Category Archives: Family

Remembering Doron

Not a day has gone by in nearly fifteen years that I haven’t thought of him. Not a day has passed without him visiting my thoughts and jolting my heart. Doron delighted in being alive and in nineteen short months he touched countless lives with his infectious joy.

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What it Means to be Mummy

The first word I hear most days is “Mum”, followed by a tender “I love you” or “good morning” or “Do people eat breakfast in Heaven and who lays the eggs for their breakfast because everyone knows there are no chickens in Heaven?”

Before my eyes are even open, before my brain has fully adjusted to the reality of no more sleep, I am reminded that before all else, I am Mum and I have three little people depending on me to fulfil that role unquestioningly. There are days, of course, that I inwardly groan and silently beg for a break from this relentless responsibility to be their cook, cleaner, stylist, mentor, therapist, nurse, art teacher, entertainer, jailer, enforcer of unfair rules and referee in countless brawls over the middle seat in the car. When I wake up on these tired, uninspired days, I have to dig deep and remember that my children are innocent passengers in this trainwreck of my exhaustion. I have to be mindful always that even if it means regular visits to hide in the bathroom and silently cry for my lost, pre-kid independence, they need a Mum who looks at them with joy in her eyes. On those days, when I lose the battle and scream and yell because I’m not the perfect Mum that I aspire to be in the late, guilt-riddled hours before sleep, I will always take the time to apologise and explain that Mummy is tired and that just like them, I feel grumpy sometimes. I make sure they see that I am fallible and flawed and, more importantly, that I will always own my failures and apologise for hurt feelings. Read the rest of this entry

The Extraordinary Man

        The Extraordinary Man Read the rest of this entry

The Last Snowman {Book Review}

BUY THIS BOOK.

Really. I mean it. Read the rest of this entry

The Day I Became a Mother

        The Day I Became a Mother Read the rest of this entry

What I Said When My Son Asked Me To Explain The Meaning Of Life.

       

Today’s post is the second in my weekly column at BonBon Break Magazine called, “What I’ve Learned…”

What I Said When My Son Asked Me To Explain The Meaning Of Life

After a Boys Only shopping trip, Little Man and Darren arrived home, clearly up to something. Little Man disappeared into the study and came out a few minutes later holding a gift-wrapped present in his hand. “Mum, you do so much for us and nobody ever even pays you! (He was outraged.) I asked Daddy if we could buy you this present because I know it’s one of your favourite things.” He held out his hand and presented me with my gift. I unwrapped it as he bounced beside me, gleefully. Inside was a dragon fruit  – a fruit we first tasted on a holiday in Singapore and that I fell in love with. From time to time, we see dragon fruit at our local shops but I never buy it because it’s expensive and frivolous. He had seen it and decided that I deserved something expensive and frivolous. He saw me as someone who deserves recognition and a little spoiling. The enormity of this, coming from my eight year old son, totally floored me. He demanded that I cut it open right then and there and eat it. I savoured every mouthful, we enthusiastically discussed the cool colours and textures and I thoroughly enjoyed the delicious experience of sharing this treat with the kids. Later that afternoon, Little Man very solemnly and seriously requested that Darren and I go to his bedroom together at bedtime because “there are some important things we need to discuss”. I wondered what on earth was so serious in his life that it would warrant a meeting, so I nervously asked. He replied, “I want to know what life is all about… you know. Why are we alive?”

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The Naughty Spot

       

Today’s post is the first in a weekly column I’ll be writing at BonBon Break Magazine called, “What I’ve Learned…” I hope you’ll enjoy this hilarious story featuring Little Man, the Terrible Threes and the infamous Naughty Spot. You will laugh and hopefully learn from mine and Darren’s misfortunes…

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Big announcement!

Let me start by telling you a little about my childhood. My mother was, amongst other things, a writer. I would spend hours poring over her scrapbook with clippings of all the pieces she’d written for various magazines, voraciously lapping up her success and revelling in it. I’d stare at her byline under the picture of The Most Beautiful Woman In The Whole World and I couldn’t believe that this talented writer  – who was published – was my mother. As I grew up, I watched as my mother tore up rule books and wrote two books and a slew of TV series. Never mind that she was an ex-school teacher who was now a stay at home mom. I couldn’t have kept count of the times I heard her say “Where is the rule book that says I can’t do (insert giant, insane feat here)?” and then watch the world stare, open-mouthed, as she succeeded wildly in her crazy ventures.
If you want to achieve something, don't ever listen to anyone who says you can't. You can.

If you want to achieve something, don’t ever listen to anyone who says you can’t. You can.

You see, my mother was an adventurer. She didn’t ask the world for permission to be fabulous. She went out and granted her own permission slips with wild abandon. She dived head first into her passions and often landed spread-eagled, face-first, skirt over head. Did she cry? No, sirree. My mom laughed. Read the rest of this entry

The Day My Jewish Kids Met Santa Claus.

It was a regular day at the local shopping centre. Being December, the centre was decorated with tinsel and holly and all things Christmas. Carols were creating jolly white noise and the atmosphere was festive as we went about our business.   My kids know about Christmas and we give presents to our Christian friends (we’ve also been known to sneak next door to help decorate our neighbours’ tree) but, as practicing Jews, we don’t celebrate Christmas. We don’t have a tree. We don’t receive presents. We don’t do Santa. (I do sing Christmas carols, though, can’t help myself. Really, who doesn’t love a red-nosed reindeer?) Chanukah happens to coincide with Christmas, as calendars go, but there’s really no competition – lighting a candle and spinning a dreidel don’t have a hope of matching up to the excitement that Christmas brings.   We were talking about Christmas and what it means to our friends when we walked past Santa Claus. This red-tracksuited, red-faced (no doubt, from boiling in that red tracksuit in an Australian heatwave) man grinned at my kids and cheerily declared, “Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas!” They shyly smiled back and we carried on, leaving Santa scratching his head and wondering about these weird kids, not enthralled by him.   We needed to go to the supermarket to pick up a few odds and ends and while we were in there, the kids huddled together and had a “private chat”. I was not allowed to listen but I could see, from their expressions, that whatever it was they were discussing was S E R I O U S.   Chat over, they came to me, a little gang of three, and asked, “Mum, can we each buy something for $2?” They looked so serious and I was hot and tired. So I agreed.   Armed with $2 each, they spent the next ten minutes painstakingly choosing ‘special treasures.’   We paid and, with huge grins, walked out of the shop. Again, we walked past Santa Claus. This time, in a rare pocket of sibling solidarity, they held hands and approached him.   “Ho ho ho! Merrrrry Christmas!”   Miss M and Little Man stepped forward, with Baby G peeping out from behind them. Miss M quietly and sweetly spoke, “Hi, Santa. We have some presents for you.” With such tenderness, my three children held out their hands and proffered their carefully selected $2 gifts to Santa: a bag of lollies, a Ben 10 watch and a bag of chocolate coins.   Santa looked up at me, startled, then knelt down on the ground and looked into my children’s faces, studying them. “Why did you bring me gifts? You’ve got it all upside down!”   Miss M explained, “We are Jewish, so we don’t have Christmas. But we know all about Christmas and we know that all the kids in the world who celebrate Christmas get presents from you. But nobody gives you anything, so we wanted to give you a present so you could have a happy Christmas too.”
“We are Jewish, so we don’t have Christmas. But we know all about Christmas and we know that all the kids in the world who celebrate Christmas get presents from you. But nobody gives you anything, so we wanted to give you a present so you could have a happy Christmas too.”
Santa shook his head and looked at me again as I snapped mental pictures of my own three miracle gifts who so open-heartedly decided to reward someone else for his generosity – despite the fact that they had never been on the receiving end.   Santa Clause’s eyes crinkled at the corners and he asked me, “May I give your kids a gift from my toybox?” I smiled and nodded.   And that’s how my three Jewish kids found themselves in front of Santa and his toy box.   They were each given a little pot, a shovel, a water squirter and some seeds. Santa smiled at me, high-fived my kids and off we went.   I looked at their gifts and smiled at how the world works.   If you plant seeds and nurture them, you never know what wonderfulness you might grow.

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Six Lessons I Learned from Nelson Mandela

Image Today’s post is syndicated at Bonbon Break – a stunning portal to the internet’s best blogs and fast becoming a second home to me. I hope you’ll take the time to click over and read about my childhood in Apartheid South Africa, my family’s struggle to fight the system and my tribute to Nelson Mandela. Rest in peace, Tata Madiba, your long walk is over. 

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    If you want to see Val Curtis (Editor in Chief of Bonbon Break) and I in yesterday’s episode of Bonbon Break LIVE, click HERE.

Bonbon Break LIVE

It was 2am for me, so you’ll find me in my pyjamas, clutching my daughter’s Nelson Mandela doll and discussing parenting and perceptions of beauty. I also did a live reading of “Damn you, Barbie!” Much to my amazement, I seemed reasonably coherent. Enjoy!
This post was syndicated at Bonbon Break Magazine.
This post was syndicated at Bonbon Break Magazine.
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The Ugly Beautifuls

The Ugly Beautifuls

A story about looking a little deeper by They Call Me Mummy On a recent family trip away to breathtakingly beautiful Kalbarri, a small coastal town on the West Australian coast, we spent a lot of time walking the seemingly endless length of the untouched beaches and collecting shells. In the evenings, we’d lay them all out and sort through the treasures we’d found. Kids love to sort and categorise and this was especially true for Baby G. Long after the bigger kids had gone off to do what big kids do, she could be found inspecting each and every shell and carefully considering where it belonged. She had very specific piles. She explained that The Curlies were the shells that she could hold to her ear and listen to the sea. They had curly insides and that was the part that she thought was special. Eyes glinting, she proudly showed me The Pretties, named because they were pearlescent and lovely. Seriously, she held up one of the group that looked like mini volcanoes and declared that they were called, logically, The Volcanoes. Next to these were The Interestings, named so because they couldn’t be categorised but were cool and needed to be picked up and kept, nonetheless. Finally, with a solemn face, she showed me the last of her groups and, with reverence, she declared them to be The Ugly Beautifuls. I looked down at this group of shells and inwardly giggled. They really weren’t beautiful, but she sure was accurate when it came to the “Ugly” descriptor. They looked like little brains… small whitish blobs  of shell, shaped like pieces of brain. I asked her, “Baby G, why do you call these The Ugly Beautifuls?” Read the rest of this entry

MOMfessional: I was a home-wrecker.

Hanging out our dirty laundry

In case you’re new here, and aren’t familiar with the MOMfessional, I’ll explain. We all have secrets, don’t we? I certainly do – in fact I have so much dirty laundry, I have no choice but to air it. As bloggers, we hang it all out, every day and most of us have a strong network of friends and family who support us incredibly. This comes at a price – there are just some things that we don’t necessarily want to share with our nearest and dearest, plus the school mums, plus our work colleagues… you get the drift.

Out of this situation, the MOMfessional was lovingly born to proud parents, Chris from Life Your Way and I.  Without any further waffling on, welcome to the MOMfessional – a space where other parenting bloggers can let it all hang out. Some advice: Get comfortable. Today, Molley Mills from the hilarious blog, A Mother Life, is in the MOMfessional, talking about something that will (most likely) ruffle a few feathers. You see, Molley was ‘the other woman’. Read the rest of this entry

The ugliest doll in the shop.

The ugliest doll in the shop

 

(How a doll from 1984 taught me a lesson last week.)

I walked along the aisle, staring intently at box after box. Peeking at me through each cellophane window was a hopeful face that quietly implored, “Me! Me! Choose me!” I was as stressed out as an eight year old could be, torn between the one with blue eyes and blonde pigtails and the one with brown hair, dimples and green eyes. I could not believe this day had come. I was going to become a Mommy! It was 1984 and to celebrate my eighth birthday, I was adopting a Cabbage Patch Kid This was serious business. Cabbage Patch Kids were not simply dolls, you know. They were orphans who needed mommies (orphans grown in a cabbage patch, which was slightly weird, but details…) and I felt the full weight of this immense responsibility on my little shoulders. How was I going to choose the right one? Oh, the agony of indecision. There were endless choices and combinations – dimples on one cheek or both, blonde hair in a ponytail or pigtails. Green, grey or blue eyes. This would be a decision of epic proportions. Having narrowed my choice down to pretty blonde and cute-as-a-button brunette, I decided to walk another lap and clear my mind. That’s when I saw The One. Read the rest of this entry

A letter to a little boy in a scary world.

letter to a little boy in a scary world.

In the light of the George Zimmerman trial over the death of Trayvon Martin, I can’t help but feel sick that we live in a world where race is still an issue, where religion is an issue, where sexual-orientation is still an issue. What a world for our kids to grow up in.  All I can offer is this: A letter to that little brown boy. A letter to my Jewish son. A letter to the obese kid. A letter to the transgendered child. A letter to that weird kid who makes funny noises…. Read the rest of this entry

I’m leaving on a jet plane… (or seven.)

BlogHer Voices of the Year committees have selected "You Suck!" to be honored at the 5th annual Voices of the Year Community Keynote.    Out of over 2,000 submissions, the committee has chosen "You Suck!" to be among the 25 Honorees in the Inspiration category.

BlogHer Voices of the Year committees have selected “You Suck!” to be honored at the 5th annual Voices of the Year Community Keynote.
Out of over 2,000 submissions, the committee has chosen “You Suck!” to be among the 25 Honorees in the Inspiration category.

“Congratulations!  Our Voices of the Year committees have selected “You Suck!” to be honored at the 5th annual Voices of the Year Community Keynote!”

This was the opening line in the email that had me shaking like a leaf for an entire day. This letter wasn’t from just any committee – this email was from BlogHer. For some perspective as to why I shook, trembled and – yes – cried, here’s a little introduction to the media giant that is BlogHer (taken from blogher.com):
Today, BlogHer is the largest community of women who blog: 92 million unique visitors per month (March 2013, Nielsen Site Census). Engaged, influential and info-savvy, these women come to BlogHer to seek and share advice, opinions and recommendations. BlogHer’s team works hard to bring you the best and brightest conversations, writers and speakers – online and in person. That’s what we do best. We host:
  • BlogHer Conferences, the world’s largest conference for women in social media
  • BlogHer Publishing Network, with 3,000 blogs one of the largest and highest quality publishing networks of blogs authored by women
  • BlogHer.com, the Web’s leading guide to the hottest news and trends among women in social media, renowned as a community where women speak their minds on every topic from politics to parenting in an atmosphere of integrity and respect
BlogHer is run by its three co-founders and a team of 50+ employees via offices in New York and Silicon Valley. We are proud to have venture backing from Venrock, Comcast Interactive Capital, and Azure Capital Partners.
Now, do you see why I was reaching for a paper bag? Hyperventilating was a natural reaction, no? When I phoned Darren to tell him this gargantuan news, his reaction was instantaneous: “You are going.” Just like that. Not for a second did he hesitate. Never mind the fact that we have three kids who I have never left for longer than a couple of days, who will miss me and who he will have to take care of single-handedly. Never mind the fact that this is – by far – the busiest time of year at work for him. Never mind the insane costs involved (seven flights, BlogHer ’13 conference fees, hotels…). Of course, his generosity of spirit made me cry even more and I’ve been a jittery, excited, overwhelmed, hysterically happy, crazy-busy raving lunatic ever since. The feeling of validation for my work is massive, the confirmation that I really should be doing what I’m doing has been solidified and I am so ridiculously grateful to be in a position to follow this thrilling path. This adventure is going to be epic and I can’t wait. I’m flying to Chicago to attend my first-ever BlogHer conference  in three weeks. I will be meeting with some of the most dynamic women in the world and connecting in person with a multitude of women I’ve come to know as close friends via Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Skype and through their blogs. I’m rooming with a really close friend…whom I haven’t ever met in person. Will these friendships we as dynamic in person as they are via keyboards? Will it all be weird and awkward? No idea, but BOY and I excited to find out.

Any advice for this little fish, off to swim in the big pond? I’m a firm believer in ‘fake it  until you make it’, so I’ll be smiling, networking and learning at an exponential rate, all the while tottering precariously in my first pair of big blogger shoes.

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You are a shit-head.

“Daniel called me an S-WORD HEAD!”

(She actually said “S-word” head because she could NOT bring herself to say, ‘shit’.) Miss M was six years old. She came running to me after school, upset because someone had used *gasp* the S-word. She was horrified and devastated that a child could use THAT word.

It was then that a light bulb switched on and I had an A-HA moment. Read the rest of this entry

Parenting. Like a Ninja.

ninja

Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.

Yes….and no.

I have tried to raise my kids with good manners, compassion, respect for other people’s property, the ability to share and a sense of kindness for everyone around them. I thought I was doing the right thing. I wasn’t wrong. If we lived in a perfect world, that is.

Problem: This isn’t a perfect world.

It is a world where other kids are not necessarily taught to say please and thank you, not to swear, to share, to be kind, to not hit. It’s a world where other kids will snatch, steal and be downright cruel. By teaching my kids to always be nice, have I indirectly rendered them incapable of coping in a less than perfect world? I didn’t think so for a long time. I wasn’t that cynical. I was a firm believer in raising my kids to always be kind, polite and certainly, to never hit.

Until Little Man got punched in the guts. In pre-school.

Let me explain. Read the rest of this entry

Oh, my nuts!

Rude words and why Baby G thinks we can’t say them at school.

Last week, my big kids each had a friend over to play. Baby G was feeling left out because the big girls wanted alone time sans little sister, so I suggested she go play with the boys, who are good-natured and would probably include her. She happily skipped off to Little Man’s room and I got busy cooking dinner, enjoying this peaceful moment to myself and patting myself on the back for engineering it. After a while, I realised she hadn’t come back so I went to check up on her and the boys. I peeped around the doorway to Little Man’s bedroom and saw him and his little mate jumping of the bed and shouting rude words at the top of their lungs (as 8 year old boys do) followed by raucous laughter. Baby G, of course, was howling with laughter and joining in. Of course. Read the rest of this entry

I’m not Pollyanna.

Surprise!

Remember me?
I’ve been in a funk for the past few months weeks and didn’t much feel like writing about my baggage and bringing you all down with me. After all, I’m the happy face. I’m the positive one, the Pollyanna. That’s why you come here, right? So what’s Pollyanna to do when she’s got nothing funny to say and no energy to inspire anyone? I didn’t know the answer, so I hid. No Facebook, no phone, no coffee with friends. Just me and my baggage. pollyanna 2 Read the rest of this entry

Dora the Explorer (who is only in the forest because nobody in the city will play with her.)

Dora the irritating explorer Have you been reading Baking in a Tornado?  You should be (but I warn you, don’t read when hungry…) Well, Karen from Baking in a Tornado,  hosts Secret Subject Swaps and today I’m crazy excited to be taking part in Take One of May’s Secret Subject Swaps. My subject (“If I could make any kiddie show character disappear forever, it would be ________, because _________.”) was submitted by Akashic Aisles: The Basement View.  Deep breaths, Michelle… Okay, you gorgeous people, here it is:

If I could make any kiddie show character disappear forever, it would be Dora the Explorer (who is only in the forest because nobody in the city will play with her.)

I spend approximately a sqillion hours per week reminding my kids to use their inside voices. They nod agreeably and promptly continue their conversation at a volume that has the ability to pierce through my skin and directly hit my nerves. Guess who taught them that yelling in each other’s faces is socially acceptable. Yep – friggin’ Dora. She doesn’t stop there, though. No sirree. Not even close. Read the rest of this entry
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