Saturday, 25 December 2010

Thrills in Dubai

For the biggest thrill in Dubai, forget the skiing in a shopping mall, four wheel driving in the desert or the world-famous water parks – no, for the biggest rush of adrenaline, try driving.

Before leaving, my partner got his international licence for a mere $30 and a passport photo.
‘Do you think I should get mine?’ I asked. ‘You know, just in case? Might be convenient to go to the shops or something?’
In the UAE, like the US they drive on the opposite side to Australia and of course, I’m so left-right dyslexic, I can’t even work out what side that is.
‘Nooooo. No, no, no,’ he responded, gently, but very firmly. Perhaps best for all concerned.

So he’s driving and I’m navigating. It’s a wonder we’re still together. We went up that main drag twice in a row, headed towards Abu Dhabi instead of Al Sharjarh– ie, the absolute wrong direction - because when we did get off, we managed to loop around through road works and follow the cars ahead, only to be spat out onto the main drag and do it all again. Miss your exit and it’s a long way to redemption.

We try and head home and discover freeways in the desert not even mapped. As I’m starting to lose hope, my sister-in-law’s car shoots past with my brother driving and her waving out the side. As we follow them around a spaghetti trail of roads back to the villa, I think perhaps there is a god of traffic!

Happy Christmas everyone!!!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Heading Off

So I’ve finally made it to the airport to discover the check in time is 7.25pm, not the take off time, which is more like 10.25…. but anyway, at least I’m here. I could almost just lie down in this filthy bar (the only place I can find a power point) and have a snooze. It’s been a hectic few days. I dropped my partner and the kids here first thing this morning and they’ve headed off via KL on the cheap flights. My brother has just called me say there’re plenty of first class seats – hooray!

I think I lost about 2kilos this week without even trying. Surprisingly a diet of mince pies, chocolate and lattes can bear results – who’d have thought? (Mind you, that’s mince pies, chocolate, coffee and absolutely nothing else.)

The packing was tricky – we’re covering 28 degrees in Dubai and 14 in Jordan. We packed like this once before to go to Dubai and Europe and had everything from bathers and floaties to woolly tights and parkers. Once you’ve got that, you could really travel the world for months – what a lovely thought! Oh that’s right, I work… sorry…dozed off for a minute and was dreaming.

And besides the clothes, I have a separate bag pressies. I am seriously taking an miniature Electrolux vacuum for the small fry for Christmas from Santa, I’m seriously going to have to bring it home and I am seriously insane – but she is four and a believer, so that’s just what you do.

I think it could be a great present, especially if it really does work well and she gets into the swing of vacuuming her own bedroom – fifty bucks well spent I’d say!

In fact, she was with the other children and I when we bought it. I sent one of the older ones back to make the purchase and I swear, she didn’t even notice or comment that her sister reappeared holding a massive department store bag that she didn’t have just minutes before!! The self-obsession of pre-schoolers can sometimes work to your advantage. That and their enthusiasm for vacuuming!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Human Nature

Friday night found me at a Human Nature concert. ‘Why’ is what I’m hope you’re asking  yourself if you have any idea of the type of person I am! Well, my oldest son has disability and his friend from the special school was going, so naturally he wanted to go too. His mum, Tara, tells me he loves boy bands so he can sing along. Fair enough. To date, my son has loved bands like Cold Play, Green Day and, for his Make A Wish wish, even met The Killers. I was afraid his disability, which is progress, had now spread to his taste in music.

So, back to the concert…I had no idea elevator music could draw such a crowd! My enthusiasm was, perhaps, marred by the four hours sleep I’d had the night before due the client/agency Christmas party, a hectic day at work including a client breakfast and a lunch, plus the fact I was having 19 for Christmas dinner the next night and had so far, done absolutely nothing about it.

Thankfully there was time before the show started to skull a glass of champagne – purely for medicinal purposes. We ran into another girl from my son’s class who was there with her parents and sitting next to us in the wheelchair access bays. In fact, I’d have to say there were a lot of people there with disability and the rest were even more middle aged that me – so on the upside, I felt young! And at least all they were all enjoying it.

I’d joked during the day with my colleagues, singing ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ couple with some slick 80s style aerobics moves and I was not disappointed – that’s exactly how they opened the show. Followed closely by some Barry Manilow (including the classic ‘Oh Mandy’) by which stage I sent a text to Tara, a few seat away, saying ‘Kill me now…”. (For those Barry fans, I just Googled to see how to spell his name, to discover he’s touring Australia in April!! Get in quick. What a shame we’ll be in Africa….). They decreed nearly every song ‘special to us’ and everyone they worked with in Vagas as ‘legend’.

I should have enjoyed in more, I knew all the words, but really, I felt like I was trapped on a cheap cruise ship in the South Pacific were at least the cabaret is included in the price, and hey, you’ve got nothing else to do in the middle of the ocean!

At least it wasn’t a late night. Even the boys were keen to get going before the inevitable encore. On the way out, I asked my son what he’d give the show – out of 10. He hesitated. ‘Five’, was the final verdict.
‘And what would you give the Green Day concert?’
‘Ten.’ Phew - I was so relieved!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Theme Dressing 4.

...and ended with Bird In A Tree (note the owl pendant on the tree-ish top).

Am I alone? Do you sometimes look down and find yourself wondering if you have a dress up box where a wardrobe should be? I have worn a nightie over jeans as daywear/nightwear/sleepwear, earrings from my daughter's show bag, my partners ties....yes, I am ridiculous I acknowledge, but I have shared my dress up sins - so come on ladies - share yours! Tell me about some of the outfits you put together...

Theme Dressing 3 was Turkish Delight....

Theme Dressing 2

And then it progressed to Safari.....

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Theme Dressing 1

I don't know how exactly it started. Perhaps I've always loved a dress up - but I recently found myself theme dressing for the office.

The first was Aviator....

Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Kinder Concert

We had the kinder concert last week, which all went well, but it reminded me of the last kinder concert we’d been to which was the traditional nativity play. Kids dressed in drab, brown robes with towels on their heads, making it hard to work out who’s Joseph, and who are the three wise men – or even Mary for that matter. Others pretending to be a donkey and an innkeeper – you know the drill.

So there are about forty parents and assorted siblings and other peripheral relatives, squeezed into a tiny class room and naturally it’s been a day of about 38 degrees.

We’re up to the bit where Mary and Joseph are in the stable and the narrator announces that Mary gives birth to a baby boy. Mary, (who sitting on one of those tiny kinder chairs you often find yourself on when having that difficult conversation with a teacher, making it uncomfortable as well as difficult) reaches under the chair, and under her drab brown robe and whips out a Baby Bjorn.

“See girls," one of the dads cheerily calls out. “It’s not that hard.”

The intake of breath from the women in the room exhausts the last on the oxygen. If it weren’t so hot and we weren’t half way through the play, there may have been a riot and a death... and a jury would have acquitted.

On a separate note, the fridge is in – and it’s everything I hoped and dreamed – just gotta get around to reading the instructions… and I'll report back on the celery lasting 28 days.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Corporate Wear (& Tear)

So Anonymous 1:01am on ‘And stretch’ made me think about corporate wear and small kids. Thanks 1:01am!! For the inspiration and the hilariously, excruciatingly accurate description of mothers at drop off – have a read everyone – you’ll recognise those ladies! There’s a lot of the ‘super athletes’ at my kinder drop off….

Anyway, it reminded me that years ago, I was wearing a black pencil skirt at the office. It was about 5pm as I shot through reception that the highly groomed fashionista who manned the entry called out ‘MWW, what’s that on the back of your skirt?’ Skidding to a holt, I swizzled my skirt around and inspect the snail trail running horizontally about half way up my thighs. What the heck is that? It’s kind of crusty and…oh, it’s snot. At exactly the height of an 18 month-old’s nose and in the arc of a perfect wipe. Mystery solved. But it must have been there all day – thanks colleagues, friends, buddies, pals!!!!!

This was only topped by the mark, around waist high, on my khaki shirt when baby was around one. (You can see already where this one’s going…) So I’m sitting in the main boardroom with a lot of clients and agency folk when I gave it a scratch. I managed to flake most of it off – it was only small - but like all mothers, I thought it needed a licked finger to finish the job. As I popped my fingertip into my mouth, yes, I tasted poo.

I’ve had vomit down the back of my suit, chuck in my cleavage, poo under my nails….

Come on ladies, I’m sure you have some great stories!!!! Well, great in retrospect anyway! Please share….

Monday, 29 November 2010

And stretch.....

There was research last week and as we sat behind the one way mirror, my client and I discussed how it is that some people go anywhere in pants that don’t have any fastenings, ie zippers, buttons, etc. Yes, people who believe it’s perfectly fine to go through life in track pants (for the gents) and leggings (for the ladies). We started to think maybe we could invent a new dress code: Pants that do up required.

Another researcher has a theory that the minute you stop paid work, you age about 10 years. You dress for the house and then think you’re only going to the supermarket, so it doesn’t really matter – no make up and trackie daks, and then that’s it – forever!

Now ladies, Mothers Who Don’t Do Paid Work (because let’s face it, there’s no such thing as a Mother Who Doesn’t Work!) please, prove the theory wrong - please!!!! Not that I’m close to giving up paid work anytime soon (unless you’ve heard something…??) but I just want to know it’s possible to still pull a look together on a daily basis.....?

Thursday, 25 November 2010


When I was young(er), I got excited by a party, a new frock, a cute boy - usual stuff. Now I’m old(er), I get that thrill from things like a NEW FRIDGE!!!

What has my life come to when I covet nothing more than a fridge the price of a small car? When did that happen? And no, I don’t mean it happened on Monday when the other fridge shat itself. I mean, when did the thrill of a household appliance move right on up there with cute boys??! (Because yes, we all know, I still do like cute boys – but there’s no way I’m taking them home!! I live by the old adage that it’s okay for a girl to work up an appetite as long as she eats at home.)

Tuesday morning, squeezed before the smallest’s school orientation drop off and a board meeting, I sprint into the electrical store and shop exactly the same way I do for clothes. Except for some reason, high prices are really easy for me to resist in clothes – not so household purchases. I run up and the down the aisles of fridges the same way I flick through a rack of frocks – no, no, no, no. Too bulky, not big enough, looks dated already, hate that door, don’t like that digital display…and then I saw it…okay it wasn’t THE most expensive in the shop but it’s getting up there.

I head to work and fantasise about how improved my life will be with that fridge. No, not just improved, complete. I think of all kinds of ways I could possibly justify the purchase. Will the bio-fresh compartment save me thousands a year in fruit and veg currently wasted? (Probably not.) Are the running costs dramatically cheap? (They’re not.) Will its high-tech refrigeration be kinder to the environment? (Doubt it.) Hmmm. Give me time, I am determined to find a way.

So what is it that gives you a thrill? A bathroom tile? A new vacuum? Speak up – confess your desires and please also leave a comment on ways I can possibly justify that fridge!

PS - Cubs all survived on Monday despite sharp knives and hot frying pans.... 

Monday, 22 November 2010


So after a lovely weekend and good night’s sleep, Monday was looking okay.

Until my partner noted the fridge was actually radiating heat when you opened the door – not cold.  It was acting like an oven. Not good.

I had noticed last night a couple of things near the top were warm, and turned the temperature down, but it was now well past a fiddle with the knob stage. So added to the morning chaos was trying to transport every thing from the kitchen fridge to the drinks fridge in the shed. Not ideal, but under control.

The four year old is yelling at the back door. Actually, no, screaming. I suspect she’s stood on one of those pesky nails that lifts just those few millimetres out of the deck. I can hear her screaming back to the shed, verging on hysteria so go to investigate…. to discover the washing machine has pumped about 80 litres of water onto the laundry floor!

I’m having déjà vous from last Monday and the Cub tsunami! Water is pouring into the hallway, onto my hand-knotted (ie frickin’ expensive!!) runner, lapping at the new carpet in the kids’ bedrooms, pooling in the laundry cupboard and gushing into the bathroom. What a start to the day.

We’ve got Cubs tonight, and I don’t know how, but somehow I’m in charge – again??!! So, not satisfied just with sharp knives in the program last week, tonight I’ve added the extra thrill of hot fry pans as well!

Stay tuned on how this day ends….

Thursday, 18 November 2010


Cubs was action packed this week.

We had the kids in three groups. One lot were making Christmas present tags from old card, cutting up cheap sponges and stamping Christmas wrapping paper in another and I had the group carving potatoes for stamping said tags and paper.

I’d bought new knives from the supermarket, as the ones at the hall as so blunt you could cuddle them and as we all know, blunt knives are far more dangerous than sharp ones.

‘Kids,’ I sternly warned, ‘please be extremely careful with these knives, because what happens if you cut yourself?’ They should know the answer by now, but of course they all look at me blankly.
‘I look really bad as your Cub Leader!’

It was slightly chaotic but okay until one kid came flying in from the bathroom, yelling at me that the boys’ toilets were flooding.

I called to one of the male leaders but he seemed pretty pre-occupied and the kid had me by the arm assuring me it’d be okay to venture into the boys’ toilets – just hurry!!! As I got to the door, I could hear gushing and see small waves of water coming out from under the door and into the hallway. Not good. But when I flung open the door, a veritable tsunami crashed over the hallway and flooded the kitchen. I peered in and saw my charges had put the plug in the trough and turned on all four, old fashioned (ie high pressure) taps, to full blast. There was water cascading like a casino fountain – only no pond. And I’m wearing my thigh-high, black suede boots – damn it!

I managed to tip toe in and get all the taps off before recruiting some help to try and mop up. And in the middle of it all, one of the usual suspects slashes his finger while wielding a potato and an extremely sharp knife.


Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Good Help

The old adage is true; it’s hard to get good help.

I know I’m spoilt when it comes to having assistance on the domestic front, but I do have exacting standards (although you’d never know it looking at the state of my desk at work…)

We had a domestic goddess a while back who’d clean, wash, fold, put everything back where it went, rearrange the linen cupboard, refold and colour coordinate every thing in my wardrobe and on occasion, even throw dinner in the oven on her way out. Then she moved.

Our current cleaners are lovely, lovely people. When they first started, they said to just write anything down that needed doing. What I quickly discovered is their grip on the local language is as tenuous as a wet bar of soap. One minute they seem to have a fairly firm grip, the next it’s completely shot out of their grasp.

I did leave them a note, once, asking if they could put the clean washing back in the cupboard. They said they’d seen a note but couldn’t read my writing. Seriously, I had printed like a 12-year-old high school girl, so don’t think typing it in 36 point would have actually help.

Nearly every doona is in its cover side ways, there are single sheets on the queen sized bed and dust thick enough to grow tomatoes on the bookshelves.

Last night I noticed the spider webs on the ceiling fan in our bedroom are now so elaborate, I’m torn between attending to them myself or just spraying them silver for Christmas.

But the bathrooms are clean, their folding is so good it’s slashed my ironing bill and they are lovely, lovely people. Where did I put that can of silver spray paint??

Saturday, 13 November 2010

The Tumour

I’m only writing this because Dad can’t use a computer. But Mum, or any relatives who might stumble across this, please don’t tell him. Really. You all know why.

So, Mum and Dad were in town recently because Dad had a check up after a prostate operation that had gone well. I was meeting them in the city for a drink.

The three of us sit down in the bar of the club with our drinks and Dad looks me in the eye and pauses for effect:
‘I’ve got a tumour,’ he announces with a stoic tone, despite his stare pleading me to break down and weep, panic, pale, something, anything, as long as it’s dramatic.
‘And…?’ I venture, calmly. ‘What does that mean?’

As you probably know, a tumour just means a lump. Yes, it can be a very bad lump, but it can also be a very benign lump. I wasn’t falling for that old chestnut without more information.

‘Well, it means I’m not very bloody happy, doesn’t it!’, he protests, clearly disappointed I hadn’t responded as he’d hoped.

‘Yes, but what did the doctor say?’ I asked in what I hoped was an encouraging tone, although I was by now, and knowing Dad, pretty sure that it wasn’t going to be bad news.

‘Well, he said not to worry about it,’ he meekly admitted.

‘Right then…’ I said.

So predictable.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Summer Bag

No – not me in a bikini looking like porridge poured into a body stocking – not that kind of ‘summer bag’. I mean the hand/shoulder/tote type bag.

I picked up a couple of great ones when we were in Malaysia. ‘Timmy’ Choos as Susan, who I used to work with calls them. But we noted, this recalcitrant, lesser-known brother does insist on using Jimmy’s name. How very bold!

The guy at the night market in Penang recognised a women who was absolutely, positively going to buy a bag. So after I’d selected a couple, we were onto the business of negotiating cash.

‘Look,’ he said, flicking a cigarette lighter and waving the flame dangerously close to the paler of the bags I’d selected, ‘Real leather’.

Now I’m no leather expert, but having recently purchased a leatherette jacket from Portman’s, I recognised the soft-to-the-touch material immediately.

‘Mate, it’s polyurethane,’ I said flatly. ‘I know it’s not leather, you know it’s not leather, so let’s just talk price, shall we?’

(Actually, I liked it better when things were vinyl. You could profess that seven vinyls gave their lives for that handbag! But polyurethanes just don’t work. And yes Mandy, I have used the word ‘leatherette’ which you hate, so feel free to give me an alternative…)

Anyway, back to Penang: Deflated, the guy popped the lighter back in his pocket and we did the deal.

I’ve been using the black one for winter – and losing bits of that bloody fringe everywhere, especially getting them jammed in the seat belt buckle in the car! But really, you can hardly tell, can you? And for less than $40 each, I’m more than happy to have a few ‘Timmy’s’!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The ultimate come back....

Kids can be very precocious at times, and if you’re anything like me, you do try and hold your tongue and not tell them what you’re really thinking because you know the therapy later in life will cost you dearly – financially and emotionally.

But sometimes it just slips out.

I was running one day and daughter two was riding her bike. Actually, it was a very pleasant afternoon and she wasn’t being precocious – for a change – so I don’t really know what inspired me.

We were stopped at the traffic lights and I asked for a drink from her water bottle. After taking a good gulp, I handed it back and she began furiously wiping the end on her T-shirt.

‘What are you doing?’ I asked.
‘I don’t want your germs,’ she said, in a reasonable tone.
‘I don’t know why you’re worried about that,’ I mumbled. ‘You came out of my vagina.’

Therapy, here we come…..

Monday, 8 November 2010


We had a new business pitch last week and being in the (perceived) cool and groovy industry of advertising, we thought we’d present on an iPad. There were only two potential clients. It seemed like a good idea.

So we’re in the presentation and all’s going well. Baby cupcakes adorn the table in the appropriately dressed room, the clients are friendly and we’re all making sense – bonus!

Time for me to show a video and I tap the correct button. So far, so good.

‘MWW, can you turn the volume up a bit?’ asks the Creative Chairman.
No pressure. Just me, the Managing Director, the Creative Chairman, the Head of Strategy Planning, two potential clients and an iPad.
‘Sure,’ I say with false confidence.
I hit a button. The screen goes black.

‘Sorry about that,’ I say with false serenity.
I hit the home button and we’re now looking and the Finance Director’s children – one face-painted as a tiger, the other as some other animal – but less distinctive.
‘They're not my children,’ I comment, like anyone cares less, but just desperate the fill the gaping chasm of techno failure.

I slide the ‘Slide to unlock’ and we’re back.
Thank the lord!!

So just to prove I’m not a total idiot, I give it about 5 seconds and attempt the volume thing again….and I hit the same ‘off’ button!!!

Seriously, there are some days I should just be fired in manner befitting my stupidity.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


So I'm at my desk one day when my boss, MD (Managing Director) yells over the open-plan, in ear-shot of, well, pretty much the entire floor, "Mother Who Works! You'd have an MBA wouldn't you?" Great.
My colleague, Sarah, is facing me with her back to MD. She quietly says, "If that stands for Major Bitchy Attitude, I think you're good."

And sadly, she's right.

I try and keep in under control, but every now and then it gets out - my MBA.

For example: I recently got a tattoo. And an associate, who is clearly not keen on the ancient-art-slash- current-fashion for inking was struggling for something appropriate to say as several other were commenting on my fine choice.
"Did it hurt?" he finally managed, with ill-concealed disdain.
"Why?" I asked, my MBA rising to the occasion "Are you thinking of getting one?"
"Me??" he replied, "God no!"
"Then it's irrelevant, isn't it."

That was not kind and I am not proud. But I think we all have an MBA lurking beneath the surface that can be tempted out with the right provocation. Don't we???

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The Glamour of Travel

A friend took her kids on their first big OS trip this year. She shared with me that she was slightly concerned that her kids might come to expect these kinds of trips and become a bit precocious about overseas travel (she was probably looking at my kids as she was saying this….)

‘’You taking them to China for god’s sakes!” I point out. “It’s not like you’re off for a month in a villa in Tuscany and then a few weeks skiing in Aspen then a stop off at Tahiti to recover.”

On our recent Malaysia trip, which I’ve typed about before, I swear, this is a photo I took at one of the toilets at an international airport. Yes, of course there were other, sit-down options, but the small one had quite taken to this type of loo. She didn’t really get the squatting thing and literally stood up with her back to the door and took aim. She got really quite good at it! Although that splash  in the foreground just might be hers.....

And if the toilets aren’t traumatic enough, there’s the in-cabin entertainment on the 2 hour trip to the snorkelling platform on a rough and ready ferry.

I’m not sure if you can see the titles of the video selection in this shot, but they are, from left to right:
•    The Deadliest Sea
•    The one in the top middle I can’t remember - can anyone recognise it? Suggestions welcome!
•    The Perfect Storm
•    The Poseidon Adventure
•    Titanic
•    Twister (no relationship to the sea but still a disaster)
We were lucky enough to have the kids terrorised by The Poseidon Adventure as we crashed through the waves…. nice.

So yes, travel with children I’m sure could be extremely glamorous, but we’re more the circus!

Thursday, 28 October 2010


I've just noticed that for those of you who subscribe by email, the video for 'Christmas' doesn't come through. (It's me - hyperventilating!) So you'll need to click the link at the bottom of the page to go to the actual website to view it.

You also need to do this to comment - which I'd really love you to do!

If you could also pass this on to everyone you've ever met in your whole entire life - including that odd girl you sat next to in Grade One - and encourage them all to subscribe, I'd really appreciate it.



Wednesday, 27 October 2010


Christmas. There; I’ve typed it. And I can almost refrain for reaching for a brown paper bag to control my hyperventilating.

Don’t you think Christmas is the ultimate test for the working mother? It’s like it taunts you, ‘you’ve made it this far in the year, but can you handle.… Christmas??’

Last year I decided it’d be a good idea to spend this Christmas with my brother and his family in the Middle East. He works for an airline so we can mostly get pretty good deals. But as it’s turned out, Christmas is kinda busy, so the cheapest way to get my partner and kids there is via the really, really cheap (ie cramped/no movies) airline to Kuala Lumpa and a connecting flight to the Middle East. What I failed to realise until yesterday, was the far cheaper way for me to get there, is first class with my brother’s airline.

I pondered how to break the news and decided a message on Partner’s phone would be best. ‘So, just realised….’ I started, and ended with ‘..really, no, really, I’m only doing this to save us money.’

It’s not quite finalised, but the picture so far is him and kids, hoping there’s something decent left on that food trolley when it finally makes its way to them, while I’m in my own suite, with a bed and French champagne.

Yes, I feel bad. I will get over it. It really is just to help the budget...

Sunday, 24 October 2010


So Friday afternoon, I'm at my desk. We're 'free range' in our office, or open plan.

The conversation turns to religion and Mary McKillop. The group next to us are predominantly of catholic up bringing and our team is pretty much protestant/atheist, so it does make for some good arguments.

Our boss, MD (Managing Director) strolls out to join the conversation. He's extremely knowledgeable on such matters as he actually spent seven years of his life training to be a priest before he joined our highly moral industry that rates right up there with used car salesmen and politicians.

He's adding some highly intellectual concepts to the discussion, when suddenly, he breaks off mid-sentence:

'Mother Who Works,' he exclaims, 'are you painting your toe nails at you desk???'

I clutch my Chanel Paradoxal (their fab new colour - check it out!) defensively and quietly ask, 'Is that wrong?'

Vote on the poll below - please!!

Friday, 22 October 2010


I’m been vaguely contemplating joining a gym. I do run but those babies – the smallest was just a slip of a thing at 8lb 6 – have taken their toll on my pelvis. My physio (who, BTW, brutal!!! If there’s ever a war, there’ll be a job for her. She’ll find their weak spots and literally press them till they confess. There’s been occasions when I’ve had to be peeled from the ceiling) thinks a cross trainer might be an idea instead of just running.

As you know from Old School, I run on the treadmill in the study. There’s no room for a cross trainer. Some weight work might be good too. But I haven’t really been a gym junkie since this was what the gear looked like….

I did have one brief foray between babies 3 and 4 at an all-women’s gym that was near home. Having not been in a gym, or even exercised for quite a while, I picked what I thought was a good starting class, a combo of aerobic exercise and weights. But I obviously couldn't remember how to read the timetable because what I stumbled into was a 90 minute spin/pump class!!

As I tumbled off the bike after a grueling 45 minutes and lay on the carpet in the foetal position, sucking in air like a man almost drowned, I was approached by one of the other ladies. She had shoulders a lumberjack would be proud of, the hair of a US Marine, white socks pulled up mid-calf, tight bike shorts on her ample derrière, a singlet top that showed her sports bra and a really wide weight lifters belt pulled in so tight she was almost struggling as much as me to breathe.

As she stood over me, heaving, she grunted in an alarmingly deep voice: ‘You new here?’
‘Yes’, I whimpered.
‘Welcome to the gym,’ she gruffly offered.

There you go – she was just being kind.

So, should I join a gym?? Check the poll at the bottom of the page and cast your vote.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Inquisitive kids

When my son was in Prep, someone invited the boys from the class to a birthday party miles out of town. They were at the local school so all lived near the city, but no, that special, archery, go-cart, mini golf establishment was clearly for the enjoyment of the children and not for the convenience of the parents – god dam them.

Car-pooling was the obvious solution and I, despite having a newborn (number three) put my hand up for the pick up, and was frankly appalled when my offer was accepted.

So, trucking back from whoop-whoop with six 6-year old boys, the conversation turns to marriage.

(As a complete aside, there’s a lesson in here about what you say to your kids because they will reveal it when perhaps you wouldn’t have. I picked up a couple of brothers to take to school most mornings for years and was shocked when the older one announced you can’t have kids if you’re not married. Oh, but I think you can, I replied.  No you can’t, he insisted, because you have to sleep together and you can’t do that until your married. But you can, I ploughed on. In fact I’m not married and you’re in the car with my kids…. awkward silence….)

Back to the six year olds. So one asks if boys can marry boys. Being one to tell it like it is, I tell them yes, pretty much. (Okay, I know legally they can’t, but they can have a commitment ceremony, which is, well, a commitment. Which I'm sure I also told them.)

They then ask if boys can turn into girls. Well, yes, that’s possible too. You’d want to be really sure because it’s a big thing to do, but yes, quite possible.

Some quiet thinking time passes. So, can girls become boys? Yes, that can also be done.

And finally, one guy down the back asks, so can you turn into a lion?? No buddy, you can’t. I swear, the disappointment was palpable.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Sliding doors....

Not the crap movie with that stupid concept that we’re all living parallel lives.  We’re not people!! This really is it.

No, the sliding doors I’m referring to are on my car – well, van probably. It has two – one on each side.

A work colleague sternly warned me after the returning from maternity leave for the third time that one more, and I would be looking at vehicle with sliding doors. Amazingly, that didn’t deter me and I went back for another. Although I think even three and being a Cub Leader – sorry, Assistant Cub Leader – is probably justification enough.

I don’t love my van, but I am missing it. The practicality and convenience of sliding doors is a bit like pre-sliced cheese; once you start using it, it’s very hard to go back. It’s been at the panel shop for about 5 weeks. It suffered from hail damage (similar to my thighs…if only I could book those in for repair and claim it on insurance!) and then got rear-ended by Tom outside work. Which, as it turned out, was kinda fortuitous, as the insurance company wouldn’t kick in for a loan car for hail damage alone, it had to be involved in an accident. Thanks Tom!

People do seem to be surprised I drive a van, despite the fact it is black, has dark tinted windows, is European and has leather seats. A guy at work said he thinks it’s hilarious – the way I dress and that I drive a van…hmmmm…I’m still not sure how to take that. Suggestions welcome.

So I’ve just rung that fancy-pants brand’s panel shop again and no, it'll be a few more days yet of struggling like a normal person with doors on a fixed hinge.

PS If anyone is reading any of these ramblings, it’d be great if you could subscribe (via the email is probably easiest – on the right hand side) and or leave a comment. I’m feeling lonely!!!!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

The Pack

Why do we need sleep? I posed this question to my Cub pack.

Yes, in my spare time I'm a Cub Scout Leader. Actually, that's a lie. I'm an Assistant Cub Scout Leader because I have not, and will not,  completed the training. One of the other leaders - actually no, he's also an Assistant Leader too - and I did our training together. An entire long weekend from Friday night through to late Monday night, in the middle of winter, in freezing cabins with really ordinary food and no alcohol. None. At all. I swear if that isn't a testament of commitment I don't know what is.

The toilet blocks were made of Bessa bricks so the wind could whip through unrestrained. It was all up at 6am to light fires, a day of instruction and practical examples, being patronised and treated like we were the 8 year olds. I love being told off for coming into the canteen through the wrong door. The days ended with a sing-a-long around the camp fire in the bitter cold with a cup of Milo before crawling into my sleeping bag on the top bunk with a plastic covered mattress for a wakeful night of bush noises outside and chainsaw-like snoring inside. Only to wake at 6am and do it all again. Fun, eh?

As you already know, my idea of a great Saturday night is a lovely restaurant with friends and an excess of expensive alcohol. This boot camp was a memorable weekend for all the wrong reasons so enough is enough and I am, and shall remain, a mere AL.

My son joined Cubs about ten years and within a few weeks I was cornered and asked to join the parent committee. True colours were revealed at the first meeting when, amongst the 6 or so 50ish blokes that made up said commitee, they elected me, the only female and blonde, secretary. (No, no points for guessing that. It was obvious). So after a couple of years of me bossing them all around, they stupidly elected me President - now I could boss with authority.

The next crisis was a lack of leaders so dire, we were facing packing the whole thing in. Which did hold some secret appeal, I confess. But no, as usual because I don't have enough to do, I volunteered. I do find I enjoy working with the kids more than the parents for one of the same resons I work - ie when I tell them to do something, there's a chance it'll happen.

So, why do we need sleep?
'So our parents can have a rest from us?' ventured one of my charges.
'Exactly!' I responded. Kids can be so insightful can't they?

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Old School

I was asked by my old school to give a talk to the year 12 girls at their valedictory dinner. And yes, I have absolutely no qualifications in public speaking. But, naturally, being totally flattered, I accepted.

So, the night of the dinner and my partner and I arrive at the exclusive ladies club at the posh end of town. I strode in feeling fairly confident and found myself in a 1980s time warp with lots of fake pale green and pink plants and, I kid you not, a mock garden conservatory.  I sized up the crowd and my confidence evaporated. Aside from the students, there were a lot of really conservative, really important-looking and probably really rich people here.

My outfit of gold (yes, GOLD!) Rock ‘n Republic Victoria Beckham jeans with the signature crystal crowns on the pockets, ridiculously high, jewelled platform sling-backs and Ricochet black jacket suddenly looks a tad out of place amongst this sea of navy blue and pearls.  But no need to panic: everyone ignored us.

‘So, why did they ask you to speak?’ asks my supportive partner, as we stand alone with a clear radius of a couple of meters. ‘Couldn’t they get anyone else?’
Yes, thank you for that. Thank you.

We’re seated at a table with staff (who were very friendly – they're probably trained to smell panic) and a few parents. One starts grilling me.
‘Have you got a daughter at school?’ No.
‘Why are you here?’ I’m speaking.
‘What about?’ Stuff.
‘Are you an Olympian?’ (Seriously, if you know me, you know just how frickin funny that is!!!) No.
The conversation turns to running.
‘Have you run the New York Marathon?’ No.
‘Where do you run?’ At home, on the treadmill, in the study….

He was eventually put out of his misery and was gracious enough to say well done.

Monday, 11 October 2010


There are key milestones in a child’s life that bring joy to our hearts. The first smile, the first few steps, the first words and of course, the first time they say ‘I love you Mummy’ with such conviction it makes you want to weep.

But there are other milestones, perhaps less celebrated, but never the less equally significant.

Like when they innocently ask, ‘Mum, what a c&*t?’

There have been conversations about this milestone as any mother who’s experienced it can describe the exact circumstances, so traumatised are they by the question. It’s akin to where were you when you heard about 9/11 or when Princess Diana died.

So I was driving. My son was sitting in the front seat, two of his sisters in the back with one of their friends (I really hoped the friend wasn’t going to repeat any of this when she got home, but as the youngest of five, I figured we were fairly safe) when he dropped the big ‘c’ question.

Tempted as I was to say, “Sweetie, can we run by the office? I’ll flip through my Teledex and give you a couple of examples…” I refrained and just explain the technical definition. I then thought it best to give some context. It may not be his finest moment if in Family Life (ie sex ed), he uses the c-word to describe a vagina. Context given, I imparted the sage advise that he not use the word because as an 8 year old, if it’s within ear shot of any adult, that’s a game he won’t win.

Another memorable milestone is when they tell you they hate you, with such conviction it makes you want to weep.

The first time is a real slap in the face, but really, as they become more tweeny, teeny and precocious, and gets used with increasing regularity, it does loose a lot of impact. They really should have saved that one up for a special occasion. It’s now reached the point when even the four year old, following the lead of her older sibling, will yell ‘I hate you Mummy!’ Once it would have cut me to the core, but now, my response is generally, ‘That may well be, but you still have to pick up your stuff.’

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Small children and filthy hangovers….

…mix about as well as oil-tanker spills and a tropical oceans. They just don’t.

You know what I’m talking about. You’re woken about 5 hours earlier than you would have liked by small fingers, prying open your mascara-caked eyes, demanding cuddles and breakfast and just being so bloody perky, while you lie there, afraid to move in case your head literally does snap clean off your shoulders – because it’s all hurting so much and feeling extremely fragile.

I’ve often said that there’s nothing more dangerous than a mother let off her leash. I don’t what it is but the sudden freedom it just too much. We’re as excited as three year olds at an indoor play centre birthday party – and we’re in equal danger of wetting our pants!!!

We show no restraint what so ever.  Laughing, talking over each other, drinking. At one point, you usually do have an inkling that you may be getting a little over refreshed, but you’re having so much fun you just don’t care.. Until it’s all way too late.

But I have a solution. Okay, not a solution, that’s a complete over promise. I have a coping mechanism.

Drag your sorry self into the shower (taking all necessarily children in with you) and have a thorough good hosing down. Try not to throw up.  Dry off and put on your most comfortable clothes. Feed the kids a bit of toast (and your self if you can face it) and then drive to the nearest movie multiplex. Hopefully it was a huge Saturday night as they tend to be very quite on Sunday mornings.

Pick whatever the kids want to see, (as long as it’s legal!), buy the biggest popcorn you can, plus a couple of bottles of water and then immerse yourself in the cool dark of the cinema. Eat as much popcorn as you can.  Like when you had morning sickness, it makes you thirsty, so you drink lots of water and gradually rehydrate. And you can even close your eyes every now and then and not even see the kids climbing over the seats.

By the time the movies over, you’ll almost feel human again. Well, at least human enough to make it through the day.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The school holidays

Thank god the school holidays are over! Not that I didn’t enjoy the break as much as the kids – possibly more.  A holiday from getting up at 5.45am five gruelling mornings in a row, week after week, packing lunches, despatching kids to where they’re supposed to be and getting to working looking like – well, let’s just say looking like I’ve put in the required amount a effort!

It’s been quite pleasant really. I even had two day ‘working from home’ when I couldn’t get child care, which I’d so been looking forward to, but between the cleaners mopping around my feet and kids constant fighting or telling me they were bored as I hid in their room and emailed, it was actually somewhat of a relief to get back to the office. Yet another reminder of why I work!

No, the reason I’m glad they’re over is I’ve put on about two kilos. It’s not just the holiday mode and the popcorn at the pictures, but the extraordinary cooking talent of the kids. One in particular is quite the Master Chef.

So my parents came for lunch on the first weekend and she started with grissini, wrapped with proscutto and blue cheese, baked in the oven until the proscutto  is crispy and the cheese is gooey. Yum! That was followed by roast pork with apple glaze and mash. She then threw a dinner party for the relatives-who-aren’t-related. We started with zucchini fritters on a bed of rocket, parmesan and smoked salmon, followed by parsley crumbed fish with garlic mash and wilted bok choy and finished with jellied champagne (non-alcoholic!) ice cream and berries.

A friend came for lunch and she threw together a chicken and mushroom pasta. There's been pumpkin soup for the cousins, meringues for her brother, banana bread for me, chocolate ganache in warmed croissants, brown sugar cream to accompany the desserts. And it's all soooo gooood!

Last Friday night we went to friend for pizza and she whipped up individual rhubarb and berry tarts that were so delicious I ate a second one for lunch the next day. And that’s not to mention the Oreo cookie pudding-slash-slice (her words, not mine). A recipe she made up and I’m sure accounted for a kilo all on it’s own!

Here's an example of one of her creations:

 And here are my shoes (yes, on my desk!!) trying to account for said kilos....sadly, I can't find anything higher.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Laser Hair Removal

Anyone had laser hair removal? You know, the permanent (it's not), painless (it's not) outrageously expensive (it is) solution to unwanted hair.

I signed up for some sessions a few years ago. Nothing dramatic. Just got the 'edges' done so I'm not caught short when the kids say 'Hey Mum, let's go to the pool'. Saves the panic of digging through the bathroom cupboards, desperately looking for some cold wax strips, not to mention arriving at the pool with two angry red stripes outlining my crotch area, screaming 'helloooooo!' to everyone I see.

The razor is just not an option. Easy now but pay later with rashes and in-growns - you know what I'm talking about.

So I'm at my first appointment and they convince me, for a mere extra $100 a session, I can have my underarms done too. (Note, there is a good sales strategy in this because at this point you have no idea what your in for and the promise of hair-free pits for a measly $400 does seem like value. If it had worked....)

The beautician has me locked in a small room and explains the procedure.
'It works best with dark hair on pale skin. Do you have relatively dark pubic hair?', she enquires.
'I don't really know. I don't really see a lot of other people's pubic hair.'
'I wish I could say the same thing....' she muses, staring into the distance.
I'm about to suggest that perhaps she's in the wrong job, then remember I'm about to strip down to my underwear and she'll be the one wielding the machine that inflicts pain. I bite my lip.

Session three and while I'm rather vulnerable, in underwear and sun-goggles to protect my eyes from the laser, she purrs:
'So....I'm surprised a girl like you hasn't had Botox yet?'
Yes, thank you very much! I'll decide if and when I'm ready to work my way through your menu. Thank you.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

Last school holidays we took the kids to Malaysia and can thoroughly recommend it. We stayed at the Sepilok Jungle Resort, just a few minutes walk from the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Now if your thinking this is the place to get close to an Orangutan, forget it. They take their job of rehab very seriously indeed and are getting those babies back to the jungle where they belong – not hanging around with the tourists.

So we wonder over to the rehab centre and the viewing platform, which is only open for a shot period twice a day and where you do get to see the amazing antics of those Orangutans making their way back to nature. While we were there, one of the guides quietly told us we could do a jungle walk. All it required was a permit, which I could acquire free from the ticket booth. Being a long time sufferer of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) I virtually sprinted back to grab permits for us all. It did feel quite special, as it seemed not everyone had been given the word.

Permits gained, we headed into the jungle. Man, it’s claustrophobic.  We head in and there’s lot to see. Its hot and steamy and everything you’d imagine a jungle to be. At one stage as we’re stopped to observe a lizard, there is a big ‘flop’ of something big dropping out a tree right next to us.
‘Come on kids!’ I urge, ‘we won’t be investigating whatever that was!’ We hastily move down the track.

'Mummy, can I have a drink a drink of water, please?’ asks the four year old I’m dragging over fallen trees and up steep muddy inclines.
‘No sweetie, we haven’t got any. Not far now.’

As we approach the end point, we start to see fellow trekkers coming back the other way. There's one track and we're all doing exactly the same hike. They’re wearing gaiters over their hiking boots against the leeches, long cargo pants, bucket hats, day-packs with plenty of water. Wow!

Here’s the small fry's jungle gear…a Zimmermann singlet, a Gap mini and a pair of baby Havaianas.

You can’t see me, but I’m in just the right outfit for the occasion– an Ed Hardy skirt, a Paul Smith singlet, a pair of Havaianas (I do love a brand!), I’m carry a large silver tote over my shoulder and I have sunglasses on my head!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

To Tu or not Tutu?

I was meeting a new client the other week and of course, the eternal big question; what to wear?? You only ever have one chance to make that first really big impression – before they get to know you and have in confirmed that you really are kind of odd.

My dress sense is  - well - not your typical corporate attire. Luckily, I work in a reasonably liberal office and no-one actually cares. So, in summing up my style (I use the word loosely) my daughters like to continuously remind me I’m not sixteen anymore. I, on the other hand, the glass-half-full view, remind them that the only thing worse than mutton dressed as lamb, is mutton dressed as mutton. And I’m sticking to that until I can no longer dress myself.
I worked with Jacqui for a while and while we were out one day, we notice an slim, older woman not only wearing a shapeless floral dress but some really chunky Jesus sandals to go with. “So, at what point do you suddenly think that’s okay?’ asks Jacqui in bewilderment. We are both lulled into a depressing silence.
So, back to the new client. I ask my colleague for her advice. “Not the tutu” she says definitively. “Why not the tutu?” I ask, just a little crushed. “Because they don’t know you and it screams that you’re a woman not to be fucked with.” Wow. I had no idea it was so powerful…..hasn’t worked on the kids!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

How to reduce your BMI in two easy steps....

I'm physically very average. I'm average height and average weight (which isn't saying much in most developed nations, let's face it!). I'm a garden-variety size 12 in Australia, which is a 10 in the UK and an 8 in the States (crap I wish I lived in America - imagine how thin I'd be??!!)

Anyway, yesterday I discovered how to reduce my BMI - you know that pesky Body Mass Index thing - from 24, which is at the upper end of 'Normal Body Weight' down to a far more respectable 20, which is the bottom end of the 'Normal Body Weight.'

How? Two easy to these boots:

Yes, these boots add a very silly 15cm to my height and I'm convinced I immediately loose 5kgs - possibly more. I can thoroughly recommend them. Just be careful when your driving the car....

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Why am I working?

Okay – thanks for the feed back on the poll  – but no, I won’t be quitting!

Which brings me to why I work. 

There are several possibilities here, including:
  •              Like most women, I am a bit of a control freak. And at work, when I ask someone to do something, there’s a very good chance it’ll happen. At home, I give it 50:50.
  •             I have opinions and ideas – on pretty much everything – and those opinions need to be heard. My ideas are also my babies. My family does not appreciate my intellect. (In fact, they call me a nerd.)
  •            I like to take amazing holidays with my children and eat at lovely restaurants when I go out with my friends.

Yes, there are plenty of days when I think lunch and tennis would be a great way to spend the day. But the reality is I would be quickly bored. I need only think back to my (shamefully short) maternity leave stints and the banal chat of my gorgeous friends. I love them dearly, but frankly don’t give a fuck about which builder they used on their beach house extension, little Johnny’s brilliant progress in violin and what’s fabulous at the Country Road sale. Ahhhhhhh!! Get me back in a boardroom!

Monday, 20 September 2010


Is anyone else getting the fingers? The three making ‘W’, ‘E’ and ‘M’ in front of the forehead denoting ‘What Ever Mother…’ Nice.

I’m getting it a lot from Kid 3. She’s reached that age.

She’s also inclined to go around the house singing, sometimes wearing her iPod. It’s not good. And I figure if I don’t tell her, who will? “Put that cat out of its misery!” I yell so she can hear over the deafening volume of Lady Gaga.
“Mum, as a mother, you’re supposed to encourage me….that hurt my feelings.” (Dragged out whinny at the end, just to replicate the same reaction I have to fingernails down a blackboard.)
“Yeah, well, check that job description and I think you’ll also find it’s my job to embarrass you, and I take that part really seriously.”

She knows this because during a recent clean out, I pointed out how much crap she had flowing out of a small chest of drawers.
“I know Mum, but don’t worry, I’m pretty sure I can nourish it down to one drawer.”
Once I’ve stopped laughing, I ask her if she actually knows what ‘nourish’ means.
“No, not really”

Naturally, I though this was so funny I tell everyone who’s over.

“Mum, would you stop telling everyone, you’re so embarrassing."
Yes, I am! So, W,E,D – What Ever Daughter – right back at you!!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Who am I?

I’m a mother of four who works full time. But I don’t wait on tables or serve in a shop in order to support my kids; that would be completely acceptable. No, I’m a senior executive in a corporation. And this is clearly not noble and not to be admired, in fact, it’s often considered the ultimate statement in self-serving, egotistical, self-indulgent selfishness.

“I’m not judging you”, an equivalent male colleague told me recently. Really? Because that’s exactly what it sounded like. Apparently he and his wife have decided the best thing they can do in life “is to raise their own children”. Right, because I just thought I’d show mine how to use the microwave and the TV and pretty much leave them to it.

Yes, I have enough domestic help to hold my own staff party at the end of the year, but does that make me a bad mother?

Take the poll below and let me know....

Monday, 13 September 2010

how do you do it?

“How do you do it?”

 Is there ever a more loaded question of the WM? It really is all in the tone. I was once asked this by a celeb who’d recently become a mum, so it did seem with genuine interest. “A good red with dinner,” was my sage response. (Not a joke – and perhaps yet another reason I need to work – to pay that wine bill!)

Have you read ‘I don’t know how she does it” ? Verged on biographical for me. My own mother in law once cornered me about my partner’s increasingly lithe frame and accusingly asked if I was feeding him. “He knows where the fridge is”. Probably didn’t score me any points but really, he’s a grown up, I’m not his mother and I am very, very busy.

Frankly, I could do with an extra 4 hours a day. At least 4. I’d write and cruise the net more, read to the kids and watch TV more, cook and exercise more and probably even work more. But like you, I have 24 hours and just shove it all in like everyone else – and you just do.

The Moroccan Bath

The girls and I have come up to Dubai for a few days to escape the Melbourne winter. It's in the 40s so we've thawed out - quickly. ...