Dear Jess. Tippi writes a letter to her best friend after her big holiday.

Dear Jess,

Hello, it’s Tippi! I can’t wait to see you in Sydney at your birthday party next week. I wish I were turning 6 too – it’s not fair that you always get to have a birthday before me. But it’s ok, I love you anyway.

We got back from our holiday in the UK and the South of France yesterday morning. It was a very long flight from London, and we flew in to Sydney so early in the morning it was still dark. I didn’t sleep much on the flight – Mummy kept asking me to go to sleep but I wasn’t tired. Mummy mustn’t have been tired either, because whenever her eyes closed, I would ask her for a cuddle and she stayed awake too.

I have had a mazing holiday. On our first day there, Mummy and Daddy made me walk all over London. I was very tired and it was a bit boring, but I did it and it made Mummy and Daddy very happy. London has these wonderful shops everywhere full of useful stuff with English flags on them – money boxes, pens, cuddly toys, t-shirts and loads more. I love love love those shops! Mummy calls them souvenir shops and says they are full of overpriced crap. I’m not sure what that means – maybe that they’re lovely – but she did start to get her cross-face on whenever I asked to go to one. I got a Big Ben statue that broke that very same day, here is a picture;

I told Mummy that it doesn’t matter, we can just buy another one. She got cross-face again and I wasn’t allowed another one.

Then we went to my cousins house in a place called West Sussex. My first tooth fell out! I wrote the tooth fairy a letter and left it and my tooth under my pillow. The next morning the tooth fairy had left me one pound, but did not reply to my letter and I was a little sad. I wanted to know what they did with all those teeth. Mummy says maybe she was too busy that night to write back, and she might write next time. Now I have another wobbly tooth and cant stop wobbling it.

We went to France where everyone speaks funny and I don’t understand what they were saying at all. It was super hot, I was very sweaty all the time. But we were close to the sea and we were able to swim lots and lots. I swam in really deep water with my Mummy and Daddy, and could look down and see all the way down to the bottom. I learned to use a snorkel and saws loads of fish. We even went out on a boat one day.

Best of all, I played with my cousins who are English. They are three girls, Stella, Rosie and Hattie, and their big brother Charlie. Charlie is a teenager and I was scared of him at first, but it turns out he is really nice and funny. My girl cousins played and played and played with me. I got a bit sad when they went off and played big girls things that I couldn’t do like long swims out to sea, and playing cards. Mummy says that she was the little one once and also got sad when her sisters wouldn’t play with her, but that one day suddenly she was big enough to join in. I was still sad and didn’t like being the littlest.  But soon they would come back and we would play again or watch my new favourite show Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse. We even did a show for the grown ups and I got to be Queen Elsa.

Now we are home and we picked up our dog Pepper on the way. It was still early in the morning when we got home and Mummy wanted me to have a sleep but I still didn’t want to. But then I did fall asleep for hours and hours. Mummy tried to make me wake up in the afternoon. She said that if I didn’t wake up in the day, I would be up during the night but I was so tired I didn’t care I just stayed asleep whenever they weren’t looking. Then I did wake up and had dinner and because I’d slept all day I didn’t want to go to bed. Eventually Mummy got really cross and went to bed and Daddy lay with me till I went to sleep. I woke up first and it was still very dark – Mummy says it was 2 o’clock in the morning. I was really hungry and finally got to have a midnight feast! It is morning now and Mummy wants me to have a sleep but I’m not tired, really I’m not. She says that there’s no way on this earth am I allowed to sleep this afternoon, and I promise I wont. She says that stopping me from sleeping will be like holding back the tide, like it was yesterday. She often says things that I don’t really understand.

I didn’t eat much while we were away. All the food tasted different and the food on the aeroplane is yuck yuck yuck. I really only liked the bread and croissants. Now I keep asking Mummy for food and she gets me some, but when she gives it to me I don’t really feel hungry anymore so I take one bite to be polite and leave the rest. Then in a little while I feel hungry again, or maybe just bored I don’t know, so I ask for more food. Mummy says to eat the food she put out for me before, but I want something else so she gets me something else. When she gives it to me I find I only want one bite of it again. She is sighing a lot, I wonder why?

I have to go now. Mummy seems a little cranky so to cheer her up I am running around the house singing “fly birdy fly” over and over again at the top of my voice but she just wants to type on her computer. I think I’ll have a little nap after lunch, I’m starting to feel a little tired. I wonder what’s for lunch.


Tippi xxxx

How long do I have to pander to my kids’ fears ?



It’s a loooong time ago that I started kindy, so long that I cant even face working out what year it was. Somewhere in the mid 70s I’m guessing. Around 40 years ago, so I cant profess to remember the whole experience, but I do remember snippets clearly and have an overall feel for how it went.

We went to school. Full stop. No clinging, no crying, no begging Mummy not to leave. We were dropped off and went inside and got on with it. I don’t remember it even occurring to me to cling or cry even when I was scared or uncertain. Granted I had two sisters there, but the very last thing they were going to do was look after me. I barely got a grunt out of them until we all got home after school.

In fact, I don’t actually remember being dropped off at school. In Sydney we caught the bus. When we moved to Perth, I was 8 and we rode our bikes to school.

I know, I know, I’m doing the “in my day” thing. Ugh. Sorry. But it’s relevant.

Tippi has always been a nervous, shy kid. She’s always stayed close to me, she’s not the kid that gets lost in the shopping mall, she’s not a risk taker. Which has served me well over time as kids who wander are harder work, but it means she misses out on experiences. As she’s grown in age she’s grown in confidence, which has been frankly a big relief, but not that much confidence. At least 3 days a week, there’s some kind of clinging when I take her to school – it might be as mild as needing a few cuddles, or right up to the full blown Beg and Cling dance. Yep, she’s that kid. You’ve all seen them.

And then there’s the night fears that appeared a couple of years ago. I know, I GET that! I was terrified of the dark as a kid thanks to my two older sisters’ constant torment (cue evil Russian accent): “Dracula is coming to suck your blooooood”. Teeth time, story time, snuggle time, ‘night, love you’, dark…… ARGGGHHHHHHHH! Terrifying. The dark was so so scary for me right up until adulthood and then some.

But I had to suck it up. The hall light was left on while I was falling asleep and that was it. No parent checking on me, no staying with me, no lullabies. It was goodnight, get myself to sleep. I remember lying there in a sweat sometimes, trembling. But I went to sleep eventually and now I can live on a remote farm with no other adult in the house and all lights off and sleep soundly all night.

Tippi has the door open, the hall lights on, lullabies playing softly, a 2 minute check, 5 minutes, 8 minutes etc until asleep which doesn’t usually take long but jeeeez it is interminable when has started, it’s the end of the day, couch is beckoning.

So here’s the thing. I want Tippi to grow into a person who is independent, resilient, brave, fierce, adventurous, confident, able to take risks, living life to its fullest, and every other cliche I can think of. I don’t know for sure, but I strongly believe my parents did that for me, with a little help from my big sisters.

I confess, I’m over pandering to her fears whether they’re real or imagined. Surely by doing so, I’m fueling them, aren’t I? By hugging her 10 times at school drop off, hanging around, waving, encouraging, maybe I’m being nice and loving, but it’s not helping her to learn independence. By staying with her in her room when she’s scared at night might be a motherly thing to do, but doesn’t it confirm that if I’m not there, monsters might come in?

I’ve toughened up lately. I walk away at school after just a couple of hugs. I speak sternly if she follows me out, and I don’t look back. Actually this week I did look back and she was skipping happily back into school which tells me she’s playing me. I don’t stay in her room after lights out.

Then on the flipside… she’s 5, that little teary face breaks my heart into a million pieces.

Oh FFS, no it doesn’t, it’s infuriating, I have other things to get on with and this kid needs to learn resilience.

So tell me, how loving and patient do I have to be to these fears without cementing them for her, and how tough do I have to be without traumatising her?

Parenting Dilemma #5078.

Do you have a fearful child? How do you manage it?

A Year Gone By

A little over I year ago I jumped into this blogging thing with gusto, cranking out 10 or so blogs in a couple of months. It seemed to get some reads, some interest, mainly from my friends. Lot’s of indifference, of course, you’ve got to expect that, but some nice comments too. I got some Facebook likes, and then…….I stopped. Why?

Because it got terrifying. On Facebook it gets a much, much wider audience than I would have by just staying on WordPress, which was exciting at first. Then a little intoxicating as I looked at the stats – people were clicking! But then self-judgement came in and it suddenly seemed unbearably self-indulgent, boring and well, kinda embarrassing.

So I stopped.. And I must say I now have an enormous respect for those successful bloggers with thousands, tens of thousands of readers, letting it all hang out. What amazing confidence, such lack of self-consciousness – opening themselves up to the judgement and the brutality of the internet. Because with all the love they get, there’s a whole lot of nastiness thrown their way. It’s a brave person who blogs for a living.

A couple of my lovely friends have told me to get onto it again, and after a somewhat turbulent 12 months, I’ve had an urge to write. Please feel free to bugger off now, this is me time.

The Last 12 Months 

We built:

IMG_3594 IMG_3596


Our very grown up house. I think it looks like a winery. Actually it could be with the amount of wine going through our place these days.

Nothing to get excited about yet – it’s more or less a shell. We are about half way and any further progress will be slow unless someone wants to throw a lazy couple of hungey grand our way (PM me for bank details).  We chip, chip, chip away at it one tradey at a time. And to bring in the bucks to get it finished, Andy continues to work away, which frankly is hard on the family and our relationship. But eye on the prize – when it’s built he can come home, get a lower paying local job and we’ll be a family together living in our glam country home.

We sent:


Our girl off to kindy. With a 1st of March birthday, we had the dilemma of sending her this year, at 4 nearly 5, or waiting till next year when she’s 5 turning 6. I agonised about it right up to the day she started, and then for the first half of 1st term. She is fine, she loves it, is making friends and is loving learning to read and write. I will always wonder if she’d have been better off if we’d waited, and I suspect she would have been. But she’s fine, she’s happy.

We changed:

My work situation. By far the absolutely best thing that has happened in the last 12 months is quitting my job as a part-time financial planner. I’m not sure Andy agrees, but he’s supporting it bless him. We have one kid, one shot at it, and I wanted to do it completely. I wanted to be involved in her schooling, be there for her achievements, her school life. As it turns out, I haven’t completely quit the financial services world and continue to do some contract work, but it’s in my time and I’m not bound to an office, sitting in a job that my heart wasn’t in.

I’ve never been busier, with at least 2 hours of driving a day – a MASSIVE downside of rural life is the driving that’s involved with a young family. Everyday into town and back out and in and out again. Or hang in town and have to kill hours while you could be at home working, or getting the house clean, or cooking a great dinner for the family. Tippi is keen to get the bus, and we’re working towards that, but it’s complicated with a child with anaphylaxis and putting a 5 year old on a bus trip for over an hour carrying her own epipens is a tricky obstacle to overcome.

We lost:


My mum. In the lead up to mothers day last year, I wrote about mum and her battle with ovarian cancer. She was doing so well with it it seemed. She’d endured more chemo, but still it hadn’t made her sick – she was definitely off, but not super sick like you see cancer victims in the movies. Maybe she was just being brave, but she was managing to live almost a normal life. She did hate the chemo though.

My sister brought her family out from the UK for Christmas, and we although we didn’t know it at the time, we had our last time all together. Mum was quieter than usual, with stomach and bowel issues dogging her a little, and a bit of vagueness she called “chemo brain”. By New Years Eve she was back in hospital with a bowel blockage. It was cleared for a while, but it came back and she was scheduled for bowel surgery in February to – in her mind – fix it once and for all.

But it wasn’t to be. The blockage became inoperable and untreatable, nothing more they could do. By then she had barely eaten for a few weeks, weight was falling off her. “Take her home” the doctors said, “keep her comfortable, give her whatever she wants.”

So we did. Mum never really grasped the fact that she was terminal, right up until the last week when she went into palliative care. My sister came out, leaving her young family in the UK for weeks, we all spent weeks going to and from Sydney to nurse her and be with her and Dad. And then, finally,just before Easter, we were doing the bedside vigil as we had been for a week. She was so weak, unable to speak or move. We sat with her all day, then at the end of the day, we kissed her, hugged her, told her goodbye, we love her, it’s ok to go. Her eyes indicated that she could hear us, and she loved us too.

My sisters and I left Dad alone with her and went home to Mum and Dads house where we’d all been staying together. Dad came home soon after. We were shattered. Then, within half an hour of Dad leaving the hospital, they called. She’s deteriorated, it’s very close. Did we want to go back?

We talked about it and decided no. We’d said goodbye. She’d held on all day, waiting for us to go. This is how she wanted it, she wanted to spare us from the moment. We sat together until the call came, and when it did we hugged each other close and wept.

At Christmas time when we were all together, we never dreamed we would be burying her by Easter.

Fucking cancer.

The Aftermath – so what DID happen to Jaq?

It’s 24 hours later, we’ve had time to figure out just what the hell happened last night. The truth is, we’ll never really know, but this is the favoured theory at the moment;

We think there was a feral cat under the veranda. Jaq got into a frenzy chasing it, it dashed into the shed. Tussle ensued, cat sprayed (hence the vile stench).

Jaq, always an excitable thing when it comes to cats, got so worked up that her body went into overdrive. It wasn’t about the cat anymore, she knew she was in trouble and needed to get inside the house. She couldn’t calm down, she was beyond the point of no return.

Her heart gave out.

That’s our most plausible explanation of why a 4 year old fit and healthy dog would suddenly die without a scratch on her. It explains the banging and barking, the stench, and the lack of physical damage. The vet agrees this is most likely but won’t be definitive without an autopsy, and we’re not going there, it’s done.

Thanks for the messages and phone calls of support, dear friends. We are all fine, sad but moving on. That’s life in the country, they say.


What the Hell Just Happened to our Dog?

I came home from work tonight tired and cranky. Andy is away as always during the week and I knew the fire would have gone out, it’s freezing here, and raining now and I dreaded getting home to the dog feeding frenzy, a freezing cold house,  lighting the fire, dinner, kids bath and bedtime. Any me time felt a long way off, and with Tippi sick this week, I’ve been unusually disturbed through the nights so I’m tired. And grumpy.

So grumpy in fact, that I took it out on Andy over the phone. I hated this farm tonight, it got to me as it does sometimes. I fed the dogs with more resentment than usual – no love for them as they wag their tails furiously in welcome – then headed inside to get the fire lit. ABC for Kids was on, but Tippi was chatty and laughing, feeling better after a few days of illness. I just wanted her to be quiet and watch TV.

At some point, I became aware that Jaq, our 3 (4?) year old kelpie was barking more than usual. She is a farm dog; an outside dog mostly, only coming in on occasional nights to sleep on the lounge room floor while we watch TV. She barks a lot – there’s a lot to bark at here. Wombats, kangaroos, rabbits, foxes, feral cats. We’ve got them all, and I go out several times a night to rouse on her and tell her to shut up.

But this was her different bark. I went outside, and here things are hazy. This wasn’t normal. She was under the veranda, scuffling, a high pitched yelp, desperate. It sounded like she was chasing something big. Then to the shed, yelping, banging, what was this creature she was chasing? I’d no idea what was going on, and I was scared. I rang Andy. What was getting her so worked up? I called her, to my surprise she came but she was manic. Under the veranda again, banging, yelping, high pitched, not her usual bark. I called her back again, she came. She was crazy, she was at the front door yelping, begging to be let inside. Andy, helpless from Brisbane, called our neighbour and told him to get over here.

I let her in the house. She ran from room to room, more yelping, she was terrified. Trying to sit, looking at me with imploring eyes; “help me” she seemed to be saying, “help me”. I looked all over at her, there were no obvious wounds, no blood. A vile stench that I couldn’t place. I tried to calm her, but I was scared of the wild look in her eyes. Tippi wanted to pat her, I yelled at her to get away. This wasn’t our dog, she’d lost her mind. Running, yelping, then into our bedroom and … silence.

I tentatively went in, Andy on the line. She was lying on our bedroom floor, still, foaming at the mouth, breathing only just. Then nothing. She was gone. Eyes open, glassed over, the most still she’s ever been. She’d died in that moment, terrified, on our bedroom floor.

I couldn’t help her.

Two hours later, I still can’t really process what happened. Maybe we’ll work it out, maybe we won’t. Tippi, surprisingly comprehending of the finality of death cried and cried. For the first time ever she turned down the icecream I’d dished out. She’s in bed now, fell asleep in under three minutes. Her first experience with loss, they were good buddies, Tippi and Jaq.

Tonight, when the world mourns the loss of a great actor and comedian, we also mourn the loss of Jaq, our very own Red Dog. She was Andy’s dog, and he is alone tonight in a hotel. The loss he must be feeling. I’ve never missed him more.


Bananas in Pyjamas: How do I Loathe Thee, Let Me Count the Ways

One of the very few downsides of having a four year old is that when ABC4Kids comes on late afternoon (usually a godsend), Bananas in Pyjamas come with it, and in our open plan kitchen/living room they are hard to avoid.

Here we have 2 co-dependant buffoons who can barely count to 10, meddling and messing up everywhere they go. They dress the same, speak the same, think the same. They do stupid shit all the time, and never learn from their mistakes. Their ever patient (and somewhat condescending) teddy bear friends are forever trying to figure out just what the hell they have got themselves into (“Ooh Bananas!” said in unison), and getting them out of it.

And then there’s Rat in the Hat. All at Cuddle Town remain steadfastly loyal to Rat, who is no more than a lying, thieving fraudster, out to rip off his loyal friends wherever he can. “Oh that Rat!” they laugh as they realise that yet again, they’ve been duped by this lowlife criminal.

So they set out to teach Rat a lesson (i.e. get revenge) and with two wrongs making a right, at the end they all have a good laugh and Rat invites them over for morning tea.

Then the very next day, Rat fucks them over with another dirty deed, stealing whatever he can get from these unquestioning morons. Or the BinP’s again stick their nose in to someone else’s business with not an ounce of comic intelligence, just infuriating  adversity brought on by bad decisions (WHY would anyone hide JELLY under the cushions on the couch, or behind the books on the bookshelf FFS?).

The message to our kids? Be friends with everyone, even when they consistently lie to you and steal from you and trick you, it’s all just in good fun. Don’t bother to learn from your mistakes, always play the fool – it’s ok to have people laughing at your stupidity. Trust everyone, no matter what they do to you or how much they speak down to you. Oh, and forget individuality and independent thought – they’re overrated anyway.

ABC have just announced some rescheduling of the 5pm time slot on ABC4Kids. I for one am praying to the TV gods that the Bananas and their Pyjamas are once and for all put out to pasture – or better yet put in the hands of the Taronga Zoo monkeys to deal with.

Just change the channel, you say? Don’t be silly – then I’d have to actually play with my daughter!



Is Katy Perry a Caterpillar?

Tippi chef

“Mummy”, Tippi said on the way to preschool this morning, “Is Katy Perry a caterpillar?”

“No, she’s a person who sings, why do you think she’s a caterpillar?”

“She just feels like a caterpillar, a purple one.”

“In what way, darling?”

“Well, she sounds like a caterpillar.”

Katy Perry…. caterpillar…. I can see where she’s coming from.

Housewife Product Review; iRobot Roomba 780


This, of course, is an unsponsored post, all my own words, merely inspired by me to pass on my opinion of this product, and to be useful in my posts now and then rather than just be all about me, me, me.

Hubby bought this little baby a few weeks ago. It was entirely his doing; he likes to be barefoot at home, hates the feel of sand and dirt on his feet and realised that hell would freeze over before I was going to start vacuuming every day, or even every week for that matter.

So he researched and shelled out around $800ish, which really is a lot for a tiny vacuum. So is it worth it?

It arrived during the week, meaning hubby was away for the great unveiling and maiden voyage. Not really having paid any attention to the whole research/purchase process, I didn’t really have a clue what it was supposed to do or how it works. I pulled it out of the box, put it down, pressed clean and it was away!

Simple, simple to run, tick that box. Although it has started speaking to me in German lately.

For a cleaning appliance, it rates high on the entertainment factor with almost compelling viewing, I could watch it for hours, just daring it to get stuck somewhere – like under a couch – and sometimes it looks like it might, but almost always this baby gets itself out and carries on. Both child and puppy are driven insane by it – child because she’s convinced it will gobble her up, puppy because…. who knows? Maybe it looks like her sister or something.

Does it clean? Yes. Yes it does. It really does. And comes with the added bonus that it forces me to keep the floor tidy, so we not only have a cleaner house, it’s a tidier one too. Although husband and my actual, (wonderful, delightful and ever patient) human cleaners might dispute that. After its run, it docks itself to recharge, you can set it on a timer or just hit Clean when you leave the house. It senses stairs and bumps or changes from carpet to tile/floorboards etc.

It does have one downside to be prepared for; it has to be emptied out after every use, and a thorough clean out at least once a week depending on how often you run it.  Because it runs on rollers, hair gets caught around them and you have to pull it out. But really, it’s a whole lot easier than getting the big vacuum cleaner out of the cupboard, which I don’t really do, and it goes under the couches and beds, so those areas have been cleaned for the first time since we moved in.

Housewife love-o-meter rating: Four Stars.

I am very fond of our Roomba 780, even though I was totally disinterested in buying it, it has won my heart as much as a gadget can, and as soon as it starts speaking English to me once again it’ll be love.

(PS. Watch out for the 880 model which is now available in Australia and according to the website has solved the problem of the hair tangles which I guess might be worth the extra couple of hundred dollars… appliance heaven)



That’s My Girl, Doing Us Proud

I’ve always been a bit miffed that our only child  is so her father. From the moment she popped out, her lips, her tall, slim body, everything is him. Put a baby pic of them both together, they are the same baby. There is nothing, NOTHING of me in her.

I hoped that maybe she’d be left handed like me. No. She’s not, no matter how hard I cane her hand as she practices her letters.

Then she walked me through this drawing she did at preschool:


“So that’s Maddie, and Evie, and Evie’s Mummy, and Evie’s Daddy with a MASSIVE PENIS! BAHAHAHAHAHAH!”

Oh dear, maybe there’s a bit of me in her after all….