Valentine’s Day

My husband has never been a traditionally romantic man. In fact, he even warned me when we were dating that he didn’t know how to be romantic. He has never bought me a gift of chocolates or, at the very least, a single red rose in our 30+ years together. So I’m not actually expecting too much in the way of romance this Valentine’s Day either.

However my husband is not quite as gauche as my grandfather. One must be grateful for small mercies after all.

When my grandmother gave birth to their first child my grandfather went to the hospital to see them both after all the messy stuff was done with as was the wont in those days.

Before he left home his father-in-law had suggested that he should take the new mother some flowers and chocolates. After all, not only had she given him a son but Valentine’s Day and their first Wedding Anniversary had taken place while she was in the hospital.

And this is what actually happened …

He arrived in his wife’s room with two newspaper-wrapped packages.

He gave her the first one which contained some bedraggled flowers he had taken from the garden on his way out, roots and all.

He then tossed the other parcel (a box of chocolates) on the bed and said: “Here, guts yourself on these!”

Awww – I knew romance wasn’t dead after all – it’s just simply comatose, at least  in my family.

First Day Of School

My youngest godson starts school this week for the first time. It is such a big day for him and he is so unbelievably excited. He has spent the previous couple of weeks modelling his new school clothes for anyone and everyone.

But his mother and I have mixed emotions. He looks so young and vulnerable standing there in his over-sized school uniform and shiny black shoes.

When my first child started school for the first time, I cried buckets when I got home. My daily routine had been centred around her for so long, and the house felt so empty. I couldn’t wait to pick her up and bring her back home again.

By the time my second child went off to school I was much calmer. I didn’t cry as much, and I actually began to revel in the peacefulness of having my house to myself again.

But now that the children are older it’s a different story. My friends and I get together on the first day of each term and celebrate “Back To School Day” over coffee and cake.  It’s a red-letter day in all our calendars. We all look forward to it, and there are no tears.

New Year’s Eve

Welcoming in The New Year has changed considerably as my family has grown up…

When we were in our “pre-children phase” my husband and I used to head into the city and join the multitudes for the music and fireworks.

When our children were babies we had New Year’s Eve parties with friends, who were similarly encumbered by small children, in each other’s backyards. We were all armed with baby monitors so we could listen to our sleeping children inside.

As the children grew, we found babysitters who were willing to watch them for us (at an exorbitant rate) while we headed off into town to join the multitudes for the music and fireworks.

Unfortunately, when we did this, we also suffered the guilt of feeling like neglectful parents when the kids demanded to know why couldn’t they go with us? I mean how do you tell your own child that you want to have some fun without him?

Now that my children are teenagers it’s a different story. They definitely don’t want to share New Year’s Eve with us.

The idea of even spotting their aged, uncool parents in a New Year’s crowd is enough to send them spiralling into a black depression. Let alone the unmitigated shame they would suffer if we actually spoke to them in front of their friends!.

Anyway, my youngest tried come up with a solution yesterday to ensure that we would not to be within 10km of him at any time from sunset to sunrise. The “Oldies” (his father and I) could have a party at home with our friends and he would go into the city OR we could go out ourselves and leave the house to him so that he could throw a party. I don’t think so ….

The Christmas Mass Surrender

I used to go to Midnight Mass every Christmas with my grandfather and I really wanted to revive that tradition within my own family.  So one year I announced that the entire family would be attending Midnight Mass at Christmas together.

First of all I had to counter my husband’s excuses by agreeing that we would attend a Christmas Eve service at 7pm rather than at midnight, and then I offered the ultimate family bribery: dinner at MacDonald’s beforehand.

The family weren’t overly enthusiastic but they did agree eventually so off we trooped to Christmas Mass. The church was packed with people and so incredibly hot that the church doors were left open to the garden beyond in the vain hope of getting some air to circulate.

My daughter, who was 13 at the time, was going through her hippie stage. She positioned herself lotus-style outside, and proceeded to chant her version of a Buddhist mantra, as a protest as being forced to attend church.

My 3-year-old son was terribly excited, and ran around exclaiming loudly at the nativity scene and the decorations. And then he noticed the candles… After demanding to know whose birthday it was, he proceeded to sing “Happy Birthday” at the top of his voice, non-stop.

My husband sat there laughing helplessly, with tears running down his face. I hurriedly gathered up my disorderly brood and departed, vowing to try again another year… But, perhaps at another church, where they didn’t know us.


The Christmas Crazy Begins

The Christmas Crazy has begun for me – I’ve started Christmas shopping!

My friends and family admire me for being organised. They just don’t seem to realise that I’m not being efficient – it’s simply a matter of survival and I’m a natural-born coward.

I don’t like shopping, and I especially don’t like shopping in crowds because I’m terrified of being trampled to death by one of those maniacal shoppers fighting over the last item on the sale table. So you can see that the Christmas rush is definitely not for me.

Anyway this year I decided to buy all my Christmas presents via the net (see eBay and me for more details) and I’ve almost got them all done. So I’m feeling very self-satisfied as you can imagine.

Christmas is at our house this year – not a problem – I’ve got heaps of time to design the menu and start stocking up on the non-perishable items – so I’m still feeling smug.

But here comes the bombshell: one of the family has become a vegan (no meat, eggs or dairy products). Ok, so I’m not feeling quite as complacent now. What the hell do you serve a vegan for Christmas Dinner? Roast Tofu with veg? Prawn shaped tofu with salad?

We have a tradition that we’ve been following faithfully for years – we hold open house on Christmas morning. Our friends in town (before heading off to their respective families) turn up for a festive breakfast of pancakes with brandy butter etc. It’s my husband’s sole contribution to the Christmas spirit and everyone looks forward to it.

But vegans can’t eat this either – I’m now officially stressed.

My sister calls: my niece has been diagnosed as gluten intolerant – she can’t eat wheat in any form (even flour).

Now I’m really ready to be certified. I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to feed a houseful of people expecting a traditional Christmas with all the trimmings and, at the same time, use neither meat, eggs, dairy or wheat products… HELP!!!


To be continued…


The WWW War Zone

We have two computers connected to the internet – one is mine and the other is my son’s (both situated in my home office). Which has always been enough for the three of us now living in the house until now.

But I recently started an online game site because I thought it would be a bit of fun.

But it’s created a war in at our place! Everyone wants to use a computer now.

A couple of my son’s friends turn up at regular intervals wanting to play too.

My husband hangs around the office and says “You look tired – why don’t you go and have a rest?”

This is not because he loves me and cares about my welfare. No, it’s because he want me off the computer so he can have a go.

I don’t dare tell my husband if I’ve added any new games because he immediately wants to beat my high scores and take my trophies.

He and my son will battle over a single game for hours trying to beat each other. It’s a kind of bonding I suppose but they are so competitive about it.

The one thing I find hard to take is that they both plead with (and yell at) the computer when they’re playing games. I really don’t understand why they do it – the computer is not going to listen to them. Mind you, my husband has yelled at the TV for years and it’s never yet paid attention to him either …

The Laundry Basket

It’s not that I dislike doing the laundry so much as the fact that it never ends. You finally get everything washed and put away and suddenly the dirty clothes basket is full again! How does that happen? Are there laundry gremlins just waiting until that satisfied feeling starts to well up, and then they pounce? In our house we wash every day and still the laundry basket overflows.

I think the worst part is the fact that I wash clean clothes. Or rather I wash the teenager daughter’s clothes, fold them neatly on her bed and then, a few days later, find them in the laundry basket complete with fold marks. Then I have to wash them again because they’ve been cohabiting with the dirty stuff. This is her version of tidying her room – just remove all the clothes from the floor that she pushed off her bed the night before.

When my daughter was about four she changed clothes an average of 15 times a day for some unknown reason, and I washed them all each time. How stupid was I? Don’t answer that.

My son on the other hand has never put an article of dirty clothing in the laundry basket in his life. His soiled clothes sit coiled and waiting on his bedroom floor to trap the unwary passer-by. I actually used a rake the other day to transport this hazardous material to the laundry because I was too scared to touch it.

I remember when the children were newborns. I was so fanatical about cleanliness – I used pure soap to wash their baby clothes and I boiled anything that could possibly come near them (the dog was in a constant state of fear).

Then came the day my perfect, pristine baby started teething and the dog’s ear was a convenient option – the boy has never looked back and neither have I…