Monday, June 25, 2012

Product Placement 101

It occurred to me the other day that the amazing amount of fights I have with my four year old about what to wear, could all be significantly reduced with a little 'product placement'. So she chooses to wear the summer dress with the shredded hoodie to go with it and the too large shoes that were her sisters. Well now Roberta get your act together, hide away certain particulars and 'product place' others!!! Not on her bed, that's too obvious and she'll just ignore that. You place them surrepticiously in her drawers ie. perfect skivvy on top of the pile in the right drawer and skirt you want her to wear in the  other with leggings nearby. The jacket you want her to wear you grab on the way out and stuff in her kindy bag. And you buy her new boots and shoes and hide the others. Imelda's got nothing on this kid.  Voila. Done and dusted and not one fight.

 I remember when my older daughter started to dress herself at a very early age I would sensitively notice people giving her a certain onceover and I'd say, "My girl dressed herself today," with a nod nod wink wink look to the other person. I can remember her looking up at me when it happened a couple of times and then she kind of just stopped dressing herself for a while. I learnt from that and carried guilt about how I'd stupidly wrecked something that I should have been proud of no matter what others thought. I will never do that again and I just agree in a proud way, if someone says about this child, "Oh did she dress herself today."Because I got's the child that I should be first trying to prove my loyalty to not anyone else. But that doesn't prevent you from 'product placement'. Of course the hair argument is still ongoing for both of my girls. For a very curly haired younger child who would love to have straight hair like her sister's there are only so many ways her hair can be done. Thank god for her latest whim which is to have pigtails. Today she went off to kindy looking very 'Cindy Brady' and for the moment enjoying it. That is until one too many people point out to her that she looks just like Cindy Brady and then it's all bets off. Not too keen to keep that look going once someone comments, are my little girls.

Anyway 'product placement,' extends to the kitchen and getting rid of all the not nice fatty foods whilst having plenty of fruit in the bowl and remembering to offer it. Easier said than done but still we can try. Sometimes I cut up carrot and apple in the morning and put it in a bowl and I'm always amazed at how quickly it disappears and then I think why don't I do that more often but then I don't!
You revert- and the snacks basket for recess is filled with biscuits, barbeque shapes and boxes of sultanas (that's ok). Lately my older two children have been taking Tim Tams to school. I convince myself that that's okay because they're not going to have any other sweets in their day and you need a slight sugar fix at recess time. Thank god for the kindy who has a 'no unhealthy food' policy- but then I'm always wracking my brains about what to put in there. The poor kid in my morning rush gets apples chopped up and carrots chopped up most days and a plain old sandwich while her brother and sister feast on Tim Tams and other exciting naughties. And why you ask don't I give the same apples and carrots to the others. I do! But they eat that for 'fruit time' and then I'm still lost on what they should eat for recess and- I revert.

It's all too much of a rush. I know that I should get up earlier in the morning but I just can't seem to get it all happening. Every morning when I wake up I look over at the clock and it's always,  7.10am and then, well the game's almost lost. What happens is I visit each of their three little beds about three times gently at first whispering lovingly to them, "Time to wake up lovey," until by the third time my voice is showing a certain gravellyness as I say, "this is the third time I've told you to get up." Then follow certain gems such as, "I'm not your slave you know!" That line is repeated numerous times throughout the morning.

Gradually they dribble out to the table and we have a nice breakfast together but then follows the hardship of the dressing and the guinea pig feeding and the brushing teeth and just putting socks and shoes on for my 9  year old and well the 11 year old really doesn't have much trouble because he's taken to sleeping in his clothes so he can be ready quicker. So there he is in all his glory lying in bed with his school windcheater on zipped up with his prefects badge and athletics badge and sundry other badges winking at me as I greet him in the morning. And at night he says 'goodnight Mum, dI love you, could you put on the airconditioner and bring me a warm milk.' And then this morning the 9 year old couldn't bear it anymore because she said it was so unfair that I spent all of my time with the 4 year old because she could go to kindy later and I had heaps of time after I !!!!!!!!drove them to school!!!!!since they'd missed the bus again!!!!!! and I have yet again to travel the 100kmh 13 kilometre drive to their school in another country town!!!!! when they could have got up when I called them and caught the bus that leaves very nearby at 8.05am.   So the 9 year old was so upset with me that she started screaming at me in a wild animal kind of way, 'it's not fair....' and I tried to point out that she could be putting on her shoes and socks while I was doing the other one's hair and then I could do hers. But she was having none of it and kept right on at me until I bent and widening my eyes and clenching my fists did a very adrenalin pumping silent scream!!!! which must have looked quite frightening to my nine year old because she suddenly went quiet and allowed me to finish brushing her hair which was a mass of tangles because I forgot to buy conditioner. I could hear in the hallway older brother and little person very quietly saying, " Mum, we're going to the car now, we'll see you out there." And then my beautiful nine year old girl and I walked quickly to the car in silence. We backed out in silence and we drove in silence to school watching the pony's in the paddocks and the beautiful silent stillness of the country surrounds and we arrived at school to see my husband standing at the pedestrian crossing. Because he's on yard duty nearly every morning. No people, in answer to your oft repeated innocent statement  'that must be great having your husband as the school principal at your children's school because he could take them with him in the mornings.' Only an occasional occurrence!

So we pull up to see all the kids crossing the road for the Monday morning assembly and yes the Principal's wife is pulling up with her children late again. Get over it. We're here aren't we! I tell other parents, my role is to make them all feel good. They laugh and maybe there's some truth in that. I remember when my 11 year old was in reception, there was a casual clothes day and only he and one other child were dressed in their school uniforms. To make matters worse, their class had a special prayer session to which all the parents were invited and he was given a role to play so it was very obvious. I went into my husband's office and said, " couldn't we between us have somehow got the message that it was a whole school casual day today." He was too focused on other stuff to do with the running of a school. We laugh about it now and we learnt from it. I'm pretty good at making sure my kids have what they need for special event days. And I know that I have to keep up with all that news because he's just so busy. And I went home that day and brought back casual clothes for my son. For the record the other parent came up to me afterwards and said, " I was feeling so bad but then I saw that your son had his uniform on and I thought, oh well if it's ok for them, it's ok for me." See a very important role I have. Making the other parents feel comfortable and okay.

So Life Tip for the Day- Get up earlier than your kids. Get them up earlier too. And never think that your kids don't know what's really going on when another adult and you think your having signal that they won't get. And if your son goes to bed in his clothes just let him, it will help you be on time.
And most importantly - Product Placement- at every available opportunity.

Singing tip for today- Get lots of exercise and be healthy of body in order to sing with vigour.  Singing is an activity which requires both stamina and power. If you practice each day breathing deeply right down to your stomach and below. Filling up so that you can even feel your air coming into your back. Then try singing a long note and holding it. This exercise when repeated often will assist you to hold those power notes like Adele and Kelly Clarkson.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Who has rights to our mind.

I was out with my good friends the other night and I felt like I was in an episode of Seinfeld. They had now read the blog entries and I didn't know which ones they had read but I felt as I spoke like I was speaking for my blog. It's a very weird thing. You see I was writing this initially just to the universe and so I felt there was some godlike creature out there who it was all going to. But now wow I have people reading it and with that comes some sort of weirdo feeling of I don't know. I felt like I wasn't asking questions of them as I normally would but that I was living out a part of my blog and in fact this whole conversation could end up in a blog and that they might think that too. So it all felt very exposed and like my mind was sitting on the table with all of us as we chatted. And then one of my friends said, " I'll be disappointed if we're not in the blog," in a jokey way. But then I was going to write about our wonderful friendship and now I was thinking about all the possibilites for others to direct what was written. What a headf........

Okay calm down Roberta. Well now I am blessed to have so many friends. In fact one particular friend and I the other day, in all our glory, decided we were popular. Don't you love it. Still that's our opinion and it doesn't matter really whether we are or aren't it's our opinion.  So often in life I haven't been strong enough to have an opinion that was very black and white I'm a very grey person and that is wonderful because you can see every side to people's dilemmas --hence popularity !!! but it's a bit wishy washy don't you think.  I love the fundamentalists with their total belief and literal translations.
When my youngest daughter was born I was paid a visit by  a particular group of door knocking fundamentalists and invited them in for afternoon tea. We ended up meeting for afternoon tea at my house every Wednesday and I really enjoyed it. My friends all thought I was a bit desperate hence maybe not quite so popular at the time but I found it very reasurring to sit there talking about our separate beliefs and they were gentle in their prodding and I discovered I did have some particular beliefs.  Each time they visited they would bring another member of the congregation so I think I met most of the  members of their church during that time. My children loved their bible though it was a bit gory.

That time of afternoon teas and discussing the end times with fervour is a gentle memory for me now.
Ahh those were the days!!! Anyway my point was that perhaps my greyness is in fact more opinionated than I thought. I believe that all people are a potential friend and that sometimes it's a challenge to fit yourself into a situation where you can meet them and find that thread that links you. I've loved doing that with people in Pakistan in such different circumstances to here and in all the places of the world I've been. It's such a wonderful belief to know that every person is your potential friend it prevents you from having the usual concerns about whether or not you should speak to someone. YOu just do because they are on the earth with you at the same time. That's it you are all linked by that. So  I loved sitting with a family in their mud hut in the Swat Valley and communicated with them as they washed their mugs and plates in a copper bowl and when I sang for Oasis at the Hyatt and feared initially that they might bang a guitar over my head but found them bopping along to our songs on our first night there. Now that was a headf.... but noone is better or worse than the other we are just all people with a journey that leads us somewhere and the breaks along the way and how you deal with them are where you end up.

Well this all began as a blog to help people with singing and performance and I have certainly strayed. I was taught a wonderful little tip the other day for belting singing. And that is to try crying like a baby would and then lead into singing that power note. You really squish your face up like a baby would too when they cry. It's amazing the sound you can get with that belting singing if you try this method. Another idea is to say 'Hey you' as if calling across the room and then go into singing a belting note on 'you'....Kristin Chenoweth taught me that one in an interview I watched. She should know she has the Cheno note. But I think I'm getting a pretty good handle on that note too. It's all technique people. I believe you can all sing if you want to. And I intend to help as many people around here to sing if they want to. It's such a great thing to do.

Monday, June 4, 2012


So many of us are lucky to see colour. My son asked me tonight, "Mum what was it like in the olden days. Did it all look black and white?" Interesting!
Given my age I grew up with black and white tv and can still remember the excitement of our first colour tv. Unfortunately that coincided with me doing Year 12 which was really hard because the blue of, 'Gidget's' eyes (remember Sally Field) was so intense and Charlie's Angels so glamorous. I can occasionally still have a moment of 'Wow' with colour tv, remembering the gift that it was when I watch a movie with my kids.

Denial can be so powerful when suddenly you are given the thing that you lacked. Last year I had laser treatment on my eyes. I went in a week from reaching for my glasses on the bedside table in the mornings, to jumping out of bed pulling on my clothes and going for a walk with the dog. Ok, so that didn't last but the absolute amazement of sight still floors me and I remember to take a moment and be grateful.  I got my first pair of glasses in Year 6. We were at the War Memorial in Adelaide and my class were reading all the names on the big panels. That's when I realized that I couldn't see what others were seeing. Until then it hadn't occurred to me. When I first wore the glasses to school it was a real 'eye opener!' because I hadn't seen the freckles and lines on people's faces before and now there they all were.  Over the years I have been lost at the beach when I couldn't find my step-sister and had to go up to some blurry faces and ask, 'Can you point me in the direction of the voice calling my name? ' We laughed and laughed about it afterwards. But there is a fear that goes with being incredibly short sighted as I was (legally blind without the aides). What if you can't find your glasses or what if you are out swimming and you don't find your way back. The same step-sister and I were on a bus from Kathmandu to Calcutta. She had Delhi Belly and kept having to stop the bus for quick runners (so to speak). At one stop at about 2am  my partner nudged me from my lethargy and sent me searching for her. So there was I stumbling about in the dark at some dismal truck stop in the middle of nowhere, again calling her name. We came together and stumbled back to the bus, except as we took the steps up to the seating, my sister exclaimed, 'this isn't our bus!' We were left stranded me, with no sight and no passport and her with no passport and Delhi Belly. We still quote my now famous line, " Cally, one day we'll laugh about this." As the men zeroed in on us offering us rooms to stay and advising us conspiratorially, we became more concerned. Luckily the bus returned for us after delivering people to different towns and we went on our way. I couldn't see a thing except the faces coming up close to me and it was frightening and surreal.

My Mum paid for me to do a 'Natural Vision' course run by a lady called Janet Goodrich who claimed she had restored her sight with eye exercises and the daring act of getting rid of her glasses. Part of the homework was to remove your glasses or lenses and do something out in the world without them. I decided to visit the deli across the road. But when I managed to cross the busy road outside of our house I couldn't tell whether the people were looking at me and after making my way to the counter, didn't know whether to talk or not. We rely alot on visuals when we have sight and the absence of the visuals is very disorienting. Again the anxiety levels rose and the whole experience was like a nightmare. I felt so glad when I could close the front door of my home behind me and retreat to the glasses which I so relied upon. In the exact place where I knew they would be, because when you are that vision impaired, no matter how messy you are, you alway know where you put your glasses.

So now the world is a clearer place for me. I can't believe I am driving around without anything and getting straight up in the morning and walking around my house. We don't all know the extent of each other's differentness and it often amuses me that many people who can see ok choose to wear the glasses all day while the ones who are severely eye challenged often appear normal because they are wearing contact lenses. Nothing is as it seems. Which brings me back to 'colours'. Was the world black and white my son? In some ways it was and for me I liked to remove my glasses occasionally and then it would all be a big blur and I would try to experience the other senses in the comfort of my own backyard and I enjoyed this. No, life was pretty colourful full of family get togethers and green lawns with roses in the front yard much like you have it now. Sleep well precious boy.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Trivia in my head

Do you remember the year at the Grammy Awards where Faith Hill stepped in at the last moment for Whitney Houston? I do. Do you know the names of the bronze pigs in Rundle Mall in Adelaide? I do- Horatio, Oliver, and Truffles for the record. They were named by children in a competition. Do you remember the show on Oprah where Peter Walsh was helped the lady who was a hoarder and her husband showed hoarder tendencies by being unable to shred his receipts until he'd looked at each one of the thousands. Do you link people's looks and find similarities between say Sean Young and Lorraine Bracco; Brad Pitt and Benicio Del Torro; Susan Sarrandon and Leslie Warren or people you know and movie stars. I have said for years that my god-daughter reminded me of Uma Thurman and she did some new face matching app the other day on her phone and laughed hilariously when the match that was revealed for her face and a movie star was indeed Uma Thurman. Maybe that could be a new job for me matching people to their most likely superstar.  Trivia like that comes to me day in and day out. It drifts across my mind and out again. And I love it and love that I can do that but find there's not much place for it in the day to day doings of my life. Feeding it more now is the use of the Ipad and you tube. Don't you love it. I can check up on any one and see what's happened in their life from start to finish in some cases. We can flick from their very first post to the end days of their lives in a matter of minutes and we can refresh our memories on singers that we've forgotten. I'd forgotten all about Toni Braxton and her beautiful song 'Unbreak my Heart'. And then I found it and her powerhouse performance at the Grammys. Wow. Now she's in my life again and I'm watching her and her sister's in their reality show and it's all so familiar again. It makes me realize that it really is all about that five minutes of fame for everyone. The stars of today won't all be remembered in fact only a few. Wow U-tube gives you access to people like the famous lady conductor of the 1930's can't remember her name but man was she sexy in her backless gowns and the way she moved with her all girl orchestra. Will add the name later. It's a circle she was so advanced then and must have been shocking to many. We see that again now with the choirs and orchestras moving and creating movement as they entertain with their voices. I thought it was all new but this lady was doing it in the 1930's. What an innovator. Be the change you want to see that's what Gandhi said. Be the change you want to see. That's fabulous- keep embracing life and challenge yourself go for something a little outrageous and see how you feel Like my nameless blonde conductor of the 30's be the change be the difference.   

How the movies teach us about life

Have you ever wondered about your children and what they will remember from their years with you. I sometimes wonder about videos and whether we are in fact manipulating what they remember. I am an avid video recorder of special events and everyday moments but often it's a special moment captured and the before and after isn't remembered what led to that moment or what came after. I've recorded me and my child playing a game of barbies but was I ignoring her just prior to this footage or was someone in the house getting upset or was there an unhappy time as has happened. Can I manipulate my son's life to remember more of the good times and is that what we do each day with our children. Bear in mind it's 4am in the morning and I can't sleep as I write this in Australia.

I was fascinated with the character played by Sean Young in the Blade Runner. Harrison Ford's character was in love with her- she was an android. There was a sad scene where she realized that all of her memories of a happy childhood and a mother and father whom she loved were just manipulations processed through her android brain and created for her. It was such an improbable romance but Harrison's character found the weakness in her and the vulnerability and loved it. I loved the movie with Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke- Gattacca- for the same reason. He was a survivor in a world that had rid itself of much of the weakness that makes us human. I loved that she knew who he was but loved him anyway. I try to do that in my life but differentness is difficult in relationships and sometimes the dark or frail side of a person is the very thing that pushes you away. I know that if I can embrace that in my partner I will see more of the specialness of him.

Don't forget the Logan's Run premise. Michael Yorke's character lived the good life secure in the knowledge that he was one of the elite and had many years of enjoyment left. One day he visits the diary room and discovers that his time is up. The badge embedded in his hand at birth is now shining which means he's one of the hunted. His time is up. Then we see him gain a whole new perspective on how and why the others have chosen to run and hide. He discovers that he wants to live and chances everything because he now has nothing to lose in order to survive. We all wear that green badge on us and we think we have so much time but sometimes that little light goes off earlier than we expected it to. Or we do live a long life but it's still not enough time for what we wanted to achieve. I will find you the saying I read over and over in my twenties. It guided me in so much of what I chose to do. It talks about people trying to get things just right and waiting and hoping but not venturing. Until one day they wake up and they are sixty and it's too late to fullfill some of those dreams. How strange it is now to see that I am on my way to that magic number. Grab the opportunities people remember what Oprah says. It's not luck as people have often said to me about the great opportunities that I've made happen. It's about prepartation meets opportunity.   

An Ode to Wayne and Bella

We once knew a quirky couple in this town who set up a coffee shop called Firenze.All the locals found excuses to eat there just like in the movie, 'Chocolat'. I happened upon it on returning from a walk to the bus one morning where I went to drop my two older children. They would scooter beside me and then I'd stack the scooters under the Emmelunga and keep walking home with my baby daughter Gabrielle snoozing happily and cosily as we went. When I think back I can't believe I managed to do that and get us all organized for our quite significant walk but I guess I was awake and feeding anyway. Well on this day I walked down Taylor Street past what used to be the print and copy shop but instead the windows were all steamed up and I could see an ecledctic mix of chairs and tables inside. The smell of coffee and fine food wafted out to me and I was enticed and captured.As I entered a lady with a soft, shy and beautiful smile nodded in my direction and a rather scruffy curly headed barrista smiled too and began a conversation. Those early days of breastfeeding with my third child became special and golden because of stumbling upon that cafe. Wayne was the best maker of coffee and always experimenting with new blends and finds from different countries. He was a philosopher too and very creative with his musings. I would sit and each day find a new saying or photo or quote somewhere on the wall or ceiling. And Bella, well she was the Juliette Binoche of the Kitchen. The aromas of baked tarts, flans, tuna patties and muffins would waft in my general direction and I was wrapt and alone and together with them in my own special world of baby and mother. They were quite happy to chat as I fed Gabrielle there and we passed an hour together. Later my baby and I  would go there as she grew and now she is four and her and Mummy have a capuccino and a baby chino as we watch the cars go by.