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Linking up with Twinkle in the Eye for Wordless Wednesday
I first became aware of photographer Ulyana Protassow through her True Beauty project last year. Some of my beloved fellow bloggers took part in the project and I could see how amazing their transformations were and how the photos released the individuality of their spirits. What had been beautiful anyway became sublime. I wanted photos that looked like that.
As someone looking in from the outside, I’ve never been a lover of glamour shoots. To me they’ve always felt too contrived, too posed, too not me. But Ulyana’s photos are remarkable. My friend Louisa (who was involved in the True Beauty project) had warned me that the whole process of the shoot felt a little weird and staged so I was prepared for that.
What I wasn’t prepared for was a 3 hour pilates session.
Ulyana knows what she is doing and I knew the photos would be amazing (we’ll find out in a few weeks as Ulyana only shoots on film, so old-school but oh so brilliant), but the poses felt so strange and unnatural – like being contorted into animatronic Catwoman poses. Man, I got rolls in the way. I exercised muscles in my neck and stomach that I didn’t even think I had (and would prefer not to know about, quite frankly).
Ulyana and her wonderful makeup and hair stylist Jodie, were a perfect duo. They made me feel at ease. Special. The whole afternoon felt like having a laugh with old friends. I have always considered myself attractive, even though I have a black-belt in self-deprecation. Sure there are bits of my body I wished would be chewed up and spat out (fat gut, I’m looking at you), but when I look at myself in the mirror I like most of what I see. Ulyana and Jodie have the knack of tapping into that and making you feel even more beautiful. I think it takes a really special person to work out what it is that makes you come alive and capture that in a photo.
Something I did struggle with though, was the “relax your face and smile through your eyes” thing. I get what it’s meant to look like, but I’m a whole-face smiler. I find lots of sh*t funny, amusing, so I smile readily, but I smile with my lips, my eyes, my eyebrows (particularly my eyebrows). To isolate only your eyes is bloody difficult, particularly when you also have your bum sticking out to the side, elbows back, shoulder forward, chin forward and down and hovering above the ground in a kneeling position using only core stomach muscles that disappeared with the birth of your second child.
I wouldn’t be a professional model for sh*t.
So I laughed and giggled my way through the session. I couldn’t help it. I’m not a serious person. I am a buffoon. If I didn’t hate clowns so much, I’d probably be in the circus. It probably didn’t help that I’d been on steroids for a few days and was bouncing off the walls. Literally at one point. My bum was simply not meant to hover against a studio wall.
I trust Ulyana and her amazing talent implicitly and I can’t wait to see the photos in a couple of weeks (WATCH THIS SPACE!). I just hope she and Jodie have recovered from my irrepressibility.
This photo shoot was sponsored by my wonderful husband, who gave me a glam photo session with Ulyana for Christmas last year.
This one is for warming the cocktails of your heart. Considering Melbourne’s schizophrenic weather I was tempted by the Four Horsemen this evening. But the Sneaky Pete appeals to me because 1) it has Kahlua and Whiskey in it, 2) it’s deadly easy (with the emphasis on deadly) and 3) I would just love to know what that Pete is getting up to in my cocktail glass.
Traditionally, it’s made with cold milk or cream poured over ice, but I strongly recommend heating up the milk and tucking in next to an open fire. Try it, won’t you?
Warm Sneaky Pete
30 ml Kahlua
30 ml Whiskey (rye is best)
120ml warm milk or cream.
Pour the Kahlua and whiskey into a glass. Add warm milk and stir well. Sprinkle some dark chocolate over the top for a dash of extra hedonism.
This photo. It makes me sad. It was 1971 and my mum, 36 years old (ancient for a first-time mum in the 70s) had given birth to me 6 weeks earlier.
She desperately wanted to breastfeed but in 1971, breastfeeding wasn’t fully supported. If you had any trouble breastfeeding, then doctors, mothercare nurses, friends, all persuaded you to give your baby the bottle with the consolation, “She’s too hungry. You don’t have enough breast milk”. And finally, after 6 weeks of perseverance, my mum folded. She did have one advocate – a nurse who visited her in the early days and tried to support her decision to breastfeed. But as my mum looked around, she didn’t see other mums breastfeeding and figured, quite contrary to her instincts, that putting me on the bottle couldn’t be that bad if everyone else was doing it.
And it’s not. This isn’t a breastfeeding debate. I strongly believe that women should make their own fully informed choices (if they even have the luxury of a choice – some women don’t). I breastfed both my kids until they were 13 months. Neither child was easy. Scout had an undiagnosed tongue-tie and breastfeeding her was excruciating agony for the first couple of months. I was determined. Stubborn. When Inky came along, the early experience was much the same, with me exhausted, in a flood of tears and pain trying to get her to feed. My husband, along with the paediatrician at the Mercy were the voices of reason – “You have to protect yourself. If it’s too hard, too painful, top her up with artificial milk”. I knew what they were saying and they were right to a degree - it’s better to have a child with a bottle than a mother with a prozac drip.
One day on the ward, the paed who was suggesting I supplement Inky’s 4.2kg appetite with artificial milk had a snarky exchange with a midwife who was chanting “Breast is best! She cannot have artificial milk. SHE CAN BREASTFEED” like an obsessed lactation-zombie. Truly, I wanted to tell them both to f*ck off with their own agendas, because they’re both right to some extent and it’s about balance, choice (if you have one). Breastmilk is clearly the better option for women who want to do it, who are able to do it, but this aint no ecstatic nirvana where everyone follows “best practice” (whatever that might be at the time) and all mums have amazing, nurturing breastfeeding experiences. Mercifully with Inky, the lactation consultant diagnosed a tongue-tie and once she had the snip, life was so much easier. But this isn’t the case for everyone.
I reckon if you can breastfeed, then you should breastfeed for at least 6 months. I know that may be polarising, but that’s my stance. Breastfeeding was the way to go for me. My choice. But I was lucky to have a choice and if it had become a question of my mental health, then you can bet your arse I would “top her up” with artificial milk (how they would be able to tell the difference in my mental health is anyone’s guess). There’s more to being a mum than your breastfeeding “To Do or Not To Do” choices.
I got through the craziness of those early months and ended up having a lovely breastfeeding experience with both my daughters for the most part (if you discount the bit about Inky pinching the f*ck out of my boobs out of boredom towards the end. Geez, sorry I didn’t top myself up with Milo). But I often thought about my own mum and her real (and stymied) desire to breastfeed in a generation where the cult of Nestle was mercilessly shoved down her throat.
I am grateful that I have support in my decision to breastfeed and all the information I need to make an informed choice (hey, thanks inter webs!). A husband who is my pragmatic compass when I’m in a state of dogmatic pigheadedness (note: it usually wins) and friends who would accept any choice I do make, whether they agree with it or not and sympathise with me if it is out of my control. I do feel that my mum lacked that quite a bit when she first embarked on her motherhood journey.
Linking up with Twinkle in the Eye for Wordless Wednesday (which quickly became Wordy Wednesday, please forgive me).
Last week taught me that I need to watch less American TV. Except perhaps for “Supernatural”, but I don’t exactly watch that for the touching and pithy life lessons.
I had a big afternoon on Thursday. Two contract-job interviews, one of which was a behavioural interview (I HATE behavioural interviews – I reckon I’ve conducted hundreds, but when it comes to being on the other side of the table, I SUCK. Big time); I suffered a bunch of clusterfuckaches all afternoon, dovetailing into my interviews (awesome) and had no time for a wee nanna nap before picking up the kids from care (first world problem, yes it is).
I collected Scout from after-care and discovered I’d failed Parenting 101 – she complained that her long-sleeved shirt only had 3/4 sleeves and on further investigation we realised she had worn a size 3 shirt to school photos and I hadn’t even noticed. She hadn’t really noticed either and simply thought she was rocking a tight-fitting number with a trendy arm-length.
We collected Inky from creche and I stopped outside the kinder room to chat to a friend whilst Scout went in to tackle Inky. And I mean tackle Inky. Scout is a very affectionate, tactile kid and has a habit of picking up little kids she loves and swinging them around in greeting. The little kids adore it apparently (?!?!?) but she gets told off by me every single time. My mother’s rhetoric bounces around in my brain as I remonstrate, “Please be careful, love – one day someone’s going to lose an eye!” Yes.
I say goodbye to my friend and hear a blood-curdling shriek. Followed by dramatic sobbing. Scout had picked up her little sister, swung her around, and dropped her. I didn’t think much of it at the time, signing her out and giving her a cuddle. But Inky continued sobbing all the way out of creche and in the car (you know the sob, heartbreakingly desperate, interspersed with fractured breaths as they struggle for air). As I pulled up at home and let the girls out, she stood gingerly on the nature strip, her left leg bent slightly, these tragic wet tears welling up in her eyes.
“Come one sweetie!” I say. But she refused to move.
“OMG, can you not walk?” I said with horror (although I actually said “Oh my God”, not “OMG”). She started sobbing again.
My child was lame! Maybe not as lame as her mum, but lame nonetheless. If she didn’t try to walk on her left leg, she wasn’t in any pain, so I decided to see how she was the following morning. I was a bit of an emotional wreck – the anxiety of potentially starting a work contract in one week, a tonne of study left to do, random clusterfuckaches that I hadn’t had time to have diagnosed, a lame child kicked in. I didn’t sleep well that night.
The next morning Inky still couldn’t walk so we hotfooted it to the Children’s. She was so patient with the whole “adventure”, charming nursing staff and crawling excitedly toward the aquarium (which was such a pathetically sad sight in itself, I felt like crying all over again). So suffice to say I was not hitting my motherhood peak that morning.
The reception staff registered her and said:
“Oh! She’s been hear recently!”
“Ummmmmm, no? Maybe, ummmm, 18 months ago?” But in my head I was saying, “What do you mean recently? How recently is significant? Is coming in for a high fever 18 months ago a pattern?” I felt paranoid and defensive. I thought that she was insinuating some kind of pattern – a pattern that might suggest I had possibly caused Inky’s broken bone?
I wanted to yell, “I didn’t cause this! There are WITNESSES that can attest same!”
I sat down in the waiting room. Emotional. Drained. Why did I have such a guilty conscience when I had nothing to feel guilty about?
I looked down at the stroller’s storage compartment and spied a plastic champagne glass from a recent trip to the park with some sparkling red dregs swishing around in the bottom.
I wanted to yell to the waiting room, “I’M NOT AN ALCOHOLIC! THIS IS FROM LAST WEEK!”
I sniffed in. Inky had done a jaw-droppingly pungent poo. I checked my bag. No nappies (of course). I could have bought some from the concourse upstairs but I didn’t want to lose my spot in the queue. So she crawled about the waiting room leaving a trail of noxious whiff behind her.
I wanted to yell, “I AM A GOOD MUM! I JUST DON’T WANT TO LOSE OUR PLACE IN THE QUEUE! HER HEALTH IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR OLFACTORY GLANDS!”
I had a vision of Coop calling Child Welfare to investigate me based on a broken bone, a suspected alcohol problem and feculent negligence. It was ridiculous.
Several people that morning asked, “How did (the leg injury) happen?” I responded, but wondered “Did I answer too quickly? Did I give too much information?” I felt like I was being judged, but it was my own self-adminstered perception of being judged – the hospital staff were probably not even batting an eyelid. Damn you, Private Practice.
Inky had an x-ray and the doctor couldn’t find any noticeable breaks, although suspected a tiny fracture would probably show up on a bone scan. He likened her injury to a “bone bruise” and said she’d probably be up and about in a week or two.
On the upside, I assumed that my job interview MUST have gone well as the client indicated they wanted someone to start in one week, which would thoroughly f*ck up my timings being at home with a lame child whilst my husband was in Sydney.
I fully believe that parents with kids who have a pattern of broken bones need further investigation. In most cases, it will just be an accident prone child (or in our case, an overly passionate elder sibling) but I think protecting kids with abusive parents is critical. It’s interesting, though, that many parents (like me) still feel guilty when there’s nothing to feel guilty about.
A dear friend of mine has a little boy who, a couple of years ago, got a black eye. He was even chosen for the front page of our local rag about the dangers of one of the nearby kindergarten playgrounds, based on this very injury. It was highly visible and she felt incredibly judged by people who didn’t know her – random strangers in the street, shop attendants. She knew she’d done nothing wrong, but there was no escaping the judgement she felt.
It’s human nature perhaps, for many parents to be concerned about what something “looks like” to the outside world. It reminds me of a particularly disliked saying that a particularly disliked (by me) ex-manager of mine used to spout when rabbiting on about my apparent negative work “attitude” - “Perception is Reality”. Except it’s not. Not by a long shot.
For now, I’m stepping away from the remote control.
For at least a week.
And I got the contract job. They want me to start in two weeks.
Do you have a guilty conscience when there’s NOTHING to feel guilty about?
It’s back, biatches, Friday Cocktail Hour! Today’s little number is brought to you by the fact that I’ll probably need copious numbers of these after my first week of working FULL-TIME in a couple of weeks. Man, I haven’t worked full-time since Janet Jackson popped open a renegade nipple at the Super Bowl (FACT JUNKIES: 2004).
60 ml Dark Pusser’s rum
30 ml Coconut milk or cream
120ml Pineapple Juice
30 ml Orange Juice
Shake or stir ingredients, and pour over ice in a glass. Sprinkle nutmeg on top, and serve.
History: the Painkiller® is the national drink of the British Virgin Islands (does Australia have a national drink??? WE NEED A NATIONAL DRINK JULIA GET ONTO IT.) It was trademarked by Pusser’s Rum in the 1970s.
A few years ago, Birdie Num Nums was the word in my mother’s group. We were Birdie Num Nums junkies, all of us.
And why not? It was one of the first cafes in the northern suburbs to savvy-up to the marketing potential of being kid-friendly. Parents from all corners of Melbourne flocked there, like swans to a duck-dive. These days it is still popular, but not as cloyingly-so.
Birdie Num Nums is located in Carlton North in one of the many single-fronted terraces that make Melbourne so unique. It feels like you’re stepping into a piece of history. Until you realise you’ve had your child’s boogers on your shoulder all morning.
This place is an institution. It has a large covered courtyard out the back with a sandpit (stunningly cat-poo free) and plenty of room to run around. Space for the kids to move about as well. The coffee is good, the service pleasant and most importantly, the wait staff are rugrat friendly.
The menu is a pretty standard affair but it’s tasty and universally loved. There is a range of egg dishes for breakfast and a large selection of lunch options, such as open melts with chips and salad ($14), tofu and chicken burgers ($15-$16) and salads ($15-$17). There’s not much culinary innovation here but they are certainly crowd pleasers. And really, who gives a crap when you can suck on decent coffee with your kids wrapped knee-deep in sand? You don’t come here for the food, but for the break.
Ye traditionale kids menu reigns supreme – chicken nuggets with chips, fish and chips, pasta, pikelets, fruit salad etc. etc.. Nothing exciting, but it’s reasonably varied. After my whinge last week about the unoriginal “blah blah and chips” on many a kid’s menu, I didn’t order anything for Inky from it (CAN SOMEONE YELL FOOD SNOB? YES. THERE IT IS). She shared my House Made Corn bread with avocado salsa, bacon, rocket and poached eggs ($16). Freaking YUM can I tell you. Problem is, Inky loves eggs. You order an egg dish for YOURSELF and she’s hitting you up for every morsel until you realise you actually haven’t eaten any damn egg.
Cor, this kid is part-yolk, I tell ya.
There has been a definite shift in the number of cafes in Melbourne that have gone kid-friendly. I won’t say dime-a-dozen, but go ask Hey Bambini about it. There’s been some serious wising up in these parts and I’m LOVING it. Birdie Num Nums though, it’s one of the first, and in my opinion, still one of the best.
* This post is not sponsored. Cafe reviews are the opinion of Melbourne Mum, and meals/coffee are paid for out of my own pocket.
I don’t have many fears. I like flying, don’t mind heights, have a healthy aversion to spiders and snakes, but I wouldn’t freak out if I saw one. I do have two fears, though (apart from the humanistic fear of losing my kids) – the fear of being buried alive and Coulrophobia. The fear of clowns.
I don’t think it’s a “phobia” as such and it’s not something that infects my everyday. I don’t run screaming from the building if I see a clown. But when I see one, my throat dives into my stomach and I feel nauseous. I don’t remember when my fear of clowns started. It may have coloured my preteen sensibilities (do preteens have sensibilities? Note to research) with too many viewings of Poltergeist, The Attic (yes, I’m old) or It. It may have been a Year 10 Theatre Circus module where we were assessed on our ability to be clowns, and I lost a little part of myself. In my university days I wrote many short stories featuring clowns (hellish ones) in a vain attempt to decreepify the little f*ckers.
Clowns. Motherf*cking clowns.
When I lived in Vancouver in 1995, I became friends with some lovely ladies. Unbeknownst to me, one of these “ladies” was obsessed with clowns. I don’t mean she had tucked the odd poignant painting of a Pierrot on a well-chosen wall, I mean the woman was obsessed with clowns. We were out late one night and I crashed at her apartment in Burnaby. I walked in, quite pissed, thank you for asking, and was confronted by clowns. Everywhere. There were clowns crammed into and onto every possible furnishing and surface in the place. Clown clocks, clown cookie jars, clown bedspreads, everything was clownish. If I hadn’t been so drunk I probably would have laughed (maniacally) at the excessiveness of it, instead I vomited. Clown OD? Bellinis? Who knows.
The “lady” made up my bed on her fold-down couch and gave me a pillow with, you guessed it, a clown slip. Who does this? I have a massive Jensen Ackles celebrity crush, but I don’t have a wall-clock that titters Jensen-o’clock at dawn (come to think of it, this wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing).
Ahem, back to the story.
This “lady” turned all the lights off and went to bed. I was left in a living room with my face lying on a f*cking clown, a clown clock tick-tock-ticking every second, the awareness of 3 huge clown paintings peering at me in the dark, their soulless, dumb-arse evil happy faces leering and silent as I tried to ignore their gaze even though I couldn’t see them. “This is so dumb”, I thought. There’s nothing to FEAR here. They are just paintings. A clock, albeit an annoying clock, but just a clock. A drawing etched on cotton to protect pillows from drunk transients. I can’t even see the paintings. Wait. Have they moved? Evil mind tricks. Paranoia. F*cking clowns.
I was freaked out. I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep. I dozed in the early morning and promptly dreamed that a clown was crouching silently (expectantly) on the end of my bed.
I was relieved when dawn broke. I felt stupid. Creeped out. A fear like this is illogical as it’s not based on anything concrete. I’ve never had a clown attack me, nothing. But there are no clowns in my house. I won’t allow them, just as I won’t allow Bratz dolls (I’m actually not sure that there is a difference). But you can bet your a*se that I’ll be leveraging that coulrophobia for my great australian novel (if it ever gets written).
And you can bet your a*se I didn’t go partying with that “lady” again.
Linking up with My Mummy Daze for Stories of Me and With Some Grace for FYBF.