Saturday, December 24, 2011

And so this is Christmas ...

... another year over, and a new one just begun (well, almost), to misquote John Lennon.

But it hasn't just been any year - it's been the year of our family adventure...

No, we didn't Buy a Zoo, or a War Horse. We didn't even put our Puss in Boots.

We didn't develop Happy Feet Two and set off on a Mission Impossible. Nor did we require a Ghost Protocol (although it was a year of more nightmares for both boys).

There was many a Twilight Saga at bedtime, and as usual we saw plenty of Breaking Dawns.

But there was an Iron Lady (Sherrie, who returned to work full-time in February).

Which I guess makes me Tin Tin, as I set off on the adventure of being at home with our boys.

I can't say that I found the secret of the unicorn, but I think I approached some sort of happiness in immersing myself in the world of The Complicated One and The Big Fella.

I lived this year like I had 12 months to live. I wanted to spend every moment I could with our boys, because you never know when it might end.

I think Sherrie found some satisfaction too, in being back in the workplace and making a difference to the people around her. She earns the right to be called the Iron Lady, for having the courage to allow me this year with both the boys, and probably next year as well.

So, a final word from John Lennon, musical genius and brains of the band that changed so many lives...

"And so this is Christmas, I hope you have fun, the near and the dear ones, the old and the young.

"A very merry Christmas, and a happy New Year.

"Let's hope it's a good one, without any fear."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I’m reading…. American on Purpose

American on Purpose traces Craig Ferguson's journey from punk drummer in Glasgow to late night TV host in LA, via alcohol and drug abuse, and chased by killer ducks.

I’ve become such a fan of The Late Late Show that Ferguson hosts on CBS (screened here by Eleven) that I just had to know more about him.

His TV show is plain crazy. But crazy clever.

Make sure you catch a night when he rings a doorbell and a fake horse called Secretariat bounds out on stage to some wicked beats, while Craig and the studio audience dance like crazy.

American on Purpose is full of life lessons that are never rammed down your throat. Worth reading just for his story about killer ducks - but you won't want to put it down.

Kids are reading ... We're Going on a Bear Hunt

Most kids will know the song from Play School. So the book, by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, is a nice follow-up activity.

Apart from being a good excuse to do lots of silly voices, We’re Going On Bear Hunt is a great for helping kids deal with their fears, in a gentle kind of way.

Speaking of Play School, it's always a joy to turn on the tele and see it still going strong. It started screening in 1966 when I was 2, making it the world's second longest running children's TV show (and making me feel old!).

I fondly recall Noni Hazelhurst's glory days as a presenter. Doug Anderson, the SMH's long-time reviewer for The Guide, would memorably end his occasional review of Play School with the words "...and Noni. Sigh."

I'm sure he only reviewed Play School so he could use that line. Well worth it.

Kids are eating ... Fool-proof chicken vegetable soup

Homemade, of course!

Finely chop some onions and celery, sweat in a hot pan with a little oil, then add a splash of white wine (remember to allow the alcohol to burn off!).

Toss in chopped carrots, potato and zucchini, and pour in some decent chicken stock.

Boil (OK, simmer for the purists) the sweet bejesus out of it for a couple of hours until the vegetables almost disappear.

Cut up some chicken breasts and add them towards the end. Throw in some curly pasta for the kids.

If you can cut up vegetables without cutting yourself, then any fool can make this soup.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Backpack’s my friend

The Big Fella has animated his Bob the Builder backpack.

“Backpack’s my friend,” he frequently informs us.

He usually clarifies: “He’s not your friend, he’s my friend. Backpack is only little. You’re a giant. Backpack’s my friend.”

Glad we got that straight.

He loves to wheel backpack, Cow and the Diego etch-a-sketch around the house and backyard in a small stroller. He straps them in, then marches off on important business.

He’s taken to hanging a plastic bucket off one stroller handle. He calls this his work bag.

He fills his bucket (sorry, work bag) with his favourite things, before declaring that he’s off to work. (Wish I could take my favourite things to work.)

He’s normally home from work a few seconds later.  (Wish my work days were that brief.)

Hang on a sec ... now that I work from home, I do take my favourite things to work - and I work as much or as little as I wish (to my valued clients, may I say I work very long and hard for you!)

The Big Fella is clearly onto something. I too need to make friends with my backpack.

"Make friends with your backpack" sounds like a great corporate self-help book title. Like "Who stole my pizza?" or "The 347 attributes of successful people".

I can feel a publishing deal coming on!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sleeping with Bubba (not Bubba from Tennessee)

One of our boys sleeps with Bubba (no, not Bubba from Tennessee with the moonshine still hidden way up in the Smoky Mountains).

Our other boy sleeps with a Cow (not a lowercase cow that moos).

Clearly I'm talking about their favourite soft toys they take to bed each night. Nothing unusual about that.

The Complicated One has a very ugly and featureless grey bear called Bubba. He’s slept with Bubba every night since he was 1. Their relationship is approaching 5 years - longer than some marriages.

The Big Fella has a cow called Cow (I told you he was less complicated).

He is less faithful, because he also sleeps with his Bob the Builder backpack and Diego themed mini etch-a-sketch.

The backpack contains his favourite cars and trucks. Every new car or truck goes into the backpack. It’s only about 12 centimetres tall but weighs more than a kilogram.

At night he likes to surround himself with Cow, backpack and the Diego etch-a-sketch, then add several other hard plastic toy cars. Favourites are an ambulance and police car, each about 15 centimetres long (ie not small).

Once he’s fully surrounded by toys he’s generally happy to go to sleep. He pulls up the sheet and tucks the toys in, then rolls onto his side.

How he doesn’t wake himself several times a night as he rolls onto the hard plastic edges is anyone’s guess.

Oh wait, he does wake several times a night. I wonder why?