Monday, July 15, 2013

Surround yourself with people who make you a better person.


I an a reasonably anti-social creature.
I have a small group of friends that I consider myself close to.
One is from high school,
a few are from university and college;
others from work, my children's school, the internet and so on.

What do they have in common?

They are really good people.

Yes, we all have our failings
(like leaving the toilet seat up
or voting for Clive Palmer)
but the people that I consider my friends are people 
who are generally happy, supportive, honest and generous.

In recent years
I have had the unpleasant experience 
of interacting with people who essentially aren't any of these things.

They have come from immediate family, professionally,
and in my wider friendship group.


They can be unbelievably nasty.
They are selfish
and they are narrow-minded.
They distort the truth to suit them.
They don't think or honestly don't care
about how their actions affect other people.

When I was younger,
I put up with a few so-called friends like that
even though they treated me badly.

These are the sort of people who would make me
start to question my own adequacy
or, worse still, start to act like they do.

But now I am older. 
I have more life experience 
and I have met a lot of really good people.

In the past 12 months,
I have seen people act in the worse way possible
and I have seen others help out with a generosity 
of spirit that has been overwhelming.

I know that is how life goes
but you know what? 

Life is too short.
The arseholes can just bugger off.

When you realise what good human beings are capable of,
you know that you need to surround yourself with them.

They will make you feel better about yourself and life in general.

But, more importantly, 
they make you a better person.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Let them eat cake. After beating it into submission with a rolling pin.

Little Boozle 2013

It has been a long time since I have done any "real" art.
The sort that you do with pencils and paper or paints.
I reckon it was 1987 the last time I did anything significant like this drawing.
It is always something that I am going to get back to when I have the time.

My creative outlet these days comes in the form of sewing, knitting
and making birthday cakes.
With the exception of the occasional purchased ice-cream cake,
each year I wear like a badge of honour 
the hours that I spend making
then decorating a themed birthday cake for each child.

This year we had a request for Pokemon
(note- well worth doing the homework to find the simplest Pokemon character in existence...)

Little Boozle 2013

and my daughter wanted a Dolly Varden cake
(not Dolly Parton cake, as one friend thought.
Barbie's boobies are a tad more discrete than that version)

I was secretely chuffed as I had one of these as a girl.
and you would understand that, in an accumulated 17 boy requested birthday cakes,
my sons had never asked for a pretty doll stuck in a cake.

AMJ 2013

AMJ 2013

(note- well worth investing in a doll that has legs which are disarticulatable
[possibly not a real word, that]
It is not worth the time and effort trying to reason with a 6 year old fairy princess
as to why Barbie's legs had to get sawn off
and no, no glue stick in the world would reattach them)

I am not a girly girl
but I did love the idea of re-creating a cake that my mum made for me
nearly 40 years ago.

While I take a pride in the results I achieve,
I admit that, as the year passes
and as the years pass,
I mark the passing of each set of birthdays with a celebratory booyah
as I get a break before the next round starts.

blog 2013

So when the last cake request for the year involved some creature that was 
pink and round and Japanese and apparently needed to be made from ice-cream,
it seemed timely that I came across a recipe for a pinata cake.

blog 2013

It wasn't a hard sell.

"Hey, lovey.
Wouldn't you prefer me to make you a giant choclate crackle filled with goodies
that you get to whack with a rolling pin then pig out with your mates?"

blog 2013

It was fun to make
and quite fast too, compared to the half day I usually spend decorating the cake.

blog 2013

The end was brutal and it was ugly.
But it was all over very quickly. 
I have to be honest and confess that a cake was definitely harmed in the making
of this 10 year old's birthday.

The siblings have requested their own pinata cakes for their birthdays next year
so I might get to spend a bit less time cake decorating
and maybe pick up a pencil again.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Sex Ed. Or why 249 million sperm have to die.


My mother is not a great communicator,
especially when it comes to emotional issues.

I remember calling her from University, distressed that a friend had died,
and her response was "Well, that's not very good, is it?"

When I had reached puberty, she handed me a book.
That was how I learnt about menstruation and other rather significant changes 
that were happening to my body.

In grade 9, if our parents had ticked the appropriate box
and signed the appropriate form,
we were herded off,
girls to Mrs Smith in this room,
boys to Mr Brown in that room,
where Mrs Smith and Mr Brown somewhat uncomfortably
enlightened us on the nitty gritty of the birds and the bees
and how not to have baby birds.

Grade 9.

I can't imagine most kids these days getting to grade 9
without teaching their parents a thing or two about the topic.

Last week, I took my 3 off to the "Where did I come from?" session at school.
I nearly bailed when, in the car ride there, my 9 year old son was explaining to his little sister
that you can't have babies unless you kiss someone or get really close to them
and you have to be married.

Did I really want to ruin that innocence with one graphic sentence
in the school hall?

The seminar had a nice turn out of 5 to 9 year olds
and their parents
and the lady in charge was obviously well practiced
in saying words like "penis" and "sex" to a hall of kids
without showing any evidence of weakness to the pack.

There was a universal "ewwwwww" (from the kids)
when it was explained that the actual way that those sperm cells from daddy 
get to the egg in mummy
is by daddy putting his penis into mummy's vagina.
(My, my. What a difference 10 years will make to that reaction)

Friends had taken their children to a similar seminar
and this got explained as a"special hug" between mummy and daddy
but you know what?
The little kids accepted this new fact about life and went with the flow.

There was a universal titter (from the adults)
when kids were yelling out their household's pet names for female pink bits
and some little one yelled out "trapdoor".

At the end of the evening,
the message that hit home to me was that the kids
took the facts on board, 
processed them and moved on.

We as adults can choose to be embarrassed or vague or deflective
when we get asked those uncomfortable questions that are going to come.
I don't want to hand my kids a book and tell them to read it.
I know that a book should at least be giving the correct information
and I might read that book with them
but I need to be there
to make sure that they are coping OK.

It is important stuff and, heck knows, at times it will be emotional stuff,
especially when they reach the next seminar,
"What is happening to me?"

There are a number of disturbing things about the "Gangnam Style" song
(OK, yes, it is catchy)
but the one that is the top of my list
is seeing 5 and 6 year old children
doing the dance and singing "se-xy la-dy".

We have explained to our kids that sexy is not an appropriate word for them to use 
at their age.
After this talk, they do now have a little understanding about the can of worms
that words like "sex" and "sexy" are opening.

My oldest was a tad non-plussed about the fact
that both sperm and wee came out of the same place in a willy
but was super excited that sperm looked like tadpoles.

My youngest loved the cute pictures of the babies
and took in the information that made sense to her.

Only my 8 year old,
my beloved, sensitive boy,
seemed scarred by the whole evening.

He had already decided that he didn't want to be a woman
because he didn't want to go through the birthing process.

But he was devastated to learn that only 1 of the 250 million sperm
racing for that egg would make it 
and that the other 249 million plus sperm would curl up their toes.

Oh, boy.

I think that puberty and hormones with him is going to be a roller-coaster ride.