What Happened to Simple Birthday Parties?

What Happened to Simple Birthday Parties?


“The kids were dropped at the door, because it was a child’s party,
not an expectation for the parents to stay, lurking and scowling in the corner,
whilst inwardly seething about their weekend being lost on another kids party”.

 

When I was a kid I have fond memories of my 5th birthday.
I remember the anticipation of waiting for my pals to ring the door bell. I also recall using my new cardigan as a skipping rope (as you do when you are a fresh and cool 5 year old).
The inevitable happened and I tripped, my face landing heavily onto the corner of our wooden kitchen stools, delivering an impressive gash right across my eyebrow, with copious amounts of blood.
I also recall quite vividly, screaming at the top of my lungs at the sight of the gushing scarlet blood.  A quick trip to our local country hospital and 8 stitches later, I was slightly more subdued but still in fine spirits and ready for the partying to begin.

Said party was in fact a simple affair, consisting of the time-honoured, pass the parcel, a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, musical chairs and lots of running around the garden playing tag.

Party food was always fairy bread (an Aussie favourite, of soft white bread, spread with butter and sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, crusts off and cut into little triangles). If you haven’t tasted fairy bread, I’m calling it, you haven’t lived.
Every Aussie parent appreciates the child-like joy of sneaking a few fairy bread pieces when nobody is looking, savouring the crunchy sweetness of the sprinkles amongst the soft carbs of the bread.
Its not just for the adults I can tell you.

There was also always home-made sausage rolls with good old tomato sauce as a side, a bowl or two of Cheezels or Twisties (another Aussie favourite – basically crunchy cheesy moorish bites of loveliness), a plate of ham sandwiches and a platter of cupcakes, decorated with a messy swirl of buttercream icing and a glace’ cherry on the top (you know to be fancy…)
Oh, and my mum always had a small bowl of Smarties on the table, just to make sure there was a high enough percentage of sugar running through our veins.
Everything was served on cheap, bendy paper plates and the only other decoration that could be seen, was a few token balloons floating under the kitchen table.


The ultimate finale of the day was the retro Aussie ice-cream cake 
(only retro now – not in my day!)
As my birthday is the end of December and one of the hottest months of the Australian year, the cake was always saved until the end and whipped out for a quick happy birthday chorus and blow of the candles.  I still have fond memories of my birthday ice-cream cake.
Neapolitan flavour with lots of lovely, swirly, pastel pinks and chocolate browns amongst the obligatory vanilla.  With little piped violet-coloured flowers all around the edge, made out of cream and you guessed it, sprinkles in the middle.
It was simply heaven to a 5 year old.

Birthday parties nowadays look somewhat different.
And even though I have to smile when I read about the ‘vintage games’ being played, I can’t help but feel the heart of a child’s party has been lost somewhat.
When I was little, the kids were dropped at the door, because it was a child’s party, not an expectation for the parents to stay, lurking and scowling in the corner, whilst inwardly seething about their weekend being lost on another kids party.
Those parents couldn’t leg it fast enough. A kid’s party meant freedom for a few hours for parents. It was a win-win situation.
Everybody knew where they stood. I drop my kid off at yours and you do the same to me! Cheers and see-ya later.


Now entire hall’s are rented out for parties. Not to mention the entertainment, with the likes of a DJ, or placed in the hands of a slick party planner.
Professionally organised parties have become quite the niche for clever entrepreneurs, willing to lighten busy and overwhelmed parent’s wallets, in the name of a stress-free party.
If you have multiple kids, it’s music to their ears. If you do it for one, you need to follow the same course for the rest of your little loves.

We have been to many of these over the years and it makes me a little sad that the innocence of a child’s birthday, seems to be lost amongst the grand affair that often parents feel pressured to be a part of.
I cannot tell you how many times I have walked into another weekend party and found the poor mother looking exhausted and anxious, despite the professional’s running the show. Maybe it’s the fact that she is ultimately responsible and at the beck-and-call of 30 plus children, their offsprings and parents.

On a day that is so sacred and precious.

“This day, this birth day of your child, is the most precious date of the year.
Because it is the day that you met your baby.
It is the day that you laboured and held your forever love for the first time.
And whilst it is a celebration, it doesn’t have to be the grand affair that society seems to dictate we follow today”.


Our fourth child, Milly, recently turned 12.
Her request was for me to bake her chocolate chip muffins for breakfast and have a wander through Norwich in the sunshine and stop for an ice-cream gelato.
In our effort to live a slow and more simple and happy life, I couldn’t be more delighted at Milly’s request.
We have the privilege of celebrating her day together as a family without the pressure of time and commitment to other people.

I didn’t have to rent a village hall or take all day to set-up a venue outside the home. I didn’t have to worry about the cost of feeding lots of children and their parents. I was able to be with the child that made me a mummy for the fourth time.

Don’t misunderstand my heart though, I am not against parties! I just wish that these parties could be a simple affair, a gathering of precious and important people, rather than the huge event that I see time and time again.

We will, however, always and in large amounts, bring out the fairy bread because no birthday can be without it.
Australian or not, once you try it – you will be smitten for life.

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When Five Is The New Three.

When Five Is The New Three

Five is the new three 2

“Sadly for her, little Callum decided to push the boat out
and go head-to-head with
a public showdown”.

My husband and I recently placed our lives into the hands of barely out-of-nappies pilots and crew, when we flew from London to the South-West of France on a let’s say, a very budget airline.
We were seated over the wing and I somehow managed to cram my long, 6ft frame into their tiny, lego-sized seats. Just.

What I didn’t quite manage, was to successfully peel my eyes away from the seemingly flimsy wing-flaps, from my window seat vantage.
I mean those wings, to my untrained engineering eyes, seemed very thin and bendy. Surely they weren’t equipped to actually propel us above the clouds and manage to stay there?
I nervously asked my husband how often did he think the engineers checked the plane?
His answer, which didn’t help my anxious state in the slightest was “well as often as is needed – but of course there are things that just happen without them knowing. You know like when we are up in the air”.

Seriously? That was my point exactly.
How was this tiny, yellow tin-can actually going to make it all the way across the pond to France (and back hopefully)?

Fortunately, alcoholic beverages were available, at a wallet crushing £7 for a thimble sized sip. But nonetheless, it passed the time and eased the vice-like grip on my chest.
A  little.

I am not a nervous flyer, at all. Having worked for two major international airline companies for nearly ten years, my husband, kids and I have racked up many, many air miles over the years. But this no-frills aircraft – they are in a class of their own, on the scale of “are-we-going-to-die-today”?

One of the great blessings of being crammed into a tiny area, with reconstructed air-flow, the stale smell of urine and the noxious farts from the old men in the back of the plane, snoring with their mouths wide open, is the different styles of parenting that one can observe. Parenting being one of my most favourite subjects, this was in a fashion, a silver-lining.
And as I had nothing else to do besides try and find clean air pockets around the various foul intestinal smells, I learnt something new in the parenting world.

Five is the new three 1

Did you know that the popular and well-used parental strategy for discipline, of counting-to-three-until-your-children-make-the-wise-decision-that-you- are-actually-the-boss-and-anything-over-three-means-you-will-lose-your-shit, – is indeed out-dated?
It’s not three anymore. Get this.
Five is the new three.
Who knew?
I surely didn’t and not one, but two families on that dreaded flight, counted to five. I felt out-of-the-loop. Did I miss the memo? Why had nobody told me?

I mean, when snotty nosed Callum, (sorry if you have a Callum. I am sure he doesn’t have a snotty nose. This one did, unfortunately) kept standing on his seat and using it as a trampoline, his mum told him she would count to five, thus giving him much needed seconds to assess the naughty to nice scale.
At first I thought, “oh she means three, everyone says three”.
But no, she counted to five!
Sadly for her, little Callum decided to push the boat out and go head-to-head with a public showdown. Wiping his snot on his already green sleeve and occasionally on the back of the chair. Five didn’t cut the mustard with Callum. Possibly, mum should have stuck to three….

But then – and maybe these two families were related, now I come to think of it, as across the aisle, Maisy decided to have a lash at 101 ways to wind your parent up in a tin-can. She did remarkably well for a tiny human. Kudos for her manipulative negotiation skills, I was well impressed.
Maisy wanted Nutella dippers and Coke and any sane parent will know that this sugar-sugar combo on a good day, at a park with a tonne of space to go wild, is a gamble.
In a plane, it’s deadly.

But it’s not an easy call.
Either give the kid the sugar and be thankful for those few quiet, stolen moments of peace, before her little body goes into overdrive.
Or say no.
Mum, wisely (but in the short-term unwisely for us – the rest of the passengers) said no.

Maisy predictably sobbed her little heart out and mum started the count – to five.

Let’s be honest, five was never going to work for Maisy, or her mum, or us.
That mother could have counted to five hundred and Maisy would still be screaming. So she did the next best thing. She bought her the Nutella and Coke and for the rest of the flight we watched her whizz up and down the little plane, her insulin-fuelled legs working overtime, ducking and diving under and around the flight attendants, with frightening speed and accuracy.

However, in all honesty, I think it was Maisy’s constant distribution of weight in the middle of the plane, that balanced us perfectly and enabled us to land with our lives still intact.
And for that reason alone, I am so very grateful for the new three to five rule. Even if it didn’t work.

Five is the new three

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52 Things Your Mother Never Told You.

52 things

52 Things Your Mother Never Told You

Have you ever stopped and thought “why did my mother not tell me this?”.  I certainly have.
It was the day after our first child was born and I had to get up to use the toilet, located at the far end of a very long hospital corridor.
And the thing is, I couldn’t walk and could barely manage a wobble.  It felt as though all of my insides had been squeezed and then poked back into my body, all bruised and swollen.

Nobody told me that would happen, or that it would take weeks to be able to sit without ice.

I also was never enlightened to the fact that when a baby projectile vomits, it looks like a sheet of liquid and surprisingly can reach the other side of the room.  I guess that’s why they use the word projectile!

Or that I would feel so tired in those early weeks with a newborn, that I literally lost the capacity to form words and I would cry when I saw my bed because I was so desperate to be in it.

So in the spirit of learning by mistakes, here are some that you may recognise for yourself.  And if it happens to be all 52, you are in good company!

  1. If you knock on a door and it doesn’t open, try another one and keep going – until one opens before you even get there.
  2. Preheat the oven before baking a cake. It matters!
  3. Put sunscreen on your child during an overcast day.  Don’t let the hiding sun fool you.
  4. Buying a puppy on a whim because your kids beg you to – usually ends in disaster.  Puppies poop and wee in the house for a solid six months (pardon the pun).
  5. Wear a mask when flying.  Aeroplanes are germ infested petri-dishes.
  6. If you are flying with kids – good luck.
  7. Don’t miss the opportunity to travel. Often and in far-flung places.
  8. Don’t become bitter.  Ever.  It’s a slippery slope to becoming one of those shrivelled, grey nasty people who ooze contempt.  Plus it makes you ugly.
  9. Smile always. Laugh often. Hug your loves for at least 60 seconds each day.
  10. Hold your kid’s hands when in public.  Losing a child whilst shopping is one of the most traumatic experiences a parent can ever face.
  11. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t compare yourself to others.  Repeat as often as needed.  Daily.
  12. The grass is never greener on the other side.  Never.
  13. Take risks because you never know what is just around the corner – even if you can’t see it.
  14. Don’t shy away from difficult situations – they are the mortar that builds a house and make it strong.  Strength comes through adversity.
  15. When and if you become a parent, remember that your spouse was, and always will be, your first love.
  16. Don’t let your marriage go stale.  Invest in quality time together, even if it means hiding in a cupboard together so the kids don’t find you, drinking wine.
  17. Remember your kids are with you for a short time and your spouse forever.  Make your marriage a keeper.
  18. When the days are long – picture what your life will look like in ten years time.  Nothing stays the same.
  19. Teenage boys smell.  Invest in deodorant.
  20. Teenage girls will cry.  A lot. Be patient – at least once a month.  You were once that teenager.
  21. Embrace different cultures and don’t be pig-headed about your nationality being superior.
  22. Be prepared for storms to follow rainbows. The good news is, it’s generally a constant cycle of life  – so hang in there with the tough times.
  23. Relax – life is way too short to sweat the small stuff.
  24. Don’t give your kids too many choices. Remember they are little people and you are the adult.
  25. Don’t keep company with people who make you feel bad.  Toxic friends will pull you down.
  26. Don’t gossip.  It’s an unattractive trait.  No matter how tempting it may be to slander someone in the moment.  It always makes your heart feel black.
  27. Living a simple life is totally ok.  More than ok.  It’s paradise once you just let go
  28. Don’t chase money.  It’s like water and slips through your hands quicker than you can grasp it.
  29. Be content in the moment and stop striving for better.  Better is today.
  30. Don’t let your kids whine.  They will turn into obnoxious adults.
  31. If you allow your kids to answer you back, you are welcoming disrespect into your lives.  Guard your heart and theirs.
  32. Hamsters bite.  Get a rabbit instead.  Or a fish.  They don’t live very long.
  33. Invest in your kid’s hearts and not the stuff they want.
  34. Too many after-school activities can cause your kids to become exhausted. Protect their childhood.
  35. Let your kids play! Climb trees, skin their knees, ride bikes.  Fresh air is a child’s best friend.
  36. If your kids are bored – give them a high five and watch what happens.
  37. Competition with others makes your teeth grow fangs.  Think about it.  Fangs will repel people.
  38. Be content with what you have.
  39. Don’t over-analyse risks.  You won’t leave the house.
  40. Be kind.  Always.  To everyone.  One day that kindness will return to you tenfold.
  41. Having a small group of  ‘keeper friends’ is better than a gang of many, who make you feel lonely.
  42. You are your children’s greatest teachers.  Don’t underestimate the impact you have on their lives forever.
  43. Be still for at least 10 minutes a day.  Switch off and watch your heart rejuvenate.
  44. One day your kid’s will grow out of wetting the bed.  Grown adults don’t wet themselves, unless they are post-natal women and in that case, you may need to invest in Teena.
  45. Some days you will smash the world like a boss.  Other days you will put your keys in the fridge.
  46. Be happy.  It drives people crazy.
  47. Silence is the best reply to a fool.
  48. Don’t worry about the amount of vegetables your kids don’t eat – one day they will be steaming asparagus and eating raw broccoli.
  49. Surround yourself with people who get you.
  50. Know that you are a limited edition.  Love your soul.
  51. You may find you have nothing in common with people who wash, dry and put all their laundry away in the same day.  This is ok.  Welcome to the club of reality with kids.
  52. Dance in the rain.  It’s life-changing.

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Lily’s Kitchen the Perfect Pet Food & Snacks

Lily’s Kitchen the Perfect Pet Food
& Snacks.

“Handle every situation like a dog.
If you can’t eat it or play with it,
just pee on it and walk away”.
‘Unknown’

We took our labradoodle out yesterday for some retail therapy at our local Pets @ Home.

If I ever want a bit of socialising, I just take Queenie out for a spin and watch her delightful nature attract attention.
It didn’t take long for a lovely lady to stop and pat Queenie’s head and tell her she was incredibly beautiful and wasn’t she “just the sweetest labradoodle ever”.


My mind cast back to the times when Queenie used to chase the chickens, eat dead birds whole, consume poop bags, run after cars and ingest whole table legs, and for just a moment I thought – you didn’t know her when we weren’t friends!
It was a long and agonising relationship. Touch and go for a time.
I wasn’t sure we would make it to be fair.
Except we thankfully did make it and yes, she is gorgeous – now.
But it was a rough ride for quite some time, when I would only ever refer to her as “that black dog”.

I would like to be a dog actually. Sleep, eat, play, repeat.
I could handle that on a daily basis. And if none of those needs are met, I would just pee on and walk away.
Simple and uncomplicated.

Yet we complicate things. Us humans.
Especially with dogs, according to dog behaviorist/dog whisperer, Cesar Millan, “Life is simple. Dogs have no material needs, they just enhance the beauty of togetherness”.

Of course, we would never approach a random stranger, tell them how cute they are and ask to pat their head.
Or heaven forbid, sniff their bottom.
That’s just awkward.

But dogs – they break down barriers. Keep it simple and become magnets, between people and animal.
They are wonderful ice-breakers, fabulous companions, kind-hearted and so very faithful.

It is for this very reason why animals and especially dogs, wiggle their way into our hearts, and stay their forever.
And also why we want to give our pets the very best nutritious food on the market.

Lily’s Kitchen

We have long been a fan of Lily’s Kitchen for Queenie as well as our four cats.
I don’t know any other product that literally makes Quennie drool the minute she sniffs it.
Gushes of water on the floor, slobber hanging from her mouth. She loves Lily’s Kitchen so much – it has an immediate effect on her salivary glands.
Gross but true.

Lily’s Kitchen create naturally delicious, wholesome food which is packed full of wholesome ingredients.
I like the fact that I can actually see pieces of vegetables in their products and they don’t smell like mass produced dog food.
The smell doesn’t put me off.
I think I could actually eat it too – and not die or start barking (not recommended obviously!)

Lily’s Kitchen have very appealing packaging, in lovely colours that remind me of mulberries, blackberries, cherries and sunny exotic fruits.
And they have a huge range of goods to suit all types and sizes of dogs.

Our favourite, aka Queenie’s most-drool worthy bites – are the mini treats.
Their Famous 100% natural Bedtime Biscuits with nutritious honey, probiotic yoghurt and soothing chamomile and passion flowers,  smell seriously divine.  A perfect little nibble to give your dog at the end of the day.
And whilst, I am not a fan of beef liver and wouldn’t care to eat it for tea, Lily’s Kitchen Rise & Shine nibbles, with said liver, fresh carrots (you can see) and botanical herbs are oven cooked until golden and crunchy. Cue drooling – not me, my dog.
These little power-packed biscuits provide a wonderful range of vitamins and minerals, as well as alfalfa sprouts and turmeric micro-nutrients.
They look so appealing (for the benefit of owners like me who like all things aesthetically pleasing), shaped into mini flowers, enriched with back-strap molasses, giving them a deep caramel hue.

And I will let you in on a secret.
Lily’s Kitchen have snack bars for dogs that are packaged like muesli bars and look like little pieces of chocolate.
I can’t tell you the amount of times, I have glanced at the packaging and wanted to eat it.
It’s dog food! I know right!

Queenie absolutely loves their Sun Shiny Day bar with banana, papaya, sunflower seeds and dandelion root.
The strap line is “perfect for pockets and busy dogs”.
And it seems owners who forget to eat and grab one for the road.
Just kidding. Don’t eat it.
Although if you did, I wager it would taste really good.

 

This post is an affiliate post and should you purchase Lily’s Kitchen products through the links we will be paid a small commission 

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So you want a Dog?

So you want a Dog?

So you want a dog huh?
Let me tell you a story.

We have an adorable labradoodle called Queenie.
She was hard work for the first two years of her life.
Running away from us when called, nipping at our heels, jumping up, scratching the kids with her big paws.
Passing bowel movements the size of a horse.
Demolishing table legs and kitchen doors.
Ripping up flooring. Barking at the wind and passing wind that would kill the population of a small country.
Hard work.

She once found a dead bird on the field near our house and for the life of me, I could not get her away from it.
The poor entire creature was firmly planted in her mouth and halfway down her throat.
I was so furious, I stormed home yelling ‘That’s it! We are over! We no longer have a relationship.’
She came home half an hour later and sat on the porch.
Regurgitated bird at her feet, feathers around her mouth and a very repentant face and possibly sore tummy.
I literally didn’t speak to her for a week and referred to her as ‘that black dog’ for a very long time.

To say she has been in the dog-house on numerous times, is an enormous under-statement.

The naughtiness that was Queenie in those first few years, knew no bounds.
I once found her in the laundry room, having digested half a packet of poop bags and a tray full of cat litter.
She eats knickers. Mine preferably.
She steals leftovers from the bin and knows where the entire population of cats dispose of their waste surrounding our house.
Disgusting.

She has been harder to train than the children.
Think parenting a toddler the size of a teenager, with four legs for speed and fur like a bad 80’s perm.
It’s a nightmare.

However, upon her second birthday, she hit some sort of good behaviour marker and changed. Became calmer.
We started to like her. A bit.
I started calling her by her name again. Sometimes.

Now we are nearing our third year with her and the tables have completely turned on our once feral puppy.
She is utterly scrumptious, still not obedient and still eats cat poo.
But she is therapy, all packaged up in a black fur ball of kindness and love and she just adores her people.
She rounds the children up when we are on a walk, hovering over them like a mother hen.
She surfs like a Boss, upholding her Australian family roots. Taking one for the team in the freezing UK water, instead of balmy Australia.
And, she rests her sweet head on our knee when we are sad or crying. Sitting by our sides in comforting solidarity.

So, if you are thinking of getting a dog, I would say, keep thinking.
Give it time and see if the desire wanes or grows.
If it grows, borrow one. It’s a much cheaper exercise and will give you some honest clarity.
After all of that, you still want a dog – get a Queenie.

But be prepared of two to three years of hard labour and pray plenty for patience and kindness.
After that, it will be plain sailing.

Basically, the best decision you could ever make.
Go buy a dog.

 

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A Hedgehog Crisis

A Hedgehog Crisis.

Today we had a hedgehog crisis.
In the form of a tiny, anaemic looking spiny mammal, called Joey.

He decided, quite rightly, that it was too cold to live anymore. So he curled up in a tight ball, stopped eating and drinking and slept.
The problem with African Pigmy Hedgehogs, is that they love the heat.
Not this freezing British weather.
I fully understand Joey’s situation.

Our poor little guy had abandoned all hope and didn’t even try to keep warm.
All blankets and hot water bottles (yes he really has them) were discarded, as he decided to spend his final hours curled underneath his litter tray pads.
He basically wanted to die in the toilet.
That is until my husband saw him and we all – panicked.

Out came three hot water bottles, a hair-dryer, a heat lamp, fresh chicken, scrambled egg, banana, apple, soft rugs and lots of pleading for Joey to wake up.
And he did. Thank heavens.
It took two hours to really get him moving. Waking him was reminisce of trying to coax awake a grumpy old man in the dead of the night to go to the toilet.
For all intents and purposes though, our Joey was near the toilet. Just saying.
Instead, a rude awakening ensued, whereby a five course meal was impressed upon him, a blow-dry and a heat lamp to top up the tan!

We now, thankfully, have a happy hedgehog once again, who has decided life is worth living with the Irwin Squad. Phew.
And we have a happy 11 year old young lady, aka owner of Mr J, who is at this moment holding her spiky companion with the greatest of love.
And relief.

Thanks for sticking around Mr J.

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When Poo is a Sticking Point.

When Poo is a Sticking Point.

WARNING: Toilet talk to follow. For those who feel uncomfortable discussing bodily functions, best not read on and let’s part as friends.

So we are a large family and also have children who at the moment find the subject of poo quite entertaining.
It features a lot in our conversations.
Too much in my opinion.

We have the added benefit of our septics not really working properly.
Actually, they work at about 80% capacity one week and 5% the next.
Which also, very unfortunately means, my toilet, attached to my bedroom is the only working facility in to house for waste products to be passed.
So to speak.
Pardon the pun.

This also means that we are forced to become very serious about poo.
It goes something like this, usually after breakfast, lunch or dinner.

‘Mama I need to use your toilet! I’m busting!’
‘No’! I reply it’s not your turn. ‘You did a poo yesterday. Hold it until tomorrow’

(For reals! This is my life).

‘I can’t hold it I will get a tummy ache. I have to go now!’
‘Fine but if you make a smell or block the toilet, I won’t be pleased’.

Cue ten minutes later, the door opens and a wave of indescribable odours, like a thick green mist, hover across my bedroom.
Also outside the toilet door, are the remainder of the kids, desperate to be relieved of their predicament.

‘No no no! You can’t ALL need to poo’!
‘Surely you don’t need to’.
‘It’s in your mind’.
‘If you just sit on it a bit it will crawl back up. Go on. Give it a try’.
‘I’m going to die in here if you all let go. And you will block the only working drain we have left’.
Go away! Try the garden. Nobody will see. They will think it’s the dog.’

You may laugh but this is my life I tell you!!

We live in Marshlands, which is basically boggy, muddy water under our barn and outside. Sometimes when we walk, we can feel the ground wobble, gurgle and move from the water underneath.
To be fair, it might not just be water slipping away beneath our wellies.
I shudder to think what other little (or not so little) surprises are under there.
Marshland isn’t great for septic tanks and definitely not great for families the size of ours.

The last and absolute final straw is when EVERY SINGLE CHILD has used MY toilet.
I have gone in with the essential oils, (see the link to my homemade poo spray), wielding the toilet brush and poured hot water around the bowl, and my husband sheepishly sneaks in.

‘No you bloody don’t’ I told him the other day. ‘Just no’.
‘But honey where will I go then?’
‘Um I actually don’t care! Go anywhere except here!
‘Do what the kids do and go in the garden!’

‘They do not go in the garden! That’s disgusting!’

I won’t divulge the end of our conversation but I will tell you that waste products are a very good fertiliser and currently our roses and bay tree are looking particularly healthy and glossy green.

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All of Everything at Once.

All of Everything at Once.

I saw this on my Facebook feed this morning and it made me chuckle:
ME: I want to travel more
BANK ACCOUNT: Like, to the park?

Isn’t that so true after the end of year excesses?
As much as we have tried to scale down Christmas for our large family, it isn’t always easy.
I also entered the world at the very inconvenient time of 29 December.
It’s a double-whammy of strain on our finances.
The kids get so excited about celebrating my birthday and somehow my assurances of ‘just make me a nice card’, or even worse, ‘be good all day on mummy’s birthday, will be a gift enough’, doesn’t really cut it for the kids!

And we love to travel!
Which is why we spent Christmas in France recently.
We chose the cheapest cottage we could find that would fit our family, even though our 11 year old daughter still had to sleep on the hard wooden floor at the bottom of our bed.
We took the cheapest red-eyed ferry crossing we could find and then drove extra miles, dodging the extortionate tolls everywhere.
We shopped at the supermarket and cooked meals to save money.
The kids Christmas present was the holiday, bar a few stocking presents and kind gifts from relatives.

Because who needs more stuff right?
I bet if you tried to remember what you gave your children for Christmas 12 months ago, you would struggle to remember.

However, I know for sure that experiences and memories are the true gifts.
The ones that stick and remain forever. Constantly brought up over family dinners and spending time together.
The ‘remember when we did this or you said that’.
They are the jewels that we can so often overlook, amongst the quest for material gain.

We sacrificed much to give our kids a French Christmas experience but we gained so much in terms of their happiness and our family vault of precious memories.
The things we really want and need as a family, are time, genuine relationships, meaningful work and peace of mind.

And these things can’t be bought.

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Dear Santa I Haven’t Been Good…

Dear Santa I Haven’t Been Good…

 

Dear Santa, before I explain, how much do you know already?

When I was a kid, my mum used to begin to talk about the Christmas Bird very, very early in the year.
It was around August time.

I remember, very well, because in Australia it was cold and our Christmases were hot.
Like scorching 42 degrees hot.
And it always baffled me how the Christmas Bird could be so on point.

Like, halfway through the year on point.

Now to give both my parents credit (although I am sure my dad, didn’t truly get the concept of Christmas Bird either – he just stood in silent solidarity with mum), I think the idea was pure genius.
Because I literally thought that bloody bird was everywhere.

Inside.
Outside.
360 degrees view of everything, even inside my little kid head.

Checking if I cleaned my teeth properly.
Watching over me with its beady eyes to see if I shoved my clothes, creased and dirty, in the bottom of my drawer.
Or hid my sweaty, smelly school lunch in the cavernous corners of my stinky school bag.

That bird was ruthless.

And even worse, he reported back to the big guy, Father C, on frequent occasions, giving brutal evaluations of the worthiness of my soul and the receptive pay-back of my huge Christmas list.

So here is how I played it out.
I would write my very intensive, comprehensive Christmas list in June.
Proof read in July.
Presented to parents in August.
In triplicate.
Also via the post.
To our home address, dad’s work and of course, the North Pole. 

Thank the good Lord we didn’t have i-pads or i-phones then, as my folks would have been hit from all corners, on every mechanical device known possible to man.

I was savvy.

I knew that the sneaky CB (as Christmas Bird will now be referred to), was due to appear any day henceforth the 1st of August.
And by goodness me, I was ready.

With ‘The List’

‘The List’ was enough to make the strongest mothers weak at their knees.
So comprehensive.
So lengthy in detail and content.
That it exterminated the CB within 2 weeks of appearing.

CB just couldn’t last the distance.

Basically, what was contained in The List, is  what I now call –
‘The Mother Guilt’.
Because when CB was kicked to the kerb, I had won.
On all accounts.
Which, for me, meant that I pocketed my entire, lengthy, intensive, mother-load of guilt Christmas presents.

Every.
Single.
Time.
On December 25.

And my poor, weary, parents, were, I suspect, doubting the effectiveness of CB’s power.
And wondering how the heck they had been completely done-over.
Again.
By a ten year old.

Let’s just say.
What goes around -comes around.

And I now have no less than SIX MOTHER-LOAD, GUILT RIDDEN, CHRISTMAS LISTS to work through.

Touche I would say, touche.

 

 

 

 

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