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.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

A cookie by any other name...

Quite often I'll be trolling the net looking for something non-cooking related when I'll come across a recipe which interests me. In the old days I'd just bookmark it...leaving me with a massive list of bookmarks which took up several columns of screen space. These days I use Google Reader and just star things which look good. Every once in a while, though, I'll come across something which looks good and if it's short, I'll scribble it on the back of a scrap of paper. Then, of course, I promptly forget about it, until I find it months later in the fire hazard office under a pile of other stuff. I'll put it aside, only to have it swallowed up by the black hole of my desk once again.

It's a rare recipe indeed which makes it out of this desk purgatory - most eventually get chucked in the recycling bin when I lose patience with the mess in here.

However, this recipe went from scrap of paper to baked in under 24 hours, largely because DH is out of town, the kids and I were bored, and what's not to like about a recipe which takes about 10 seconds flat to make? These cookies are not only delicious when baked, the raw dough is swoon-worthy, and it's easy for the kids to help, as witnessed by the above photo. (Note: I've not gone mental and eaten loads, even though they are amazingly delish. I've enjoyed a few, and then put them aside to give away to friends tomorrow.) I'm also re-printing it here as I copied it off the site, it's a very simple way to make and read a recipe.

The original recipe called these "solve everything cookies" or something equally cutesy - it was the cookies the author's Mom made when things were looking blue or they just needed a pick me up. Sure, stuff a broken heart with fat and calories! Get fatter, get less boys, and ergo start the process again. GREAT message, that...not! Since I'm all about reversing emotional eating, I'm renaming these "Why Not Cookies" because when I said to the kids, "Feel like making some cookies?" they all said, "Why not?" No emotional upheavals required.


Mix: 1 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup brown sugar
Add: 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla
Add: 2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt*
Mix: 2 cups rolled oats, 2 cups rice krispies, 2 cups chocolate chips**

Makes a stiff batter. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a lined baking sheet and bake 12-15 mins at 350C.

* I used a coarse salt, because I like that bit of saltiness on the back of my tongue when eating something sweet. If you don't, use ordinary table salt.
** I used about 1 1/2 cups because we didn't have any more. They weren't lacking for chocolate.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Like A Supermodel

Voted Yet?

I think I'm going to change my name to Tyra...or maybe Heidi...or possibly Cindy - because this past weekend, I was channelling my inner supermodel. Firstly, my friend 007 asked me if I wanted to go shopping with her. Those who know me best know that I would much rather put jalapeno-dipped hot pokers in my eyes than willingly go shopping. However, as this is all part of the "make me a supermodel" thing, I readily agreed. In fact after she mentioned it, I was the one who called her to organise it.

Once we got to the mall, I was totally into it - grabbing stuff off racks, happily cackling at how terrible some of it looked, smiling at how good some of it looked, and so on. I was a woman on a mission. I desperately needed a new pair of jeans, since the pair I have (read: live in) were a bit, shall we say, MC Hammer-esque. I'm proud to report that I was able to buy a pair of jeans which not only were on mega sale ($24 instead of $100!) but I bought a pair which is a full size smaller, and yet still kinda needs a belt. I couldn't go one MORE size smaller because that would mean uncomfortable, and uncomfortable clothes are against my religion. To prove to myself that I really am smaller, I tried on about half a dozen pairs of pants, and yup, I definitely needed the smaller size. YAY ME. We kept on shopping, and hours later we had bags o' stuff and were exhausted and starving. We went out to grab a snack - a supermodelish snack - of coffee and a shared antipasto platter.

Old me would have had the platter (at 530pm) and then gone home and eaten a full dinner...because, you know, a snack is not an actual MEAL. New me felt full after the snack, realised that nobody was forcing me to have dinner, and resolved to have (if and only if I was hungry) a snack at about 830pm. No shit, people, it worked. I did feel a bit peckish later that night, so I had a bowl of cereal (Raisin Bran, for those wondering.) I had to repress the urge to dance around the house singing, "I won! I won! La la la la la la!!" It actually surprised me, just how powerful I felt about it all. Not only did I feel great about the smaller jeans, I also felt great because I had willingly shopped (without suffering a stroke, seizure, mental episode or other shopping-induced medical episode), AND on top of all that I was able to mindfully enjoy every bite of our snack and not worry, for one second, about the meal ahead. I think this is truly progress.

On Sunday the trio and DH went to a football game, leaving me behind to do such joyous tasks as cleaning out my car. Sad to say, but I could have fed a small European country on the amount of food scraps I found in my car. Most of it being the detritus of small children, but some of it my own. I think my car has been suffering poor gas mileage because of all the crap in it, weighing it down! A single dirty sock, 3 kids' books, 2 headbands, 1 bottle of water, the lid of a plastic box, several sheets of scribbled paper, a bit of string, 2 nectarine pips, a stack of tapes (yes, really. My car has a tape player), a small bath towel, one sweater....you get the idea.

After that experience I headed to the supermarket, and here is where I reveal my true supermodel self. Because I was by myself, I felt no need to dress up for the experience. So I found myself wearing the following (very fetching) outfit:

- Pair of tall Ugg boots
- Clean grey sweatpants
- Close-fitting long sleeved black t-shirt
- Black zip-up sweatshirt
- Headband

So I did the shopping, and because the place was totally packed, I had time to peruse the trashy mags as I waited my turn in line. You know what? I swear every actress, supermodel, wanna-be, and musician in that mag was not only wearing the same thing, but DOING the same thing. Okay, so they're doing it in LA, and they're shopping at Gelson's (read: world's most expensive supermarket) ...but there I was, feeling like a supermodel over my new-found confidence, and LOOKING like one too.

I don't think you can get much better than that.*

* I am conveniently ignoring the fact that while they were all dressed the same as me, they were wearing sweats in a size 2, and mine are considerably bigger than that.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

In the here and now

Okay, so I'm about 50 kabillion percentage points behind, and it's doubtful I'll win this thing, but at least don't let me be humiliated by a complete hamster annihilation, okay?

So we all know how hard I am trying to reclaim my life back - back from the crazy, unstructured life of a chef, back from the crazy, unstructured life as a mother to 7 year olds x 3, and back from the crazy, unstructured life of a fatty. Starting up da biz was the first step in this process, as theoretically I could plan my work life better and have some control over the whole thing. I wanted to be there for my kids at the end of the day, I wanted to enjoy getting up to do to work, and so on. The next step in the process was getting their lives in order - so we got rid of the time-sucking after school activities, reclaimed some of our old routines of yesteryear, and resolved to live a happier, simpler family life. Then came step three, which was returning to my old gym-junkie self, which I've been doing for several months now.

So all of these things have been going swimmingly, except that my ass wasn't getting (much) smaller, and I still felt like I was on a bit of a roller coaster, body and attitude wise. I attempted to go the naturopath route and found that it didn't suit me. On the advice of my GP, I've been seeing a Head Shrinker for a few weeks now, and then yesterday I also saw a nutritionist. Before you all go thinking this is a waste of money, consider ANY of the things you've wanted to achieve in life. Most of those achievements wouldn't have been possible with at least some effort on the part of your BRAIN, right? Athletes will tell you "it's all mental", business people will tell you the same, and millions of people are paying life coaches for that added MENTAL boost which will get them across the line.

Seeing the head shrinker (who btw specialises in health psychology, and counts elite athletes among her clientele) has been a GREAT and a HORRIBLE experience. Horrible because she forces me to think about, talk about, take action on, and confront things about my attitudes to food and eating which I've never thought about, talked about, actioned or confronted. I leave her office feeling like I need a big, long cry followed by a big, long nap. It's emotionally exhausting. It's a great experience because she forces me to think about, talk about, take action on, and confront things about my attitudes to food and eating which I've never thought about, talked about, actioned or confronted. I leave her office feeling like I CAN DO THIS, and I AM A SUPERSTAR.

One of the biggest themes she has talked about in the past couple of weeks has been one of living in the moment. Living in the here and now and being mindful of what we are experiencing. She makes the point that so much of our lives are lived in the future, that we fail to spend enough time in the RIGHT NOW. As you can imagine, this has been a really hard thing for me to do - because I am ALWAYS thinking ahead - planning, goal setting, thinking, considering. At breakfast I'm thinking about the business of the day ahead, at lunch I'm thinking about making dinner, and at dinner I'm thinking about all the things I need to do before the kids (and I) head to bed. When I stopped to consider her words, it occurred to me that I really do spend a lot of my time in the future - only once I've gotten to that future, I'm thinking ahead yet again.

We've talked a bit about how the future can actually be a scary, scary place. When confronted with the idea of having to do something "forever," most people naturally freak out. Hence her insistence that if we try to be more mindful of today, then tomorrow becomes easier to deal with. This week is a pretty good example of that. I'd missed 2 gym sessions last week because work was busy. This week I missed Monday because my neck was aching (the result of me hitting my head on a staircase, but that's another story.) Bollywood had a new teacher, and she was terrible so I barely broke a sweat. By Tuesday I had started to get a bit disheartened, and missed my gym session because I was grumpy about it. On Wednesday I went to see head shrinker lady...and she caught me out! Too much time spent thinking about how I'd have a crappy week because I'd missed some gym sessions, about how I'd never have the time to fit it in this week, and so on. I had basically decided on Monday that there would be no gym-going for me this week.

Besides just the endorphins no longer swishing around my bloodstream, these feelings (and subsequent choices) so clearly showed her point. We talked about how to get that "self talk" into a better place, about how what I choose not to do TODAY won't necessarily mean that tomorrow is a wash out, too. She recommended going out for a walk, even just 10 minutes - because that walk would then act as the first step along the path of a thousand to follow.

This morning I got up, went to the gym, and had a 50 minute cardio workout. I walked out of there thinking, I CAN DO THIS and I AM A SUPERSTAR. Suddenly the future doesn't look quite as bleak, and I know that I am the one in control, right here and right now. I am (figuratively) *bigger* than the feelings of self-doubt and failing into the future. I can KICK THEIR ASS.

While I don't think it's possible to live a life without at least some forward thinking, this week I am resolving to live in an attentive way, and to choose to do things now rather than do them tomorrow, next week, or not at all.

In an attempt at influencing you to do the same, I'm going to recommend you all go to this website, and create a Thank You message for someone. Remind yourself how important it is to live for today, and thank someone. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Sky is Falling

So, did you vote? Best go do that now, doncha think?

Here at Casa de Verde we've come to the conclusion that our house is too small, and for added fun and games it's falling apart. When we moved here the kids were 10 months old, and it was a great house for little kids. The plan then was to stay here maybe 5-7 years, and then move to the big ol' McMansion in the next suburb over. Then people in Melbourne started to go absolutely mental, and house prices went through the roof. The house two doors down sold a few months ago for 1.2 MILLION dollars, which means that the McMansion would now be somewhere in the region of 1.5 million, maybe more.

So let's do the math. One cake = $100 (let's just take a round number) and I need to find 1.5 million bucks, plus some money to pay for moving, plus taxes and stuff, plus some furniture or whatever, plus all the therapy bills...so, THAT'S A FUCK LOTTA CAKES. Not going to happen. DH and I swapped to Plan B, which was to modify the manor enough to fit in our pre-pre-teens and all their stuff, not to mention fix things like the hole in the ceiling (skylight?) the tiles falling off the showers (deocrative finish?) and the carpet (vintage?) We didn't want some huge Tudor style gothic-columned 6 bedroom 14 bathroom with putting green and helipad place. We just want our house to fit all of us in, and have working showers. Not exactly demanding, are we?

It should be said that I HATE construction, renovation, home improvement and anything at all to do with making changes like these. Intellectually I know it's a necessary thing. Emotionally? Thanks but no thanks. Both DH and I have families which were completely devastated by crooked builders during renovations, so that's probably part of the issue. Furthermore I can think of nothing more boring than spending hours upon hours looking at metre after metre of tiles and shower screens and sinks and taps. AS IF the tap I pick will somehow change the world, right? Tiles? A life-changing choice, definitely.

Since FEBRURARY this year we've been trying to get this work started. Actually you can add two years to that, since that's how long it took me to convince DH that we could no longer live with tiles duct-taped to the floor (no, I'm not kidding.) I've had meetings with builder upon builder upon builder, and this is what I have learned:

1. Each person who comes in the door will contradict everything the guy before him said.

2. Each person will scratch their chin and say, "Hmmm..it's a bit of a challenge, isn't it?"

3. Each person will tell me their life story, which I couldn't give a shit about. So far I've had stories about wayward teenage daughters, wives suffering empty nest syndrome, and 41 year old heroin addicts.

4. Nobody will be able to tell me if they can do what I want with the budget I have. They will, however, tell me about all the things they DON'T do (which funnily enough are all on our list of "must do.")

5. Nobody will answer my phone calls or emails once they leave the house, unless I say, "Hello, I'm leaving this message because I've just sold my first born to afford the price you have quoted, so let's go ahead and sign that contract!"

6."...in a couple of days/weeks..." is builder talk for - sometime in the next century.

7. Most of them will not listen, so the ones who do come back with some sort of info will be a) way above the budget I specified or b) will have made changes I specifically requested would not happen or c) will hound me endlessly but not actually come up with a cost (even a ballpark) unless I agree to spending 2.5 grand with them in the first place or d) all of the above.

Not a single brick has moved, and I am already finding myself bloody sick and tired of this entire venture. I haven't even stepped foot in a tile store and I am dreading it. I know renovating is up there with the Top Ten most stressful activities in a person's life, and it's not hard to see why that is. This whole process just sucks from beginning to end. Sure, we're saving ourselves a fortune (theoretically) on renovating rather than moving, but at this point I'm about ready to sell the place and just move into the nearest Motel Six.

At least there they have showers which work.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

In which a pirate's chest breaks my spirit

The trio's birthday party was yesterday. I think "party" is far too nice a word for what can better be described as "a one way trip to hell involving fourteen 3 foot high munchkins all emulating the Lord of the Flies." Seriously, what was I thinking? In my head I had envisaged them all doing as I asked, speaking in "inside" voices, and behaving in a manner befitting Stepford Children. What I got was a house full of screaming banshees running amok (and this is BEFORE the sugar). In the end the party was a success, the Cheezels all got eaten, and mercifully every child got picked up by a parent (but heaven knows if they went home with the right parent, because at that point I was just glad to be rid of them.)

After their unmedicated ADHD friends left, the kids got to open their presents. Mostly I was really pleased that the kids ended up with things they will both enjoy and use. Unfortunately I also found myself going head to head with what can only be described as THE SINGLE WORST POSSIBLE THING TO GIVE TO A KID. (AKA the present you give when you hate the parents of the birthday kid, and you want to go all passive aggressive on them.)

I am talking about the craft present. The do-it-yourself, decorate-it-yourself, bake-it-yourself, inflict-pain-and-suffering-on-yourself sort of present. Dreamcatchers (which are so 80's!), pillow cases, handbags, watches, pins, doll houses, t-shirts, flower pots, hair clips, foam door hangers, indoor terrariums ... whatever irritating thing you can glue shit to. All of these presents are wrapped in cutesy packaging, with a picture on the front which shows how AMAZING your creation is going to be, and how EASY it will be to achieve artistic greatness. What they don't show is you dropping half of the teeny-tiny plastic jewels on the floor, getting your dining table covered in cheap crappy glue which comes in the world's smallest squeezy bottle, getting felt pieces stuck in your hair, glitter in your eyes, and you sitting in the corner rocking back and forth and endlessly crying, "Why me? Why me? WHY ME?!" The packaging also doesn't show how this shitty little made-in-Taiwan craft present has a catch that won't close, a pin which isn't straight, a cardboard punch-out which rips when you look at it wrong, markers which run dry after one line and exactly one less plastic sparkly fake jewel than you need to complete your piece de resistance.

Seriously, these things are the worst presents - not least of which because they require Mom and/or Dad and/or your nearest victim to do the entire thing for you. But, I hear you saying, it's a KIDS craft. The KID is meant to make it themselves! Yeah. Sure. With a hot glue gun in one hand and razor sharp scissors in the other and the aforementioned glue squeezy bottle which requires 200 lbs of brute strength to make the fucking thing give up some fucking glue I am squeezing as hard as I can fer cripes' sake come out already goddamit!

Today DS and I tackled one of these DIY projects - a foam treasure chest complete with gold glitter lock and gold braiding. 2 hours, one stupid (empty!) squeezy bottle, one pretty serious hot glue gun burn on DS's hand, gold glitter strewn within a five mile radius, a headache the size of Mount Kilimanjaro and before you could say, "Ahoy, Matey!" we had a pirate chest. A pirate chest with glue coming out of the corners, a crooked foam skull or two, 7 red fake jewels placed around haphazardly, gold glitter coming off in waves...and two bits of gold braiding. A pirate chest which, two hours later, DH tells me, needs more hot glue....because the lock fell off.

This same afternoon DH got the pleasure of making a "decorate it yourself" watch kit which DD2 got. 2 hours, gobs of glue out of the useless squeeze bottle, stickers, random scraps of paper, and some very dodgy watch holes later and he and DD had their two watches. DH had it worse than I did, as there were no actual instructions included - so he kept squinting at the little line drawing on the box to try and figure it out. I figured he had a skill advantage over me - he's an engineer! I couldn't have been more wrong. An hour into it, I overheard him say, "Oh! The jewels go on the INSIDE!" after he and DD2 had spent, oh, an hour gluing the little fuckers onto the OUTSIDE, and mostly getting them stuck to the tabletop and their fingers.

Clearly, even attempting one of these fuck-it-up-yourself projects is an act of sheer determination and love. Not only do you have to fight the glue bottle, the glitter, the kid wielding the scissors and all the rest of it...but you then have to come up with a feasible explanation as to WHY your finished project looks nothing like the one on the box. So far the best we came up with is, "Well, at least it's original!"

Yesterday when we were unwrapping the presents I was oohing and aaahing over how cute these little kits were. My mind's eye could see me and my kids, basking in the afternoon Autumn sun, carefully making our little crafts. I imagined myself humming as we worked, content and happy in the knowledge that our masterpieces would be museum quality when they were done, and would outlast the end of time. Yeah. NO. Not only did I spend more time cursing than I did humming, but there was NO freakin' sun, either. It's pouring cats and dogs, DS spent 30 minutes whimpering from his burn...and the fucking lock on the stupid pirate chest did not stick.

The boxes all promise "hours of creative fun!" Fun?! For WHO, exactly? And the "hours" part of it? That's in the picking off cemented jewels off your floor with your fingernails and the cursing and the fighting and the wishing a large pit would swallow you up whole so you could stop fighting with the damn glue bottle and get this bloody project OVER WITH.

I think a better tag line for these kits would be, "Hours of creative blog fodder!" because that's about all these things are good for.

Originally I was going to write a blog post about the other gifts which I think deserve my scorn and irritation ... make-up. Yes, we are now the proud owners of at least 5 dozen (no, I'm not exaggerating) little pots of kids' make-up. Lip gloss I can handle...but mascara? BLUE mascara? Eye shadow, lipsticks, glitter glue which you're meant to put where, exactly?, and did I mention that there was also glitter mascara? So this post is not about the MAC store which you can now open in my house.

Nor is it about the Size 10-12 underwear that DS got.

It's about the fact that she-who-can-accomplish-everything....finally met her match. Scary overachiever girl...got beaten by a 6 inch black foam pirate chest. With gold braids!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

This is where you prove you love me

I was feeling a bit "harumph!" about not getting into the Top Ten for "Best Mommy Blog" in the Best of Blogs award...and then I noticed that I made it into the Top Ten for...wait for it...."Funniest Blog." I had to (pun intended) laugh at that one...me? funny? I actually think I'm a lot funnier in real life, but hey, I'm happy to go with it.

Anyway, people, prove you love me, okay? GO AND VOTE. You can vote once a day for the duration of the contest, and I'm WAY behind with a paltry 3% of the votes so far. Go on, make my day.



Pretty please?


Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Of late I've been reading a number of "Mommy Blogs" - having finally succumbed to that title myself - which are full of all the reasons why people's kids are great, fabulous, clever and all together too wonderful for words (unless you count the 3,000 words in yet another isn't-my-kid-fab post.) I like to think that here at emzeegee & the hungry three I'm a bit more honest about it all. Do I love and adore my kids? Absolutely! Do I think they are perfect? No. Generally speaking, while I will blog about them, it's not to say how utterly great they are.

However, it's their birthday week...and if a mother can't be super saccharine nice about her kids on their birthday, well...come on now. So without further ado, here is the official birthday blog post:

This week, on May 17th, the triplets turn seven years old. When they were babies, I met a woman whose triplets were in high school. At the time I found myself thinking, "We're never going to make it that far. Teenagers! Can you imagine?!" That woman's teenagers are now heading off to college, and my triplets are well and truly on the way to being pre-pre-pre teens. The attitude, the clothes, the "I totally know better than you do" hallmarks of the teenage years are fighting against the lovey-dovey, tickle-me-more, bubble baths of young childhood.

DD1 - You, my smiley girl, are perhaps my easiest and yet my most difficult child. You have spent most of your seven years smiling, laughing and jumping around with unabashed giddiness. We've always said that you march to the beat of your own drummer...but we were wrong about that. You would never, ever, EVER just march. You would dance, jump, swing, wrestle, spin and somersault to that drummer...and you would do it with so much enthusiasm and excitement that you would take the rest of us along with you.

Your life is not an easy one. You have to work harder to achieve things which your siblings seem to do with ease. You have to control your emotional impulses a lot more. You have to concentrate harder at staying on task, and you have to fight the demons within who tell you that you can't do something. Your world is a loud, distracting one and every day you fight to keep it under control, and often you don't manage that. This year you have learned to cope better with that chaos and noise, and it really shows in terms of all you have achieved. The Queen of the Monkey Bars reigns supreme both at school and at gymnastics, and your Dad and I could not be more proud...even if it means we all giggle at your endless bruises and scrapes.

Emotionally, you are the single most loving person I know - even more than your Dad, which is saying a lot! You always, ALWAYS have arms ready for a hug, hair ready for a ruffle, and you love people with a fierceness which is just truly remarkable. You feel all of life so strongly - there are no 'half measures' with you - it's the highest of the highs and (very rarely) the lowest of the lows. You are a person of simple things - which is not to say YOU are simple-minded. A person who grabs the biggest amount of happiness from the smallest, simplest things. A person who understands the value of a simple gesture like a hug or a hand drawn picture.

Alexis, at seven years old, I only hope you never grow out of your endless ability to love, and your eternally optimistic view of the world. I truly believe the world would be a much better place if only there were more people like you in it.

DS. Ahh, my crazy son-shine! He who struggles between having the brain of a boy much older than his years, but a heart still that of the gorgeous little boy you are. Because you are so smart, we all have an expectation that you are more mature than your years, but the reality of it is you need your love, your cuddles, and your being-a-kid time more than most. As our only son, I suppose there is a certain cultural expectation, too, that you will be our reliable one, our stable one, our one on whom we pin the responsibility of looking after your sisters. I have to say that this is a responsibility you take pretty seriously - you make sure they never get more dessert than you do! They drive you crazy, as only sisters can ... but just when I think you've had enough of this triplet business, you take the time to sit down and read a story to them.

You are so many things to me. You're the person I go to when I want (need?!) to tickle someone, who I know can give as well as he gets. You're the person who will always offer and give help when needed - either to me or to a friend in need. You are the person who keeps all of us on our toes, always needing to know more, see more, do more, ask more. Your constant quest for knowledge also means you have an unwavering belief in yourself - your self-confidence shines through with everything you attempt. You have your moments of frustration, but you don't let them get you down for too long.

Like your older sister, you are capable of huge amounts of love for other people. Your poor stuffed elephant Wuh-wee has been literally loved to death! All of us have been on the receiving end of one of your bone crushing hugs, and there are very few people who do not melt at the sight of those beautiful baby blue eyes. The eyes, and those hugs, basically mean you (like to think you can) get away with just about anything!

You're cheeky, clever, amusing and sometimes downright naughty - but then those are all the things which really define you. Foolish enough to get yourself intro trouble, you're also smart enough to talk your way out of it. My wish for you, Julian, as you turn seven - is that you remain able to revel in your academic ability, while never underestimating other people's abilities, too. Selfishly, I hope you never find giving your Mum a hug in public to be embarrassing (even though you've already told me you won't.)

DD2, my world-leader-in-training. From the time you were small, you made a huge impression on me, and everyone else! You have a hugely independent will - a force to be reckoned with. There are so many things about you which will hold you in good stead as you grow older. You are smart - smart enough to talk your way out of just about anything. You are resilient - even though you claim not to be, you're often the one who copes with the world's unfairness the best. You are demanding - you never let anyone get away with anything, and you demand greatness of yourself as well. You have perseverance - choosing to follow a "career" in dance has always been on your agenda, and you've never strayed from that goal, even when other options looked more "cool" or glamorous.

From your days in daycare, teachers have always told me how well-liked you are, how other children look to you for guidance, and how someday you will grow up and achieve leadership greatness. In my house, though, you're just my beautiful, delicious little girl whose voice always needs to be heard. Your need for attention is often amusing, and sometimes frustrating - but we always know what a huge part you play in our family dynamic. You are often the voice of reason, the person who will make sure that everything is fair and that turns are taken and that nobody is left without their portion. I admire you enormously for that skill. A lesser person would worry only about themselves.

If I were to label you, I would say you are the classic achiever - the stereotypical beautiful Prom Queen who is not only getting straight A's but also has millions of friends and interests and the person who everyone likes. In your short life you've already begun to win awards - for Yiddish and for your leadership skills - but with me the award you hold is that of Cutest Tush! That, I think, reflects what I think about you ... that while you may be so many great things, you also maintain your sense of humour and often let me drive you crazy with all my carrying on, even though you find me embarrassing. (Although just between you and me, I know you secretly like it.)

Emotionally, you are my drama queen - the one for whom life is unfair, for whom other people are mean, and "nobody" ever listens to you. We both know that none of that is true, if for the one reason that you would NEVER let any of those things happen. You are, by nature, a bit of a pessimist - you'll often say your school day was "horrible" but then take an hour to tell me how fun and exciting it all was. I was lying if I said I didn't sometimes worry about you, and wish you took things just that little bit less seriously. I suppose the old Control Freak gene is alive and well in you.

So that, dear Claire (or Kiki as you prefer), is my 7th birthday wish for you - that you remain the capable, confident, loving, high achieving girl that you are ... but that once in a while you remember to just let go and have a little bit of fun (and that you let your dear old Mum give your tush a pinch now and again, no matter how embarrassing.)

The bathtime photos in this post were taken a few days ago...and looking at them makes me so happy and yet so sad. Sad because I know it's probably the very last of the bathtub photos I'll ever take - the kids are growing too big for that bathtub, and their growing body awareness means they won't want to bathe together for much longer. Sad, too, because their faces are so happy and shiney ... and I know that soon enough they will grow up and the weight of the world will rest on those shoulders. Happy because I am confident that DH and I are raising capable, responsible, downright adorable human beings ... and happy because even when they drive me crazy, their mere presence in my life has improved it immeasurably.

Happy 7th Birthday Lexi, Jules & Kiki!

My First Child

The beautiful girl you see in this photo is none other than my eldest neice, Heather. Her birthday is on the same day as my kids - May 17th. Considering my total adoration of her, I thought I had better write a blog post for her birthday, too...(kids one coming soon.) Stands to reason she's older so she gets the first post!

When Heather came into this world, I had no patience for babies. To be fair I had no interest in them, having had little or nothing to do with them up to that point. At that point, my sister and I didn't have a fabulous relationship - we got along and loved one another, but there was no great connection. I was in high school and she was off getting married and buying housey stuff and having babies - miles away, emotionally, from the life I was leading. So when my sister announced she was pregnant, I remember being happy about it, but not, you know, all that excited.

As her pregnancy progressed, I started to take more interest in it all - in no small part thanks to my sister, who worked really hard to keep me involved. She asked my opinions about names, begged doctors to give her extra ultrasounds so I could come along, and so on. Gradually I think I began to warm to this idea of a kid coming into the world. The night Heather was born, I was at home in my parent's house, watching an episode of Northern Exposure. I don't remember all the details, but the gist of it was that my sister was in labour and we all had to head to the hospital (or something..this is a bit hazy for me.)

I remember seeing Heather in her plastic crib thing at the hospital and thinking, "This is it? This screaming wrinkly thing?" Needless to say I wasn't exactly impressed...but I did give an opinion as to the spelling of her middle name. Poor Heather was born at the start of my hippie phase...so she got saddled with a crazy-spelled middle name (it's Caryn...pronounced "Karen.")

As months wore on, and she grew bigger, this kid managed to worm her way into my heart. I spent more time with her, played with her, babysat her. On Heather I learned how to feed a baby, change a diaper, do up car seat buckles, draw stick figures reliably and read the same Dr Suess book 14 times while making it sound interesting every single time. She was my training ground for the children I would have someday...although to be fair at this point I didn't know that, having no expectation of having children at all. I made loads of mistakes with her, too...once I took her to visit some friends (in Century City) and then drove her home 45-odd minutes (to North Hollywood), having left a full baby bag (with house keys) sitting on the sidewalk outside my friends' house. I waited an hour (with a screaming, starving baby in my arms and no food or keys) before I just chucked her back in the car and went to get the damn bag. She survived.

Unfortunately for Heather and I, I went to college in another state, and then ended up here in Australia. However thorough those formative years, she and I developed what I like to think of as a friendship ... because I adore her, but I'm smart enough not to try and mother her. Her own Mom does a perfectly good job of that. Although I will admit to trying to get in a bit of motherly-type advice (which she'd never listen to if it came from her Mom, but she might listen to if it came from me.) These days we stay in touch the modern way - via the occasional email, my openly spying on her on facebook, a few Skype calls (where we just make stupid faces at one another and laugh), and the like. It isn't enough for me, truly. I wish I could watch her grow up from a hugs-length view rather than the birds-eye view I have now.

That being said, I still feel I know her well. Heather has a smile which lights up a room, a wicked sense of the ridiculous, and a scary amount of brain power. That doesn't mean things come easy to her - on the contrary she works very, very hard to achieve the things she does. As she has gotten older and more and more of her personality has revealed itself, my sister has often commented that she is exactly like I was at that age - which is to say an outspoken, scarily smart kid who can be equal parts fabulous and frustrating. Being like that didn't seem to hurt me too much, so I'm guessing she is going to grow up and be just fine. She'll find her own way, make her own mistakes, and learn her own lessons...and I like to think I'll get to be a part of all that, too.

I love you, Heather Feather. Happy Birthday.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Late Breaking News....

....Famous Cupcakes, in Los Angeles (right near my parents, actually), will deliver a bouquet of Passover cupcakes! Let's just consider the two problems with this:

1. It's now 4 weeks past Passover.

2. Cupcakes, being made with, ya know, FLOUR and other RISING agents, are totally nishta-Passover.

Other than that, you know, they're kinda cute.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

What's the Name of his Other Leg?

I was at the gym the other day, at around lunchtime. Apparently this is the time of day when it's most quiet, so a lot of the gym staff do their own workouts then. I saw my assigned personal trainer standing at the water fountain. It seemed like there was something strange about one of his legs. It took me a minute or two to figure it out. Trust ME to get assigned the personal trainer who...

...has a titanium leg.

I find myself wanting to ask him if it's name is "Smith."*

* Watched Mary Poppins lately?

Ewww, Ick and Gross!

This past summer I noticed that DD1 had a small growth on her toe. At the time I thought it was a little scabby abrasion, because she's spent the entire summer in flip-flops. She's also highly accident-prone, so I assumed she scraped it on something. It bled rather a lot and looked rather gross and it was just ICKY. Eventually, when the damn thing wouldn't leave, I realised it was a wart.

*collective shudder* Eeewwww!

Anyway we used the topical stuff, but like most things we got excited about it for a week and then couldn't be bothered doing it again. I figured it would go away. Yeah. No. Now she has a second one, on the other foot (strangely, on the same toe!). A third one has appeared on her finger. I'm sensing a bit of a pattern here, aren't you? Those buggers are multiplying.

I took her to the doctor, and basically ordered him to freeze them off. He did as told (good, Doctor! sit, Doctor! roll over, Doctor!). She screamed like...well....like she was dropped into a vat of hot oil with nothing for company but some highly flammable clothes. A couple of seconds after he stopped applying the freezing stuff (what is it, anyway? dry ice?) she sniffled, wiped her nose on my shirt, and recovered.

He then told me that freezing is not an 'indicative treatment' in kids under 10. When I asked why, he said, "Because it can take up to 10 applications to work, and because of the trauma." "Trauma? What trauma?" "The trauma it causes the child, and the parent." "I'm not traumatised, and she's fine. What trauma?" "Okay, well, the trauma it caused ME. Put it this way, I'm never doing that again!"

LOL. DD1 managed to out-scream a doctor with a bajillion years experience working with kids.

He suggested we go see a bloody expensive paediatric skin specialist to have them removed and/or treated. "Or," says traumatised doctor, "You can try banana peel." "Banana peel?" "Yes, it has anti-wart properties."

I laughed all the way home. And then I Googled it. Who knew?!

I made the appointment with the money sucker skin doc, but there is a 4 week wait to see him. In the meantime, we're all eating a heck of a lot of bananas.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

History Lesson

"Mum, did you know there was once a King of China, and his name was Mousey Tongue?"

"What? *light dawns* Oh, do you mean Mao Zedong?"

"Yes! That's what I said! MOUSEY TONGUE! And he was King for 10 years!"

Friday, May 2, 2008

Wrapped in Cotton Wool

This is going to get long. Bear with me. (Maybe get a cup of tea first. And some biscuits. Get some for me while you're at it?)

As we are all aware, I'm not all that big on other people's kids (OPK's). I just don't like them all that much, and can list on one hand those kids who I like enough to tolerate for more than 10 minutes (nieces and nephews aside, because they are exempt by virtue of being related to me, and thus fabulous.) The kids are having a birthday party in a few weeks, and I asked them to each nominate 3 friends (other than cousins, etc) they wanted to invite. Lest you think I am being cheap, let me just say that 3x3+3 = 12, which is about as much as I can handle, activity and patience wise. For a 7 year old's birthday party, 12 kids is enough. Bear in mind, the trio go to a small school - their class is only made up of 14 kids. Over the years our kids have mentioned that, of that 14, there are some who they don't get along with, and some who they do. Because, you know, this is perfectly normal - to like some and not others.

So the kids drew up their lists of invitees - and not surprisingly, some of them were not in their grade. Friends from ballet, cousins, family friends, friends in older grades, friends who go to other schools...you get the idea. In the end they (collectively) only chose 5 friends from their grade. FIVE. I was a little disorganised on the invite front, and it was getting late. So I printed a bunch out and stuffed them in my handbag. A couple of days later, we were wandering around at pick up time a bit later than usual. The kids asked if they could give out their invites. I noticed that 3 of the 5 invited kids were around, so I let them pass out the invites.

In doing so, I allegedly committed a crime.

I hurt a kid's feelings.

One kid (one who was not invited) saw the three invites go out. He approached me and asked me what it was about, and I said, "It's for an activity at home." He wanted to know where his envelope was, and I just basically nicely told him that it was a private thing, and that was that. I gathered up my kids and left. A minute later his mother comes running up to me, asking me what "the commotion" was about. DD1, bless her heart, pipes up, "It's our birthday invitations!"

Yeah. BUSTED. Big time.

Long story short the Mom started asking loads of questions about it - date, time, place, etc. I had no choice but to then invite this kid, right? She made the assumption he would be invited, and I totally wimped out and let her believe that. She's had DS over for a lot of play dates...so I freakin' caved in. I assured her that her kid will get his invite the next day. We parted on good terms, but I will admit to feeling really annoyed that I had basically capitulated so easily.

I get home and the phone rings. Said Mom calls to TELL ME OFF for the hurt I have caused her son by not giving him an invitation. She literally tells me how her kid spent the ride home crying and wailing and being upset about what happened. She tells me how she had to promise him a whole bunch of stuff, to make up for the fact that he didn't get an invitation. She tells me how it was rude and inappropriate of me to give the invites out at school...and that she thought it was necessary that she tell me, so that I know what I did wrong. She then goes further to say SHE would NEVER not invite the whole class to her kid's party.

Ummm...yeah. That's why your parties of full of screaming, hysterical, out of control children running around like crazed drug induced maniacs coming off a bad trip. And, here's food for thought, lady - maybe, just maybe, the fact that you give in to your kid's every whim is the reason why he's an out of control, spoiled brat. A brat which my kid doesn't want to have at his party. A brat who my kid ASKED me to please stop sending him over there for play dates because he couldn't stand the noise and the chaos any more.

Clearly, she was trying to piss me off...because then she says, "AS A MOTHER, you should know that when your child feels hurt, YOU feel it too."


This is where, for me, it gets a bit hairy. Did I do the wrong thing by handing out invites publicly? Maybe. Do I really think that this deserved a telling off? No. I am still finding it hard to believe this woman had the balls to do this.

What is this world coming to, that we cannot teach our kids that life is not always fair? Life is full of little disappointments. There will be parties they won't be invited to. Tests they will not pass. Dates they won't enjoy. Food that will smell better than it tastes. Dresses which aren't flattering. Boys who won't like you back. Applications that will be rejected. Dream jobs that will turn out to be horrible. Life isn't always full of blue skies and birds flying by and soft music playing in the background. At the end of the day, her kid will survive not being invited to this party. To put it bluntly: KID, SHIT HAPPENS. I don't understand this modern parenting culture of wrapping kids up in cotton wool...protecting them from every little disappointment.

On the party front, I don't understand why I have to invite kids who my kids DON'T like. Kids who they don't play with or interact with. Kids who have done nothing for my kids other than, you know, exist in the same classroom. There have been times when my kids have not been invited to things - parties, play dates, whatever. This actually happens to us way more than in most families... because someone in their class will invite over only one DD, or just DS. Maybe that's why I believe in the "give it to them straight" philosophy - because it's an issue we've dealt with numerous times. Still, I don't think this mother was doing her kid any favours - she won't be there to cushion the blow of every one of life's disappointments, will she?

Opinions? Are modern parents molly coddling our kids too much? Or should we be preserving their childhoods (because let's face it, childhood is getting shorter and shorter) and protecting them from life's little disappointments? Go on, give it to me straight.

Do you see what I see?!

OMG! Look!!

(No, I didn't win anything, and no, I'm not a finalist or anything (yet). But HEY, that's my name. Over there. In print...okay, web print, which is not actual print...but it's still me!)