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The story of the Chicken Tooth

One day, FOTH (father of the house) decided he would play a joke on The Princess. I had chopped chicken for dinner and came across this bit of goodness-knows-what. Before I could discard it, FOTH picked it up and called for The Princess,

“Look what Mum found in the chicken. A chicken tooth.”

The Princess: No way Dad, you’re joking.

FOTH: No, seriously, it is. They are very rare you know.

The Princess: I don’t believe you.

FOTH: Go and ask Jim. He’ll tell you.

Jim is one of our neighbours and has a wicked sense of humour. He is forever telling the children jokes, engaging them with his magic tricks and giving them lateral thinking exercises. His magic, disappearing, elbow, coin trick is the best I have seen.

Off trots The Princess at 6pm, pyjama-clad and carefully holding, in the palm of her hand… the Chicken Tooth. Jim, of course, has no warning of what is unfolding but the FOTH has unquestionable confidence in Jim’s ability to keep the story going.

Meanwhile, I turn to my husband and give him the ‘evil chicken’ stare. I know this is not going to end well.

The Princess returns, flustered from running excitedly across the street. I feel terrible but say nothing under strict instructions from FOTH.

FOTH: So, what did Jim say?

The Princess: (breathless) OMG, he said that it’s really rare and might be worth some money.

FOTH:  Really? Hmmm. Wow.

The Princess: Oh, and he wants to know where you got the chicken because he wants to go there. Chicken Teeth are rare you know Dad.

FOTH: I told you.

The Princess: Where DID you get that chicken from?

FOTH  tells The Princess about the organic chicken sold at the butcher near the local supermarket and off she trots again across the road. This time she returns even more animated. It turns out that Jim’s wife has chimed in, asking if Jim can take her to the butcher right this minute. The Princess is sure she’s got something special now. I can’t bear it any more. I know I have to say something. I go to speak then,

“I’m going to sell this on Ebay, Mum can you take a photo for me?” and there she is, sitting at the computer trying to find out if there is anything else like what she has. Oh for the love of….

Me: Princess, Dad is joking. It’s not a chicken tooth. It’s just a gristly bit in the meat honey. Look, here are some more.

The Princess: Awwwwwwwww.  You’re bums. You’re all bums.

At least she said that with a smile.

The Chicken Tooth that was almost listed on Ebay

Raising resilient, capable children without the bubble wrap

Bubble Wrap

Image via Wikipedia

I have watched my children do some really amazing things and  I am often suprised by how capable, resilient, funny and loving they are and then I remember that it is not by coincidence or magic that they came to be this way.

This caused me to reflect on why my children, in varying degrees, are the way they are; critical thinkers, problem-solvers, ‘doers’, funny, loving and emotionally resilient. This is, by no means a how to, more of a how come post.

My comedic family

DO NOT ENTER WITHOUT A SENSE OF HUMOUR

That about sums up the way things are here. Self  deprecation, dry wit, nonsense talk, family language, inside jokes and general goofiness is all part of the atmosphere at  Chez Vix. Laughter, humour and fun are a magic recipe for developing self-esteem. It’s even better when you can laugh at yourself. If not, there will always be someone here to do it for you. The key here is finding the right balance so that no one feels like a joke but are rather part of the joke.  The children never stood a chance.

Working  it out

I figured the best way to teach my children was to let them work things out for themselves with guidance. How do children learn and master skills if they don’t get to ‘do’. My father used to admonish me for the things I let my children do but I refused to mollycoddle them. Bubble wrap belongs at the post office and messes can always be cleaned. Master 6 used a knife from a young age. They have all used a screwdriver to take apart objects and see how they work. Master 6 made me a cup of coffee for the first time last week. Bieber can chop vegetables like a pro. The Princess has been cooking, without supervision, for the last two years ( she just needs to work on the cleaning up part of the process!) and loves to mow the lawn. Red has performed many science experiments (today was build a sparkler bomb day – my only advice –  someone please film it). All children should climb trees, ride a bike on the road and jump on a trampoline. It was interesting to see the trampoline inverted one day and the boys launching themselves against it. There have been numerous obstacle courses, dubious structures and elaborate game play. The children have always tested boundaries and their own limits but they have learned a hell of a lot along the way. I have taken my part as safety monitor, mediator, facilitator and paramedic. Yes, there have been some injuries but everything is dangerous if you don’t have the necessary skills or mind-set to ‘do’. See 50 Dangerous Things (you should let your children do). Not for the faint-hearted. The important thing here is; children are allowed to make mistakes, learn from them and try again.

The Rubber Band Theory

Emotional resilience – the ability to bounce back from the situations that life presents. My children are rubber bands. I don’t know how they came to be this way, but I’m guessing that stepping out of the picture and giving them the dialogue to negotiate problems and situations for themselves has probably been the contributing factor. I love that they get angry at each other, it’s healthy. It’s even better when I hear this, ‘See this? This is my angry face. You wanna piece of this?’  My father passed away in September, 2010. That was a big test, for all of us. It still is. We just talked our way through all the hurt, upset and anger. The Princess and Bieber have experienced bullying at school and while that breaks my heart for them, I had to overcome my own feelings and help them work out strategies to deal with it. The princess adopted the ‘delete’ technique where she deleted negative people from Facebook, her social set and most importantly, her mind. Bieber took the ‘ Emo/Shuffle, water off an ignorant duck’s back approach’ where he would hide under his enormous fringe, turn his back and shuffle. He completely ignores any person that is not worthy of his attention. I noticed this odd behaviour at graduation but trusted his judgement. He only allows positive people to enter his ‘mental domain’.  My children all have their own interests and strengths as well as their foibles. Each child is valued and respected for what they can and can’t do. However, do expect a good-natured ribbing (please refer to My comedic family) with the underlying message of ‘we love you for you’.

English: Rubber bands in different colors. Stu...

Love happens

I believe that it is not enough to tell your children you love them. You have to show it. Maybe that is why my children are the way they are. The power is in the ‘doing’ not the ‘saying’. My husband is not a big one for expressing his emotions verbally but there is not one person in this house that would doubt his love for them. The rough and tumble play, the joking and the ‘being’ is all part of the recipe for love. I had a secret giggle when I overheard my husband on the phone to his boss telling him that he hadn’t had a sleep (shift worker) because he was cooking naan bread with The Princess. One rainy weekend minus the shift working husband we were all a bit deflated. The Princess pulled out a 1000 piece puzzle and we all took turns adding to it throughout the day. 14 hours of love in that little display below.

14 hours of love in this thing

There were actually two more people under there!

I have realised that children don’t care what they are doing as long as they are doing it with you.

The Princess gets a birthday hug from Master 6

Love helps children develop good self-esteem. They learn where they belong in this crazy world and find ways to connect with others. It’s healthy. Our refrigerator is full of love. Photos, paintings and inspirational quotes that fly off when the door opens. I really need a cork board.

As I am writing this, I have just been handed a cupcake with Love written on top in pink icing. The Princess is busily cooking in the kitchen. I have just been handed another and couldn’t decipher the pink icing word on top. Happens, The Princess tells me, rolling her eyes. Love Happens.

Author: Bagande

Image via Wikipedia

It all comes down to this

Avoiding the Baker’s Binge

This morning I woke up with the incredible urge to bake. I resisted, of course, much to my husband’s disappointment. I knew that if I gave in to my inner voice , I would be spending most of the day in the kitchen instead of studying like I should.

Birthday cakes are the exception

I am not the kind of person that will bake one item. I can’t just bake one cake or a tray of biscuits and leave it at that. Oh no, on and on it goes until the session is over from lack of clean dishes or complete physical exhaustion. Or until dinner time, whichever occurs first. This is what I call Baker’s Binge and I must avoid it at all costs.

Get out of my way...I'm baking

Let’s look at the other reason to resist the baking binge in my household. My family. I bake enough to feed a small village and they eat everything in site in one day. Like a cross between piranha feeding and watching Pacman. First, the sharks circle then, it’s get out of the way or lose a body part. Seriously, I watched them one day after the neighbour delivered a plate of freshly caught red claw, barbequed in garlic marinade. Gone in 60 seconds. They didn’t even sit down, this feeding session all took place standing at the kitchen bench. Scary. OK, in their defence, the red claw were to die for and I admit I did nothing to stop it and even played my part. Mea culpa.

This was gone in less than a day

Our friend has been living in Utah for two years now and came home for Christmas this year. He brought the family a huge bag of American chocolate goodies. Gone in less than a day. Back to the baking.

My family defends their positions by telling me that I do not bake often enough and they have to enjoy everything while it lasts, which is not very long. So  it is not quantity they want, it’s not even quality ( I do burn things occasionally and they scrape the burnt bits off and still eat it)  it’s frequency they want. Red is still complaining about the fact I only make trifle once a year for Christmas.’ Why can’t I have it more often break the rules Mum, go on’.

The very last Baker’s Binge I gave in to consisted of this:

  • Bacon and Tomato Quiche (2)
  • A batch of scones
  • Jam Drops ( 48)
  • Vanilla cupcakes (24)
  • Pizza Scrolls
  • Vegemite and Cheese Triangles and
  • Tomato and Cheese Triangles.

    Have you tried it?

This, of course, extended into dinner time after  the dishwasher was on for its second load. We had Chicken, pumpkin and parmesan risotto. Why on earth I decided to make that time-consuming, can’t-leave-the-stove dish I will never know. How my family ate that after sampling demolishing aforementioned items I will never know.

I must mention that in any one given day, there could be up to 10 people for dinner and with the children’s friends and neighbourhood kids coming and going, my baking is walking out the door with others. ‘Here, try these, my Mum just made them’.Yeah, knock yourself out.

Gołąbki 12

I have a plan. My next baking binge  going to have a theme. I am going to bake, cook and deliver a Polish Food feast to celebrate the Polish heritage on both sides of the family. The children have already expressed their disinterest in my cabbage rolls, called Golabki but I think I may win them over with the Pierogi. I have never made a Black Swirl Poppy Seed cake but I remember having that at my Babcia’s house when I was young. That woman could bake!

Yeah baby!

The Polish Food Pyramid courtesy of The Princess and the Pug.

I will now return to study, having avoided the Baker’s Binge and given in to the Blogger’s Bug. Have a great day.

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Our unofficial Christmas present

Eddie the rainbow lorikeet

Meet Eddie, the rainbow lorikeet that had the misfortune of being hit by a car, bouncing off it and then being hit a second time by my husband’s ute. My husband rescued him just before Christmas  and we thought he wouldn’t make it after being hit twice then surviving a hot car until my husband finished his shift at work. If ever there was a bird that deserved to live – then it’s Eddie. Here he is two weeks later and refuses to leave the cage thank you very much but I’m fine here.The children have tried two unsuccessful releases. We will try again in a few days.

Failed release attempt No. 1

      Our family has quite a tradition of rescuing animals. My sister started it with

      rescuing joeys from injured kangaroo mother’s pouches. My children grew up

      with that joey. Next was a wedge tailed eagle that she made a stand for  and

      hand fed.

Wedge tailed eagle in flight03

Wedge tailed eagle in flight

Dizzy Lizzy rescued a baby possum whose mother had been killed and nursed it

before handing it to WIRES. The Princess rescued a kitten and reared him when

 he was 4 days old, his eyes weren’t even open properly. He had been dumped byThe common Brush tailed possum Trichosurus vul...

 the mother and forgotten, probably when she was trying to move her entire litter

to safety.  “Lucky” is still with us today. Cosmo is also a foundling ( and some days

he is so naughty I wish someone else would find him!)  discovered as a puppy,wandering  through traffic. Many “found” posters later and he is still with us.

We have rescued a water dragon, a Shingleback  lizard ( Red called him Komodo) and a baby pigeon called Cheapa who fell from the nest and was abandoned by his parents. I couldn’t read a newspaper or use my computer without his curious pecking.

Shingleback <i>Tiliqua rugosa</i>

Shingleback Image via Flickr

I am so glad that my children care about and care for animals. I was looking for Ash ( our resident baby lorikeet) the other day as his cage was empty. I should have known better. I needn’t have worried. For there, under Bieber’s arm was the little green baby lorikeet, fast asleep.

Hit me with your qualifier

No Talking

Image via Wikipedia

I was just thinking about some of the things people say. You know, the minute that it comes out of their mouths and you’re standing there thinking “Well, that’s the biggest load of BS I have heard in my life’ or ‘ Yeah, right’.

What I particularly like in conversation, are those little qualifying sentences that people begin with. You know the ones. They’re never going to end well. You’re standing there with that perfectly masked, pasted on smile belying your complete and utter lack of interest/here we go again face/’ut oh do I really wanna hear this?’ thought/tuning out/nausea.

Firstly, I will give you some examples of my all-time favourites, what they mean and  useful strategies to deal with these little gems.

  1. “If you want my advice…”
  2. “I’m a straight-shooter…”
  3. “No offense, but…”
  4. “I’m not one to gossip, but…”
  5. “I like to call a spade a spade…”
  6. “This is not like me, but…”
  7. “I didn’t want to say anything, but…”
  8. “It’s not your fault, but…”
  9. “I know my kids aren’t angels, but…”
  10. “You know I love you, but…”
  11. “I’d do anything for you, but…”
  12. ” I don’t usually lie, but..”
  13. “I came here to see you, not you’re home…”
  14. “I am not a violent person, but…”
  15. In fact any of these… “I am not sexist/racist/homophobic etc, but…”

Most of you who have read a few of my posts know that I believe  everything can be dealt with  by using a good dose of humour. I am an Aussie. We are known for our laconic wit – ( the drier the better), strong sense of irony and our laid back attitude to most things. “She’ll be right, mate”…”No worries”. If they can’t –  don’t deal with it. Just kidding!

With that in mind, let’s look at some of these ‘you beaut’ sentence starters.

“If you want my advice…”. No. I don’t, but you’re going to give it to me  anyway,aren’t you? If I really wanted your advice, I would have asked you. Nope, still talking huh? Arghhhh. You can’t stop them, they’re really not out to help you, they just like the sound of their own voice and are like an unwritten self-help book. Tune out. Go to a better place, while nodding and placing the appropriate “ah hah” every now and then.

“I like to call a spade a spade…” Immediately tell them you don’t like card games and then 1. walk away or 2. offer food and drink as a distraction or else you will hear everything they think about you/your neighbour/your husband/your kids/your boss/your dog all in its pure, uncensored glory.

“I’m a straight shooter…” Please refer to “I like to call a spade a spade…” except this time  insert “I don’t like guns”. These people are particularly volatile when you first meet them and I would highly advise walking away as the only step. But you didn’t ask for my advice so I won’t.

English: A chicken running Français : Un poule...“It’s not you fault, but…” yes it is. We both know it is. It’s just that you don’t want to say it and I don’t want to think about it. Cry. Cry like there’s no tomorrow. Drama cry. Like that fake cry in ET, when Elliot is trying to cause a distraction for ET to escape. Like that. here’s why:  1.  Your talker will go away to get tissues  2. They will think you’re nuts and leave 3. They will excuse themselves saying you need time to be alone. And cry. Because it really is your fault.

Sponsored by Amdocs - Yellow print directory“You know I love you, but…” Oh boy. You know this one is going to be a doozy. “Really? I don’t love you!” might be a little harsh or inappropriate if it’s your husband/child/best friend. “Well, if you love me, you’ll stop right now.” might cut to the chase. I usually put my hands over my ears and yell “lalalalalalalala’. It seems to achieve the desired affect because people usually walk away when you do this and never bring the subject up again. For the persistent others in your life, follow up with “I can’t hear you” X 10.

A toddler girl crying

“I don’t usually lie, but…” Just this one time and because it’s you…I will. Do not ever trust this person again because…they lie. Make them a cup of coffee, but do not believe anything they say and do not tell them anything. In fact, don’t speak at all. They will take what ever you say and make things up about you. No. It’s not paranoia. They will. Don’t look at them. Unfriend them. What? So what if it’s your sister?

Are you listening to anything I am saying here???

“I know my kids aren’t angels, but…” Yes you do. You think they are angels and mine are the devil’s spawn. These people are just leading into a rant about how bad your children are compared to theirs and  well, while we’re at it…let’s look at the way you’re parenting too. Stop them first. Stop them at “I know my kids…” and say, “That’s good, they’re peeing in my front yard”. Right. Sorted.

“I am not a violent person, but…” You don’t want to hear the rest of this. Immediately stop anyone who says this and say “Oh that’s good, neither am I…biscuit?”

English: An SVG rendering of cup of coffee wit...“This is not like me, but…” Who is it like then? Wow, this one gets me every time because you know it’s  possibly not about you and you relax…only to hear the most tawdry, inappropriate unveilings or it is about you and the qualifier is a ruse. Your conversation partner has begun their rant under false pretences and should have begun with ” I didn’t want to say anything ,but…” or “I’m not one to gossip, but…” If it

is the first instance, ignore the qualifier and remember you are not a gossip. Be supportive. If it is the latter, you have several ways to go here. Out the window. Out the door. To the kitchen. To the bathroom. If you choose the escape option, you have cemented it in truth. Better to feign total ignorance/incredulity/disgust/nausea/disbelief. Unless your friend has betrayed you and we all know what happens to betrayers.

“No offense, but…” Seriously? You don’t mean to offend me but you’re gonna do it anyway? Thanks. What are good friends for? I would suggest a counteroffer of the same caliber just to make yourself feel better. Then go to the kitchen and make coffee and spit in your guest’s cup. If you have been brought up better than that – silently cry or pound the bench. Or wait until your husband comes home and say ” Do you know what so-and-so

said to me today?”  and share the pain.

I do not have any pointers for the sexist, racist, homophobic qualifiers because I tend to go straight for the throat when people unleash those little gems of  atrociousness. Yes, I grab my throat and pretend I’m choking, having a coughing fit or going to be violently ill. Works every time. In fact, works for everything.

Mum, you’re a toolbox – thanks for the memories

Tonight,I decided not to do the dishes or the laundry and ignored my dirty floor. Instead, I played with my son.

I love the nonsense times, the uncontrollable giggling and the ridiculous words that ensue. Tonight was no different.

Nonsense

Master 6 is still young enough to enjoy the silly use of words, nonsense rhymes and a good old tickle session. I know that perhaps by this time next year, he will not. Sitting on the couch tonight, we were making up ridiculous names for our body parts. With each new expression came loud bursts of laughter and goofiness and some of it was him too. Our legs were labelled body-transporters, our arms became go-getters, our bellies were described as recycle bins and our bottoms are now affectionately called waste disposal units. Ears are earba speakers (he used to say earba when he was a toddler, instead of ear) and eyes are radar readers. Utter silliness that probably doesn’t sound all that funny to you, dear readers but, to us, we were absolutely the next best thing in comedy.

But wait. Master 6 points to his head and asks, “What do we call this Mum?”  “Hmmm”, I said “That is your toolbox”

“You’re a toolbox, Mum” he said to me with a huge grin and eyes fixated on mine. He may as well have told me I was the best Mum in the whole world because at that very moment, when my son told me I was a toolbox, he told me how much he loved me.

Playing with your children and making memories. That’s just about the finest moments parenting offers. When your children grow up they will not remember if the dishes were done on time. They will not remember how dirty the floor was some days and nor will they remember if laundry was sitting, waiting to be washed ( please, please don’t read Mother Guilt now). Children remember stories told,fun times, adventures taken, great memories made and they should all involve you. It is not too long before they get older and don’t want to be around you that much. They grow up and spend less time at home and they move out. Then they come back.

Mother Guilt

Mother Guilt. Come on, you all know it. That little voice inside our head. That running commentary. That ability to go from super-mum to beating yourself up in five seconds flat.It might sound a little something like this:

Have I spent enough time with the children today? Should I feel guilty for taking that half-an-hour bath listening to screaming and arguing outside the closed door? Am I a horrible mother because my kids didn’t brush their teeth/have a bath/eat vegetables today? I’m a working mother and I can’t attend all the school functions/help out with tuckshop/take a place on the P & C. I don’t make play-dough for my children, they’re ruined for life. There are no clean clothes in my children’s drawers. The house isn’t super clean because I watched a movie and ate chocolate. I was late for parade and missed my daughter’s band recital. I couldn’t afford to send my son to school camp this year. Is a hole going to open up and swallow me because my children aren’t in a routine? My children are still in their school uniforms at 9pm dancing to party Rock Anthem in the lounge room and (I am videoing it). We had dinner at 8pm tonight because I was tired and hadn’t done the grocery shopping. My daughter is struggling at school because I don’t spend 1.5 hours a night helping her with her homework or have a tutor.I have done these things and lived the guilt. I have had mothers come to me asking advice. I have heard all the mother guilt. It has to stop.

The truth is…so what. Do not compare yourself to Mrs Got It All Together who lives at number 49 down the street. Don’t compare yourself to Mrs Just Woke Up with a Latte in my Hand Perfectly Made-Up Designer Clothed Pram-Pushing Everywhere at the Right Time Routine is What It’s All About What’s Wrong With You? from Play Group.

Embrace the mother that you are. If your kids are laughing, learning, happy, growing and have friends…you’re doing something right. Children are flexible. Children will forgive small transgressions. Love them, play with them and have fun. The rest will take care of itself. Stop feeling guilty. I did and it was wonderfully liberating.

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