Monday, 15 April 2013

Recipe for play dough

  • ½ cup salt
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Food colouring

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a saucepan.
  2. Stir the mixture over a medium heat until a pliable dough forms.
  3. Allow the play dough to cool.
  4. Give a lump to your child, and store the rest in an airtight container or zip lock bag.
  5. Watch as your child pulls the dough into a million pieces and squishes them into every place imaginable, including between the slats of the deck, in her brother’s hair and all over her toys.
  6. Vow to make sure it all gets cleaned up before she moves onto the next activity.
  7. Realise somewhere in the back of your mind that this is never going to happen.
  8. Wait 8-10 hours until it all goes dry and crusty (or slippery and slimy if it has rained – lucky you).
  9. Spend an eternity scraping the stuff off everything and trying to mush it back into a ball.
  10. Sit in a blob that you missed.
  11. Go to the shops without realising that you have pink goo on your bum.
  12. Experience some sort of partial lobotomy effect while you sleep, resulting in play dough-specific memory loss (I can only assume this is what happens).
  13. Return to step 4.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Parenting without fear

Ok well I’ve confidently tapped out that title as though I’m about to spew forth a brilliant how-to guide, or at least share with you my triumphant example. But sorry, no. I’ve decided to write about this because I’ve been wondering lately whether it’s possible. It seems that so many of my decisions are based on fear. And you might think that sounds weird, but I’m not talking about extreme fears. It’s important to me that I don’t succumb to the fear that my kids will be raped and murdered on their way to school (extremely unlikely) or topple off some piece of playground equipment (pretty much a given, but part of life!)

But lately I’ve realised that there are lots of other little fears that can hold you hostage in lots of little ways, and that they all add up. How about the fear that if you give your baby a dummy to sooth him, then in two years time he’ll have the thing constantly in his mouth and you’ll have to engage in an epic battle to get him to give it up. Or that if you drive him around to get him to go to sleep, he will never, ever learn how to sleep in a bed, and you'll be driving aimlessly around the suburbs for the rest of your life. Or that if you put your toddler in front of the TV so you can get some peace then she will grow up to be a sad, sallow pre teen with a weight problem – and it will be YOUR FAULT!!! 

Sometimes I think the guilt involved with day-to-day parenting will just swallow me whole.  

For me at the moment, there’s the fear (and guilt) about toilet training. Or, more accurately, not toilet training. I said we’d try again, and we did. In fact, it wasn’t long after the first disastrous attempt that MM said she wanted to wear underpants again, and we started to give the whole thing another go. If anything, it was worse. The 3-day approach that I tried last time went out the window in favour of a more traditional approach where you plop them on the potty when you think they need to go and ask them to try. And you know what? It went ok. I got into a routine of carting her off to the loo first thing in the morning, mid-morning, before lunch, before her nap etc etc. But if I forgot, or got distracted, or she’d had a lot to drink, she’d wee on the floor. And she didn’t care at all - she was proud of it! I wasn’t always there to witness it, but I’ve seen her spread her legs (which at least keeps her skirt dry!) and wee with gusto right onto the ground before announcing “Me did a wee!”

I don’t need to be responsible for another person’s bladder and bowel movements. I have enough trouble attending to my own needs. Mid way through attempt two, a friend confided that she went on like this for about a year. A year!!! Nope – I opt out. I need to gather my energy for round three. And I figure, if there's an age at which kids are ready and finally just “get it”, then starting a little closer to that age will make the whole process quicker and less painful, right? RIGHT???

So toilet training, I’m shelving you for just a little while. We’ll stay in this weird, in-between, sometimes-underpants, sometimes-potty, sometimes-nappy world for now and I’ll just have to deal with the guilt! And the fear that I'll be that woman who takes an un-toilet-trained 4 year old to kindy amid gasps of horror from the other mums. It's all in a day's work at this motherhood gig.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013


So I've been doing the Michelle Bridges 12 week body transformation for just over 3 weeks now, and it's going well! I'm losing weight. I'm getting into good habits with exercise. It's a good thing. But I am SO hungry today. SO hungry. I'm on 1200 calories a day and for the first week I was starving all the time. In the second and third weeks I was fine really, so I thought my body had adjusted and it was all good. But no - the hunger is back. And the carb fantasies are getting out of hand.

Before starting this program I thought I was pretty good with food really. And I guess I am, comparatively. I hardly ever drink soft drink or eat chocolate bars or chips or lollies. I don't buy lots of processed food or gorge on hot chips. I know I don't eat enough fruit and veg, but my main meals are all above board - a pretty typical day would mean muesli for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and maybe a stir fry for dinner. That's fine, right? But doing something like this makes you realise where all the extra calories sneak in:

1. Finishing the kids' food. I hate wasting food, and when my kids have finished eating it's often pretty unclear whether they ate the food or just spread it all over everything in a thin layer. Plus there's that time-honoured rule that says that the more time and effort I put into making something for the kids, the less likely they are to eat it. It seems wasteful not to salvage what I can, but it all adds up. I should have learnt this lesson long ago, at my friend Josie's 18th, when I applied the same principle and finished off all the little bits left in all the beer cans I found. Needless to say, that did not end well.

2. Free food. Maybe it's the 7 years that I spent as a full time uni student, but I just can't say no to free food. It's one of life's great joys. You come out to the shops to grab some loo paper and you end up eating a little pot of spaghetti bolognese instead! You're sitting in a boring meeting and then - voila! - some mini focaccias turn up. Life's good! I was in the supermarket on the weekend and a guy offered me a sample of Movenpick ice cream. Free ice cream!! And I said "no thanks, I'm on a diet." Oh the humanity!

3. Carbs. Who doesn't love carbs? Come on. They are so satisfying. I know that a lot of diets tell you to avoid them, but I always thought that was just a silly gimmick. It was only when I started this plan that I realised how many calories I was eating that way. The amount of pasta I was allowed in my Michelle Bridges pasta dish was about 1/5 of what I would usually have. And I'd usually pile up half my plate with rice. So now I'm not doing that. And I feel so empty I could eat my desk!

4. Food that "doesn't count". Turns out it actually does. Boo. Creme eggs are a perfect example. They are so small - just a little snack! Milky Ways - same deal! To be fair, the advertising only said they wouldn't spoil my dinner, not that they wouldn't make me fat, but I still feel ripped off.

5. Hot drinks. Hot chocolate is obviously bad news, but I try to convince myself that chai lattes are really ok - you know, because they are pretty much just milk. Sometimes, if I go somewhere fancy, I even extend myself to getting a pot of chai tea, and feel even more virtuous (hey, it's pretty much just water!) Sure, it comes with a little packet of honey, but it's so small that it doesn't really count (sigh...see above). But to be honest I really prefer the latte version, which - let's face it - is just warm milk with sugar and flavouring.

And then there's...

6. The cake. A combination of 2, 3 and 4, and my ultimate undoing. Ahh, cake. What I wouldn't give to bury my whole face in you right this minute and just start munching.

Right, I'm off to get a herbal tea. :-|

Thursday, 14 February 2013

The last hurrah

Ok, this is where it gets serious. I've signed up for the Michelle Bridges 12 week body transformation program, and I'm determined to ditch the extra kilos. Enough is enough! Loads to tell already, but before I get started on those stories, I think I'd better confess....

The 12 weeks started on Monday and I've been counting every calorie and following the exercise plan to the letter. But last week was...not so good.

You know what it's like, right? You are about to make a change and all of a sudden it seems like this may well be the last time you ever get to eat, say, a whole tub of ice cream. So you don't want to waste that, do you? It seems wrong not to honour all the good times that you and the ice cream have had with one last precious night together. For me, ice cream didn't actually come into the picture (damn - why didn't I think of that?!) but Tim Tams, Anzac biscuits, and half a chocolate cake certainly did. 

Not to mention the Creme Eggs. I love these little guys. You're cruising around the supermarket or stopping to grab a newspaper and there they are, staring up at you from the counter as if to say "Hey there, had a tough day? Want a little pick me up?" It's not as bad as eating a full sized chocolate bar. And it's not too expensive, either. Suddenly it seems like it would be silly not to buy one! So you do, and you are rewarded with a great big mouthful of gooey heaven.

It was while I was chatting to a friend about these very eggs that I came to a shocking realisation. When Easter rolls around this year I will be - gulp - dieting. Disaster!! And it's not just a one-day or one-weekend chocolate fest that I'll be missing out on. Because these days the Easter goodies are crammed onto the shelves before the Christmas food has even left the clearance racks. Now, every year people moan and groan about this ("What has the world come to?! We just had Christmas!" etc etc) But the reality is that stores stock this stuff in January because people buy it. And I am those people. Let's face it, the stores just want to make money however they can. And I for one say "Hoorah for capitalism!" (PS - I am also the person across the store at the Christmas clearance rack stocking up on half price pudding).

But there are more important things in life than chocolate. And being my old, slim self again is one of them. Having the energy to keep up with my kids is another. So farewell Creme Eggs (for now). I'll always remember our time together. And maybe I'll see you again one day. But not for the next 12 weeks!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Down the drain

Oh, the shame of it all! Three weeks into toilet training MM and she is - I can hardly bear to admit it - back in nappies.

I tried. I really tried. I read the "3 day potty training" e-book. I bought a cute little potty with turtles on it. I took MM to buy some underpants and got all excited about her being a "big girl", ignoring the fact that she was alternating between staring blankly and completely ignoring me.

And I did my research! I read books! I searched online! I came up with what I thought was the best of the best - the gems from each of the things I'd read, trimmed of all the nonsense. Sticker charts? Bah! I don't need that! And the "potty dance" that one expert suggested? Well, that was just ludicrous. Those poor mothers, I thought, lowering themselves to the level of silly dances and bribery. MM is a clever little one - I figured I'd just explain what she needed to do and she'd get it. Besides, my friends in mothers group had tried it and their kids were all trained now - no worries! How hard can it be?

It's clear now that potty training falls squarely in the category of "judge not lest ye be judged"...or "don't judge until you've walked a mile in another's shoes"... or another one of those preachy sayings. Five days in and I was doing the fricking potty dance. And covering MM with stickers. And trying not to show my desperation as I pleaded with her to come to the loo instead of wetting herself...AGAIN!

Here is the main thing that I didn't know about toilet training: just because the kid knows how to use the toilet, doesn't mean they will. Teaching her what to do was the easy part. Convincing her to keep doing it now that the novelty has worn off? Impossible!

Let's face it - nappies are pretty handy. You're hanging out, playing with your teddy, the urge strikes and - bam - off you go. A few seconds later and you're back to putting teddy to bed in his cardboard box and life carries on as before. But hang on - now here's mum dancing around waving stickers saying that I have to leave my game and go off with her for that whole toilet palaver? Joke's on you mum - it's not happening!

And the experts say that any force, anger, frustration, or punishment will just set the whole process back even further. So you simply smile, say "oopsie!", and calmly clean up the sixth wee of the day - which she did in the lounge room just after assuring you that she absolutely did not have to go. Then off you go to the toilet to go through the whole routine anyway just to drive the message home about where wee belongs. Nappies were starting to look pretty good from my angle too.

On one such trip to the toilet, around day 16, I let the forbidden word pass my lips. "Sweetie, would you like to put on...a nappy?" "Nappy, nappy, nappy!!!" she said, and immediately ran off to get one.

But we will try again. When I'm ready. It's not like she'll be going to uni in one. I assume she'll be taking her bottle though. But that's another story.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Jump around!

Having recently come face to face with the muffin top, I could hardly wait to get started on some sort of fat-busting exercise. First step, a “Body Attack” aerobics class at my gym. The class description on the Les Mills website promised “sports inspired cardio”. I had no idea what that meant. I had vague memories of trying this particular class about 10 years ago and vowing never to return. But I pushed that out of my mind, scooped up the kids and headed to the gym. The child minding room was full of tiny little bouncy people. And I don't mean the kids. As I took my place in the group fitness room I could see that I was one of the biggest people there – lost in a sea of “yummy mummies”. Gulp.

But guess what? It turns out that aerobics basically involves cranking some happy hardcore tunes and jumping around on the spot for an hour, throwing in the occasional kick or fist pump. This is essentially what I used to do for fun back in my student days! One track in particular was something I used to love back in the day – a happy hardcore remix of Berri's “Sunshine after the rain”. For the uninitiated – here it is:

Now, part of me finds it hard to believe that I used to classify this as music. But another part of me says “Wooooooooooooooo!!! Bring the noise!”. And perhaps blows some sort of whistle.

This is not to say that there weren't moments during the class when I wondered whether I would be walking out or leaving on a stretcher. I was sure I read something on the website about there being “recovery” tracks and yet here I was, 4th track in, doing this crazy scissor legs motion as I tried to jump from lunge to lunge. Then there was the jumping-four-times-to-the right-on-one-leg-while-lifting-up-the-other- knee move. What the...?! How is this possible? Seriously – give it a try. And yet here was a room full of people doing just that. I settled for a sort of kicking/knee-raising/flailing motion.

But here is what surprised me most about the experience: afterwards, I felt good! Really, really good! I expected to feel exhausted, but instead I was on a huge high. I almost wanted to go again! Almost.

Next: RPM class. Stay tuned...

Friday, 25 January 2013


Dark Giant
Image by Riana Ambarsari

In the end it was the muffin top that did it. As you've probably guessed from the title of this post, I'm not talking about the delicious, sweet, just-a-little-bit-crunchy kind (although they've certainly had a part to play in the whole affair). I'm talking about the horrifying moment when I realised that my tummy is the shape of a muffin... even while I am naked (cue gasps).

“How is this possible?!” I hear you ask. How indeed. All I know is that everything south of my caesarean scar is flat and tight, and I now have a bulge of fat that droops over the top of it. Unsightly is an understatement.

How did this happen?! I'd heard many times that having a baby changes your body, but I guess I didn't think it would happen to me. After the birth of MM I was lucky enough to return to my pre-pregnancy weight within a couple of months. My secret? A combination of depression, sleep deprivation, stress and countless hours spent pacing around my house trying desperately to get my baby to go to sleep. Do not try this at home, people!

But two years later here I am – 18 kilos heavier (18!!) and generally droopy. I'd seen it happening gradually, but there in my bathroom, faced with the muffin top, something finally snapped. It was time to jump into action.

This, I've decided, is going to be great year. A year of positive changes. A year to turn things around and start living a happier, more healthy life. And to tell the world about it. Does the world care? Maybe not. But if anyone does happen to be reading this then, please, come along for the ride...