Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tough day at the office

Tough week actually, of a tough month. Ok I don’t like to moan, but have you ever tried to keep your house magazine perfect while wrangling a toddler and a dog? (that actually equates to two toddlers if you hadn’t already realised)Oh and the open inspections are NOT on crèche days.

Whoever it was who listed ‘selling house and moving’ as one of the most stressful things to put on a marriage; I wonder were they talking about having to do that with ankle-biters?

Ok Buddy doesn’t bite, but he trips-up exceptionally well when you’re rushing. Nevertheless, just when I thought I was getting a grip on it all, I had cause to remember just how much fun Gastroenteritis isn’t.

We are moving in exactly ten days, and I’m not clearing out closets nor am I organising a much needed garage sale. Instead, I find myself swabbing the decks, ferrying toxic waste directly to the outside bins and washing my hands every five minutes (the skin is actually washing off my palms). All the while listening to my daughter’s farts sound more and more like an old pull-chain-cistern flushing. SWOOSH  “thar she blows...”

I thought almost three years on, I was over the clothing changes (tops and bottoms) and stripped beds, hitting double digits, but apparently I was wrong. And it’s gone on for four days, until finally her little peach of a bottom seems to have finally said ‘enough’.

But the episode has taken its toll not only on mummy’s sanity but her efficiency. 

As I was about to pour soy milk over my Vodka tonight, I reflected on the tough day I’d had at the office.

I spent my morning trying to stuff more banana’s into the small person’s mouth along with extra doses of bowel-support acidophilus. This job was punctuated with massive clean-ups as it exploded out the other-end. At one point as my sanity started to slip and I considered cutting out the middle man and just spooning her food directly into the toilet bowl.

So, having been grounded since Thursday with a sick child, I look in the fridge after pouring the last of the milk on my coffee, and realise we have no food, not even dog food, along with the no milk situation. I already have an alarmingly low supply of nappies, thanks to the 2-nappy-changes-per-hour over the past several days and my husband has no business shirts.

With just 30 minutes to hit the supermarket, the butcher and the dry cleaner and Lucie a bit perkier, I load her up in the car chanting to her, “We can do this..”

I whipped through the shopping like greased lightening, with a growing sense of self congratulatory smugness. Unfortunately, immediately as that feeling took hold, the wheels came off… The outer casing on my car key disintegrated in my hand and on queue, Lucie started throwing a fit. “Waaaaaaaaaaaahhh” “Biiiickeeeeeeeeeeeeee” “milkeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”

So as smugness evaporated into damage control, I found myself madly fumbling in my bottomless pit of a bag for milk, crackers and my reading glasses so I could try and jam the headless metal bit back into the plastic clicker bit to get the car started.

A car behind me, waiting for my park, tooted and I flipped 'em the finger without missing a beat. Strange that no matter what is taxing my dexterity at the time I can always manage a rude gesture when needed.

At the dry cleaners I decided against removing the mangled key from the ignition while I paid for the shirts so I left the car running with its nose almost jutting into the dry-cleaners door, filling the lane full of shoppers with exhaust fumes.

Then with the phone under one ear, desperately calling Toyota spare parts division for a solution, I tried to wrestle the dry cleaning & shopping into the car simultaneously. 

But while I struggled with the blasted shirts that got hooked on the dirty wheel of our mountain buggy (still left jammed in the passenger seat after our last open inspection), I put my wallet ...on the roof so I could use both hands....

Yeah, you got it.

A note of thanks to a Saint of a woman called Barbara, who caught my purse on the bounce as it sailed off the roof of my car who would have had it back to me within the hour.. if I hadn't been still driving around and around the block looking for the bloody thing.

If there was a mummy equivalent of MR Bean it would be me.

Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A life less glamorous

Glomesh glamour is back!

I remember them the first time round, oh now I’m showing my age.  But they were right up there along with chrome platform stilettos. Sorry, Zoe Wittner, your mum was wearing those in the 70s – they’re not a new invention. 

Anyway the reason the Glomesh thing struck me is that I still remember the clever advertising campaign for those soft sparkly bags in all the women’s’ magazines. 

They would focus on some glamorous celebrity, but all you would see was a photo of ‘her’ Glomesh bag spilling it’s contents (onto a light-box.. as you do).  The slogan was
“you can tell a lot about [insert famous glam-person's name] by what’s in her Glomesh bag…”

And said spilled contents would be along the lines of: opening night theatre tickets, Chanel lipsticks, YSL compacts, Mercedes, Porsche or BMW key chains, match books from uber-cool clubs and other assorted mementos of a life of serious coolness and privilege.

Well I no longer have a Glomesh bag (I think it went to Vinnies with my chrome platforms) but I spilled the contents of my hand bag onto the bead spread (no light box here) and took a peak:

“You can tell a lot about Suzy Mac by the contents of her very large leather bag with all those strange extra pockets..”

·         A Décor container of stale gingerbread babies, 
·         several receipts from a cool place called ‘Pumpkin Patch Outlet’
·         a flat pack dispenser of degradable doggy poo-bags
·         2 crud-encrusted dummies
·         a crushed travel pack of sultanas
·         several balled up tissues
·         keys to our 6 year-old-RAV
·         a red Oroton wallet
·         a red Marks & Spencer credit card wallet filled with store loyalty cards
·         a toddler drink bottle
·         many, many supermarket receipts
·         the odd crayon
·         a nappy
·         a travel packet of ‘Wiggles’ bottom wipes
·         an old scrunched up tube of Bonjella
·         a half used bottle of Baby Panadol
·         one very scratched mobile phone
·         and a 125ml AVENT bottle with about 5ml of coagulating milk in the bottom.

But while sifting through all this accumulated debris, no matter how deep I rummaged, I just couldn’t find those damned theatre tickets or the Porsche keys.

Oh well,  when push comes to shove, who needs opening nights and Porches anyway? I couldn’t stay awake for the second act.  And even if you could get a baby seat fitted to a Porsche, the Mountain Buggy certainly wouldn’t fit.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Baby on Board: lessons in diminished pervability...

I used to write a column, regular stock market commentary and a daily news feed that Reuters bought reprint licenses for. So I figure there was a period in time where I actually made sense to people outside my family.

Every morning after gorging myself on business news, I’d be surfing Bloomberg, the big banks and the World Health Organisation. I was one well-informed puppy. So there was also a time where I could discuss things outside small people’s bodily functions.

I was also once a flirty-short-skirty party animal with a six-pack stomach known as Champagne Suzy who hated other people’s kids and was a card carrying ‘non-breeder’. Which proves I used to have energy to burn, the time and inclination to be self involved and exercise and I had a sense of fun that extended past peek-a-boo and vegemite face-painting.

Where I used to be able to participate in scintillating conversations about meaningful films, finance, world economies and politics. Now I talk about the four majors that dictate the quality of my life: poo, vomit, tantrums and sleep.

I hardly notice the few remaining non-breeder friends I have, are slowly vanishing as I trowel the net for gingerbread and play dough recipes and for the latest facts on toilet training and head-lice management.

Films like ‘Water’ and ‘Shindler’s List’ used to be profoundly moving to me, but now, one look at that little girl in a red coat hiding under a bed from the Nazi’s and I have to abort.

Stuart Little, UP and Ice Age are eminently more comforting… but still cause for tissues.

Something started happening to me during pregnancy. And I don’t mean my six pack turning into a slab. I became a weepy human chuppa-chup with a basket ball up my jumper, with my growing absent mindedness in fierce competition with my appetite.

And I mean I was RAV-EN-OUS. I came very close to becoming a food mugger. I swear if there had been a kid eating a sausage roll in front of me on my way to buy lunch, I would have snatched it, right out of his mouth. And I hate sausage rolls. Needless to say they became a pregnancy staple right up there with peanut butter and egg-mayo wraps.

I sort of figured I was having a girl too ‘cos she was chomping through my butt and thigh fat. I figured only a girl would think to do that for her mummy, and I was right.

Nonetheless, my incredible shrinking thighs and bum did nothing to help that sinking feeling that I’d never be perved on again. Except by my husband of course, but then its kind of his job isn’t it? (shush honey, no-one asked you).

Early pregnancy is hard in that you’re hideously tired and pukey and you can’t complain to anyone. You feel heavy but you’re still in no shape to be offered seats on the bus.

While being fascinated and delighted by your pregnancy and what’s happening to your body accommodating this little invader, there’s also that nagging feeling that you’re not quite so elastic anymore and maybe ‘after the fact’ it wont just all ‘snap/ back into place like a sexy new La Perla g-string.

I was fortunate in the timing of my up-the-duffage as empire lines and baby-doll tops and dresses were having a renaissance. I lived in loose tops and mini skirts and as winter came on, I added fishnets and knee-high boots. As hard I as a tried for years to have a baby, I was subconsciously resistant to what I saw as the inevitable unpervable state of pregnancy.

Then it happened. The cute Spanish guy in our building perved, and big time too. I caught him in the reflection of the glass entrance doors, as I passed through, turning and checking out either my arse or my legs, (like I cared which). He was chewing on the top of his takeaway coffee and I was thrilled.

I passed him a lot in the first few months and each time I sucked in my gut, which actually wasn’t a gut of course and not nearly as easy to suck in, but I gave it my best shot.

Home time was like a Pilate’s work-out for the day: I would suck in hard to walk past Carlos, work my pelvic floor for two blocks then at the bus stop, arch my back and push it out hard to get a sympathy seat.

I carried on like this for several months till I started to really pop out and my long loose winter coats wouldn’t close over the bump anymore. Not to mention the struggle I had to zip up my boots over my hobbit ankles: man, it was like someone had put my legs on upside down and my thighs where slouching over the tops of my feet.

But I distinctly remember the day, coming back from a meeting, when Carlos perved for the last time. I was standing on the opposite kerb facing our building talking on my mobile and he was smoking, drinking a coffee and leering me. (this is multi-tasking for the single guy) I thought OK this has to stop he has no clue.. and I turned sideways.

He looked like one of those cartoon characters when their eyes pop out of their heads a few feet and then back again. I smiled to myself and decided it was time to take the mumminess seriously and stop stressing about my diminishing perv potential.

It wasn’t (and shouldn’t be) just about me anymore and I was cool with that.

P.S what is more fun than peek-a-boo and vegemite face painting with someone who is really into it?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bubble, bubble toil and trouble

I am afraid of balloons.

There I’ve said it.

And they’re everywhere: in pharmacy windows, mobile phone retailers, electrical stores, you name it.  What is wrong with today’s store merchandisers that balloons have become the décor du jour? There are other ways to dress up a retail display, people.

My little girl had a helium balloon obsession, now it’s an every balloon obsession – including those in books and on TV.  They excite her, she wants them, she sleeps with them and they are her friends.

I live in mortal fear of stopping at traffic lights where there's a car dealership. I know that within 10 seconds, Lucie will be in floods of tears, arms waving, fingers pointing, screaming from the back seat "I want bubbles! mummy get bubbles!"

Just try explaining to a two-year-old with limited language and no emotional control, that it’s pretty bloody impossible in any traffic, let alone peak hour, to forgive one driver exiting their vehicle to dash into Toyota to rip a balloon of the windshield wiper of the nearest Prado.

Everywhere I take her now, I try hard to avoid them but it’s inevitable, There’s at least one performance of the tribal dance –the flailing arms, wiggling pointing fingers, the tear stained face and the forlorn wailing: “baaaaaaaaaaaabbooooool.” 

Sometimes this bubble obsession includes balls, tennis balls, beach balls, rubber balls, round ball-like buttons, and those are the days I’m in deep doo-doo – tap-dancing on a minefield. She had one truly spectacular meltdown over a pop-up greeting card in the post office, festooned with pop-up cardboard balloons and my God, was that the longest queue I’ve ever been stuck in.

Our first nap-with-balloon was a balloon-on-a-stick. Lucie looked unbelievably cute sleeping on her tummy with this big orange Pumpkin Patch bubble resting on the back of her head, hair all static and sticky-uppy, and the stick still firmly clasped in her right hand.

I’ve since found that its much easier when she sleeps with the helium ones, at least they float over the cot, rather than in it, and the string's are easer to slip out of her fingers, if she doesn’t just let go during REM sleep. hmmm

She takes her balloons in the car, where the helium ones are actually more problematic as they tend to drift towards the windscreen. This can be a bit more than a bummer in the kamikaze traffic that is the school run.

On our last holiday she conned a local jeweller into dispensing a balloon from one of their window displays.  I’m thinking now that sitting in a retailer’s doorway howling might also be effective in procuring discounts?  So anyway this ‘bubble’ went everywhere that day including a trip to the beach. I have heard that to some people the beach is place of relaxation…

Needless to say the balloon buggered off, while she was busy crushing one of daddy’s sand castles.   To everyone’s relief and amazement, she seemed actually more fascinated than upset as when watched it float towards the sun.  But that didn’t negate the hour and a half of total nail biting angst both parents and friends of parents had to suffer prior to the evacuation.  

I usually manage to draw the line at Balloons in the dog-park (usually), but she occasionally persuades me (read: earth shattering tantrums) to let her hold one (or two) while she’s riding her trike. 

So if you’ve noticed a crazy tired looking woman occasionally struggling along busy Military Road, pushing a toddler on a trike, also clutching at a dogs leash (with said dog randomly jumping around as his paws get run over) with a balloon on a long string bouncing off her face, well that would be me.

That reminds me I have to go now and remove the balloons (today there are two) from her bed.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Random Acts of Cleanliness

I was a clean-freak long before I gave birth to my mini tornado. I would even go so far as to say I have a little Obsessive Compulsive Disorder when it comes to keeping the place prefect. (I once had to deliberately place unwashed mugs on the coffee table, as a kind of therapy to see how long I could leave them there – and it wasn’t long).

But if leaving used coffee mugs on my pristine table was hard to bear then Lucie has taken it to another level.

At 15 months, trashing her room and emptying her pyjama and sock drawers (then rolling around in the debris, like our dog on the neighbours’ lawn) was just too much fun and couldn’t be done enough.

As she grew bigger her bedroom no longer cut the mustard and she started on the book cases, CDs & DVDs, of which we have many.

So I have followed her around ever since she took to her legs, picking up and trying to teach her to ‘put back’, with limited success. This is somewhat like raking leaves during a hurricane.

Then one day I left our completely trashed living room just long enough to empty the washer and when I returned, I was floored. The living room was spotless and Lucie was bent over the toy box dropping the last toy in saying “put-back”.

I was so overwhelmed I took photos! I guess without the before shots, they were pretty meaningless, but I have them, to look at fondly and remember… the last and only time my little daughter took after mummy and cleaned up!

Maybe I can slot them into the slideshow I intend playing at her 21st birthday party, right after the bath-time nudie run footage, and I’ll say : “look hon. This is the time you cleaned up”.

But whereas my girl has tried it on and seemed to decide it doesn’t fit, her poor sad mother battles on regardless with this debilitating disorder: absentmindedly wiping up the bench tops in public toilets. (sadly true) Using nappy wipes to clean up tables in cafes and local parks, folding up jumpers and tee shirts in shops.

And I tell you that little sign in aeroplane bathrooms that suggests you wipe up for the next passenger, well that sort of encouragement just sets me right off.

It’s either an illness, or a reflex that kicks in post-tantrum. When my brains are fried and I switch to auto-pilot. The cleaning thing is the only part of me that still functions after the screaming suddenly stops, and I find it somehow quite soothing.

Then one day it became practical. I hadn’t got both my feet even out of the car when this council-cow chalked my tyres in a 30 minute park. 29 minutes and I still had my toddler and pram, and the 4.5 kilo brown thing that daily dislocates my shoulder, to extract.

This was probably the only time my excessive use of Huggies Unscented Wipes on surfaces other than my little girls bottom, was actually a good idea, it bought me an hour shopping time. :0)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Women who run with bitches but cant keep up

My life before marriage and mumanonymity... (try and say that fast three times)

‘Meow’ that’s the official mating call of the Trouser Hounds or more appropriately still; Wallet Hounds. I have borne witness to some pretty classy competitions when it came to looking for ‘Mr-Good-Porche’. Actually in London, it’s more a case of Mr-Yellow-Ferrari-Black-Amex.

It’s tough going for a nice grounded Aussie girl to be alone in a bad old city like London, with its enormous populace of early release mental patients.

I started out to my own detriment with a puppy personality, wagging my tail in a frenzy of indiscriminate befriending. As a result of which for the first six months, till I learned to snap and growl, I was stalked by a succession of scary bunny boilers and partying with piranhas in Prada, the sort of women who would eat their own young.

In the quest for a decent bloke, there were times I was literally trampled in the stampede towards some poor chap, with all due diligence on his income and assets having been completed by the surrounding team of social Pit Bulls.

It’s tricky making real friends in this environment, more like being absorbed into a hunting pack where friendship has little or nothing to do with it. Talk about your ‘Cinderella Complex’, this is the C.C. World Championship, and you’d better be wearing Kevlar if there aren’t enough princes to go around.

Social starvation often found me inadvertently thrown into the big league where public stoning was apt punishment for wearing last seasons Gucci.

You could literally be torn to pieces over an unfashionable choice of accessories and by unfashionable, I mean carrying or wearing something so ten minutes ago.

Preparation for hunting parties is both astounding and educational. Linda regularly used a lip pump for that natural (pul-eese!)trout-lip effect. Standing in the bathroom with a contraption, reminiscent one of those rubber drain plungers you'd buy in hardware store, over her face pumping away like her life depended on it. A wonder she could kiss after that without drawing blood or accidentally sucking her date right out of his chair – that would leave a nasty hickey, huh? But Linda was a seasoned ‘wallet sniffer’ from LA.

LA in my opinion smacks of the sort of city you would expect to give birth to such devices as ‘lip pumps’ and other curious, suggestive objects that “..conveniently plug into your car cigarette lighter”.

Although not immediately apparent, I was the oldest of the pack. But Deanne, our youngest and most competitive, whose petite frame and pretty face belied her Wiltshire-Stay-Sharp tongue and a ruthlessness that would scare al Qaeda, was constantly nipping at my heels trying to heard me toward the geriatrics.

If I uttered more than two words to a man, she would demand “have you told him how old you are?”. Similar situation to a convicted paedophile considering a career move into teaching kindergarten, in her opinion, I should have some kind of legislated requirement of immediate disclosure.

Deanne was a relationship saboteur of supreme proportions, with a penchant for married men on fat salaries. She was such a cat too; every dinner, one of us inevitably asked the nearest passing waiter to bring her a saucer of milk.

Then there was Scary Flatmate, as caustic as a bottle of Domestos, who could clear a dinner table faster than a fire alarm. Despite being thin and pretty with long blonde hair, all she had to do was open her mouth to turn any man ‘off’ as effectively as a king size box of Tampax. She was a consummate conversation Nazi, but with the inexplicable idea that everyone enjoyed her company enormously.

Miriam was a ‘professional girlfriend’. Draped in all things designer with a jewellery collection that could finance the national debt, she impressed everyone, managing to con some sucker into paying for several 20 grand a pop recording sessions in Abbey Road Studios, in spite of the well known fact she sang like a scalded cat.

Barely housetrained, lavishly lazy and with a 30-second attention span, she also never bothered to turn up to record her “hit CD”.

Another of her brainwaves almost took her to the bottom of the Thames wearing cement stilettos, when she decided it would be a fantastic idea to fall pregnant to a wealthy ex, so he would have to marry her and/or, keep her in luxury for the rest of her days.

But excessive as Miriam was, she decided, to hedge her bets and play a couple of ex’s at one time.

So things got a little ugly, when her ‘heavy’, whom she’d successfully engaged with floods of tears and pouting to put the squeeze on one prospective father, found out the baby could have any of several fathers. Heavy dude was seriously and perilously unimpressed, requiring a much larger flood of tears and truly excessive pouting. If ‘crying and pouting’ ever becomes an Olympic sport, Miriam will do her country proud and have yet more gold laying about on the night stand.

Notwithstanding the fact I had neither the purse for Prada, nor a killer competitive instinct, I found myself being energetically courted by a millionaire widower and forced to shop for bigger vases to accommodate the multiple dozens of long stemmed roses, regularly delivered in lovely green Harrods vans.

This clever man knew his target market: he also sent shoes! The lovely green van also brought me some leather ankle boots with chrome stiletto heels and Agent Provocateur fuscia, fur trimmed, satin mules, both of which really deserved to be in a display case at the Tate Modern.

They were so beautiful and unusual (and a perfect fit), which now strikes me as slightly disturbing. But alas it was a case of Crystalle goggles with pink tinted bubbly lenses. Eventually I sobered up and that relationship, along with my membership to the Trouser Hound Sorority, ended before it really got started.

Invasion of the body snatchers

I hate being a woman.

Wonder if I could sell my girlie bits on EBAY: For Sale - fully functional reproductive system hardly used, with corresponding hormones (will not sell separately) - Best offer

I hate being a woman - Yesterday I said I loved it but that’s just the problem with random hormones, you can’t make up your mind because it’s lost or taking a holiday somewhere. Besides yesterday I was wearing a miniskirt and everyone was nice to me; unless you have a Pammy Anderson cup size, jeans make you invisible.

Maybe I’m ugly, maybe jeans make me look fat (hormonal paranoia).

I hate this. You start out having a great day feeling normal, energetic, optimistic even and suddenly you’re Linda Blair with your head spinning round full circles, and some hidden ventriloquist is using you mouth to speak with.

I have an entirely new set of values, opinions, temperament and a whole new personality, to what I had yesterday - this morning even. Do they still do exorcisms? It could be a good idea to get start before the green vomit.

I have matching pimples on each cheek and one coming up on my eyebrow. What sort of a place is that to get a pimple for goodness sake, whoever heard of acne infested brows? It gets better than that; yesterday I was size 10 and today I’m a 16 (Hurrah I've turned into a human form of Luna Park's fat mirrors, what fun).

My stomach and my thighs are like balloons filled with water all squelchy and wobbly and my fingers are like breakfast sausages. I can’t for the life of me get my rings off and when I walk I can almost hear sloshing sounds with each step.

As an added bonus, by mid afternoon my hair will resemble wet seaweed; all this and a bad hair day too - there is no God.

I find myself looking for a filing cabinet around the office that’s tall enough to jump off to any effect.

After ten years my husband knows the drill: move slowly, speak softly and don't approach The Beast. He's like a seasoned lion tamer with a chair in one hand and flowers in the other.

He knows too well, that any sudden moves and this new tenant inhabiting my body,could pick a huge row with him over something frighteningly crucial like: possession of the TV remote, failure to notice a minor change in hairstyle, or failure to read my mind - what’s left of it. Then the aforementioned invading-body-snatcher-type-entity would go into a violent rage and spend the remainder of the evening feeding freshly diced pieces of husband to Mr Blender.

After a decade of survival though, he's proven his expertise as an emotionally erratic wife wrangler, and there’ll be one more man alive tomorrow to enjoy his day on the planet.

Seriously, there’s not been a fun park built yet with a roller coaster ride as scary as my PMS. To get up in the morning, a confident, happy, and reasonably slim person, and miraculously transform into a snivelling, neurotic, bloated, bag of nerves, with face like a pizza and about as stable as the San Andreas Fault.

And don’t even speak to me about natural flaming therapy, Evening Primrose or Star Flower bleeding oil.

I've taken so much of that rubbish, when I pee I leave an oil slick that could devastate the North Atlantic coastline. I'm expecting Greenpeace to show up in my bathroom at any moment.

I want to go to a doctor who says something worthwhile on this like; “go home, consume a small crate of chocolate, and call me in the morning if you’re feeling no better”.