Archive | June, 2012

Don’t mention the ‘C’ word yet…(Christmas!)

28 Jun

If I see Christmas decorations in the shops next week I am going to SCREAM! When did we start celebrating Christmas for six months and Easter for six months? It’s like it’s all set up to taunt me…You’d better get started…be prepared…buy some decorations now or all the good stars will be sold out…the look on your children’s faces when they don’t see their preferred fit under the tree…those pudding tins need to be purchased today…

Don’t get me wrong – I love both Christmas and Easter but it completely takes the enjoyment away when it is thrown in my face way too early. I can’t even explain the pressure I feel when I see tinsel from July through to December – the shakes, the jittering, the financial panic, the tightness in my chest…

I know there are some amazingly super-organised people who are happy to stock up early (I think they are doing all their shopping at the current sales) but I am not one of them.  I enjoy the anticipation in the lead up to Christmas but why does the lead up have to be so long and painful?

The horror I have felt for the past two years on New Year’s Eve for crying out loud when Easter eggs are positioned at checkouts across the country – I’m all for eating Easter eggs and hot cross buns for six months but once again, it isn’t as special when it lasts for months instead of weeks.

So here is my suggestion – NATIONAL BOYCOTT.

Repeat after me, “I pledge that I will not purchase any Christmas gifts or Christmas related items such as candy canes, tinsel and inflatable snowmen until at least late October.”

And don’t even get me started on Christmas lights. There are two houses in my suburb that still have some up from last year. Why?

I know, I know, Christmas in July. But I do remember when Christmas in July products were offered and then put away until later in the year for Christmas-proper. Now they are left out, taunting us and wagging their finger at us.

Christmas is my favourite time of the year. The love, the joy, the shopping, the presents, the special food, the mess, the fun…it’s special because it only happens once a year.

So PLEASE don’t mention the ‘C’ word around me until much much much later in the year. At least let me get my tax return done first. Let me enjoy the start of Spring, argue with my children of whether or not we can celebrate Halloween this year and then, maybe then, I’ll think about Christmas.


I’m in a relationship with my smart phone

27 Jun

Published on Mama Mia on 10/6/12

My life has slowly started to revolve around my smart phone. I first realised I had a problem when I brought my smart phone to bed with me. I set up my nest of blankets and lovingly placed my smart phone under my pillow (secretly so my husband couldn’t see it was there). I switched it on silent. My hand rested on it until I started to drift to sleep.

I woke up the next day, stretched my arms over my head and excitedly remembered that my smart phone was with me.  The first thing I did was check Twitter. Over six hundred followers – yes. I checked the weather, posted a comment on Facebook about the weather, read a couple of pages of a book I had upload and eventually rolled out of bed to get the kids ready for school.

My husband has felt resentful of my smart phone for a while now. We used to snuggle up in front of the TV watching shows together. Now I lay back on my own, tapping away. “What are you doing on that thing,” he demanded. “Twittering,” I told him. “About what,” he said. “Everything,” I responded. “Have you ever Twittered about me,” he asked. “No,” I lied.

In fact, I can’t watch TV without my smart phone. No longer happy to just yell at the TV, I post comments like….PATRICK IS AN IDIOT FOR BREAKING UP WITH NINA or OH GOOD ALICIA MIGHT GET BACK TOGETHER WITH PETER. I commented that PRICKLY PEARS TASTE REALLY NICE, during Masterchef and that was all in one night. It’s unhealthy and ridiculous. I need an intervention.

I pay my bills on my smart phone. I work on my smart phone. I shop on my smart phone. I diagnose medical issues on my smart phone. I offered to pay a bill for my dad on my smart phone once. He looked at me like I’d kicked the dog. He still walks up to the post office to pay his bills.

My smart phone has apps that know me better than I know myself –my calendar, ‘to do’ lists, an app that tells me when my period is due (next Tuesday), my meal planner and the network of ‘friends’ I’d never keep in touch with if it wasn’t for my smart phone.

I’ve started having to put my smart phone on the back seat of my car while driving. The temptation to check my emails or send a message while stopped at a red lights is just too great.

When I can’t find my smart phone I panic. My stomach clenches, cold sweat drenches me. I call it and call it until I find it (in the toy box, next to the toilet, under the lounge – thanks kids).

It doesn’t make sense! I haven’t had a smart phone for long. I’ve only had it this year. Without it I am half a person. I am inefficient, isolated and miserable. And my poor, forgotten laptop which used to be in the place of my smart phone (but not under my pillow) can do nothing but sit on my desk hoping I remember how much easier it is to type on a full sized keyboard.

I’ve started wondering if I could do a smart phone detox. One or two days a week during which I am not allowed to touch it. I’d crack, for sure. Just like my attempts to give up coffee I’d last until about 10.30am at most before I became irritable and cranky and my family practically begged me to take it up again.

There are people who don’t even own smart phones. They are like aliens to me.

Kids and iPhones – it’s all about balance

25 Jun


My eight-year-old completely freaked me out with an “Your iPhone Screen Looks Broken” app a couple of weeks ago, my four-year-old is obsessed with the bowling app and my two-year-old girl plays the Dora Memory Cards game. I’m not proud and I am aware that their time on my iPhone needs to be monitored and limited. In an effort to ensure the next school holidays isn’t a tech-free-for-all I dusted off the games I purchased before the last school holidays – Twister, Monopoly, Guess Who, Uno and Cards. I even found Jacks!

This school holidays I am determined…my kids will not spend more than an hour a day TOTAL on computers, iPhones, iPads or any device with the word “Nintendo” on it.

This is going to be a massive task.

As was pointed out to me this morning, parents are busy. It takes time and effort to engage with your kids and make sure they are indulging in a variety of activities and Winter is the worst time for this. Please don’t rain during the school holidays!

We also have chalk to draw on the concrete out the back, water paints and my husband bought them new soccer balls which I plan to kick around the park with them.

I’ve never been a parent who likes to ban activities. I prefer to encourage and discuss. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. So far it has worked but I suspect that as they get older it will become more challenging.

I know I definitely never want them to spend time alone in their rooms on any device that connects them with others (computers, iPads, iPhones). They can do it in the living room where I can monitor them. I am happy for them to be tech-savvy but I never want them to be tech-dependent.

It’s a balancing act and the balancing act is constantly being reassessed.

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi

I don’t drink and it’s ruining my social life!

24 Jun

I was out with work friends recently for drinks. My friend offered to buy the first round. She asked everyone what they’d like and when she got to me I said, “Can I have a mineral water please?” Everyone laughed. They thought I was joking. I mean, what was I doing at work drinks if I wasn’t planning to drink, right?

I don’t know why I don’t drink. It’s not a moral or dietary choice. I’ve just never taken to alcohol. It tastes horrible and it usually leaves me with a massive headache.

As an Italian, I’m more used to eating my alcohol. Sparkling wine in my spaghetti sauce, beer chicken and desserts soaked in Tia Maria. My parents drank. When I was little my dad was always offering me sips of beer and a little Tia Maria mixed in with milk. So it’s not like I was raised hating alcohol.

When I reached my late teens and early twenties I got a job in breakfast radio. Getting up at 3am each day is definitely not conducive to drinking alcohol. I rarely went out and when I did it was usually a work function. I didn’t dare drink. Sleep deprivation was hard enough to cope with without adding alcohol to the mix.

I’ve been drunk twice in my life and it took quite a bit of effort on my part to get there. The first time was at my sister’s hen’s night. I forced down two shots of tequila and was PLASTERED. I had a massive hangover the next day. I wanted to die. The second time was when I was at a friend’s boyfriend’s house and they served a bottle of peach schnapps. Yum, but ouch once again the next day. These two ‘incidents’ happened in the same year.

Shortly after, I got a job as a bar tender (ha) and learned a lot about alcohol. I could pour the perfect beer, mix cocktails like Tom Cruise and I could even recommend suitable wines to compliment people’s dinner choices. Still, I didn’t become a drinker. I was openly ridiculed by my colleagues.

Then I met my husband. We loved going out together and I tried to develop a taste for alcohol. I tried vodka and orange and after gagging I tried vodka and orange in a tall glass. I tried drinking sweet white wine, several mixer drinks….they all tasted like medicine to me. I just couldn’t do it.

So I don’t drink. But my husband and some friends do. My husband bought expensive imported beer for a dinner party and I used the leftovers to make beer chicken. He was horrified. “Use the cheap stuff next time,” he yelled. “But wasn’t it delicious?” I said.

We decided to go to the Hunter Valley one weekend because that’s what couples from Sydney do. My husband the genius (not) came up with the idea of cycling to the start of the road and stopping at each vineyard on the way back. He did fine but by my second sip of wine (and I mean sip, it barely touched my lips) I was wobbling and had a massive headache. He was so freaked out that he rode next to me the entire way back. We stuck to the cheese and chocolate shops after that. We bought a couple of boxes of wine back with us which I used to make spaghetti sauce. “Where’s all our Hunter Valley wine?” he asked one weekend. “You ate it,” I answered him.

So I don’t drink. I’ve accepted it now. I don’t drink, I don’t try to drink, alcohol tastes like crap to me and I’m never trying it again. But please don’t hassle me. I accept your choice to drink so accept my choice not to. I’ve been abused several times while out for my choice not to drink. One ‘friend’ actually looked at me with pity, as though I lacked sophistication. Maybe I do. But it’s better than forcing myself to do something I hate.

Think of the positives – you always have an designated driver and random breath tests are fun (I got to do the one where you count to ten on Friday night AND they gave me directions home – it’s easy to get lost in Balmain).

I know I’m in the minority and I will always be the non-drinking freak in my circle of friends. But I’ll match you glass for glass when it comes to lattes and soda. And I’ll always serve it at dinner parties. Bottoms up – just not mine!

For beer chicken, fry chicken thighs and onions in olive oil. When brown pour a can or bottle of beer in the pan and simmer until the beer goes sticky. For spaghetti sauce with wine cook your usual sauce but before you bring it to the boil add two cups of white wine, preferably sweet sparkling. For great cake bake a butter cake and then brush each layer with a mixture of coffee and Tia Maria. Add a layer of cream, cover in more cream, sprinkle with chocolate and over the sides with toasted almonds. Think of me fondly as you devour it.


I spotted my first whale today!

24 Jun

Today I spotted my first whale in Sydney Harbour.

I have lived in Sydney my whole life and never had the pleasure of seeing these majestic creatures swim through the ocean, blow water and flick their tales in the air.

I am lucky enough to have a pretty cool weekend job. I film news footage for Channel ten from a helicopter at the Australian Traffic Network. I’ve filmed bush fires, car accidents and the dam spilling over during the flooding but this was by far the coolest job I’ve ever had for them.

There’s a whole world out there in the ocean. It’s one I haven’t thought about much before. I’m not big on water or boats or going to the beach. I much prefer activities on land. But this has definitely changed my mind and my next step is to book a whale watching cruise.

I did see several boats out there. That’s how I found the whales. I spotted the boats slowly tracking the whales and there they were. A mama and her calf.

They are so huge and sleek. It really was magical to see them and I hope you too have the pleasure one day.

I kept waiting for the ‘money shot’. For some reason I kept expecting them to leap out of the water. The pilot gently reminded me that they are whales, not dolphins and by the way we are running out of fuel and have to head back…

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi

Oh my God, I’m capable of road rage!

23 Jun


I was driving my children home from school this afternoon. It’s my favourite time of the day. We’re together in the car and they’re telling me about their day. Oftentimes we’re singing along to a song on the radio, being silly and looking forward to getting home.

I was navigating my car down a narrow street that leads from the school to the main road. Due to cars parked on either side it’s often necessary to pull over slightly and stop to let cars through and wait your turn.

I noticed a hearse and several cars with their lights on coming from the opposite direction. I immediately pulled to the side to allow them through. I had no intention of moving until they had all passed so they could all stay together. It was then that I heard a car horn blare behind me.

I looked in my rear view mirror, assuming it wasn’t directed towards me (I was pulled over for a funeral procession, after all) and noticed a dark hatchback with an irate young lady behind the wheel, clearly annoyed at my decision to let the funeral procession through.

No sooner had I realised that she WAS directing that obnoxious noise at me that she let rip again.

My blood boiled.

My children were in the car so I wasn’t able to let loose with the expletives crashing around my head. What a little bitch!

She honked several times – long, angry honks. I’ve never heard a more irritating noise. She’d accidentally purchased a car with a honk that reflected her personality perfectly – annoying, impatient and wanting a smack upside the head.

I glared at her in my rear view mirror but the stubborn set of her jaw told me she wasn’t going to let up. I began to inch forward. I wanted to let all the funeral cars through but I just had to drive away because I was about to jump out of my car, stalk up to her window and scream in her stupid face.

I managed to get through and left her behind. As I drove ahead I could hear her honking at other cars. What, the grieving relatives are delaying your appointment at the local spray tan clinic? She didn’t look like a doctor rushing to save a patient’s life. Why was waiting in the traffic for two minutes such an imposition to her?

I made it to the main road and joined the queue waiting to turn left. She pulled up behind me. I HAVE NEVER FELT ANGRIER IN MY LIFE.

I’m a traffic reporter in another life so I’m usually patient and forgiving of other people’s driving mistakes but her behaviour was just intolerable.

I had already made several assumptions about her personality based on her behaviour so far and it didn’t improve when I looked at her in my rear view mirror and saw her directing verbal abuse at me.

I will never know how I managed to sit there and do nothing. I was smokin’ pissed. I kept glancing at my children and breathing deeply. Let it go Jo, let it go.

Even as I finally (thankfully) turned left I watched her turn behind me. She immediately shot into the right lane and giving me a nasty look, she zoomed past me and she was gone.

I turned left, then right and then right into my street and I noticed my hands were shaking.

Even writing this now I am so angry. How dare she? There’s so much I wanted to say to her but you can’t get out of traffic and yell at people. Even if I did, what difference would it have made? If she was that horrible about waiting two minutes for a funeral procession to get through, would she really care about anything I had to say? And how would it affect my kids to see me explode like that? I’ve always make a point of staying calm around them and especially while driving.

I almost undid all that good work today. It would have felt great to tell her she was a total bitch, that she should be ashamed of herself, that she should learn patience, especially when it was such a sensitive situation…that I wanted to rip the horn out of her car and shove it up her arse!

Phew….and after the relief of venting I would have felt a deep sense of shame for letting someone so stupid get to me. Yes, she’s an idiot. Yes, she was completely in the wrong. No, it wouldn’t have made a difference if I’d said anything (or yelled anything). But gosh, I’ve never been more tempted.

I have been irritated in traffic in the past. I was once tailgated by a taxi and flipped them the bird as they careened passed me but…the kids weren’t in the car. I felt such relief. I have yelled at the behaviour of drivers in the past. There’s a road I drive on with a lot of silly young drivers. One almost side-swiped me at the weekend and I saw my life flash before my eyes. She pulled up beside me and gave me apologetic wave. I gestured that it was okay. I was quite proud of myself. I’ve made mistakes in traffic too.

I’ve always thought that the key to safe roads (besides following all the obvious road rules) is to have manners and be forgiving. If we all took our turns and drove with patience and forgiveness we might just reduce the amount of accidents and road rage incidents on our roads.

But judging from how I am feeling now, we might need to start driving with a stress ball to squeeze when upset…mine would have been all worn out this afternoon alone. I could have thrown it at her as she passed me. No Jo! But I can dream.

I look good for my age….!

21 Jun

I look good, for my age. I was informed of this fact by a too-beautiful-to-be-real Gen Y-er who works in my office. I know it was meant as a compliment but all I heard was, “You look alright, for an old lady.”

I’d always intended to age gracefully but the older I get, the more I feel like kicking and screaming as I move towards forty. I know, thirty-six isn’t that old (it’s not twenty-six is it?) and I know I should be grateful that I have my health (I am). It’s just that I feel like I left high school yesterday, fell asleep and woke up twenty years later. Where did the time go?

My face is holding up okay and I don’t have grey hair yet but I know it’s just a matter of time. For the first time I’m considering a little cosmetic intervention. I have a friend who dabbles and she looks amazing, completely natural, except the fact I know how old she is and she looks years younger.

At a previous workplace a colleague celebrated her twenty-ninth birthday, then her thirtieth and then she forgot she’d confessed her real age and tried to celebrate her twenty-ninth again. I’ve never been this bad. I’ve always happily admitted my age to those who ask and you know what? Plenty of people do ask. Isn’t it rude to ask a woman her age? Especially one with three child restraints in her car, bags under her eyes and some high-powered night cream in her bathroom cupboard.

I look good, for my age and I’m happy about this. I just wish time wasn’t going by so quickly.

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