Monthly Archives: February 2013

Mmmm…Happy Place!

Split Point Lighthouse

Ugh.  It’s raining outside and hot and muggy inside.  Annie doesn’t want to sleep and Harry and Christopher Robin are diligently trying to destroy each other.  Today Harry found a container of leftover baked beans in the fridge and promptly opened them and delivered them to his baby sister – who loves baked beans, but more as a body lotion and shampoo than an actual foodstuff.  He waited patiently whilst I mopped the floor and gave Annie a bath (it was like baby soup!) and then tipped a cup of milk over Annie (and the freshly-mopped floor).

I REALLY want a COFFEE right now!

Time to go to my happy place.

Gorgeous Bunting

When we were on holiday in January, we stopped and had a coffee at this utterly charming teahouse in Airey’s Inlet.  It’s called Willows Tea House and is right next door to the Split Point Lighthouse.

Cafe Exterior

It was hard to take too many photos without looking like a total loony, but in the end I couldn’t help myself.

Cafe Table with bunting

Oooh!  Let’s have a closer look at that stool!

Stool

Here’s our table number:

table number painted rock

And here’s the key to the toilet (at this point, Mr Knightley politely suggested that I might, indeed, be totally bonkers):

teapot key

OK, I’m almost done, I promise!

pretty chairs

Here’s the most beautiful one of all:

Coffee

O Coffee!  Sweet Coffee!  How I long for thee!

Thank you for coming to the virtual café with me.  I really think I’m feeling a little better now.  I’m just going to go back and have another look at that glorious bunting!

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Label Fail – The Sequel

Label ribbon everywhere!

Harry did it again with the label maker today.  I keep the label maker unloaded now, as a precaution, but he got his hands on the cartridge and pulled the tape out like so much pretty ribbon.  I tried, I really did, but it wouldn’t wind back in.

In honour of this occasion, I thought I’d share this story with you:

I was chatting with a knot of school mums at some “Meet and Greet the Teacher” malarkey the other night.  This might sound silly, but I struggle sometimes with School Mums.  Normally, I’m a loudmouth extrovert, but with school mums I get all awkward and reserved.  I feel Different.

So one of the mums starts talking about her new label maker and how much she loves it and I blurt out, “You really should read my blog!”, thinking of my recent Label Fail post.

Of course, I realised all too late she didn’t know what I was talking about, that it would just sound like a spot of random blog promotion.  I eagerly and ineptly tried to explain myself and she politely suggested that she might have better things to do with her time than to read my blog.

One of the school mums (I’m going to call her M) is a close friend of mine and now that she’s a school mum, she is a Delightful Exception to the Rule.  At this point in the conversation M (God bless her) leapt to my defence. and faster than I could say “Stop talking.  Oh, please God, stop talking.”, she launched into the following:

“Oh no!  You don’t understand!  Kate’s blog is really good!  She’s a proper Writer!  Like one time her two-year-old burnt the roast except she calls him ‘Harry’ or something.  And she’s really, like, creative?  She crochets cool hats and stuff in her spare time and then writes about them on her blog!  You really should read it!”

The look of mild shock that had registered on Label Lady’s face earlier in the conversation, when she discovered I had four children, now was gracefully developing into a look of sheer horror.  Her husband (“Label Man”?) wasn’t too far behind her.

I would like to write that at this point a lovely deep hole conveniently opened up in the floor in front of me and I stepped lightly down into it and it swallowed me up.  But, sadly, this did not happen.  So instead, I cringed inwardly, gave a strangled laugh and tried to steer the conversation forwards (“so, tell me about this new label maker of yours” I attempt.  Label Lady replies “what are you?”)

So, for those of you who have blogs of your own, I’m curious: do you talk about your blog to people in real life or do you keep it a secret?  How do people react when you tell them you have a blog?  Does it sound really lame when you try to describe it?  Do you inadvertently inject random blog promotions into every conversation?

I can’t wait to hear what you think.  In the meantime, I’m off to buy some more label cartridges (still waiting on that endorsement deal – Dymo won’t return my calls…)

Cafe Fail.

Babycino

I’ve given up coffee for Lent.  Not sure why I do this to myself, but I figure it must do me some good. I’m going to put my coffee money in the Project Compassion box and feel all virtuous and smug for forty days.  I’m three days in and already I’ve had enough.  I already wrote this post out in my everything-notebook and now in my coffee-deprived state I’ve gone and lost it and I just know it won’t come out as good this time around.

Grrr

Anyway, cast your mind back to Tuesday.  It was Shrove Tuesday and my last chance to have a coffee before Lent.  Unfortunately it was also a school half-day, so I would have all four of my darlings to share this special time with.  But I’ve got this situation to work well in the past and, by gum, I would make three-children-and-a-baby-in-a-café work this time.  Surely they owe it to me?

I went to the supermarket with them first and Harry and I played the game where Harry hands me random items which he considers essential and I systematically restore them to the shelves.  My sister called me at one point, but as the entirety of our conversation consisted of me yelling directions at my children, I told her I’d call her back at a better time.  Other than this, it all went pretty well until the last aisle, when I (rather stupidly) said aloud “and now all we need to get are the eggs!”.  Christopher Robin and Harry both exclaimed “I’ll get it!” and raced to the end of the (long) aisle.  I moved, as quickly as a person pushing a shopping-laden stroller can, through trolleys and old people, to the egg section.  There, amid a small circle of spectators, Christopher Robin and Harry were wrestling over a carton of extra-large, free-range eggs (“I’m helping Mummy!”, “No! I’M HELPING MUMMY!”)

Somehow, I managed to confiscate the eggs and administer some lame reprimands to the boys.  Miraculously, the eggs managed to escape their ordeal unscathed and so, seeing this as a good omen, I set off to our favourite child-friendly coffee haunt.

As this was to be the last coffee I was to have before Easter (or at least St Patrick’s Day), I was going to make it count, so I ordered I larger size than my usual small cappuccino and added extra fancy flavours (deluxe).  The barista chatted pleasantly to Matilda, Christopher Robin and Harry as he put together their custom-made free babycinos and my children, cheerfully and all of one accord, failed to say ‘please’ or ‘thank you’.

I sipped and savoured and spoon-fed Annie with chocolate-dusted milk foam when it occurred to me that now would be a good time to call my sister back.  It would seem I was having an abundance of stupid ideas on this day.  But I love my sister and she lives far away so we don’t get to talk as much as I would like.  I didn’t want to become the Boring Older Sister who is so wrapped up in her children that she can’t possibly take an interest in anyone else’s life.  This was ‘Jan’, by the way, not ‘Cindy’, so it’s not like I’d scored sister-points by recently making her a hat either…

Accordingly, I contrived to continue chattering merrily whilst the following occurred:

  1. My three ambulatory children promptly absconded from the table and climbed onto an evil coin-operated Spiderman helicopter at the entrance of the café
  2. The weight of shopping bags caused the stroller to overturn, taking my remaining, rather startled, child with it.
  3. Matilda managed to climb her way to the top of the evil Spiderman helicopter and perched triumphantly on the rotor blades.
  4. Annie began to howl and I remembered that she needed to be fed (plus she’d just been for a ride in an unstable stroller…)
  5. Matilda started to clamber down again as I gave her the evil eye (as evil as one can give when one’s arms are full of fallen grocery bags)
  6. Matilda got stuck halfway down and then rescued by some random man
  7. I felt everybody’s eyes on me and realized with dismay that I had become That Woman, who talks on her mobile phone whilst her children misbehave.

I had to end the conversation when

8.  I couldn’t see Harry anywhere.

But then I could (he was climbing all over the cake fridge and Christopher Robin quite happily joined him in this endeavour.)

After shouting random threats and gathering up groceries and offspring, I stalked off to the car.  Once everyone was strapped into place and I sat in the driver’s seat.  I launched into a tearful and incoherent rant about “coffee” and “your aunty” and “just for once in your life”.

Matilda piped up in a  small voice, “you can listen to what you like on the radio on the way home, Mummy, and we won’t complain at all”

“That’s COLD COMFORT!” I snapped.  But I put the radio on anyway.

I felt better by the time I got home.  At least I could get a blog post out of this experience.  And it was probably a good thing we weren’t going back to that café until after Easter.  I sent the children upstairs to clean their rooms and started unpacking the groceries.

Hmmm.

It would appear the eggs did not survive their adventure in the stroller.

 

When I told my mum this story, she suggested I find an all-natural organic substitute for coffee: “like, you know – whiskey”

So if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to have an Irish coffee without the coffee.  Because I’m being good.

Clomp, Clomp, Clomp.

These boots are made for walkin'

Time for another God post. I went away on retreat last weekend and felt all peaceful and inspired. But, now, regular life is back again and I’ve just about forgotten it all and settled back into my usual habit of ignoring God until I need him for something important (like a car space at Chadstone). So I thought I’d better write this down quick before it all falls out of my head.

We were talking about one of St Paul’s letters (1 Corinthians 12: 12-31)  in which he writes about the church being like a body with many parts. Everyone has a different role to play and all the roles are important, no matter how humble.

I think I’ve spoken before about how I tend to struggle sometimes with the many invisible and menial tasks involved in my vocation.  Pegging out a load of washing does not really make me feel like I’m building the Kingdom of God.  It’s not like I’m a missionary in a developing country building wells or giving soup to the homeless or tutoring refugee kids.  But according to St Paul, my job is still important.  I think, as part of the Body of Christ, we mothers are a bit like the feet.  Not the most glamourous feature and often taken for granted, the feet just keep plodding on, supporting the rest of the body and helping it do what it does so well.  I think I’d find it easier to be a nice, loud mouth – shouting about my accomplishments and eating up all the recognition.  But God doesn’t call us to do what is easy, he calls us to do what we need to be whole.  So I’m a foot.   I could even take the metaphor further and suggest that it’s important to take care of our feet and have the occasional pedicure, because corns and ingrown toenails affect the whole body.  It’s easy to mistake playing the part of a martyr (which helps nobody, even though it comes with a bonus sense of smug self-satisfaction) with true selflessness (which is not too proud to ask for help).  I’m not so good at this – I need to give myself permission to put my feet up more (OK, I’ll stop with the overworked metaphors now, I promise!)

I love-love-love an article written by Rachel Jankovic called “Motherhood as a Mission Field”, in it she writes:

“At the very heart of the gospel is sacrifice, and there is perhaps no occupation in the world so intrinsically sacrificial as motherhood. Motherhood is a wonderful opportunity to live the gospel. Jim Elliot famously said, “He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Motherhood provides you with an opportunity to lay down the things that you cannot keep on behalf of the people that you cannot lose. They are eternal souls, they are your children, they are your mission field.”

So perhaps, like Mother Teresa would say, instead of getting pre-occupied with the great things I am not doing, I should focus instead on doing small things with great love.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to peg out a load of whites for Jesus.

Label Fail.

Calm and Factual Label

I have this thing about label makers.

Something about those neat, white strips, calmly stating important facts in no-nonsense typeface just speaks to me.

I figure if I were to own a label maker, I would finally become Organised Lady. My household would run like a well-oiled machine. My children would arrive on Book Week Day wearing elaborate hand-sewn costumes. Friends would pop over for a spontaneous catch-up to find me relaxing in an immaculate house, the smell of a delicious, healthy treat wafting out of the (shiny, clean) oven.
I wanted that label maker.

But, I remonstrated with myself, such things really are an expensive extravagance. There really isn’t much I can achieve with a label maker that I can’t also achieve with a permanent marker and a roll of masking tape…

And I almost believed myself.

But then, last week, Mr Knightley casually commented that he’d seen label makers on special at the local stationery emporium. Was that something I could use?

When I had fully recovered my powers of speech, I reassured Mr Knightley, in an abundance of words, rapidly spoken, that I did indeed covet – er, need – such an object.

The Precious

Oh, just look at it.

I didn’t know it was going to be pink. I know it’s childish, but I love it when things are bright pink. I was thoroughly over-excited by my new acquisition.

But I wasn’t the only one.

It started when Harry took my label maker to a quiet corner, typed out the entire alphabet and then printed several labels to commemorate this achievement.

I admonished Harry, confiscated the label maker and placed it high out of reach.

Harry watched and waited.

The next time I pulled down the label maker, Harry was ready. The first moment my back was turned, Harry absconded with it to further investigate this mechanical wonder. This time, he managed to jam it all up. I firmly resolved, as I extracted scraps of twisted labels with my eyebrow tweezers, to keep the precious contraption out of reach at all times on the top shelf of the pantry, next to the Milo tin.
Which brings us to this morning.

After coaxing a particularly reluctant Annie out of a dirty nappy and into her cot for a sleep, I returned to the kitchen to find Harry covered in Milo. In the moments that followed, I took in the following information:

  1. A kitchen stool had been pushed into the pantry
  2. The label maker was now on the bench
  3. Harry had merrily printed off THE REST OF THE TAPE whilst sitting at the bench eating Milo

Here’s what happened next:

  1. I started yelling and storming about the house like a demented rhino, firing off abusive texts to my husband.
  2. Harry burst into tears and then rubbed his tear-stained Milo face all over my top.
  3. Christopher Robin walked through the floor-Milo and tracked it through the house
  4. Annie woke up.

Label Maker Mess

I had a read over the warranty, but there’s nothing in it to cover the wanton destruction brought about by insane two-year-old saboteurs…

My one consolation is that Dymo – or, indeed, Milo – might approach me with an endorsement deal for introducing my readers (yes, both of them!) to the wonders of their product.

Perhaps they could pay me in label cartridges?