Friday, July 3, 2015

On the House

One minute we're enjoying a movie and Suddenly we're Building ...

Now that Pinkster and I watch 'some' of the same movies, I came across and old favourite of mine starring Jennifer Garner and Mark Rafallo: Suddenly Thirty (Also known as 13 Going On 30).

It's about a typical preteen girl who wants more than anything to be grown up and popular. Thanks to some magic wishing dust, she wakes up the next morning; a 30-year-old, successful magazine editor, friends with Madonna and dating a famous hockey player. Terrified, she asks her personal assistant track down Matt, her best childhood friend, to try and figure out what happened. 

It's a cute and engaging story with a very self-empowering message at it's core, so it ticked all my boxes.

Pinkster loved it: She loved the music (there's a wonderful dance party sequence to Michael Jackson's Thriller), she loved the story, also the idea of stuffing tissues down your top, but most of all she loved  'Jenna's Dream House'.

Jenna's very best friend Matt, gives her a dream house he's made himself. He's included a miniature of her and everything she wants for when she's grown up including her favourite pop-star sat on her sofa.

Suddenly this has become our school holiday project.
Off to Bunnings hardware once again to buy balsa (craft) wood, PVA glue and teeny tiny nails, although we soon discovered cut down tooth picks work much better.

Pinkster's Dream House - a Work in Progress

As you'd expect, Pinkster is as tough an architect as she is an art director: she wanted a fridge with opening doors and shelves inside (!!) - 'sweetie, they just don't make hinges that small!'  (the appliance is only 4x1.5cm)

I'm quite proud of the bathroom vanity and concealed cistern toilet which is a replica of the one we had designed during the Flat Out apartment renovation (feel free to click the link and compare).

But she hasn't assigned all tasks to me; she made Snowy her cat of the future..

I'm quite proud of her ingenuity of design here; putting two of the tiniest pom-poms together on a toothpick and gluing on a bead for the nose. We added another half toothpick, poked though and trimmed and painted the ends of those to make Snowy's ears.

Later in the week we added some essentials to the living areas, Harry Potter on TV (her new favourite), some books and an Adirondack lounger for the conservatory.  We've borrowed some garden accessories from the Sylvanian families (who may end up moving in).

We still have to make some figurines, using photograph cut-out faces.  She can't decide if Thor will be one or the "Mystery Boy" from school she has a crush on. Unless the next school newsletter includes Mystery Boy's photo from the recent eisteddfod, it may just have to be Thor. Or perhaps Harry Potter - although she says he's not funny enough to be a good boyfriend. Funny is her romantic priority, then kindness then good looks. That's my girl.

She's promised to be more hands on on this project and make all the soft furnishings and help paint and decorate.

We'll see..

Thursday, July 2, 2015


No one does Avoidance like me; forget false modesty - I totally rock at it.
Talk about your serial procrastinator - I can really pump up the 'pro' in pro-crastination and my typical delay tactics usually involve power-tools.
I will build a fence or paint the house or landscape the garden before I get on with doing what I should be doing to earn a living.

But no more.
I've made a career changing list.
I wrote it down on my Kiki-K weekly-planner last night which I then dutifully broke down into daily tasks:
  1.  Notes to read through from my photography course;
  2. Canon software to load on my laptop for my new camera (actually I've had it quite a few months now);
  3. Image editing software to download and practice;
  4. Edits to my Linked In profile because it's a shambles that makes a mockery of my claim to 'creating clean compelling copy to tight dealines' (there is nothing clean or compelling about my Linked In profile) and don't even talk to me about deadlines; mine are floating bits of mist wafting around in the fog of my motivation.
  5. Work on my novel which is in the home stretch (and must NOT remain there for another six months - or else!) What?
  6. Add some blog posts, (if I intend Rugrat Rodeos as a showcase my prolificity in writing and ideas generation, then maybe future online editors should be able to see more recent posts than er, last April?)

So today I had a plan.
A clear cut and productive plan to clip the jumper leads on my (not-so-much-lately) brilliant career.

What's that I hear? The council guys scraping the bins around, so after reviewing my plan, I nip outside to quickly bring them inside the gate.  (the bins, not the guys - friendly as they are)
While swapping the bins over I bump into my new neighbour.
'What are you doing today', she asks.
'Oh I've made a list' I say crisply, nodding; 'Working through that, you know..lots to do... 
Hey would you like to come in for a quick coffee?'
I insisted on making her two.
After she left I finished putting the bins in the side passage and then I noticed the lawn!
Had it only been two weeks?
Putting the mower and the broom away I looked at my watch in horror.. what about my list?
But look, now it's lunchtime...
Thanks to Mister Frenchie I scored a new office chair. A very cheerful Kermit green glossy chair. But now I'm thinking: it would look very much nicer with a brighter seat cushion; a bit of colourful padding, maybe some retro, 70's style psychedelia. I could just whip over to Ikea... wouldn't take that long...

I have made an art form of procrastination.

Every time I have work to do that may actually eventually generate cash income, I feel suddenly compelled to build something, or clean the oven, the house, the yard, the pets beds, or even the pets themselves... I have very clean pets. Ooh that reminds me I need to take the dog's clean bedding out of the dryer.

So last week I made a gate!
I couldn't possibly get going on my writing, reading notes, or playing with my camera equipment if every time I stopped for a coffee I had to look out of the kitchen window at that monstrosity my neighbours called a gate.
You see it wasn't even entirely my own gate.
But it was a rusted  patched up cyclone wire mess hanging off an even more rusted tubular frame. It's been bothering me for four years!  An complete eyesore, clinging limply onto a post that is leaning over so badly it looks like it was trying to divorce the smelly old wall it was attached to.  How could I be expected to be creative when that was my coffee-break view?

So I pressed the pause button, yet again, on 'The List' and headed off to Bunnings hardware for pickets and brackets and basically any other hardware that took my fancy. (There are lot of jobs to do around this old house.)
I had a few return visits to the hardware store, for touch up paint and one more picket.
Then I right into the painting of it.
It looks lovely. Really.

My four hour extreme gate makeover*
 Well at least I've written two posts today, I've packed away my sewing projects, tidied the office, put away the filing, and shelved the psychedelic cushion idea for another day.

I will NOT give in to the urge to redecorate my office; I don't need an office, if all I do in it is tidy and decorate. I will not offer to fix the neighbour's fence so it looks as good as the gate. Not necessary. And they're renting from an awful stingy landlord anyway..

Avoidance stops here!
At least I've done two things from my list: two out of five isn't so bad is it?

high saddle clamp

*It is a damned shame I neglected to take a before shot, because this was one fast, sexy and easy-peasy gate makeover - where the four hours included shopping.   I used 7 pickets, 21 saddle clamps and one can of Dulux Ironstone Spray enamel. and of course a bunch of screws.

Most appropriately I'm joining Amy's Anti-Procrastination linky

Monday, June 22, 2015

Firing Questions

Seven-year-olds can fire questions faster than semi-automatic assault rifles... 
But this time, my oh-god-it's-not even six-thirty-no-coffee response hit pay-dirt..


The interrogation started like this:
"Mummy, what is your favourite food in the whole world?"
No brainer: 
'What's your second favourite food?'
Fortunately for my caffeine deprived state, another no brainer; 
'Your grand-mère's Pastillia'
'What's THAT!?
I'm on auto pilot - my stomach is doing the talking; 
'Its a traditional Moroccan pigeon pie except grand-mère makes it with chicken - it's delicious  and amazing.'
She shrugs. 
''Ok. What's your third favourite food?'
My stomach riffs on the theme, thinking of Bordeaux and the other lovely food we enjoy at my mother-in-law's table. Dropping a capsule in the Nespresso machine I say, 'Saucisson.'
'What's your fourth favourite food?'
My stomach still dreaming of Bordeaux takes another pass from my brain; 'pâté'
I'm beginning to wonder how long this line of questioning can possibly go on, but my brain leans in towards the coffee aroma in anticipation.

But by the time I take my first grateful sip of coffee, she's wandered over to her homework book on the dining table and is distracted by some math equations.
'Mummy How do you spell multipleoccasions'
Caffeine now skipping gaily through my scull is shouting time to get up everybody and jabbing it's delicious fingers at my synapses.
'Do you mean multiplication?'
She looks at me, slaps the top of her head and giggling, pulls a face.
Random questions. Lots of them. All of the time
The most enjoyable and entertaining questions are the random ones. They can take off in the oddest directions often winding up on another map entirely. One minute you're noticing a table someone's thrown out onto the curb and within moment's you've covered topics like recycling, poverty and social services, even the government's stance on deforestation and it's impact on the environment.
We got into another discussion on the latter when I asked her not to use sooo much toilet paper (we also touched on plumbing with that too). She told me that she wanted to be an environmentalist when she grew up after that. Not a plumber - no way! I think there's more money in plumbing, but not having bills or credit card statements she can afford to be totally altruistic.

Mummy, how do you spell ---?
Now that she wants to be an author, she wears my nerves thread-bare with 'how do you spell--?' questions.
She'll be writing another book and the how-do-you-spells will go on and on, through cooking dinner, while I'm vacuuming, feeding the pets, hanging the washing on the line. She's relentless - she'll keep it up for hours.

Well I hope she does become an author, rather than a vet, or an environmentalist, or a zoologist, a director, a superhero or a pop-star because I intend relating these stories to the media at her first big book launch.

But this weekend I hit pay-dirt indeed with her favourite food cross-examination: she railroaded her father into taking her to the Sunday fishmarket!
for Sunday lunch we had fresh lobster, prawns, muscles...they even found saussison and pâté!

sharing the linky love

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Imperfect Parent

She-who-no- longer-worships-Pink-In-favour-Of-Animal-Prints (lets just call her Little Cheetah because that's her latest animal and fashion obsession) has decided that Mummy needs a reward chart; to keep her on track in this parenting gig.

I am breaking rule after rule, making a multitude of rookie mistakes and well, generally behaving (especially around bed-time) more like the teenage babysitter than the mummy person.

And the films I watch with her; the M rated films!  Yes it's true. As long as there's no blood, gore dismembering or gratuitous swearing or sex scenes, she's watching them with me:
Thor 1&2, The Avengers (she's a big fan of The Hulk), Suddenly 30, While You Were Sleeping, and tonight we watched Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen.

So I am to make a reward chart like hers, with sad faces for crimes such as -
- leaving her school bag at home,
- hitting her in the head with the hair brush,
- pulling too hard brushing her hair
- and tonight's crime: exciting the child right before bed.

We'd just finished watching Lindsay Lohan in Confessions Of A Teenage Drama Queen and she was dancing around the living room. I had this sudden urge to show her what real dancing was.

I turned  the final dance scene of Dirty Dancing;.  I gave her a quick background about the 17-y-o girl who'd been taught to dance by the nice boy everyone thought was a not-nice-boy and how they had fallen in love but never could execute "the lift" even with lots of practice.

So at five minutes to bed-time we've created a dance party and even the orange dog has joined in.  We shrieked, we sang along, we cheered when they made the perfect "lift". We had a ball, and my girl was so excited that after all their mistakes and trying that they got it in the end.

As we cought our breath, I explained the my Little Cheetah the basic rule of parenting; how parents are not supposed to over-excite their children before bed. Calm bed-time routine etcetera, etcetera.
She grinned at me and said "Oh-oh!"

So then we came up with the idea of a reward chart for me.

<sigh> In fairness, I'm getting better at getting her to school on time (even if I have to make a rare trip home for the school bag and sneak it onto her peg while she's in class) the lunch box is packed and she has shiny polished shoes and some sort of hair-do every day.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Persona non grata


“In a show of our good manners and breeding we are extending you a  dinner invitation (albeit indirectly and as an after-thought).  

Really hoping you can’t make it… “

When I found out that the dinner invitation to Eurostars’ wasn't even firsthand but came through our friends who were coming to stay with us.  :0/  We decided we were busy that night.
(Had a pile of shoelaces to shampoo actually)

Who asks someone over for dinner who lives under 20klm away via a family in Europe?? Is it just me or does that just scream of "oh well I guess we're obliged to include you, but maybe you'll get the message anyway and NOT accept..."

Both Mr Frenchie and I had worked with the husband over several years and two continents and we kept in touch. We all travelled out to Australia around the same time, and I’d welcomed her to Sydney with open arms, genuine sympathy and a much needed ear; it was such a culture shock for this princess; the transition from Holland Park London to Malooloobah Queensland. But despite the friendly support, seems I will always remain persona non-grata to Princess Eurostar.

Then some more ex-colleagues came down under for a visit, and the Euro Stars wanted to have them to dinner at the mansion.  So they were invited.
But ‘Awkward Much?’ The dinner party would be during their stay with us and after a heavily pregnant pause, eventually it was extended to include ourselves.
It didn’t come directly, but through our visiting colleagues after they’d been staying a week. Kind of a case of;  ‘oh why not ask those two if they can make it as well.’

Why not indeed. Like I said; many dirty shoelaces to attend to.

Well the last time I’d seen Princess Eurostar it was at another ex-collegue’s cocktail party. She was making sociable noises in my direction that night.

That is until I found myself in a Mr Darcy eavesdrops on Mrs Bennet moment.

Someone had asked me how my book was going and I ended up in an animated discussion with the hostess about my writers block of the moment; which happened to be my difficulties with writing sex-scenes.

Euro-princess dropped her mask on the floor; her beatific smile turned to a look of someone whose Louboutins  have just sunk into a steaming pile of dog poo, and she shot off like a racing greyhound.
(she's certainly built for it)

And while the hostess and I really bonded (and I got some great sexpirational  tips from the saucy minx) Eurostar kept her distance the rest of the night has continued giving me a wide berth ever since.

I am the social equivalent of a steaming pile of dog pooh, apparently.  That's Cool.


This clip is for all the lovely genuine and supportive friends I’ve made and kept not just from my years in Europe but also since my arrival down under, who still like me very much  just as I am. 
And that setniment runs both ways xx

Thursday, March 26, 2015

mummy's fall back

No it's not using Gags -I'm talking about the old Jo Frost Super Nanny reward chart.

Rewards Program is still one of my most popular pages, I do keep adding reward charts and elements for you to make your own, and this week I've added a couple more.

At home here we are struggling with Homework: not doing it; grizzling about it; and often throwing tantrums because of it.  It seems the novelty of Big School has worn off by Year 2 and now every thing's just a drag.

But aside from a chronic homework reluctance my small person still cant get a handle on letting me use the phone in peace.
I still can't turn on the taps in the shower without being summoned from down stairs by hysterical yelling about oh so very urgent matters like "Mummy! April wont let me pat her - it's not fair! Bad CAT!!"
I'm expected to jump out of the shower, trail water all over the carpet, come down stairs in a bathrobe thinking the kitchen's on fire or something only to have to tell her;" it's nothing personal-don't get upset" and "pat the dog instead." and "please stop screaming while I'm in the shower!"

So out come the reward charts again...

and I'm blue-tacking them high enough that little hands can't modify the results. Yes I've experienced a the odd experiment in cheating.

The one above has sad faces that get coloured-in after tantrums, cheek or serious bouts of mutiny. These have to be covered with good behaviour stickers before the chart is completed and the negotiated reward is due.

These charts work like magic for me; I hope you have the same results. And as always, let me know any behavioural problems you may be struggling with and I'll attempt to illustrate them for you. Likewise if youre a Dad I would be happy to draw some Daddy versions.


Monday, March 23, 2015

The Tooth, the Whole Tooth and nothing but the TOOTH!

Is it more important to 'Keep It Real' with our kids, on all levels? Or is it a healthy part of growing up and developing emotional intelligence to foster a little 'make-believe'?

Hmmm. <thoughtful look on face>

In my previous rant I talked about the difficulties I've had in managing conflictual information She-Who-No-Longer-Worships-Pink has been given through her peers and their parents or siblings.

If you read that, you'd have to be wondering what I told her about the tooth fairy, without calling her bestie’s Dad a liar-liar pants on fire?

If you didn’t, first of all; SHAME ON YOU!! Secondly I'll be generous enough to give you a brief re-cap: 

" ..her best friend told her that her father said the tooth fairy wasn’t real. She'd only just lost her first tooth and was still in raptures over the teeny-tiny letter she found with a coin under her pillow. Then her best friend’s dad comes over all; ‘let’s stick to facts-kiddo’ Pinkster was so upset she was hyperventilating through her tears to the point, I thought I might have to give her some Ventolin.

But I sat her in my lap and calmed her down a bit and I said "sweetie, very few people believe in fairies and that's a bit sad." I explained to her, If you don’t believe in something it becomes pretty hard to see it - especially since you don’t even look. And I agreed her besties parent’s must put the money under her pillow precisely because they didn’t believe the fairy would come. I suppose a fairy seeing money already under the pillow would just think another fairy got mixed up on her route and did one of hers. (She-Who-No-Longer-Worships-Pink loved that idea – fairies schedules getting mixed up)

I told her there are lots of things lots of people believe in that no-one has never seen; Like angles and miracles. I was about to mention God, Allah, Jehovah etc. then pulled myself up short of a long discussion on theology.

So I said it’s perfectly alright to have your own beliefs about mystical things and you don’t have to accept other peoples beliefs. Or challenge them.

Then I sat her down to watch Fairy Tale-a True Story. Now her imagination is thankfully, fully restored and she still sees wonder in Santa Clause and believes in Angels.

She asked me if I really believe in fairies. And I think I do. (especially after watching that film – which is based on a true story) By my own arguments who’s to say they’re not real because we haven’t witnessed them ourselves? There are many species we’re still discovering and the tiny ones are usually the most defensive, well camouflaged and therefore hardest to see.   Maybe they just need a bit of help with the logistics of coin/tooth exchanging and note writing.

  But Don’t Take my word for it..

I’ve already done some research previously about the importance of imagination and fantasy in children’s’ cognitive development, but If you would like to read something more serious (written by a more credible individual than yours truly ) with this Wall Street Journal article: 'The Power of Magical Thinking'
I hit pay-dirt. And it specifically mentions the tooth fairy.

“It is important but not necessary for parents to encourage fantasy play in their children, says Dr. Woolley. If the child already has an imaginary friend, for instance, parents should follow their children's lead and offer encouragement if they are comfortable doing so, she says. Similarly, with Santa, if a child seems excited by the idea, parents can encourage it.” Jacqueline Woolley, Psychologist and professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

Well thanks a bunch Dr Wooley, always nice to have confirmation from an expert that you’re not stuffing up right royally as a parent.

So what other potential parental failing can I obsess over now?

toothless girl - image credit 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Birds Bees and Tooth Fairies

Why do they call it The Birds and The Bees? I’ve always  wondered ; must Google it sometime. 

Anyway my little precious; She-Who-No-Longer-Worships-Pink also no longer worships boys.   
Not that she actually worshiped them exactly, but she did have a couple of crushes on a couple of boys in Kindy and Year1.

But not now. “Not ever” she says.

Beyond our own changed family situation I think it’s a whole bunch of influences: First there was Jon Smith dumping Pocahontas (after she saved his arse) as soon as their relationship got geographically challenging. Then when she became convenient again; suddenly it’s all about him and his ambitions..

Then there’s Thor telling Jane Foster, 'I’ll just be back in a jiffy', before immediately destroying the Bi-frost and going AWOL for two years.

Finally there’s the whole Frozen scandal, where Ana’s fiancée, who turns out only proposed as a social climbing exercise, tries to murder both her and her sister. 

So now when any boy shows my girl attention, she says she will "fart in his general direction!" She is a huge fan of Monty Python humour; but she’s deadly serious about weaponising her farts as a male deterrent.

She announced the other day that she never wants to have children too. 
I asked her why and she said "nappies, and wiping poohey bottoms - Eeeeeyeeewww".  Clearly I’ve voiced way too much on this topic in my attempts to encourage her to wipe her own after number twos. 
Then she flawed me with this:

“And I don’t want to squeeze a baby out of my bottom either!’

Who told her that?!! 
It wasn’t me. 
I didn’t, in fact, squeeze her out of my anything because of a medical emergency so I’m certainly no expert in that area. Ask me about Epidurals then I’m your gal.

I did tell her baby’s grow in mummy’s tummies and that’s a wonderful thing; talking to them, feeling them grow, dance about and throw punches. Pinkster loves my stories about when she lived in my tummy and how much dancing she did in there.
But when she asked how she got out of my tummy, I told her; ‘when it’s time for a baby to be born, you go to hospital and the baby Doctor gets your baby out'. We are on a need-to-know basis here.

But apparently it was someone at school who brought up the Squeezing out of Bottom thing. 

This is something I’ve come to realise, especially after the whole tooth fairy, Santa thing – that each parent tells their kids a bit more, a bit less and sometimes something completely different. 

She-Who-No-Longer-Worships-Pink was in tears the first time her best friend told her that her father said the tooth fairy wasn’t real. She'd only just lost her first tooth and was still in raptures over the teeny-tiny letter she found with a coin under her pillow. Then her best friend’s dad comes over all; ‘let’s stick to facts-kiddo’, and I’m left dealing with the fall-out.

Sometimes I guess 'other parents' give their older children age appropriate information that is duly passed on to younger siblings with quite a bit less discernment for the age appropriateness of the content.  What can you do?
I’m comfortable with what I tell Pinkster, I’m not saying I’m right or wrong, just comfortable that I’ve sought and been given good advice from books and psychologists.

I was a year older than she was before I was told that babies grow from a seed inside their mummies tummies. That  satisfied my curiosity and held off more tricky questions until I was in my teens. Kids are more with-it these days with more access to information; exposed through various media to more adult themes. 
Like Monty Python? Or Thor? Oops.  But I still say Disney movies and characters peddle more adult themes than Marvel or John Cleese any day. 

Incidentally I don’t let her watch Holy Grail in its entirety, she’s just mad about The Knights Who Say Ni demanding a shrubbery. Another favourite  is the castle of Frenchies who mercilessly pelt king Arthur and his knights with Livestock. 

But speaking of Adult Themes; Dr Phil has some very good advice on age appropriate discussions about the Birds And the Bees. 

As for relationships, I don’t think I’ll encourage or even pursue She-Who-No-Longer-Worships-Pink ’s aversion to boyfriends at this age. 
I’m ok that she’s not boy-crazy and I’m certain ‘that’ will come and so far she seems to be sussing out the situation just fine on her own.

You may be wondering what I told her about the tooth fairy, without calling her bestie’s Dad a liar-liar pants on fire?   I dont want to leave you hanging, but that's one for next week.

Joining the linky...