Jun
1st

Lately I have been thinking of idols. No, not those youngsters trying to break into showbiz via American or Australian Idol or any other variation of that show. But characters – whether they be real or fictional -  that display the characteristics that you aspire to.

Why all the idol chatter? (haha) Well, as the mother of two girls, I hope that my girls find a female figure of some sort that helps them aspire to be the strong, intelligent, independent and ambitious girls I know they can be.

Now, while I know it’s true that the best idols are those around you, like your mum, grandma and other female friends or relatives, I still think it’s important to have someone to aspire to that is outside of that circle. Someone that you can secretly identify with and idolise, without anyone else knowing. Why? Because sometimes you will gain secret strength from your private idol. Strength that will get you through any hard times you may have with your family or friends

When I was a girl my ultimate idols were She-Ra (Princess of Power) and Princess Leia from the Star Wars trilogy.


Why? Because these were chicks that could kick some major butt and take care of themselves.

They lived life by their own principles and didn’t shy away from standing up for what they believe in. They were independent and strong yet compassionate to those who needed help or couldn’t stick up for themselves.

For better or worse, I aspired to be a strong girl like them. Now do I think my idols contributed to the person I am today? I don’t 100% know. But I do know I still admire the characteristics they displayed: strength, independence, intelligence, compassion and many other things I still try and aspire to be.

I also believe that if I chose another idol, say a softer or more domesticated character e.g. Smurfette, I may have ended up different. But again, I don’t 100% know. All I do know is that my idols, real and fictional, helped shape me as a girl and later, a woman.

And that is why I hope that the girls of today, including my own, pick idols that will add worth and value to their lives and help them become as strong, smart and wonderful as I truly know they can all be.

What about you? Who were your childhood idols? Who are your idols today?

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filed under Idol, Susan P

We recently celebrated the centenary of International Women’s Day last month. And we took the time to see how far women’s roles in society have changed in 100 years.  We’ve come a long way.

My mother is very old school; I can still hear her muttering that she doesn’t understand my choices sometimes.  The greatest irony of that situation is she is the one who raised me to aim higher than she did.

She insisted I get a tertiary education; even when my father scoffed at the idea.  She was pleased when I wanted to travel.  She instructed me to not get married before 25; give me a chance to grow and learn about myself before committing to another.

These are the sorts of pearls I want to pass onto my daughter.  Now I don’t need to discuss how women struggle with the ‘super woman’ title and we have realised that perhaps we are trying to pack too much into our lives…all to be done at this very minute.

But the biggest surprise was when my daughter was in Year Two said she wanted to be a mum, a teacher and an art teacher.  “But how will I be able to do all that?” she lamented.

Oh dear, seven years old is a little young to be so cynical isn’t it?  I would have liked my daughter to believe that she could have and be anything she wanted when she grew up.  There’s enough time later on for reality to set in; when she realizes hard work and tough choices need to be made.

But just like the strong women I so admire, my daughter found a role model in her teacher.  You see my daughter’s teacher was a mum, a teacher and an art teacher.

“Mrs Cowie is all three things mum.  Maybe I can do it too”, my daughter said with a beaming smile on her face.

Yes you can my dear, if you want it, yes you can.

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filed under Doing it all, Mrs M

My eleven year old son came home from school one day after having participated in a swimming class. Unpacking his stuff, he advised me :

‘Mum, you didn’t even give me a proper towel today. You gave me a….’ I could see him searching for the word he was after, looking for it in the air. ‘You gave me a Footland,’ he finished.

I narrowed my eyes, screwed up my nose, trying to register what it was that he meant. It came to me on a gust of laughter.

‘You mean a ‘bathmat’?’ I asked between giggles. I was picturing these fabulous, almost regal, little Footlands complete with fabulous little wet foots. Obviously, so was he as he joined me in a gale of laughter.

The word he created has joined our family vocab, sitting alongside such golden words as ‘Dookie’ and ‘Nuff Nuff’, both of which have made it into Go Girl! stories (I’ll tell you about them some other time).

I’m so glad he got his mords wixed up.

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filed under Info

Maddison is eleven. Wait, don’t go anywhere, because this could totally relate to you. Presumably you were eleven once. And, I’m guessing, just like me, you were embarrassed by your parents at least once. Perhaps even mortifyingly so.

My mother was an absolute bandit for embarrassing me. She didn’t mean to of course, but well, when a massive generation gap meets limited budget, it was to a teenager, like social death.

Let me count the ways…. I guess the worst thing my mother ever did to me was cut my hair.  Short. Like a boy. In Year 6. Well technically I gave her the go ahead. See, she loved me with short hair while I on the other hand knew the only way to my first kiss and/or boyfriend was to not look like a dude. But she got me with the almighty dollar. She offered me fifty bucks if I would get my hair cut short. See, right there, that’s messed up. I mean, who does that? But being the clearly easily bought little tramp that I am, I accepted.

I took my Dolly Magazine down to the salon, showed the hairdresser a picture of the model with a short, yet stylish flicked hairdo and sat down waiting to be transformed. The result?  A brunette Ronald McDonald. Pretty much no one spoke to me at school for almost 5 months. Here’s a heads up:  Fifty bucks can only buy you so many packets of chicken Twisties to take away the pain.

Now they say clothes don’t maketh the man, but they almost certainly make the teenager raging her way through puberty. I am testament to that. See, back when I was around  14, I wanted labels. Those labels here on the Gold Coast were Cheetah and Oakely. There were a few other surf brands as well, but mainly those two. Sadly, even back then, over 20 years ago, a pair of Cheetah togs were $70. Oakley sunnies were over a hunghy. Yet, the fact that mum could not supply these made me feel undeservedly hard done by. So we improvised. Or I should say, she did. Rather than forking out for a pair of Cheetah Tracksuit pants to take away on my year ten camp, she Hobbytexed CHEETAH on my $7 Best and Less pair. Oh I was popular.

She also made a lot of my clothes. Here I am in a little number I would wear skating at Skaters Paradise even years later. Sometimes with a fetching flip skirt.

 

And the fact that they she was a few decades behind the fashion didn’t stop her from whipping up new matching twin sets on a constant basis. This, to a girl trying to forage her way in the very screwed up pecking order of early high school, caused issues.  Now of course I know she made these with love and with the best of intentions. In hindsight I do, but let’s face it, 14 year old girls can be complete moles.

And it appears as we get older, our parents don’t stop the rot. Phil’s dad, my now Father in law, embarrassed his son beyond belief the very first I met them. Now, Allan, Phil’s dad, is a lovely guy, so much so, he was super excited that his son was bringing home a “new” girl to meet them.  Clearly Phil had been just lovin and leavin em before that. He asked me upon entry if I’d like a drink. Now Phil’s parents do not drink. Like Ever. Yet at some point they’d been given a bottle of Baileys, so that was what was on offer. I accepted happily, loving not only a bit of Baileys but also the social lubrication. That’s when Allan poured the Baileys into his best glasswear and chunks fell out. See, at some point, probably at least two years prior, he’d added some Milk to the Baileys BOTTLE and then returned it to the abyss of their liquor cabinet. Ahh, I’ve loved his dad ever since.

So have I learnt anything from my childhood? Will I zip my lips or buy my children all the cool stuff so they fit in? Maybe, because I remember only too well how this stuff can pre-determine a kids coolness factor.

Mind you, I did find myself leaping out of the car this morning and pinning Maddies hair back for the school photos she had on later that day. I then may have proceeded to wet my finger with my own saliva and wipe Milo from her chin. Oh God. It’s started.

How did your parents embarrass you?

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So a few weeks ago my daughter turned 10 years old.  I have been a mother for 10 years.  10 years is a milestone.  It is something to be celebrated; it is a time for reflection.  Since my daughter was born my husband and I have added another three children to our brood.  We have been busy these last 10 years.  No wonder I’ve lost track of time.

At 10 we’re heading into the business end of raising a child.  I have managed to teach my daughter how to do shoe laces, use her manners and wipe her own bottom but from here on in is where we really let who she is out of the bag.  Her very own free thinking, thought provoking, challenging, independent self.  This is what I can’t wait for.  This is why I had children.

But realistically speaking, I probably only have another 10 years with my daughter.  Even if at 20 years old, the electoral role still has her living with me, I am positive I will see her pass me by on the way to the shower and then pass me again on the way out the door.

Because that’s what you do when you’re 20.  And fair enough too.  Name me another time when you can be so wonderfully spontaneous, busy, and to a degree, responsibility free?

So what have I learned in the first 10 years?  I have learned that knee scrapes heal, siblings at play is one of the sweetest things you’ll see and cornflakes for dinner are okay occasionally. (read: when I couldn’t be stuffed cooking).

For my daughter, I would have to say that starting kindergarten was the biggest learning curve for her.  6 months into kindergarten and my daughter changed so much from a little shy, kind of awkward looking, girl that walked away from me that first day; to a confidence independent student who brought home her first report card with a beaming smile on her face.

Officially my daughter is a tween and the transition from child to tween hasn’t been traumatic.  There’s the odd drama here and there but even I am guilty of that.

“What? You can’t find your shoe? Well now we’re going to be late and you know how I hate to late!”

“Mum, we’re only to the pizza place. It doesn’t shut for another 4 hours and they have plenty of tables.”

Ahem. Sometimes I do wonder exactly who does the parenting around here. 

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filed under Child to tween, Mrs M

Being the eldest of three girls, it never occurred to me that I would have sons. I simply assumed I would have three daughters like my own mother did – but obviously things don’t always turn out as planned. So, instead of swapping clothes, shoes and secrets, I find myself grappling with muddy soccer boots, smelly socks and testosterone swings.

After my third son was born, a fellow parent of three sons said to me: ‘Welcome to the POTS club!’

‘POTS club?’ I asked.

‘Parents Of Three Sons,’ my friend explained.

‘So… what happens if you have decide to have another child?’ I asked.

My friend looked at me, shaking her head, sagely. ‘Nobody ever tries.’

Being a mother of three sons turns you into a particular kind of person. You bond very quickly with other families of boys. Only POTS understand the noise, space and quantity of food boys need. Staying with friends who aren’t POTS requires a huge amount of planning and preparation. You can’t exactly call it a holiday.

Once, I was foolish enough to take up the offer of childless friends in Sydney to stay at their place rather than rent a motel room. Despite the rotten weather that week, I felt obliged to take my sons outside all day and every day, to the local park to burn off energy. After all, watching three boys wrestling in the middle of the loungeroom floor doesn’t appeal to everybody.

Particularly the childless.

Then, at the end of each day, I would feed my boys loaves of bread in the car before we went in to dinner to fill them up so they wouldn’t wolf down our host’s beautifully prepared meals in two seconds flat. It was exhausting.

When you go away with POTS, it’s merely a question of working out how many trays of meat and boxes of Weet-bix you should bring. As long as you’re equipped with plenty of meat and carbs, as well as a couple of footballs, you know you’ll be right.

But there are wonderful things about raising boys, too. Many, many wonderful things. My eldest son turns eighteen this year, yet he is still so full of love and affection towards me. Every morning he lumbers out of his bedroom like some kind of reeking Frankenstein for his morning cuddle. He lopes around in saggy jeans and a beanie in the middle of summer looking like a hooligan, yet he will jump up from his seat on a tram for an old lady without any prompting. Future girlfriends: he also cooks a mean chicken curry and even cleans up after himself!

My middle son will be fifteen this year, but every afternoon when he gets home from school he takes his seven year old brother out into the garden, to dig for worms, take apart an old toy or build a birdhouse. Sometimes they even play dress-ups and my oldest son will film them and make hysterical movies we all watch together.

My grubby, wrestling little boys are growing into beautiful young men: funny and gentle and kind. Now I can’t imagine having three more lovely children. What’s more, while my once smug friends of daughters have begun complaining about their increasingly difficult relationships with their teenage girls, my sons continue to be exuberant, loving and uncomplicated.

So, for any other other POTS out there, don’t feel daunted. Despite what people may lead you to believe, being a parent of three sons can be extremely rewarding. Just as long as you feed them lots and take them outside to kick a footy around every once in a while.

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filed under POTS, Sally Rippin

Do you ever feel like life is moving too fast? Like your daughters are being asked by society to grow up too quickly? Like if you have to attend one more party-place-hair-and-make-up party you might just scream?? Well then, you and I are a lot alike.

Those who know me (or have read my blog KeepCateBusy) will know that one of my goals is to simplify life for my family and me. Now that’s not to say that my kids don’t have ipods and DSs (they do) – and they would dearly love a Wii (as would I just quietly!), but it does mean that I put considerable effort into it not being the main focus of our lives.

So what am I talking about? Well, I can guarantee that I’m not talking about mother-daughter master chef sessions where you and your cherubs work tireless for six hours to churn out a gourmet 3 course meal. I’m also not talking about buying 5x5m pre-stretched canvasses and a set of artist-grade oil paints and then whipping up a collaborative Monet-inspired interpretation of the gum tree in your back yard.

I’m talking about getting back-to-basics. About the fun stuff you used to do as a kid. About no plans, no rules, and no fun police. Mudpies, sandcastles, bikes, rollerskates, climbing trees, swings, slides, library books, dolls, textas, damper, homemade playdoh, collecting stamps, penpals…

Yes, I could go on and on (and on and on)!!

But I won’t; today.

What I will do is leave you with a link to this post. It’s a list of books I have recently read with my girls. No, they’re not Go Girl books (oh, but we do love them!!), but rather it’s a collection of beautiful classic books that I could have sworn I’d read as a child – but can’t for the life of me remember!!

I’ll also come back soon with some more simple ideas for how to get the ridiculously-complicated out of your life – ahhhh, simplicity!!

thanks for reading…

xxxCate

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Apr
1st

It’s started.  Boys.

Maddison, aged 11, has been invited to attend a theme park with a 13 year old boy for his birthday.  Now this boy isn’t her boyfriend.  He’s her best friend’s boyfriend who has also been invited.   No, it’s the other two boys going that are also 13 that worry me a tad.

To be honest, 13 is the alarm bell age for me. It might be the whole “teen” element but I think it’s because I’m still young enough to remember that this is when shit started to get real at high school.  But Maddie isn’t at High School. Neither are these boys.  They’ve barely started year 7.

Now I’ve met these kids. They’ve got their hair so sharp it would cut you if you got too close.  Honest to God, they’d be using more Final Net than me in 1988, to keep those razor sharp ‘dos’ so helmet like.  They seem respectful, calling me Mrs Morley and looking me in the eye.  And granted, these are great signs, but I just don’t know if it’s a goer.

If I say no, I will be being my own mother who basically held the chastity belt key until I finished High School.  Bad move.  I went wild for a little bit there as a result but I remember only too well, this is the age of the first kiss.

My first kiss was revolting.  Re. Volt. Ing.  Some guy called David at a freaking barn dance.  What’s more telling,  the fact that of my own free will I was at a Barn Dance or that I was kissing a random stranger behind a shed?  He smelled like wet dog and his buck teeth hit my nose before making it to my mouth.  I was holding my breath, more than likely trying to block out the off cheese smell that was coming from his mouth.

When it was over, all I remember thinking was “thank God I’ve done it.  I’ve kissed a boy”.  So what he was jerk and told me my check shirt made me look like farmer (der dickhead, it’s a BARN DANCE), I’d locked lips, it could only get better.

I can happily say I and it, got better over time.  Not that I was a prolific pasher, but once I realised what all the fuss was about, David Cheesebreath became a thing of the past.

Funnily enough, the little guy that digs Maddie is also called David.  He’s the one that bought her a fake velvet rose and Ferrero Rochers on Valentine’s Day.  He’s also the one who’s started ignoring her in the past week.  Dead giveaway he’s into her.

So, I haven’t said yay or nay as yet.  It’s proving to be quite the discipline goldmine with many “If you don’t stop with the attitude, you won’t be going to Lachies birthday”.  Empty threats are my specialty.  But if this is going to be a first kiss situation, I’d really better think this through.

But to be honest, I’m 90% sure she’s going to be able to go.  Doesn’t mean I’m not going to dress up as Kenny Koala and inconspicuously follow her around all day…

Stick to the puppy dogs honey!
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Mar
30th

I think she kept trying until she was in the most wonderful first position in the class. She’s probably the lead in the end of year performance.

The dizzying height of my ballet career was playing a brick in the Yellow Brick Road. I was too tall to be a munchkin.

How about you? We would love to hear about your highs and lows in the world of performing arts!

Love Kate

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When I was a little girl, I had a pact with my mum. When a friend’s parents asked if I would like to stay for dinner, mum was to tell them that I wasn’t allowed.

My fear was broccoli-based. What if they served broccoli with dinner? What if they were the type of parent who thought kids should eat everything on their plate?

It was too terrible to contemplate. Best to avoid any broccoli related issues. Because what would they think of a girl who couldn’t, even in her best intentions of being well mannered and generally nice, cope with the vilest of food types? Not to mention the horrors of peas, brussel sprouts and other green villains.

Lucy, from my first Go Girl, ‘Surf’s Up’ has to face such demons. When she goes on holidays with her bestie, it’s a leap of faith into another family’s dinner plates. Not only that, but Lucy has to face the notion that she may not actually be as nice as she thinks. Nice girls don’t get jealous about their best friend’s being better surfers than they are, and getting put up into a higher surfing class. Do they?

That’s the thing. They do. We do. Even as adults, we have fears of certain things that we studiously avoid. Even as adults, we battle with our sense of what is the right way to feel. What is the right way to cope. How lovely to be able to explore such issues that fill the minds of little girls.

I’m on the hunt for a Go Girl for 47 year olds. Anyone got any suggestions?

Chrissie x

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