Saturday, June 25, 2011

'Go To Sleep'

* This blog contains some coarse language. If you are easily offended, perhaps this one isn't for you.

Right now my new favourite thing is this book...

Me and a billion other people who have all rushed out and bought it.

This book isn't for people who are easily offended. If you don't like swearing, you probably won't like this book. If you have perfect children and perfect sleepers, you probably won't like this book. If you are a first time parent, you probably won't understand this book.

This is not a book for children. Any parent who reads it to their children is clearly missing the point. In case you really have been living on Mars for the last few months, here is a taster of what you've been missing:

You can also listen to it being read on youtube, but not by Samuel L Jackson anymore,  as have claimed copyright laws on it.

When I first read this book, I cried with laughter and almost wet my pants. It made me feel a sense of relief in that the guilt we feel as parents (and more specifically as mothers) are not isolated incidents.
With a little help from the media, us parents place enormous pressure on ourselves in our quest for perfection. It doesn't matter how hard we try, or how much we perservere, we always feel like we could be doing something better. And we are hard on each other. Should we deliver naturally or with a c-section? Home birth or hospital birth? Are we right to breast feed or bottle feed? Circumcise or not circumcise? Use cloth nappies or disposables? Immunise or not immunise? Control cry or not control cry? Do we smack or yell or do neither? Is bribery good or bad? Whatever it is, we all have our own ways of doing things and our own reasons for doing it. We are all trying to be the best parent possible for our child. We all just want to get it right. We want our kids to grow up and be healthy, happy and uncomplicated. And the arguments and passion parents (especially mothers) feel in relation to specific topics are all because we are so INVESTED in our childrens upbringing that we have to fight for what we believe in. The energy and conviction that goes into raising our children needs to be justified.

Being a parent is hard. Much harder than you ever think it is going to be. And this book acknowledges that.

I have three children. Two of them have been pretty ordinary sleepers. And now that they are that little bit older, we are going through the motions of 'sleep procrastination'. I should add that they are mostly pretty good, but this book still gives me piece of mind. We have a night time routine. We brush our teeth, have a quick sip of water, go to the toilet, do the 'tuck in' thing, tell a story or sing a song and after a kiss and a cuddle, THAT'S IT! In theory... We all know the truth as parents. Any parent who says they've NEVER hoped and prayed that their child would sleep through for a solid 8 hours at ANY point in their lives is lying!

The swearing in this book doesn't bother me. I do swear. I try hard not to do it in front of my children, and mostly I succeed. I'm not perfect though. Does 'Go The F&^% to Sleep' give parents everywhere the thumbs up to speak this way to their children? I don't believe so. No more than it is to be used as an actual children's bedtime story. Any parent who thinks that is the purpose of the book probably has other issues going on as well. And yes, there are groups who have been actively trying to get this book banned because of the nature of the text. I think those people are missing the point of the book though.

I think this book is an affirmation that parents everywhere struggle with this. This book has put into words, what I have spent years bottling up inside. And it feels good to know I'm not alone. This book is about giving voice to frustrated parents everywhere.

If you haven't already done so, do yourself a favour and go and check it out.

Friday, June 17, 2011

How to Survive on A Farm (Tips from someone who knows nothing about it). Part 9: Buy Yourself A Blue Shirt

In my experience, the only real uniform of the farmer is a blue shirt (usually of the RB Sellars variety) and jeans. Then you can add in the akubra hat, boots, knife belt, sock guards etc etc. And the 'official' after hours uniform of jeans (true blue jeans are moleskins), a collared shirt, leather belt and RM Williams boots. Recreational clothes are anything RM.

Recently, on Farmer Wants a Wife, Farmer Kieran sported an exceptionally BRIGHT pink shirt. This sported some discussion about 'true farmers'. And I'll put this out there... REAL FARMERS don't wear bright pink work shirts.

Blue Shirts - YES.

Pink Shirt - YES - only as a 'good' shirt.

This pink - NO. But surprisingly, red is also completely acceptable. Just not pink apparently...
Blue Shirt - Much more ruggedly handsome.
Before writing this post, I did some research. I went to the RB Sellars website to check the availability of stock. And, unsurprisingly, many sizes were out of blue stock, but ALL sizes were well supplied if it was pink you were after. An updated search has discovered that they don't actually even stock the pink anymore! I rest my case...

To continue my survey on the topic, I questioned local farmers on whether or not they would wear pink workshirts. With a whopping 100% support rating, 'no' was the winner on the day.

And in my final quest for clarification on the matter, I dug around to find pics of CP in hiw work gear to see if he had ever strayed far from trusty blue. This is what I have found...

When we first met.

Family photo - still on
Also with Akubra and knife belt in this one!
But all is not lost for the pink shirt. The ladies more than make up for the missing 'pink' on a farm. Out here we even celebrate it. This is from the Weengallon Pink Day (which raises money in aid of Breast Cancer).

Me and Leesa - all pinked up.

The decorations inside.
ABC girls covering the event.

They even wrap the building in pink!

The wonderful organisers!

But the blue shirts are a part of country DNA. It's what makes us 'us', the same way this...

... makes them 'them'.

Mind you, CP scrubs up nicely in a suit too.

But he's still more comfortable in this, when he dresses up. It's still blue, but it's not a work shirt.

And it doesn't matter where we go (elevators in hospitals, banks, the show), everyone can pick that he is from the country... so maybe it's not the shirts at all. Maybe it's the shoes...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Mutton Busters

When I was a child, I climbed trees, and rode down steep hills on my bicycle for fun. I also thought I grew up in the country. I have since learned that 20 acres surrounded by rainforest with a few head of cattle and an acre of passion fruit vines does not really constitute 'country living' as such. It certainly was, and is, 'rural', but today 'country' means a whole lot more to me.

My children are country kids. They think 'mutton busting' is fun. This is mutton busting.

And before anyone goes getting their knickers in a knot about animal welfare and child welfare, NO animals were injured in this event at all - OR children. It's not something I would have understood ten years ago myself, but as a bit of a veteran now, I can only do my best to assure any nay-sayers that this is one of the hilights of a country kids' year.

My girls were so excited about this. Actually, ALL the kids were excited. It's craziness! The children all head out to the back of the rodeo area, adorn their protective vests and helmets, and set out to stay on the sheep for as long as possible.

This year Olivia wasn't too keen. I kept telling her that she didn't have to do it. But it was Darcy's complete enthusiasm for the event that ultimately led to Olivia insisting that it was something she 'needed' to do. Olivia was so nervous. She wasn't sure she wanted to do it right up intil they put her on the sheep. And then she was a natural!

She loved it so much, she wants to do it again next year!

Darcy on the other hand, was so excited about the build up, that the actual event was a real anti-climax for her. There was a lot of confusion 'behind the scenes', which I can only best explain by saying that at a rodeo there are too many Chiefs, and not even a single Indian. Too much testosterone, and very little brain power. If the event had been co-ordinated by a woman, it might actually stand a chance, but ANYWAY... I digress. When it was Darcy's turn, there was so much confusion that she actually had dismounted her sheep by the time they opened the chute, and out came the running sheep without it's little passenger. Game over. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. There were tears. But there's always next year Darcy...

If someone had told me ten years ago that I would be blogging about how excited my children would get about riding on the back of a sheep, I would have thought you were mad. And yet here I am, all this time later, aiding and abeting my husband, by rounding up some of our stock to give the girls a bit of practice for next year.

Apparently it's me who's the mad one. Or maybe you just have to have spent some quality time in the country to understand?!


The Facts Of Life

My daughters are at that lovely age where they want to know everything. Like 'What is God?', 'How big is the world?', 'When will we die?' and 'Where do I come from?'

I like to think of myself as a no-holds-barred kind of person. So when presented with this age old question, I went straight to the best source I could think of... the book entitled, "Mummy Laid An Egg". I first heard of this book through the blog, Blighty - which I highly recommend if you are chasing a good laugh.  In 'Mummy Laid An Egg', two children set their parents straight on the facts of life. Very funny, with amusing little illustrations like this...

Olivia: "This all looks like fun!" Ummmm... Karma Sutra, eat your heart out!

Nothing like scarring your kids permanently when teaching them about the birds and the bees. I know I'll never think about balloons or 'space hoppers' the same way ever again... But in spite of all the funny bits, the book has a serious message. It actually does teach small children about where they came from, in a factual - if not a little humorous - way.

The thing about bush kids though, is that it takes a bit to fool them. Even at the tender ages of six and four, I am certain that the girls could teach a few adults a thing or two about the mating rituals of dogs, and sheep, and cattle. Even Sam has commented on occasion about 'putting the rams in with the ewes'. They don't miss a beat, these kids!

Bush kids grasp fairly early on that babies do not spring from a pumpkin patch (how could they, if farmers go for long periods without any rain at all to water them?), or are not dropped off by the stork (the stork is not a bird commonly sighted out in these parts...). They don't know the exact details, but now, with a little help from the book, they understand that in the same way that two animals 'playing' in close proximity ends in a baby, the same goes for people... if they are married... and/or really LOVE each other... in a way that only two consenting ADULTS can. (Just in case my kids are reading this at some age down the track I consider to be too young to be an active participant in the sport of 'space hopping'.) Hmmmm.

Having said all this of course, my little babies are only at the very beginning of what I am sure will be a long journey of enlightenment. The questions will continue to get more difficult, and my answers will in turn become more creative. And when in doubt, I'll always be able to turn to the farm for a quick lesson in biology.