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’

 

_____________

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

Miss Pip

 

 

Advertisements

I’m a Barbie Girl

IMG_0167
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!

_____

Thanks for reading, have a fabulous day!

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

I do love a Party!

It's never too early for sparkle!
It’s never too early for sparkle!

For all those visiting as part of the Maison Bentley Style blog warming party… WELCOME.

I am guessing that you haven’t been here before, why should you have? If you want to know a little bit more about me and this particular patch of cyberspace check out this.

As it happens, I am typing this from Yangon, Myanmar. My three little princesses and I, for reasons I obviously didn’t think through, are visiting with my partner, G, who was here this week on business.

Place… fabulous! Travelling with smalls…well… check this out! 

It is my absolute pleasure to be part of the PARTY. Kate and I discovered each other days after I started 44andafourth and I have been her cyber-friendly ever since… any friend of Kates as they say! This is how awesome I think she is.

Living as an expat in South East Asia has its ups and downs but this is my recollection of one of my favourite ups.. and a post I am very proud of.

I hope you get a chance to wander around a bit. Though I might be late (I am travelling on Sunday) I look forward to joining you all.

Happy blog warming!

Sober September: a summary

CIMG3486.JPG
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.

______

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?

________________

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)

_________________

Have a FABULOUS weekend lovely readers!

Sober September

Three weeks in France.  C’était FABULEUX!  (FABULOUS)

IMG_1277
Selfie with big tall thing in background!

_________

We arrived home from aforementioned adventure, dirty, ratty and exhausted on Saturday afternoon.

I rallied, started sorting through the piles of washing, opened suitcases (then quickly closed them again), opened fridge, emptied three week old bottles of milk, calculated that we could not make it until tomorrow with the three nappies we had in the house and sent G into the afternoon haze to gather the essentials.

Our vegetable and herb garden had blossomed during our absence so I was actually excited about preparing dinner – Fish fillets slathered with homemade asian inspired pesto (coriander, basil, chilli, olive oil, cashew nuts and soy sauce),poached in coconut milk and served on a bed of steamed bokchoy.  Perfect with a crisp Australian Riesling… don’t mind if I do!

As I was popping my culinary creation into the oven, G returned home from his shopping expedition.

“Wine?”  I asked not bothering to wait for an answer as I splashed a liberal amount into a second glass.

“I’ve made a decision” he responded.  I froze, mid pour. Decisions are not G’s strong point.  They are invariably foolish and ill-considered.

“What’s that then, dearest?”

“Sober September”

WHAT THE FUCK!

“I’m sorry, dear heart, I’m not quite sure what you mean?”

“No booze for a month. Detox. Get healthy.  Go back to gym.  Are you in?”

“Sure. What the hell.  Sounds great. Answer my question, do you want a drink?”

“Of course, I do.  It ain’t September yet, Biatch.”

I didn’t think he was serious.  I didn’t really think at all.  I had always planned to step up my exercise routine now that the kids were back at school.  A few weeks of focused healthy eating was already on the agenda in order to shed the few pounds of croissant and french cheese that had adhered itself to my hips and butt during the holiday.  But stop drinking! Completely! Why?

Urgh!

Because, I drink too often and often too much.  Because my NEED for wine has exponentially increased every day of the school holidays (funny that).  Because the French have wine with lunch and I was all for embracing the local traditions!  Because the thought of doing this shouldn’t worry me as much as it does.

So I am in.  Sober September. 5 days down.

It could be the jet lag, the lingering cold or it could be the fact that I am not drinking but I have been tired, irritable all week and today had a killer headache for most of the morning.

Also, I could really smash a glass of wine right now.

How many more days to go?????

_____________

Thanks for reading, it is nice to be back again. Just in case you were wondering, the fish was fabulous.

Handsome Boy Modelling School

IMG_0840
It’s all about the eyes.

My not-husband is a good looking man.  He is tall and slender, with broad shoulders, a cute butt and piercing blue eyes that really do take your breath away.  Despite what is now a significant amount of greying around the temples, he still looks very young. From a distance, on a dark night, he could pass for a bloke in his twenties rather than the haggard 37-year-old, father of three that he really is.

At least once every couple of months, I introduce G to someone who has not yet met him and I observe a moment of confusion and shock flash across their face while they process the information that he is my partner and the father of my children.  For some reason, we don’t match.

We used to match.  Well, sort of.  When I met G he was a good lookin’ rebel with nothing to lose and I was a smokin’ hot minx cat looking for fun (at least half of that sentence is true)  Fair enough, I was a few years older and he looked like jailbait if he shaved too closely but we worked.

But after about 10 years a few things happened.  I hit my mid-thirties, birthed several children in short succession, slept for a total of 20 hours a year, gained 15 kilos and lost my Mojo. G did a Dorian Grey. No beer pouch at thirty. No hair loss.  No five-kilo weigh gain.  Just a few grey hairs and an annoying ability to fit into the same jeans he wore when we met.

Just is case you think I am being oversensitive let me share these special moments with you:

  • A lady at the dry cleaner saw G waiting outside and told me that my son was very handsome.  I nearly died.
  • A few years later, (while I was pregnant with our third child) we were walking along the street in Bankgok with our 3 and 4-year-old daughters and a street vendor complimented me on my cute grand daughters.

There was a time when I was quite sensitive about the growing ‘appearance’ disparity between us.  I worried that people were laughing behind my back.  I considered it simply a matter of time before I was traded in for a newer model.  Though these paranoid and ridiculous thoughts were fuelled by depression, anxiety and a desperate lack self-esteem the hurt was real.

But over the last year or so I have grown to understand that G loved me when I was young and pretty.  He loved me when I was huge and pregnant.  He loved me when my bits started to succumb to gravity.  He loved me at my heaviest.  He loves me now.

I also came to appreciate and embrace the changes that age and life have brought to my face and body.

In repose my cheekbones are no longer prominent and my jaw line fades into my neck but the wrinkles on my face and the creases around my eyes tell my story and when I am animated those same lines define my smile.

I don’t have a bikini body and it takes some heavy duty engineering to get my  girls to even resemble pert these days but this body carried and fed my daughters. It is strong and healthy and whole. I am blessed.

I turned 41 on the weekend. Last night, I introduced my partner to someone and the inevitable moment of confusion passed across their face. I wasn’t hurt.  Not a bit.  In fact, I was a little bit chuffed.

I thought to myself, “Maybe they think I’m a Cougar. How FABULOUS!”

____________

Thanks for reading.  Meow!