Friday, April 29, 2011

Absolutely nothing to do with royals or weddings.

Why every child needs a toy bigger than they are

I have a strong memory from my childhood of visiting my Grandparents and playing with a GIANT teddy bear called Boo-boo.

The main thing I remember was that Boo-boo was big enough to use as a mattress (which we frequently did), so it was rather a surprise when I went back to my Grandparents as an adult and discovered Boo-boo had shrunk, I lamented his diminutive status, but fondly recalled how my brother and I used to lie on Boo-boo as we watched Christmas telly.

A few years ago I was shopping with Tareka on a rare day out without the children, and as it was getting close to Easter, we were sort of looking for Easter-based snack items to bribe the children with when I spotted them.  Giant bunnies.  Pink and purple bunnies which were bigger than our children.  I was immediately transported back to the halcyon days of Grimsby sunshine and Boo-boo the bear.

I looked at Tareka.  He looked at me and sighed.  He knows the look I get when I see something so utterly pointless and crap that I simply have to buy or I will sink into a pit of depression only remedied by the application of metric tons of chocolate and promises of lie-ins.

“you want to buy the bunnies, don’t you”
“they are enormous”
“Yes, and they are pink and purple, they are PERFECT!”
“why do you want to buy the bunnies?”
“because every child should have at least one toy that is bigger than them”

We bought the bunnies, and they have become the girls’ favourite toy.  They dress them up and ride them around the living room.  They go in the car if we are staying overnight anywhere and they live in their beds at other times.

Hakopa’s first proper Easter has rolled around, the one where he is finally old enough to get the whole “chocolate eggs for breakfast” thing.  I wanted to get him a giant toy of his own, so I set out on a mission.  For some reason there were no giant bunnies to be had 1 week out from Easter, what utter nonsense that is I don’t know.  BUT there were giant lions, dogs, unicorns, elephants and monkeys.

Guess which one I bought?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tom Yum cuppa soup is my new saviour, but it needs to come with more servings in the box

I have discovered that I have a form of synesthesia where I taste in colour.  Savoury things taste green; sweet things taste blue, purple or pink; sour things taste pale blue or yellow; salty things taste brown or orange; bitter things taste red or shocking pink.

This is a very simplified list of how things taste to me, but it is a lot more complicated, in the same way that the flavours of food are more than just those 5 flavours; the colours in my head when I eat certain foods are a lot more varied.

When I lived in the UK, I discovered Thai food, and with it a really excellent Thai restaurant in Ely of all places. I love to try food I have never tried before, and so we went along and I ordered Tom Yam Gai – hot and sour chicken soup.

Oh.  My.  God.

This food did something to my taste receptors.  It was spicy, sour and fragrant.  It was refreshing and juicy and fresh and rich all at the same time, and as for the colours, well.  I had rainbows in my head.  The warm autumnal browns of galingal pinpointed with neon orange chili; the deep green chicken broth laced with turquoise lemon grass flavours; all surrounded in the fresh coriander taste which makes me think of blindingly blue summer skies viewed from the middle of a green meadow.

I was addicted.  I ate it at every possible opportunity.

When we moved overseas we went out for Thai food a couple of times, and I got my fix of Tom Yam soups, but with children and the move to a place 20km from the nearest town I have had to miss out on my favourite food.  Imagine my amazement when I was looking at cup soups in the supermarket when I found this:

I took it home, eager to try it out, but preparing myself for it to be a pale imitation of real Tom Yum soup (Tom Yam or Tom Yum, I’m not sure which is correct, so I’ll use both).

I boiled the kettle and poured the packet of precious dust into my cup, not daring to hope.  As the scalding water hit the dry mixture, and the smell rose from the mug I was transported to the meadow with the summer sky high above me.  I took a tentative sip and saw the warm earthy browns of galingal and the turquoise-green sea of the lemon grass.  The chili was there, but not so strong, more of a warm sunshine glow than neon flashes, but for a cuppa soup, it was pretty damn good.

Shame there are only 2 serves in a packet though, I might have to write in and demand that they make packets of 14 so I can survive the fortnight between shopping trips.

Friday, April 15, 2011

How my opinions of teenage Mums has changed since meeting a few

Our local playgroup has 2 distinct groups of women in; those that had children in their 20s and 30s and those that were teenagers when their babies were born.  We have one girl in our playgroup who was 14 when she got pregnant.  I kid you not, 14 years old.

I lost my virginity at 15, but having been raised during the “Don’t die of ignorance” AIDS campaign of the 80s, I was paranoid about both getting pregnant and catching some evil disease, so I made sure we used condoms and the pill and followed the instructions for using them to the letter.
Since then, I have held the prejudice that getting pregnant as a teenager was particularly stupid, and I am ashamed to admit that I had a rather low opinion of teenage parents.

Now when I joined our playgroup and got chatting to the Mums, I discovered a couple of interesting facts.  One – most of the teen Mums were using contraceptives when they got pregnant, and using them correctly; and two - they are without exception all intelligent, interesting women.

The girl who was 14 when she fell pregnant got kicked out of home by her mother and is now raising the baby alone in a rented house.  She’s 17 now, and is working on her college studies in order to get a job; her daughter is always clean and dressed in nice clothes; she disciplines her daughter when she is naughty and cuddles and kisses her constantly.  She has the same frustrations as I do with her daughter’s behaviour and with getting her body back to pre-baby condition.

This girl changed my opinions of teen Mums.  Sure, she had a child very young, but she has not let it ruin her life.  She is studying, learning to drive and saving money for Christmas.  She does seem to have a bit of trouble with managing her money though, as I don’t think anyone has ever taught her about budgeting.  I was wondering how (or even if) I could help her.  How do I reach out to someone who will not ask for help?

Technically I am old enough to be her mother, which is a scary thought.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


This week has gone very fast and I haven’t really thought about a subject for my blog post.  I’ve been answering questions on the Nigel Latta Facebook page though, and it got me thinking about how much we expect from our children.

I know I often expect too much from Mapera as she is my eldest, and very capable and intelligent.  I also tend to forget that Kaitereo is only 3 and expect too much from her as well.  Our baby is constantly surprising me by doing things I don’t expect him to do, so maybe I will expect less from him and he’ll keep surprising me.

It’s a hard balancing act to figure out what you should be doing for your children vs what they should be doing for themselves.  How much is reasonable to expect a 5 year old to remember and manage for herself if I can only just about remember my jobs if I have them all written down on the fridge?

So far both my girls can wash and dress themselves (Mapera can get herself showered), they can set the table, and they can butter their own bread and cut it.  They can put their clean clothes away and make their beds; they can tidy up their toys and art things and help with vacuuming.

They can harvest vegetables and collect eggs; they can pick mushrooms (under supervision) and spot thistles for Daddy to grub up.  They can pick the ripe tomatoes from their tomato patch and share them with their brother (who just tends to lob them onto the lawn).  They can brush their own teeth and hair and they are both just about able to put their own hair up into a sort-of ponytail.

They can hammer in a nail and saw a piece of wood with Daddy in his shed.  They can build stuff from scrap wood and plant a pumpkin seed in their sandpit that actually grows.

I have encouraged all this behaviour as well as suggesting more for them.  The only thing they don’t use yet is sharp kitchen knives or anything that involves fire or the stove.  I’m figuring that this will come around about the age they could join Cubs or Scouts (somewhere between 7 and 11).

What age can I get them to make me a cuppa and put the dinner on?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Things I have learned about cows since moving to the country

Cows are not cows.  Cows are heifers, steers, bobby calves, rising two-year-olds, bulls and boners.

Cows do not moo.

Yes you read that right, cows do not go moo.

The closest you get to the traditional story-book moo is the cow (that is, the FEMALE) looking at you and shouting “mmmmMMMMMUUUUUUUUUURRRR!”.  If she is alone in her vocalizations, you can usually assume the cow is saying something like “hello two-legs, you’re standing on my lunch”.

If there is a herd of cows (or heifers as we have on our property once in a while) and they are all shouting “mmmmmmmMMMMMMUUUURRRR!” together, then one can deduce that they are saying “OI! Two-legs! There’s no grass left in this paddock, it’s all stalky rubbish.  Open that hole-in-the-fence thingy and let us out”

The fun really starts when you have a paddock of heifers and a bull across the creek in the next paddock.  It will continue with the usual “mmmmmMMMMMUUURRR!” from both sides for a while, then all of a sudden the bull will go ape-shit and start making noises not usually heard outside the chimp enclosure at the zoo.


I asked Tareka about that one day, and he said that the cows were “bulling”.  I nodded sagely and pretended I knew what he was talking about.  I later discovered that it meant the cows were on heat and ready to get jiggy with Big Mr B across the creek.

As a townie, I have never given a lot of thought to how dairying works.  I just figured that you hooked the cows up to the milking machine once a day and that was about it every day all year round.  I was very wrong.  Apparently you need to make more cows by getting the old ones pregnant, rather than buying new ones when the others get old and die.  Something about productivity and cost effective somesuch.

The cows “dry off” when they are pregnant, so are not milked for a couple of months before calving.  This is when most farmers go on holiday or move house.  Then all hell breaks loose around July when calving starts and milking properly begins once the calves have drunk all the colostrum and the cows are producing proper milk again.

This all means that Mummy-cow and Daddy-bull get together only once a year, and as you can imagine, Daddy-bull is a bit randy when the time comes.

So, I have translated “HOO HOOO HOOOOO! MmmmmMMMMmmUuuUUURRR! HOOOO HOOOO HOOO OOOOOooUURRRR mMMMMmmmMMM!M!MM!M! OOOOOOO  Urhg.” To mean something like

“Heeeeeey ladies!  Who wants some priiiime beef?  You like the look of my RUMP steaks?  Yeah ladies, that’s what I’m talking about! HEY TWO-LEGS! OPEN THE DAMN GATE!”

Oh my god I’m famous on the internet

I have always secretly hoped that one of my hobbies would bring me fame and fortune one day.

I have the fame:

My contribution to people's sex-lives

All that I need now is the fortune!