Bah Humbuggery

I am not one to be filled with the spirit of Christmas (unless it comes in a bottle). If I hear a song using the lyric ‘Merry’ and punctuated with bells in November I will become physically violent…

Batman

The Season to be Jolly has always been bittersweet for me. I am profoundly sympathetic to those who struggle at this time of year and have struggled myself. It can be overwhelming, lonely and honestly, sometimes it all feels very false. Not to mention the drive to SPEND, SPEND, SPEND!

Living in South East Asia for the last few years, I have been lucky enough to avoid the worst excesses of Christmas and, as a general rule, our Christmases were low key with minimal disruption to our lives, celebrating friendship and kinship. However, this year we returned to Australia.  For the children it is their first Yuletide in the West. Christmas on Steroids, tinsel and lights and, seemingly, months and months of build up to the big day!

The first indication that things were going to be different this year came a couple of months ago. As I was tucking our 6 year old into bed she took my hand, squeezed it tightly, gazed deeply into my eyes with her enormous baby blues and asked earnestly, “Mummy, do you think this year we could possibly have a slightly larger Christmas tree?

I couldn’t see what was wrong with the forty-centimeter tall, 300-baht job I reluctantly purchased eight years ago, my wink and a nod to Christmas. But she was so very, very sweet and so very, very sincere.

“I will look into it, sweety!” I replied.

I was fucked and she knew it.

I locked my shiny humbug in a cage under the bed and told her to keep it down this year (though she is still being nurtured after hours with wine and cheese) bought a 6-foot-tree and decided, for the children, to have a Merry Fucking Christmas.

I fought through the cobwebs under the house and ripped open the box labeled ‘Xmas Shit’ (I better do something about that now that my children can read). As I unpacked that dusty old box something fabulous happened. I remembered what Christmas was like for me when I was a kid. I remembered the excitement, the anticipation, the rare and treasured time together as a family. Leaving a carrot for Rudolph and glass of rum out for Santa (the old pisspot), watching my Grandma as she bustled about in the kitchen, making presents for Mum and Dad, the table on Christmas Day… bright, festive fun!

I decided it was time to make some happy Christmas memories for my girls… and for me.

So we have begun. Just in case I forget later, these are a few of my favourite things from Christmas this year.

THE CHRISTMAS STAR

As mentioned, we acquired a new tree this year. It was actually really fun adorning it with the surprising number of special decorations we seem to have acquired over the years, many made by the girls.  However, when it was finished, the children agreed that the daggy old plastic star was neither big enough or beautiful enough to crown such a lovely tree.  So we got crafty!  A cardboard box, a toilet roll, every piece of gold or silver frippery we could find in the busy box, a little imagination, a lot of glitter, a lot of glue and VIOLA…. 

Christmas Star
Isn’t she fabulous?
Christmas Tree
A Perfect Crown 

THE MEMORIES

So many memories were carefully unpacked from the Christmas Box this year. I am incredibly lucky to have travelled so widely and to have met so many fabulous people from all over the world.  As Christmas orphans our families shared some fun times together and some special traditions from other countries.  These adorable christmas ‘Pontipines’… as Chilli calls them… were a gift from one of my dear girlfriends from Lao.  Miss ya face fabulous lady!

Christmas Babushka Dolls
Xmas Cute

THE SNOW

For the last couple of months our house has felt  like The Gaza Strip and I have felt like a UN Peacekeeper trying to minimise the carnage as my two eldest have fought and scrapped and hated and hit.  It has been heartbreaking to watch and G and I have struggled to find a way to improve things.  On Monday, suddenly, a ceasefire!

It was the first day of the school holidays and the girls decided that Christmas wasn’t Christmas without snow.  They spent the day singing and sharing and laughing and making.

Mummy, come look what we made… together…

Christmas Snowflake Wall
The Snowflake Wall… If there can’t be Peace on Earth at least there is some in our home.

THE MOVIE

They say families make their own traditions and despite not being particularly Christmassy G and I do have ours.

Every year, on Christmas Eve, after the children are in bed and while we wait for Santa to come, a single malt, some chocolate and this fabulous movie. One Christmas tradition I look forward to introducing my daughters to when they are much, much, much older!

Bad Santa Movie
Shit happens when you party naked… just sayin’

 

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Thanks for reading.  I hope your Holidays are filled with Peace, Love and Fabulous.

Miss Pip

 

 

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Fairies wear boots

Black Sabbath

Soundgarden

Faith No More

If those names mean nothing to you then you can be forgiven, after reading this, for thinking I am certifiable.

If you do know (and appreciate) who those bands are then you will understand why, on discovering that they were playing on the same bill, for ONE gig, in early July 2014 were compelled to purchase tickets to attend that historical gathering of Rock and Metal fabulousness!

Yes, it is true that the evening we bought the tickets we had had a couple of glasses of wine with G’s great friend and fellow music enthusiast (known to the girls as Uncle Toy). It is possible, that we were a little rash in making the decision but… ‘fuck it’… as my wise father would say… you only live once!

The morning after, with what could be described as a slight headache, I checked my emails and found the confirmation.  We had indeed bought four tickets to see Ozzie, Mike and Chris play at British Summer Time in Hyde Park, London on July 4th.  This was really happening people!

There were a few minor logistical issues that I needed to sort out:

G had no leave… no problem! His boss thought the idea was just crazy, batshit, mad enough that he let him take a week off (BEST BOSS EVER)

We have three children (and the concert was during the school holidays)… sorted!  My mother thought the idea was just crazy batshit mad enough, and loves her grand babies and us so much, that she agreed to take them for a week (BEST MOTHER EVER)

Oh and then there is the fact that London is rather a long way from Brisbane, Australia.  Actually, a really long way away. Thank goodness for frequent flyer miles!

So… to tell a long story in a few hastily snapped pictures (courtesy of G)…

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Faith No More
The power of Christ compels you!
“The power of Christ compels you”                                Yes, yes it does Mr Patton. It does indeed.
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Chris Cornell and Soundgarden…if only he was easier on the eye.
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Ozzie Osbourne, giving hell a run for its money!
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Tony Iommi – “a fountain of riffs”
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Just to prove I WAS actually there, here is a photo of the back of my head and Mike Patton waving at me!

Was it worth it?

Absolutely.  Every jet-lagged, fucking moment! It helped that our tickets gave us front row access!

Mike Patton and Faith No More were… Epic!  They played mid- afternoon. It was hot and the crowd of 50,000 were half-cut and dehydrated but from the moment the ‘Vicars’ stepped out onto the stage (or should I say  onto the alter) we worshipped before them.  Patton was deliciously wicked, shouting obscenities from “the exorcist” at the exalted crowd.  For me, turning to see G and Uncle Toy, eyes glazed with devotion, singing every word of every song, they seemed transformed, was almost as great as seeing Patton do his thing.  Faith No More also played two new songs at the end of the set.  We witnessed a real miracle. Praise Jesus, you motherfuckers!

The irony  of their Anthem Midlife Crisis was not lost on me as I surveyed the crowd. There were plenty of hot young forty-somethings (myself included) reliving a misspent youth. There were also an impressive number of black clad grandpas (and grandmas) rocking out to Mike while they waited for Ozzie to take them back to the time of their life. Some of the band shirts sported by the crowd seemed to have shrunk a little since their original purchase as they stretched across they middle-aged bellies of the fans!

Impressively though, I estimate that more than half of the audience I saw were young music lovers. Many of those I spoke to were musicians themselves, aspiring, gigging or enthusiasts, there to pay homage to the some of the most influential Rock and Metal Gods of all time.

Soundgarden? Sublime. G saw them touring on the back of ‘Superunknown‘ in Brisbane in 1994. 20 years since the album was released.  At Hyde Park they played it Start to Finish. Musically and technically incomparable. Chris Cornell IS Rock! Be still my beating heart.

The sun was setting as Sabbath took to the stage. I was nervous, ready for anything, even a vaguely comic swan song, from the Fathers of Metal. To be fair, Ozzie did ‘amble’ rather than ‘stride’ onto the stage and for the first 5 minutes I was worried he might not remember the words (not that he needed to, the audience sang every word of the opening number, War Pigs).

I don’t know how I could ever have doubted.

WHAT A SHOW!

To quote Uncle Toy, ‘You are witnessing the birth of Metal, people’.  

Ozzie was Ozzie. Relentless and Magnetic.

Tony Iommi? To quote Uncle Toy again, ‘A fountain of riffs’.

Into the Void, Iron Man, God is Dead… 

It was loud.  It was hard.  It was spectacular. It was exhausting.

It was fabulous.

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Thanks for reading. Now go listen to some music!

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Yeah, fairies wear boots and you gotta believe me
Yeah I saw it, I saw it, I tell you no lies
Yeah Fairies wear boots and you gotta believe me
I saw it, I saw it with my own two eyes,
Oh all right now!

Fairies wear Boots – Black Sabbath

 

The Best Worst Present

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A gift selected with thought and love.

There is a milestone moment in the life of a parent when your child realises that the act of giving a gift can be (almost) as rewarding as receiving one. For my eldest daughter, Monkey, that happened last month and I was the lucky recipient. The gift she thoughtfully chose, sourced, bought, wrapped and tentatively gave me on the birthday morning brought tears to my eyes.

In fact, every time the bloody thing goes off in our lounge room, it still does!!

It was this….

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and to fill it, this…

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Apparently, the idea came to her during our stay in the serviced apartment in Brisbane. You see, growing up in Asia, our kids have never really been exposed to commercial TV. At the temporary accommodation we had cable, in English. Yay and funness! I freely admit that I used the television as somewhat of a ‘babysitter’ in those first few hectic weeks here in Australia. I also admit that I was not entirely immune to the charms of the 40-odd-channels, indulging in quite a lot of food and lifestyle porn!

It was probably during one of mummies ‘house’ shows that Monkey saw an advertisement for the above objet d’art.

According to the website – Air Wick Freshmatic Automatic Spray has been carefully created to ensure continuous fragrancing that will keep the air fresh and lovely for you and your family and ensure a brighter, happier home.’

Not only that, it comes in several unique fragrances, including ‘Frangapani’, a scent that would surely remind mummy of out home in Lao (The Frangapani is the National flower of Lao)

What’s more, it is available at your local supermarket!

Monkey, accompanied me grocery shopping, secretly located the aisle and item and later dragged Daddy on a special mission to buy mummy a present that would make our new home smell like Lao.

Honestly, it was most beautiful, thoughtful gesture and, despite that fact the our home has started to smell like a cheap brothel, every time I hear the psst of the fragrance dispenser my heart swells!

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POST SCRIPT:

Monkey quietly approached me a week or so after my birthday, ‘Mumma’, she said, ‘It is OK if you turn the machine off sometimes.’
‘Why would I want to do that?’
She leaned in close, looking me straight in the eyes. ‘Because we both know it doesn’t smell very nice, does it? I don’t think the TV was right!’

I love you my beautiful, smart, baby girl. You are FABULOUS!

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Happy belated 7th Birthday

 

I’m a Barbie Girl

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Every one precious, every one special, every single one coming with us to Australia!

In the days BC (Before Children) I recall proclaiming loudly that, should I choose to have children, should the universe grant me a daughter, she would NEVER wear pink, she would be raised with gender neutral toys and under no circumstances whatsoever would she be allowed to play with Barbies.

My girlfriends cheered  and we raised our unshaven armpits in solidarity!

When Monkey was born she was duly dressed in an adorable, non-gender specific onesie and brought home to her brightly decorated, non-gender specific nursery.

Within days of her arrival, doting Grandparents, friends and Uncles started sending care packages containing beautiful, highly gender specific clothes and toys. I spent my weekends sorting laundry into whites, darks and pinks!  (…though it was my lovely housekeeper in Bangkok who actually washed, dried, ironed and organised our lights, darks and ‘the pink wash’… sigh!)

As fate would have it, Monkey was a girls, girly, girls girl.  By 18 months she was choosing her own clothes.  She refused to where ANYTHING BUT PINK until she was almost 4 years old.

She was probably around 2 years old when my best friend came to visit us for a holiday.  Her eldest daughter, almost five, brought with her a Barbie doll, a singing Barbie doll, a singing barbie doll in a pink sparkly dress with long golden hair… Monkey was enthralled!

I was horrified.

It is possible that I heaped a rather heavy dose of ‘WTF’ on my girlfriend.

Several months later, just in time for Christmas, a parcel arrived for Monkey from my girlfriend.  Inside was a Barbie doll, a singing Barbie doll, a singing barbie doll in a pink sparkly dress with long golden hair… AND A DVD…Barbie and the Diamond Castle! 

Well played my friend, well played.  I give up.

To this day, G and I still sing, I feel connected, to the girls as part of their bedtime ritual and can I just say, we  rock the harmonies!

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Thanks for reading, have a fabulous day!

Self Imposed Torture

For the last three days I have not eaten a thing. I have been achy and sweating, isolated and exhausted. If everything goes to plan I am going to feel like this until the end of the week. Then like a butterfly from a krysaliss, I shall emerge, purged, cleansed and feeling like a new woman.

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The view ain’t bad.

I am at Samui Detox, in Thailand, on fasting and detoxification program. I booked myself in, it is a rare and wonderful privilege to be here while my wonderful partner, irreplaceable nanny and generous mother take care of the children. But for now I am hungry grumpy, achy and wishing like hell that I could go home.

Madness!

What makes me even more insane is that I knew what I was in for. This is not my first time down this road. I have made time for a detox once a year, give or take, for the last 4 years. As I whined to G last night on Skype about how rotten I was feeling he reminded me that I say that EVERY time I come here and yet I keep coming back for more.

Idiot!

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Mealtime!

The detox program at Samui Detox includes a lot of things (food not being one of them): daily supplements and juice, deep tissue massage, steaming, daily exercise and yoga, meditation, workshops on healthy eating, parasites, the importance of the liver…. and yep… daily colonics. For this reason we refer to my annual retreat as ‘arse camp’.

Insane!

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You don’t want to know what goes on in this Bungalow

Arse camp has slowly but surely changed everything about my approach to life, or at least health. Not the least reason being the inspirational and passionate way that the Centres Director, Kim, guides you through the program and helps you to understand the value of taking care of your body, giving it the right fuel and how to take those concepts into daily life. I will admit she does have some crazy ideas. Apparently alcohol is bad for your liver and red meat, butter, cheese, cadbury dairy milk chocolate are best avoided.

Ridiculous!

Nonetheless, over time, I have made lasting changes to my lifestyle and to the lifestyle of my family that have tangible measurable benifts. Sometimes, when I go to a restaurant I choose the salad over the steak and don’t order french fries.

Certifiable!

I am loving my stay here. I am incredibly grateful, though a little hungry. I look forward to going home at the end of it. Home to my children and my man and back to all the crazy stress that is life but with a new sense of vitality, priority and purpose.

FABULOUS!
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Thanks for reading. Enjoy your next meal you bastards.

I think this might be for the best…

To whom it may concern,

Please accept this, my resignation, from the position of mother-of-three. I know that you were hoping I would apply for tenure but after much consideration I have realised that I am unsuited for the role. It would be remiss of me to continue.

Let me start by saying, in case there is any confusion, that according to the role description I have been given, there are three young children in my care. Are we clear on that point? Three little life forms all relying on me to keep them safe, fed, healthy and stimulated. Three little people who look to me for guidance, support, love. Three VERY DIFFERENT personalities who all NEED me, ALL THE TIME.

The fact is that I should never have taken on the role in the first place. I will admit to having been quite the advocate for having a child. A CHILD. Single. I was actually rather good at the making and baking part.

What I failed to do, this is entirely my fault, was read the safety instructions and follow the precautions which were clearly indicated, though in rather fine print I must say, at the back of the document.

The fact that I failed in my duty of care a third time should really be grounds for instant dismissal. I am obviously completely incompetent.

That not withstanding, I would like to list a number of other reasons why I am unsuitable for this job in the hope that you will accept, with haste, this request for clemency.

I like to be organised.
I like to be in control.
I like to be punctual.
I like clean.
I am rational.
I like to finish something I start, be it a task, cup of coffee or even a thought.
I like sleep. (Seriously, I really, really like sleep)

Given the above, I hope you see why I cannot possibly continue in this role. There is really very little job satisfaction!

If you are still not convinced, please let me make one final point. I wanted to do this job well. I really wanted to nail it. With every fiber of my being I wanted to be the best mother I could possibly be. But I just don’t have the capacity or the resources to give ALL THREE CHILDREN the time, support, sensitivity and understanding they need.

The only thing I have enough of is love.

The only thing I seem to be good at is shouting.

Thank you for your time. I wait anxiously for your response.

Regards and apologies
Miss Pip

Sober September: a summary

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We did it.  One month of Sobriety. Champagne anyone?

On the evening of Monday 31 September G and I opened a bottle of Prosecco and proposed a toast to our remarkable achievement!

It was moments after the first drops of bubbly, boozy goodness touched my lips that I realised it was actually still September and we really should have waited until midnight (or even the following day) to jump off the wagon!

WHOOPS!

Nonetheless, I am claiming a victory.   Sober September success!  We did it. We owned it. It was a little more difficult than I thought it would be.

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The first week was miserable.  We had jet lag.  I was sleeping badly.  I had a psychological, if not physical, need at the end of the day for a glass of SOMETHING… just to take the edge off, as a reward for making it through the day, to help me sleep, because I WANT A DRINK AND I AM A GROWN WOMAN AND THIS IS A RIDICULOUS IDEA.

G was all, “Well if you want to I am not stopping you but I won’t be joining you”, which  just made me determined not to let him win.  He can be such a manipulative bastard!

We had just returned from France where my daily intake of wine was really quite impressive so I guess, on reflection, that I was detoxing, cold turkey.  It was quite sobering (pun intended) to realise just how reliant I am on alcohol as both a physical and emotional crutch.

But it did get easier.

During the month that was September, I thought a great deal about alcohol. Mostly, I thought, “Fuck, I would like a drink”, but there was the occasional moment of more serious contemplation.  Booze has really played a major role in my life.

  • Firstly, I am an Australian and for most Australians drinking is a right of passage, a cultural expectation and sometimes a lot of fun.
  • My parents are both drinkers.  In their heyday they were heavy drinkers. For better or for worse, drinking was celebrated and revered in our house.
  • I spent (or perhaps mis-spent) my student years, most of my twenties, and some of my thirties developing an appreciation of many mind-altering substances including, but not limited to, fine wine and whisky.
  • Apart from the 27 months that I was been pregnant,  I reckon that I have had a drink every week (in fact most days) of my adult life. (I even took the occasional drink while my girls were on the boob)
  • There is a (very valid) assumption amongst our peers that I will ALWAYS knock back a glass or two given the chance.
  • I have enjoyed some wonderful times with friends, family and a drink in my hand.
  • Many of the WORST moments in my life have been directly related to me, or those close to me, drinking too much!

I don’t want to mislead anyone into assuming that all this deep thinking actually led to any sort of revelation.  There was no epiphany, no life changing decision, just some sober (yep, that one was intended too) reflection.

Also, some observations:

  • After the first week, I slept much more soundly;
  • It was easier to return to sleep if I was woken in the night by one of my small people;
  • I was less groggy and more alert in the morning;
  • I was less irritable with my children, mostly;
  • I was sometimes more irritable because I didn’t have ‘mothers little helper’;
  • My skin improved and I looked less puffy in the face;
  • I craved something sweet in the evening after dinner (no doubt a replacement for the sugar in the alcohol);
  • I DIDN’T lose any weight (probably because I was giving in to those sweet cravings);
  • I became a bit of a hermit because I didn’t want to go out and be asked why I wasn’t drinking;
  • I enjoyed a lovely, sober night out with a group of girlfriends and didn’t miss alcohol at all (but I did have dessert);
  • I missed the ritual of sharing a glass of wine and some adult time after the kids went to bed;
  • I missed drinking – the taste of a good red, the match with a great meal, the buzz after a chilled glass of bubbly stuff.

Ultimately, not drinking for a month was good for my health and good for my head.  We might make Sober September an annual event.

That said,  I think it might be wine o’clock somewhere!  Can I tempt you?

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Patsy: What will you drink if you stop drinking?

Edina: I shall drink water.

Patsy[Blank look]

Edina: It’s a mixer, Patsy, we have it with whisky…. I mean, you’ve given up drinking before.

Patsy: Worst eight hours of my life.

( Absolutely Fabulous, Series 1, Episode 1)

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Have a FABULOUS weekend lovely readers!