Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Everything I hate about 50 Shades of Grey

So I read 50 Shades of Grey on the weekend. I finished it as much "in one sitting" as it is possible for a mother of two small children to pull off without endangering her kids. The first chapter is truly terribly written, but I kept on going because I hadn't reached the sex yet, but by the time I did I was too far in to extricate myself. It reached the point where I was reading as quickly as possible, just so I could mercifully reach the end.

It made me cross. Not just because of the writing, the heroine's constant "inner goddess" twaddle or the annoying lip biting, but because of the example this, the fastest selling paperback of all time, is setting to younger women. I was disturbed to learn that it is popular among "teenage girls and college women". Is this going to be the first literary erotic role modeling these girls have? Will it shape their views on how relationships are supposed to work? Will the popularity of this book mean the gents assume this is what all women want in real life? I'm terrified for them all.

First up, pedophilia. Never acceptable. Even if it is between a teenage son of a crack whore and his adopted mother's friend, and somehow "saved" him. What a crock. This is exactly the kind of crap pedophiles tell themselves to justify their actions, and having it defended repeatedly in this book (by the main, exceptional successful, character no less) is deplorable.

In a tale about BDSM the power imbalance is obviously going to be a key plot point, but the power imbalance here extends way outside the bedroom. When our two main players meet he is a billionaire company owner while she is a broke college girl. She requires his approval in order to complete a task for her overbearing room mate, least she endangers her cushy living conditions.

The power starts and remains completely in his hands. As the novel plays out he constantly reminds her by buying ludicrously expensive gifts that she feels uncomfortable accepting, probably because she realises he is not lavishing affection, but rather reinforcing his power. This is further underlined by him constantly knowing her location and home addresses. Even she calls it stalking.

But what can Anastasia do? She has brought herself up on a steady diet of historical British novels, where the heroine's first love is usually her one true love, and they then live out their happily ever after.

And, after all, Anastasia does think she is in love. With a man she has known for a week or two. That, ladies and gentlemen, is called hormones. Just hormones. How can she possibly love him in that time frame?

And if she hadn't run (after he beat her) when the heady mix of pheromones wears thin she would find herself firmly ensconced in a relationship with a man who gets off on her pain.  A man who is willing to boldly confront a virgin with a contract about sticking his fist up her bum, and then smack her with a belt a few days later. And she will be trapped there by her own upbringing - striving to "fix" him, looking for her happily ever after, and no doubt failing miserably.

It concerns me deeply that this kind of novel is being so widely read and lauded. Yes, it has sex scenes, but it is not sexy. There is nothing sexy about such an imbalanced, unhealthy relationship.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Shapewear.  Ughh. I've succumbed to the ravages.

First up, here is an interesting link: Chuck Norris Jokes

Right, now all the lads are gone, let's crack on, shall we? After Peanut, my body bounced back. It might have been all the exercise. (She was too small to complain when I stuffed her in a stroller for hours at a time. Things have changed.) It might have been the smaller meals. (Mr A was away for 8 months, so I ate like a girl.) Or it might have been that after one child, your body still recalls what it used to look like. Whatever the reason, I rejoiced.

This time? Not so much. There was no bounce. More like a weighty flop. And after almost two years of looking at my abs beseechingly (for my abs beseechingly, more like) I've finally realised that, until a minor miracle occurs and my diet and exercise become supportive of my midsection, nothing is going to change.

Which of course, while true, is absolutely no help to me now. I have parties to attend, dammit! Frocks to rock!

So I purchased what Mr Accident kindly calls Vanity Pants. I justified it by finding a 1940s quote on the net, something along the lines of "If you find yourself needing supportive undergarments, then for the sake of humanity, just go and bloody buy some!" I may be paraphrasing. 

Shimmying into the underwear shop took some bravery. I'm not a fancy-knicker-buyer at the best of times, and these were not the best times. I found the shapewear section by aiming for the large wall of beige. From the descriptions on the labels, those pants could do anything. Whittle this, lift that... I was starting to think I was buying a handy western cowboy. Perhaps he could whittle me a saddle to sit atop my waistly saddle bags.

I figured the "light control" pants wouldn't cut it, and steered straight to the industrial strength. And I bypassed the little underpant shaped ones, honing in on a set that run bum to boob. In beige. With seams. SO sexy. I was hoping that, by having the end of the pants as far away from the fat as possible, the chub would just even itself out and I would avoid spillage.

No such luck. Somehow (in a way that totally defies my understanding) the roll of blubber from my tummy migrates to two small pouches under my arms. It's warm. It's soft. It's in the wrong place. It's confusingBut, it's still an improvement. 

I'm sold. My jeans look better, my fancy frocks skim instead of stick, and my only regret is I didn't buy another pair.

So, you lot. Do you wear shapewear? Do let me know, so we can admire our under-arm bulges together...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tree Day

Australians don't tend to over-complicate nomenclature. "Oh look, it's a brown snake! What'll we call it? Brown snake? Well, that makes sense to me..." 

Brown snake
(image from here)

"So we've built this flash bridge. It's over the Sydney Harbour..."

The Sydney Harbour Bridge
(image from here)

And don't forget "red belly black snakes", "red back spiders" and "the Great Sandy Desert." Yup, we're just a regular font of imagination, down here. (This makes me feel better about Peanut naming her horse "Horse" and her fish "Fish". It's in her blood.)

So when our delightful northern cousins decided to have Arbour Day celebrations, I can just imagine the confusion that generated Down Under. "Arbour Day? What the flaming heck is THAT? Oh, planting trees? Yeah, we'll be in on that... but only if we can call it Tree Day."  And so it came to pass.

It's National Tree Day this week - Friday for schools, Sunday for the rest of us. 

Peanut and Bug helped me pick out our tree yesterday. We're going to plant it in the front yard, if it ever stops raining. I considered registering our site as an official location (you get a free Lorax mustache kit!) but I think I'd rather just keep it as a family tradition. Also, I can't be bothered - I've too much laundry to be posting letters. 

It will be nice to leave something behind on our street when we move on at the end of the year. Perhaps when we are passing through Canberra again one day we can drop in and visit it. 

There is still time for you to go out and grab a tree if you want to join in. Ours was only $15 - not much, really, for a lifetime of shade, beauty, and oxygen production. So go on, hug the earth - stick a tree in it. 

A How-to Guide to Becoming a Frugal Foodie

{Today we have a guest post from the team at Frugal Dad. Thanks for the info, guys!}

While the definition of "foodie" is somewhat debated, most can agree that a foodie simply loves the sensuous experience of food. Not just any food, however: food comprised of high quality ingredients and adventurous pairings. A foodie is curious about and appreciates a vast array of food options. By using cost conscious websites like CouponCravings.com for deals, coupons and savings advice you can improve the quality of your life and be -- yes -- a frugal foodie. Here, you’ll find tips on how to prepare and savor quality foods on a budget. 

DIY Foodie

You aren’t about to blow serious cash on your local gastro-pubs to find out what the new trends are popular in the world of foodies. While molecular gastronomy is a hit with foodies lately, these creations require serious investment. The frugal way to become a foodie is to bring your focus home. Think about the quality of your ingredients and price of the equipment you need. Try searching food blogs for ideas and inspiration. Alice Waters is widely held as the person who inspired the foodie movement in the U.S., a champion of recipes with simple, quality ingredients using only a pan, a slow cooker and a wooden spoon to make foodie magic.

Slow Cooking 

If you buy the less expensive cuts of meat at the grocery store, you can slow cook or braise it. If you work all day, you can put a pork shoulder in a slow cooker with a marinade (that can be as simple as a single bottle of root beer!), and when you get home, you have tender, juicy pork that will feed you for a week.

The Whole Chicken

You will also save money by buying unprocessed meats -- for example, opt for an entire chicken rather than just the drums or breasts. Not only can you use the meat, but you can use the bones as well. Bone broth is the most nutritious broth you can consume because marrow is packed with minerals essential for your own bone and joint health. Fancy that! Of course, “using the whole chicken” can be a metaphor for all of the food you use in your home. If you can find a way to use it, use it!

Shop Farmer’s Markets

Another aspect of foodie culture is enjoying locally grown, organic produce. This is because the food will be more appropriately ripened since the farmers know they will not have to transport their food long distances. Farmer’s market prices are cheaper than grocery stores since they do not have to pay corporate middle men, truckers, or anything of the sort to get their food to you.

So, now that you know it’s possible to be a frugal foodie, head to your local farmer’s market this week to smell the tomatoes!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

All grown up

I spent hours this afternoon trawling through the Accidental photo archives. It's hard to believe how quickly the girls have grown. The dogs, too. And Mr Accident and I used to be so young! 

I don't normally notice the passage of time, but sometimes I just have a moment of clarity. I had one today, watching Peanut swim her first whole lap of the pool. 

She hopped out, dripping wet, and ran towards me grinning. 

And time slowed down. 

I realised that somehow over the past three years that I became a wife, and a mother, but I've been so busy being a wife and a mum I rarely stopped to actually noticed it. 

I've become a grown up. 

What a surprise!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It's your turn

I think it's time for a delurker post.

I love checking up on my blog stats. Not so much the numbers, encouraging as they are, but the locations! Fascinating.

I have plenty of Australian visitors, and a few from America, too. A couple from the UK (I think that's you, Gartcott!) and some from South Africa (Hi Stel!) But who else is here?

I'm turning this post over to you, my dear semi-regular reader, my adored occasional or never-before commenter. Come in! sit down! And write...

Monday, July 23, 2012

The "hen-d" of an era: bye bye birdies

Ethical question: is it ok to eat your own pets? Even if they are chickens? I'm firmly in the eating is ok camp. Mr A is not.

My position is based on the argument that, if you wouldn't eat our chickens, why would you eat any chickens? At least ours were ethically raised, free range and only occasionally chased by a crazy puppy. I hear puppy chasing is de riguer in those battery hen houses. And the puppy is a wolf.

Mr A's stance is that they are cute and fluffy and our pets. It's a pretty solid argument. It's certainly not worth upsetting marital harmony for the sake of two dinners, so Mr A won.

We're moving at the end of this year - Sydney, this time. I've been hitting up Google Earth and the real estate sites, and it's growing increasingly obvious that it's not going to be a chicken friendly location. Since Canberra has a dearth of anonymous chicken adoption drop locations, complete with friendly nuns and a strict chicken education system, I had to find an alternative. Luckily, a coincidental chat with another mum at play school led me to the perfect home. She was about to buy chooks that day!

I spent a delightful morning chasing the chooks around the back yard. It is surprisingly difficult to stuff two large chickens into a small mandarin box. Get one in - no worries. Get two in? IMPOSSIBLE. The dogs and the toddler were not helping. Stop opening the box, Bug! Stop chasing the hens under the trampoline, Panzer! Mien gott.

So, we're now henless.

Tomorrow's job is to reclaim the backyard. Scrape all the pine bark off the grass, take down the fences, scrub out the henhouse and turn it back into a kennel. And somehow recover the grass. Do you have any lawn tips? I could use them...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Facing the facts

It's official. I'm a ghost.

Winter has not been kind to my skin, or my skin tone.

I was gently spackling my skin with a light truckload of foundation, trying to polish over the ravages of a Canberra winter, when I realised my foundation was a touch too dark. And by too dark, I mean it made me feel like white bread smeared in nutella.

Luckily it was a shopping day, so I resolved to remedy the situation post haste. Unluckily, I didn't check the colour of my current foundation before rushing off to buy another pot. I just assumed I would get the lightest shade available, probably something called "albino snowman".

Struck mute by the tyranny of choice that is the beauty counter, I inevitably went for the same old brand, and chose the very lightest colour available - ivory.

It looked pale as pale, snowy white linen in a jar. A little pot of liquid cloud. In fact, it looked too pale. Well, winter's long, I'm only going to get paler, right?

So I bought it anyway...

It's the same tone as the one I already had, my trusty jar of nutella. Yep, I'm a ghost.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The tuneless song

There's a love song that's sung in our home.

It's wordless and tuneless. A constant beat, flowing through my life, pouring out of Mr Accident and straight into my heart.

I find stanzas dropped in the bathroom, where I see that the newly washed nappies have been hung up to dry.

I find a note or two in the bathroom, when my electric toothbrush has mysteriously been put on to charge.

There's pages and pages of music in the kitchen, when I am feeling sick and dinner appears on the table.

I hear it when he makes me a lemon and honey tea for my sore throat. I hear it when he rubs Bug's sleepy back. It's there when the chooks are let out on an icy morning.

I don't know if he realises the effect it has on me. I walk around my home and see all the things he has done - the thousands of little expressions of love and service - and it's like walking around in a constant gentle hug.

My friends tease us as "the newlyweds". We've been together eight years, but I still get that same old flutter when I hear him at the door.

I hope my actions show him my love, as much as his do to me. I know I'm guilty of spending "five minutes more" on the internet, of ducking a hug when there's dinner to be made, or begging out of sitting for a bath-side chat when I think there is something more important to be done. More important? Who am I kidding?

Mr A, my darling: I will do better. I will try to sing for you the way you do for me. I suspect my first verse will be entitled  "cookies". You're welcome. ;)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Peanut went to her little friend's party. She wore her favourite blue dress, her white tulle party "hairclippy", and had a big bugger of a scratched mozzie bite right in the middle of her nose.

The birthday girl's mother is a professional children's photographer and she documented the entire party, including all the children with their faces beautifully painted. A few days later she dropped around and gave me a large mounted photo of Peanut. It's gorgeous. The blue in her face paint and dress sets off her stunning eyes (stolen from Daddy), and she has on a beautiful, genuine smile that lights up her face. But the mozzie bite is gone.

Photoshopped away.

It makes me uncomfortable. It's still Peanut in the picture - her face shape hasn't been changed, her eyes are still the same colour, it's her through and through... except it isn't. Because she never looked like that.

Now Peanut is still young. She's not likely to remember that she had a huge red hole in her nose that day, from a night spent unconsciously scratching an itch. And I still ended up with a beautiful photo of my daughter. But I hear they are offering a retouching service on some school photos now, and it concerns me. At what stage do we draw the line?

I have an excellent school photo of me from about year nine or ten. We had just come in from playing soccer for PE, and we had barely five minutes to change into uniform. My photo shows me red faced and flushed, with damp sweat curls around my face, falling from my scraped back hair. I look beautiful. I really do. That photo caught me at my best, grabbed the essence of my favourite part of my school days and saved it forever. Retouching would have ruined it, made it just another plastic photo, carefully documenting an event that never really happened.

Maybe it's just me. I feel the same about staged photos. You know the ones - you're snugged up reading to the baby, but then in comes the self appointed family photographer. They decide to move the book, direct you to point somewhere random, and then get cross when the kid is more interested in what happened to Hairy Maclary than getting her picture taken. Or the "stop playing on the swings and peek through this tunnel so I can get a photo" pictures. In my view, either you catch it when it happens, or you're fresh out of luck. No do-overs. No faking.

My dislike of staging doesn't extend to purposeful photo taking. If you've planned a proper photo-shoot, by all means sit your kid on a chair in the forest and snap away. Feel free to take fifteen group photos to get the right one. But don't make our normal playtime feel substandard because it's not being done photogenically enough. Life is not a film shoot for Facebook.

And my daughter? She meets my standards for beauty every single day, mozzie bites and all.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Friends in Unexpected Places

Funny how a baby changes things.

We had a visitor the other day. (Actually, we've had visitors every-bloody-day this week. I'm buggered, and the floor is officially sick of being cleaned. Today? No visitors. Peanut was still in her PJs at 11am. But I digress...)

I was a bit nervous about her coming. Her husband used to work with Mr Accident, and I had heard some horror stories. She was, apparently, the ultimate career woman. She had a spreadsheet for everything, a set plan for life, and was as cold as sashimi salmon.

When Mr A last saw them they were newly married and trying for a baby. She was planning on returning to work directly from the labour ward, give or take a week. Mr A and his mates used to tease her husband relentlessly. It was clear who "wore the pants".

And now she was coming to our home. I was worried. I used to do her job. I used to have a spreadsheet for everything. I used to have a plan! But now my world has shrunken to not much more than a irretrievably finger-marked couch, and two little devils who won't eat their eggs. What would we discuss?

Turns out, she's had a baby.

Turns out, she didn't go straight back to work.

Turns out, she's trying for another, and never wants to go back again.

Soul mates!

Well, close enough.

She agonizes over leaving her first born in care, while she works until number two, just like I did. She plan to breastfeed as long past first birthdays, same as me. She even has issues "civilianising" her hair, just like I do!

We had a lovely morning drinking tea and watching our children play.

I hope I see more of her.

I reckon she might like to borrow my apron pattern.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Housewife's Creed

When I was younger, I was in Guiding.

I can still remember the excitement as my Mum dropped me off for my first Brownie Meeting. I had just turned six, and I had been waiting for the day for four long years.

I loved the friendships, I loved the games and the crafts, I loved the uniform. But what made the biggest impression on me was the Promise and the Law. It gave me something to strive for. A concrete but simple set of rules I could hold myself against and see how I measured up.

I still try and uphold these ideals daily, especially the good old motto, "Be Prepared", but I was thinking - what if I had a set of guidelines for my role as a housewife? A creed of sorts, one pertaining particularly to this point in my life? Forgive the cheese, but I had a crack:

The Housewife's Promise 
I will strive to fill my home with peace, joy and contentment. I recognise the responsibility and privilege of my role, and I embrace my tasks with enthusiasm.
The Housewife's Creed 
A Housewife is proud of her career  
A Housewife maintains a positive outlook 
A Housewife cares for herself 
A Housewife takes responsibility for the well being of her family 
A Housewife takes care of her home 
A Housewife is productive 
A Housewife improves her skills 
A Housewife is thrifty 
A Housewife creates traditions and memories 
A Housewife serves in her community
And, not to forget, the Housewife's Motto: "Get on with it!"

You'll notice I capitalised the word Housewife. That's because anyone can technically be a housewife - you just need to be married and at home. But to be a proper Housewife takes work. Actual effort. Getting out of bed and having a goal. Having some pride!

So, what do you reckon? Want to join my Housewifely gang? And, way more importantly, what's our uniform going to be?

I reckon this probably needs a badge...

The Accidental Housewife

Friday, July 13, 2012


I had an epiphany last night.

I've been stressing.

I don't stress often - my job as a mother and a housewife is not exactly taxing. Big day to day decisions include "what's for dinner?" and "is making pink sparkly play dough three times in a row imposing restrictive gender norms on my daughters?". You know, the big stuff.

But I have been mulling over a big question - what to do with the rest of my life? My professional life, obviously. My personal life is going to involve wiping weetbix and school runs for a long time to come, all hopefully with Mr A as my loyal sidekick. (What's that, darling? I'm the sidekick? Surely not...)

Bug hasn't been sleeping well (I think she's been getting a bit cold) and so I haven't, either. And the concerns of my undecided yet impending future have been magnified by my muddled, sleep deprived head. It's been worrying me.

Mr A and I have decided that I will get a paid job once the girls start school. (He's always careful to specify a "paid" job, he values the work I do at home very highly, thank goodness.) This means that I would need to start retraining at the end of this year.

But what to train into? I want more than a job, I want a career. One that fits in with my family while they are young. Something that, once the girls become increasingly independent, I can pour my energy into. Something I can be passionate about, that holds my interest. Something that pays a reliable wage. Something I will love!

I woke this morning after the first solid night's sleep in week. And I woke with a firm knowledge of what I want to do. It was clear in my mind soon as I lifted it off the pillow.

I will be a high school English teacher.

And now I feel a fresh burst of enthusiasm for my future. I love words. I love sharing knowledge. I have enough command presence to manage a class (but I might eat my words when faced with a class of year nine boys.)

The next step? Researching universities.

How exciting!

**EDIT ...or perhaps I'll be a geography teacher... Apparently my mind is not as made up as it could be!**

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pumpkin Soup

Time for the second installment of Mrs Accident's patented Winter Warmers! Cheap and simple ingredients, easy to prepare, and guaranteed to infuse your home with an aroma that will leave you impatient for dinner time.

Now this comes with a warning - if you're after a fancy recipe with prepared with all the finesse of a French chef, you have Come To The Wrong Place. My crushed ginger comes from a tube, and my chicken stock comes in small cubes from the cupboard. But heck, if my soup tastes this delicious with basic ingredients, I can only imagine how amazing it would be with the fresh stuff! Lets get to it.

Pumpkin Soup

Image from here


50g butter
2 onions, diced
1 teaspoon crushed ginger
Salt and pepper
1.25kg pumpkin, peeled and chunked.
1/2 litre chicken stock


1) In a large, heavy based saucepan, melt the butter over low heat and stir in the onions until they have softened. Add the ginger and salt and pepper, and give it a good stir.

2) Add the stock, bring it to the boil, then add the pumpkin. I usually cut my pumpkin up into thin slices, so it cooks quickly, but if you've got all the time in the world I guess you could just chuck it in whole. You might even have soup by Christmas!

3) Simmer gently until the pumpkin is very soft, then puree the lot.

4) This serves up beautifully with a dollop of cream or natural yoghurt, and a sprinkle of coriander, but is just fine without. It freezes well!

So, dear readers, what winter warmers do you like? Share, and we'll all get fat and warm together!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Ah winter. 

Freezing, freezing winter. 

It's time for blankets, knitted socks, beanies.... oh, who am I kidding. Its time for comfort food!

Prepare yourself for the first installment (of two) of Mrs Accident's patented Winter Warmers. Cheap and simple ingredients, easy to prepare, and guaranteed to infuse your home with an aroma that will leave you impatient for dinner time. Let's get started!

Mrs Accident's Best Ever Meatloaf

Mmmm, meatloaf. 

No, not this one *shudder* (Image from here.)
Let's try that again, before we lose our appetite...

(Image from here.) 

Ah, there it is! Filling, cheap, and the flash point for many an Accidental marital argument about who gets the last slice. (This isn't a photo of my actual meatloaf. It is exceptionally hard to take an appetizing photo of a brown blob.)


2 slices of bread
1/2 cup of milk
750g mince
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce (plus a bit more)
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 onion, diced
1 egg


Prepare yourself, there's six steps. And mixing! My three year can manage it, so you should be ok.

1) Set the oven to 180 degrees C. (Or, set my oven to 230C, because it's a lazy old sod.)

2) Soak the bread in the milk for about five minutes, until it's lovely and mushy. Be exceptionally thankful this is no longer considered a balanced and nutritious meal for children. 

3) Stick everything in a bowl and mix it. Or get your kid to mix it. Or stick her fingers in and smoosh it about. Doubles as a sensory developmental activity! win!

4) Stick everything in a greased loaf tin. (22x12cm is about right, but any deep dish about that size will do. I use my bread tin. I line it with baking paper but I probably don't need to.)

5) Press the meat down firmly, and squeeze a hefty wallop of barbecue sauce over the top.

6) Bake for an hour. Yum!

This meatloaf is delicious hot, awesome cold, and makes fabulous leftovers.

Mr Accident loves it. LOVES it. He likes to make sure I'm making enough for a hefty serve at night, and lunch the next day. For both of us. Lest I am slightly late for lunch, and he eats the final gigantic serve and there isn't any for me.... I'm pretty sure people have divorced for less... 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

All my friends have nannies

Well, not all of them. But a fair few. The majority, in fact.

And, as always happens when all your friends are jumping off a bridge,I inevitably begin to question my path in life. As those who regularly hang around this neck of the woods know, I gave up a career to stay home with my daughters. And to raise them, too. 

But as I watch my mates pop out babies and then head back to work within months, I must admit I feel a twinge of jealousy. I want what she has, dammit! I want to earn that money, wear those clothes, and have an allocated time to exercise while it's still daylight. I want the buzz that comes with doing a great job at my job. 

And a nanny who does the laundry, and gets up to the night squalls, and knows what's for dinner wouldn't hurt, either. I could join all my friends for their impromptu girls-only-no-kids coffee dates. Heck, Mr Accident and I could go on dates!

Sounds lovely. 

This morning I scolded Peanut for opening the front door. She was letting out the heat, and the cold damp day was washing in around our ankles. If she wanted to watch the rain, she should look out the window! "But Mama, I want to HEAR the rain." So I made a cup of chai tea and grabbed a blanket, and Peanut and I snuggled on the freezing front step, her warming her hands on my mug, as we watched the rain fall into puddles on the path. And I was glad I wasn't at work. And I was glad it was me freezing on that step and not another woman, paid a pittance to love someone else's children. And I wouldn't swap times like that for all the coffee dates in creation. 

Nannies are a godsend for some families. But a nanny 'aint right for me. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

50 things to teach your daughters

Yesterday I was sewing, and while I sew, I think. And curse. And seam rip, and eat half a custard bun, but mostly think.

This particular day, I was considering what a monumental responsibility it is to raise up two daughters to be thriving adults, able to make their way safely and competently in the world outside our home.

And since I like both a solid set of goal posts and a good list, I started to jot down my ideas on what I want my girls to know by the time they leave home. Soon I was doing more writing than sewing, and I had a list as long as my receipt from the sewing shop. Which was, incidentally, what I was writing on.

Now, this list is just my own opinion, forged from my experiences as a daughter and a mother, a Scout and a soldier. Hopefully half the things on here will never be needed, but, then again... what kind of boring old life would that be, hey?

So here's the list:

50 things daughters should know before leaving home

How to:

1) Plan, shop and cook a week of healthy meals 

2) Choose fresh fruit and vegetables

3) Grow a vegetable and flower garden

4) Bake bread from scratch

5) Bake and ice a birthday cake

6) Cook an impressive dinner 

7) Set the table for a dinner party

8) Write thank you notes and conversational letters

9) Touch type

10) Write legibly and neatly

11) Study and take effective notes

12) Use basic spelled sign language

13) Talk confidently in public

14) Read and play music

15) Walk in heels

16) Apply makeup

17) Put together suitable outfits for a formal dinner, and business interview 

18) Balance a basic budget 

19) Understand simple and compound interest

20) Run a hard copy and computer filing system 

21) Develop and follow an exercise routine 

22) Clean a house

23) Correctly wash, dry and iron clothes

24) Mend clothes - buttons, tear and replacing zippers

25) Make a dress

26) Wash basic clothes without a machine 

27) Call the emergency services

28) Identify and use a fire extinguisher and fire blanket

29) How to signal for help in morse code, semaphore and with a flare

30) CPR and First aid

31) Drive a manual

32) Reverse and parallel park

33) Change a tire on a car and a bike

34) Check the oil and fluid in a car

35) Jump start a car

36) Use a road map and a topographical map and compass

37) Find North without a compass, by day and by night 

38) Walk a straight line in the bush or forest

39) Abseil and rock climb

40) Find and purify water 

41) Catch a fish, prepare and eat it

42) Row and sail 

43) Swim

44) Walk long distances 

45) Build a camp fire and use a flint

46) Use a mattock, shovel, hammer, drill, saw, axe and chainsaw 

47) Load, aim, fire, make safe and carry a pistol and rifle

48) Self defence

49) Fill sandbags and build a wall

50) Hold, change and feed a baby

What do you think. Did I miss anything?

{The winner of our giveaway is VANESSA! Contact me via email (theaccidentalhousewife(at)live.com) with your postal address, and I'll send you your prize. Congratulations! 

Also, the LINKLOVE link party will be open all week. Don't forget to add in your housewifely posts!}

Additional images from here and here.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

LinkLove Party Time!

It's time for another LinkLove party!

Last time worked absolutely wonderfully. So many people met new blog friends, and so many people are still following along and commenting on each others blogs. Success!

So let's have another, shall we?

Here's how to get your link on the list:

1) Go and pick a "housewifey" post from your own blog.

We decided last time that a housewifey post is anything written about the work that is done in the home. Extra points if it could be improved by the wearing of an apron! So this includes housework, recipes, home organization, pets and small livestock, opinions and views about the same, and any other subject that might be helpful or interesting to women (or men!) who work in the home.

2) Copy the web address of your specific blog post.

Please don't just copy the general address of your blog, otherwise people will get lost when they try to find your post later.

3) Click on the blue "Add your link" button below.

Then follow the instructions. The name you put in the title will appear on the list. Don't worry, if you get it wrong you can delete the link and have another try. (To delete a link you've added, click the red cross next to your link on the list.)

4) Add the button.

It's like a party hat, so everyone knows where to come to join in!

Copy the code in the box below the LinkLove button.

The Accidental Housewife

Then either:
  • add an HTML widget to your side bar and simply paste in the code, or
  • open the edit mode on your post, change to the HTML mode, and then paste the code in. (At the very top or very bottom is easiest!)

5) You're done!

Now head on over and mingle with our other party guests. Leave plenty of comments as a thank you for coming! And if you're interested in what they have to say, why not follow them? It's a great encouragement.

Thank you so much for coming to our party!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bug vs Mrs Accident - Breakfast

Every morning Bug and I fight a war of wit and will. She enjoys her breakfast, and when she's finished she calls "Mama, befas done. S'cu'me!" (It's very endearing.) She then waits patiently while I fetch a cloth to clean up her attempt at recreating the Battle of the Somme in her weetbix.

And that's when the fun starts.

Bug has two hands and one face (she's pleasingly anatomically normative.) They all need wiping. But I never know where to begin.

Wipe the face first? But then my next move is wiping a hand. She counters by whacking her other messy hand to her face and smearing away all my good work.

Wipe a hand first? But then, while I wipe the other, she shove the clean hand into her bib. Since we use a bib with a muck catcher at the bottom (or, as she sees it, an attached feed trough and food reuse system) the hand comes out arguably worse than when we began. And she's far to wiggly and strong to pin both hands at once.

Remove the bib? No dice. Suspecting such a devilish plot, she has cached a huge wad of half chewed weetbix in her cheek, and she is willing to spit it onto her unprotected stomach at the slightest provocation. Aha! Check mate, woefully inept Mother!

For a while, I pretended to accept her views on post-meal cleanliness and instead tried guerrilla warfare - letting her stick her hands into what ever muck she could find, but just keeping on wiping whatever extremity flailed in my direction. I figured that she would eventually run out of muck, and I would eventually wipe down to clean skin. But it was as about as fun and efficient as walking to London. From Sydney.

I have to step it up. I can't support this inefficiency. In my past life, I was a highly competent student of tactics, but now I am being bested by a toddler. Help me, von Clausewitz!

(Just a thought, water cannon? No? Too far? Just checking...)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

War is hell... and then you have to apologise

I assume most people, when they hear that I have been "to war", picture me in some kind of swampy trench, facing the enemy with a fixed bayonet and a cigarette pack stuck in my muddy helmet.

I have never smoked.

Or fixed bayonets in anger.

Or been in a muddy trench in another country.

In fact, the scariest thing I faced in that war zone was an apology...

Stick with me while I explain.

I was a Signaller, in charge of the troop of soldiers who ran the communications for the Battle Group. Since we were the most important consumers of power, I also had control of the generators.

Now the camp where we stayed was pretty flash. I did all my living and office work in heated and air-conditioned armoured containers. I had a rug in my office, a faux leather chair with lumbar support, and a fancy desk from Ikea. The coffee machine was just a short walk down the corridor, and I had a bar fridge under my desk for the troops Cokes. It was about as far from a muddy trench as war was capable of being.

But these modern conveniences came at a price: they were a huge energy drain. Luckily, we had three huge generators to serve the camp. Three, because we were supposed to have one working, one as backup, and one being serviced at any time. Of course, the best laid plans....

The company patrol had left the perimeter as normal that morning. About three minutes after they had left, the generator tech came and told me that they had to shut down all three generators, leaving us (and our radios) without power. This was, obviously, totally unacceptable.  Now the poor lad (he would have been about 19) didn't speak much English, and I don't speak a word of Dutch, but I have absolutely no doubt he understood my views on the matter. (In fact, after our chat, I became known as "the scary Aussie girl".) He couldn't keep the generators running, but he could provide us a tiny backup one while he fixed the primaries.

We had to hook it up to the mains power on the headquarters, which also supplied every light, fridge and kettle in the building.  And, being HQ, there were plenty. Unfortunately, the geni would only provide enough power for the radios, and nothing else. The RSM issued a general announcement that all computers, lights and heaters were to be switched off (this was the dead of an Afghan winter, mind you) and the HQ fell into a hushed, eerie darkness. But the radios worked!

Suddenly, the troops outside the wire ran into trouble. The radios lit up like a christmas tree, and my lads were working flat chat.... until *insert electrical fading noise here...*  the power went dead. We had lost comms. The geni was still working, which meant someone was stealing our power! I was furious.  I raced down the corridor, crashing open doors, looking for the perpetrator.

I found him in the second last room. An unnaturally tall, intensely muscled, Rhodesian born Major, a man who was regarded by the entire Battle Group with a mixture of awe and fear, had just turned on a kettle.  I burst into the room, saw the steaming kettle and threw myself at the power point, all the while  spewing a furious stream of white hot, righteous anger. (I was clearly having a bad day.) He was caught on the back foot, speechless in the face of my onslaught. I suspect that's the first (and only) time that has ever happened.

He looked kind of like this. But bigger. And MUCH scarier. 
Image from here.

As I stood up from the floor, power now flowing to the rightful appliances, I realised what I had just done. Far too scared to stay and face the music I turned tail and fled. And yes, I am not ashamed to admit it, I ran straight to my boss's office and hid behind the door, jabbering to him what an idiot I had been and how I was so very, very sorry.

When my boss heard the news he looked stricken. I had just committed gross insubordination, and to the scariest man in the Battle Group. I was sure the wrath of the gods was about to descend. I would be charged! Disciplined! Sent home! Or, more likely, ripped limb from limb by an angry Rhodesian, if he ever managed to find me...

He found me. It took about thirty seconds. He probably heard me yammering from the hallway.

He strode into the office and called (you'll have to imagine that Rhodesian accent here), "Lieutenant Accidental, come out here!" Time stood still. But not still enough... I crept out, shamefaced, heels together..."Sir."  "Jen, I am sorry about plugging in my kettle. It will not happen again."

Wait... what?

Did he just apologise to me?

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is another lesson on the harsh realities of my war.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Animal crackers

We've been hibernating here. And I'm going slowly mad.

Bug's temperature has come and gone, but her loss was unfortunately Peanut's gain. I've gone from being trapped on the couch under one child, to being trapped on the couch under the other. And we're still watching hours of Playschool a day. I can actually feel my mind, and legs, atrophying.

Poor Peanut asks to do every craft or activity we watch. I agree, but then watch as she valiantly stumbles up from beneath her blanky, trying to make it to the playroom, before getting the shakes and retiring in defeated confusion to the couch. It breaks my heart. But, if Bug's passage through the illness is anything to go by, she will regain her spark by Friday.

So, with limited blog fodder, let's have an update on the Accidental animals!

Panzer's growing like a weed. In fact, she's growing so quickly she's almost onto her third collar, and her cute wrinkly butt pokes out the bottom of her second warm dog coat. If I'm late feeding her breakfast, ribs appear down her side like a minuscule doggy xylophone. Thankfully, her intelligence is growing along with her muscle, and we've finally reached the point where I can tell her off with a stern look and a quiet word, instead acting like an arm flailing, water spraying, growling idiot. Of course, this means I'm burning about 30 000 fewer calories a day.

Pan is also becoming accustomed to her role as a family guardian. She raced to the door barking when the dodgy looking parcel delivery man called, 
and tried valiantly to protect me from the local groundskeeper. Well, until the leaf blower started... then she was very pleased to have my leg to hide behind. Oh Pan, you big, brave, sooky puppy, you!  

Milly and Tilly have redecorated their chicken apartment. It was a knee-jerk reaction to waking up to frozen water in their feeder. Lucky, they hired in help - me. Frankly, I wouldn't recommend my skills as an insulation contractor. I did an extremely technical and long lasting job, sticking all its shiny, reflective, golden glory up with regulation thumbtacks. It's like a 1970's party in their little house now, I'm amazed that they can get any sleep in there at all! But, while it's a wee bit bright, it's also very snug. I have two very happy chickens.

Speaking of happy, my depressed fish is on the mend! We bought her another little friend (her previous  one only lasted a day) and her mood is very much improved. No longer does she hide her fishy head behind the filter! No longer do her googly eyes swim with sadness! All she needed was some decent company. And really, isn't that true of us all?

And now, ladies and gentlemen, it's (belatedly) time for comment of the week. You'll have to excuse my nepotism, but I'm awarding it to "Anonymous" for their comment on Brave. Oh, wait, did I say Anonymous? I meant "Mr Accident." He snuck on here and left a message, trying to blend in with our commenting style:
Have you heard of the movie Topgun? A delightful tale of adventure, love and it also dabbles in a bit of Military Aviation? Kids should love it! There are even one or two musical numbers throughout the piece!"
Which sounds like nonsense, until you learn that Topgun was the movie we were watching when we first kissed. Oh, Mr A! Such a romantic!

Now, speaking of romance, I'm off to share a bed with a hot toddler, quite possibly a fidgety baby, and hopefully my delightful husband. He'll be the one clinging to the other side of the mattress. Now that's love.
Night all!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Brave. I loved it.

I took Peanut to her first big-girl movie. It was a Mummy-Daughter date of the most awesome kind.

We left Daddy and the baby sister at home, skipped nap time (!) and headed into the city. Medium popcorn, just-in-case bathroom trip before the film, and then my three year old was perched on a giant theater chair and ready to be enchanted.

And she was.

I don't think she moved an inch during the entire film.

I have to admit, I may have cried a little during the opening scenes. Not as a response to anything on screen, but out of joy and relief that there was finally a Disney movie I could take my impressionable daughter to see, without an under dressed, boy-crazy, marriage-chasing princess as the "heroine", or a suitably handsome rescuing Prince in sight. And (I don't want to spoil it for you) the heroine's marriage may be a plot point in the movie, but it's not the end point. Thank goodness.

Merida (the princess) is a wild haired, impudent girl who rides an enormous horse, knows her arrows from her arrowroots, and finds corsetry restrictive. I loved her.

But I especially loved how her relationship with her mother developed throughout the movie, as they each came to realise and appreciate the strengths of the other, and move from a directing mother - directed daughter relationship to one based on mutual  respect and admiration.

I hope that my relationship with my daughters can do the same, but hopefully without the intervention of a scatterbrained witch with a malfunctioning cauldron voice mail. Cause, you know, I like my witch's technology to work. Disney and Pixar have previously done some fantastic father son movies (Finding Nemo, for example) and it's great to see them successfully doing the same for mothers and daughters. Hopefully they will see that the format works, and make many more!

Get your kit sorted, lady!

Most importantly, I want Merida to come to my house and stay here, as a role model for my daughters. The split second this movie is available on DVD, I'm buying it. Tangled (the Rapunzel movie) is the only Disney Princess movie in our house at the moment, and already Peanut is spouting garbage about marriage and handsome princes. It's insidious, and it alarms me, but hopefully Brave will help me fight fire with fire, even if I bought the fire from the same shop!

But until the DVD arrives, Peanut and I will just keep on chatting over what happened ("She roded the horse! That was my favvite bit. She climb the waterfall! Acksually, that was my favvite bit too...") and eating our treats. Yup, because if you want to win the Mummy of the Year award, and spoil a kid who's been an absolute gem while her baby sister's been sick, don't leave anything to chance. After the movie, hit up the lolly shop. Let her pick one of EVERYTHING from the loose lolly bins (grand total, $3.20) and she'll be yours for life. Well, until you suggest it's bath time, anyway.

So, dear reader, if you have the spare cash and a few hours this week, I suggest you hit up the movies and watch Brave. Show the Hollywood studios that they can make good money in kids movies with strong, empowered female leads. And take your girls, so they get inspired. And take your sons, so they learn that strong willed, smart girls with crazy hair and good aim are heroes, too. You'll like it, I promise.

Now help me out, do you have any suggestions for other movies in the same vein, suitable for very young ladies? I'm not a big film buff, and I could use some advice!