Friday, August 14, 2015

The missing sisterhood

Growing up I often felt I was missing out not having a sister. The fact that I was an only child for the first nine or so years didn't concern me half as much, but not having a sister - another girl to share rooms with, clothes with, secrets with & fight with, almost felt like a missing limb. Occasionally now I still wonder what it would be like to have a sister to go out to lunch with, to reminisce together over our shared childhood, to wet our pants with laughter remembering the time Dad singed his eyebrows off after throwing a cupful of petrol on the wood in the combustion fire & then lit it. It felt like a little empty spot not knowing a sisters bond.

Back in the days when children were still a hypothetical, I hoped that our first born would be a boy, followed by a girl & soon after another boy. Then, if we decided to swap our family sedan for a people mover to accommodate more than five people, I envisioned our fourth child would be another girl. The perfect double pigeon paired family. 

When half of my wishes came true, my envisioned boy, girl, boy in the form of Ben, Rianan & Jack, I was almost certain that we were well on our way to the doubled up 'ideal'. When the sonographer pointed out our fourth baby's tackle during the 20 week ultrasound, we were thrilled to have a (near) houseful of boys. Somehow I convinced Doug that five children would be brilliant & Will came along shortly after, irreversibly tipping the scales in favor of the meat & two veg.

When Clay announced his presence via two pink lines & morning sickness that had me head down in the toilet bowl most mornings, we were suprised but no less excited. With a pregnancy that was noticeably different from the last three boys I thought there was a good chance we would be seeing a little squidette on that black & white screen while my belly was covered in cold goop. It was standing room only when we went off for a private early gender reveal scan at 15 weeks, filling the room with ourselves plus the minions. After many ultrasounds I'm fairly well versed in making heads from tails & certainly know what a penis looks like via ultrasound - our boys were not shy when it came to the big reveal. Neither was Clay. Our newest little squid was not a squidette but, well, a squid.

If I said I wasn't quietly disappointed I would be lying. I was excited to start imagining what our future would hold with 5 boys -  soccer balls & footballs all over the back yard, muddy boots by the front door & a stack skateboards by the back door. (Which is exactly what our house looks like - the neighbour is continuously finding balls in her backyard & you have to work your way through the maze of scooters, bikes, skateboards, helmets & shoes just to reach our front door.) But my heart still quietly ached that Rianan would now also be joining the club of the Missing Sisterhood. 

It's hard to voice that disappointment, because it is not to say that our boys are any less awesome, any less wanted or any less loved. The moment I found out we were expecting another child I loved them, when we discovered their genders I fell in love even further & with each little kick, elbow jab, hiccup & body roll I fell even deeper. By the time they were born my heart was filled with so much love it frequently leaks out my eyes. 

It's the potential dream that disappears, saying goodbye to a future that once was possible, now will not be. In the scheme of things it is really quite trivial, especially when you put it next to infertility, miscarriage & stillbirth, cancer, or any other life impacting & heart breaking experience. Though it may be trivial, it still impacted my life, my childhood & friendships. Enough for it to roll around my head for weeks now & to put all those thoughts & feelings into words here. Knowing that Rianan will not know what it is to have a sister. That she might try to seek out that missing limb in close friends, to elusively search for a sisters bond she'll never have. Speaking from experience, it won't measure up or be the same. It was only when I reached my late twenties that I stopped looking to fill that phantom void. That I realised it was simply a dip in the surface & not a desolate space that needed to be filled. 

I may not know what it is to have a sister, or to be the mother of sisters, but my life is not lacking in richness, short of love, or devoid in any way. With a husband who loves me, flaws & all, who gets me & lifts me up in every way, with six incredibly special & unique children who drive me to be better, to do better each day. To have seven people who own my heart. That is lucky enough. Then top it off with beautiful & enriching friendships with women who make me laugh, make me cry & I can be myself with. There is no missing limb. I hope that Rianan, as she grows up surrounded by her brothers, knows that it is a blessing to be a sister even if she doesn't have one herself. And that she doesn't need to fill the shoes of a non existent one either. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Some days you just have to dance it out

Some days after school are easy. 

Everyone piles in the front door, bags are unpacked, food is devoured & homework is finished. Then more food is devoured before they all scatter off to fill the time void between snack two & dinner time. Minimal bickering & maximum amusement. Will & Blake scamper off outside to ride their bikes or jump around like lunatics all over the back yard. Ben, Rianan & Jack pull out the UNO cards & see how many rounds they can each win before it's discovered that Rianan has been cheating by sliding a few extra cards under the couch so she can declare "uno!" first.

Other days are not so easy. 

When everyone pushes their way through the front door like a herd of stampeding elephants, bags are dumped in bedroom doorways or along the hallway. The kitchen is filled with too many kids all vying to find the best after school snack, then stomping away when there is only the usual's on offer still. When getting their homework started, let alone finished is harder than trying to devour a bar of chocolate undetected in this house filled with minions. What would normally take ten minutes to complete, will instead span over an hour painfully filled with moans, complaints, messy & spaced out writing or staring at the same pages in the same chapter of their book. And that is just the older three.

Then there's Blake, Will & Clay, who will spend their time either a) running, screaming, jumping their way through the house until someone gets knocked over & trampled on the unforgiving floor tiles. Proceeding to burst my ear drums with their screams, before turning to retaliate against whoever they think is guilty of sending them sprawling to the floor.
Or b) Blake & Will spend the next hour or so annoying each other until I can't stand it any longer. While Blake & Will have me distracted with their arguing, Clay will quietly walk through each bedroom, opening drawers & pulling out every shred of nicely folded clothes he can reach. 

Before I know it, 5pm has ticked over, dinner isn't even thought of yet let alone cooking away. The house looks like an abandoned clothes warehouse after a cyclone has torn through & we've all given up on any legitimate attempt on the homework front. Forget about baths, at this stage the kids will be lucky to get anything more than spaghetti on toast before being shipped off to bed at my soonest possible convenience...after tidying from the storm that wiped me out flat.

Half an hour into yesterday's after school gauntlet & I could see the sides beginning to crumble. While the bags were put away, empty stomachs were filled & homework was done (because there was hardly any required) the disagreements & arguments were starting to come thick & fast. Add in several emails & phone calls that demanded my attention & could not wait, meant that everything going on out of my little bubble had to wait. By the time I put the phone down & decided the rest could be done after the crazy had passed, there were shoes everywhere, clean & dirty clothes littered the house mimicking behind the scenes of a fashion runway show, Clay was cranky, Ben, Jack & Blake were filthy from the waist down after playing soccer together & a lone empty fry pan was still waiting on the cold stove top.

I issued orders like a drill sergeant - "pick up those shoes"
"dirty clothes in the laundry now"
"put the clean clothes on the couch with the rest of the washing"
"bags in rooms"
"balls outside!"
The minions responded like a class of hyped four year old's coming down from an intense sugar rush.   

There was only one way to rescue what was shaping up to be an evening from hell & the breaker to demolish the last whispers of sanity that were stopping me from going all exorcist mummy.

Ignore the time & turn the music up.

You can't hear the petty little arguments, whinging & dobbing if they are drowned out with only the best playlist selections from the iPod on a volume level just bordering too loud.

It was the best decision made all day. It didn't take long before the boys turned the Xbox off, Rianan came out of her room (after escaping in there for some peace & quiet) & the younger three channeled their destructive energy into dancing like maniacs. While I was chopping up chicken, dancing & singing my heart out to Clay who had joined me in the kitchen, the other five had set up the coloring in gear on the table & were all happily getting along, talking, encouraging & laughing together, with the occasion dance off thrown in for good laughs.

Before we were even a quarter of the way through the playlist, dinner was cooked & the table was swiftly cleared & then set, on my first request, ready for the plates & bowls to be distributed. Knock knock jokes were told & the best things about our days were shared as we slowly finished eating. The tension & frustration that was flooding us all not forty minutes earlier had completely evaporated. Baths & showers were done, with the older minions doing a quick but thorough {enough} tidy around the house while the younger three were bathed & prepared for bed, not that much later than their usual bedtime either.

By the end of the night everyone went to bed in a good mood & I didn't feel like crap for spending the last three hours nagging & yelling while serving up a less than substantial dinner. I'm fairly certain that I'm not alone when I say I would much rather listen to the likes of Paramore, The Smiths, Ed Sheeran & Pink {to name a few}, than give myself a headache & everyone else immunity towards the nagging tones in my voice, topping off with foul moods all round.  

Next time our evening - or morning, is beginning to morph into a train wreck I'm going straight to that magic button, play.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Girls will be girls...& bitches

I had hoped to come back with a hilariously funny, light hearted post. Some tale of mischief from one of the minions to get the blogging ball rolling again. While the antics of the kids have been up to their normal high standards ripe with blogging material, my fingers have still been frozen. I almost considered to just Let It Go, let it goooooo...

Then the nightmare of on again, off again friendships between girls resurfaced after twenty odd years. 

It started slowly enough. Rianan would come home from school disheartened & sad because her {best} friend had been mean to her that day. Within half an hour all would be forgotten when A* would come over after homework to play, or by the next morning at school when A would come running up to Rianan with a smile & a hug, before they went in to class together. 

However, it didn't take long before Rianan was bursting into tears the moment she saw me after school, because of what had happened between her & A, then including their mutual friends, during recess, lunch, & even class time, that day. At first this was just once or twice during the week, then it soon escalated to most days. The girls Rianan thought were her friends, suddenly weren't. The little secrets & whispers she had told them were now thrown back at her in taunts or giggled about viciously. Being constantly stared down & glared at during class. Completely ostracized during recess & lunch, with A making sure that none of their friends would play with Rianan, forming their own little anti Rianan posse. The boy who liked her was even dragged into it.

In the beginning I comforted Rianan & tried to gently guide her through this nasty side of being a nine year old girl. I have my own haunting memories full of girls whispering, turned backs & being vilified for the clothes I wore, the boy I liked, the music I listened to, the posters I had on my bedroom wall. I remembered all the times I was sick & had to have a day or two off school & being terrified that when I returned my friends would all now be my enemies for that week. Where lunchtimes were filled with sitting morosely on the oval under a tree by myself. When school work was completed well before the deadline...because I had no one to talk & giggle with & the boring assignment was a welcome distraction from the glares & taunting whispers.

It seems for many of us, it's an unwanted rite of passage during primary (& high) school. Girls will be girls. 

Until they become bitches.

As far as I'm concerned there is a line. A line that differentiates between shitty girl behaviour that we seem to accept, & outright targeted bullying. 

The line was crossed. We could no more stand back while Rianan tried to manage the behaviour mostly on her own. Both her teacher, who is aware of the events, along with Doug & I had been encouraging Rianan to stay away from A, to ignore her when she started being mean to her or about her. To play with other girls in the class who weren't tied in with their mutual friends group, or to play with her friends from previous years who were in other classes now. We advised her to now tell her teacher every time something happened during recess & lunch.

Things were still escalating & Rianan was now sick with anxiety every morning while getting ready for school. Instead of confidently walking off to class she was now clinging to my hand. I spoke with her teacher one morning, which didn't offer any further solutions beyond what we were already doing - avoidance, ignoring, playing with other girls who were not involved with A's circle of friends {& potential aggressors}. I approached A's mum again, who we had been in contact with occasionally during the girls 'off moments'. This lead nowhere.

The on again, off again, friendship was now constantly off. Occasionally, for an afternoon, A & Rianan would be friends again, but by the next morning Rianan never knew if this would still be the case when she stepped in to her class room. Through all this Rianan is not completely innocent, she has been nasty back. Which I am glad of, it shows she believes herself not deserving of such toxic behaviour. She has a backbone & isn't afraid to use it. But when she is at home, when she is in her safe environments, she falls apart. All the soft, sensitive sides of herself she has had to protect all day long with that strong back bone, become exposed. That strength that held her through the day disintegrates because she is safe at home, needing this time to regenerate for the next day. 

How far does it have to go before something more is done, before the adults make a stance & really step in. 

What makes me mad is the fact that in many bullying situations, it is up to the victim to manage the bullies behaviour & tactics. Even when these aren't working. As far as I'm concerned when teachers, bosses & parents as well, constantly give the advice to 'ignore them', to stay away from them, for the victim to change their areas of play, to change the people they are seeking out for company, to 'not listen' to what is being said to them or about them. It sends a message of condoning the behaviour of the bully. That the victim is not worth the respect they should be deserved, allowed, & have the other person pulled up on their actions against the victim. 

Telling a victim to 'toughen up', especially when they have already 'toughened up' & 'thickened their skin' over the last couple of months is a slap in the face. 

Why should a child have to toughen up when they have already been trying to deal with the bullying behaviour on a continual basis, without success. By now they have  'toughened up', if they weren't already resilient before.

Like a friend said to me recently, "instead of telling our** children to toughen up, why can't we tell them to soften down?"

Look, I understand the psychology behind a bullies behaviour, that they feel vulnerable & are often bullied or victims of a serious wrong doing against them, recent or past. I have compassion for them, I see that they are not the culmination of their behaviour but so much more than that. While this gives an insight into the reasons behind why they do what they do, it never allows them to permission to be an aggressor. It is not a get out of jail free card.

Girls will be girls & boys will be boys. There is always going to be friendships turning, rough play that gets out of hand. But when it becomes frequent, when there is a specific target, enough is enough. Don't let that line in the sand keep moving or getting blurred. 

And no, telling the victim of constant bullying (or the parent of the child) to toughen up, because as they grow up they are going to come across bullies in high school & the work place, is not sound advice. 

* A is representative, not part of the name.
** 'Our' is used here collectively, not personally. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

The newest addition Friday #TIK link up

We have some exciting news here at HomM.

This morning I'm off to meet our newest family member. 

I'll be back later to introduce the rest of you as well.

In the meantime, check out some other bloggers linking up for my last Things I Know Friday link up. I would like to say a big thank you to Ann at Help!! I'm Stuck!! for letting me host her #TIK link up party while she was on holiday. An especially big thank you to all the bloggers who have saved me from lonerville & linked up with #TIK.

What things do you know this week? 

Link up below & check out some of our other bloggers this week too. Love what you read? Share it. 
Have something to say, then comment away. I love hearing from readers, I'm sure other bloggers feel the same too.

There are no hard & fast rules for #TIK link up, old post, new post, bring it on.

Happy linking!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Things I Know - Fillings shoes & a link up party #TIK

Kids are weeds. 


They absorb everything around them.

They attempt to devour all & any food sources faster than others surrounding them.

They thrive with sunlight, fresh air & love a good play in water.

They grow faster during childhood than at any other stage of their lives.



Growing is their super power. Enough said.

It seems that no sooner do our minions fit into their clothes & shoes, they are growing out of them again. I am not opposed to handing down shoes between our boys. If there is any wear left in them, that is. Our boys play hard & ride harder. Of course brakes are on the wheels on the scooters & bikes that pave the way to our front door. Apparently, brakes can also be found on your shoes. 

We have so many pairs of shoes in our house I'm a little afraid to go around & count them all, to be honest. The boys have more shoes than I do & Rianan has three times as many as Doug. With the new soccer season starting, several growth spurts since the end of last season, we're about to add even more shoes to the footwear count. 

While we're on the topic of chuck taylors, for the next two weeks I'm stepping into some big boots to fill. Ann, from Help!! I'm Stuck!! has asked me to host her "Things I Know" link up party while she is away, kicking up her own feet on holiday. 

What things do you know this week? 

Link up below & check out some of our other bloggers this week too. Love what you read? Share it. 
Have something to say, then comment away. I love hearing from readers, I'm sure other bloggers feel the same too.

There are no hard & fast rules for #TIK link up, old post, new post, bring it on.

Happy linking!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Making men to be proud of

Violence against women. It is not a new concept brought about with the advancement of technology or time. Through out the centuries it has been there. Hidden. Eyes averted. Not our business. Whispered through gossip circles. Advised to keep your nose out of it, if you know what's good for you.

I would have thought abuse against women would lessen as the younger generations grew into the men of today. That they knew better than to rape or sexually assault a woman - unknown to them or their own partner, a person they are meant to love & respect. That they knew better than to slam a woman against the wall. To bash her self esteem into shattered pieces with their caustic words & disgustful stares. I thought our generation of twenty first century men were better than this. 

So grossly disillusioned.

Headlines, recent & past, prove that too many men today still see nothing wrong with abuse towards women. Verbal, physical, psychological. The bruises are there. I imagine they never truly heal either.

I'm not painting all men with the same misogynistic brush. Many are gentlemen, fine men who would never hurt a woman & would stand to protect them in any situation. Fine men any Mum would be proud to know they helped raise, nurturing them from little boys, through the hormone driven teenage years, to see the young man emerge they are now.

But the men with hidden monsters. The ones who have less commonsense than our early homo-sapien ancestors, the men who see it as their right to treat women as less than any person deserves...What went wrong? Are their parents proud of these young men they helped shape into the perpetrators of today? Was there a turning point during their younger years that sparked the threads of aggression & dominance over females. Nature or nurture? 

What is equally scary as their potential to ruin lives, is that these men are completely normal in appearance. They have friends, they go to work at their every day jobs, they care for their parents & treat their pets as family members. They don't go around drooling & grunting, dragging their fists along the ground. They are educated men in today's world of privilege & freedom. Would it be easier, safer, if we could see the fault lines in their personality as easy as we can see the clothes they are wearing?

Raising our own five young boys, the future male generation to come, I constantly question if I'm doing it right. What are we doing to instill the right values, morals & respect towards all women with our boys. They love their sister & their Mum. They love their Grandma, Auntie & all other female family & friends of all ages. Not once have they shown persistent signs of aggression, disrespect or arrogance towards any female. Surely so far, so good, right? 

Our boys have some amazing male role models in their lives, starting first & foremost with their Dad, who is an absolute gentleman. He shows myself & Rianan absolute love & respect, never raising a hand or his voice. Words of aggression or disgust have never been spoken & directed at us. The same can be said for the Uncles, Grandad's & close male friends in our lives, I could not ask for better men for our boys to look up to & to imitate. 

What happens to make some men turn ugly?

Did Vincent Standford, the man accused for murdering Stephanie Scott have a loving childhood? 

What male role models did Oscar Pistorius have in his life as he grew into the man he became? 

What leads a man to the justification or to their perceived right to sexually assault a woman. To physically attack her or to take her life. How have they come to the conclusion that to speak words of disgrace, of ugliness & despise to their partner is okay?

I used to think as the generations moved forward, that acts of violence against women, racism, homophobia, bigotry was a dying concept. Instead, it seems that the only change is now we cover it more freely in the news, or openly carry on like ignorant idiots instead of waiting for the door to close to keep it in the privacy of your own home. It is still commonplace to witness hateful attacks on strangers for their life choices. Instead of stepping in & standing up for the victim, people are watching the attack through the screen on a mobile phone before uploading the recording to YouTube. 

I want to think Doug & I are doing enough, over & above, to make sure our boys will grow into men we will be proud of. Who would never abuse women, in any way or form. Or any person for their lifestyle choices, their appearance or for the way they were born. I look back at our parenting over the last ten years, & I look forward to how I anticipate we will continue to raise our minions, it seems that we are on the right track. Our boys are pretty damn great now, surely if we continue in the same flexible way our boys will turn into men who love their partners with gentle affection & not harsh words or vicious actions. 

What can the parents of today do, or not do, to help the future men & women of tomorrow? Is that even a question to pose? Because at the end of the day there is no reason, no excuse or past event big enough to justify or slightly condone this behaviour or attitude. Every person is responsible & accountable for their own actions. The one true freedom we have is to make our own choices & follow through with our own actions, accepting any consequences that may follow. 

Making heroes, not monsters. Nature? Nurture? None of the above?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Clench, hold and release

Ben's birth was blessedly straight forward & quick enough. After four hours of active labour & a second degree tear, our 7lb 6oz first son arrived. There are so many cherished memories from the days following his birth, but there is one that really stands out personally. Still now, ten years later, I can recall every sensation & the emotions that whipped through me at the time.

Ben was just over twenty four hours old & I was slowly wheeling him along in his clear plastic, hospital issue bassinet - feeling a little tender with stitches located where stitches had never been before. We had just been for a visit to the common room & I was making our way back to our private room, anticipating the arrival of lunch (& with any luck a little nap for the both of us). I had just passed by the nurses station & half way down the corridor, still another few rooms to go yet until our own, when suddenly the urge to pee came upon me with no prior warning.


Really urgently.

The shock of trying to clench those bruised, battered & swollen pelvic floor muscles, only to find that they didn't really feel like clenching much at all has haunted me through every birth that has followed over the last ten years. It is one time I genuinely feared I was going to wet myself, in public, & not just a little bit either. 

I knew the importance of doing kegels during pregnancy & in the weeks & months following birth. I'd read the little snippets of real life experiences that were included in the articles of keeping your pelvic floor tight 'n high, written in by women who found out the hard way just how necessary it was to clench - pull it all in without pulling a face. 
With tips including, but not limited too, 'If you're doing the dishes or hanging out the washing, do your pelvic floors as well.'
Or, 'When you sit to feed the baby work those muscles at the same time - clench, release & repeat.'

Some how I mostly kept my bodily fluids within my body & high tailed it in a waddling, thigh clenched gait as fast as I could while pushing Ben along, still oblivious in his bassinet back to our room. That afternoon I resumed the clench, hold, release & repeat. Just a few at a time, enough to gently locate them & check they were still in potential working order, then slowly increasing the intensity over the following days & weeks. That call to nature was just far too close for comfort...& too far from a lavatory. 

Seventeen months later & half way through Rianan's pregnancy I joined a pregnancy exercise class run by a physiotherapist. Several times through each session she would run us through our pelvic floor exercises - advocating passionately just how important it really was to do them. Beginning as soon as we felt able to, while lying down to avoid putting too much extra pressure on our vagina's that had just gone a round in the boxing ring with a three kilo battering ram - or so it may seem. 

Rianan's birth was just as good as her older brother - a water birth, just under four hours & another slight second degree tear after coming out all in the one contraction. In the wee hours of the morning as dawn illuminated the clouds, I laid on my side while gazing at our daughter, memorising her five hours old newness, & began the first gentle clenches of those hidden muscles. This time, when nature screamed a waterfall was coming, I wouldn't be caught blindsided. 

After having more than the standard quota of pregnancies & births, I know how crucial it is to keep my pelvic floor stronger than my biceps. Especially if I want my bladder to stay where it belongs, along with it's contents, while taking Ben & Jack on in a round of soccer, chasing Blake & Will around in a game of chasey or joining Rianan in a display of kart-wheels & handstands. Though they aren't as easy as it was twenty odd years ago...

Over the last ten years I'm certain I've done more kegels than I have changed nappies. They've paid off though - especially after suffering morning sickness with Clay & hugging the toilet bowl every morning, or more recently finding myself succumbing to the sneezes of hay fever. 

If you are quietly suffering incontinence, no matter how mild or severe, go & see a physiotherapist who specialises in pelvic floor. Ignoring the matter won't fix anything. 

How many times have you clenched, held & released so far today? 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Don't mind the mess...

"Come in" she said, "don't mind the mess", as I step over the threshold to her home, drawing my attention to the suggestingly unkempt surroundings. My eyes flick over every surface as we proceed deeper into the house.

Though I'm not exactly sure what mess she is pertaining too. The haphazardly arranged toys that are within the confines of the baby mat, or the two mugs on the bench next to the kettle - clean & ready for expected company. Even the beds were made in the bedrooms we drifted past.

No piles of washing all over the couch with not-so-fifty-shades underwear & holey socks flauntingly visible, forgotten to be tucked deep into the mountain. Kitchen sink empty of breakfast bowls, no dried weet-bix or puffed up rice bubbles lingering on the table - or under the chairs. Either her children slept in their clothes the night before, or it is their pyjama's I can hear in the washing machine quietly swishing away.

The floors look clean enough to follow the three second rule {for dropped food}, curtains open & windows barely visible - not a smeared hand print or dried up cascading dribble to be seen. 

I think to myself, if this is classed as messy then my house belongs on 'Hoarding - Buried Alive'. Knowing that as I closed the front door to take the minions to school, I was closing the door on pyjama's left on bedroom floors, breakfast bowls un-rinsed & stacked next to the sink, with the dishwasher clean but not yet emptied from the night before. Wet bed sheets & quilts stripped & fermenting in the dirty laundry basket, the washing machine silent. The evidence of packing lunches on the kitchen bench remains & while the dining table is wiped of any solid food matter, cloudy streaks are easily seen & rice bubbles litter Will & Blake's chairs. Our floors, not fit for the three second rule, but clean enough for Clay to escape my hip on.

With that one careless statement, perhaps meant to clear her of any responsibility for a missed mirror streak or mote of dust I may see, but not notice - evaporating from my mind faster than a shopping list. The standard is set. The precedent of expectation which goes both ways.

Weeks later I open our front door to welcome her into our home. With a smile I say "Hi! Come in, don't mind the mess, we've been so busy the last few days I've not had a chance to clean properly." A partial truth. 

We walk down the hallway, past bedrooms & lounge rooms - doors wide open to welcome inspection. Small talk is made while we make our way to the kitchen, where two mugs await next to the kettle & a plate of {store bought} goodies already set out.

What she doesn't know is that I ran around like a blue arsed fly the night before - cleaning toilets, wiping toothpaste off mirrors & polishing windows until I could see my reflection. Washing piles thrown hastily into cupboards, floors swept & quickly mopped. That morning the kids were dropped off at school looking irritated & harassed - because I spent the previous two hours acting like a Drill Sargent. Make your bed! Put your pyjamas in the wash! Whose breakfast bowl is on the table still? Put it in the sink! Rooms tidy! Brush your teeth, make sure you rinse the bathroom sink after! 

Instead of walking each minion to their class, I kiss them good bye & head back to the car before the morning bell has even rung. Eager to gain an extra ten minutes to ensure everything is looking as clean & display home'esque as possible. Not a rice bubble in sight. Super House Wife badge on. 

This became the norm. Doug always knew when I had plans to catch up with someone the next day because the night before instead of sitting next to him on the couch, I would be mopping & folding as much of our Mount Washmore as I could before tiredness set in. 

Then a few months ago I called enough. Our house is our home, not an open door display house. I was sick of the falseness, the illusion, the expectation. I wanted to look forward to catching up with friends, not feeling annoyed that I had to sacrifice my quiet evening to make sure every surface was free of minion prints & milk spots. If a friend knocked unexpectedly on our door I didn't want to chat at the front door to hide the lunch dishes in the sink, the unfolded washing dominating the couch, unmade beds & the dozens of shoes almost certainly to be scattered through various rooms.

I also do not want other women to feel the same way. 

Now I'll still say "come in, don't mind the mess." But you will know see exactly what mess I am excusing. Whether it be the crumbs on the bench, the dining table I'm wiping down before we sit, the glass door opaque with hundreds of hand prints or the baby toys & action figurines that lay abandoned on the floor. The real mess. 

Pop over for a cuppa, come for the company. You're welcome any time, just mind the washing.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Boys & their toys

Have boys, they said. 

It'll be fun, they said.

{ok, we didn't get a say in the whole boy:girl ratio, but work with me here}

Boys are awesome. Our boys are awesome. They are loud. They are hilarious. They are adventurous & cute as puppies when they are up to no good. You know that saying 'silence is golden'? Nuh-uh. If the house is quiet it's a telling sign they are up to no good...True. ALL true.

Another truth about boys - they make your toilet smell like an alley behind the local pub. No lie. 

We do toilet checks on the hour every hour - or after each pit stop, to comply with standard OH&S recommendations. A wet toilet floor is a slippery toilet floor, & no one wants to land in someone else's pee. Or even your own pee.

I was aware that the younger (& not so younger) male species may need reminding to refine their aim. I was prepared for drips on the toilet seat & few a strays on the floor. What I was not prepared for was the proverbial showers that would dry in yellow droplets all over the seat & lid. Neither was I expecting to regularly find Lake Bonney on our toilet floor. I kid you not. I had no idea that so much wee could come from such a small person in one trip.

With four boys taking regular jaunts to the lavatory, one of whom has a low capacity, hyperactive bladder meaning he is nearly always busting straight off the mark. Some days I clean the toilet floor more than I load the washing machine.

Over the last four months or so it seemed to exacerbate, likely due to the school holidays & with now four boys using the commode on a rotating door basis. Fed up with having to resort to a towel to clean up the initial mess, going through rolls of toilet paper & bottles of disinfectant on a weekly basis I called all the boys to a toilet door meeting. Mum was serious.

Rule #1

When you go to the toilet, hold your penis! 
Many times I had busted Jack just thrusting his hips forward & then refining his aim as he went. Which was never successful, & often by the time his aim was on target he'd run out steam, so to speak. By then it was too late.

Rule #2
Put the toilet seat UP!

You can't drip wee on the toilet seat if it isn't in your way. {I didn't bother asking them to put it back down once finished. I learnt long ago to pick my battles & right now putting the seat down is very low on the list of parenting warfare.}

Rule #3
Watch where you are weeing.
How do you know if you are meeting water with water when you are staring at the ceiling or looking over your shoulder? 
To reiterate - hold & watch, from beginning to end.

Rule #4

If you make a mess, clean it up. If you need help, ask.

We went back to basics, even though we had covered all of these back at the beginning when they first began running around in jocks. With these rules {verbally back in place} I was hopeful. 
Hopeful my days of soggy socks from stepping in some one's wee were over. Wiping seats, behind lids, walls & floors with disinfectant could be done less than five times a day. Minimum.
For a few days it helped. Lake Bonney never returned & but for a few splashes here & there, it seemed they were taking their responsibilities as boys seriously. Then every now & again I would find a puddle returned, or the beginnings of a yellow shower over a seat that hadn't been lifted. I was able to rule out Ben from the offending list. That still left Jack, Blake & Will. It appeared each of them were guilty, in random order, of breaking one {or all of} the toilet commandments.

Through constant reminding & follow up checks, we're slowly getting to a clean & visitor safe lavatory. Most of the time anyway. If they make a mess they do clean it up - to the best of their ability. The seat & lid now both stay down, so if they need to pee they lift both instead of aiming over the seat. Every boy is holding their hose & watching where they are aiming - a big win.

Seriously, I never imagined getting boys to use & leave the toilet in a clean state would be such an on going drama. We were not lazy with their toilet training or have low standards of personal care & hygiene. It just seems that they are too busy & find the need to vacate their bladder a time consuming interruption to their days. So it was done as quickly & as haphazardly as possible. After all there are soccer balls to kick, bikes to jump & scooters to ride. Who has time to go to the toilet anyways.

In a predominantly XY gene'd large family two toilets are not a luxury.

They are a necessity.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The best chocolate chip cookies EVAH!

We all know I love me some chocolate chip cookies. Over the years I have tried & tested all the cookie recipes - brown sugar or white sugar, eggs or no eggs, condensed milk or no condensed milk. 

Countless hours in the kitchen & I have the recipe down to perfection.

Out of the oven they are super fudgey. I recommend taste tasting the cookie dough prior to cooking - roughly every seven balls rolled & placed on the tray for optimal quality control.

The Best Evah Chocolate Chip Cookies

175 grams Unsalted butter, softened
3/4 tin Condensed milk
1 teaspoon Baking powder
1/4 cup Caster sugar
2 cups Plain flour
250 grams (or so...) Chocolate chips (white, milk chocolate or dark - or all three)

Preheat oven at 170 celcius & line two baking trays with baking paper.

Cream the butter & sugar together in a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, beat in the condensed milk (feel free to be quite liberal here, often I put in nearly all of the condensed milk. The more the merrier) Beat for two minutes.

Sift in the plain flour & baking powder together, gently stir with a spoon until just combined. Add the chocolate chips & combine.

Place teaspoonful balls on the baking trays 2cm apart. Once all the cookie balls are on the trays gently roll each one between your palms, then flatten slightly.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden.

Remove from oven, cool for two minutes.


Makes approximately 44 cookies {depending on how much of the dough you ingest for quality control & the size of your cookies}

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Who knew I had so much time on my hands to waste

It's not very often I say this, but Doug is right. I have little to no self control when it comes to technology & social media. I know I read a lot & my Facebook app is opened several times a day. Ebay is my friend & Pinterest an enabler. I don't watch tv, because I don't have time too. I'm too busy flicking through watch lists, re-pinning two-minute-hairstyles-for-long-hair & liking statuses.

On a bad day, it's really bad. A quick ten minute check of Facebook, follow a few links, catch up on a blog or two & hello it's time to pick the kids up from school. The floors still need sweeping. Dried weet-bix super glued forever more to the breakfast bowls. Washing to be pulled out the dryer {& dumped on the precariously balanced, gravity defying folding pile}. The coffee ring stains on the table next to the laptop & butt imprints left on the warm seat tell the tale of a less than arduous day.

This is only the beginning. A browse through Ebay, looking at furniture on the cheap I could revamp or fitbits to get me motivated on the whole 10,000 steps a day thing. Which isn't happening as I check out the local real estate to see what's happening on the market in the general area we live, before jumping onto a parenting forum & stalking the TTC* & HPT, OPK & BFP's** forums. We aren't ttc ourselves, putting a definite stop to my own POAS*** addiction, it's been years since I've stood next to a window, turning a pregnancy test this way & that looking for the faintest sighting of a second line. But I can & will stalk every other woman who is desperately hoping to see the feintest of feint second pink line that speaks to the whispers of life. Praying faceless strangers who understand their tight grip on hope can also see that miraculous second line, affirming it's positive status. There's nothing like seeing a photo of multiple positive pregnancy tests that go from 'just maybe' to 'you are thoroughly up the duff'. Gives me goosebumps & a fair case of envy every time.

At the end of the day, I like to finish up with a quick flick through Pinterest at 11pm, before turning out the lights...At 1am. After the muted glare from my phone has woken Doug. I'm thirty two years old & still shouldn't be allowed to control my own bedtime. Then of course, I can't sleep with my thinker set to 'redesign-the-whole-fricken-house' mode.  

I'm not starved for social interaction, I get my grown up conversation every morning & afternoon at the kids school & when Doug gets home from work in the evening. There's no coherent conversations in the morning between us. Given I go to bed at stupid o'clock & Doug gets up for work at ridiculous o'clock, our morning interactions are usually limited to Doug kissing me goodbye with sweet whispers of love & have a good day. In response I smear the dribble from the pillow all over my cheek, mumble something about putting the shoes in the shower before stumbling my way up from slumber to coherently forming sentences that bumble along the lines of "love you too, have a good day. See you tonight." By the time the kids are ready for school I am more than ready to start talking to people over the age of ten & stop saying things like "have you brushed your teeth yet?"

"Socks & shoes, guys, let's go, come on!"

"Ben, stop talking to Jack about your clash of clans base."

"Jack! get dressed!"

"Is your bag packed? Diary, lunch box, drink bottle, homework."

Once Ben, Rianan, Jack & Blake are at school, I return home with just two of our little minions & flick the kettle on, ready for some more social interaction. Because that ten minutes outside the classroom was only a warm up.

All is not lost, some days I don't even turn the computer on, & the days that I do, my hours are interrupted. I get up to do the basic daily essentials our big household & little people require. But many minutes, many times a day are sucked into that blue void. Because people.

We all have our vices. Since the age of sixteen months mine has always been that I talk too much. Now I get to natter away even when there's no one at the table with me.

The lingo
*TTC {trying to conceive}
**HPT, OPK &BFP {home pregnancy test, ovulation predictor kit & big fat positive's}
***POAS {Pee on a stick} a ovulation predictor or pregnancy test, either either

Friday, January 30, 2015

Liebster Award : Get to know the voice behind the blog

Exciting! House of many Minions first award. Thanks Mumma McD for the nomination (head on over & have a read)

If you enjoyed reading my Fifty in two hundred days post then you're likely to read to the bottom of the page on this one too. The Liebster award is all about sharing the details & then sharing the love {of the award} to eleven blogs I visit regularly when I want to escape the chaos of these minions & pretend I'm in someone else's world for a few minutes.  

Mumma McD has thrown eleven questions at me, so here goes...

How did you choose the name of your blog?

Five years ago I went through a sewing craze, making sleepy babies & fabric handbags. I briefly entertained the thought of taking these late night mini masterpieces to the local markets with the branding, 'House of many'. I never made it to the markets, I realised I preferred to read in my spare time more than I wanted to design, cut & sew, sew, sew.
The second part started up when the first 'Despicable Me' movie came out. We {I} love the little minion characters & all the antics they get up to in their efforts to helping Gru. Our own little minions often give us the same entertainment - whether we find it funny at the time or not until much later. I began affectionately calling the kids 'my little minions' - "okay, my little minions, it's time for bed/to get in the car/to get changed".

In June last year when I finally put this little space together, the name was ready & waiting for me. It's long, but it suits my blog.

How much time per week do you spend on your blog?

However much the kids & the housework lets me. Some weeks I might put up two or three posts because the little minions have either
a) one or more of them have given me grief & I need to put it to the keyboard so I can see the lighter side of it,
b) they've been exceptionally sweet, causing me to feel all lovey & warm n fuzzy - which often preludes the "I want another" posts, or,
c) Inspiration hits & the words are going around in circles. Given my goldfish memory I need to get it all written out then & there before it vanishes to the same location as our forks & missing socks. {We seem to have a fast dwindling number of cutlery - forks especially.}
In answer, it could be one or two hours between opening Blogger & hitting 'Publish' each week. Or the kids may find me at the computer desk multiple times during that week over several broken hours. Plus lots of late nights.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was young enough to be influenced by my parents I wanted to be a lawyer - because a lawyer had to go to University & my parents wanted me to be the first in our family to tick that one off the bucket list. The other reasoning my nine year old self applied was lawyers {are perceived} to make bucket loads of money {to pay off their HECS debt}. I could buy my own pony & my own house. Once that dream evaporated I decided my love of animals should see me wearing a veterinary nurses uniform...Until my year 10 work experience in a veterinary clinic put me off. All that stinky dog smell & pissed off cats wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Ben's arrival in 2004 opened my eyes & I began contemplating Midwifery, & after Rianan's birth in 2006 I knew that was where I wanted to go in the future. Then we had another four little people who would need looking after while I was working odd shift hours & Doug was at work.
These days the plan is looking something like me studying a Bachelor of Education when our youngest is at school. For now that is a minimum five years away, so we'll see what happens, when it happens.

Last piece of clothing you purchased?

For me, or for anyone?
For me the last piece of clothing I purchased was a bra, which didn't fit, because who wants to try on several bra's with several little people in tow? I picked out my size in the very limited maternity section (Clay is still a booby monster) & hoped for the best. I should know by now that hoping is futile when it comes to getting a perfect fit with the first choice the first time. I still need to find a time to go over the shoulder boulder holder shopping without kids.
Otherwise, the last time I purchased an item of clothing was last night - a gorgeous outfit for the imminent arrival of a friend's baby girl. I miss baby girl clothes. Scratch that, I miss baby clothes full stop.

Where in the world do you live?

Limited details here - those who know me know where we live. For those who have never heard my voice, we live in a beautiful small country town with everything we could want nearby. Several photo worthy beaches only a short drive away, the Murray River within a half hours drive, shopping centres are close enough I can visit them frequently (much to the despair of our bank accounts) & Adelaide isn't an impossibly long drive away.
I love where we live & couldn't imagine living anywhere else.

Favourite television show at the moment?

Right now there isn't anything I'm watching. Come April though when the second instalment of 'Outlander' begins, then I can answer properly.
I don't watch a lot of tv, however a good documentary, labor & birth programs, Grey's Anatomy & of course the above mentioned, Outlander, always capture my attention & are usually worthy of putting down the book for.
If this question was 'favourite book I've ever read', then this answer would have been much longer. I've read twice as many books as I've watched tv shows over the last few years.


Favourite actor/actress?

Am I boring if I don't have one? My favourite actor or actress is usually whoever is bringing their character to life, that has me completely mesmerised in the character they are immersing themselves in. (Same answer goes for authors too. Self confessed book nerd.)

How do you relax?

Top of the list is eating devouring chocolate chip cookies dipped into a large {very large} mug of steaming hot chocolate. However my jeans don't like when I do this more than once a day, so I read - a lot. Just in case you missed that little memo.
Then you get the stock standard answers, catching up with friends over a meal someone else has cooked, long walks on the beach, that kind of stuff. But that takes time & co-ordination of diaries & baby sitters.

Do you have a nickname? Or did you have one as a child?

The only nickname you can get from Hayley is Hales, or Hayley-Bayley. Both of which I've been called over the last thirty odd years, neither of which has stuck. Thank goodness.
Doug has a nickname for me, as nearly all couples do, which only he calls me (or the kids when they're being cheeky!) & I don't think that counts.

How do you take your coffee?

Usually white with two sugars.
At home I drink either a latte from the coffee machine with only one sugar, or a Nescafe Cappuccino or Latte sachet. Just what I need for the 4pm after school pick up, pick me up.

How many hours sleep do you get each night?

I'm pretty lucky at the moment. Right now I'm averaging between six & eight hours sleep each night. Guaranteed one of the younger three minions will wake me up at least once, either to expel liquid or to ingest liquid. The last ten years have conditioned me to waking up at least once or twice, so it doesn't affect my sleep as much as, say, more than five wake ups a night would.

11 random facts about me...

Now I have to think really hard for something you wouldn't already know.

1. I'm a sucker for any personality quiz. I thank Dolly & Girlfriend magazines for starting this habit back in 1995.

2. I love buttered salt & vinegar crisp sandwiches. Especially with crinkle cut instead of thin crisps.

3. Despite managing to {most of the time} keep on top of the housework & having six children to do almost everything for {not really but it seems like it some days}, I am a sloth at heart & would love nothing better than to lie on the couch all day.

4. My star sign is Virgo

5. My favourite chocolate is Rocky Road, since Cadbury has discontinued 'marble'.

6. I don't wear perfume. I do wear deodorant, don't get confused there.

7. My first kiss was on a summer holiday in Victoria when I was 13.

8. The further away from the city we move the more I love our lifestyle.

9. We found out the genders of five out of our six pregnancies. That one time we didn't find out was torture not knowing (even though we chose not to find out before the birth).

10. I'm a believer in fate & of an afterlife. Specifically what, no idea, but there is something more.

11. If our house was big enough & Doug could keep his hair, I would probably have ten children.

Now the fun part - my nominee's. Here are 11 of my favourite blogs {I'm breaking the rules a little, as each nominee is meant to have less than 200 followers, one or two may have a few more than that}

1. The Laney Files
2. Lime & Mortar
3. An Organised Life
4. Your Kids OT
5. Looking for Mama Me
6. Bombarded Mum
7. Maxabella Loves
8. The Mummy & the Minx
9. Quack + Skip
10. I Love to Op Shop
11. Colour Saturated Life 

Here are my eleven questions for you bloggers:

1. What pushed you over the edge to take your blog from an idea to a reality?
2. Which bloggers inspire you? Why?
3. Vegemite, promite or marmite?
4. Tell us about one of your most cherished memories.
5. Your favourite blogging tip
6. The best life lesson you learnt from high school?
7. Summer or winter?
8. What do you love most about yourself?

9. If you could meet one person, famous or average Susie walking down the street, who would you meet?
10. Spare time? Where can we find you if you get it?
11. Lastly, if you had 48 hours completely to yourself, how would you spend them?

Each nominee has to follow six easy rules:

1. Acknowledge the blog that nominated you & display the Liebster Award on your blog.
2. Answer eleven questions that the blogger gives you.
3. Give eleven random facts about yourself.
4. Nominate eleven blogs that you think are deserving of the award, have less than 200 followers (Go off the number of Facebook and/or Bloglovin' followers if you can tell from the blog).
5. Let those bloggers know you've nominated them.
6. Give them eleven questions to answer

That concludes tonight's post. If you made it to this final paragraph - Go You! Now head on over & have a browse of the blogs I've roped into this little get to know you thing. You'll be glad you did.