Archive | December 2011

2011 Favourites

Favourite Video  – this mum had some guts – and thank God the kid didn’t screw it up!! Love Buble’s reaction when he realise the kid can sing.

Favourite Song

Book I enjoyed the most






Best speech of the year. In January 2011 Queensland was underwater with a series of tragic floods that destroyed many homes and took a number of lives. Throughout it all Queensland Premier Anna Bligh fronted up day in day out to the media and gave a bloody fine example of leadership in a crisis. I was only a pseudo Queenslander for 10 years but in this speech she made everyone proud of the Northern State.


Book that made me think the most – was prepared to hate it but Chua is actually quite a humourous writer and made some points that did get me considering our Western parenting style.






Favourite film of the year – now realise I didn’t get out much this year – so am going to pick the last movie I saw (which was Christmas present DVD) – very Australian, funny and incredibly sad.






Looking back not really a cheery selection but oh well.  I hope each and every one of my readers has a great new year and best wishes for a fantastic 2012.




Princess Child today asked “do you ever have a day when you just feel your life is wonderful?”

“Surrrre” I replied (OK hesitantly) “Do you feel like that?” I asked.

“Yep I do” she replied and my heart soared.

So all the tears and meltdowns during the year have disappeared in the languid calm of the summer holidays.

The joys of childhood. When playing under the sprinkler, lying on the grass gazing at the clouds or splashing at the local pool with your friends are enough.

Remember a world before the responsibilities, the mortgage, the money worries, the concerns over your kids, remember when life was wonderful.

2012 is to be the year of “wonderful”.

Condeming my children to a life of under-achievement

I may be holding my children back from achieving their true potential. I know it’s hard to fathom given the amount of time, energy and money I’ve invested in them.

This Christmas Hippie Child was given the autobiography of Jessica Watson, the teenager who in 2010, at just 16, became the youngest person to sail solo, unassisted and non-stop around the world (unofficially). Yes all on her own for 210 days at sea through 24,285 nautical miles of ocean waves.

Yesterday I opened the newspaper to discover a 15-year-old American has become the youngest person to climb the highest mountains on each of the seven continents. Jordan Romero did not spend Christmas fighting with siblings over who got the best pressie and who was gonna eat the last piece of cake. No he was too busy scaling Antarctica’s Mount Vinson. Everest? He knocked that over when he was 13.

I’m starting to think it might be my attitude that’s stopping my children embracing high-achievement and a lifetime of product endorsements and speaking tours.

You see when I heard Jessica was going to head off to sea I was one of the tut-tut brigade that declared no child of mine would be allowed to do such a silly, silly thing. It was just plain dangerous. Given that my teenager struggles to handle the controls of the front-loader washing machine I doubt she want to take command of 10 metre yacht on the open sea but that’s beside the point. My best friend supported my position,her 16-year-old wasn’t allowed to ride in her mate’s car because he had only just got his P-plates.

The Watson’s faced a barrage of criticism in the lead-up to Jessica’s voyage two years ago and I did wonder if perhaps we weren’t all being a little sexist in our attitude, after all Jesse Martin did the same thing setting off at 17, celebrating his 18th birthday at sea and completing the world record for youngest person to sail solo, unassisted and non-stop around the world two months later, with virtually no criticism. Was it just that he was a boy and we expect boys to be adventurous? Or was it that he completed the task at 18, so we shrug our shoulders and declare well he’s an adult now, parents have no control.

Even when it was all over and Jessica sailed victorious into Sydney Harbour to be greeted by the Prime Minister and every other man and his dog I still struggled to enjoy the moment, what if it hadn’t worked out? What if this brave girl had died out there in the middle of the ocean?

But it did work out and Jessica and her family should be very proud of her achievement but it makes me wonder how these kids become these adventuring souls.

Do the kids win the genetic lottery in determination and motivation and the parent’s just go along for the ride, figuring if they support the endeavours at least they will have some control over the safety aspects?  Or do the children feed on a parent’s own commitment and “do anything” attitude to create their own personal challenges?

Jessica’s family never had a TV. Perhaps that’s what made all the difference. While I was slamming on the Wiggles to quieten my toddlers Jessica’s mum was instilling in her a sense of imagination and focus “of course you can sail solo around the around the world, you can do anything”.

I tell my children they “can do anything they want” but I think secretly we are all aware of their limitations. I don’t think either are planning on a career in nuclear physics and I doubt they’ve got their eye on the Nobel Prize.

Jordon Romero’s father and stepmother were with him on the summit of Vinson Massif – see that’s the first problem for my children – neither their father or I have the physical capability to actually GO WITH them as they CLIMB MOUNTAINS. We’re struggling to find the energy to get off the lounge and take them to the movies this afternoon.

Jordon’s been a climber from a young age, at 10 he was the youngest person to climb Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro. Again, at 10 I was still worrying about my kids crossing the road safely without supervision. Perhaps for this family it’s just another family outing, nothing to do today? I know let’s go climb a peak?

I find it fascinating to consider how this mix of child/parent creates such high-achieving risk takers. Even given all the precautions taken, how do you as a parent, watch your child (albeit teenager) go off into a dangerous situation that has defeated much older and more experienced adventurers?

But well done Jordan, and as I write Jessica is competing in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race so good luck to her as well.

Christmas Come and Gone

Well it’s over for another year. Christmas come and gone in a mad whirl of shopping, cleaning, cooking, entertaining.

It was hosted for the first time this year at Shambles Manor. We did successfully clear up enough room for people to be able to physically enter the house, OK it was never going to pass any sort of white glove test and the rumour that I was still cleaning out the fridge when the first guest arrived may be true. Nonetheless the day went off well with everyone enjoying themselves.

The children enjoyed their gifts, although I’m still struggling to convince Princess Child the maxi dress is in fashion (she likes short, very short – I’m going to need to be medicated for her teenage years).

There was prawns and oysters and smoked salmon, chicken, turkey and ham. An array of salads. With Pavlova and Trifle to end.

Afterwards there were games – Pictionary, Celebrity Head and Trivial Pursuit.  It’s been a long time since we have purchased a board game, I think the Trivial Pursuit may be an original edition. Vintage even. Our first challenge was the fact the die were missing, luckily Cousin Brett found an app on his I-phone that meant you shook the phone and two little die rolled up with assorted numbers. Gotta love technology. Given the age of our edition it was slightly difficult for the children as most questions related to events circa 1970/1980. It was decided that next year everyone is throwing in to get us a new version.

We managed to get the group shot with a lot less drama than usual.

However, trying to get a nice family shot for “the blog” proved a little more challenging.

But in the end this one will be going on the “About Me” page for 2012.

There were leftovers for tea before everyone headed off into the night.

I hope you all had an enjoyable day as well.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Self Portrait

Fair to say, I hated this week’s photo challenge. Firstly, trying to find a decent photo of myself, VERY DIFFICULT. I was at one point tempted to revert back to my wedding shots, OK they may be 15 years old but with professional hair and make-up I didn’t turn out half bad. I was going to take a current shot, but couldn’t get in to the beauticians to get the eyebrows done  and the hairdresser laughed when I suggested an appointment before Christmas. Given the debacle of my Christmas preparation I  couldn’t even find time to whack on a bit of make-up. In a fit of desperation I thought I’d use my new I-phone (more about that in a future post) to get  a stylishly informal shot this evening. Oh people it was a tragedy, I’m tired and dear Lord it showed.  Wrinkles, flab,bags under the eyes, double chin, every possible defect you could think of all there. All attempts have now been deleted and  after a bit of search I’ve come up with this shot from earlier this year, not my favourite but Mr Shambles voted it as the best out of a bad lot. Mental note. Stop photographing children and get a half decent shot of yourself this Christmas.

Christmas countdown on – are we ready? No we’re not.

Three days remaining until the Christmas festivities. Or 62 hours, 26 minutes and 9 seconds at the time of writing, if you count Christmas day as starting at 6.00am on the 25th.

As the time ticks away the frenzy gets that little bit more intense because, as per usual, we are not ready.

You would think with 364 days notice we could get our act together in time, but no, not us. I know we’ll get get there in the end, because we always do. In one last mad, chaotic, dash we will shop and cook and clean and wrap, all will be delegated duties, quick throw that stuff in the linen cupboard to get it off the floor, for goodness sake don’t MOVE the lounge then we’ll have to deal with the accumulated mess under it, please somebody turn off the oven when the timer goes off.

It’s our own special version of family bonding. In other families they enjoy holidays together,  share hobbies, laugh over similar interests, not us, our bonding takes place in a mad flurry of dysfunctional teamwork as we try to meet self-induced deadlines of visitors arriving at the door.

I claim it is teaching the children to function well under pressure, others may disagree.

Mr Shambles and I will have our annual arguments over me buying too much stuff for the kids and him forgetting to get the ice for the drinks.

I will make my usual claim that next year I’m lay-bying all the gifts in June – and I don’t care if they are out of fashion, out of date or too darn small by the time Christmas rolls around.

Eventually we will sit down at the table laden with prawns and pavlova,  finally a chance to relax. At which point someone will emit an thunderous burp and start a completely disgusting “who can burp the loudest” competition which will annoy me no end.

How are you going? Got it all under control?

Reading This Week – There Should Be More Dancing – Rosalie Ham

Margery Blandon, an uptight 79-year-old, is on the 43rd floor of the Tropic Hotel debating whether to jump over the edge. How she came to get there is the basis of There Should Be More Dancing by Rosalie Ham.

Ham, the author of The Dressmaker, portrays a darkly humorous look at the process of aging, the mistakes of life and the vagaries of family.

Margery has lived in the one street for the past 60 years. Arriving as an eighteen year old pregnant bride, life was lived around Margery while she cross-stitched, judged others and engaged in long conversations with her dead twin sister.

Ham does an excellent job of conveying the frustrations of aging. The loss of independence, the body packing it in on you, the inability to control your future. There is also a sense of sadness as you remain stationary while the street you live in changes around you, people die, move away, new families arrive, cute toddlers become teenage hoodlums, renovations begin on the rundown houses, the local drug dealer moves in next door.

Margery engenders both sympathy and rage as we watch her physical decline while refusing to recognise what’s happening around her both now and in the past.

The loss of dreams and hope is evident in both Margery and her family, eldest son Walter a champion boxer injured in a bout, Morris the second son on permanent “holiday” in Thailand, and daughter Judith who Margery suspects may be trying to kill her.

In the end Margery is forced to acknowledge the secrets of the street she has lived in for all these years, the secrets her own family has kept from her. At the Tropic Hotel as she reflects on the life she has led Margery must confront the truth, not just about what has happened but her part in it all.

Ham creates characters who, while behaving badly, still engender a degree of sympathy as each of them carries with them the sense of loss of dreams unfulfiled. The novel certainly confronted the notion of aging in our society and makes you think about how you would consider your own life lived. Was it one of reward, enjoyment and engagment? Or are there regrets? Should there have been more dancing?