Monday, 31 December 2012

And so I face the final curtain

Here I sit, half an hour until midnight, and as much as I'd love to say something profound and meaningful right now - to pass on some thoughtful insight on what I've learnt from this past year, or what I want to leave behind or take forward with me into the new year - my mind is a blank.

Wait... Wait...

A trickle of thought. Not quite the reflective kind. As much as I'd like to see in the New Year in a state of Zen-like calm, I'm currently worrying about the Teen who is celebrating New Years at the party of a friend of a friends. (I'll be picking her and her boyfriend up at 1am - they'd better there!!)

She's going to turn 18 in 2013. Eighteen!

Realising your very first baby is no longer a baby, and is walking the steps of an adult (but still with the tumultuous emotions of a teenage girl) brings a whole new meaning to parental anxiety. I'd quite like to wrap her up in tissue and pop her in the freezer until I'm old enough to deal with having an adult teen. Another five years should do it.

If I could have any kind of New Years wish, it would be that this year is a better one for her. She has all that teenage angst going on.. The bleak inner voice the tells her she's too fat, too ugly, too unpopular.. Fueled by the startling ability to make self-destructive decisions, and fanned by the fellow teen girls who cheer her on in her self-hate. The kind that are her best friend one moment, then spilling her deepest secrets to the world and telling her to go kill herself in the next. I hope above all hopes that 2013 will be the year that she sheds the fake friends and gains some inner peace and emotional stability.

New Years Resolutions? Haven't made those since I was a kid. I remember sitting up all night writing up a list of ways in which I would improve myself over the next 12 months, even at an age where there was very little I could do to control life's circumstances. Resolutions were never kept then, nor are they ever now. The only tradition I hold true to is a New Years Day swim. At the beach preferably, and even if it means just dipping my toes in the water (Let's be honest - I can't really swim.) Cleanse away the old year, start the new one with a clean slate. In theory.

I'm feeling bad for the fact that the Lad is sitting across the room channel surfing, and though we're in the same room, we're almost alone. Normally, it's perfectly comfortable for us to share the same room while doing our separate things. But tonight is not a night to be ignoring your loved ones while perched in front of a computer. I should have thought of profound realisations earlier, rather than try to scrape together anything now.

Quick - resolutions. Let's pretend I'm going to make one and actually remember it for more than a day.

1. Put Infinite Monkey Design on hiatus. It's stolen far too much time from the kids.
2. Remember to live, rather than simply exist.

3. And maybe, if it's not too much to ask... Maybe learn when to turn off the computer.

HNY..... :)

Burn! Burn my pretties!!

Note: This post was from the Draft pile - I'm clearing out the backlog. Don't hate on my bad MS Paint doodlings. Happy Christmas and Merry New Year ya'll!

THE LILY BUG: I wish I was the sun so I could shine brightly.
ME: Aww you're so cute!
THE LILY BUG: Then I'd turn myself up really high... So everyone can burn. *cackles manically*

She said that. I kid you not. My sweet lovely loving (most of the time ;)) little Bug uttered those words.

In her defence, I think she had just mucked up her phrasing a little. It was a cold morning on the way to kindy, and I'm sure she was only thinking about how she'd like to bring toasty warmth into the lives of those who, like us, have a thinly insulated home and a car heating system that kicks in five minutes after you reach your destination.

And I'm sure the way she tittered gleefully at the end of that statement was due purely to the amusement of watching my jaw swing open and hit the floor of the car. I admit, I too would find that comical. In a Loony Toons kind of way.

The Lily Bug is going to make a fantastic Global President of the Entire Planet some day. I think the evidence speaks for itself.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Tornados and Storm Chasers

This afternoon while the Lily Bug danced in a thunderstorm, a tornado ripped through our neighbouring suburb of Hobsonville. It's odd, but as I drove home from kindy shortly before lunch, I reached a part of the road where I had a clear view towards the North Shore and saw a strange cone-shaped cloud that looked like it was spiralling out from the cloud above. I paused at the intersection longer than necessary just to watch it and see if it were a freak cloud or something more malign.

I couldn't truly tell, and so deciding the distant peals of the thunder storm (which was approaching from the opposite direction) had simply made me paranoid, I went on my way.  There were a few things I needed to do before heading home, but the cloud had unsettled me. The more I drove, the more my anxiety increased. I had wanted to make a detour to the fruit and vege shops along Hobsonville Rd because the Lily Bug was pleading a strong case for plums from the back seat, but anxiety caused me to return home instead.

Once inside, I told the Teen about the freak looking cloud (and she, zoned on Facebook, nodded vaguely in response), then paced the room waiting for the thunderstorm to hit. When big fat raindrops finally kicked in, they did so with ferocity.  The Lily Bug tore outside into the rain so she could run in it. In force of habit, I grabbed the camera and snapped a few shots of her playing in the rain while repeating "too wet to go out, to cold to play ball, so we sat in the house and did nothing at all" in my head with a smile, anxiety momentarily swept aside by my daughter's childhood joy at the forces of Nature. The Lily Bug's storm dance was short-lived and soon she was in a warm shower. Not long after, I heard sirens, and assumed the heavy rain had caused a car accident on Hobsonville Rd.

Later, one of the Teen's friends told her via Facebook that a tornado had struck and killed three people. The phone began ringing as friends and family checked to make sure it hadn't cleaved a path to our house. Thank goodness no, this house almost comes undone if I turn the suction up too far on our vacuum cleaner.

Only a km or two away, three lives were taken and homes were up-heaved, their inhabitants left homeless.  Warnings of further tornados coupled with ongoing emergency services sirens left me on edge and unwilling to let the kids outside despite the rain having cleared. I relaxed only when the birds and cicadas took up their songs again. Geeze, the tornado didn't even come close. Always a little prone towards dramatics, I am.

I don't know if that cloud I had seen was in fact the tornado forming, or a quirky-shaped coincidence. But I do believe in signs, and in gut feelings. And I'm glad I followed my churning stomach by not driving to the fruit and vege shops. Overly dramatic or no, it would have been so easy for me to drive a little further on to Hobsonville Point for a good pre-storm run around on the playground. It would have been so easy to have been caught up in the wind-whipped terror, had I taken that path today.

Ignore the overgrown lawn. Please. Our lawnmower broke three weeks ago, and the Lad is going to fix it... Somewhere between now and Christmas.
Guy Smiley did a lap around the house, but didn't like rain in his eyes.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Met Service, stop toying with me.

Met Service, I wish you'd stop toying with my emotions like this. Last week's 10 day forecast told me there was no point in trying to dry washing or make outdoor plans, as Monday through to Monday would be rain rain rain. All weekend long, I wore the same pair of socks - who could know when I'd next get the washing dry? And socks are a precious commodity, frequent stolen by Gremlins in this house!

As it turned out, Monday was quite nice. Tuesday appeared to be almost-summerish. I donned my Domesticated House Wench Hat and washed and hung out loads of washing. Went to the supermarket for 'just one thing' and spent $187 on all sorts of random things, but not that one thing I originally wanted. Made plans to go to the park.

...Saw a big angry cloud in the distance.
Checked Met Service again (rather obessive-compulsive here).
Thunderstorms with hail, huh? 

We held off from going to the park. The thunderclouds hovered on the edge of the skyline, never seeming to come any closer. Each time I thought "bugger it, let's just go" a few drops of rain would start to fall, chasing us inside again.

In the end, restless and fed up, we welcomed the thought of a good old fashioned thunderstorm. Something to break the monotony of the day. The black clouds came and went in batches, drawing closer then skirting around our neighbourhood as if the smell of my randomly-purchased Air Wick Scented Oil plugin in Frangipani offended them. (Or maybe it was the Lily Bug's reindition of Rain Rain Go Away performed on the back lawn yesterday still holding effect?)  Blue sky and white cotton candy clouds in between. How's that for indecisive?

At last we heard a crack of thunder, like an old friend ringing the doorbell. We ran out to greet it. Guy Smiley, face to the sky catching raindrops with his mouth and shuddering with laughter as drops splattered his eyelids.

It was the outer edges of someone else's thunderstorm. The droplets soon eased off, and an impromptu game of Tag ensued. And because I already had the camera on me to grab the above shots of Indie in the rain, I snapped some during our game. I love the way little faces light up during a game of tag!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Mad love for my Canon 1100D

After posting a long bit of waffle about how I needed to choose between two cameras Canon had offered for half price to staff at the Lad's work, I made the decision, waited with gleeful impatience for the camera to arrive, and have been snapping away with it on a near-daily basis ever since. In the end, the decision was glaringly obvious. It had to be the Canon 1100D. 

I read as many reviews as I could find on both cameras, and although the SX500IS's superzoom was appealing for its super-zoomability and awesome macro-ness, the 1100D won out in the end - despite the fact I'm likely never going to be able to afford a decent superzoom or macro lense for it. Ever. *sigh*

I've had a lot of hit and misses while playing about with the settings...

Hmm. That was a miss. Hey I know, let's pretend I was being arty!

 And this one, I think, was a better hit:

Remember how the Lily Bug cut her own hair..? Heh. Heh.

A macro lense is definitely on the wishlist if I want to take nice detailed shots of flowers and bugs and the insides of the Lad's nostrils while he's sleeping and stuff.

Probably would've napped a better picture if it wasn't a windy day and the camera was on a tripod!

Finding that spider on the flower was exciting for the kids, and I loved watching them reap so much happiness out of something as simple as a small insect.

Hmm. We probably should get out of the house more.

I was super super excited to find that when using the AF Live mode I can toggle around the LCD screen to choose exactly where I want the focus point to be rather than relying on the 9 auto-focus points and moving the camera to suit. However, this mode is only works with the LCD screen and only useful on stationary objects. Anything that blinks or farts is gonna throw out the focus and in live view, the camera takes the life cycle of a flea to refocus again.

Live Mode example 1: Right apple/lip of bowl as focus point.

Live Mode example 2: Jar in the background as focus point.

My fav snaps so far:

At the end of a lovely long afternoon at Bethells Beach, the boy was knackered. Then the we had to wait for the State Roadside Rescue to rescue our flat battery dilemma (though turned out the steering lock was just on *shamefaced*)

Bethells Beach - I pinned the Lily Bug down long enough for a photo.

Mt Victoria, Devonport. The Teen and the Lily Bug having a rare moment of fun together.

At Nan's house.

Bethells Beach where sand makes the perfect prop for some monster truck rampaging

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Trick or treat, smell my feet...

I retract that previous statement I made about talking the Lily Bug out of wearing a hulk costume for Halloween.

Hulk mad!!

Hulk MAAAAD!!!
Hulk lost?

"Just point and shoot Angela. Nothing can go wrong - don't worry, I talk blurry photos all the time!" 
When teens cut their legs shaving...

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Alien impregnation and omnious motherships? Just another day really.

Monday kicked off with a stomach bug that has been systematically picking off our household, one after the other, for the past three or so weeks. I've been nervously waiting for my turn but so far I'm okay. Of course, this now leaves me slightly uneasy with the suspicion that everyone else in the family has an alien baby inside them, except for me, and now rather than celebrating the fact that I'm not a green faced chunder wonder, I'm feeling a little rejected. Why am I not good enough for alien impregnation? Why can't I experience a week or two with no appetite? Gods only know I could stand to shed a few kilos, and involuntary vomiting is so much easier than sticking my own fingers down my throat!

I started today walking into the supermarket with money to spend on groceries, and an hour later I walked out with no money, and not enough groceries to adequately justify where my money disappeared to, Tuesday has proved to be a better success.

Contrary to what medical professionals may tell you, the best cure for alien impregnation (or 'stomach bug' if that's what you chose to call it) is not plenty of fluids and bed rest, but plenty of fluids, loads of sand, a good smather of sunblock, and a spot of sunshine if you can happen to find some.

The weatherman predicts more sodden grey rain from Friday, so we decided to hot foot it to the beach today and make the most of the brilliant blue sky. Not a cloud in sight, and no wind whatsoever.
Of course, as soon as we set up our little afternoon camp upon the beach, the clouds began to roll across, with a large ominous black one hovering in the background (like a cleverly-disguised Mothership, keeping an eye on its human cocoons.)

Ignoring Mothership's watchful eye, we had a great slice of afternoon. The kids enjoyed driving monster trucks through the sand and teaching their dinosaurs how to swim, being dragged through the super-low tide on a bodyboard and mowing their hands through the soft mud-like sand.

Tomorrow is Halloween. 

We're going to start the day by wagging Kindy, loading the car up with bodyboards and making the mission with some friends to the super-massive dunes near Lake Wainamu to try out dune surfing.  

In the evening, we're trick or treating. The Lily Bug wanted to dress up as Hulk (she's really not very girly at all) but I showed her a never-worn ladybug fairy dress hanging in her wardrobe, and she decided she'd wear that instead. I'm trying to subtly remind her she is in fact a girl. I think I'm slowly winning...

This week I'm linking up with Communal Global to share what our crazy cat family got up to this Tuesday!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead #2 (The Coffee Review)

I probably have issues with caffeine addiction. Serious issues. But being that caffeine is not a serious drug, I figure it's not really a problem I need solving any time soon. And so I sit here at 1am with a cup of Joe in hand (oh okay I lie, it's beside my hand. I can't type and nurse a mug at the same time.) Writing a review on... Gregg's Instant Coffee.

If truth be told, I never really liked Gregg's coffee much, so for this reason I was particularly keen to see if the brand had upped its game. There were four instant coffee varieties to choose from. Which one to start with? Would it be Rich Roast? Espresso Roast? Red Ribbon or Decaf Roast?  Pfft. Toss Decaf aside until never.

Wait, first. Stare at the packets. The packaging has changed. I hate to be a person to say looks actually mean anything to me but... I found myself rather attracted to the new look of Gregg's instant coffee. It's friendly and welcoming, though perhaps a little too kiwiana... The Ken & Ken's 'Blimmin Goorgeous' guarentee makes me cringe a little. Let's not bring too much attention to the most annoying of kiwi twangs next to Lin of Tawa?

Each packet features a steaming cup of coffee with a different kiwiana type image on each mug. "Make me one while you're up" says Espresso Roast. And so I do. Smiling cheesily, because it's a phrase echoed in every coffee drinking household, is it not? Except in ours, the phrase is more like "it's your turn, wench." To which the Lad usually replies "but I made the last one."

Espresso Roast it was going to be. Quick. Rip open packet. But carefully. No wait. First, line up the coffee (and travel mug - the Lad will love no longer having to only half-drink his morning coffee before running out the door!) Take a pretty picture. Now. NOW rip open that packet! Those pesky caffeine deprivation headaches are doing my head in!

The coffee was... Damn. It was good. Really quite surprisingly good. I have to admit, I've had some not-so-nice experiences with Gregg's in the past. It's one of those brands I've found myself occasionally buying, and then regretting after the first mouthful.

This time, the first mouthful of my new improved Espresso Roast went down incredibly fast, and without any facial wincing whatsoever. In fact I drank it so easily, I needed another just to ensure it wasn't a fluke. Then another. Then... Wow. This new Gregg's was surprisingly easy to drink!

The Lad came home from work, and for the first time in a long time, he had a nice hot cuppa waiting for him as he walked in the door. Usually he has to bribe me for that kind of attentiveness. 

By 2am, I had moved on to Decaf. Once my brain stopped protesting against the thought of caffeine-free coffee, it wasn't too bad. Seems there's a time and place for that stuff after all. Post midnight.

Through the following couple of days, I moved through all the flavours. I enjoyed each one of them, but I couldn't tell much difference between them, to be honest.  Espresso Roast was a bit stronger, Rich Roast the nicest, and Red Ribbon the weakest link - though certainly an improvement on what it had once been.

Labour Weekend arrived, and so did family from the 'Naki. Avid coffee drinkers, I was curious to see what they'd make of my new brew. 

They too enjoyed it.  See? This is the face of Nanny Barb enjoying what I believe was her 16th coffee for the morning:

I'm not sure if I've fully become a Gregg's convert. I've always been a Nescafe-aholic. But our household have nailed three packets of coffee in a week (yeah, that Decaf is the sole survivor of our gluttony...) and I have really enjoyed being an over-caffeinated freak this week. Tomorrow I'm going to need to restock our supplies, and I'm genuinely torn as to whether I'll be buying Gregg's or Nescafe.

Conclusion to this long drawn out rambling review? The new Gregg's Instant Coffee range is a win.

I'm gonna go scrape out the last of the Rich Roast now for another cuppa. Save Decaf til 2am. I'll sleep when I'm dead, right?

Gratuitous "here I am sitting on a swing drinking coffee and wearing binoculars - though I'm not sure why" shot, and "completely unrelated to coffee except that I'm sitting on the comfy couch and am yet still awake" shot.

End Note: One day I might learn to write a review in one or two concise paragraphs. Though I doubt it.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Onwards the Sun

As I first sat down to write, I became aware that the Lily Bug had ducked into the bathroom to paint her face with watercolours. I knew this, both from the clanking I could hear from down the hallway, and the fact that it's impossible to convince her to paint strictly on paper in a nice quiet contrived kind of way. It always turns into something more upon the of full body art with a generous helping of interior design.

The Lily Bug told me she wanted to be a vampire wolf, which is why she painted her entire face black. Then began working on her limbs.

I stopped typing to grab the camera - every creative endeavor (or disaster) is potential fodder for that future 21st birthday cork board?  And the coffee went cold as I snapped shots that will be of no interest to anyone except me.

But still, I captured irrefutable proof that we had done something constructive with our morning apart from zoning out in front of Dinosaur Train, dinosaur documentries, Monster Jam clips and anything in between, as per the suggestions of the YouTube sidebar.

I'm going to forget later in the week, the little things that we do. When I'm lying in bed feeling guilty that I've spent too much time working on websites, leaving the kids to entertain themselves and more often than not by splitting the computer with them. A child on each knee, one half of the screen taken up with Dinosaur Planet, the other half a space for me to work on tweaking HTML and CSS code until a website is cross-browser compliant enough to be satisfactory.

I think, once I've wrapped up my current website queue, I'm going to put Infinite Monkey {Design} on the back-burner. Of course, I say this to myself, quite regularly. Then I think of the additional income these sites provide. Income that supplements groceries, or provides the petrol to take the kids out, or allows me to buy a new camera so I can capture all the stuff I'm afraid of forgetting. Maybe I'll just put Infinite Monkey {Design} on a short hiatus over the summer holiday period and rethink my work hours.

When I began writing this blog post, it was yesterday.

Yesterday was the umpteenth day in a row of glum grey sodden wet sky.

Yesterday our Taranaki family returned home and the atmosphere in our house was kind of sad.

The silence they left behind was too loud to be drowned out by dinosaurs and we were too drained and tired to run around the house playing indoor hide & seek. We tried, but only got as far as hiding under a blanket on the couch, then hiding beneath the same blanket on the same couch again.  By the third repetition, we were running out of places within the blanket to hide.

Nan stayed over last night after I convinced her there was too much food left over from the weekend for us all to eat, and we needed her company to help fill in the silence. And it did.

Today, it is a clear blue sky day. Moods have improved. Sites are still waiting to be finished, but today we're going out into the sun.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

I'll sleep when I'm dead.

Look what the courier-fairy dropped off to me? I'm going to be reviewing Greggs for my blog - now I have enough caffeine to never need sleep again! So much productivity is lost between 2am and 7.30am when I'm flitting through a couple of REM cycles!  Why, that's 38.5 hours per week spent lying on my back with my eyes closed, when I can be churning out websites like Thneeds!

Thneeds Thneeds are what everyone needs!

Okay, I may have had too much caffeine this evening. 

Aww, the PR people even sent out my caffeine fix in a white gift bag with big red ribbon.  It's the kind of personal touch I don't mind strangers giving me. ;)

I going to try not to drink it all before the weekend - we have family coming up from the 'Naki who I'm sure would be more than happy to put their two cents in regarding the Greggs revamp. (By the way, I'm not normally a Greggs drinker at all, but... I'm liking this stuff! This is not the review though, so I shall shut up.)

Then again, I have a website to try and complete this week, so there's no promises there.  "Keep your family close, but your Espresso Roast closer."

With that in mind, I better get back into it. Though first, I need another cuppa...

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Let the Custard Burn

I never knew I was a ninja, until I realised I had mastered the art of the Stealthy Silent Bed Slide. This is the ability to slip out of bed from beside a sleeping child, without waking them. It's a technique that can take months if not years of practice, and often is only mastered by default, when the child has finally outgrown the need to have mumsey lying beside him/her in a state of feigned sleep, night after night.

For me, I have the Stealthy Silent Bed Slide down pat, now that my third-born is two and a half. Now I just have to master the art of Staying Awake While Feigning Sleep. Then I'll be a fully fledged Ninja Master of the 9th Order; able to levitate and start fires with my mind. Of course, pigs will fly before this ever comes to pass.

It's this tendency to Fall Asleep While Feigning Sleep that causes me to still be on the computer at 1am. (2am... 3am...) Which in some ways is a good thing. I'm still getting an okay amount of sleep... Well, except for those days when I'm so caught up in a design project that I exceed my stay awake limit and spend the next day doing the zombie shuffle, while the kids take advantage of my limited brain activity by getting up to as much mischief as they possibly can, in as short a time frame.

Take the Lily Bug's recent hair cut for example.

The pic of Bree's self-inflicted mullet was the last 6 photos my Samsung took before dying a gristly soda stream syrup-induced death. The other 5 were the same shot but blurry - the focus having died after dropping it in mud previously...
I'd like to say the reason she cut her own hair with paper scissors is because I was so diligently stirring the custard that I couldn't tear myself myself away from the stove for fear of lumps

That is true, in part. I was stirring custard in constant clockwise motion without pause. I was, in part, trying to avoid lumps. It's such a common occurrence in this house, the kids eat it regardless and think it's perfectly normal. That's right folks, those poor saps are growing up with the belief that custard is supposed to have the consistency and texture of stew.

But for the most part, I was stirring the custard so diligently because I had hit a mid-afternoon energy funk, and at that point stirring custard was the only function my brain was allowing me to do. That repetitive clockwise stirring motion had flipped the autopilot switch in my brain and I was caught in a continuous loop. Meanwhile, my darling daughter was going all Jack the Ripper on her blonde locks.

And boy, did she make a good (aka really quite bad) job of hair butchery! It wasn't a lock of hair or two that she lopped off - it was everything bar a couple of locks at the back she couldn't quite reach (or hadn't yet got to). And much of it was chopped well above her ears.  Joe Dirt would be jealous.

How do you salvage that? 

That was what the hairdresser asked, though she phrased the question a little more diplomatically.

A pixie-bob. Though still somewhat uneven looking, as the hairdresser had tried to push to one side the hair which refuses to grow any direction except straight across her forehead.  Still, it's an improvement.

Two weeks on, and I'm getting used to her new 'do' now. Her hair had taken four and a half years just to get to the length it was in the pic on the left, so she's probably going to be 7 before it touches her shoulders again. And there's far bigger things in the world to be upset about...

Note to self: Let the custard burn.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Sometimes the strangest seeming things are perfectly normal after all.

The problem with buying your children toothbrushes styled like racing cars, is that they will at some point - when you're peeling kumara and your back is turned - start pushing them across the kitchen floor while making broom broom noises.

This is the highlight of my SAHM day.

Do you want to know the highlight of yesterday?

Taking Guy Smiley to his Plunket appointment, only to find the building had moved. 

As in, the entire building had been shifted. 




It's not the kind of thing you normally expect. Unless you share the same father as Willy Wonka. In which case, it would be quite ordinary to find a building had lifted itself by the seat of its pants to an entirely new location, just on the fly like that.

 In my universe however, building don't move about. So I drove up and down the street two or three times, squinting at the bare sections where the Plunket building and several other properties used to be, thinking I was somehow somehow missing it. Like maybe it had just shrunk or something. Really really small.

Then I went home and rang them, and learned the Plunket clinic had relocated. And no one had told me. And I had been on time for once too, which was a massive exercise in time management for me.

And that is my tale for today. My children are crowing like roosters while

two days later to add: I completely forgot to finish that sentence. ^^)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Infinite Monkey's Guide to Good Garden Maintenance

It had been a good seven weeks since the lawns had last been mowed, but Callie was completely unaware of this.  She never left her house, never glanced away from the monitor in front of her.  She wouldn't know if a giant bean stalk had sprouted right outside her window with a 'climb me and I'll lead you to great riches' sign dangling on its lower branch.  To see such a thing would involve opening her curtains; and doing this would produce glare and hinder her ability to see the computer screen.  And we couldn't have that could we?

And so the lawns continued to grow and Callie continued to ignore the disapproving stares from her neighbours, and the fact that her daughter often came home from school crying as she had gotten lost trying to find her way from the letterbox to the front door. 
From The Infinite Monkey's Guide to Losing Friends, Neglecting Family and Killing Household Pets, Part 3: Good Garden Maintenance.

Until the weekend, our lawn was nearly at that point again. The point where small children become lost in an urban forest that starts at our bottom step and continues in sporadic clumps right down to our gate. The point where I've caught the above-mentioned children gnawing on the handrail of the front steps, after having mistaken our home for a gingerbread house.

Or maybe that was less about the lawn labyrinth and more about forgetting to feed the kids breakfast... :P

The problem is, what with all this Winter business, the ground has like a marshland for weeks and weeks. I may as well take the lawnmower over to Bayswater and try to mow the mudflats. And then finally, when the weather had fined up for enough consecutive days to dry out the bog pit that is our front lawn, the mower gurgled to life long enough for me to mow a single strip, and then farted to a stop. Hmm. Probably should have remembered to check the oil... At some point during the span of years we've owned it...

Don't hate me for my awesome MS Paint skills.

But, a week later, and the lawns are done (to some degree), the kids have been able to enjoy playing outside in the nearly-spring weather without needing the help of Search and Rescue to guide them back to the house, and everyone's happy to shed the cabin fever - we are so over winter!!

In other news, I recently finished the Ashbree Lane website. Please head on over and check it out - Maree makes gorgeous tutus, hobby horses and handmade dolls!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Misadventures of Mummyzilla & the Brain-Sucking Zombies

WARNING: This is not a post filled with sun and laughter and jumping through muddy puddles while singing the Happy Happy Joy Joy song. I'm going to be frank. And not in a 'let's talk about perineal tears' kind of way. (Perineal Tears... Kinda sounds like a rock band.)

Yesterday evening I absolutely lost my rag. My brain combusted. Not in a scary Jake the Muss throw my kids around the room manner, but for a little while there I was pretty close to throwing MYSELF across the room in the grasping hope that knocking myself would give me a moment of peace and quiet.

The kids had been all over me like a fungal rash.  After a solid week of being sick, lethargic, clingy and increasingly bored, they'd regained their energy and, with me pre-occupied much of the day with trying to spring-clean the bedrooms, launched into stupid attention seeking behavior (the Lily Bug in particular - hitting and kicking at me every time she didn't have my full attention. Pushing me pushing me pushing me... Literally coming up behind me and giving me a shove, just for the satisfaction of seeing me lurch forward).

By 4pm I had stopped seeing two human children and had started seeing two brain-sucking zombie demons. Seriously. They were no longer my children. They had morphed. The Teen arrived home, and seeing that I was at some kind of emotional breaking point, she ignored my subliminal pleas for help (and my not-so-subliminal cries to the ceiling of "ohmygodsIjustneedabreak!"), went straight to the computer and stuck her earphones in so she could happily zone us all out.

By 6pm I had reached a "I know where people get that urge to smack their kids from" stage ( Do I need a disclaimer here to say I adore my children and despite a long moment of feeling like I was losing it, I would never Really. Lose. It?) So I asked The Teen to keep an eye on the darling delinquents so I could jump in the shower for ten minutes of peace and quiet. Five minutes later, Guy Not-So-Smiley was in the bathroom going "muuuum... muuuum" (which to me sounded like "braaaains... braaains") and two minutes after I was trying to get dressed with BOTH Smiley and the Lily Bug now right there in the bathroom with me.
I asked them to go back out to the lounge.
No one listened...
I asked a little louder. And louder.
I found myself screaming "Look just get out of the bloody bathroom and let me get dressed by myself for crying out loud!" so every neighbour in West Auckland could hear me scream irrationally at my pre-schoolers.

I really needed someone to take the kids away from me for half an hour - ten minutes even - and give me a freakin break. I had so much fed-up-ness choking me that I thought I was going to start popping blood vessels. Then I got so incredibly fed up at Char for never helping EVER and snapped at her "do you ever think about maybe saying 'hey mum, how bout I read the kids a story so you can have ten minutes to yourself?' Do you ever think about maybe offering some kind of help when you can see I'm at my fucking wits end?"

That went straight to a dead end street. She snapped at me for taking my shit out on her... Obviously completely missing the universal point that I was simply at my wits end...

Oh yes. That was the icing on the cake. I hear her teen angst problems every single day. She never asks how I am. She never raises a finger to so much as help wash the dishes. Never ever pays her sibs a shred of attention except to tell them get out of her face. I got on the phone to the Lad, balling my eyes out like I'd gone bat shit crazy...

Yesterday I felt like I completely lost touch with how to be a mum. Today I'm sharing this tale because I figure I'm not the only one who has these days. Right?

Friday, 17 August 2012

The big stuff. And knickers. Seriously.

What's your favourite quote or proverb? And why?

Like about a billion other social media addicts in the universe, I stumble across a ton of meaningful quotes and witticisms and whatnot, pretty much every time I log in to Facebook and find myself scanning newsfeed. Drone-like fashion. When I should be doing more important things. *looks shifty-eyed*

But every now and then, a gem pops up.

Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what.
If you don't listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won't tell you the big stuff when they are big,
because to them all of it has always been big stuff.
 ~ Catherine M. Wallace
It's a quote that really resonated with me. The kind that really makes me stop and think and go "woah. Deep man".

As much as my short attention span allows me, I listen to what the kids have to say, but there are times - many times - when I drift off and start thinking about what we're going to have for dinner. What do we need from the supermarket? How many dots of fly poo are on the ceiling? Am I wearing yesterdays knickers or todays?

And then my brain clicks me back into the present when I see an expectant face waiting for a reply. So I fudge it. "Oh no, that really sucks!" Assuming they just told me something sucky about their day.
"Oh dear... Hate it when that happens." That's often a winner. Again, assuming the story was one of woe. Because often it is. We're all goth at heart in this family.

Yup, try as I might to pay attention, I often completely miss what's been said to me. Or just as bad - I listen, but I brush off the story as inconsequential. 

THE TEEN: "And then so on said blah blah blah to rah rah rah, and oh my god I can't believe she blah blah blah with rah rah and he was my rah rah and now I'm gonna blah de bloody blah blah stab her in the face with a sharpened spoon next time I see her!"

ME: *blinks* "Oh. Yeah. That sucks."

THE TEEN: *frowns*

ME: *gulps* "But ah... Yeah you should just uh.... Yeah. You do what you think is right.... "

THE TEEN: *frown turns to expression of WTF?*

ME: "Because you're good at that... uh... right-thinking stuff...."

THE TEEN: *sighs and doesn't speak to me for the rest of five minutes*
^^ Luckily she has a short-attention span too. ;)

This is not the case all the time. Honestly. I try to listen and take the stories of my offspring seriously. I have learnt from the Teen that it is in my best interest to take heed of every last little detail she shares with me. Even - nay especially - the ones that don't directly concern her at all, but are in fact tales about the friends who I've never even met and who even live on the other side of the planet.

Because, Gods help me if The Teen spends half an hour telling me about her friend Lisa from England who was halfway through training as a mid-wife when she became pregnant and is only 17 and her boyfriend's dumped her and her dad's girlfriend hates her (have I lost you yet?) and I then one day say "wait, who's pregnant?" when she's unfolding a new chapter to the saga. Seven months later. Gods help me if there are sharpened spoons lying around.

And then there are the occasions when I'm so busy nodding and smiling that I unwittingly agree to something I'm fairly certain I would never ever agree to. If I were listening properly in the first place. Damn it.

I'm thankful that for the most part, I only really switch off from the Teen when she's telling me about blah blah blah who said rah rah to ya ya, and I do listen when she's telling me the real big stuff. The break up with her one true love. The bad days when her friends at school treat her like she's invisible to the point where her group forgets her birthday, but brings shared lunches to school for everyone else. The days she can barely drag herself out of bed because she's wading through a fog of teenage angst and I won't dare brush it off as 'just a phase' because I know of how she cuts herself and I'm well aware of her preoccupation with suicide. Often she's trying to pull others out of that frame of mind, but sometimes she's drawn to the idea of it herself.

So yes, listen to the little stuff while they are little, because this is the kind of big stuff you want them to tell you about, when they are big.