Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mirror, mirror

Do you ever look at one of your children and think are you really mine?!

I do this all the time. My children are very different from one another but in lots of ways they are all similar. Similar to each other and similar to me and my husband. For example, we all share a love for bananas. Each and every one of us. Especially banana bread. We could live off bananas if it was possible.

We all love sport. We can all watch (and thoroughly enjoy!) a game of AFL* (Aussie Rules Football) on TV. All of my kids play some sort after school sport and I love watching them play.

We all love to dramatise things. On more than several different occasions we have been known to make a big deal out of a small situation. Let's just say in our large family, we like to be noticed...
We are always listening to music in the car. I will admit that I like mainstream music. Pretty much every song on the radio is music to my ears - except for rap. Even worse when the song is full of it. My kids love to dance and sing along to the popular songs. Except for my daughter. She has taken a liking to classical music. Neither my husband and I have every listened to nor played classical music in our house. Hmmm?

Yesterday my eight year old son asked if he could become a "meat-a-terian". This is odd because we only eat red meat about once a week and most of my children's favourite meals are vegetarian ones. Hmmm?

I am a self-confessed girly-girl. I love a bit of retail therapy and I find doing make-up and hair fun. Fun? Only me? Okay. All of my girls share this with me except for one. She is quite a tomboy and will turn her nose up at the whisper of "make-up" or "hair straightener". Hmmm?

The males of my house hate watching anything girl-related. This includes chick flicks and shows** like Glee, Gossip Girl or America's Next Top Model. My eldest son has currently become obsessed with a show that would be labelled as girly in our household - 90210. Even though he knows it, he tries his hardest to argue that it's target audience is teenage boys. Hmmm?

Even when you all like the same thing, it can get a little repetitive sometimes. Sometimes it's nice to switch Katy Perry for Andrea Bocelli. Or make-up for Nike High Tops.

Yes, sometimes it's even nice to swap a little Sex and the City for some Top Gear.

Top Gear? Did I just say that? Hmmm?

*this is a game where an oval ball (not soccer!) is to be kicked between two goal posts at both ends of the field

**except for One Tree Hill. There is an unwritten rule here that if you want to be in our family, you must love and watch it. Heh.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Twilight Zone

I know what you're thinking. Eurgh. Please don't tell me she's a fan of Twilight and this is going to be a blog all about her love for R-Patz.

Don't worry. While I can appreciate that it's a good film, I'm not one of those crazy 'twi-hards'. Except apparently I am. Huh? Let me explain.

Without giving their names away, one of my kids has the name of the hottest werewolf in the movie. Another one of my kids shares the first name of the actor who plays that character. The shortened version of one of my daughters' name is also the main female character's name. Totally a coincidence.

To add to that, my middle name is actually Vampira.

Oh, just kidding. I couldn't even imagine if it was. I already get asked* if Twilight was the inspiration for my children's names. Um, hello? My kids were born long before the books and movie even came out. But yes, I'm thinking Cullen for my next child.


*especially by my 16 year old daughter's friends

Saturday, May 22, 2010

L is for Learner

Now that my twins are 16 they are able to get their learner's permits. I applied for a little learner's package for them which included brochures, info sheets and a very thick booklet to read. They both had to read all of the information and then sit this theory test of 30 multiple choice questions (both kids got 29/30, due to my excellent road safety teaching. Go team!).

This means that they can both legally learn to drive. The rules state that you must carry the permit with you when you drive at all times with a supervised driver who has had their license for more than five years and you must clearly display this little sign on the front and back of the car:

Unfortunately as we are a large family, we don't have a small, easy car for them to practise in. We have two people movers which are big and bulky, but at this point in time, they'll just have to do. With my husband away for work and a five week old baby it makes it hard to take the kids out to drive. So far we have only done driveway reversing and 10-15 minute drives* in a car park near our house. If you see quite a large car with L-plates, a nervous driver and a Mum who is trying her best to stay calm and juuust breathe; you'll know it's us.

After my twins have been driving for six months, they can sit a practical driving assessment. They are assessed on eight key points: look behind, flow, movement, path, manoeuvres, responsiveness, signal and vehicle management as well as two exercises called Stopping for Shopping (this one sounds fun!) and I've Left Something Behind (oh, no!). To be honest, I have no idea how to teach/show my kids many of these key points, so it looks like I'll be learning something along the way - something other than extreme patience and perseverance, that is.

After another six months and 25 hours each of hell driving, they can finally sit another theory test. This one is a Hazard Perception test, which tests if you know when to slow down, when to change into the next lane, your reaction time and so on. Finally, they can then get their driver's license - driving without Mum - woo!

It's not over just yet. Once they remove their L-plates** they are known as a 'novice driver' and will need to clearly show this little sign on the front and back of their car for six months:

Wearing this plate has restrictions. You are required to have a BAC (blood alcohol limit) of 0 at all times and you are not permitted to drive between 12am - 5am. After six months with the red plates, they need to change to these for 18 months:

Only then can they finally drive Mum free and sign free. Phew!

Can I just use this time to point out that I am SO glad that I don't live on the other side of my country. Their learner drivers have to complete 120 hours before getting their P's. I'm not so sure I would have enough time nor patience to spend 360 hours in the car with my L-plater over the next two years.

*driving up and down the middle of the car park with only one or two turns. My son is already very confident and I'm sure will be out on the roads soon. My daughter... not so much.

**along with the L-plates comes copious amounts of teasing from their siblings: "L is for looooser!"

Friday, May 21, 2010

Time is of their essence

My children like to leave things to the last minute. They like to get up at 7:45 when they know we always leave at 8:10. They like to clean their room just before they go to bed. They like to do their homework the night before it is due.

Usually it's only one of them that decides to test my patience by doing this. Last night it was multiple times and all at once. Seriously. Picture this:

My husband is away for work. It is 9.30 pm and my baby has just been fed and is sound asleep. My 5 year old has already been in bed for an hour. My older boys have just started eating dinner (I know, I know. They don't get home from training until 9:00 pm on a Thursday night). My 8 and 11 year olds are getting ready* for bed.

Sounds fairly normal, right?

All of a sudden - drum roll please...

My 11 year old comes rushing out telling me she needs help with her Math homework. What? We just did her homework about 4 hours ago. Oh, no. This was homework she was 'saving for later'. Later as in now. Don't worry, this gives her plenty of time because it only needs to be handed in TOMORROW.

My 16 year old son asks if we have any birthday cards. Uh, no - only a 'Happy Belated Birthday' card I've had in the drawer for eight years. "Mum, I've already wrapped her (girlfriend's) gift. Now I just need a card." Oh, OK. I'll just add that to my early morning to-do list because her birthday is TOMORROW.

My 14 year old son throws a scrunched up piece of paper into my lap. It's an excursion permission slip. Cool - a signature and the date and I'm done. I start reading and then realise that because it is a "confidence builder" day, I need to write a little bit about my son's best qualities. Really? I'm not in the best write-sweet-and-lovely-things mood because the excursion is TOMORROW.

My 16 year old daughter asks me if she can have $100 to pay her friend for a concert ticket she has bought for her. Sure, I'll just add a trip to the ATM to the early morning to-do list because her friend is buying the tickets TOMORROW.

In the end everything worked out fine. My 8 year old got her homework done. We bought a gorgeous card for my son in the morning. I managed to write a lovely passage about my 14 year old and I also gave my daughter the money to give to her friend.

I often hear them using the "Oh, we just work better under pressure" excuse. They're right - it's amazing how hard a bit of pressure can make you work for an English assignment due in less than 24 hours. I just wonder where they got their last minute-ness from. Clearly not from their very organised, efficient, intelligent and perfect mother. *cough

*read: giggling, chatting and doing everything they can to get out of going to bed

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Free Babysitting

While I was pregnant, I had many people ask* me if I was glad I had teenage children so that they could babysit. I honestly didn't know how to answer, so usually nodded and managed a smirk.

I am so fortunate to have three beautiful, well-behaved, respectful teenagers. They are doing well at school, are all busy with sports and they all have a wonderful bunch of friends. They were only 10 and 11 when our last baby arrived, so while they were able to help out, much of their focus was on Spongebob Squarepants repeats on Nickelodeon.

This time around, my husband and I thought carefully about how to handle the whole baby-and-teenager situation. Most parents go through baby stage then the teen stage. Not us. It's all happening at once over here.

I must admit that we were worried for a while about our teenagers. Would having a baby affect them? Will they still want to bring their friends over? Will they get annoyed at me asking them to use their "inside voices"? Would they get stressed over changing one.more.nappy?


All of my fears turned to tears when our eldest son held the baby ever so gently and said "He's so beautiful!" We knew then that the precious bundle had captured their hearts. My son even turned down a date with his girlfriend to watch the baby sleep!

I have tried to make our life feel as normal as it possibly can be with a five week old baby. We still sit around watching OTH (One Tree Hill for all of the non-fans) while talking about our day after the younger kids have gone to bed. I still make them coffee in the morning just before they wake. I still allow groups of teenagers to 'chill' at my house. In fact, the other night I had four 16 year old boys sleepover. My son says this was very 'awesome' of me. Woo! Bonus Mummy points.

Instead of "Son, go change Ethan's nappy, will ya?" we have tried to say "Did you want to help us feed Ethan?" or "Would you like another hold of the baby?" Chances are, they're already in the nursery or wanting to help out, anyway.

I hope my teens love parenting as much as I love to parent them. They bring such joy and happiness into my life.

*along with "Oooooh. How many days to go?" Hrmph. About ten weeks.

Seventh Heaven

I have seven kids. Seven? Yes, seven.

Firstly, I'll answer the questions that everyone wants to know when they meet me:

Oh Ma Gawd. Do you know what causes them? Yes!
Of course. Mummy and Daddy have a special hug that creates a baby. Duh.

Do you actually own a TV? Yes!
Um, hell yeah! My favourite shows are Keeping Up with The Kardashians and One Tree Hill. Shameful, I know!

Do your kids like, get any one-on-one quality time with you? Yes!
Except for my teens, of course. Because EW, why would they want to spend time with their parents?!?

Are your hands full? Yes, but so is my heart.
This is my classic, over-used line. I whip out this little gem every chance I get.

Do they each have their own rooms? Yes!
This one is usually followed by a remark like: "I knew a large family once. All the kids had to sleep in one room. Tin of sardines, I tell ya!"

Do you own a gun to keep them all in line? Yes!
Heh. Just kidding. I was actually asked this once.

My large, noisy and crazy family consists of me, myself and I (also known as Muuu-uuuuum), my lovely husband and my gorgeous children. I have 16 year old boy-girl twins, a 14 year old boy, an 11 year old girl, an eight year old boy, a five year old girl and we have recently welcomed our seventh addition - five-week-old Ethan. Oh yes, I am quite aware of the fact that my children's genders form a nice little pattern. Yes, I am also aware that "OMFG, you had a baby just over a year after you had twins?? Are you crazy, guuurl?" Thanks for that.

We had the twins when I was 21 (I'll save you the hassle of getting a calculator. I'm now 36). I will admit that they weren't planned but after the initial double shock: I'm pregnant! There's two!, we were both very excited. The twins were the best babies. So calm and chilled out. So much so, we decided to try for another. Nine months later he arrived. Life as a family of five was great, but we couldn't kick the feeling of wanting more.

Both my husband and I grew up in large-ish families, so we wanted the same for our children. Three years later my second daughter entered the world. Another three years later, I had my third son. Yet another three years later, we welcomed another girl.

Fast forward five years and our fourth son was born just over a month ago. He is snuggly, squishy and adorable and all of my kids love having him around. My teens, in particular are beyond amazing. They are so very helpful and their unfound love, care and gentleness toward him touches my heart. We are already (gasp) thinking another one. I believe my husband's exact words are:


Then again, he said that after my last two were born.

I would love to use this blog as a place to come and share some wonderful stories and memories. The little things. Things that I'm not going to remember when they all grow up.

(Which is now. My twins are 16! Sixteen! *tear* *sob* *vodka* What?)