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March 8, 2013 / mummaVegas

A Woman’s Power Work is Never Done

 “Men should think twice before making widowhood women’s only path to power.”

― Gloria Steinem

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Today as I’m sure you are all aware, is International Women’s Day. Congratulations to us. Being fabulous is something worth celebrating and I’m using this blog post as my champagne cork.
Gail Kelly, CEO of Westpac Banking Corporation, this morning said it best when she reminded us all just how far we the female of the species had come since the days when Banking Corporations required a woman’s loan to be guaranteed by a male counterpart. That was 1950 and back then, if you were a woman on your own, you could kiss goodbye a home of your own. We’d had the right to vote for fifty years! Talk about baby steps. The ’80s saw the rise of the female powerhouse, complete with power shoulders, power accessories and power hair. Think Grace Jones, Bonnie Tyler. Melanie Griffith. Hairspray. Women “had it all” and we were making our mark on the business end of town.

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Here we are in the Decadents, where I can get my own bank loan, and a female is leading the country. And we still have so far to go. Why? Because our femininity is still the point. Let’s take a short overview of stuff that just wouldn’t be said if Mars, and not Venus, was wearing the power shoulders:
1. “He’s a loyal boy” – if Joe Hockey had become Tony Abbott’s deputy succeeding Malcolm Turnbull and Brendan Nelson.
2. “Bob Brown’s Bastard” – if Kevin Rudd had struck a majority deal with the Greens to form Government.
3. Mr Yahoo! CEO back to work 2-weeks after the birth of his son.
4. Hypocritical Mr Yahoo! CEO bans working from home – as a father, he should understand the pressures on working families.Unfortunately we still live in that world where a woman standing power shoulder-to-power shoulder with her male colleagues remains the point of interest.
We still live in a world where representation quotas are necessary to encourage some degree of equal opportunity for women seeking top jobs. In itself this concept fosters inequality as it covertly and inaccurately whispers of women supposing a guaranteed unfair advantage over her best male buddy for the same job. That is not what women want. It is my understanding that we just don’t want IT to be an issue. We want merit to be the sole driving factor in our – and our best male buddy’s – elevation to success in whatever form both of us want it to take. I believe we will not have truly “made it there” until neither the first nor the second question asked of a corporate leader with boobs has anything to do with gender. Because, when you really think about some of the blokes who are up there, even our boobs aren’t always the unique advantage.
Stay Classy, Ladies. Keep truckin’.
Yours, Tits McGee.
August 29, 2012 / mummaVegas

An Ode to the Sunday Snuggle

Things are shifting at a lightning (and rather uncomfortable) pace in the House of mV!

I will miss my quiet, peaceful baby snuggles….!

AN ODE TO THE SUNDAY SNUGGLE

No one warned me that baby bed snuggles are numbered…

I thought lie-ins with my son would remain unencumbered!

But alas, as you’ve grown, your inquistion has too, and so

Here is my Ode to the Snuggles I knew.

Sunday lie-ins are now a thing of the past,

You’ve started to stumble and crawl, shuffle and grasp.

My hair is your anchor as you clamber and pull,

Your little footsies don’t notice that my bladder is full!

This morning you used my eye-socket to launch,

And you’ve found a good foot-hold in my post-pregnancy paunch.

I wince in silent agony as you grip at my chest,

For you’ve crippled my nipple on your adventurous quest!

Across pillows and doonas you pioneer your new path,

That you cover with milk, snot and drool like a bath.

Soft furnishings are placed round the bed like a hedge,

As you gravitate dangerously close to the edge.

There is no use us trying to lie quiet and still,

You’ve discovered my water glass, so we clean up the spill.

Oh! There’s that new “voice” you’ve discovered,

Your fever-pitch squeal will keep our social life covered.

Those days of soft breathing, and cuddles are past,

It’s time to get up now – let’s go have a blast!

mV xo

August 28, 2012 / mummaVegas

mummaVegas:

The images work SO much better as a slideshow

Originally posted on mummavegas:

I’ve completely forgotten how cool I thought BROS were back in the day. I had a conversation recently with a fellow 90s child about that outrageous hit When will I be Famous? and it all came flooding back to me: how much I deeply enjoyed those hours crouched over my double tape-decked boom box rote-learning the lyrics and tween-salivating over the “non-brother, must be a best mate” Craig, because I didn’t have a thing for blondes when I was eleven. There was a lot I didn’t understand about BROS, other than their music made me happy.

A similar renaissance occurred the other night: it appeared I’d also forgotten how cool Date Night was. In the last nine months, I’ve thought that any night that allows me to string more than five hours of uninterrupted sleep together counted as the greatest night of my life (sorry, HB). Date night, which…

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August 27, 2012 / mummaVegas

Date Night

OVO

I’ve completely forgotten how cool I thought BROS were back in the day. I had a conversation recently with a fellow 90s child about that outrageous hit When will I be Famous? and it all came flooding back to me: how much I deeply enjoyed those hours crouched over my double tape-decked boom box rote-learning the lyrics and tween-salivating over the “non-brother, must be a best mate” Craig, because I didn’t have a thing for blondes when I was eleven. There was a lot I didn’t understand about BROS, other than their music made me happy.

A similar renaissance occurred the other night: it appeared I’d also forgotten how cool Date Night was. In the last nine months, I’ve thought that any night that allows me to string more than five hours of uninterrupted sleep together counted as the greatest night of my life (sorry, HB). Date night, which these days includes a two week negotiation with a babysitting agency, intense saving up for the meal and the childcare, and then deciding it isn’t appropriate for you both to not be the designated driver, just hadn’t had the same ring to it in recent months. There is a lot I don’t understand about this new incarnation of Date Night, only that when we have managed to pull one off, I inevitably fall asleep at the menu, and I end up talking about the baby all night. I feel like a bad date these days!

 

That was until I fell into the good fortune of a couple of great tickets to a true spectacle: OVO by Cirque du Soleil. Date Night rules again!

The city of BrisVegas was lucky enough to be the premier city for the latest visual feast by the French-Canadian masterminds, Cirque du Soleil. OVO is an exploration in the miniature but heavily detailed world of the bug and when a “guest egg” arrives in Bug City care of a mischievous delivery-bug, we witness just how much excitement, good times and great classic hits Date Night can deliver when it’s teamed with a world of larvae, lady beetles, and lycra.

There is only a WEEK left to jump on board the Date Train and get your mind warped at the logisitical difficulty of a one-armed handstand on a totem-tennis pole, little ant-ladies playing kiwi fruit foot ballet in the midst of an NFL-style jumping weave thingy, and an excellent example of thinking outside the square and using your bed mattress to launch yourself onto your in-home 20-metre rock climbing wall. Just to name a few. Get along to the final days of Cirque du Soleil, OVO and then do what I intend to do: enrol my 9 month old in rhythmic gymnastics behind Hubby’s back. I know Boy Wonder has it in him!

OVO leaves BrisVegas September 3 – so GO! Date Night awaits you!

http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/ovo/tickets.aspx

Here’s to lycra and trampolining on this and all future Date Nights,

mV xo

July 22, 2012 / mummaVegas

The Winter Wanderlust

Winter means many things in many cities, and to our Northern Hemispherean cousins, Winter general involves snow chains, shovels, fur-lined bomber jackets, Siberian huskies, ice-fishing and finding two godforsaken perfectly round coals to make snowman eyes. Brrrr.

Entertaining children in the winter months also wields a variety of challenges for snow-capped parents and the younger your childlens are, the more creative one must become! I don’t mind how “advanced” you believe your child to be, an 8-month old cannot fashion a Frosty the Snowman without serious parental intervention. I can’t say I’ve tried, but that’s because I choose not to live in Ridiculous. And it’s an economic anomaly that icy-poles just don’t cut it as a satisfying kiddy-snack in winter either. Abundance simply does not equal appeal.

Here in the South East of the Sunshine State there is an alternative way of Winter life. I’m becoming even more convinced that, just like unicorns, if you’re in the right place at the right time, Winter Wonderlands do happen.

Winter had become just one more reason why I’ve come to appreciate the city of Brisbane: Ugg boots are still more of a “fashion” statement than a hard and fast necessity (I reserve my judgement on that). Buying six beanies for Boy Wonder is, yes, an inappropriate waste of money. But come on… look at that face. He likes it!

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Hello Owlbie!

Essentially, winter in Brisbane is a sure-fired reminder of the gratitude one must feel for the respite from another blisteringly dank, arm-pit heat of a Brisbane summer.

It perhaps is no coincidence then that July, the midwinter summit, could also be known as FESTIVUS. Better yet, FAMILY FESTIVUS!  How can you complain about living in a city that can stage a major family-friendly festival-style activity every weekend and none of these arrangements are rained out?

I’ve spent the best part of July checking out all the Brisbane has to offer in the way of getting outdoors and embracing the diversity of this inspiring city. I encourage families, couples and singles alike to update their 2013 calendar to earmark these Winter events

Teneriffe Festival – First weekend of July each year: FREE

The Brisbane French Festival – Bastille Weekend each year: FREE

Delectable – Regional Flavours: Delectable is ticketed, Regional Flavours is FREE (plans for 2013 TBC)

The first weekend in July kicked off my Winter Family Festivus with the Teneriffe Festival in, ahem, Teneriffe. I just love that a new little borough, circa 2010, decides to celebrate it’s “on the map” status by hosting a knees-up every year. And by crikey they do it well.

The usual vintage, hobby, and heirloom characteristics common to the festival circuit were certainly in full flight….

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This guy knew SO much about music. Hearing it played on Ye Olde Gramophone made me happyImageImage

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G’Day Sailor

….however the Teneriffe Festival scene went further by answering the Call of the Carnivale, staging full Rio-style street performers – including women in spindled bikinis and feathers… with figures that made me thankful I’d worn my “roomy, sensible mummsie” pants.

Eve’s on the River set up a fabulous booze-up and pizzeria open-air pavilion next to the musos stage where plenty of families were setting up pram parking lots; the kids could roam around and bug the neighbours in safety while and the grown-ups could treat themselves to a cheeky glass of bubbles.

We also got hands-on with cooking demonstrations from the Golden Pig Cooking School, opening in the district in September. Three words: Lamb Pot Stickers.

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No family festival would be complete without an animal farm and the Teneriffe Festival had it in spades right down on the river where plenty of lawn allowed the pares to take a time-out (perhaps sneak in another cheeky glass of bubbles) and the kiddies can go catch things petting dusty little lamberts. Everyone wins!

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Love/Hate embodied.

I’ve recently taken a turn into the “paid” writers’ domain and this lead us to get involved in our second weekend of Family Festival Fun of the Winter season – the Brisbane French Festival.

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Chewing on some of my latest work

Oo la la! This one is great for families because the natural bilingual environment keeps the kids quiet for hours. They literally spend most of their time wondering if they actually still belong to this world and whether the person pushing the pram is still their Mum. Kids are also suckers for dudes in coats and pony hats marching in unison. It’s all foreign baby.

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The Grand Old Dukes of ….Napolean

No dusty sheep at the French Festival, but plenty of genuine French food samplers and mini berets to authenticate the experience for the younglings. It really is adorable to witness a toddler trying to navigate the whole walking thing with a baguette in their arm.

The kids are encouraged to join in the music and dance – all in Gallic tongue and if they show a natural flair for the French, there are ample stalls where junior French classes are on offer such as Alphatykes, Alliance Francaise, and then of course there is Lingua Franca who have just started enrolling a Maman et Pousette class over at Bulimba. If you and your family dig a bit of culture, the French Festival is a happily situated excursion into amour de la vie.

This afternoon, our third weekend in this Winter Wonderland, I dared to make my pramventurous way over the Little Stanley Street for a stroll along the corso of Regional Flavours. The no-cost side-spin of the amazing Delectable Festival held in the Cultural Forecourt of the QPAC, Regional Flavours is pretty self explanatory. The organisation was fabulous – literally each pocket of the South East was represented, from Bundaberg to the Sunny Coast, to the dudes from Luv Ya Lockyer and the wider Granite Belt and Moreton Bay. Am I forgetting anyone? Ahhh, the Gold Coast.

There was plenty of organic produce on display and a tonne of recipe ideas that could easily be adapted to the pureed and fork-mashed palette. The guys from Spanner Crabs Noosa took my tastebuds on a little sail with their spanner crab tarlet freebies (oh how I wished Boy Wonder would jive on crustaceans already!)

My heart leaped at the Pinteresting idea of “planter-barrows”- I’m currently scouring ebay for cheap as chips barrows to incarnate this great idea to fight the Brisbane possum plague and wheel my garden away at night.

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While navigating the throngs of “foodies” that by nature venture into these sorts of waters was a bit much, there was ample chill-out space where me and the kid threw open a rug and chowed down on pureed baby-food goodness and spanner crab tartlets while listening to the latest iGen crooner from the coast. Pleasantry.

Delectable also did a terrific job of zoning out areas for targeted kids’ activities.

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It’s easy enough to bribe the littlies through their 75th fromage tasting when you can point and promise a visit at the butterfly painting stall and the Kitchen Garden workshops.

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Family Vegas are on the move mid-August and I’m dying to get creative in my new casa by installing some of the fantastic and creative ideas that Regional Flavours explored. Whether that’s introducing spanner crab into the little guy’s diet is yet to be told. I’m thinking not.

But I can’t wait to hear if Delectable will be making a return to the South Bank Precinct in 2013…

Winter in Brisbane makes it difficult to be anything if not cheery. In fact, I dare you to take in a deep breath of balmy winter air, and smile.

It’s a Winter Wanderlust. From me to you. Fuzzy.

mummaVegas xo

June 25, 2012 / mummaVegas

mojo rising…

I received a sharp wake-up call two days ago from my trusty blog follower. Yep. I have one. Well, six, but who am I to boast? That’s neither here nor there.

“mV!” she cried, “where have you been? I’m worried you’ve lost your mojo!”

All “teen dreaming” of Mr Morrison aside, her comment reminded me that Mothers Day was the last time I had bothered to write. What a lame blogger I had become. Her comment also made me take stock of the lost month. Where had we been?

Traipsing through the cafes, young designers markets, parks and cultural centres of Brisbane we had not been. I have not road-tested a single new Brisbane “thing” in 5 weeks. I’ve ignored my Facebook page. It’s looking very ordinary. All has been pretty functional (read: boring) in the house of mummaVegas and it wasn’t just because brisVegas “winter” had been setting in.

The week after Mothers Day, this mummy returned to work. That’s right…hi-ho, hi-ho and all that jazz. Back down the mine; bringing home the bacon; earning an honest living.

If I am honest (which according to my name’s meaning apparently I am) I’ll tell you right now it has been the hardest part of becoming a parent – and Hubby feels it too. I’m so relieved that we finally live in a country where recognition of the financial constraints of having a child has arrived and I am eternally grateful to our nation’s Treasury for allowing me 18-weeks of uninterrupted fun and time to observe our Little Man begin to grow into the world. The Paid Parental Scheme gave my family such invaluable time to be together – I wonder how those not entitled to paid parental leave through their work before managed to get by without a little help from Julia; or Kevin; or Tony; or Bob… or Richard Torbay – whoever the case might be next week.

I was dealt a very fair hand by my employer – it’s no secret that the Delight of Our Lives turned up a little earlier than expected and given my brand spanking new employment status, I didn’t think I’d be entitled to much. But there my job was, on the 21 May 2012, 26-weeks on, awaiting my return with conditions that, again, I can be nothing if not grateful for. Three days a week. It’s better than 5. I know not every woman has been so fortunate.

In saying that, turning a 5.5 month old over to someone else, when you barely know your baby well enough, let alone this person who is going to be helping you raise them….well it can be a daunting verging on frightening proposition. I’ve read Oliver James*.

And so in and out of Brisbane’s child care centres, Montessori Pre-schools, creches and family day care networks we wandered; feeling somewhat aimless, desperate, under-informed and intensity to make the right starting choice for our son. I could write a whole other blog on the good, the bad and the ugly among our travels, but I don’t think it would do anyone any good. The only point I will try and drive home in the quest for getting our child into early child care is: start early, put your name down for everything and, when it comes time to make the call – go with your gut.

Having my eyes well up and looking at Hubby and seeing the same response in his served as a big “NEXT!” in some of the places we visited. It isn’t really anyone’s fault. A great majority of people working in the child care profession are superb humans. Doing their darndest. There is a troubling imbalance between supply and demand for equitably-priced care in Australia and the expense of some apparently “higher quality” facilities often makes these choices harder for families. One day you might just see me on some policy development pillar touting for heavier subsidising of child care. Why would you means-test something that is so crucial to the future?? You want us to return to work, right? It should be as easy and high quality as is absolutely possible. The French are not perfect, but universal – equal – child care provision seems to be one thing they do have right. I’m just sayin’.

Anyhoo…I digress. Another time. (“get down off your soap-box already!”)

Our own path lead us to rest on the grassy knoll of family day care and sign up with a wonderful carer named Louise. I thank L. Ron every single day for that girl making the decision to take the arduous journey across seas and squalls to migrate to Australia and take care of Little Man three days a week.

Clearly, he hates it.

Balls!

Bells!

Bags!….hang on… what the…?

As a small “at no extra cost” bonus, Louise sends me these delightful little snippets into his day every day while I’m “down the mine” so I don’t entirely miss out.

Every day, I get my heart melted as I see how much he is learning, and how much sheer joy he continues to get out of life. I have to ignore that little voice crying “but it’s not you showing him these things.” I have to. We have made the choice to view Louise as part of our family. She has made that choice so easy.

Hubby and I know we’re onto a winner with Little Man in her keep. Sometimes, when I go to pick him up after work he is laughing and playing with the other three kids, and as Louise hands him over I see his face register that “fun times are over, Kid. It’s back to Boring Town with you! Dinner, Schminner.”

He even has a little girlfriend.

Let’s play dinosaurs! So romantic….

More on that later: the Blossoming Romance of Shamrock. All I’ll say now is, her parents approve. Cripes.

So, my dear reader, I did in fact “lose my mojo”. Going back to work – as so many women and men with kids before me will attest – is bloody hard. Yes, you get adult conversation and yes, you get lunch breaks without having to sing “The Grand Old Duke of York” through your latte to keep bubbsy entertained. You get all that. But there are things I know I’m going to miss out on in these fast-paced early months. There’s a strong possibility he will crawl for someone else before me, clap his hands with someone else before me, and maybe even look for comfort in someone else before me. Ugh.

I will return to Brisbane’s cafes and galleries and fashion houses and playgrounds and precincts. Once my family settles into this New World Order of razor-precise morning routines to get out the door on time, and I master the art of the Slow Cooker.

I’ll be back. And sooner than you think. My mojo is rising….


See you soon,

mummaV xo

*Oliver James is the author of They F*** You Up, an exploration into role and roles of the family on your development. Derrrr.

May 16, 2012 / mummaVegas

Mother’s Day

"Hmmm...choices, choices..."

Woohoo!

I had arrived! I was finally going to join the millions of magnificent women around Australia being celebrated by their families on the second Sunday in May. This will become one of the great days on my annual festive calendar. I love festive holidays and I take them very seriously.

Obviously Christmas and Australia Day are in the mix. And being quite the two-upper and Dawn Service enthusiast, Anzac Day has a firm posi in my Top Ten. It’s an important tradition that Boy Wonder will be exposed to as soon as he stops staging his own daily dawn service and can also be relied upon to not squark through the Last Post.

I also have a few of my own “bespoke” annual holidays such as International Buy Shoes Guilt-Free Day. Sometimes I assign more than one of these days to my calendar. I like to mix it up.

There’s also my Annual Take a Chill Pill Behind the Wheel Day. I admit it – I’m the first on the horn when there are more than 4 cars backed up at a roundabout. I spent many years living in regional Aus. Driving in Sydney was always fraught. Mainly for my passengers. And anyone with a QLD number plate.

Clearly the major challenge in embracing this new status is deciding which of my current Top Ten annual holidays will get bumped to fit in Mother’s Day…Hmmmm. Tricky.

Currently my tenth favourite annual holiday is the Wallabadah Race Day. You just can’t beat dragging yourself out of bed on New Years Day, tumbling in to a reasonable frock that handles machine washing, and staggering out to a dusty paddock in the middle of the Summer sun to watch a “thoroughbred” jog around the fence line. True, back in the day there really was no better cure for last year.  But I think I’ve found my candidate to make way for Mothers Day.

Firstly, we no longer live in NSW. Clearly I’m all about getting behind my new state (although you will never see me in Maroon – some things are sacred, Greg Inglis).

Secondly, we don’t have a ute – which is part and parcel with a country race meet. It seemed an impractical choice for the baby capsule. But it’s just not as fun sipping warm Breezers while sitting in the back seat of a sedan.

Thirdly, a new ritual will take place on New Year’s morning. It’s called baby’s breakfast. In fact, this ritual is part of the daily world order since Boy Wonder took to solids with a vengeance.

The world of solids is by far the funniest “milestone” to date. Watching your infant embrace the mushy becomings of root vegetables and steamed fruits makes home life a little more joyous. Imagine the new sensations being experienced by that little mouth, by those little tastebuds, with that little swallowing mechanism! We wanted to be part of it!

Being Mother’s Day seemed the perfect occasion to eat out together. We looked around the city to find a lunch venue that would serve up something smooth, creamy, soft on the palate – to match his container of pea and zucchini….what did we find….?

Meet you at Milany’s??

GELATO! Ohhhhh, yeahhhhhh….. And not just any gelato. Gelato. Milany.

Have you tried their stuff!? Holy (ear-muffs) **** that is good ice-cream. You don’t get many chances in life to meet a bone fide artisan in these days of packaged produce and supermarket brand “gourmet”.

I’m always a sceptic when someone bandies about the term: Best In Australia. But I’d be hard-pressed to find gelato better anywhere. Perhaps Italy. Perhaps.

Service!

Proprietor Plamen Milanov stays true to his craft offering up classics like Vanilla Bean and Dark (sinfully so) Chocolate, Panna Cotta and Pistachio. He mixes it up with originals like Bounty, Toblerone and this Pomegranate masterpiece that almost made me wet my pants. Plamen is heavy on customer sampling, ensuring we each get exactly what our individual tastebuds are chasing. I’d already purchased my “solids” lunch and then followed up with a Tour de Taste across the huge range on offer at the bar. His warm and generous customer service boosted what was always going to be an incredible taste experience.

Colourful and sweet. Folds of deliciousness – right there!

Bounty and Chocolate and Strawberry – OH MY!

I’m a purist – Dark Chocolate all the way for me, and Gelato Milany’s Dark Chocolate is a 2011 award-winner. Don’t you know…! It brought a tear to my eye. (hello, Melodrama!)

The greatest Dark Chocolate gelato ev. er.

There we were, Little Family Brisvegas, all spooning away at our Mother’s Day lunch, all three of us in our own kind of smooth and creamy mouth-heaven. Boy Wonder diggs pea and zucchini that much!

Hooray for real food!

We didn’t have the heart to tell him just what was in store for his little swallowing mechanism when he grew up a bit.

Cannot wait until he can really order from the menu!

It was one of the great family moments.

And so my annual festive calendar is changing along with the rest of me. I’d be happy to anoint the second Sunday in May “International Gelato Day”. I won’t mind if it’s Milany year after year either! And I can’t wait until little man joins us at the bar.

“Hmmm…choices, choices…”

Bon app to each and every mother in the world! It was an honour to join the ranks.

mummaV xo

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