19 February 2015

The (ahem) magic of parenting

I was speaking to a couple of new parents recently.  Lovely couple, madly in love with their little bundle of poo and spew.

Sure, they are tired. Sure, they spend lots of time gazing at the wee thing reassuring themselves that without a doubt their progeny is by far the best looking ever born in the history of forever, obviously the most intelligent and clearly brimming with unrealised potential.

They don't mind the tired when they've had some sleep, and they despair of ever feeling rested when they've had none.  The breastfeeding has worked out in the end, the return to work went well for him and she's got a fairly decent support circle so she doesn't go batshit crazy at home on her own.

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But they're not finding it magical as such.  She feels none of this new mother euphoria that many of
her friends have spoken about.  She doesn't find the time she spends with her boob in the mouth of a mini megalomaniac delightful or life defining.  She doesn't define every poopy nappy she changes as a precious moment that gives her life meaning.

Which is perfectly reasonable.  Everybody knows that the reason you have children rather than getting a dog is because children learn to pick up their own shit eventually.  Literally and figuratively.

But the euphoria? The bliss? The sheer heady joy of parenting? The absolute magic of parenting?

Um. We totally oversold that to you.  Sorry.

Parenting is hard yakka.  Particularly in the beginning when you realise that all the preparation you did to birth the baby failed to give you any indication of how the hell you are going to get through the next 18 years and so on.

You spend 24 hours a day wondering if you're doing the right thing or if your complete lack of interest in reading in Latin to your child by week four has doomed them to a lifetime of voting for people who don't believe in climate change.

Breastfeeding might be good for the baby and of course cuddles with your wee one are incomparable, but it's generally not fun, it plays havoc with your choice of clothes and a lot of the time it freakin' hurts.  It's rarely delightful, euphoric or magical.

And let's not forget that babies are boring for the first little bit.  Adorable yes, but it's not like they are providing some entertaining small talk or showing you how to juggle. Which is of course a relief because between working out how to keep them alive and getting some sleep you have about enough energy to yell at the TV during Qanda but not enough to drop witty bon mots into your Twitter feed about your little darlings early grasp of calculus.

People say it's gets better.

And in the next bloody sentence they say treasure every moment because it never gets better than this.

And it's a bit of both.  Babies get more interesting, you work out how to exist on the sleep available, and about two weeks before they grow out of it you finally work out how to tie the baby wrap around you so you can use both hands at once. Which conveniently enables you to pat their back, and tweet about those moments where your baby does something like chuckle when they fart which strangely causes you to feel a surge of love so powerful you feel like you've been punched in the throat.


That moment when love-o-meter surges is what your treacherous little mind will transform. It will turn the poo, the spew, the post natal depression, the exhaustion, the mastitis, the coffee needed to get into work, the time you dropped your baby in the world's biggest airport in front of a thousand billion people, into the magical, heady euphoric period you will fondly recall as parenting a newborn.

And you'll peddle that to another new set of parents who are secretly just as worried as you were that they'll fuck it up beyond belief and are looking for reassurance. And you give it.

And then boom, before you know it you'll be wandering around the supermarket and overhear your little one randomly singing "My 'gina is better than your 'gina, my 'gina is the best 'gina in the world, you have a 'gina, I have a 'gina, no one here has a willy, it's all just 'ginas" and you feel a surge of love so unexpectedly visceral that you feel like you can't breathe for love.

Because yes, it does gets better.  And better again. It also gets messier, crazier, is speckled with socially awkward moments and contains a period of three years where the number one argument you and your partner have is about who is the MOST tired and therefore the better parent.

It means that as their little personalities emerge and they turn into ace little human beings you pretend it's nurture even though you know it's all nature.  They are just great kids and it's unlikely you had much to do with it.

And best of all, it means when they are singing about vaginas at top volume in a supermarket spookily jam packed full of senior citizens, you love them.

That's the magic my friends.  Selective memories.

You're welcome

  ****
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17 February 2015

What the fuck is perfect anyway?

A man, a father heading towards the same age as my father actually, just posted this little beauty on Facebook
"Show me a body part, I'll show you someone who's making money by telling women that theirs looks wrong and they need to fix it. Tone it, work it out, tan it, bleach it, tattoo it, lipo it, remove all the hair, lose every bit of jiggle," - Jennifer Weiner
Yes.  For the love of Colin. Yes. And the one that's currently up for dissection is poor Cindy who IS or IS NOT doing the right thing on behalf of all womankind. Because even people who don't make money out of it critiquing body parts has jumped on the bandwagon and has an opinion about what you should be doing with your own body.

All this furore about Cindy Crawford having a belly that's not taut enough to bounce a penny off. The woman's close to fifty for pete's sake and if she hasn't found better things to do with her time then do sit ups obsessively - well more fool her.

And for all you women decrying magazines for being deceitful little tarts - you're grown women FFS. Surely you've worked out by now that the only person that looks exactly the same in real life as they do in magazines or on the screen is Neil Patrick Harris.  That man didn't just find the fountain of youth, he damn well drank the lot and blocked the pipes the greedy chappie.

 Look I KNOW. I DO KNOW that there are generations of children systematically being subjected to unrealistic images about body type.  I know that we need to work on young people's self esteem so that they are resilient enough to love the body they are in and to love the bodies of their friends just the way they are and even OH MY FREAKING GOD to love the bodies of women who are paid to have clothes draped over them when all of us freaking clothes hangers which do the same job for a fraction of the cost.

I KNOW.  But it's not our young people freakin' out like toddlers denied a chocolate frog.

It's the grown ups.

I KNOW that when you wake up and are feeling ugh and you look at the front cover of a magazine you think 'Wouldn't it be a fine thing to be rich as Croesus and able to afford a chef, trainer, stylist, hairdresser and make-up artist to send you out in the world looking like that each morning?'. I KNOW that we need to hold industries accountable and march with our feminist principles tucked under our arm in collective rage and angst.

BUT FOR THE LOVE OF COLIN - can we accept some personal responsibility here people?

We know the magazines are photoshopped.  We know that we come in all shapes and sizes. We know that some of us count fitness and looking nice as a huge priority.  And we know that others don't.  We know that some people eat well and that some people don't eat so well.

We know that one person is blessed with the face of Lupita Nyong'o and the rest of us are blessed with our own faces.  We know that we can be the same height as somebody else and the same weight as somebody else and all of us look and feel incredibly different.

So why the freakin' outpouring of indignation every single time we find out somebody is photoshopped?  Why do we congratulate people on being brave enough to be featured without photoshopping or with a face free of make-up?  Most of us do this ALL THE FUCKING TIME, me included, and nobody is lauding my extraordinary contribution to the human race.

And I'll have you know my husband and daughters think I'm beautiful.  Even when I'm not convinced myself.  However - my face keeps my brains from falling down my dress so IT DOES THE FREAKING JOB.

So let's step up and take some responsibility for this tsunami of outrage, the ragged screeching of mere mortals somehow found wanting by the gods who decree what is 'perfect' this week.

If you are consumed with rage every time you look at a magazine that has a pretty face in it - stop reading the magazines and get a grip.  If you find a 'leaked photo' of a celebrity on the internet - don't see it as a calling to mob mentality but remember that it's just one 48 year old woman in a world of 7 billion plus people and be pleased that of all the issues she could have in life, hers is definitely one you'd pick for yourself.

And in the meantime just love on yourself.  And on others.  None of us look the same.  And we're all fucking
perfection from where I am sitting.  And from Pink's point of view too.  And she makes a lot of sense a lot of the time.

And just one last thing about Cindy - "WE HAVE MATCHING TUMMIES - I'M A FUCKING SUPERMODEL."


  ****
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13 February 2015

Valentine tips for lovers, singles and grinches

Ah Valentine's day.  Where people say love, think love, be loving and restaurants book their table in shifts.

I'm not a Valentine's grinch. In this crazy world where people spend half the time hatin' and half the time being hated on, I'm all for anything that gets us focussed on what we love about the special people in our lives.



And if Hallmark make a fortune because you are too lazy to take your guitar into town and serenade your lover at work than you need to accept responsibility and not lament that you've been forced into the cult of conspicuous consumption.

My dad for years left Valentine cards under the pillows of his daughters.  So there was never a year all through the ugliness that is puberty that I didn't get a Valentine's card.  Thank you Papa. That shit matters when you're young.

Wondering about whether we needed to start this little tradition at our place I asked the girls recently if they knew anything about Valentine's Day and my two year old said no, and my four year old wondered if it included cake. I think we can leave the anonymous cards for another year or two.

Though we might run with the cake thing purely to improve my parental standing. #justcallmeMamaHallmark

Anyway - here are my top five tips to acing Valentine's Day if you're in a relationship.

1. Tell your partner you love them by saying I love you.
2. Show your partner you love them - pour them a coffee or shag them - whatever.
3. Do not take them to see 50 Shades of Grey
4. Make them laugh
5. Buy Cheezels and share them.  Everybody loves Cheezels.

Top five tips to acing Valentine's Day if you're single.

1. Ring a friend and tell them you love them. You're single, not friendless, get over yourself.
2. Do not go and see 50 Shades of Grey.
3. Buy yourself a Valentine's card that sums up how brilliant you are. Display it.
4. Dine alone, take a book and take your time.
5. Buy Cheezels and eat the whole freaking box.

Top five tips to acing Valentine's Day if you're a Valentine Grinch.

1. Keep it quiet, being a miserable git reflects well on nobody
2. See first point.
3. See first point.
4. See first point.
5. See first point.

Happy Valentine's Day beloved and very appreciated readers of mine.



  ****
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12 February 2015

Happy Host of Digital Parents Blog Carnival

I have always loved this quote by Steve Martin -

“Some people have a way with words, and other people...oh, uh, not have way.”

I kind of feel it sums up the blogging process.

Some days when you write, the words just flow out of you and you can almost feel the shape of the words in your mouth as you pound them out on the keyboard. Then, when they tumble onto the screen, they have a flavour which is almost visceral and the world is a good and beautiful place.

And then there are the days where an idea or a notion will not be articulated no matter the effort you put in to trying to shape it and the world is bleak and mean.

With that in mind, this month I am hosting the Digital Parents Blog Carnival which is an array of 'Best of' blogs from last month as chosen by the writers themselves.

It's kind of a degustation for the mind - where you get to dip into an assortment of posts and get a taste of what is on offer.

That said, without further fuss or bother - go feast.


Becci's Domestic Bliss           
Tucker Tuesday: Recipe ~ Lemon MeringueCheesecake                        
The perfect accompaniment for Australia Day. Lemon Meringue Cheesecake. So easy and so yummy!                     
Follow Becci on Facebook

Sustaining Community         
When is it OK for kids to walk home alone?                  
Some parents are being investigated for letting their children (aged 10 and 6) to walk a mile home from a park. Has the "stranger danger" message gone too far?            
Follow Graeme on Twitter     

Finding Myself Young  
The reason why I'm determined to leave a footprint on this world.                    
Follow Toni on Facebook 

Gift Grapevine           
What scared you as a kid?               
I share 4 things that scared the bejesus out of me. Can you relate to any of these or am I just a weirdo?!            
Follow Tash on Facebook and Twitter   

Wish U.S Were Here 
U.S Online shopping from Down Under!                
Follow Wish U.S Were here on Facebook 

Where the Wild Things Were         
Conversations with Teenagers                   
How motherhood changes as your child grows up 
Follow Lydia on Twitter      

Adventure, Baby!     
Parenthood comes with a full load of self doubt.  
Follow Christine on Twitter and Facebook             

emhawkerblog          
Did you hear about this new singer, Paul Mac-something or other? Apparently he's some old English guy. Anyway, Kanye has given him a leg up in the music industry. Gotta love that humble megalomaniac.           
Follow Em on Twitter and Facebook 

Food, Glorious Friendly Food  
40 Friendly Food Lunchbox Fillers                  
40 recipes for filling those lunchboxes with REAL food!  All free from wheat, dairy, sugar and additives, and most are nut free too. 
Follow Karen on Twitter and Facebook 
            
Have A Laugh On Me  
Amessage for parents with shy kids              
Being a shy child is very hard and not just on the child.   
Follow Emily on Twitter and Facebook 
      
GoodFoodWeek         
Uncle Phil is a bit of a fixer-upper               
Maybe I've gone a little Frozen mad {or maybe my husband has}. Maybe he is a bit of a fixer-upper or maybe it's true love! 
Follow Shari on Twitter    
   
My Brown Paper Packages 
One Word                
Kicking the year off with a declaration of how I hope my year plays out, followed by 17 posts for January, including everything from recipes, special guests, travel, craft and more! 
Follow Malinda on Twitter and Facebook      

Leonie Percy Blog     
This post is about creating mindful moments in your day and how to practice mindfulness with your kids.       
Follow Leonie on Twitter and Facebook           

Betty and the Beast  
Infestation and Home Sweet Home              
"HOUSE ATTACKED BY NITS. Also we manage to set up our home. Hilarity ensues."                
Follow Matt on Facebook 

Pinky Poinker          
Although most of you are squinting at this in the far distance: BEWARE!         
Follow Michelle on Twitter and Facebook
           
Barbie Bieber and Beyond 
Quick Pass Me A Paper Bag!                  
The moment when you realise that your daughter is all grown up. This being her final year of high school, I reflect and wonder where the time has gone. Wonder if she has the tools to be successful in life and question my own mortality....     
Follow Mandy on Twitter and Facebook 

Calm to Conniption   
TheBreast Offence       
The prep work has started early. I am all about putting my best breast forward when it comes to feeding time for my new bub.            
Follow Karin on Twitter and Facebook 
      
my2morrows 
The Stay-cation                    
Remember when you were a kid and the most vivid summer memories were always about simple fun under the sun with your friends and family. Here's our stay-cation in pictures.      
Follow Shannon on Twitter and Facebook

Dadinating the Countryside 
We went to a sleep school recently, this post is a bit of an intro on what they are, and why dads should go. 
Follow Seamus on Twitter and Facebook
        
Mumma McD Blogs 
Whatthe hell is the Paleo diet anyway?             
A newbies guide to 'going Paleo' - and what I learnt over a month of living Paleo.           
Follow Rachel on Twitter and Facebook 
      
The Urban Ma           
January - My life in pictures in the first month of 2015. From family time and work to places we ate and played in Melbourne, get to know us and our little adventures in life :)   
Follow Jacqui on Twitter and Facebook
                
Kid Magazine 
Olivia'sFirst Birthday Party            
Our spotty dotty first birthday party complete with "Bikkie Bar", gorgeous fresh flowers and lots of colourful decorations.            
Follow Sara on Twitter and Facebook
          
Big Kid Little Kid       
HowTo Survive When Your Child Is In Hospital      
A Survival Guide for Parents who have a child in hospital. Demos K shares insights from his family's own experiences. 
Follow David on Twitter and Facebook
    
Two Little Humans and Me 
Q&A with Steve Worland, creator ofPaper Planes                
A one on one interview with Steve Worland, creator of the great new Aussie flick, Paper Planes
Follow Melissa on Facebook
                 
The Mummy and the Minx   
The School Parent's Creed                       
A creed for parents as we enter the school year. More kind. Less Competition. More Grace. Less Judgement. More good examples for our kids.        
Follow Robyna on Twitter and Facebook

Simplify Create Inspire 
11 tips for surviving summer pregnancy              
Pregnancy during summer can be tough but there are ways to ease the discomfort          
Follow Holly on Twitter and Facebook

Pretty Wee Things    
DIY Vitamin Water               
In the heat of Summer, staying hydrated is important.  instead of reaching for fizzy, processed juice or store bought vitamin water for hydration, try making this DIY vitamin water.      
Follow Krissy on Twitter and Facebook 

Our Parallel Connection   
Making friends at high school                 
Going to high school can be scary and hard to make new friends ... Tips on ways to make friends from a teenagers perspective    
Follow Natalie on Twitter and Facebook

laurentaylorloves       
Book love: January             
Attempting 12 books this year. This month is an audiobook we all listen to in the car. It means I don't have to listen to Frozen on repeat. Win win!     
Follow Lauren on Twitter 
      
A Rear Facing Family            
DearMr. Derek Bavaird of Jan Stewart Prams    
A far better realistic representation of what exactly Extended Rear Facing really is!!          
Follow Therese on Twitter and Facebook

Six Little Hearts      
A Weekend in Melbourne - Adara Collins Review             
Our weekend spent at the beautiful Adara Collins hotel and a guide to some family fun in the heart of Melbourne. Plus a special accommodation offer.        
Follow Jody on Twitter and Facebook 
   
Sweet Words Pretty Pictures   
OOTD Cowgirl Relic Rose              
An outfit post showcasing the beautiful handmade jewellery by Cowgirl Relic Designs. 
Follow Amber on Twitter and Facebook
         
Zamamabakes          
Lamington Ice Cream Slice      
The perfect summer treat that’s quick, simple, icy cool and delicious…… a ‘Lamington Ice Cream Slice’.   
Follow Dannielle on Twitter and Facebook 
    
Melanie Greenhalgh 
FFF......Fitness Fanatic Failure              
I'm a 38 year old woman and I know the ins and outs of weight loss, getting fit and staying healthy and yet I struggle! Read on to find what I've done to try to overcome my aversions to fitness!            
Follow Melanie on Twitter and Facebook
  
A Litte Part of the World  
Creating a boys bedroom             
Transitioning my Son out of a cot into a bed meant changing his room from a nursery to a little boys bedroom. Here are the finished photos of the room and what I used to create the look. 
Follow Jess on Twitter and Facebook
     
Jewelry Making @ CraftGossip       
Jewelry Packagaing For Valentine's Day                   
Great things come in small packages but what if the packaging was great too? Amazingly easy and fun ways to package your Valentin's day gifts.                       
Follow Shellie on Facebook

Ever-changing Life of a Mum         
The school yard journey                
With Miss 5 heading off for her first day at school, I'm wondering where those years have gone. It also brings back memories of my eldest starting school.   
Follow Erika on Twitter and Facebook 
                  
Checks and Spots    
Which Order Should I Apply My Skincare Products In?             
Eye cream before or after moisturiser? When do I put on SPF? And what about a serum? Find out how to apply your skin care products in the right order.          
Follow Clare on Twitter and Facebook
      
The Climbing Tree    
ThingsI've learnt from my first year of videography                
2014 was my first year of Project Life scrapbooking. I learnt heaps, and it's changing the way I'm using the project this year! These are some of my tips.        
Follow Talia on Twitter and Facebook

The Laney Files 
What It's like to have 4 children: Part 2: Why It's Brilliant                     
I wrote this as a part 2 to a post about how having four kids can be 'crazy-making'. It's also pretty great!                
Follow Karina on Facebook


The Mama Minute    
Frombaby to boy        
Mourning the fact my little baby is turning into a little man. 
Follow Joy on Twitter and Facebook



  ****
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10 February 2015

Um, Thanks Prince Phillip

Somebody noted today that I have been very quiet about the leadership spill.  Trust me - I have had opinions.  Big, loud, profanity loaded, opinions. But part of me confesses to a bit of stupid overload and I couldn't work out where to start writing about it all.

No. I don't like Tony Abbott.  But whether or not he is a good 'captain' is almost irrelevant at the
moment because he is just one man.

The policies of the Liberal party (in my view) are deeply flawed, lacking in compassion and steaming with aspirations of power hungry politicians.  And Labour, much as it hurts me to say it, is not much better.

The only reason a change of Prime Minister would excite me is if we were about to get a leader who was actually going to be a good person, not just a good Prime Minister.

See the thing that wearies me and worries me is that as much as I rant and rave - every day Australians chose Christopher Pyne. Every day Australians chose Scott Morrison. Every day Australians chose Cory Bernardi.  Every day Australians chose Jacqui Lambie. And so on.

And I think to myself - if the good citizens of Australia truly believed people such as these were THE BEST on offer, what the hell was the alternative?

Why is it that we are now voting in people that are complete and utter douche bags?

What is that saying about us as individuals?

Not a lot of very nice things that is for sure.

I also dislike the way a storm of hate has been directed at Tony Abbott's chief of staff as if she is responsible for him behaving like a cretin. Tony's a grown man. And he's the head of the country.  You can be fairly certain that whatever culture has been imbedded into his team comes from him, or with his full approval.

Let's not make excuses for him. Or his party. And let's not blame his employees for poor management.  Or Prince Phillip's knighthood.

Let's not excuse our dehumanisation of the sick, the poor, the refugees, the aged, the lonely, the vulnerable as good economic policy.  That's been proven time and time again to be absolute bullshit by qualified professionals across the globe.

I don't care what Miranda Devine said. You are only supposed to be reading that shitty paper for the sports coverage, not for the bigotry.

And don't get me started on the LNP only starting good government yesterday.  I kind of felt sorry for those of my friends and family who have been defending the Liberal party, it's members and it's policies for the last 17 odd months.  When the Prime Minister comes out himself and says 'Good government starts today' you know that things are pretty fucked up in the house under the hill.

I do feel weary.  I do feel disenchanted. I do feel like banging on about things like marriage equality, human rights, refugees, women's rights, climate change, education, recognition of our first people and the myriad of other things, becomes really depressing. But then I tell myself to smarten the fuck right up.

If I'm feeling weary, disenchanted and blue banging on about it - think how perfectly wretched the people living with these issues every day feel as the government and the media seek to perpetuate lies, mistruths and other fibs as the basis for policies which hurt our most vulnerable and benefit the most wealthy.

So I'm still here.  Still making noise.  Still thankful for the relative inanity of my own problems. And still believing that we absolutely can do better.  A lot lot better.

And when the days are darkest I think how we were wrong about Prince Phillip doing nothing for
Australia.  If he hadn't been knighted nothing would have changed, there would have been no spill, and we sure as hell wouldn't have had Rupert using electronic graffiti to tell Tony he's a numpty.

So thanks Sir Phillip.  Much appreciated.

  ****
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