I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Routine, Shmoutine

Wednesday in our house is officially bath night. Let me explain. From the very second those wrinkled, blue, white-stuff coated babies arrived in the world, they've been in a routine. As in, we do things in a specific order. Thus far our dedication to the all holy "routine" has saved our lives. Literally. My kids are growing up knowing what comes next (as we all know, that is my favourite state of being), at least in their household. Anyone with triplets will tell you that a routine is just, well, sacred and it cannot be messed with. Every time I tried to mess with it - because I felt like I was a slave to that damn routine - it took exactly two hours to regret it and want to commit suicide. This doesn't mean we don't deviate from the routine occassionaly - we do. It's just that having an organised life means we have a (mostly) sane life. As they have gotten older, the need for a routine has not changed, but the detail and parameters of the routine have. So where previously their whole day was routined, now really only the time from home-from-kinder to collapse-into-bed is routined.

When the kids were babies, my family would give me shit about this. "So WHAT if you don't follow the rules?" Hmmm. Interestingly, they would say this, I'd cave to familial pressure, and ba-dah-bing, two hours later my family is asking me why these kids 'cry all the time.' DUH. Kids who live within the confines of a routine just seem to do so much better - or at least, *my* kids do. My sister has managed to raise three intelligent, capable children, who never spent 30 seconds in a routine. Anyway, so I attribute the routine to being the main reason why my kids eat well, sleep well, and basically behave well. IT JUST WORKS.

At age 5-and-a-bit, the routine is simplified. Monday and Wednesday and Saturday are bath nights. Tuesday is play night, and Thursday is telly night. If they're dity or smelly on other days, they get extra baths as needed - I don't let them wander around like hobo children (okay, maybe sometimes I do. Dirt is a protective coating.) They know ahead of time which night it is - so I avoid them protesting baths (mostly), they know what is 'happening' each night, and in general it makes our lives a bit more organised. PLUS they get clean - which, frankly, if I left it to "whenever they need one", and added a healthy dose of my own laziness - these kids would long ago have been taken away from us (and promptly dipped in a acidic solution to remove five years of dirt.)

So today is Wednesday, also known as Bath Day. It's 5:30 in the afternoon. Normally, I'd have one kid in the downstairs shower, one in the upstairs bath, and one running around naked waiting for their turn in either of the above bathing locations. Then there would be me, alternating between madly chopping something for dinner, and running up and down the stairs. UP the stairs to reply to the blood curdling, I-will-die-now scream of "MUUUUUUUUUUUMMMMMMMM" scream which turns into a request to see the "amazing" bubble they just blew in the water. DOWN the stairs to reply to the other, in harmony, blood curdling death-is-imminent "MUUUUUUUUUUUUMMM" which turns into a "can you hand me the shampoo?" request....and then I go back to chopping. Instead, I'm in here typing my blog entry, and the kids are outside. In the front yard, wandering down to visit the old yellow labrador two doors away, plucking the newly budding flowers off all the weeds in my garden, and in general traipsing around outdoors.

So? They'll be dirty for another day, and I'll smile when I realise that:

  1. Dinner is in the oven
  2. DH will come home to happy kids
  3. DH will come home to happy wife
  4. Tomorrow, officially, is the first day of Spring (in the Southern Hemisphere, anyway.)
Happy Spring Everyone!
(NB: It was pointed out to me that the first day of Spring was today (Friday) and not Thursday. I had the date right (Sept 1) but the day wrong. Clearly, my brain is still in holiday mode.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Disclaimer

When I started writing this blog, I emailed the address to a bunch of friends. If I was going to say something, I might as well have an audience, right? (This is no different to me in real life - when I talk I expect the whole world to listen. If the world is not listening, I just talk louder until they have no choice but to listen or suffer inner ear damage.) Anyway so those friends told some friends about it, and then I told my parents about it...and then, ya know, it all kinda moves on from there. So the fact is, my Mom reads this blog, my neice reads this blog, my DH reads this blog, and probably others who know me pretty well (and some who don't) read this blog. What I'm saying is, people I love and adore read this blog. Potentially this could lead to problems.

What if I say something which offends someone? What if my family learn something about me they didn't previously know? What if someone gets upset that I fucking curse so much (shit, sorry about that)? Quite seriously, I could (by accident or completely on purpose) say something which lands my foot right in the middle of my mouth. Now it should be noted that I tend to do this ANYWAY, outside of blog land. I've mentioned several times previously that my tact filter is in the permanent OFF position. It's one of my BEST qualities, but also one of my WORST. So what, I can hear you asking, is the point of this post? I guess what I am trying to say is that I DO edit this blog, at least to the point of re-reading each post before I hit the 'publish' button. I try not to hurt anyone's feelings, say things people will find offensive, and basically try to be a decent human being while still being 100% truthful, funny, and worth reading.

However if I have somehow managed to hurt, annoy, offend, irritate or aggravate you in any way this far, then I have one very important piece of advice:

GET OVER IT. Life's too short.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Aftermath

It has been about 8 hours since I last posted. In those very loooong eight (plus the time before I posted) hours of my Spring Fling, I have learned several new things. Here is a list, in no particular order, of then ten things I have learned since this morning:

  1. We have monumental amounts of crap.
  2. DH has so many magazines, that if he were to start today and read one magazine a day, cover to cover, I would still have to bury him with several hundred more so he could catch up in heaven.
  3. Fer' cripes sake, he owns a book called "Disused Stations of the London Underground." I'm not shitting you, he really does. Not only that, he thinks this topic would be fascinating. (I know, because I spoke to him in New Zealand and he happily admitted this. *shudder*)
  4. The kids will ignore various broken toys for literally months on end - in fact, completely forget about them. Until, of course, the day you get your roundtoit and they suddenly HAVE to have that one tiny plastic pink scrap of crap. RIGHT NOW.
  5. Somewhere in the world there are hundreds of Barbie dolls who only have one shoe.
  6. When we got engaged and then married, we had one party in the US, and one in Australia. (So that's 4 events all up.) I thought that was cool - double the stuff! I was so very, very wrong. All it means is, nine years later, you have a house full of crap. Man oh man, do we own some mo-fo-bugly vases. And I have nowhere to store them, and they're so bad I'm too embarassed to give them away or re-gift them.
  7. A recycling bin ...can only hold so many random scraps of paper before it starts to protest and hold industrial action meetings about being overworked and underpaid.
  8. There is so much stuff which "magically disappeared" today - and yet it appears I have made not a dent. *sigh* Will it never end?
  9. Considering how long it took to do just the downstairs (and I was even motivated by Billy Joel's Greatest Hits Vol III) - truly, the only humane, decent, moral thing to do would be to torch the office. Immediately.
  10. The amount of time it takes to de-clutter the family home is approximately 1,850 times SLOWER than it takes three kids to clutter it all up again. I timed it. From the time their feet hit the front door step to the time it was cluttered again: 2 minutes, 23 seconds.
So there you have it. I still have the upstairs to do, and have set aside an entire day to do that in. God help me. I also learned one more, not spring cleaning related thing today:

A kernel of corn on the end of a toothpick makes:
  1. A really good microphone for singing (at dinner).
  2. A really good stop sign, for driving around lamb bone cars (at dinner).
  3. Add a kernel on the other end and it makes a barbell, for pretending to be the circus strong man (at dinner.)
  4. A limbo bar, for the limbo game which lamb bones like to play (at dinner).

Therefore, I also learned:
  1. Best to let the kids have access to toothpicks...AFTER dinner.

I (finally) got a roundtoit

So it's Monday morning. DH is in the land even further Down Under than this one (New Zealand), the kids are at kinder, I have done about 8 loads of washing in the last 24 hours, and I am not working today. Correction. I AM working today - I've decided it's time for a Spring Fling. I'm flinging all the clutter we seem to have acquired in the last 5 years of living here. Stuff just seems to breed other stuff. Part of the problem is that DH is a major paper hoarder. If I didn't know better I'd say he was paid by the paper manufacturing people to USE UP loads of paper, just to keep them in business. The second problem - or source of clutter - is the kids, who have an affinity for teeny tiny, itty bitty pieces of crap. Crap which they they strew all over the house. For example, this morning when I cleaned out my bedside table, I found:

  • One gold Xmas ball (ummm, we're Jewish - where did that come from?)
  • One felt mermaid
  • Two of those stuffed elephants you get in India. These were moth eaten and in a serious state of disrepair, but usually I think you can buy them on a string. Never seen them before in my life.
  • 2 markers (both not working)
  • 1 skinny and kinda slimy-looking pink ribbon
  • Some rolled up string
  • A Mr Men book
  • A sparkly green bracelet with fake jewels on it
  • A pink and silver plastic ring, and the pink had mostly worn off
  • Other stuff belonging to ME, which actually was meant to be in there
Here is the thing. This is MY bedside table, people. Not THEIRS. Their random crap should not be in there. SHOULD NOT. Why is it in there? Because these kids have, as previously mentioned, lots of teeny tiny, itty bitty pieces of crap which they strew all over the house. So in addition to a paper-producing DH, and kids strewing crap around, I also am in lack of what my MIL calls a "roundtoit." Which is the thing everyone needs to get rid of clutter - "as soon as I get around to it, I'll clean it up." So I GOT A ROUNDTOIT. Thus far I have de-cluttered the bathroom and our bedroom. Next is the downstairs bit of the dining area, the scary space under the stairs, and the kitchen, including the kids drawing area. After that it's the loungeroom, laundry, and then finally I am going upstairs - perhaps the scariest place of all. I am, however, leaving the office as it is and I am just going to torch it instead. I think that's the easiest way to clean up that hell hole.

Only thing keeping me motivated? I keep thinking about DD1 doing this:

....and I think if she can face that, I can face the clutter.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

We're Baaacccckkkkk!

A week in paradise, where the children ate what they wanted, did what they wanted, slept when they wanted to, and ran themselves into the ground on hours & hours of swiming in the sunny sunny sunshine. Bliss. Sadly, they didn't have a laundry service (grrrr) but happily, I packed enough that we didn't need to do any laundry anyway (and if we HAD needed to....well, undies can be worn more than once, right?) Needless to say it was a fabulous break - much needed and much deserved. I could get used to that kind of life. DH had to prise my fingernails off the dock so that the boat going back home could leave. I didn't want to goooooooo!!! (home that is.) We're back now - back to real life, back to doing our own laundry, and back to believing that ice cream three times a day is unhealthy. Damn.

Friday, August 18, 2006

1. Write blog entry. 2. Pack bags

Someone who eats MnMs the way I do (see below) is clearly a highly organised person (either that or in need of some serious therapy...) Not only am I organised, but I like to know what happens next. This is true in all situations for me - work, home, play - uncertainty makes me crazy. Spontenaity to me is literally painful. I like to assess, and re-assess, and check and make sure everything is on track. As a result I am never late, am horrendously logical and methodical (useful given my profession. First butter THEN eggs...), can't stand 'grey' areas or philosophical discussions and in general am a very cut and dried person. I'm bad at small talk or shooting the breeze, I just get to the point and move on. I don't call a spade a spade, I call a spade a dirty shovel. Anyway so one of the mainfestations of my organised self is my somewhat obsessive list making. I make lists about literally everything - shopping lists, activity lists, 'things to do' lists, lists of things I would like to achieve, lists ABOUT the lists I need to make, lists of who has called, lists of the ingredients I need...you get the idea.

There are two reasons for my list making:

1. I ALWAYS know what needs to be done next (or done at all. Lists are not always written in order of importance.)

2. The orgasmically good sensation of crossing things off of a list. I am very goals oriented - remember? Scary over achiever girl, that's me. So finishing off a list is an achievement (which I can then add to my "things I've achieved" list.)

As we all now know, the kids, DH and I are headed off for a week-long tropical holiday TOMORROW. This would normally require:

1. A packing list for the kids
2. A packing list for me (DH can do his own damn list, thank you.)
3. A list of stuff not to forget (sunscreen, cameras, phone numbers I might need...)
4. A list of things to do in the morning before we leave (lock door, check answering machine, feed fish...)
5. A list of stuff which I need to do upon our return home (call in our veg order, call work and check my shifts)

So as you can see, something major like a holiday requires a fair bit of planning. However here it is, almost 7pm on Friday night, and I have not made a single list for this holiday. I did put that action on a list - as in, this week's 'to do' list says 'make packing list' on it. We are leaving at 7am tomorrow morning. I have no list. I have no packing done. I have in fact done zero preparation for this vacation, short of buying the kids some summery clothes and chucked some of their stuff on the spare bed. That's it.

Clearly, my brain is already on vacation.

Until next week.

How To Eat M n' M's, the emzee way

By the time you get, oh, maybe halfway through this entry, you will be thinking to yourself, "She has GOT to be kidding. Does she really eat them this way?" The answer is a resounding YES, I do eat them this way. However since this method requires both a fair amount of time and a flat surface, I don't eat them all that often. Maybe once a year? This method applies to things other than M n' M's but the criteria are that the items must be small, edible, of a similar shape but a different colour. A good example is Skittles, a bad example is Reece's Pieces (not enough colours). Without futher ado, here is How To Eat M n' M's, the emzee way:

1. Best to be wearing something comfortable and sitting somewhere comfortable. Tear the top off the packet and spill out the contents onto a flat surface. Don't eat any.

2. Separate the M n' M's into colour groups: all red, all orange, all yellow...and so on. Don't eat any. I also like to put them in a circle, in rainbow order. Yes, really.

3. Count how many are in each colour group. Don't eat any.

4. If there are any groups with odd numbers, you must eat them until those groups have even numbers. HOWEVER (!!) only eat them in the order in which you like them LEAST. So if you don't like brown, and there are 7 brown ones, eat 1 brown M n' M first. Then your next least favourite colour, and so on until each group has an even number. Eat s-l-o-w-l-y so as to contemplate your next move.

5. At this point you have two options:

  • If the groups all have the same number, and it's a low number like 4, you can either eat one whole group at a time (again, in order of least favourite to most favourite) or you can eat two from each group (least to most again) until they are gone. No odd numbers allowed.
  • If the groups all have different numbers, move onto step #6.
6. Now you should have a number of different colour groups, all with even numbers, but one might have 4 in it, one might have 8 in it, etc. This also leaves you with two options:
  • Eat the smallest group first and then keep eating by group in colour order of least to most favourite.
  • If the smallest group is your favourite colour, and you can't bear the thought of doing that, go onto step #7.
7. Start eating the M n' M's (finally, thank god, I thought this would go on all day and the damn things would melt by now). Start with the group with the highest number (regardless of colour) and eat enough so that it and another group have the same number. Eat enough (in any order) so that they all have the same number of candies left.

8. Once the groups all have the same number, you can go back to step #5, point #1.

9. Eventually you will be forced to eat the final two candies of your favourite colour group. Best to do this quickly so that they don't feel any pain.

10. Now sigh in contentment, look at the time, and think to yourself, "And THIS is why I only eat M n' M's once a year."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I wish I had a video camera

I wish I had a video camera following my life all the time, 24/7. This is for several reasons:

1. So that I can prove that the crazy shit which happens to me really does happen to me. Like the watermelon on the tram story, or the people on trains story, or the story about....

2. So that I can keep copies and one day show them to my kids when they complain about their kids doing stuff they don't like. "You think potty training ONE measly kid is hard?" Watch THIS!
{cue video of 3 kids and 1 Mum stuffed into tiny upstairs toilet singing songs and desperate mum getting leg cramps and her butt going to sleep. Tiled floors are COLD.}

3. So that I could record and someday re-watch my PPM's. PPM is a "Perfect Parenting Moment" - a time when nobody is tired, sick, hungry, irritatble, sad, whining or complaining or saying "Muuuum" with more U's than should be legal. These are moments when we are all just plain happy, content, and doing something funny or silly or plain ol' calm. Tonight, for example. DD2 was practicing her ballet (wearing purple sweat pants and a pathetic old plastic hula skirt as a boob tube), DD1 was practicing her ballet (wearing sparkley gold jellies, a too small pink fairy skirt, a too small pink Tinkerbell shirt and a pink pointed renaissance style princess hat). DH was on the couch (wearing a sparkly blue fairy skirt as a hat, a la court jester) watching the show, DS was also on the couch watching the show (wearing a yellow and purple fairy skirt as a hat...the apple does not fall far, does it?) and then there was me. Sitting there in normal clothes, with a big smile one. Life, in that moment, could not get any better than it was. Truly.

4. So that I can have my own cooking show on a daily basis. I'm good, people, I'm really good!

So what do with think? Big Brother, Michelle Style. I like it.

Monday, August 14, 2006

One of those email thingies

I got this via email recently. You're supposed to fill it out and forward it to a bunch o' people and annoy them to do it too. I'm just filling it out here instead. Feel free to reply with your own answers.

A) Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Pizza dough maker
2. Gas crisis hotline person
3. University student services flunkey
4. Pastry chef

B) Four movies I would watch over and over:
1. Mary Poppins
2. Sound of Music
3. Shawshank Redemption
4. The Party

C) Four places you have lived:
1. Los Angeles California
2. Denver Colorado
3. Melbourne Australia
4. Burlington Vermont

D) Four TV shows you love to watch:
1. Desperate Housewives
2. Project Runway
3. The House of Tiny Tearaways
4. Grey's Anatomy (which replaced ER, which has gone to pot)

E) Four favorite places I have been on vacation:
1. York, UK
2. Hawaii with Traci in 12th grade
3. My parents house in Baja Mexico
4. Haven't been there yet, but wherever Lummox and I are
going for our 35th birthdays

F) Web sites I visit daily (or almost daily):
1. Hotmail
3. Motherhood Uncensored
4. Dad Gone Mad

G) Four of my favorite foods (again, only four???):
1. Bread
2. Thai
3. Bread
4. Ice Cream

H) Four places I would rather be right now:
1. With Lummox in LA, eating and drinking too much and
laughing lots
2. At a gym losing some weight
3. With DH in Adelaide
4. On holiday already! (see my bragging post below)

Once a bragger, always a bragger

Brag Item One: I got an A for the subject "Prepare Soups, Stocks & Sauces." I kicked culinary ass with not only a perfect score on the theory part of the exam, but A's for 5 out of 6 products I made. I got a B for one item, and I think it's because the teacher was being mean, it's NOT because my fish stock came out a dodgy colour. *grin*

Brag Item Two: Five sleeps until we go here.

It's a Tree, Michelle

I have a completely buggered up sense of money. Not so much that I don't appreciate the value of the dollar, or that I'm clueless about finances in general ... it's that I have very, very strange notions about how money should be spent and handled. For example, I won't really bat an eye at the idea of spending a gajillion dollars on a major home renovation, but I will not be able to spend $10 on something I really, really want. The point of difference? One is (in my mind) a frivolous purchase, while the other is totally necessary if we are to keep our house from falling down. I just can't bring myself to spend money on stuff which isn't strictly necessary, and my ideas of what is necessary and what isn't are totally warped. This weird attitude to money comes from being the daughter of really crappy money managers. My parents are a lot of things, they just aren't fabulous at handling their cash flow. Money and lack thereof was a defining part of my childhood - we lived in a giant mansion, lost it and then rented a crappy house, and are now back to living in splendor with holiday homes to boot. This is all due to my parents extreme hard work - but in my mind the whole living in a shithole part could have been avoided by better planning. Anyway, back to moi, the point is that I am really, really weird about spending money and saving money and money in general. I 'hide' money in various spots (both literally and figuratively). I think once, twice, three, four, even five times about buying something which is not on sale. I stress about purchases. I recycle stuff A LOT. I nearly never buy things which I think are frivolous - even if they aren't really frivolity, they're things which might make my life easier. This doesn't mean that I don't occasionally splurge ... It just means I'll feel extremely guilty about it afterwards. I find myself often asking, "but do I really NEED that?" before making a purchase. The sad part about it is that afterwards, I regret not having just, well, lived a little. I miss out on experiences and things because I have some totally fucked notion of how I shouldn't be just plain carefree with money. Maybe this is a fear that the money will somehow just run out? I don't know. I don't want to delve too far into this - it might require therapy, which is not strictly necessary, and then I'll stress about the therapist bills. Best to stop now.

What, I hear you asking, does this have to do with trees? When DH and I traveled around Europe, he spent AGES telling me about our budget, our daily allowance, and how we had to record each purchase in a small spiral notebook to keep track and make sure we stayed on budget. Even he will admit, he was a little obsessive about this. Anyway so we went to Europe at Xmas time. All over Germany (which we spent a fair amount of time in) there were these Xmas markets. The markets were just amazing treasure troves of glittering, sparkling, beautiful works of art. Decorations, wooden villages, clothing, lights...and fabulous stalls filled with special cookies and cakes and treats of the season. So for weeks on end I literally pined (pun intended) over these small, gorgeous, intricately carved wooden trees. The thing is I like trees - most nature related stuff anyway - and these trees were really lovely. The kind of REAL souvenir I wanted from our trip - not the plastic leaning Tower of Pisa, not the "Munich at night" postcard, not the ticket stubs from the night I slept through The Magic Flute at the Vienna Opera House. I desperately wanted one of those trees. The problem? Trees were not in the budget. I didn't NEED a tree. I wasn't authorised to buy a tree. Trees were on the proverbial 'frivolous items' list. I managed to keep this a secret from DH for most of the trip. However on the very last leg through Germany, I finally broke down. I spent AGES looking at these carved wonders, desperately wanting one for myself. So much of our trip was about the things we couldn't afford (we only saw the Coliseum from the outside, we hardly ate anything beyond bread and cheese, etc) and this tree, well, the tree was destined to become another one of those things. DH saw me eyeing off these little trees and said, "You want a tree? BUY A TREE." He could not believe that I had spent the better part of 2 months desperately wanting a tree. I really wanted one of the intricately carved ones, but I only let myself buy the smallest, simplest carved tree I could find. It cost less than $5. He even wrote it down in the spiral notebook: Tree: $5. I carefully, carefully carried it home in my hands. I then gently wrapped that tree in tissue paper, to make sure it came home to Melbourne safe and sound. It is one of my most prized possessions, and that tree is what made me totally, blissfully happy for a great while afterwards. Still does. My tree just fills me with warm fuzzies, what can I say?

The tree now has a life of it's own, in the form of an expression. I told DH how I went to a kitchenalia shop to buy an item (which I really needed) and that while I was there I saw a knife roll I liked (a sort of cloth 'apron' which holds a chef's tools and rolls up). Currently I carry this bloody enormous heavy box and it's bulky and uncomfortable. I really want a chef roll. Strictly speaking, I don't need one, so I'm not going to buy it. Anyway, the chef roll I liked cost $50. DH looked at me and said, "Oh for heaven's sake! Why didn't you just buy it? BUY THE TREE, Michelle. BUY THE DAMN TREE."

I didn't. But I'm content knowing that I could have if I wanted to.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Happy 60th Birthday Ima!

Today is my Mom's 60th birthday - or at least, it is in the US. Here Down Under she is 60 years +1 day old. Given this momentous occassion, I thought I should write a blog entry about her. After all, she has been bugging (okay, demanding) that I do this for some time. In lots of ways, my Mom and I are very, very different people. She's into clothes/hair/make up...and I'm not. She'll say anything to keep someone happy....and I nearly never do. She thinks 'recycling' is wearing the same outfit twice, and I'm out there separating the plastic from the paper. She would have a hard time baking a cake out of a mix...and well, you know. Over the years these differences have caused (mostly for me) a fair amount of angst. I wanted her to be the Mom who helped out at Brownies, who baked something for the bake sale, who drove me to after school activities or who was home when I got home from school. She wasn't like that. She was a working Mom - who didn't 'do' extracurricular activities, definetly didn't bake, and because of her work hours couldn't be home at 3pm every day. She was allergic to anything with hair, so pets were out. She hated parent/teacher conferences - because anyway I was a genius and no teacher was going to tell her differently, so why should she waste her time going? In short she was no June Cleaver, unless June hung out in the Valley driving a big ol' Cadillac.

All of this is not to say that my Mom was a bad Mom. NOT AT ALL. She was a great Mom, in the ways she could be. She loves me unconditionally - if I'm fat (you need to do something about the overweight), if I'm thin (you're too skinny already!), if I am grumpy (what's with you?), if I don't call or email (you don't love me), if I tell her she is an old lady (that's alte-kaker to you). Through my childhood she did lots of totally great things for me and my siblings (including tolerating my Dad, but that's another story). She also did things for herself. It used to drive me crazy - all her grooming, caring about clothes and hair, etc. It's only as an adult that I realise what all those hours spent sitting next to her in a hairspray and acetone fog were really about: the importance of looking after yourself, and feeling good about yourself. I'll never be the clothes horse she wants me to be. I'll never love getting dressed up, I'll always hate stockings, and I'll fight her every inch of the way into a mall. I will, however, always know the importace of taking time out for myself, to make myself feel good (and doing that with great hair.) My Mom is a smart, funny lady who believes that her children can do anything if they put their mind too it. She makes me laugh, makes me shake my head with wonder, and often she makes me wish she lived closer.

Does she like to guilt trip me, as all Jewish mothers do? Of course. Does she totally drive me insane, as all Jewish mothers do? Of course. Will our differences continue to make going to the mall difficult? Of course. Will she always offer me the chocolate in her purse if I'm miserable, even if two seconds earlier she was telling me I need to lose weight? Of course.

Will she always, always, always be there if I need her? OF COURSE.
And THAT is what being a mother is all about.

Thanks, Ima, for teaching me the biggest lesson of all. Hope your birthday celebrations were great - as usual I was there in spirit.

Why I Love My Son - Some Conversations

My son, DS, looks very much like DH's side of the family - with the notable exception of his grey/blue eyes, which are mine, all mine. However, in personality DS is very much like me - stubborn, clever, witty, and often quick with a one liner. Here are a few recent examples of conversations DS and I have had:

DS: Mum, what are 10 babies at once called?
Me: Ummm, I think dectuplets?
DS: Oh. Well, what are 11 babies called?
Me: I don't know but that's a heck of a lot of babies!
DS: (laughing his head off) I think they're called "a heck of a lot-tuplets!"

This next one is a case of "if you can't beat 'em"...DS knew he wouldn't win this round. DS and DD#2 were fighting recently, about something inane (so what else is new?!) I walked in to the room, giant Oscars smile plastered on:

Me: I *love* it when you guys fight!
DS: No you don't!!!!
Me (still sweetness and light): So why are you doing it then?
DS: *dumbfounded* Ummmm....*thinks* That is SO not fair Mum.
Needless to say, the fight ended right then and there.

The Name Game: You know that 70's song where you say someone's name and rhyme it? Like this - if your name was Anne - Anne Anne Bo Ban, Banana Fanna Fo Fan, Me Mi Mo Man, Anne. So I've taught the kids to sing it, and this one is DS's favourite:

"Mum Mum Bo Bum. HA! I just said BUM, your song has BUM in it! Okay I'm going to try again. Mum Mum Bo Bum. I said bum AGAIN!! Your Name Game is too funny, I can't do it without laughing." (This will then keep him amused for several minutes as he 'tries' to sing the Mum Name Game.) For the record, here it is in it's entirety: Mum Mum Bo Bum (sorry I can't type the rest without laughing. Let me try again.) Mum Mum bo Bum...oh forget it!

DS's real name is Julian, but I often call him Juliano (Jew-lee-ah-no) - and I even use a vague Spanish/Italian accent. Actually I have TONS of nicknames for him - spewlian, droolian, moolian, soolian...you get the idea. So this is a typical exchange:

Me (in all seriousness) : I love you Juliano.
DS (equally serious) : I love you too Mumiano.

You just gotta love this kid!

Moving On

Those of you who know me IRL know that several months ago I lost my best friend. No, not literally, and NO, not THE BEST FRIEND, but my best friend here in Australia. It's a very long story, but suffice it to say I have no intention of ever seeing her again. Yes, I was sad, and yes I grieved, and yes, there were several months there where I felt there was a giant, Australian-best-friend shaped hole in my heart. However, as a result of the things she said during a failed reconciliation, I got over it quick smart. I haven't really thought much about her since then, until this past weekend. I took DD#2 out somewhere and ran into ex-Australian Best Friend's (XABF) Mum. Now it should be said that XABF's Mum is a really nice lady and I like her a lot. It should also be said that I don't know how much the Mum knows about XABF and I's colossal falling out. Anyway in chatting to the Mum (who assured me that XABF can "see the light") I realised something. I realised that another sad part about losing an ABF is that you lose many of the people around them who are pretty cool. There are a number of people who XABF knew, who she introduced me to, who were nice, funny, charming humans. The relationship never really progressed beyond that - meeting at mutual ABF's house - but I kinda want to know what happened to some of these people. The Mum told me that one of them had gotten engaged. I'd like to email that person and say, "Hey! I heard the news! Congrats!" but the reality is that doing that would be ultra, ultra wierd. I just can't. I only know this person via XABF, we have no other connection. Since XABF is no longer in my life, ergo I can't get in touch with that engaged person. Sorta like A=B and B=C but in this case A doesn't equal C, or rather a can't equal C due to the lack of B. Are you with me on this?!?

Other than realising that there are some potentially nice people who I won't ever get to know better (and realising on some level this is not exactly a huge loss), I also confirmed for myself that I really am over XABF. It was nice to see her Mum, nice to catch up, nice to reminisce about the friendship XABF and I had, but also equally nice to know I have a life filled with wonderful friendships and I don't really need XABF as much as I once did. That, in itself, made the chance encounter worth it.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

RAS Recipe of the Week

I'm posting another one of these because, while clearing out a bunch o' junk, DH found this recipe. It's really yummy, and definetly worth sharing. It's a bit of a twist on an old classic. Go on, commit a Random Act of Sweetness!

Florentines, the Lori Way
(no idea who Lori is, I met her at some party and never saw her again)

2 cups crushed cornflakes
1 1/2 cups flaked almonds
1/2 cup raisins/sultanas
1/2 cup craisins (dried cranberries - you could sub glace cherries)
100g chopped macadamias
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
300g chocolate
20g copha (this can be omitted if you are using compound chocolate)

Preheat oven to 180C /325 F. Mix everything except for the chocolate and copha. Push it into a paper-lined square tray (smallish 8" x 8"). Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool.

Melt 1/2 the chocolate and the copha. Spread over the top of the slice and cool, (overnight if you can, otherwise wing it in the freezer for a few minutes.) Pop the whole thing out of the tin and flip over, then put back in the tin. Melt the other half of the chocolate and copha and spread out. Once starting to set 'score' marks in the chocolate to mark where you will cut it. Place one craisin in the middle of each square. Cool completely (to set chocolate) and then cut with a hot knife.

Yum! Enjoy!

Monday, August 7, 2006

Head Lice (and isn't that a nice way to start the day)

When I was about 9 or 10, my parents sent me to sleep away camp in Israel. Sidebar: It was called Camp Tappuz (Camp Orange). Is it just me, or does "Camp Orange" not really invoke thoughts of summer fun, bright log cabins, friends for life, and making crafts from scraps of wood? I mean, could they not think of something better than that? Say, Camp Sunshine and a Tappuz? Or Camp Crafty Tappuz? Or Camp Wikki-Wikki-Tappuz? Camp Tappuzland? (Feel free to add suggestions below.) Anyway. So I got head lice at the illustrious Camp Tappuz and it was discovered one weekend by my (then) Aunt Yaffa. Aunt Yaffa was a nice person, really she was, except for her idea of lice treatment. First she brewed up this totally disgusting smelling, well, BREW....in a 1970's classic clear brown teacup. This stuff - which to this day I don't know exactly what it was - smelled so bad, it would tear paint off the walls. In large strips. Seriously, the smell made me want to pass out. It was the colour of sewer water and it had these tiny little hairy 'balls' floating in it, maybe some herb or something? So she made me bend over the world's smallest sink to get treated. The sink was so small, I had to carry out a complex head turning and twisting action to get my hair (short at the time) under the tap. I couldn't just put my head in and out, I had to dislocate several vertebrae first. So she pours this nasty stuff all over my head and then attempts to rub it in. Note, it's not soap based so it doesn't LATHER per se. It just ties one's hair up in painful knots - yes, even short hair, that's how evil this liquid hell was. Presumably this is to confuse the lice. So my back feels like it's going to give out any second, I'm trying not to dry heave from the smell, and this shit is being shmeared in my head and most of my hairs are actually being pulled out of my head in the process.

She then tells me to stay there FOR HALF AN HOUR before washing it out. I couldn't get my head out of the sink (because that crap would drip down my neck and presumably off my head altogether, thus burning large acidic holes in the towel, my skin, and eventually the bathroom linoleum.). By now this stuff has started to drip into my eyes - note I can't get my hand into the sink to wipe it away because my head is wedged in there - and it STINGS LIKE SOMEONE HAS RUBBED MOTHER FUCKING HABANERO CHILLIS IN MY EYES. My arms are flapping in desperation, my voice is yelling, "my eyes! my eyes!" and nobody can hear me. I am trapped in a tiny Israeli bathroom, my head in a sink vise, my eyes burning out of their sockets, my hair a mass of dreadlocks, my back in a permanently hunch back position...and nobody can hear me dying a slow but noisy death.

It wasn't pretty. But it cured the lice.

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Who Needs Sleep?

There is a great song by the BareNaked Ladies called "Who Needs Sleep" about having insomnia. The chorus goes like this:

Who needs sleep?
Well you’re never gonna get it
Who needs sleep?
Tell me what’s that for
Who needs sleep?
Be happy with what you get
there’s a guy that’s been awake since the second world war
This song was clearly written for someone who does not know the bone exhaustion which comes from having ankle biters in their world. Sleep, as it happens, is not something I or DH have a problem with. I can fall asleep mid-sentence, while DH can fall asleep while reading the paper (and wakes only when he hears the THUD of his head on newsprint). However, children DO have a problem with it. As in, they don't like to do it all that much. When do kids out grow this? They only like the whole sleep concept for, oh, maybe a month after they are born. You know, this is your BED and shortly after the sun goes down you get your ass INTO it, and then you close your little EYES and then you SLEEP. This is not a hard concept to get, is it? After that blissful one month, humans have the curious evolutionary habit of forgetting how to sleep. Instead you get this:

Ages 1 month-3 years: I am going to scream and cry and flail and sometimes puke and turn red and make you feel like the most shit parent in the known universe for putting me into the fiery pit of hell which is my bed.

Ages 4-6: I'm going to act like I want to go to bed, but all I really want to do is practice sprinting from my room to wherever you are, just so I can annoy you with request for water, conversation, television, anything at all to avoid the fiery pit of hell which is my bed. But I want to go to sleep. Really I do, I swear, I won't come out anymore, not even once, I'm going to bed right now, I want to go to bed!!! I wanna go to BBBBBEEEEDDDD!!! But I'm not tired yet, Mummy. Really I'm not. I'm crabby and irritable and annoying you and annoying myself but I'm not tired yet. Okay, okay, I'll go to bed now. You don't have to SHOUT, Mummy. You are SO rude sometimes. All I wanted was to tell you something.

Ages 7-15: (The confusion years) I will come up with every excuse in the world to buy myself just five more minutes of time spent awake, even if all I'm doing in those five minutes is coming up with ways to get another five minutes tricked out of you. The next morning, I will of course have the same reasons for needing just five more minutes of time asleep. It's a crazy cruel world when you don't want to leave the fiery pit of hell for the fiery pit of hell which is school.

Ages 16+: Actually, at this point, you're in charge of your own destiny, kid. Sleep or not, I don't care, as long as your butt is not still there when you are 36.

So I ask again:
Who needs sleep?

RAS Recipe of the Week

I made this cake this week and should have photo'd it for you, but didn't. This just means you need to make one, doesn't it? This week's cake is dedicated to the people who have the sad situation of being allergic to either eggs or dairy (or both) or who are misguided enough to be vegan. Nothing against vegans, but come on people! What is pastry without some decent animal products? Well, this week, it's a damn fine cake (which tastes like it's hiding animal bits in it, but it's not!)

Wacky Chocolate Cake
(great cake, stupid name)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
4 T unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 T cider vinegar
6 T vegetable oil
1 cup water

Preheat oven to 170C (350F). Sift flour, sugar, salt, soda, and cocoa into a bowl. Make three depressions into the dry ingredients. Pour oil into one well, vinegar in another, and vanilla into a third one. Pour the water on top, stir well with a fork. Shove into a greased tin (8 inch round) and bake for about 55 minutes (check at the 45 minute mark just in case...) When cool, frost if desired (with vegan frosting, which I also have a recipe for) but I just throw some powdered sugar on top and call it a damn fine cake with a stupid name.

NB: Yes, I know the method is insane. The recipe would probably taste the same if you just bunged the lot in a bowl and mixed for the Queen. Just humour me and follow it, would ya?

Sneaky Is Best

My parents, as we all know, are from the Holy Land. This means I can understand a heck of a lot of Holy Land language - I can't read (except at the level of a first grader), can't write (not even first grade level) and I can speak as long as you don't care too much about grammar. What I CAN do is understand a vast majority of spoken Hebrew. A number of times in my life this has come in handy, most notably this morning.

Picture this. A whole crowd of cheffie students waiting outside a classroom for an exam to start (I ACED it, but what else is new?) The characters are:
- Me (looking cute in my chef's whites)
- Nice Israeli Guy from my class (NiceGuy)
- Other Israeli Guy who I only know in passing (OtherGuy)
- Asshole Israeli Guy who I don't know at all (Asshole).

For the record, NiceGuy knows I understand/speak Hebrew, and OtherGuy will find this out shortly. So here's how the convo went:

[Asshole walks past us]

OtherGuy (in Hebrew): Whoah ho ho, who looks like a pretty cheffie then?

Me (English): Well, yeah, except for the shoes! (which, it should be noted, are snakeskin black cowboy boots with very long and pointy toes and so NOT cheffie like but clearly Asshole like.)

Asshole (Hebrew, with nasty look on face and nasty inflection): Who is this elephant? (meaning moi).

Me (IN HEBREW): This elephant understands Hebrew, so if I were you I'd shut your freakin' mouth.

Asshole: [cowers in corner]

Me (in English): Next time you decide to insult someone, it's probably best if you do it in a language they don't understand.

I (and NiceGuy, who is killing himself laughing, and OtherGuy, who suddenly 'gets it') flounce into classroom to kick culinary ass. Asshole? Well, who gives a flyin' you-know-what about his snakeskin-boot-wearin' self. I didn't name him Asshole for nothing.

Conspiracy Theory

My parents are convinced that there is some big, evil, awful SECRET in my life which I am not telling them about. I'm hiding something. Something which, clearly, is making me secretly upset and miserable but I am choosing not to tell them about it. Why do they think this? Firstly, because I never seem to have time to call them back. They leave messages, and I don't call back for two days. (*shock* *horror* It's called having a life/husband/kids/job/house, people!) The second reason my life must be in secret turmoil is because, when I DID call them back (and left a message), they thought I sounded like I was crying. Hmmmm. Now here's the thing. I rarely share major news with my parents. It's not that I don't love them, it's that their communication sucks. They are loving, wonderful people who really only want what they think is best for me. But on the listening front? Fuhggedabouduit. It's not just my parents, my siblings (who I adore) are also like this. On Monday I'll tell BigSis about feeling like I need a new challenge at work, and by Tuesday morning my Mom is calling me in a panic asking me why I have quit my job. I tell Mom she's wrong, and I explain what I meant. Wednesday my Dad is calling me from his office to tell me I need to get a Real Job and to 'cut out the bullshit' and tell him the real reason why I quit so suddenly. On Thursday morning my brother is txt'ing me to say "What's with you quitting your job?" By Friday I am ready to pull my hair out as they send me job ads from Los Angeles. See? There is just no point in telling them anything major - because by the time that something major has blown over, I might as well spare them the coronaries in the meantime. Next time I do have something to tell them about (in a major sense. and I would only do this if I were close to death in the first place), I think I'll call my BigSis on Monday and say, "Hey, BigSis? I've got this runny nose..." I figure by Friday they'll work it out for themselves that I am suffering from the world's first terminal case of CryingOnAnsweringMachinesForAttention Syndrome.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Toast, Toast, Toast

Over the years I've developed a number of coping strategies for dealing with the kids. Some of these are simple (chocolate) some more difficult (our upcoming vacation), but all of them have worked to make my life easier. Often these coping strategies are great studies in logistics mnagement - a job for which I think I was born. I was thinking about this recently, about how DH and I do things other families find easy - bath time, meal time, getting to kinder on time (okay we fail this one regularly), going out to eat, getting everyone dressed or undressed - simply by virtue of good logistics and (we hope) a mimumum of yelling. Let me give you an example. I went for a job interview when the kids were about a year old. Somehow the topic of the kids came up and they asked how I cope with getting them to creche on time - presumably a thinly disguised question about how the hell was I going to get to work on time myself. Because, of course, parents of triplets are incapable of being punctual, efficient, productive members of the workforce (who? me? bitter?). Anyway, so when they were a year old the procedure was like this:

Starting point: parent dressed, fed, watered and ready to do battle. Car unlocked.

Step 1. Least resistant child dressed, then the other two in order of least to most resistant. Kids dressed ALL the way to shoes. Care factor if their clothes are mismatched: None.
Step 2. Kids sat down to eat breakfast, while parent throws pre-packed backpacks and pre-packed lunches into the back of the car, and makes sure that their own briefcase/backpack/bag of random crap is in there too.
Step 3. Toast gets made and buttered (or vegemited, or jammed, or honeyed.)
Step 4. Kid who finishes brekky first gets put in car, strapped in, and handed toast (for distraction purposes).
Step 5. Kid two, same as above, toast.
Step 6. Kid three, same as above, toast. This time parent takes key and locks door behind them.
Step 7. Kids in car, parent in car, quick look to check: yup, toast, toast, toast, we're all good, let's hit the road.

So you see? Getting out the door in the morning, following the toast, toast, toast plan - well, frankly, it worked then. It works less well these days because each kid wants a different breakfast, their resistance to getting dressed is a bit like Luke resisting the Force (powerful, but defeated in the end), and neither parent is as sprightly as they used to be. This whole post just sums up my parenting philosophy. At it's most basic: you cope in the ways you have to, in order to make your life easier, and more pleasant. Dummy/no dummy, bottle/no bottle, co-sleep/no co-sleep, potty trained/not potty trained, TV/no TV, matching socks/not matching socks: WHO THE FUCK CARES. Do what you need to do to keep your life, and your kids' lives, pleasant and with a minimum of shouting. It's not that hard, people. (Okay, it is, but that was a good ending line so I'm leaving it there.)

Oh, and I didn't get that job I applied for - and I think it's because the BossMan was terrified I'd shove him into his office chair with a piece of toast.