Critters

Parenthood really is a gift, that  keeps on giving.

Long after they had stopped bringing me worms or snails, the boys began to share other creatures with me.

Alien creatures.

Like these :

Yes, Head lice.

Head starting to itch? Yes? Good, so is mine.

Hard to explain the feeling when you discover your child has nits.

It’s also difficult to mask the disgusted look your face will twist into.

I will never forget an hour before I was leaving for a girls weekend, having to wrestle nits as large as mice from the scalp of CM.

Although desperate to disappear into a vat of wine, I chirruped merrily while defeating the beasts, watching CM’s eyes grow and hearing him say:

“Wow, mummy, THAT’s a BIG ONE”

I swear, I could see that one flicking the V’s at me, while it disappeared down the plug hole…

Shudder.

But it’s just another parenting rite of passage.

It doesn’t mean you or your child is dirty, but I do think you have to act.

(Insert pause to reflect on families who consider nits natural,and refuse to do anything).

At the boys school there are regular nit checks (my friend K, I LOVE YOU) ,and as they both have short hair, it’s been well over a year since I last faced them.

I admit it, I had got a little slack over the lice routine.

And then just when I really don’t need the aggro, after BW having a tiredness related meltdown, there they were.

Smiling and waving.

Nasty little creatures*.

So, here are my tips for conquering the beasts.

Tools of the trade

1. Headrin Once 15min spray

I try to avoid using chemicals on the boys where I can, but sometimes, needs must. This spray is great. It doesn’t have a strong smell, it’s quick and very easy to use. It works by smothering the critters and contains a chemical that penetrates and kills the eggs. Which stops the cycle starting again.

3. Tea tree Oil

Readily available and inexpensive, I add a splash to the boys’ regular shampoo. It pongs, yes, but that’s the point. The beasts hate it and are unlikely to return.

2.Lice Breaker comb (Nit ease)

Mmm, ease isn’t a word I’d use. It is a brilliant comb as each tooth has a spiral so catches even the smallest beast. However, it is metal and sharp and particularly for a child with sensory issues (BW) it can be a bit harsh. However, BW tells me that most combs hurt anyway, so there you go. Use after shampooing, add loads of conditioner (white) and comb away. There may* be squealing (*probably, almost definitely).

So there we are. An introduction into nits.

Next week. Worms.

JUST KIDDING!

Do you have any tips on treating head lice?

*Not what I actually said, but you get the idea.

Disclaimer: This is purely what we do in our house. I have not been paid to promote or endorse these products in any way.

I’m A Little Bit Country…

Do you consider yourself a country or a town mouse?

I ‘d like to think of myself as more of an urban rat, but let’s face it, I’m a mother in suburbia.

Country living isn’t for me. Yes, I look at friends making tree changes with wonder, jealously gasping at the houses and the land.

But I know myself well enough to understand it would kill me to move to the sticks.

And yet, in spite of my need to be a little bit rock and roll (in my dreams), it turns out, I am a little bit country too.

After the Murray Man last week we decided to extend the road trip and explore the Grampians

I could feel the tension of the previous few weeks leaving me as we left the scorching plains of South Australia and moved into the cooler, greener, lusher landscape.

And the mountains.

Oh, my thing. I love beaches, but nothing tops (ha!) a beautiful mountain set against an unending sky.

We stayed in a caravan park at the foot of the hills, near  Halls Gap.

My twitter buddy Andrew had recommended some walks he enjoyed as a child, so first up was the Wonderland Walk – a canyon walk from wonderland car park to The Pinnacle.

It was an energetic walk and the kids did well to manage it. They loved spotting skinks (102 counted), lizards and wild flowers.

No idea, but very pretty

CM enjoying the rest

BW bringing up the rear through a very narrow part of the walk

The Pinnacle

All in the walk took about 3 hours and I would definitely recommend it. You’ll need good shoes and plenty of water. It’s definitely not suitable for strollers.

Although I wasn’t overly impressed with the place we were staying. The kids thought it was heaven. And as we all know, happy kids = happy parents.

CM and V busy recording their day

The boys first wild kangaroo

BW getting excited over the fire

Toasting marshmallows

CM eating a delicious s’more

Sparklers for the last night of the holiday

We had to leave our accommodation by 10 which meant we still had time to explore Halls Gap before our return to Melbourne.

We knew we wanted to return to Mackenzie Falls, where we had stopped briefly the day before, but J had also been given another spot to check out in Halls Gap. The Venus Baths.

A short walk from the centre of Halls Gap, through the car park and behind the tennis court is a track leading to a Botanical Garden. It was beautiful, and made even more special by the fact that it was tended solely by volunteers from the town.

Halls Gap Botanical Gardens

After about 10 minutes, we found the pools. There is usually more water, but nothing could stop the kids stripped to their undies and experimenting with bin bags to see who could slip fastest down the rocks.

Slipping and a sliding

Quite what the family next to us made of these loud, urchin children clad in bin bags, I’ll never know.

After a quick picnic lunch at MacKenzie Falls where we were dive bombed by kookaburra (too fast for my camera), we embarked on the descent to the bottom of the falls.

Mackenzie Falls

Crossing the river

The kids loved crossing the white water to get a closer look at the falls while their chicken licken mothers recorded their bravery on camera.

And then we had to the walk BACK UP! Oh my thighs…

The Grampians were majestic. I think we picked a great time to go as there was lots of spring flowers and it wasn’t too hot for the kids to enjoy the walks.

Being only 3 hours from Melbourne I’m definitely going back!

Have you visited the Grampians? Any suggestions for things to do on our return visit? Or  for country Victoria?

Daring to Tri

Since I stopped work to have the boys, setting and achieving personal goals has been hard.

And I don’t mean finally emptying the laundry basket or single-handedly building the Death Star out of match sticks.

When you work, there are tasks to master, recognition for a job well done and a sense of purpose.

In parent-land it’s groundhog day most of the time. Same chores, different days. No pay rise, no ‘well done!’.

It was my choice to stop work and on the whole I’m glad I did. I need to be there to advocate for BW and he needs me to be around.

A few years ago, a tragic event shattered our family. I put on weight. A LOT of weight. I stopped caring.

One day, I realised the need to be a healthy role model for the boys.

Running became my new jam. It didn’t help me lose weight initially, but mentally it was what I needed.

I had a new goal. Times to be beaten.

Personal Bests to accumulate.

Being a novice and all, I didn’t do it properly, so got injured and had to think of other forms of exercise.

Surprisingly for a lazy cow I actually like being outdoors. Gyms bore me senseless.

I love swimming so switching to triathlon seemed the obvious choice.

In tri, you are running your own race (nothing like watching all the elite athletes sprint past you in a half marathon to make you feel like a snail).

Competitors come in all ages and shapes. And there are lots of women competing too.

I entered a few sprint triathlon (400m swim, 10km bike, 3km run), but naturally it wasn’t enough of a challenge.

So six months after we arrived in Melbourne, I signed up for The Murray Man.

The only long course (2km swim, 80km cycle, 20km run) triathlon in South Australia.

I knew I’d be among the slowest, but I didn’t care.

To finish would be a massive achievement.

Then this happened. I was devastated.

All that hard work. For nothing.

Luckily, I have a knack for picking crazy friends.

S and J were originally coming along to cheer me on, but decided to form a team with me.

I was doing the swim, J was doing the cycle and S was doing the run.

The swim may not seem a big deal, but I HATE open water swimming.

Oooo, the glamour!

I am TERRIFIED.

Of everything that might be in the water.

I get  seasick when it’s choppy and I don’t like being out of my depth.

As my mate Kim would say I am that “sooky lala”.

But I did it and knocked 14 minutes off the time I expected. Barring a migraine from looking at the sun, I felt amazing.

S & J both came under their estimated times.

We came 3rd in our category with a time of 5 hours 41 seconds.

I thought I would feel sad that I hadn’t had the chance to do the race solo, but being part of a team was fantastic.

Team Anglo-Viking

The most fun you can have without drinking.

And for a gin queen, that is saying something.

Do you like to set yourself challenges? I’d love to hear from you!

Not The Cucumber!

Car journeys lasting longer than an hour, when the boys were small, used to be my definition of hell.

As we pulled away from home last week, I looked at them in the back, surrounded by enough electronic devices to stock a small JB-HiFi, and remembered the bum and mind-numbing journeys of my childhood. I tried to tell them, but they just looked at me with pity while inserting their earphones. Sigh.

Judge away, but the peace these electronic devices brings cannot be underestimated. Once we are sure it’s safe (i.e. no eavesdroppers) TS and I have some of our best chats.

But best of all is gazing out of the window, watching the breathtaking Australian scenery go by, the rhythmic sound of tyres over tarmac lulling me to sleep.

Obviously, this tranquillity never lasts.

Pulling over to change drivers, I marvelled again at the scenery, chanting my usual “Can you believe we live here?” mantra.

(Which frankly, TS is bored with hearing.)

I readied the camera.

TS announced he needed a pee.

Expecting him to dodge behind a tree I took aim with the lens.

Bad move.

Here was a man in need of some communing with nature.

He peed next to me.

Face pressed against the car window, CM exclaimed “Urgh…look at the mess he’s making!” (He is his father’s son after all).

Racing back to the car, narrowly avoiding the piss pool spreading out on the dusty ground, I lamented again my existence as the lone female in the House of Trouser.

(TS was to the left of me as this was taken)

Another 2 hours passed. The boys eyes were now fully rectangular and they were whingeing intermittently…”how much further?”, “can I have a snack?” etc.

I returned to window-gazing hoping the peaceful landscape would help me drown out the moaning.

We began to pass signs about fruit flies…What the what the?

And then we saw the road block.

For confiscating fruit and vegetables.

I tried to banter with the “fruit officer” as I handed over our apples and bananas.

Unsmiling, she barked: “Do I need to search the rest of the vehicle?”

I was borderline hysterical with giggles as I said no.

AND THEN  I spotted another contraband item.

TS could not have sounded more English as he exclaimed:

“NOT THE CUCUMBER FOR THE GIN!!!!”

The fruit officer’s face was a picture.

Poms on the road, eh?

Do you love or loathe road trips?

Help, I’m Allergic To Being a Girl!

Today’s post has been written by my lovely twitter buddy, Sophie.

Clothes shopping makes me break out in a rash. Change rooms that make me want to run, run for my life to escape the bleak lighting that heralds the demise of my thighs. 18-year-old shopkeepers that blandly ask “is there anything I can help you with?” then toss hideously inappropriate selections over the door. Teeny tiny, weeny peeny options that make you feel like the big girl.

Worse still, clambering about trying to get the foul garment off, they open the door slightly prematurely, and your bottom protrudes from the knickers that used to fit before you had 4 children. Then, as you regain composure, re-dress and slightly haughtily exit the change room, the 18 year olds eyes sparkle with knowing : “Hah-hahh, your bum doesn’t fit in your un-deeees”. No sale.

In one of my infrequent quests to be golden and glamorous, I went for a spray tan one day. Why do they make you stand there so long before they come into the room?! Nude save for the ill-fitted paper g-string, there is too much time to look. Look at the boobs that have slid downwards, look at the thighs that have lost their elasticity, look at the upper arms that have added a flap to the undersides of themselves as if in preparation for flight.

So just before you do take flight, in comes the 18-year-old with her gun (it may as well be) to spray a little confidence all over you. So at that juncture, as the golden hues of stinky liquid fill the booth, you do actually begin to feel better. Until the final assault……………she asks “did you want me to do underneath your bottom?” Slightly paler, you weakly offer a deflated, whispered “yes”.

The thought of a girls lunch makes me quiver in my boots! I regress into a monosyllabic mess as I try to navigate my way through conversations that invariably lead to the mobiles being whipped out to show picture after picture of little Popsy. “Oh, her arm is in a different position in that photo, how divine!” come the shrieks. Rash appearing.

A networking event? Oh dear. I start with confidently registering my interest (bravely behind a computer) but then as the days go by, I start a little routine. It really is bad timing. I don’t actually have a business card. And what exactly IS it that I do? And sorry? You need me to stare admiringly at your business card and think of an impromptu, witty, erudite comment to keep this conversation going? And by the way, your avatar seems to be fifteen years old. Ah. Can’t make it. Weeping rash.

And so it seems ladies and gentlemen, that I am allergic to all the things I should be genetically predisposed to. As a remedial tactic, I have invested in a cream that makes me believe that my name is Tom (boy) – when I apply the cream, I don’t need to tan up for an event, I adopt a knock about humour that relaxes me and everyone else, I make people remember me rather than a card and I shop online………oh and glare at 18-year-old girls (but possibly not for the same reasons as Tom).

You can follow Sophie on Twitter @BIG4Bellarine

Road Trip!

By the time you read this I will have peeled my eyelids open and embarked on a trip to South Australia to do this.

As a Pom long road trips are a novelty.

In England this is what happens on a busy holiday weekend.

TS and I have been known to just stay home rather than sit in the giant car park that is the UK road system.

Lots of huffing and puffing. Lots of staring at the back of the car in front. Lots of “why did we take this road?”

And the service stations. Hell on earth.

Driving through the lush green countryside of the UK can be wonderful, however, all too soon another town or village appears.

Then.

Australia.

Since we arrived we have driven twice to Adelaide to see my best friend.

Once we left Melbourne,I was staggered at the miles and miles (or should I say kilometre after kilometre) of nothing.

Well, not nothing, obviously.

Wide open spaces. As far as the eye could see. I could not stop exclaiming to TS (who has been in love with Australia since forever and visited several times before we met).

Perfection.

I will never get bored with this.

What I Know About Writing

Sarah from That Space In Between runs a fortnightly What I know series. This week was writing.

I didn’t contribute because I feel I know bugger all.

But once I had space to think, I remembered that a long time ago, writing was my first love.

At primary school my second grade teacher, Mr Holmes, a rotund man with hair growing from ALL the places it was possible to, used to hand out empty A5 booklets and ask us to write stories.

The class would sigh. Most of my classmates struggled to finish half the book. I filled one and sometimes two. Merrily churning out 8-year-old interpretations of love stories (The Silver Ring was a highlight) or Enid Blyton style adventures, I fancied myself as the new Noel Streatfield (Ballet Shoes was a fave at this time).

During holidays I would create a ‘Holiday Diary’. A record of our activities, my thoughts, glued in postcards and train tickets, would be proudly presented to my new teacher on the first day of school.

Yes, I was THAT child. The class obviously thought I was weird, and the teacher probably took one look at my tale of a rainy caravan holiday in Wales and binned it.

As I got older I’d write letters to friends, even boyfriends, or more honestly, boys who were friends but who I secretly adored. Pages and pages of teenage angst and ramblings. Fuelled by The Cure and The Smiths…Heaven Knows I was Miserable then!

Once I started my Saturday job I could finance my stationery addition. Fountain pens were a particular fetish. Tears were often shed when I dropped one, nib down, on the floor, at once becoming impossible to use.

I experimented with different coloured inks. Green was a favourite for a while, until someone told me that using green ink was a sign of madness (HA!), so I settled on blue-black.

I loved writing in ink, again, classmates thought I was odd, but I didn’t care. I think I was heavily influenced by my step-dad, who had a passion for calligraphy. I would watch in wonder as his handwriting scratched across the paper in a beautiful Elizabethan way.

Fast forward to uni and my love of writing (and reading) fell away. Reading books I HAD to read and writing essay after essay by hand saw my enthusiasm dwindle. (No macbook airs to make life easier).

The last few years writing has been limited to cards, homework, and to do lists.

Since I started blogging the lost love has returned. What started as an exercise in improving my mental health has become much more.

I feel like I’ve found something I didn’t know I had lost, but missed.

If a day goes by without me writing my thoughts down (and yes, often my posts are handwritten in the sparkly notebook BW bought me for my birthday), I feel strange. At my grumpiest, writing has become a release.

It’s tentative, it’s nerve-wracking.

But I wonder if the story-telling 8-year-old is still there?

I’d love to hear what you know about writing.

I Won! No, I Won!

I am not describing a stand-off between my boys.

This argument is between me and TS.

Today is a special day.

17 years ago a crazy girl got together with a steady boy.

He saved her.

Fuelled by tequila and thus buoyed with Dutch Courage, he took a chance.

They drank, they flirted.

THEY PLAYED TETRIS.

For those not familiar with games, Tetris is an addictive block game where you um, match shapes. I know, THRILLING!

Anyway, we had a Gameboy (how retro) each and were playing against each other.

He sat on the sofa, I was curled at his feet (Yes, I know, not exactly the actions of a feminist, BLAME THE TEQUILA).

We played and flirted, played and flirted.

AND I WON.

As confirmed by our best man (TS’s best mate) on our wedding day.

Then there was fumbled, drunken kissing.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Today, sitting side by side in the swimming pool watching our off-spring, we discussed how weird it was that we have grown two humans.

“Who would have thought that night with tequila and Tetris..” I mused.

TS turns to me, smiling, and says…

NOT, that was the best day of my life. No.

He says “I definitely won, you know”.

GAH!

Happy Snoggaversary, TS. xxx

Do you and your partners have differing memories of the same events?

Scream If You Want To Go Faster…

As you know, I’m not a thrill-seeker, in spite of once doing this and this.

But, I like to think that there are still some adrenalin-inducing pleasures still out there that I might one day enjoy.

And then I remember. I am a mother and a dipstick. And this week was a hell of a ride.

Monday. A trip to our hot lovely pediatrician. We were awaiting EEG results to see if BW could stop taking his epilepsy meds. I was very nervous.

Good News! Results all clear, so we can begin weaning him off the meds. After 9 years. Scary stuff.

Then Paed wanted to discuss meds for ADHD. I wrote about our dilemma here.

Cue more feelings of nausea, but once meeting was over, I was OK.

Tuesday and Wednesday were reasonably calm. If by calm you mean shouting “teeth” and “shoes” 20 million times before and after school. Not to mention the great “Battle of the Homework”. Not to mention dealing with the fall out from a poorly executed blog post…

The White Knuckle Ride didn’t really gather speed until Thursday when BW’s counsellor had to cancel their appointment at the last minute due to ill-health.

Poor BW. It was too much. A 4 hour melt down (I am not exaggerating) ensued. He wanted me, he didn’t want me. He wanted to speak to counsellor, He was never seeing her again. He wanted to be wrapped, he wanted to be left alone.

All this with me trying to cook dinner, reassure CM and not drown myself in vat of gin.

By 8pm the ride had slowed. My beautiful boy was back and my blood pressure returned to normal. Ish.

Friday, Friday, got to get down on Friday. Right?

Coffee plans with a girlfriend and then lunch with a tweep, in the city.

Just what I needed.

Friday  dawns. I’m so on it.

Half way through doing the lunch boxes I ask BW to get his bike ready for  school. He has Bike Ed on Fridays.

“Mum, the bikes are locked together”.

“Where’s the key?”

Yes, where is the effing key?

Oh.

No, he hasn’t.

The sound of the F-bomb being dropped by TS at the end of the phone confirmed my worst fears.

It was now 9.55am. School starts at 9.

Shouting  “TEETH”, “SHOES”  and trying to finish the lunch boxes I start to attack the bike lock with a pair of pliers. (FYI, I have added bolt-cutters to my Christmas List) BW has tapped into last night’s melt down and is preparing to unleash the sequel.

“I AM NOT GOING TO SCHOOL WITHOUT MY BIKE”. Don’t blame you dude.

My heart is pounding. My knuckles are white trying to get the bastard lock undone.

Shouting down the phone at TS “to get his arse back here pronto”, I try to convince BW that it will all be sorted. I hope.

We finally stomp off to school, BW and I muttering under our breath about TS.

I am exhausted.

(TS dropped key off and crisis was averted, but we both felt terrible for the adult cock ups that caused BW so much stress)

Do you ever feel like you are on a theme park ride?