The Night Before Christmas

So I was reading to my kids the other day.

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And I get up to the bit where Santa and the reindeer land on the roof.  So far, everything is fine.

Until Santa starts naming all the reindeer.

Let’s see… There’s Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donder and Blitzen.

(Just between us grown-ups, now that I read this as an adult, these names are kind of weird.  To my ears the first four sound like strippers and the last four sound like condoms.  I mean, who WROTE this?  What was THAT all about?)

So anyway, he names them all.  (After strippers and condoms. Seriously?)

And there’s this glaring omission.  I’m sure you know then name of the one who isn’t there.

3 year old interrupts, distraught.

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She says “MUM!  Wait!!  Where’s … where’s… ” and it is obvious that she can’t remember the name for whatever she’s looking for.  Her 6 year old sister fills in the blanks.

“Hey, yeah, mum, where is Rudolph?”

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Eventually, in a surprise burst of inspiration, I say “see that night sky?  Clear as day.  No fog here, so he doesn’t NEED Rudolph.  Remember?  He only gets Rudolph when it’s too foggy to see.  This is NOT a foggy night, so Santa can do it all without Rudolph.  Rudolph is probably at home eating a whole lot of reindeer food right now.”  I sit there, feeling about as smug as pie.

Silence, while this sinks in.

Nothing happens.  So I open my mouth to keep reading, and I’m cut off again.

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I ask, “What is it this time?”

“Where are the elephants?” She says.

We all stare at each other.  She’s actually looking kind of angry.  She says it again.

“Where are the elephants??”

Now she’s exasperated.

“Where is the lightning?” She demands.

We all look back at the book.

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Frantic flicking through the book… I find its lack of elephants disturbing.

I get the weirdest feeling that I’m letting her down.

I thought Christmas would be exciting enough for a kid, what with the toys and the food and the people and mystery and tinsel and the civic decorations and the festivities and the hype and the whole mythos and cultural experience – if anything you’d think it would be overwhelming, not insufficient.

But after a moment, I start thinking, you know what, she’s right.  There’s plenty of things in here about this magical (and oddly judgemental) guy with apparently endless funds who delivers presents on a fairly dubious honours system, there are some magical reindeer, whose main skill is flight, and then toys happen.  But it’s somewhat lacking in the *excitement* department.

Oh wait I forgot, there’s also a tree.  A heavily decorated fir tree.  Sometimes, even, with flashing lights!

That’s exciting, right?

… Right?

*crickets*

Nobody wants to make, let alone watch, an action movie about a slightly magical postman who gets all the mail delivered on time.  (Well, not unless they also include the four strippers and four condom brands.  And even then it’s still only a maybe.)

To be fair to the illustrators, the poem doesn’t actually make any mention of elephants or lightning.  But then, it doesn’t specifically say that they WEREN’T there, either.  Am I right?

So here it is.  Especially for my action-packed little three year old, I am pleased to present an arguably more thrilling alternative to the standard Christmas scene.

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To help them fit in with the Reindeer style of names, we can call them Bambi and Trojan.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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Solutions for Modern Living

So today, I have a car full of tired kids, a screamy crying baby, a roll of carpet and a ton of groceries.  (Rounded up to the nearest ton.)  Easy enough to get the kids to go inside, with me walking behind them… slowly… at their annoyingly frustrating kid-pace of 1 foot per minute.  After they are all inside, I go back to the car.  I get the first few grocery bags, and walk back to the house.  It’s a hot day today.

Then I saw the wheelbarrow.  The empty wheelbarrow.  I walked on.  Put the bags inside the door, quickly, so the flies don’t come in.  Then turned around and went back to the car for more.

It was on the way back to the car, that I again looked at the wheelbarrow.

I started thinking, man, it would be great if you could just use your wheelbarrow for all your groceries and the other stuff in the car… and I walked to the car.

And then I walked back to the wheelbarrow, and was like, I am totally doing this.

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Next time I’ll put the kids in too, stop them walking ahead of me so slow.

I filled that baby up.  All the grocery bags, the carpet, my bag, my other bag, the baby bag, our lunch boxes, drink containers, discarded clothing, the works.  Took it to the back door.  Was about ready to unload the loot to just inside the back door.  Stopped myself, and stood there for all of a quarter of a second before deciding that I was taking it all the way.

Wheeled the whole lot to the kitchen.  I mean, if I unload at the back door, flies come in.  Then I have to walk the individual bags all the way to the kitchen, and put them away.

I’m nothing if not lazy.

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Now they’re just waiting for someone to put them away… waiting… waiting…

I will definitely be doing this again.  No elbow pain from carrying too many heavy bags, no trekking back and forth in the heat.  No danger of dropping things out of split bags.

Out of ten, I give it a score of Awesome.

The Will to Live

So I went to the toilet just before.  It occurred to me at the time that it was the first time I’d sat down for 7 hours.  Three kids is more work than a full-time job.  It is hard work.  Someone smarter than me once pointed out that any number of kids is a lot of kids.  This is true.  Especially if that number is three.  Some days are rather good, or at least my mood is sufficiently bolstered to see the good in anything at all.  I might not get anything done, but I can appreciate that nobody died and we probably ate more than one food group over the course of the day.  Probably.

Shhh!  You'll jinx it!

Shhh! You’ll jinx it!

That, and at this point we are up to the third child, we have the skills and confidence to handle things that totally freaked us right out when we had that first child.  It helps sometimes to step back and just appreciate how far we’ve really come.  I like to take a little pride in the progress I’ve made.

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That’s right baby, I changed the HECK out of that nappy.

There was one day recently where the children-of-chaos activity-meter was just off the charts, and I actually had to dress them in pretty clothes to make it easier to be nice to them.

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Aw, so precious.  I can almost forget the carnage you unleashed five minutes ago. ALMOST.

Some days are so overflowing with evil that even the cupboards are against me.

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Huh? Who, Me? Oh, just battling the overheads. No, I’m fine, don’t need any help, thanks. I have this.

This feeling is compounded by the endless, tedious, despicable housework, and also riddled with guilt over the irreversible psychological damage I figure I must be causing to my children, pretty much daily.   Just by, well, being me.  It stands to reason.

There are times when I’ve had the house to myself for a short while.  They are rare, but they happen.  I tend to squander them, by using that time to tidy up, which often means throwing away other people’s stuff, which I then have to hide underneath something else in the rubbish bin.

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Pictured: the agony and ecstasy of throwing other people’s stuff out.

Green child upset me quite a bit last week.  I picked her up from school, and announced that I’d just bought her a ton of painting paper, paints, brushes, art books and a rather full bag of all kinds of things to get super creative with.  She says flatly “ok, but what about getting me a present that says ‘I love you’?”  I was so upset I had to take her home immediately and dress her beautifully again.  Five-year-olds will hurt your feelings, man.

But she works well at the other end of that scale, as well.  Yesterday when I picked her up from school, I asked what she had learned for the day.  She said this:

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Hey, wait a – no, ok, I see your point.

I thought, well that’s hardly fair.  What about that kid with the invisible eye-brows?  Or the twins who walk their cat to school?  What about that family who ride those bicycles with no pedals?  But then she explained that they were learning odd and even numbers, and our family has 5 people in it.  That makes us odd.

Basically, raising kids is an emotional minefield, or rollercoaster, or some kind of juggernaut.  Or possibly an emotional cyclone.  Or quite likely all of the above.

Some days it must be written all over me, when I’m running out of … whatever it is that I’m using up when raising children.  That would be will to live, I suppose.  Or, “Life”, as we know it, for short.  I’m running out of life, and some days it must be just written all over me, in black and white print.  Because there are times when my husband looks at me, and says:

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Except I’m so low on life I don’t even realise how low I am.

Because I’ve had a HARD DAY and I Don’t Want to Talk About It.  Plus, in all honesty, I am suspicious of my husband’s motives at times.  It’s like: he’s a man… I’m exhausted… I can’t be too careful.

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Me, suspicious and exhausted. This is my emotional ground zero these days.

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Thankfully I can recognise when I’m being a complete twit, and when to show appreciation.  Although I am not great at reciprocal affection.  I have lots to learn about that, in fact.

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True story.

Mind you, I regained some of my will to live the other day.  Pink child was refusing to go to sleep, my husband kept putting her in bed, she kept getting up again.  She kept insisting she had to tell me something so I wouldn’t forget it.  Eventually he caved in a little, and let her come down to see me in the study.  I asked her what she wanted to tell me.  She said:

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Which is cuter than a bug’s ear, coming from a 3 year old.  So I said good night again and began to usher her back to bed.

And then she said this:

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My will to live is now completely restored.

Catch up

It’s been fairly busy around here lately, what with the new baby and all.  So just to catch you up, here’s a sort of montage of what I’ve been up to lately.  Admittedly most days are blurring into each other, but there are some memorable moments.

Out and about, showcasing our impeccable manners.

Out and about, showcasing our impeccable manners.

Thanks, kiddo, shout that out, nice and loud.  Make sure she hears you.  *sigh*.  But overall, one day is pretty hard to distinguish from the next.  Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t “lost” myself.  I am still the same as ever.

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I wish I… nah, forget it.

I have to admit, though, less days start like that now.  I save it for weekends.

Now, most days start more like this:

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She said, knowing full well they would ignore her.

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He asked. When he could have been dressing the children.

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Tried it the other way around but my toast got soggy in the shower.

Some days we stay in…

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This happens about 10 times a day, but out of kindness I’ll only show you once.

Some days we go out…

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To splash about in puddles, one inch deep…

And to keep sane, every now and then Mr Bodysoluble and I enjoy an occasional date night.

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We could do with a bit more practice.  But we try.

A bit.

Or we will.

When we get more time.

Maybe.

In the meantime we get to enjoy this:

fish kick

And this…

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OK twice. I changed my mind.

And every so often, this…

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So that’s me, in a nutshell.

No, that’s not quite true.  THIS is me in a nutshell:

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Looks quite comfy really… A nut is as inviting as an armchair, to the woman who has no time to sit down.

And on that note, I’d best get back to it.  If I get all the chores done, I might have a few minutes to myself, to work on another post, or play a computer game, or even, if I get lucky enough, chill out in an oversized walnut shell.

It will always be the dream.

Bounce

Today is my official due date for this baby to be born. So naturally, like any rational woman, I am seriously considering jumping on the trampoline.

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Just to jump start things, so to speak.

Although knowing my luck, and my body at this point, it’s far more likely I would just wet myself.  Hmmm… I think I need a new plan.

Hair

The girls were very excited to see the babysitter yesterday.  They adore her.  The toddler was so excited, she completed skipped over saying hello.  She dived straight into discussing the trials and torments of her day.

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Which is fine.  After all, she’s only 3.  Which may account for what she said next:

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I was stuck somewhere between laughing and envy, over the fact that she can actually kick her own face.

Nearing Due Date

I’m now 37.5 weeks pregnant.  This means when someone (aka everyone) asks me “how long to go?” I can honestly say “any day now!”  I even say it cheerfully, because nobody likes a downer.

But honestly, between the unending braxton hicks “practice” contractions and an element of apprehension while waiting for the “real” contractions, I have decided that the waiting game sucks.

Sometimes people say “you must be sick of it by now” (oh yes, indeed I am).  Usually women say this.  Women who have had children.  Because let’s face it, pregnancy does drag on for an insane amount of time.

I’m lucky that I am the kind of person who can keep myself busy.  But not this close to the due date.  I don’t want to start anything new, can’t really plan anything, don’t want to book myself in for anything, and don’t even really want to venture too far from home, in case I end up labouring in, say, a shopping centre, or a swamp full of gnats, leeches and crocodiles somewhere.  Or god forbid, a shopping centre full of gnats, leeches and crocodiles.  *shudder*.  (Well, this IS Australia.  Things happen.)

So to distract my terrible imagination from wearing me down, I try to keep as busy as can be.  I’ve done the usual things, assembled the change table and cot, washed all the baby linen (twice!), filled in endless amounts of relevant and/or outstanding paperwork for just about everything under the sun.  And now the urgent, difficult, relevant things are done.

This leaves me with little option but to FIND things to do.  Often far out of balance to what still needs to be done.  And at the expense of regular tasks.

Like sweeping the back yard concrete.

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Can’t remember the last time I swept indoors though. Huh.

There are times when my energy levels are so high I actually accomplish nothing, because I’m racing around manically, from task to task, my extreme-multitasking skills about as organised as a balloon in a tornado.

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Always followed by bouts of fatigue. So a *kind* of balance is achieved.

During the low points, I have trouble entertaining myself, because everything I do seems to trigger an oxytocin-induced sob-fest.  Even TV.  No, especially TV.

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Pictured: pregnant person watching advert for tax accountants

Generally these mood swings elicit the comfort response in others.  This rarely goes the way they expect.

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That’s right, Sunshine, back away slowly. And don’t come back until you have burritos.

Between all this, the usual functions of the day are also skewed out of recognition.  So much so that it’s like being back in the first trimester of pregnancy again.  Some days you can’t get enough to eat, others you do nothing more than play with your food.

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One of these two will NOT be getting any dessert this evening.

The main feature of the last few weeks, however, has been my renewed interest and energy in long-forgotten projects that have been outstanding since before we moved house.

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Never get so much done as when you forget you have kids.

But the due date looms closer and I am running out of distractions.  Which is probably just as well, because I am also increasingly dizzy as the days go by.

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I want to sit down, but I have forgotten how to chair. Or how to gravity, for that matter.

So I have my fingers crossed that this will all be behind me soon, because I’m not sure how much more of this I can take.  And I am fairly sure that the family are just as sick of it as I am.

So with any luck the next post will be about a brand new baby (girl or boy, we just don’t know).  Because it really is going to be any day now…

Office Hours

There’s a particular office that I have trouble with every time I need to contact them.  They never seem to have anyone in, they don’t respond to messages, they will tell you the wrong contact names for things, so that you are guaranteed to never get the assistance you need.  This is a private business, by the way, not governmental, even though it does sound rather like one from that description.  Anyway, I sent a query by email to them this morning, and received a polite response fairly promptly from one of their staff, but he ended the email rather more honestly than usual.

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Don’t sell yourself short mate, your office will be shit well into the new year.

My theory is that this guy is new there, and it has slowly been dawning on him how poorly run the whole operation really is.  But at the same time, he is now totally going to be my go-to guy, since he’s obviously the one with a finger on the pulse.  I bet he’s promoted before the year is out.  At least, I hope he is.