a singlet and undies. Yes, we're trailer trash wannabes. But he shook his head - that wasn't it.

"What's the problem then?" I asked. And I have to say, his answer surprised me a little.

"I hate it when my doodle doesn't bounce."

I nodded knowingly. "Me too, mate. Me too," I told him.

Bloody cold weather.

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ten Things I Love About Being a Dad

  1. TIME. It uses up all that free time I used to waste sleeping in and drinking with friends.
  2. CREDIT. The kids say far more amusing things than I do, but since I made them I get to take credit. Like when Miss5's pants fell down to her ankles when she was on parade and instead of being embarrassed she spread her arms and yelled, "Ta-daa" to the entire assembly. In my telling, around tables and bars, it's almost like I coached her for just such an incident. Doesn't always work in my favour though, like when Miss5 told her auntie she looked like a horse. Somehow I was blamed. Neigh, she wouldn't have heard that from me.
  3. HAIR. I save money on upkeeping my hair because I get free grey highlights. Of course, if they could stress me more towards the blonde end of the spectrum that would be even better.
  4. DIET. My kids are sort of a living diet because when they're around I never seem to have a whole meal to myself. To look at my chins you might think this is a bit of a porky, but if everything which was on my plate made it into my mouth I daresay I'd weigh an extra 50kg.
  5. GAMING. I get to play cool computer games and pretend I'm just doing it to entertain the kids, when in fact they're hard up getting the controller out of my hands. It's also easier to persuade Tracey to part with money to buy a game if it's for one of our kids rather than because I want it. Which reminds me, Miss8's birthday is coming up and I need to build up a case for buying her Call of Duty, Black Ops.
  6. MEMORIES. I can relive my childhood because there always seems to be an episode of Sesame Street or Playschool on our telly. Much better viewing than X Factor, especially if it's a rerun with John Hamblin.
  7. MUSIC. I've discovered the musical genius of The Wiggles, One Direction and Justin Bieber. Okay, musical genius might be overstating it. Let's go with I've discovered they exist and no amount of alcohol seems enough to help me undiscover them. Any excuse for a beer, eh?
  8. HEALTH. My immune system is top notch because the little buggers bring home every variety of bug from their schools and daycares. 
  9. WORK. I enjoy going to work. I remember a time, twenty years ago, when walking out the front door in the morning had me dragging my feet. Not anymore. These days I positively skip past the stinky butts, past the bickering children and over the spilled breakfast cereal and out to the car. There are no dirty nappies at work and because of that I love my job. Thanks kids.
  10. BUT BEST OF ALL. I'm never short of a hug. More than any other, this is the main thing I love - the other nine are just icing.

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