The real reality of home improvement…

We are about to see the end of another series of The Block. The renovation show that is more about getting tradies to do the work while you go and spend ridiculous money on fluffy stuff and then complain cause you’ve run out of money and can’t pay your trades. It’s all a fantasy and I love a good bit of escapism on my telly so I like to watch it and yell at it. I also love to renovate. We bought this house and it was filthy and in fairly average condition so it’s been painted – mostly – flooring ripped up and new flooring laid, new window coverings, security doors, garage door, ceiling fans, light fittings blah blah you get my drift. We have a tight budget and some of our ‘nice to haves’ have been put into the ‘you’ve got to be joking, how much?’ file. We would love to do so much but one of us works for money and one of us works for love – and the only time love pays the bills is in dodgy 70’s porn films. Anyhoo this weeks project is to finish what we started last week and that is to re-roof our pergola and paint the patio floor. We took the roof sheets off last week and removed 28 cup hooks from the timbers – must have been the hanging gardens of Babylon at one stage – sanded, washed and repainted the timbers ready for new roof sheets. We worked together and we didn’t end up having an argument, which is pretty amazing really. Our budget for this job is $1000. Yep that’s right, only three zeros. Will it be the super awesome outdoor area we would love? Probably not. But it will be a shelter from the weather so we can cook and eat outside while MrRooben chases his ball and Barry Big Hole practices riding her bike. We don’t have a budget for pillows and cushions and throws for our bed…we have four pillows and a doona cover my mum picked up in the recent closure of a House store – thanks mum! To be honest even if I did have spare money pillows and cushions would be last on my list. I would rather buy a coffee table or side table so I can put my drink down without MrRooben whipping it onto the floor with his broom like tail. We currently use the two small chairs that form part of an Ikea chair and table set that Barry Big Hole has in her play room – they do the trick but to be honest it would feel more of a grown up space with a coffee table. We’ll see how we go in the budget. Our guests might have to continue to play dodge the dog tail with their coffee or wine so we can plant out our neighbours instead. Turns out that at $27 our kids Ikea setting was a sound investment with multiple functions….it just won’t be appearing in Vogue Living anytime soon.

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The Five P’s

Many years ago I worked in the family business and my Dad would always recite the five P’s….

Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance….yes, yes it does. So it was with his words ringing in my ears that I asked for a refund on my coffee as I didn’t have the 15-20 minutes to “be patient” while they caught up.

It was Fathers Day last Sunday and my Dad loves to tell anyone who will listen that he’ll probably get the same gift he got last year – that would be nothing – and then he will regale the listener with woeful tales of how his kids never buy him anything for Fathers Day blah blah blah. I call bullshit cause I get him a bag of chocolate bullets – from Darrell Lea – every year and he eats them all, no sharing. So I am at the shops early on Sunday to get his bullets and to see if any of the other usual Fathers Day suspects have been marked down and I decide to grab myself a long black before heading round to remind Dad that my brother is still probably waiting for his wife to remind him to call. So I order my coffee and stand aside to wait for them to call my name….about four minutes in a man approaches the baristas and asks if it’s going to be much longer on his takeaway coffee…uh oh.

Then a women standing near me heads up and asks the same question….she’s been waiting longer than him. And I have a four-year old, who doesn’t drink coffee, whining about wanting to goooo. Both of the baristas gave the same excuse – we’re really busy.

Yep – it’s Fathers Day. And you forgot your first three P’s and you are now only left with Poor Performance. I was done after that so I went to ask for a refund as miss whinger pants had stepped it up a notch. While I was waiting for the people in front of me to order I heard one of the baristas tell a customer – you just have to be patient – then it was my turn to ask for my money and the cashier doesn’t know how to do refunds…so the barista says “we’ll just make it for you now” ahhh no you won’t….I would like my money back please. So they open the till and give me my $5.30 and say “sorry we’ve just been busy” to which I said “yeah, it’s Fathers Day”

So this really grinds my gears….if you own a cafe or restaurant or outlet selling food don’t you want to be busy? Isn’t that your goal? And if you do have one of these businesses don’t you also track historical data from previous years so that you can understand and project how busy you might be on any given day – let alone an event day such as it was? I would really like to see a change in the language that staff and managers and owners of these businesses use when they are struggling to meet the demand. Try saying we’re really sorry, we’re unprepared or we really didn’t expect this, please bear with us. At least that puts the onus back onto the business and takes it off the customer – cause saying to me “sorry we’ve been really busy” makes me think you should also say “and you just made us more busy with your order so now you’ll have to wait”.

Anyhoo I finally got round to see my Dad and give him his bullets and make myself a coffee and it seemed fitting that most of my morning had been spent with my Dad at the forefront of my mind.

A note to anyone who may follow along from the USA – I did not give my Dad actual bullets for Fathers Day – they are called chocolate bullets and they are small sticks of licorice covered in chocolate, delicious!

 

wee watch….

Okay so my threenager is heading towards her fourth birthday and, up until a couple of days ago, still wearing nappies. I have tried many times since she turned two to get her using the toilet or the potty without any success. I have had reward charts, incentive schemes, reading while sitting, turning on the tap, telling not asking, special seat on the toilet, three different types of potty (all chosen by her), multiple underwear options, modern cloth nappies blah blah blah. I’ve read books, blogs, forums and websites all offering up suggestions, opinions and judgement in healthy proportions. I consider myself to be a person capable of solving problems and developing alternative solutions yet here I am getting owned by a threenager. It finally hit me last week when she lay on the bathroom floor with a nappy containing a package only blueberries and grapes can deliver and told me we were “playing babies” oh dear.

Two days later little miss starts pre-school. So I take her along and inform the room leader that she is not toilet trained and I have supplied her pull ups in her bag. I feel fairly confident that a bit of peer input might help her to see that “playing babies” is actually for real babies or dolls.

So six hours later I pick her up and she is not wearing her nappy….and hadn’t done since about 10am. Her “teacher” asks if she wants to do a wee before she goes home to which she squeals “yes” and runs off to the bathroom. I am unusually lost for words. I knew that if she saw what the other kids were doing it would inspire her to do the same….unfortunately the other kids don’t come home with us so despite my supportive comments she was in the cupboard digging out a nappy for me to put her in about an hour later. I refused and reinforced the pre-school, big girl, you’re awesome message but after a solid hour of sobbing and snot exploding screaming – I relented. Yes I know….she owned me. But you know what – I’m tired. Sometimes I have the energy for the battle ahead and then other times I am just done….yep I’m human.

Now we’re on day two of no nappies since tomorrow is another pre-school day. So far our wee counts are one in the potty four in the pants on day one and today we have one in the potty and two in the pants so far….I have period pain that is so bad if it weren’t for the drugs I would be rocking in the foetal position so it will take all my power to persevere with wee watch today. Oh how I wish I had persevered back when she was two….she’s always been willful and independent but is definitely a tougher nut to crack as she heads closer to four. Wish me luck….this won’t be the only battle of wills that she and I will engage in – this is just the battle du jour. And I don’t think my mum has stopped rubbing her hands with glee since our little miss arrived….

 

 

 

swear jar stan…

Little Boss is three and a bit. Up until recently we have been able to talk in whatever manner we have wanted and have not had to worry about what we say or who we say it about. And then IT happened. I had my niece – technically she’s my second cousin but her mum is like my big sister so let’s just say niece – over to stay for a couple of days and she was helping little boss colour in some Hello Kitty. I was taking full advantage of the distraction by catching up on chores – yewwww! Anyhoo Mr B Badger yells out from the bathroom for a towel and in my moment of frustration I mutter “ohhh farken hell”. As I walk back to the bathroom with the towel I see my nieces face – eyes wide in shock/amazement and hands over mouth to prevent laughter. So I drop off the towel to the lord of the living room and I return to see what had happened…turns out that my multi-tasking little dynamo got my tone and the pronunciation spot on as she coloured Hello Kitty with one hand and held her forehead with the other while repeating after me. This seemed to spark an increase in the amount of phrase mimicry with “you’ve got to be joking” a new hit and when asked “would you like a ” the response is mostly “ahh maybe that’s a no” complete with eye rolling…not sure where that came from but I do know that I don’t like it, despite it being pretty funny the first time….

less of the serving suggestion please…

I am not a shopper. I don’t particularly like the shops, I don’t really enjoy buying things – other than stationary. I find myself to be on edge and mildly pissed off from the minute I enter the carpark so it’s never a good start. Unfortunately I do have to venture into the shops on a fairly regular basis, though I do know that I can get my groceries delivered however it is a painful process and shits me to tears when the order is wrong. Yeah, I know, first world problems. But I am living my life and no one else’s so this is just my perspective. Anyhoo…clothing shopping is diabolical for me so I usually go for the cheapo tee-shirt and jeans combo and jazz up my outfit with a funky haircut. So imagine my dismay when my recently purchased $10 tee from BigW went from a flattering hip length to almost crop top after one wash. Turns out not so much of a bargain after all – which was a bugger cause if things had been different it could have been the start of a summer wardrobe. Apparently, in this case, you get what you pay for and I paid for shrinkage. I see this as yet another way marketing companies give us ‘serving suggestion’ like when you buy a box of weet bix and on the pack it has this amazing picture of weet bix floating in milk with berries on top…really?? Just try to replicate that at home. By the time you have your camera ready for the shot those cheeky weet bix have sucked up all your milk and are a soggy – but delicious – mess. Then you will see in very teeny tiny print *serving suggestion only. For more examples of this tomfoolery lets  just look at the home shopping network. Those wire free bra thingys that were meant to still give amazing cleavage AND be super comfy but in truth made you look like you had sausage boob and the minute you sat, bent or generally moved the bottom of the thingy rolled up. Don’t get me started on all the gym equipment that you only need to use for 10 minutes a day and all of a sudden you’re a tanned and toned god or goddess. Of course I know that if honesty was used in advertising we would all buy far less so it is in the manufacturers best interest to have a powerful sales pitch but please how gullible are we as consumers?? Take ladies shape wear for example…modelled by a woman who is probably all of a size 8-10 and, unless she has the curves of an ironing board, I’m guessing she does not need shape wear. So why not choose a bigger sized model to give the target market a better idea of what it can do for them? What about Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals…should come with a disclaimer “meals will only take 15 minutes if prepared by Jamie Oliver, purchasers of this book should expect to add at least an hour” ohhhh I could go on and on but you get the idea. I guess the one that is affecting us the most right now is the advertising ramp up towards Christmas on the kids telly. Man they really need to help out the people buying for these kids. Cause my little boss thinks that the Paw Patrol whatever the hell it is comes with a whole team of pups and their transport when, in fact, it only comes with one dude. Major let down when you see it on the telly and the whole gang is there but fast forward to the big day in December and Ryder is hanging out solo – not cool, toy company, so not cool.

In the words of The Beatles….

Let it Be….Vegemite. just be happy to be Vegemite. so far we’ve had Vegemite mixed with cheese spread and called Cheeseymite – not cool. if you want cheese with your Vegemite you do just that, you make a sandwich with cheese and Vegemite. that way you can choose the desired level of Vegemite and the preference for cheese. they have also just launched a Vegemite that is lower in salt. how ridiculous?? the reason we love Vegemite is the salt. now the most absurd of all collaborations is the Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate with a caramel and Vegemite centre. just let it be Kraft….stop trying to make Vegemite for everyone. the truth is it’s not for everyone so just be happy with the knowledge that those of us that love it will continue to do so and know that by putting it in chocolate and trying to make it something it’s not will not make more people like it. these poor souls that have tried the Cadbury Caramel Vege combo are going to buy Vegemite and think it tastes totally different than it does.

so while I’m on  Vegemite how about Aussie celebs stop trying to get Americans to like it. Americans feel the same way about Vegemite as we do about Dr Pepper. just let it be, Hugh Jackman, they don’t like it and that’s okay. you don’t see American celebs popping down under and trying to force us to eat grits or biscuits and gravy so I think it’s time we just left it alone….just let Vegemite sit on the shelf next to its old pal Peanut Butter and we’ll all be happy with the knowledge that our one constant in Aussie life is the same as we remember it from childhood – thank you and good night.

the inconvenient convenience….

in 42 very quick days our wee baby girl will turn three. and a whole lot of stuff has changed in that time but the one thing that still remains is….nappies. clearly it is bothering me more than anyone else because I am the changer of all nappies, the wiper of the bum, the person that has – on more than one occasion – put my finger in the back of a nappy to see if it’s mine with the offending odor only to find that it is also now my finger that smells as well. so I’ve read books and blogs and web sites and articles and spoken to other mums and the advice ranges from she’ll do it when she’s ready to just take away the nappies and she’ll have to use the toilet….or wee and poo on my mums bamboo flooring – not my preferred option. we tried last week – I had days of not much planned so we could stay at home and give it a red-hot go. we have the toilet all set up, she picked the pink seat for the toilet, we made a chart to show progress with stickers, she picked underpants and we had a chat about being a big girl and nappies vs toilet…so after many attempts and lots of wiping and flushing and washing of hands at approximately 3 pm she declared “I don’t think I am ready to use the toilet yet mummy, can I have my nappies for a bit longer please?” so while the experts may disagree I did what she requested and pulled on another nappy….but today she said she needed to go to the toilet – nothing happened, despite my initial excitement – but it’s a start, right?

I blame disposable nappies. their absorbency is ridiculous. I’m sure if you were on a tight budget you could get away with using less nappies simply due to their ability to stay drier for longer. I wanted to use the modern cloth nappies and after getting my mum to bring them home from the US for me we found that after a very short time our very hot-blooded bundle of joy was suffering from heat rash from wearing them….disappointed doesn’t explain how I felt. Mr B Badger was less upset as it was he who wore the mustard coloured goodness that leaked out of one of my earlier attempts at putting them on.

I’m certain that if the children of today had to walk around with half a wet bath towel between their legs held up by a pair of plastic pants they’d be trained a whole lot earlier than they seem to be. I can’t help but think that the nappy is her remaining tie to me and that in giving that up she won’t have that extra bit of one on one time that for her is probably still quite fun but for me can sometimes resemble mud wrestling gone horribly wrong.

anyhoo I will persevere and she’ll get there eventually – or I’ll just have to start buying the adult diapers once she gets too big for Huggies….

life with a threenager….

so up until recently I had thought the terrible twos would consume my days and nights for at least another couple of years….that was until one of my mummy friends mentioned the term “threenager” and it all fell into place. this is now my life….dealing with a toddler who behaves just like she is about to hit 13, not 3. when you hear your baby utter the words “I want the i view app” or “there’s no network connection” you are probably dealing with a threenager. I am struggling to find a comparison to what my threenager is experiencing and my own childhood…my mum has always told me that I was “good as gold” until my brother came along only two months after my second birthday when I decided to unleash hell on the household. so we’ve always put my tantrums, fierce independence and demand for attention down to my baby brother. turns out this may not truly have been the case….maybe I was just starting the transition from terrible two to threenager. either way I am missing my mum like crazy right now as she visits my baby brother and his gorgeous family in the US but I am also a little bit glad that she can’t see what’s occurring in my world as this might cause her to rub her hands with glee while watching me go through the same treatment she would have experienced – at my hands – some 40 plus years ago. if knowledge really is power then why do I feel like I am NOT the one holding that power?? we have so many avenues of information available to us that I think we’re just making it harder for ourselves – oh no my threenager’s not listening to me I better hit Dr Google and see if she could have a problem – how about she’s just ignoring me…or the options I am giving her haven’t yet reached her desired choice of beverage….or maybe she’s just that engrossed in the 24 piece jigsaw puzzle challenge I set for her that she can’t handle anything more right now. I know sometimes, after a day that has had more arguments than minutes, Mr B Badger will come home and observe the goings on and will remark “so you just let her do whatever she wants?” and the reality is that sometimes – within reason – yes, I do let her do whatever she wants…because sometimes I get sick of my own voice. so if you put on your tracky daks and one leg is quite noticeably longer than the other it could be due to the threenager swinging off them while singing ring-a-ring-a-rosy while I hung out the washing. or if my parents return from their vay-cay to find their vege patch decimated of all life it could be blamed on the parrots OR it could be the threenagers desire to do the “weeding”. either way these are fights I do not have the will to fight so I chuck another Ristretto pod in the coffee machine and watch while my very willful and independent child weeds and digs and identifies worms and bugs and generally just messes shit up….it’s okay, we have a couple of months before we have to do the work on getting it all back together before the parentals return home….or we could resort to having the threenager take them on a tour when they get back to show Poppy all the great gardening shes done….

two and a bit versus forty plus….

okay so I have been off the grid for a while which has given me plenty of time to observe the world around me…and by this I mean what occurs under my roof. we have a distinct lack of funds so if it’s happening, it’s happening at home. anyhoo…today I observed one of the most spectacular tantrums to date. there was full body gyrating, tears, snot, head banging, binky throwing…you name it and we had it today. what was I asking that created this hot mess? I wasn’t trying to get little boss to eat brussel sprouts or even brush her teeth…no I was asking her to take a nap. and by the response I got, it was long overdue. so it got me thinking what are some of the behavioural differences between my two-year old and myself and here is the start of my list.

if you told me to take a nap, I wouldn’t even question you. I would slide into the sheets and drift off.

if you cooked my food for me and served it up at the perfect temperature and it was all my “favourites” I would eat it. there is no way I would push it away and say “I don’t like it”. no way, never, ever.

I would never eat ice cream for breakfast. little boss would eat ice cream for breakfast everyday if it were offered. we are fortunate to have a standard fridge/freezer where the freezer is at the top otherwise I am certain that ice cream would be on the menu 24/7.

if I had the option of sitting in the trolley versus walking while doing the grocery shopping I wouldn’t have to think about it for too long.

and my last observation of our recent differences is if I am in pain and am offered medication to “make the pain go away” it could taste like tripe and I would still gobble it up. unfortunately for us our little boss will only consume pain medication if we disguise it in “a special drink” also known as juice. our recent experience with two-year old molars was possibly the toughest test of our parenting journey to date and had us getting very creative with the administering of panadol. many people have recounted times where they held their child down in order for them to take the foul-tasting medicine but I just can’t bring myself to do that so disguise it is. so she has cracked the bottom two molars and it only took two weeks of eyebrow raising behaviour and lots of discussions about our hopes that it wasn’t permanent. two more to come and even the thought of it fills me with dread. for now though, we have our delightful little person back….and as long as we get her to bed before the overtiredness creeps in she is pretty funny to be around….even if “no” is her favourite word and “don’t like ” is her catchcry du jour she is still pretty amusing – to us.

anyhoo so I am back to writing barrybadger. its been way too long and I am hoping that there are still some people who can laugh along with me, otherwise it is very similar to my day-to-day so please feel free to comment.

it’s all empty bags and boxes….

as we approach our daughters second birthday we ponder what would be the most awesome present for her….a little trampoline, maybe, or perhaps some musical instruments. I have been closely monitoring her activity of late to try to get some clues as to what might take her fancy and it turns out that what I need to find is a shop that sells empty boxes and bags. clearly with all the advances in technology little has changed in over 40 years in the wants of a two-year old – my father will attest to that. as a toddler, after opening the many presents I had received and no doubt my parents had saved hard for, I ended up playing in an empty beer carton. upon watching this I bet my folks wished they had a full carton to help them ease the pain of buying me toys only to find they could have wrapped up a carton instead. anyhoo, so yesterday I spent the rainy day just hanging out in my tracky daks, hiding under various blankets and watching little boss walk around the house with a variety of objects on her head….a washing basket, an Ikea shopping bag and her empty toy box – she up-ended it to get the toys out and then put it on her head. so I thought I would try to get some other activities happening…. “would you like to do a puzzle?” “no” “would you like to play with the doll house?” “no” “let’s go outside and do some painting” “no”….and on and on it goes. so I say “what would you like to do?” and I get a blanket thrust in front of me and told “hide”….turns out its me that gets bored, not her. I am the one that would like to mix things up a little, maybe a bit of reading, some dancing and the occasional bang on the tambourine…

so I am left to ponder what life would be like if we cleared out all the plastic toys and just left the blocks, books, puzzles and introduced some boxes and buckets and a few cushions and blankets….and in writing that it sounds just peachy to me. no more batteries or toys that haunt you while you try to sleep. maybe it’s us that want the cool new talking teddy and while we expect to get a reaction of joy from our children we are disappointed to find that what they really want is a pair of tongs, two cups of dry pasta and a bucket. we should be freaking thrilled that they want to play with stuff found at home – sure it makes a mess and there is a slight risk of choking on dry pasta – but the upside is they are learning, experimenting and using their imagination – no talking teddy can give you that. so I think this birthday we might go a bit Montessori and just get some baskets and trays with different activities on them – I know I will have a fight on my hands cause no one loves a gadget more than Mr B Badger.com – well, maybe his sister – so I will have to make a good argument for my case but, hey, at least if we do end up getting her some overpriced, battery operated latest and greatest it should come in a nice box that will keep her entertained for hours.