CHILDREN’S HONESTY  

Feature Film Jury Photocall -  65th Annual Cannes Film Festival

I was recently ordering a coffee when the waitress told me that I was the spitting image of Diane Kruger, the gorgeous young German actress. Feeling somewhat happy that a complete stranger would think I resemble any young actress, I walked around all day with a spring in my step and my ego inflated.

When my kids returned from school I googled an image of Diane Kruger and relaying the story of my day, asked them if they thought I looked like her.

The responses I got were, “Nup”, “Maybe if you were young.” and “If I took a photo of you and photoshopped it heaps you might look like her.”

And just like that my bubble burst and my ego got squashed in a way that only kids can unwittingly do. I was reminded of the fact that you should never ask your kids for their opinion if you don’t want the honest truth!

 

 

TEENAGE PLANS

Sitting under a clear blue winter’s sky I order a coffee to pass the time as I wait for my daughter and her friends to return from a jet boat ride on the harbour.

Today’s outing is a long planned surprise for one of my daughter’s friend’s birthday. They have been blessed with beautiful weather. Had this been arranged for 24 hours earlier they would have been stuck in rain – the droplets would have felt like needles on their skin.

A little nervous, but very excited, they donned purple jackets that made them resemble Telly Tubbies before climbing aboard the jet boat.

I love that they chose to have an experience together for their gift as opposed to more commercial gifts of clothes or beauty products.

On the car trip down they chatted about what adventures they want to have together when they leave school and I couldn’t help but wonder whether these grand plans made at the age of 15 will ever eventuate. I recall at the same age planning to work on a tropical island with a friend, but of course life got in the way and that dream faded, making way for more concrete plans for a career, marriage and a family.

Whether their musings translate into actions or not, the fact is that today they are forming last memories together. I look forward to hearing their excited chatter as they relay the twists and turns of their boat ride. Hopefully their Telly Tubbies jackets protect them and they don’t come back looking like drowned rats!

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SNOW TRIP  

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I have just returned from a family snow trip where we were blessed with the most perfect conditions we have ever experienced at the snow. When I say ‘family’ I mean with our two youngest kids, as our eldest is in Spain and our second eldest refuses to set foot on snow again after she broke both wrists snowboarding last year (that is a story for another day).

We drove through dumping snow to arrive at our accommodation to find the ground and cars covered in a blanket of soft, fluffy white snow.

The snowing stopped overnight, the next day dawned bright with blue skies and perfect powdery snow covered the resort. The only problem with this serene and idyllic environment was having our children in tow. When at the snow, our kids alternate from being hyperactively excited about the prospect of hitting the slopes to being so exhausted from skiing and boarding that they become tired and irritable. At one point, I was the scapegoat and berated for every fall and inconvenience they suffered because I looked at them, talked to them or tried to give them advice to overcome their problem.

I have to be honest and say there were times where I wished we had put our kids in ski school so my husband and I could just enjoy the freedom to explore the mountain in perfect conditions with barely any crowds to bother us. However, just as I would have those thoughts, the kids would perk up (usually after a decadent hot chocolate) and together we would go snaking down the mountain, high on the excitement of cruising down to the bottom of the slope. I was so proud to see the improvement in my kid’s skills and there were moments where I felt privileged that we are able to have this type of holiday.

After five days, we packed up our stinky snow gear, got the kids set with DVDs and loaded our weary bodies into the car for the long trip home.

It’s amazing how your washing seems to multiply when you go away for a few days. I’ve already done five loads of washing this morning and that has only just covered the snow gear!

This type of holiday is by no means relaxing (just ensuring your kids have put on the layers upon layers of clothing and equipment is enough to send you batty!)

However, it is a fun and exciting way for the family to enjoy the great outdoors whilst being physically active. It may even be healthy for you, if you don’t succumb to those hot chocolate stops and schnapps at the end of the day!

THE REAL PRICE OF BEING A SAHM  

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As much as being a stay at home mother (SAHM) is a privilege for those fortunate to be able to afford this luxury, there is a greater cost of being a SAHM than just the wage that the mother used to earn.

Choosing to be a SAHM of course means sacrificing a wage, but it also means losing out on superannuation (pension savings). It also translates into missing out on working experience, the ability to keep up with changing technology, it means missing the promotions that may have come your way had you stayed working and leaves you with a big blank space in your resume, making returning to the workforce challenging.

There is a wealth of experience, education and intelligence locked into a group of women where there is little opportunity to return to the workforce. Ideally there needs to be better working prospects that offer flexible, family friendly hours that allow a mother to be there to raise her children whilst still remaining relevant, useful and well remunerated in her chosen career.

Interestingly, becoming a parent doesn’t seem to affect the career prospects of a father, as he usually continues to reach new professional heights, gains added experience and in turn wage increases.

In the unfortunate case where there is a marriage breakdown, the man often has higher capacity to earn, better superannuation savings and better job security, whilst the woman struggles to find work and make ends meet, after sacrificing her career in order to raise their joint children.

In an ideal world, I think both parents should work part time, so they can each earn independently, can each be hands on parents to raise and bond with their children and can each have the ability to continue to feel relevant in their chosen career.

At the end of the day, someone has to take on the responsibility of raising children – whether it is the mother, father or a paid caregiver. The individual financial circumstances usually have a large role to play in deciding how this care is provided.

The cost of being a SAHM is often underestimated, but the pay off for this role can’t really be counted in dollars and cents, rather in hugs and kisses.

 

 

(Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net)

ENTREPRENEUR

My eleven year old daughter is a go getter! She has always loved craft and collecting seashells, so the other day I wasn’t surprised in the slightest when she announced she was going to start a business making frames decorated with shells.
I suggested she make the photo frames and mirrors more diverse than just shells, so she started creating them using Lego blocks, glass beads and buttons as well.
This venture combines her love of craft with her entrepreneurial flair. She knows she is too young to be employed so she has decided to start her own business to make money!
She has come up with a name for her business ‘Ames Frames’, has set up a dedicated Instagram account, has determined prices and worked out the running costs for her business. Next she wants to set up an ebay account and a website for sales.
At that age I had no idea about sales and marketing or profit and loss.
I’m so proud of her drive and determination to take on this venture. If this is what she is doing at eleven, I can only wonder what she will be able to achieve in the future!
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WARDROBE MALFUNCTION

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When you have small kids, being seen in public looking less than perfect becomes a way of life. It starts with unsightly dribble marks on your blouse or white residue of milk sick up on your shoulder. However, I must admit that I thought I was well and truly past those days!

Today I decided to give my kids worming chocolate (I do this as a precautionary measure every holidays). When they were younger I could convince them that it was a special treat, but they have wised up to that and are now less than enthusiastic about having it. As a bribe/sweetener I bought some real chocolate for them to eat to disguise the worming chocolate taste.

Multi-tasking as I do, I was driving and doling out these sweet treats when stopped at traffic lights. They all seemed happy enough with the deal and I was pleased there had been little fuss.

Once we reached our destination I got out of the car in my nice cream pants and was walking ahead of my children to a lot of giggling! I stopped at a counter in a very crowded airport and turned to find my son down on his knees sniffing the back of my pants. He then said at the top of his lungs, “Mum is that poo on your pants?” Try as I may, I could not see any offensive marks on my pants and thought perhaps he was just being cheeky, however my husband (who by the way was also sniggering at this time) took a photo to confirm that I did indeed have horrendous brown streaks on the back of my pants. I had inadvertently dropped some crumbs on chocolate on my seat and it had melted and imbedded itself in my pants. Of course, this whole scenario happened about two hours away from home, with no option for a wardrobe change.

I was mortified, whilst my son thought it was very entertaining! I made my kids walk behind me to try to hide the offending marks. The lesson I learnt is either a) don’t give your kids chocolate or b) don’t wear cream pants when in the company of children! To be honest, I’m surprised that I hadn’t learned these lessons a long time ago!

What wardrobe malfunction stories do you have? I’d love to hear that I’m not the only one who has humiliated myself in public!

(Photo courtesy of artur84, freedigitalphotos.net)

OBLIVIOUS

We are lucky to live in an amazing part if the world with beautiful waterways to explore.

Yesterday we were cruising on our boat and our youngest chose to watch a movie instead of take in the gorgeous scenery.

We came across the biggest pod of dolphins I have ever seen. About 50 of these beautiful creatures raced towards our boat to frolic in our wake and ride off the bow. It was one of those once in a lifetime moments when you are humbled by the experience of being so close to so many of these wild animals.

We called out to our son to come see this incredible spectacle, to which he replied, ‘It’s ok I’ve seen dolphins before. I don’t want to pause the movie.’ I couldn’t believe he was oblivious to the rarity of the situation and that he would choose a movie over such natural beauty. Of course we stopped his movie and made him join us, which in hindsight he was grateful for, although not initially.

Sometimes kids take things in their stride not realising the beauty and the privilege of the situation until it is over.

It’s not until you are an adult that you really marvel in nature’s beauty and appreciate how amazing the world around us is.

So until our kids have the maturity to recognise moments of natural glory, we will try to impress on them how lucky we are and take photos to share with them later in life.

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