Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Finding Summer

Somewhere amid the gusting easterly winds, grey sky and scattered showers, it's supposed to be summer. The forecast says 'don't make beach plans this week' or words to that effect. So I say, let's get to the beach now kids before that wind picks up some more.   If there's a summer out there, we'll find it. And drag it kicking and screaming back home with us if we must.

First stop: Nan's house. The kids chased each other on hands and knees across the lawn. Gathered flowers to show me. It became a game to see who could find the best floral treasure. Then the Lily Bug discovered Nan's yellow tomatos. Yellow! Her favourite colour. Yellow is the colour of happiness she frequently tells me. Yellow is the magical colour that made her love capsicums. And scrambled eggs. And cheese. But not yet Nan's yellow tomatos. They're not quite ripe enough.

Then it was on to the beach. We love the beach when those easterly winds turn the calm flat waters of Narrow Neck into a small-scale surf beach. Exciting, without being overwhelming. The kids ran circles around each other and practiced handstands. Buried treasure. Jumped the white wash. Technically, it's summer. The wind was warm.

The journey home had me singing crazy songs at the top of my voice to stop Guy Smiley from falling asleep in the car. Don't want him to be up all night. Of course, he went into over-tired mode and was up half the night anyway. Least it gave him some bonding time with dad who has been working long hours with little time off.  They love to play *insert random car racing game here* on the X-box together. The Lad brings out the foam mattress and duvet, and Guy Smiley snuggles down with him and makes broom-broom sounds. The novelty usually wears off after five minutes, but those minutes are gorgeous.

Guy Smiley has a dimple on each cheek. Look close and you'll see. Gorgeous it is.

So that was our Tuesday. And I'm catching up with Communal Global for the first time in weeks and weeks, & Our World Tuesday for the first time, to share it. :)

People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy.
~Anton Chekhov

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Hairy Mistress ya'll!

Ahhh Christmas...

In which the Lily Bug morphed into a mouth-frothing sugar-crazed addict and spent a large part of the afternoon bug-eyed and shrieking "bu-ut I-I-I Wa-a-nt More-mm-mm-more CAAANDY CAAANES!!" Guy Smiley learnt to say a new word ("lolly"), flipped out into the unhappy realm of too-much-excitement-not-enough-sleep, then spent the late afternoon lulled into calm thanks to total train set immersion.

The Teen was well satisfied with her present haul, and fortuitously rescued from the glaze-eyed boredom of hanging out with the family thanks to the arrival of a friend who had otherwise been faced with spending Christmas Day alone. (Some kids bring home stray animals, the Teen brings stray humans. It's cute. Though, often difficult to tell her we don't have enough room to keep them, unfortunately...)

I had woken several times in the night, just wishing the kids would hurry up and wake so I could see their faces as they unwrapped the gifts they'd been coveting for months. And yes, once a little voice down the hallway called out, "is it Christmas?!" it was all on. And it was fantastic.

 But when that initial excitement had worn off and the rustle of Christmas wrappings died down, a kind of silence followed. For the kids, it was the realisation that the surprises had come to an end. For us, it was the realisation that with the Lad's family so far away and my family so geographically close but yet so emotionally distant from each other, we lacked the camaraderie with extended family to keep the momentum of the day going.  All those weeks of anticipation had reached their peak, and now it was time to come back down. There was still feasting to be done, but there was a bit of sadness in realising a few important components of the day were missing. Namely; family. Loads and loads of family.

Next year... Next year we'll hit the beach on Christmas Day.  

Meanwhile, the Teen has gone away on holiday for a few days and unlike the rest of her family, she has learnt to pace herself on the chocolate/candy front. Thus her Christmas haul has probably loaded her up with enough midnight nibbles to last until mid-year. So... I wonder where she's stashed it? *wink wink*

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Do you like Green Eggs and Ham?

Last week our household received a selection of Be Natural cereals and cereal bars to review; the arrival of which provoked an unprecedented level of ravenous excitement within the family (breakfast cereal has recently become one of those staples I've completely bypassed in my weekly Trolley Derby Dash of Terror).

On occasion, the back of our pantry has become a weevil paradise of failed breakfast cereals. It's not that I want to breed these creatures, it's just that I buy *insert bad cereal* with good intentions, find neither myself nor anyone else in the house are able to get beyond the first bowl, and it sits in the pantry waiting for me to find a starving animal to feed it to. Before long it gets nudged out of sight. From the Uncle Toby's flavoured  porridge in single serve sachets (fail) to the Vogels Cafe Style muesli (Epic Fail - and although the Teen informs me it's no longer cool to say that phrase any more, in this case, it must be said), many a cereal has become weevil fodder in our household. Thus, I have learnt to stick to the basics (Weetbix and thereabouts). And to perhaps clean out the pantry more often.

So, it goes without saying that I approached this trial with my Skeptical Goggles on...

In under a week, we have consumed the contents of everything you see in this picture. Including the wooden coffee table. Did we enjoy the product? I bought more Trail Bars from the supermarket today.

FIRST IMPRESSION: The natural look packaging is of course the first thing to grab attention.  100% recycled, the cardboard has a nice feel to it. The people who created these cereals paid attention to the details when ensuring their product comes across as 'natural'.

The first cereal we feasted our eyes upon was Pink Lady Apple and Flame Raisin. The Lad was intrigued by the word 'Flame' (for the record, he's not a pyromaniac, but he is a bloke who likes flame paint jobs on cars, thus a connection was made). The Teen liked the colours in the packaging and I liked the promise of fruit.

The box told us we were about to consume '5 whole grain flakes mixed with pink lady and granny smith apples, flame raisins with linseed, pepita & amaranth clusters'. Sounded interesting. The promise of 'whole grains' was appealing.  

Marketers, you've done your job well.

Of course, eco-friendly packaging and clever phrasing are all well and good at face value, but if the product itself lacks appeal, then all you're really left with is a pretty box and food for the weevils. So... How did it taste?

THE BREAKFAST CEREAL TASTE TEST: Fortunately, Pink Lady Apple and Flame Raisin tasted as appealing as it sounded.  Delicious - and with perfect crunch. So much so, I was tempted to sleep with the cereal box beneath my pillow so no one else in the house could scoff it before me. The Teen declared her wish to marry the cereal and have its babies. I'm the jealous type. I want to have its babies.

Clutching the last vestiges of my skepticism, I wasn't sure if we were enjoying this stuff because it truly tasted good, or because we were sick to death of runny grobbles?  So I personally had to eat a couple of bowls in a single sitting before I could properly determine the answer to that question. ;)

Yes... *chomp chomp* It's still good.

The Cashew, Almond, Hazelnut & Coconut was a favourite for the Lads (pluralised because the Teen had her Lad over on the day the courier arrived, thus he became a patron of the cereal smorgasbord). I'm not a big fan of coconut and one of the Lads agreed it was maybe a smidge heavy on the coconut, but the vote on that issue was split down the middle - the other two taste testers thought it was perfect. I definitely enjoyed this with yogurt and chopped banana.

The 5 Whole Grain Flakes had a subtle, slightly sweetened flavour, and perfect crunch. If you're a fan of cornflakes, you will LOVE this stuff because it is so much tastier. It has a higher sugar percentage than Skippy Cornflakes but I didn't find the need to add sugar as I would do with regular cornies. Also, the Grain Flakes had far more fibre. It was awesome with yogurt, and if you throw in some fresh fruit you've got Nirvana right there (I'm talking about the a state of transcendence involving the subjective experience of release from a prior state of bondage, not the band).

The most awesome thing about these cereals is that the kids really enjoyed them. I expected the Lily Bug to give them a taste and then request something else, and I expected Guy Smiley to send the bowl sprawling across the room without even trying. (He is a seriously fussy eater. Whenever he sees me coming towards him with a plate of food, I can all but hear him mutter "Sam I Am, Sam I Am, I DO NOT LIKE that Sam I AM.")

However, the munchkins sat nicely at their little table, and ate every last scrap of their Grain Flakes Nirvana with a sprinkling of Flame Raisin Stuff. Seriously, even Guy Smiley. I know right? I am officially a believer.

ON TO THE TRAIL BARS: With their 5 whole grains...

Nut & Fruit was the first cereal bar our household tried, and the initial thought was that it was too dry. However, half way through and we each collectively agreed it was not too bad. A bit middle of the road in taste, but probably nutrionally preferrable to the bars I usual buy. And the kids ate them quite happily!

EVEN THE LILY BUG'S FRIEND CALLED *DEXTER WHO IS A FUSSY ONE. YES, I HAVE TO SHOUT THIS OUT TO YOU. Because that my friends, is quite possibly amazing. One in four kids at the park did not eat this, but that one's mildly obsessive-compulsive when it comes to food so I wouldn't take it personally. As yes, yes her mother said it's okay for me to say that. I hope.

Berry was the delicious winner out of the Trail Bars. The berries were enough to prevent the bars from tasting a bit too dry. The Teen Who Usually Eats Air For Breakfast zombie-shuffled to these bars each afternoon as soon as she woke up. Cried when they were all gone. Made me buy more. Amazing.

I like green eggs and ham!
I do!! I like them, Sam-I-am!
And I would eat them in a boat!
And I would eat them with a goat...
And I will eat them in the rain.
And in the dark. And on a train.
And in a car. And in a tree.
They are so good so good you see!

The Lily Bug's kindy has recently adopted a strict healthy food policy, and anything deemed as junk is sent home unopened.  The fact that the munchkins are happy to eat these without needing them to be slathered in chocolate, is a good thing. Compared to another brand we buy, Be Natural Trail Bars are much lower in sugar and fat (albeit higher in sodium).  Would I buy these? Already stocked up.
I do so like
green eggs and ham!
Thank you!
Thank you,

(Sorry about that, I just have that story stuck in my head.) 

End note:  Man, can I ramble.

Friday, 16 December 2011

What a great Grinchy trick. With this coat and this hat, I'll look just like Saint Nick!

I want to blog about Christmas even less than I want to blog about doing the hundred yard hurdle at the supermarket. But since I've already crossed one line... Well, what the hell.

I'm a bit confused on the topic of Santa. And I kind of need to talk this out. (In other words: Brace yourself, this is gonna suck out your will to live.)

Between Mall Santas, in-store Santas, Kindy Christmas Party Santas, Playcentre Christmas Party Santas, Animates 'bring your pet in for a Christmas photo' Santas and that other fella who's meant to be stuffing himself down our non-existent chimney on Christmas Eve, I'm feeling a wee bit disillusioned. In fact, I'm beginning to wonder if this big jolly fat man is real at all, or if he's just a story my parents cooked up to force me into compliance for a few weeks out of every year?

I've discussed this matter with the kids, and they've reassured me that yes, Santa is real and yes, I will wake on Christmas morning to find my hearts desire gift wrapped at the foot of the Christmas tree. In fact, the Lily Bug is absolutely positive of this, as she had a wee chat with Santa at the Kindy party, and he promised her yes, yes he will be bringing her that great big Tyrannosaurus from Dinosaur Train.  That was a relief for our wee girl, especially as we'd told her maybe Santa was all out of stock on Interactive Boris.  Thank you Santa! Turns out she won't have to settle for a dinosaur book and a collection of small plastic dinosaurs after all!

I'm still skeptical though, especially when I was under the impression that there's only ONE Father Christmas, and yet, all the ones I've seen so far look different... In fact, I still remember the Santa of Farmers Westgate 2009 who was YOUNG and HOT! Pfft! That threw one Santa myth right out the window...

They're all Santa's helpers, I overheard one mother say to a child who appeared as confoogled by this as me. Okay, well that's... that's believable.... I guess...

Well anyway, this evening we're going to the Playcentre Christmas Party, and there we're going to see Santa again! And he's going to be giving the kids a small present each! Which is fantastic, because I thought he only came along once a year to dish out presents! That's another Santa myth blown away!


Okay okay I know... I'm the Grinch who stuffed Christmas in a sack and hiffed it into the river. Though regardless of how I may sound right now, I do enjoy Christmas and I can't wait to see the expressions of my kids as they open their presents and then tear around the house for the rest of the day on a candy-cane fueled sugar high. I'm just a wee bit out of sorts with all these Santas.

But I am thankful that the Lily Bug didn't ask the Kindy Santa for a real live winged unicorn. No idea where we'd he'd find the right kind of magic spell for one of those. ;)

And he puzzled and puzzed, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more."

Monday, 12 December 2011

When Life Hands Out Lemons...

I can't - and don't ever wish to - imagine what I would do if a visit to my doctor resulted in a worst-case diagnosis and a death sentence. Like most people I'm sure, I tend to bumble along through life assuming I'm going to live forever; watch my kids grow, spawn grandchildren for me to fuss over, look after me when I'm ancient and senile whether-they-want-to-or-not-ungrateful-little-sods, and then pass away peacefully in my sleep. At the ripe age of 307. No less.

This is the way it's going to play out. Don't try to tell me any different.

A recent article about Natalie Murphy, a young mum dying of cancer, reminded me of how fragile life really is. It can be so easy to overlook the things that really matter - especially when you assume you'll live forever and so allow yourself to procrastinate on actually living (and how many of us do that? Spend each day going through the same motions as this same day last week, and all the while functioning in a perpetual state of 'existance' rather than 'life'? Many of us, I'm sure. Not every day perhaps. But far too often.)

Not that I'm suggesting hot air balloon rides should replace conventional motor vehicles when venturing to the supermarket and white water rafting be the next thing to take place each day after brushing ones teeth, but sometimes it's easy to overlook and find happiness in the smallest most simplest things in life. Such as conversations with the three year old about the best way to get back down to earth if you happen to find yourself stuck in a cloud (so far it seems riding the back of a friendly dragon is the preferred mode of transport. Followed closely by 'overly large albatross' and 'very tall bean stalk'.)

Natalie's story is a heartbreaking one, but she amazes me with her upbeat attitude. I'd like to think that I could be so positive if I were in her situation - for the sake of my children if not for myself.  Though if truth be told, I try not to picture myself in her situation at all; for fear that envisioning myself in such a scenario, even fleetingly, may invite the Cancer Monster in.  Because there's always a small niggling worry at the back of my head, that one day an accident or illness will befall me and I won't be around to help my kids grow, and eventually partake in all those awesome parties they're gonna be throwing me each time I enter a new decade of infirmity.

This is a sombre topic to blog about, I know. But I just can't get it out of my head. For Natalie, this is the reality: She's been given two to eight weeks left to live.

I keep trying to run that through my head - how I'd cope in the face of such a grim reality - but there's that fear of jinxing myself again. Don't think of the Cancer Monster, don't invite it in. Because once I start thinking about it, anxiety starts to kick in. My life is not perfect, as such. We don't have a nice house, or a fat income, and our family have far more in common with the Adams Family than the Brady Bunch. But it's my perfect life to me, and I'm so so afraid of Fate doing anything to take that away.

There was a point to my ramblings tonight, though I started to waft off after the second paragraph (as did anyone reading this, I'm sure). But just in case there's still someone out there...

There is an auction for Natalie Murphy and her family, which is being run right here, by Mila Jean Denim & Cool. Many craft-minded people have donated their gorgeous hand made products to the cause. The auction will be held on 17 Dec and meanwhile, I believe crafty donations are still being added if anyone would like to contribute.

Totally off topic: Here's my favourite song of the moment. YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO IT. So far I have chucked it on repeat approximately 13 times tonight. One night I kept the Teen awake until 2.30am because of I just kept listening to it over and over... Bet she regretted introducing me to it, huh?

"Please learn from my journey. Learn ahead of ‘time’ what is important and appreciate your life, your loved ones. Appreciate the partner that drives you crazy sometimes cos you know you don’t actually want to live without them. Appreciate your children that often whine and exhaust you because you love them more than life – you’d probably sacrifice your own for theirs." ~ Natalie Murphy:

Thursday, 8 December 2011

And runny grobbles for the children

I don't want to blog about my supermarket misadventures - I don't want to be that tedious. But if we're going to be honest here, I have been driven bat shit crazy and I have to get this off my chest:  My last half a dozen trips to the supermarket have been like a trip. A bad LSD trip from my teenage days. Except this time the chocolate bars aren't talking to me.

You know those contests where a person is given 60 seconds to race around and fill their trolley with as much random crap as they can throw in it? My shopping trips are like that, except I don't get to win my groceries at the end. Nor do I end up with anything I actually want and/or need. I just get a small child who tries to climb the confectionery shelves at the checkout while I shove my random stuff onto the conveyer belt and pray I've slung together enough groceries to actually prepare at least one complete dinner for the week. Because Gods help me if I have to come back to this damned place again today.

This isn't my photo. My camera is broken again, so I kinda borrowed this from

 The agitator here is Guy Smiley, who, at the darling age of two-in-three-months, is at this charming stage where he rebels against any kind of constraint. Car seat constraints are where the trouble begins, but that's a halfway manageable problem. With enough perseverance and brute force on my part (gentle brute force, I should add), he will eventually consent to being buckled into his seat. It's the battle for the supermarket trolley's toddler seat that I absolutely cannot win. Not even with chocolate bars. Talking or otherwise.

Being constrained to stay at my side once we enter the supermarket sparks insurgence. For approximately five seconds, Guy Smiley will pretend to hold my hand, until that exact moment when I think to myself "yay, he's going to be placid toda - aaahhhfuckit!" And he's off. Legging it at the fist opportunity, as fast as his fat little legs can project him. Then as an added blow to my will to live, he'll drop to a thrashing dead weight when I try to pick him up.  It's guerrilla warfare, and I'm throwing canned missiles into my trolley in the futile hope of being able to strike some kind of culinary taste-bomb once I get home.

The Lily Bug is no help at all. Not that I should expect her to be, at the tender age of four-in-two-months. She'll say "I'll go get him mum!" and the next moment she's hot on his heels, tugging at his hand and squealing "come on, let's go this way!" The supermarket has become my children's training ground for total anarchy.

As the Lad helpfully offered, "really Callie, you're trips to the supermarket are pretty fucking pointless". And the Lad would be right.

Though, I challenge him to do a better job, when his son is rocketing through the store like a runaway pinball and the walls are closing in on him as he's caught in the grip of what could be an acid flashback of '93 but is most likely a really bad anxiety attack..

My dreams are still filled with the disapproving frowns of disapproving shoppers with their disapproving head shakes and their disapproving mutters of .. well... disapproval. Bastards.

Please, if you see a blue haired lady dashing through Countdown Westgate in pursuit of two wee Che Guevara's... Please throw some grocery staples into her trolley. She always forgets the sugar, flour or toilet paper, and it's it's been about two months since the bathroom last had a light bulb.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Feelin' Kinda Smurfy

Okay, so dying my hair blue wasn't one of my smartest ideas. Though, couldn't be worse than the mohawk of '99, the Accidental Mullet of '93, or the I Ran Away From Home Now No One Will Recognise Me Undercut of '91.

... I think ...

Callie Logic dictates that if you're feeling kinda old and haggard and full of promises and dreams unfullfilled; dye your hair Smurfy Blue. It will make you feel younger, and it will make children laugh. At you or with you? What does it matter.

Do I wish I'd worn gloves during application? Yes. *facepalm*

Do I wish I'd gone through this makeover after the upcoming Kindy Christmas party and young child's birthday party? Absolutely. Someone is bound to ask if I juggle. For a living.

In other news... Where can I find advent calenders? The Teen has been moaning and whinging for days that she has never ever had an advent calender (though I argue she did have one once upon a time, a long long time ago - and I believe she may have eaten all the chocolate in one sitting. Or maybe that was me?) Of course, just my luck that when I finally venture out to the dreaded mall to buy three of them (what's the harm in starting late in the month?) they're all gone.

Once again I have proven to be a total let down - filled with promises and dreams unfulfilled. The hair colour didn't save me from that after all. (Aww don't worry, I'm not going all sad and Emo - I write this in mirth. Mirth I tell you! Maybe I should just do a lil sticky-out-tongue face? :P)