At Home Mums' Blog

Take a light hearted look at the issues faced by mums home with the kids. Read some personal views on the challenges of raising children today, and the pressures mums face. My website - - has some more serious and hopefully useful stuff on all these topics. I'd love to get your comments and advice. If anyone out there can help this mum maintain her sanity, it would be much appreciated!

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Sunday, 28 June 2009

Choosing a School

I have spent hours agonising over the right choice of school for our daughter. I have done the school visits, I have questioned everyone I know on which school they chose or are choosing, and what they think, and this year I've sent the other half to all the open days, largely because he will definitely have an opinion and I want it to be an informed opinion.

Last year the question was should we send Holly to school at 4 1/2 or wait a year. We chose to wait, because no one else in our area was sending their child that young, and we would have been putting her at a disadvantage socially. I'm confident we made the right decision, but what it meant was I also put off making the choice about which school she will attend.

We have ruled out private education for junior school as the local public schools have a good reputation and it would add a financial stress, but even so, we have the choice of three schools.

The first is a little Catholic school, with a single class intake per year. The second is our catchment area school, which is a middle sized school that historically had a poor reputation, but in recent years has been very good. The third option is an out of area public school, which all our neighbours' children attend, and is a large school (900 children) with great facilities.

Having done the open days and dragged Holly along to interview, we are amazingly both on the same page, which is great, as I rarely win an argument/debate/discussion!

We both really like the Catholic school. Why? Because it is a small school with a lovely feel to it. It came across as a caring and nurturing environment for the children. And the headmaster was the most impressive of the three. Holly is not an outgoing child and we feel she will thrive in a small environment, or conversely might get lost in a big school.

But, and this is a reasonably large but, we are not Catholic. We have a place, so that is not an issue, but we neither of us have much idea of the Catholic side of Catholic education and there are a couple of concerns. Will Holly feel 'different' if she is not Catholic? And will Holly grow up with a religious outlook that we don't necessarily subscribe to? I asked the first question at interview and I left happy that they work hard at being inclusive, so there is no danger of feeling left out. I didn't confess to the second concern incase it affected us getting a place...

When I was growing up, my mum took us to a Methodist church every Sunday (Dad stayed home and got the Sunday roast started...) and I chose to be confirmed into the church and to believe in God. I became strongly disillusioned with organised religion at university. There were too many God botherers who bothered God and then bothered everyone else about God. They were too adamant that those of us who did not choose their brand of faith would rot in hell. I did not, and still do not, understand how any one person can be so absolutely sure that their faith is right, that they can impose it on others. Maybe that's why it's called faith.

Anyway I moved away from my Christian upbringing, but I like to think that the basic Christian values and ethics I was brought up with, have made me a better person.

I spoke to one mum whose children are at a Catholic school. Her husband is Catholic, but she herself is not, and neither of them go to church. Her opinion was that although she does not have a Catholic background, she likes the way the school applies the Christian values to every day life today. I think that's what I'm looking for.

The other half, on the other hand, is not a believer, and I think he fears his daughter might try and convert him, or in the very least, pose some tricky questions. I can just picture him... 'Ask your mum, Holly.'

I have to say, I'm guilty of putting my head in the sand as far as my Christian beliefs go. I like to think that if you lead a reasonably good life, and do not intentionally hurt anyone, you're doing ok. If questioned, I would also say I believe in God. I say a little prayer for my babies each night, and lots of prayers whilst flying (I really don't like flying), but when it comes to questions about how God can let people die in natural disasters or little children suffer in hospital, I find it too hard, and my preference is to avoid the topic.

I think if Holly goes to a Catholic School, we'll have some interesting discussions in future. But then again, there'll be religious education in any curriculum and children are inquisitive, so the discussion is likely whatever the education.

I also think that if a child is brought up exposed to Christian values, she or he can then make an informed decision as to whether to practice the faith or not. As it stands, the only time Holly and Michael have been in a church was at Christmas when my parents were here. It was very important for my mum to go to church. Christmas in Australia was weird enough without removing the Christian element for her as well as the turkey dinner. And my two had absolutely no idea how to behave or really what was going on. None whatsoever.

Anyway, I digress. The school debate has one other prominent element. Our neighbours. Three of the four children in the next two houses to us all go to the large public school. They are doing well, they like it, their parents are happy, and they share lifts on a daily basis. Holly is good friends with all our neighbours and the youngest one is in her class at pre-school and will follow her sister to the big school. So it would be natural for her to want to go there too and be with all her friends. And it would be so convenient to have neighbours to call on in emergencies...

We have a lovely neighbourhood here, and the children are always round at each other's houses. I guess I'm concerned Holly will lose some of that friendship if she's at a different school. And maybe I'm also concerned I'll lose some of the closeness with the neighbours if we don't see them as much...

But the fact is, it's not a good basis for choosing a school. Holly is a different child from the neighbours' children and we have to look at what's right for her. And as someone else pointed out to me, your neighbours can move on any time, and 5 year olds change friendships on a weekly basis.

So what does Holly think? I was briefly tempted to let her make the decision. After all it would save me the guilt if I choose the wrong school and ruin her childhood. But having heard her logic, I decided mine was probably slightly more sound.

Holly liked the Catholic school, partly because mummy is subtly plugging it, although the interview was a bit boring. She also liked our catchment area school because they took the kids away during the tour and gave them some colouring to do. And she liked the large school because she spotted an old friend from last year at pre-school and she'd like to be in the same class as him. Also the head teacher had pink hair.

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Monday, 22 June 2009

Talking about boobs

I went to a lingerie party on Saturday evening.

I wasn't sure whether to go, because I'd had a 40th dinner earlier in the week, and a social committee meeting for the pre-school, so I'd already called on the other half to do the bedtime stories and tucking in twice this week. But, when I mentioned lingerie, he was practically pushing me out of the door.

I wasn't going to buy anything (of course) but again, the other half seemed keen, so who am I to say no? I think he had more of an Ann Summers type of party in mind, rather than the latest, most comfortable bras you can find, but even the thought of it was enough for him.

He definitely felt he was on a promise that night and I went out, sure he'd be waiting up for me what ever time I got home. No headaches for me tonight...

The two ladies from the lingerie company both had curvy figures and rather more bust than I've ever had, so my immediate thought was that they'd not do anything for my meagre size, but, as luck would have it, there was a beautiful bra, padded with oil, for those of us who would like to enhance our boobs by a size, or in my case, actually pretend I have some for a while. I made my purchase, along with a little lace camisole to show off the newly enhanced chest, and got down to the real business of chatting and drinking.

I have to say, in a previous life, I always worried slightly about padded bras. What if you found the perfect man and he thought you had a gorgeous figure? Would he be disappointed when the bra came off and he found the boobs were only half the size he expected? Not something I need to worry about now (I hope). The other half knows exactly what's what, so if enhancing my figure is going to make me feel good, he won't be complaining.

The main topic of conversation for the evening, was, of course, boobs. Big ones, droopy ones, ones that you just can't control, the odd small pair like mine and even grandma's pair that managed to escape at an inappropriate moment one day.

Breastfeeding also came up, as there were a couple of pregnant ladies there and two with babies still on the boob. They were definitely not purchasing bras that night, as pregnancy and breastfeeding tend to reek havoc with your breast size, and let's face it, during this stage the objective is comfort, not attraction, and there are cheaper bra options to be found.

One lady reckoned that the day after she stopped breast feeding, her boobs disappeared. One day she was a 'D' cup and the next she looked in the mirror and there were these deflated banana boobs. She had to go out and buy a whole new set of bras for her now 'B' cup boobs. So just when baby has finished with the boobs and you're ready to share them with hubby again without spurting milk at him, bang they're gone and you feel about as sexy as an over ripe tomato. And at this stage you probably still have some of that baby tummy left over so the whole body feels out of proportion.

But wait, there was light at the end of the tunnel. Apparently over time, the boobs came back and this lady is now a 'D' cup again. Having never even reached a 'B' cup myself, I find this hard to imagine. I was hoping to be one of those rare people who find having a baby enhances their breast size in the long term, but alas, it was not to be. I briefly experienced the sensation of boobs bouncing as mine grew in pregnancy and during breastfeeding, and I have to say that I had more propositions when I was about 12 weeks pregnant with Holly than I've ever had. Something about 'glowing' but not showing, and maybe the slightly enhanced boob, must have made me more attractive...

On Saturday night we basically confirmed that no one is ever happy with what they've got. I'd love a slightly bigger pair, if only so that my rib cage doesn't stick out more than my chest when I lie down. My friend would like ones that don't disappear into her arm pits unless contained in a rather un-sexy granny bra. She reckons if she goes for the more appealing bras, when she leans over to pick up the kids, they flop out of the top.

Another lady reckoned that running had decreased her boob size. Whether that was in conjunction with general weight loss, I'm not sure, but it put a few of us off running, just in case...

Then we got onto nipples, and the changes motherhood brings to them. Getting bigger, more prominent, changing colour.

Boob jobs were raised as an option, but most of us were not up for that. We might complain, but we were basically happy to find bras that squeezed and padded, or firmed and rounded, lifted droopers and contained those prone to escape. And they had these amazing wraps that done up in the right way could enhance the meagre bust, or decrease the appearance of those well endowed. Maybe it was the alcohol, but I suspect they made quite a lot of money that night.

So there were the boys, at home, dreaming of us wearing sexy lingerie and we're talking about droopy boobs, boobs that leak still 2 years after the baby was born and nipples that bear no resemblance to our pre-baby boobs.

In fact, my other half was picturing us all parading around in sexy lingerie, whereas in reality the trying on process was one by one and very discreet.

Not that it matters, because when it comes down to it, it's all in the mind and if he manages to find me attractive despite the changes over time, who am I to complain?

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Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The 'F' Word

A friend of mine turns 40 today so I've been scouring the shops for the perfect birthday card. (Actually, I had 5 minutes to spare before drop off time this morning and luckily found one that appealed before the children had a chance to run a muck in the card shop). I don't like buying birthday cards. They never have quite the right sentiment, and I worry that the ones that appeal to my sense of humour might offend. Today's time limit made the process easier. I found one that appealed to me, and I'll have to hope it doesn't offend. I'll also probably have to explain to my friend why it appealed, but that's ok.

On the front of the card it says 'Oh No! It's the 'F' word, that terrible 'F' word. Stop me, please before I say it, before I lose control and say it again and again and again!'

And inside it says 'Forty! You're Forty! Yes, Forty! Ha Ha Forty! Forty! Forty! Forty! Happy Birthday!'

I think I'm ok, because regardless of how old she is, I'll always be a year older. I've been there, done that, had the 40th and survived. If I was 30, it might be considered a bit rude, but there I go again, analysing the card.

Anyway, the actual reason it appealed was not because it takes the mickey out of turning forty, but because of the words on the front of the card.

Driving home from pre-school yesterday, Holly suddenly realised she had left a painting behind.

'Oh F**k', she said, and being slightly deaf and sure my angel would not use such language, I asked her 'What did you say??' 'Oh F**k', she repeated.

'Bugger', I thought and proceeded to explain very firmly that this was a very naughty word and she should not use it, ever, ever, ever.

Imagine the humiliation if it came out at pre-school. I mean, they'd know it was me. The other half doesn't use such terms. I don't remember saying it, but realistically, I probably did.

I used to work in IT on a trading floor at one of the big American Banks, and the language there was very colourful, to say the least. The environment was also a high stress one, and expletives became par for the course. But, since having children, my language has improved immensely. (Quite amazing really, considering the stress involved in this job.) I do however, occasionally drop the odd 'naughty word' when something unexpected happens. Like for instance when I opened the oven door last night and smoke poured out. 'Bugger', I said, looking at the scorched remains of dinner. But I definitely did not say 'F**k'.

Being in Australia, 'bugger' seems to be part of daily language. After all it's out there in car ads and on the radio, and it's such a nice, expressive, round word that just lets out how you feel without causing serious offense. Even so, out of the mouth of a 4 year old it is less appealing, if slightly amusing in a 'hide your smile' kind of a way.

So basically what I'm saying, is that in our house any bad language of any sort is discouraged, but mummy is guilty of letting one slip every now and then.

Back to yesterday. Having explained that we don't use such words, I admitted that Holly might have heard mummy say it, but it was very naughty of mummy as well. We agreed that if she said it again, I would take a gold coin from her money box, and if she ever heard mummy say it, I would put a gold coin in her money box. I'm assuming here that she is innocent enough not to try and provoke me...

I also suggested she try and think of other things to say when something goes wrong, like 'Oh fiddlesticks', or 'Oh bother'.

'How about Oh F**kity Bum?' she suggested innocently. This was going to be harder than I thought. She has the word in her head, it's there just ready to pop out at the appropriate (inappropriate) moment. For some reason it appeals to her as an expression of how she feels and I fear her money box will soon be empty. We have to get another word into her head, a suitably juicy, expressive word that is guaranteed not to offend (or at least not to cause mummy too much trouble).

We are currently trying a few options on for size. 'Oh, drink bottle' was one suggestion. Or 'Oh, mango'. But the one at the top of the list so far is 'Oh, bottoms'. Do you think I can get away with it? Not openly offensive, but appealing to a pre-schooler's toilet sense of humour...?

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