Tuesday, March 30, 2010

THE EARLY BIRD NEVER LOST HIS SHIT


I have a theory about people. They are either the late kind. Or the early kind.


I pride myself on being the latter. I have the kids at school before the bell, sometimes, so much so, they wonder what the hell they are going to do with themselves for 40 minutes. I get to work before I’m meant to start, mostly so I can dick around and make myself a toasted sandwich and gossip. I get to friends houses for coffees and cake on time, if not a little early, because I can never gauge how long it’s going to take me get there. In general, I’m just an early bird. So is my husband. I do however draw the line at rocking up to a party before the allotted start time, that's, just, uncool.


There are some people though, who are just destined to be late. Never on time. Know any? I do. A few actually. Granted, it’s not the worst personality trait that someone can have, but it is kind of annoying when you’re waiting like an ejit, when someone is half an hour late. My best friend is always late. She knows who she is. Now I just tell her a time, half an hour before I really want her anywhere and that generally gets her there only slightly later than needs be. She’s the first one to admit it, having her clocks slightly fast so she shits herself and hauls serious arse to school each morning so the kids don’t get yet ANOTHER late pass. To her credit though, I think she is getting better with age.


And today, I could have taken her title of the Late Queen. I knew today, just this one day; we had to be at school by 8am. I had an education plan I needed to discuss with Sams teacher. Basically, we discuss what our aspirations for Sam will be in 2010. Well, an unbroken arm would be kind of high on that list – oh wait, too late. What about for him to take a sudden, unbridled interest and passion in reading and writing? Anyhoo, I digress. At 7am, I was a long way off even getting a foot in the classroom door.


This comes down to a series of events.


6:00am I wake up. I hear the two boys in their room discussing the time Sam threw up on his feet. I interrupt this conversation to get them up, make them a Milo, weetbix and turn on Channel 23. Top parenting at its best.


6:15am Make sure the clothes are all ready for access for all 4 of us. 2 school uniforms, one set of clothes for kindy and one presentable work outfit.


6:30am I hear Sam, doing a poo on the toilet, asking his 3yo brother Jack, why a chicken crosses a road. Jack - “He needed to do a poo?”. Sam “No, because he was a jerk”. Jack - “Oh Yeah? Sam, I have a peanut”.


6:45am Wake 10year old Maddie. She reluctantly rolls out of bed. I instruct her to get dressed and get her swimming bag ready. That bit will be very important to the outcome of this story.


6:50am I have a shower. Not one minute in, both boys come running from what sounds like 5 km’s away. “Mum, mum, mum, Maddie has smashed a glass, in the NEW room!!” The aptly named new room is, well, our new room, complete with porcelain tiles.


So there I am. In the nude, powerless to stop my kids cutting themselves to shreds without of course, potentially, slipping on my arse, on my way to cutting my own feet. I yelled at them to get into their rooms. Apparently Maddie was out there attempting the cleanup mission on her own. No doubt, shitting herself about the fact I had told her not 10 minutes before, to use a plastic cup. I must be speaking Chinese. It is the only reasonable way I can understand why, she doesn’t do as she is told.


So, where are we at? That’s right, about 6:55pm. I hastily dress, clean up the collateral damage and go about dressing the boys. And of course, this is where Jack, the 3yo and I, come to blows. See he, channelling an 80 yr old geriatric man, decides he will wear sandals and socks. And that combination ONLY. I try and reason with him that, mate; only old guys wear sandals and socks. “I am Batman” is his only response. Whatever. Fine, look like you belong in Cocoon, see if I care.


7:30am: Right, on track to be at school, with 3yo dropped off to kindy, by 8am. Oh, until I find the water on the tiles that is. Seems Jack has a new game. It’s called, “Let’s pull the arms off every single Lego man he can find, put them in his water bottle and then empty the contents on the porcelain floor”. It’s a fricken awesome game. Exactly what you need to find as a hidden surprise, when attempting to get out of the house in a hurry.


I start the car, waiting for the 10year old to finish fluffing her hair or whatever the hell she does inexplicably when we wait on her. She comes out looking distressed. “Mum! Where are my goggles?” Are you freaking kidding me? I asked her to get that ready at, let me check, 6:45 this morning. So we wait and wait. And I stomp out of the car, yell A LOT and finally we are good to go.


Kids secured in the car. We back out of the driveway. And it starts. “I’m yours” comes on by Jason Mraz. Jack: “This is my song” Sam: “No one owns a song Jack” Jack: “Yes, I do, this is MY song” And it goes on. This is nothing new; it is of course, just too much for me to take this particular morning. “No one owns a song” I roar and I flick the radio off. The car is silent for oh, 1 minute. Then


“I’m Batman” Jack.


“Batman isn’t real Jack, you dunkoff” Sam


“Yes I am, I is real Sam!” Jack says this line with accompanying blows to Sams arm.


“Owww, Jack! He is a cartoon character! You are just being a total jerk” Sam


You get the gist. All this, to the sweet serenade of Maddie singing, hideously off-key, Today was a Fairytale by Taylor freaking Swift.


We get there; thankfully, the kindy is across the road from the school, at 5 minutes to 8. That’s when I lose the keys.

So there I am, ransacking the back of my car, with various mothers offering very kindly to help me look. Me, refusing the help, based on the fact my car has last weeks French fries wedged in the back of the drivers chair and a unidentified smell coming from inside the carriage. I give up and run across to the school, 10 minutes late for my very important, 8am appointment. The keys are found, with one 10 year old late for school and one mother 35 minutes late for work, later, inside Sams school bag.


Today I was late. Tomorrow I intend not to be. You never can tell but.



Sunday, March 28, 2010

HAPPY NEIGHBOUR DAY


So today, Sunday the 28th of March, is Neighbour Day. Who knew?



Kevin Rudd – that’s who. Along with all those who designed a big fuck-off website dedicated to this very day. It has posters and all kinds of paraphernalia to print out and hang up. It tells us that neighbour day is “Australia’s annual celebration of community, bringing together the people next door or across the street for a beer, a barbie or just a cuppa. It’s the perfect day to say thanks for being a great neighbour and for being there when I needed you most”



Well there you go. I mean, I’m all for getting to know my neighbours, but some, well some you wouldn’t have over your house to cut your toenails, let along give them a free beer and cup of tea. It’s all fun and games until one of them turns out to be a closet nudist or a drug dealer isn't it?

So what should we really expect from our neighbours? To be best mates? For them to feed the cat when we take a holiday? Or really, do we just want them to stay the hell away, and leave us be? Well for me, somewhere in between those three, would be just perfect. How do you know what you're in for though? Even staking out a house pre-purchase doesn't give you the ability to see through walls. We've learned this one the hard way. More than once. So here are a few experiences we've had.




THE DRUG DEALERS

Paulie & Renee moved into the unit next to us when were in our early 20's. They were kind of elusive, way hipper than us, and seemed to go out EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. We shared and cared for their very needy Siamese cat and waved whenever we saw each other. I think we realised we weren’t going to be best mates with them, when we found a packet of white powder, dropped accidentally outside of our front door early one morning. Not long after, the cops came and raided their unit and a very shifty Paulie was escorted away. Turns out, they were drug dealers.




THE NUDIST/GUN LOVER


Our very first house was a in a street my brother, a local policeman, warned us about. But we were undeterred, I mean it was near the water and it was in our price range. How bad could it be? Turns out - Pretty bad. There was no way we could have predicted we would soon be living next to a semi-professional nudist slash, pervert though, but that’s what we got. I don’t even know this freaks name, but his wife arrived on the first day we moved in, with some Bundaberg Rum fudge and a Cactus to say “Welcome”. She should have just given us a gigantic novelty card saying "Welcome to the neighbourhood, Fresh Meat". We found him on various occasions, on his roof, with binoculars and a esky, presumably for his coldies and lube, sans underwear, watching the teenage girls in the unit block behind us. Or just casually hanging in his back doorway, fake coughing, so I would look over and see his bare crotch waiting for me. Gag. I guess by rights, we should have been tipped off by the “I BARE ARMS AND I VOTE” sticker on his car. We live and we learn.



THE RACIST

Ahh, Shirley. Shirley the 80 year old racist. I’m not entirely sure who or what would have made Shirley happy. It surely wasn’t the “coons”, “faggots”, “gooks” or “Dagos” she constantly banged on about whenever she got lucky enough to corner me. Man, I cannot tell you how uncomfortable she made me. We eventually sold our house, but not before she had the chance to tell me, that, because of my “Jap” car, I was a disgrace to my nation. Sure I wanted to tell the old bag to get rooted, but sometimes retreat is easier than attack.



THE SCREAMER

This particular woman rented the house next door to us. She and her husband apparently couldn’t stand the sight of each other because about every third night, they would have arguments that would escalate into full scale riot situations. The cops came, the cops went. The next day, they would be all loved up, walking down the street hand in hand. Annoying.




THE OVERSHARER


Recently we had a street party. We let the kids to the letterbox drops. Mistake Number 1. We have one guy who lives up the street with a hotrod who likes dropping massive burnouts in it, whenever the moment takes him. Which is often. He's abused the host of the street party on an occasion, a couple of years ago, because she told him to slow down in the street. A week later, he wrote off his SS Commodore Ute after going 150 in a 70 zone. So, it was by the biggest mistake, that he received an invite. You would think he would have no interest in rolling up to a party full of haters. Oh no. He rocked up, drank about 50 beers, told each and everyone of us how much we must hate his guts (Roger that dickhead) and then, by the end of the night, was telling all the guys how, after numerous visits to a certain establishment, had acquired a rash that just WOULD NOT GO AWAY. He then proceeded to show it to our husbands, on the front lawn. Too much information mate. Far too much.



THE JEHOVAHS WITNESS


These guys were pretty harmless. Until we spoke to them. Then it was ON. They had a little girl around the same age as our daughter and with only a gun toting nudist and 80yr old racist as other alternatives, we were stoked we might finally have some decent neighbours. Ahhh, we should have known better. See we kind of did follow the “neighbour day” ethos and invite the new neighbours over for a beer or a cuppa. They turned up, 2 hours late and we offered them a drink. His response? “No thanks, we don’t drink”. Alarm bells. Fair, not everyone drinks. That’s when I noticed the copy of the Watchtower she’d casually placed on our coffee table. Fucking sirens. It was over before it began.


THE GOOD ONES

Then there are the good ones. The ones you find that are one of your kind. The ones you are happy to have met. The ones you’ve shared a beer and a cuppa with and it has made your life that little bit brighter. So Scott, Deb, Mike, Julie, Jen, Nick, Caroline and Damian. Thanks guys. Happy Neighbours Day. Help yourself to the fridge anytime you like.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I LIKE TO MOVE IT, MOVE IT



I’ve never watched another females arse quite as intently as I did on Monday night.



Monday was my first ever Zumba class. Zumba, for uninitiated, is the latin dance/aerobics craze that has taken over the world. Well, taken over our office anyway.


Miss B, who works with me decided to give it a go as she has longed to get back into dancing for quite some time. Normal dancing however, requires quite a few lessons before you are let loose on a proper dance floor. With Zumba on the other hand, you just dive on in and have a go.

And dive in we did. Holy hell, it was one solid hour of shaking my bum, hips and fingertips like a lunatic. Best way I can describe it - a cross between dancing like Shakira, Beyonce' and a little bit of locomotion, all rolled into one. Never before, has having a gigantic arse, come in such handy.
The best thing? Everyone looked as unco as me. Well, not everyone, but I wasn’t alone. That’s the best thing about Zumba. You are only one, in at least another 100 other, equally clueless women. Even after a few classes, no one is a master. Not like Step Aerobics, where some chicks are going for it like they are in the running for step-olympics gold.


By the time “All the Single Ladies” came on, we all had it at least half sussed. We were, in no uncertain terms, making it clear, if he liked it, he should have put a ring on it. With our arses.


And how lucrative is this caper for the instructor? Sure they have to be super fit and talented, but just look at these figures. On average, a class of 150 x $10 per class = $1,500. They do 7 of these classes a week. Working basically 7 hours a week for $10,500. Give or take. FAR OUT. Attention Brain surgeons: Drop those scalpels and whip on some lycra pants Sir, you’re in the wrong game.


What also surprised me was the lack of men there. What an absolute untapped, gold mine for guys! Women J-Lo’ing it up, exercise pheromones coursing through their bodies. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad it’s like a Zumba Fernwood, but I’m guessing it’s only so long until word gets around town.


Weirdest part is, two days later, not one aching bone in my body. I’m sure it’s on it’s way, just lulling me into a fall sense of security, leading me to believe I can start running marathons and then, bam – knockout.

But, we’ll be back, because everyone who goes, just wants to one day, be as good as the instructor or master the hip swivel. Not going to happen, but it’s the trying that is the fun part.
And the best bit is, you don’t realise you’re exercising, you’re too busy making sure you don't take out the lady beside you with a ill-timed arm shunt or trip over your own feet, that, before you know it, it’s time to wind down to Janet Jackson.


Here's the link to the Zumba class I went to the other night. Good news: The instructor is a registered nurse. Handy.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

WELL BLOW ME DOWN




Just a really quick one. I'm used to those. Totally kidding Phil.



So, when we were up at the hospital quite a bit with Sam in Feb/March, we acquired 4 parking tickets outside the hospital.



Of course the policing of car spots outside a hospital are a ridiculous yet necessary evil. If people aren't moved along of course, they'll never leave, and no one will get a park. I totally get that.


But what about people like myself, like so many, who get stuck. Waiting on a doctor, waiting in an appointment, waiting in the Emergency Room, waiting all day. What about waiting with your child who doesn't want to go through the trauma of having a cannula inserted, all alone?



Well, all the above happened and those are the times, we got a parking ticket for overstaying our 2 hour limit. Between those times, however, we paid our meter as needed and by no means, ever avoid consciously paying our dues.



So when it all settled down, I decided to try my luck by contacting the Council and explaining my situation. I mean, seriously, for family who need to be up at the hospital, especially with a sick loved one, surely there should be some kind of pass they can be granted? Any way, here is my initial letter:





18 February, 2010




The Chief Executive Officer

Gold Coast City Council






I write to you regarding a series of Parking tickets that myself and my husband received during our son Samuels stay at the Gold Coast Hospital. Our first stay was on Monday the 1st of February when our son fell off the monkey bars at school. He then had to be operated on and released the next day.



Our second stay, was from Tuesday the 9th of February, until Monday the 15th of February after he fell ill due to a terrible infection in the broken arm. So during these times we received 4 tickets at various times. I can tell you now, all of these fines were unavoidable. At all times, we were with our sick child and unable to leave his side. I find it incredible that a hospital and its local council do not have some sort of redemption system for car parking for the immediate family of loved ones. Or the facilities for long term parking on site. Clearly we are not parking around the hospital for the fun of it, nor is it pleasant to receive a parking ticket on your windscreen after being so completely stressed about a sick loved one, especially a child. Please note at all times, the longterm carpark bordering High Street was COMPLETELY full.




Also to note was that at all times, excluding the first day of the second stay where I was ensconced in the Emergency Department all day and unable to leave as I was on my own, we did feed the meter. We paid 40 cents per hour from 9 – 6 for 6 days in total. That is $19.40 we paid out.



Not a great deal I guess in the scheme of things, but add it to the fact that time off work with sick ones usually involves loss of income, tickets for $35 are just a massive kick in the teeth. I also understand the area needs to be policed so there is adequate parking however for people who up there 24/7, this is very difficult.




I am asking, on compassionate grounds, that you forgive and waive these 4 fines on our behalf. Your consideration in this matter would be greatly appreciated.
Regards




BERNADETTE MORLEY




CC. – Gold Coast Bulletin.





I am happy to report, today, we received the following back. (I think if you click on it, you can read it better)









Turns out you can't zoom, but it just says, all four tickets have been waived. YAHOO!

Today, a little bit of Common Sense made it's way back into the world. Either that or the processor of the day, was on the gear. Either way, it's a nice surprise.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

EVERYBODY CUT LOOSE, FOOTLOOSE



A funny thing happened last night, I unexpectantly ended up at 3am, waiting in the cab line in Surfers Paradise, chowing down on a chicken kebab. I guess that’s not the funny thing. Funnier would be seeing me, pickled at 1am dancing like a lunatic to Footloose at the Avenue. Funnier still, we used to scoff at the oldies dancing to Kenny Loggins at the Avenue some 15 years ago.


The night was meant to entail dinner for a friend who is leaving for an open-ended overseas trip. Dinner was lovely and we were done by about 9pm. Everyone was scattering and I was about to call a cab when two of the girls suggested that I “Come out with us to Melbas”. Well since you’ve got a shotgun to my head, sure, why not?


K & S, the girls I went with, are actually around my age, but childless thus far, and therefore, have got way more of a handle on the nightclub situation than I. For one, they didn’t wear Havaianas and a long flowing hippy dress. They were perhaps, shall we say, more suitably attired wearing high heels that could take your eye out, and skinny jeans. The fact that I trailed along like Demis Roussos in a kaftan, bless, didn’t seem to bother them. I was scared the bouncers would pull a “Not in those shoes lady” on me, but as we all know, that rule only applies to guys. Double Standard City


A lot of changes seem to have taken place since I was a nightclub regular. For one, the stripper pole appears to taken “pole” position on most dance floors. Further to this, every female there, will have at least one go at attempting the fireman slide down this pole. Myself included. Told you I was pissed. There were girls there who were getting rather over enthused and not scared to get their barely covered arses, wrapped seductively around the pole. Look at moi Kimmy, look at moi.


Another thing that has changed: My stamina. I was particularly impressed that I knew nearly every song. Thankfully there was zero Doof Doof music and of course, knowing all the songs, we just HAD to dance to each and everyone. One thing I wasn’t counting on, the massive stitch I acquired within about 10 minutes. Physically unfit? You betcha.


The handbag dance is a stayer however. You know the dance all women do regardless of age and generation. It entails all the handbags being piled in the middle if the dance floor and all the owners hailing them by dancing around them like it’s an open campfire.


It appears the game hasn't changed in the world of Nightclubbing, just the players.

Also unchanged is the ritual of getting home from a night out. A kebab can still be secured, there are still multiple vomit patches to avoid, and the cab line is longer than Tiger Woods’ phone bill.



I got home, eventually, but not before being chatted up by a 24 year old boy here for the Surf Titles. Whilst flattering, I think he was giving me the pissed pity chat up. And of course, accompanied by a six foot tall glamazon and gorgeous brunette, we had our fair share of guys breaking into our dance space. But happily, this unexpected night out, was enjoyable because we weren’t looking for anything from it, just a shimmy and a drink. And holy hell, just quietly, judging by todays long recovery, I may have gone a little overboard on both fronts.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

RACE YOU HOME




I’ve been lucky enough to work for the one boss for 10 years this year. Or is it 9. I’m not sure, it’s been ages anyway. Of course there have been a few bits in between where you, know, I had two babies, but apart from that, I have been one of the lucky ones to enjoy constant employment at a place I enjoy turning up to.


I have always worked 3 days a week and 4 if it’s busy (usually, in tax season, between July and December). This year, rather than flip back to 3 days per week, I had a light bulb moment and decided to ask my boss if working school hours, over four days, would be cool with her. It was, cause that’s the kinda gal she is. But, just quietly, I think I’ve fucked myself.


A word of warning, if you, right now, are getting home from work AFTER your husband or partner and dinner is basically on the table, a load of washing is on, homework has been started and all three children have been showered or bathed, do not mess with that situation! I have learnt this the hard way.


Since changing my hours, it’s almost like my husband has just internally gone "woo-fucking-hoo, no more Mr Mum, watch me now as I just nick off out the back and start my shed living phase". I now get home before him therefore, I start dinner. I do homework with the 7 year old (which can be very harrowing) and I do lunches. I hate lunches. I cannot tell you why, it’s just the one thing I struggle with. Generally there are the three kids lunches and mine (ideally) for the next day. There are only so many ways to jazz up a vegemite sandwich I’m afraid. Wraps, tuna, carrot sticks, you name it, we’ve attempted it. Vegemite always creeps back in.


So as tempting as it to circle the block until my husband returns home, it’s not all bad news. I now get to spend an extra 10 hours a week more with my kids than I used to. I’d like to say quality time, but often I’m shooing them away from the gas cook top or telling the 3yo to STOP SQUEALING AND USE YOUR WORDS!! No, it is good. Plus I get to attend after school stuff, like the netball trials of last week. Actually, that might not be considered a pro (see the Netball post). At least I was there to see her though, and I know this means a lot to her, being 10, and being the type of tween who is ready to snap at the smallest of injustices.


Although, both of my school aged children received student of the week last Friday. Freakishly, they don’t attend the same school and yet I knew of not either, until I cleaned out their bags on Sunday night (oh yeah, festering lunchbox eat your heart out) and found both of the glossy cardboard certificates in their bags. Neither of them had bothered to tell me. I wish I had known or been given a heads up by the teachers so I could have attended (although that would have been a total bad parenting moment with me having to choose who was more worthy of my full attention). Either way, these are the things now, open to me and my new hours.


There are pros and cons. Obvious good bits are that I get to see my kids more and they aren’t at daycare and afterschool care all the time. Plus I save dollars. I get to sit down and take my time with Sams homework and go for a walk with the ten year old when the sun is still shining. The cons are pretty obvious. I have to do more shit around the house.


The thing is, I guess we’ve always worked well the way we did before. We found our groove and we were both happy with our individual household workloads. I’ve always been of the belief that , as we both work, we are both equally responsible for said workload. So tonight, although I had to slam a few pots and pans around to get my point across that, while he had sat on the couch and drunk a beer whilst I made dinner, lunches, put two loads on, hung two loads out and got the kids clean, I think, he eventually, cottoned on to the fact that he still lives in the world of a working parents household. He just needed a little teensy reminder.


But, tomorrow, if you see a woman at the Pirate Park avoiding the chaos at her home, it’s just me, trying to be the last one home.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

IT'S SHAGADELLIC BABY


The Interior Decorators from the 1970’s have a lot to answer for. And they need to answer to me.


Today I spent a vast amount of my time, along with my husbands, steaming wallpaper off the walls in the bedroom my sons share. This has been a long time coming.


We bought this house nearly three years ago. Three years, I’ve been allowing my sons to live in a room, where we found festering mould underneath the lovely retro green lava-lampish designed wallpaper. God only knows if the paint underneath all that is lead based. Presumably, yes.


See this is what we’ve had to do, or more so I guess, what we’ve chosen to do. We could have gone to other suburbs and brought a fairly new house, if not new but no, we went to one where, I guess, at the end of the day, we thought we could make more money in the long run.


And this of course, is nothing new in the world of real estate. Take a house, in a good area, that is, in classic Real Estate speak, in need of a little TLC, give it a bit a paint job, update the bathroom and wooskha – you make a trillion dollars.


Well, at least, make it to the next rung on the property ladder. Actually, we are shite at making plans. All three kids, unplanned (much loved mind, just not planned). Most of our life changing decisions, UNPLANNED. So, this renovation was our first plan. Do this one, do another and another and another and maybe one more and then, ideally, own our own home. Have no mortgage. Except we stalled at the first “another one”.


More than likely, this is mainly because we are just lazy bastards. I’d say it’s a toss up between that and a higher force that is out there just giving us the giant Forks. (Peace sign backwards to all the Gen Y’ers)


So, back to the fact that we still live in a half renovated, teeny house with no storage. Oh, have I mentioned lately that we only have 1 bathroom. Let me rephrase that, we only have ONE TOILET. One toilet, 5 people, you do the math. Not a day goes by that that thing isn’t double booked.

To be honest, we have done a lot. We’ve rendered, we’ve fenced, we roof restored, we’ve done up said bathroom (no small feat and yes, there were a few “emergencies” that went down in the backyard). We’ve ripped up the shagpile and put down timber floors, we’ve built a deck that came in major handy on Christmas day. We have done stuff, yet still, it is still nowhere near ready, and as a result, most nights, right before I go to sleep, I make a mental note of all the stuff we still need to do, and I get very overwhelmed. This was way more massive than we anticipated.
Sometimes, I wish Scott Camm & Shelley Craft would just turn up, send us on some holiday by the sea and return us to a brand new home (and award me a no-strings attached massage for good measure) but alas, there are far worthier couples out there.


When mum got sick, we immediately went into fight or flight mode and decided to build that elusive second bathroom and extra room so Mum could come and live with us. It was kind of always the plan, but I’ve explained to you about our plans. So almost immediately, we drew up floor plans, made arrangements and added three new rooms. I think it became abundantly clear to us very early on, that Mum would need more than a spare room and a bit of cheer from her grandkids to get through her illness. So even though the extra area has continued, it hasn’t really, barrelled along. And yes, as of today, we still only have one toilet and five people. Did I mention that my husband is a plumber? Just checking.


But today, we did make progress, after talking up the wallpaper steamer for quite some time and then listening to my husband’s protest to this tool ("oh, my painter mate from work, says just wet it down and wait") I made him hire one. Made him, as in, I said, “I’m going to Kennards and I’m going to hire a wallpaper steamer”. The threat to his male domain was too much. He left and returned and we steamed. And it was joyous. I made him admit it. Admit how easy it was and admit that, sometimes, even in Bunnings/Hardware related matters, his wife knows best.


So, tomorrow we do the other room and the hallway. And then, well, we get a new toilet. You just know there will be updates on that particular day.
Footnote: My husband is wonderful, in so many ways. On Wednesday, we celebrated our 15th year of being together. Well, we didn't celebrate, we totally forgot, but you know.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

THIS IS MY DANCE SPACE, THIS IS YOUR DANCE SPACE




I think today I came the closest I have ever come, to the equivalent of a stage mother. Well the equivalent for Netball anyway.


The ten year old came home last week saying she had been selected through school, to represent her school for the Netball regional trials. “Really? I found myself asking. “Like, regionals, like representing your region?” Maddie just shrugged her shoulders and walked off. More than likely to NOT practice netball. I know this may sound like I don’t believe in my ten year old. It’s not that, it’s just it takes me by surprise when a school nominates a girl to represent their school who has barely played a game. It is a Catholic School. Perhaps they just have the faith.


So we headed off this afternoon, and straight away, I knew she was done for. These girls were dressed in sponsored netball dresses for god’s sakes. We were flat out finding a pair of shorts that would fit. Not only that, the mums were seriously pep talking them. I heard, “This is your chance” and “Do not miss the God Damn Ball Carly”. OK then.


My parting words to Mad were “Just have fun mate”. Poor girl was crapping her pants. So much so, she didn’t move. Even when she was Goal Defence. Unless goal defending is done from the side of the court. Next she was Goal Attack. It was like a rabbit jumped in her pants and she attacked alright. Just in the centre of court instead of being anywhere near the goal she was meant to be attacking.


And admittedly, I did feel like yelling out some words of encouragement or just simply “MOVE CHILD!” but hey, she’d figure it out. Or not.


But back to my original observation, netball (i.e. stage) mums.


Sitting in the blazing sun, minding my own business, the epitome of the Netball Mum sits next to me. Like, right next to me. I think I should have given her a “this is your dance space, this is my dance space” dirty dancing lesson. Anyway, weirdly, after about 4 minutes of silence, she says “Hello”. I replied with a Hi and a friendly, “looks like we are going to cop a storm, looking at those dark clouds”. I know, textbook weather small talk, but I get nervous. She responded with a big fat, nothing. I know she heard me because she looked up at the offending clouds. OK then.


Then, then, she starts shouting. Not at me, but at her daughter. “Stop bunching up silly girl!”, “Jump higher!” “What is that crap Alison?” Each time she yelled, I visibly jumped. And she wasn’t the only one. Everywhere I looked, on all sides of the court, were perfectly normal looking mothers, going postal at their children on the courts.


So after 4 attempts, at four different positions, the girls were sat down and if their name was read out, they got to go back on Thursday so the organisers could whittle it down to 11. For the record, "no personal space" woman’s daughter, made the cut. Needless to say, Maddies name didn’t get read out. Her friend from school was devastated when she too, missed out. Maddie just wanted to get the hell home and have her burritos. That’s my girl.


I know, not all mums are like this. In fact a lot aren’t. The ones that are, as far as I can tell, are trying to vicariously live through their child or, just simply want their child to excel. Which I understand. But I also understand if you push a child, they will, eventually, rebel. Encourage, don’t enforce I guess is the message here.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

PROMISES PROMISES







So the Federal Government intend to take over the currently State run, health care system.


Good luck with that. Clearly it’s escaped their attention that their own guys, i.e. Labor, have been running the health system for the last umpteen years, and have done nothing but make a big fat, hot mess of it.


Plus the only plan I can really see in place at the moment, is to take money off the states (seeing as they won’t be needing it any more) and to tax the shit out of the general taxpayer to make sure there are more localised committees to oversee everything. More groups of people sitting around discussing the shite state of affairs, why didn’t I think of that?


This is not about the doctors or the nurses. They are well trained, highly educated individuals. Sure, some, maybe 5%, could do with a swift kick up the arse for their bedside manner and attitudes, but that’s in every profession. They, the medical staff, are doing the very best they can, in the situation they are provided with.


And quite frankly, that situation, is why the Health Care and Hospital system in Australia sucks the big one.


In the last 8 months, I have seen quite a bit of the inside of a the local Queensland Public Hospital. And when I say inside, I mean the Emergency Department, the general wards, the paediatric wards, Surgery outpatients, X-ray and Orthopaedic divisions.


So from my point of view, i.e. The carer, or family of a loved one being treated, I can tell you, your communication and data systems suck and are of no use.


The issue is communication and the antiquated system with which our medical professionals are equipped to handle each case with. Often times, messages are written on bits of paper or in notes that no one bothers to flick back through. I cannot understand why there is not a computerised system whereby each Australian citizen is identified by their medicare number and all of their medical history is accessible. Oh wait I can. It’s because there’s not enough money. Really? Really? So this (see picture) 2.5 million dollar “artwork” is paid for by the same government who cannot afford to provide computerised systems ? The same government who just paid a truck load to the performer Pink so she will be the face of a motorcar race? It appears so.


Regardless of state. Regardless of level of medical care i.e. radiology, emergency care, hospital admission, blood cultures and just everyday GP visits, there should be a system that collates this information and makes it available to medical staff at any one time.



To be honest, I hadn’t had a lot to do with Queensland Health as such, until August of last year. That was when my 75 year old mother found out, from seemingly no-where, that she had cancer. And it wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. After many frustrating experiences, I penned this letter to Anna Bligh which you can read here:
It got Annas attention. We spoke and she said she took on board my recommendations of patient managers. (Basically staff that were in charge of a set number of patients. A go-to person if you like, that all staff and family knew to contact to gain information) She said it would be perfect for retired or burnt out paramedics. Then my mother passed away. After that, lets just say, I didn’t have the time, nor the strength to follow her up on her promises. I’m guessing now that the power is about to be wrenched from her grip, Ms Blighs attention to the matter would be somewhat thin at best.

Here is a short list of major incidents that have happened to me or my family that could have been solved or enhanced by a record sharing system.

1. My mother being on one floor of the hospital getting a stent in her bowel (that none of family had been consulted about) and basically being Missing in Action from her general ward for ten hours, because a) no note was made where she was b) the colonoscopy/stent surgical area were not answering their phone (all day) and c) no one could be arsed walking the 6 floors down to double check.


2.
Getting three very strongly worded and almost threatening messages from the orthopaedic outpatient receptionist because my 7yo missed an appointment. We missed the appointment because were in their facility, i.e. the hospital. As an inpatient. The information of which, if they had a decent system, they would have been able to access.
3. The reason for the my sons admission into hospital was an infection in a broken arm from the surgery performed at that hospital. When we were discharged, he was prescribed antibiotics to keep the infection at bay. The removal of the wires (source of infection) was to be done earlier than usual as a result of the infection. At a pre-admission appointment, 7 days later, we were asked if he was on any medication. My response was just the antibiotics the hospital i.e. they had prescribed. The nurse, flicked through her file, but still had no idea what I was talking about. Neither did the doctor I saw not 10 minutes later.

4. On the initial admission to the ER after my son shattered his arm at school, a doctor saw him, wrote up some heavy duty pain relief as was in a mountain of pain. He didn’t put it in the correct place, he came back an hour later and realised my son had been in agony for that long because he didn’t file it accordingly.
5. My mother was about to go into for brain surgery when the nurse started quenstioning Mum about how long she'd been a Jehovahs' Witness. Mum was confused. So was I. Mum was an Anglican. I spoke up and asked why she would ask that. The nurse replied because she was down as "no blood transfusion due to religious reasons".
So, if this happens to just one family, in one hospital, what’s going on everywhere else? Does it not make sense to have every doctor, nurse, physiotherapist, dietician, occupational therapist and everyone in between, to own a palm held computer that contains every single patient under that persons care, information with alerts and updates?

Like I said above, I’m well aware, this would not be cheap. But I would be a hell of a lot happier to know my GST, my income tax, my rego, my stamp duty etc, etc was going towards something that would benefit everyone in Australia.

Other ways to improve the system would be to partially fund doctors and nurses education. On the proviso they stay with the public health system for a certain amount of time. (Obviously based on conduct and performance).

Stop Talking Kev because it sound insincere. I’m not of any particular political persuasion. I’m actually naive enough to wish for a society where we are governed by people who want to do the right thing by its people, and not the person who lines their pocket.

And to be honest, Australia has had enough of you guys sitting in parliament, fighting like petulant children, throwing insults and jibes at each other and achieving zero. If you were children in a classroom, you would be silenced and disciplined. The sad state of affairs here is that no one is there to tell you guys to shut the hell up and just do what’s best for the people of Australia. Because that is where your job starts and ends.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

YOU SAY TOMATO I SAY POTATO


It’s so funny how two people can look at or watch the exact same thing and come up with two completely different opinions.


Straight up, I’m not a massive art appreciator. I mean, I can see a painting or a photo and tell you whether I like it or think it's rubbish. For Instance, this one below won a $10,000 prize this year.









THE LIVER IS THE BUCKET KICKED THE RABBIT.


What the fuck? Seriously a) this makes absolutely, NO sense and b) it’s just words painted. Probably with a template - hardly art.


I mean, is this the emperor’s new clothes of the art world? If one guy who is respected in the Art World says throwing shit at a blank canvas is brilliant, do the rest of his peers simply agree with him for fear of looking like a an uneducated fool?


I only ask, because today I wrote my take on Tim Burtons Alice in Wonderland. I absolutely loved it. Loved it and to be honest, I really didn’t expect to. I thought it would be crazy bonkers and full-on Tim Burton/Johnny Depp batshit craziness. Plus I'd read reviews like this “a wildly inventive film straight jacketed in conventional narrative...that grows increasingly one-dimensional and simple-minded.'' Or “So let me call it now: Alice in Wonder- land - the most disappointing film of 2010” So polar opposite to me. What does this all mean?


Every Friday night, we go to the video store, ok ok, the DVD store. I know this is very rock star and you are all wildly jealous but it has to happen to someone. You've probably seen us there. The errant family paying $56 in late fees, whilst swatting the 3 year olds grubby kindy fingers away from the Freddo Frogs. Anyway, we (my husband and I) generally get a new release. One for me, one for him. Occasionally there is one we both will watch together. Often I just look for the most violent one I can find for him. Something that has zombies, high violence and naked beetches. Then he’ll go off, watch it and without doubt, walk back in 2 hours later. I will say “So how was it”. His response is ALWAYS “Shit”. Why in the hell did he sit through it then? Because that’s what he does. So he will sit and watch Shit but refuses to sit through PS I Love you, even though it will probably, at the end of the day, be far more entertaining than any of that crap he’s been suffering through.

My idea of a good movie is to be entertained. I don’t expect to find the meaning of life inside a cinema. Great if I learn some new stuff. Fantastic if I walk out with a new resolve to join Yoga or volunteer more. But at the end of the day, I get reality stuffed down my freaking throat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I just want to escape.

I find it funny to find some people hated movies I loved or vice versa.
Take Bruno for instance. Recently we discussed this with my brother and his girlfriend, who LOVED it. Texted me to tell me they were watching it and it was hilarious. Phil and I had seen it not long after it came out on DVD and whilst he sat through it (as he does); I got, oh, about 20 minutes before I had had enough.

But on the flipside, Couples Retreat came out recently and I absolutely thought it rocked. It was funny and escapist. It got nailed in the reviews. Barely anyone seemed to like it.

Perhaps it’s me? Actually, reading back, I think it may be. Sometimes I’m a bit of a slow burner. I remember seeing Zoolander for the first time and thinking it was shite. Then I went back a few years later and it cracked me up. I now consider it in my top 10 of favourite movies. Along with Kindergarten Cop, Napoleon Dynamite, 50 First Dates and Juno.

So, now I’m off to go paint my own $10,000 winning canvas. I’m thinking

THE BRAIN DOES
LEECH MARBLES
TRIPPED
THE MONGOOSE



It’s certainly mental enough. Think I've nailed it.

ALICE IN WONDERLAND

Written for http://www.myg.com.au originally


I don't care if you are 8 or 88; I have four words for you about Disney's Alice In Wonderland - GO AND SEE IT.

Directed by Tim Burton, Wonderland takes you on Alice's journey, 13 years after her initial tumble down the hole. To be honest with you, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp together kind of freak me out. Well, look at Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a couple of years back. I think there were some serious wacky tobaccy getting shared around between the writers and directors just quietly, because that movie was bonkers. Enjoyable but completely insane.

So, that and the fact that a couple of reviews I had read only gave Alice 3 out of 5 stars, my expectations were to see something visually stunning, a forgettable story line and of course, Johnny Depp acting insane. I was so wrong. (Oh I was pretty on the money with Johnny, but he was insane in a cute adorable kind of way.)

I guess I was also reluctant to see it because generally, kids' movies just bug me. There are exceptions, Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Shrek etc, but it is often so hard to find one that doesn't make you want to poke your own eyeballs out. (Alvin and The Chipmunks anybody??) There is no swearing. There is no crude innuendo. There is simply just story telling and the insertion of visual humour that doesn't rely on poo and vomit to get a giggle. Tim Burton and Co have simply nailed it. We had two ten year olds with us as well who both said and I quote "Like Oh My God, that was the best movie eva". Take that Miley Cyrus and your climbing of mountains.

Set in the Victorian Era, the movie kicks off with Alice arriving at an estate where a pre-arranged and completely unexpected proposal, from a ginger haired Lord with serious digestion problems, takes place. Of course Alice, who is still grieving her father's death and is not shall we say, a demure Victorian girl, simply cannot accept his offer without of course, having a tiny breakdown and fleeing the scene.

After chasing a white rabbit wearing a waist coat, holding a pocket watch, Alice tumbles down a hole. Up to this point, I haven't mentioned the 3D nature of this film because it really hasn't been apparent. Falling down that hole though, holy geez, hang on to your seats (and your pants just quietly).

Helena Bonham Carter, who is real life, is married to director Tim Burton - (nepotism shnepotism - this woman can seriously act) plays the evil Red Witch. The fact that her head is around 3 times its normal size on a teeny body is a truly marvellous example of how the makers have effortlessly mixed animation and real life. The back story on the Red Witch being, she invaded and seized control of Wonderland. She basically blew it up and burnt it down.

The Mad Hatter, played by Johnny Depp, has been waiting for Alice to return to defeat the Jabberwocky and the Red Queen. I know this sounds kooky and it kind of is, but at no stage watching this, was it confusing. I think the best quote in the movie was Alice to the Mad Hatter "Yes you're crazy, you're loony and bonkers - but you know they say all the best people are a bit mad"

The other standout performances come from Anne Hathaway - The White Queen. There was every opportunity to turn her loveliness into cheesiness in this movie, yet they don't. She's an angel with a very weak stomach and a penchant to twirl on the spot.

Of course other standout performances from Stephen Fry who plays the Cheshire Cat. He is divine, both the cat and Stephen. Matt Lucas plays both Tweedledum and Tweedledee. And of course, Crispin Glover, (the Knave of Hearts) who has come a long way since being George McFly in back to the future.

But what about Alice? Mia Wasikowska is an Australian actress who I'm thinking, whether she realises it or not, has just hit the freaking jackpot. She is sensational in this movie. She has just enough feistiness, innocence and sarcastic wit to make a grown up Alice lovable and acceptable to all those who associate Alice of Wonderland with a young child.

They say money can't buy you happiness. But for the cost of a movie ticket, you can buy yourself 1 hour and 49 minutes of the stuff.

Oh and I have one more word - Funderwhack. You will just have to see the movie to understand how awesome that word is. Cool