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Category Archives: the monsters

All things about ‘the monsters’ in my life; boy-child, girl-child and of course man-child!

Movement Makes Music with MSO

For years, when the kids were little, I would read about performances of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) created specifically for kids to enjoy.  Of course with the juggle of work, other kid stuff and generally being too busy, we never made actually made it to a performance.  I was delighted when I was contacted by Alison a the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra to offer me tickets to take the kids along to a performance.  As usual, we had a crazy busy weekend ahead of us but the planets aligned and ice-skating was moved back a few hours so we had a morning free – the perfect opportunity to finally take the kids.  Alison did stress that the performance was aimed at 3 – 8 year olds, that my kids being 7 and 9 might be a little old for the show but I know that they love music and that I want them to love dance again so I was willing to give it a shot, I would take the kids to a performance of Movement Makes Music, a unique collaboration between the MSO and the Australian Ballet Dance Education Ensemble will engage children aurally and kinetically. Performers will highlight the links between movement and music during this 50-minute show, in which audience members will be moved, inspired and enchanted.

I must admit that I was hesitant that boy-child would moan and complain all morning (as he  frequently does!) so it wasn’t until we were in the car and on the way there that I actually told the kids where we were going and braced myself for the whinging.  Guess what?  There was none, we were off to a great start!

We made it to the venue with plenty of time to spare and found ourselves a spot front and (almost) centre on the floor, ready to enjoy the show. As we were waiting for the performance to begin, boy-child declared that if he was in the orchestra, he would be wearing a green shirt.  I wondered why he would wear a green shirt and he pointed out that not only was green his favourite colour but it was also the colour that the woodwind musicians were wearing and since he plays clarinet he would have to wear green too!  He then went on to point out that the string section were wearing blue shirts, brass in red and percussion in yellow.  Already I was impressed at how much he was enjoying being there and the performance hadn’t even begun!

I really didn’t know how the show would be tailored to suit young children but found that the conductor used the time between pieces to introduce a different member of the orchestra, highlight the instrument that they played and talk about how it would be played in the next piece of music.

The dancers from the Australian Ballet were beautiful, showing how music can be influence dance and movement.  Girl-child barely blinked the entire time that they were on stage.  Boy-child was entranced by Patrick tap dancing different rhythms and then hearing Rob repeat the rhythms on a drum.  He was even more impressed when Rob beat a rhythm on the drum that ended in a drumroll and Patrick was able to tap that same rhythm and drumroll.

Sure my kids were amongst the oldest there but they had a great time.  In fact they both had such a great time that they are wanting to know when they can go back to the symphony.  I don’t think the planets will align to allow us to go back during the school holidays but if they do, this is what I would love to go to – Peter and the WolfProkofiev’s story of the irreverent Peter has resonated deeply with generations of children, enchanted by its power and sense of fun. Now BreakThru Films and Se-ma-for Studios, in collaboration with BAFTA-winning director Suzie Templeton, bring this mesmerising and enchanting classic to the big screen.

Thanks to MSO, I was lucky enough to have free tickets to take the kids along to see Movement Makes Music, but the opinions expressed are mine and those of my kids.  We had a great day and only wish that we had discovered MSO Family Classic Kids a few years ago.  Family Classic Kids is the MSO’s popular program of concerts for children aged three to eight years of age – and a great way to introduce young people to the wonders of orchestral music. With the children sitting right next to the Orchestra, there are opportunities to sing along, respond to the music with movement and actions, follow a story and maybe even conduct.

As a bonus, the kids had their photos taken with some of the musicians and the dancers!

Being shy around the amazing performers!

Don’t just listen to me rave on about how much fun we had at MSO, check out what my kids thought here and here, also head over to Stuff With Thing to see what Heidi and Annie thought too.

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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in all in the family, the monsters

 

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Big Issues in a Little Body

There is always something about the behaviour of my kids that has me freaking out.  It might be a period of being untruthful, or perhaps being melancholy or even being more unruly than ever, whatever it is, it generally passes fairly quickly and whilst the mummy-guilt might kick in and I might stress about the behaviour for a few seconds (or even minutes) I know that everything will work out.  I generally don’t make a big deal about it, instead trying to chat with the kids about possible issues without being confrontational.  I know that together we can work it out and until now that has generally been the case.  Sure we did go through a particularly rough patch last year with the boy at school, bullying and his intense dislike of his teacher and of school in general, but it all worked out and he currently loves going to school.  All was well with the world.

The relaxed approach is the way I like to get things done and it seems to work for us, until now.  I have to admit that I have been freaking out by my girl’s behaviour and attitude lately and what is scaring me most of all is that she is a smaller version of me.  Not the me that I was when I was also 7 but more like the me that I am now.  You see, my beautiful little girl isn’t eating much.  Now this may be normal in many households but not around here.  Both of my monsters eat like, well, like monsters.  Breakfast is always eaten, and can range from a tin of baked beans (a full regular sized tin, not one of those kiddie ones, straight from the can) to 3 slices of toast on a typical day (more for the boy), a huge bowl of porridge if I have had time to make some or even a bowl of pasta if there is any left over from dinner.  Breakfast around here is sizeable, often larger than dinner and on many occasions it is eaten over a few sittings.

Now one would think that with such a large breakfast, perhaps lunch wouldn’t be a big thing but a typical lunch is 1 1/2 rounds of sandwiches, an apple, a mandarin (or banana if they are affordable!), a row of crackers, some cherry tomatoes and a piece of cheese and most of it would be eaten most days.  Sure both kids have had phases of not being hungry at school and being too busy to make time to eat, but it doesn’t last long, and never for more than a week.  Then on the days of not eating much lunch at school, they would clean out the pantry when they got home from school.  Hell, most days even if they have eaten all of their lunch, they clean out the pantry after school and still eat dinner!

Dinner is pretty relaxed, we go for the self serve option.  I pile everything onto the table and they serve themselves.  The boy prefers to eat his food in stages (just like me), eating the meat first, followed by each vegetable individually.  The only real ‘rule’ is that their dinner has to be colourful, they can’t just eat food of one colour otherwise they would both fight over eating the pumpkin or the broccoli!  I find that by doing the self serve dinner, we all eat well and we don’t waste much.  It also makes it easy that I can cook too many vegies and have left overs ready to accompany dinner the following day.  It works for us and as a family we generally eat really well (that doesn’t count tonight when we had fish and chips!)

Anyway, now that I have set the scene for what is normal for around here, let me explain my concerns.  Girl-child has lost her appetite and hasn’t been eating as much as she normally would.  School lunches come home barely touched and not wanting to eat much after school.  She is constantly ‘not hungry’ and in fact makes excuses for why she doesn’t eat.  This morning she actually lied about eating breakfast before we were out of bed to avoid eating.  Over this last week, words like “but I’m not hungry”, or “I am full” (when a meal was barely started) have become normal.  Even “Mummy, I’ve got a tummy ache” seems to be heard around meal time as an excuse for her to be excused from meals.   I don’t want to make a big deal of it just yet but it is scaring me.  As a family we are conscious of what we eat.  We talk about eating food that gives us the energy that we need to do all the fun things that we love to do.  We talk about eating a variety of food and generally meal times are a breeze.  We have been lucky to not have fussy eaters and love trying different cuisines with family favourites being Yemeni, Malaysian and Ethiopian.  Now that it has all changed, I am struggling to know what to do.  Admittedly my eating habits leave a lot to be desired.  Sure I blame getting sick last year and the medical complications I have dealt with since then but it is really hard to set a positive example when I physically can’t.  She watched me sit at the table not eating and listened to me explain why I couldn’t eat in the lead up to my procedures.  She saw me struggling with having to fast and drink the horrible pre-procedure preparations.  I have even explained that it was my lack of appetite that led to me having to go to hospital to have cameras put into my stomach to make sure it was OK.  She seems to have understood this but it hasn’t made a difference.

Adding to all of this, we have many friends who are fasting for Ramadan so she is also aware of the concept of fasting for religious reasons as well as for medical reasons.  She has asked if it is OK for her to fast even if she isn’t Muslim, knowing that I fast at least once during Ramadan when I am going to celebrate Iftar with colleagues.  It is difficult to explain that by fasting I am trying to learn the patience and humility and live my life, if only for one day, in someone else’s shoes.

I really don’t know what has brought on this change in her.  There hasn’t been any size related issues that we are aware of, she is fit, healthy and generally very happy.  She really doesn’t want to talk about it and when we try to talk she gets all defensive and angry, at times even crying.  It really isn’t normal behaviour for her at all and I don’t know just how to deal with it.  We already eat most meals as a family and I don’t want to make a huge deal of her lack of appetite for fear it makes her retreat further.

I really thought we would get at least close to teen years before this became an issue.  Any suggestions on what to do to promote healthy happy eating?

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2011 in over-share, the monsters, Uncategorized

 

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Sundays in my City #60 – The Olden Days

I had a moment of good parenting (or should I say guilt ridden parenting?) on Monday and I attended the kid’s school assembly.  Of course this was after an argument about what was and wasn’t suitable to pass for a school uniform, when girl-child informed me that she was going to be singing in the choir at the school assembly and wanted to wear jeans instead of a skirt.  A compromise was found, she wore something that loosely resembled a school uniform and I went along to the assembly to cheer her on.

As far as assembly goes, it was pretty decent but it was longer than usual, always convenient on a busy work day and the choir sang to celebrate the school’s 130th birthday.  What I did notice when we arrived at school was that many of the students were wearing clothes other than school uniform – they were dressed up like they were going to school in the olden days.  Clearly I missed that note!

Anyway, the motherguilt continued that night when I got home from work late and the kids declared they wanted to wear dress-ups to school for the rest of the week.  I didn’t need a note, it was suggested during assembly so no chance to feign ignorance.  We raided the dress-up box and found an old floral number that has never been worn for girl-child and I made an apron/pinafore for her to wear over the top of it.  Boy-child was happy to wear an old shirt of mine with a vest over the top, a pair of jeans (yep, double standards, he could wear jeans to school but she couldn’t.  In my defence, his were for an approved dress-up day and hers had been blinged!  She did manage to sneakily wear them to school one day but I was too tired to argue and instead I pretended I didn’t notice.) and his dad’s cap.

This is what we came up with.  (Please excuse the red eye, I am sure that was an issue in the olden days too!)

Ready for School in the Olden Days

Naturally they needed props too.

Reading about the Times

Got my keys! (Oh and they did play 2 square in the old days right?)

We had a fantastic Sunday and I hope that you did too.  Head over to Unknown Mami and check out some of the adventures others have had during their Sundays in my City.

Unknown Mami

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2011 in all in the family, the monsters

 

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Sunday Selections – 5 years ago in Blawenburg NJ

I am playing along with FrogPondsRock and here are my Sunday Selections, photos that other than being stored on Flickr so I don’t lose them forever, haven’t seen the light of day.

My photos this week are almost 5 years old, from when we attempted to relocate to the US.  It didn’t work out but we did have a great time there.  This is girl-child exploring the farm we were living on in Blawenburg NJ.

Resting in the Grass

Going for a Walk

Roar 'Skanky' Bear

Where we were living was beautiful but also a large part of the reason that it didn’t work out.  If you want to read more of our US adventures, there are bits and pieces and more photos and links posted here.

Check out all the other awesome Sunday Selections, better still, play along too!

 

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Proud as Punch

I feel like I spend much of my time complaining about boy-child and his quirks, about how hard he can be to manage or motivate, about how I just don’t get him however like me he may be.  I give him a really hard time and I often feel as if I spend all of my time nagging at him.   Sometimes I really wonder if he lives in the same world as the rest of us and then there are days like today, when my heart swells to bursting point and I am just so proud of him. 

Let me go back a little and start this story properly.  Those that know me, and my family, know that we are very relaxed and free-range.  We do have rule and responsibilites but they are few (they are however VERY consistent).  Over the past 8 months, the kids have been walking home from school on their own.  Today, boy-child wanted to walk or scoot to school on his own.  Naturally girl-child didn’t so we compromised.  Since I had to drive to work, via the school street, we decided to meet part way there for our goodbye cuddle-kiss. 

Off he went, school bag on his back, helmet on his head happily scooting along the path through the parks.  Naturally with us in the car, we arrived at our meeting point earlier than he did so we sat on a seat to wait for him.  We could see him in the distance, scooting behind a few other pedestrians headed this way also.  One of these pedestrians happened to be a beautiful local lady who is blind.  I had a fleeting thought that he would scoot by her, completely oblivious.  Actually, if I am being honest I was really crossing my fingers hoping he wouldn’t knock her down in his haste.  I almost didn’t want to look, I was too far away to assist if anything did go wrong.  I buried my head in the sand looked away to answer girl-child.

When I looked back, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Here was my boy, my beautiful amazing 8 year old boy was walking the woman across the street!  Naturally I was beaming with pride, but also realistic.  I expected him to then scoot off, leaving her in his dust.  Instead he continued to walk with her along the foot path, her holding his arm for guidance and he was holding his scooter with his other.  They stopped at the next road, he checked in all directions and then walked her across the road again.  It wasn’t a fluke, my little boy is actually an awesome, considerate, amazing little guy.  

As they approached where I was waiting, you could see he didn’t want to leave her.  He came and gave me a quick cuddle-kiss and then continued on with her and now his little sister, along the road to school. 

So there you have it – I am capable of immense pride and joy and I will say it again; my boy is awesome!  I am so glad that with the freedom and independence he has been given he has made fantastic choices.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2010 in the monsters

 

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The Dwelling Daughter

Most days I wonder if my daughter is really 6, soon to be 7 years old.

This week boy-child is away at a camp.  Now what I imagined the typical response to a younger sibling being free of their older and at times very obnoxious brother would be to celebrate, to look forward to the prospect of being an only child temporarily and be able to do girlie things without boys getting in the way.  The actual response?  Tears, huge body-wracking sobs of hysteria.  I didn’t think it was possible for a little girl to be so sad, or so I thought.

Fast forward to today and we were in the car driving home from a birthday party after having done a spot of shopping on the way home.  We drove by the Melbourne Cemetery and girl-child asked where I was going to be buried.  I responded her by reminding her that both man-child and I hoped to be cremated at which she said “Oh that’s right, I remember you said that.”  I was thinking that that was the end of the conversation as she went quiet for a few seconds, but she then commented that Granddad was cremated and he was in a cemetery, why wouldn’t we be in a cemetery too?  I had to explain that cremation was actually the body being burned and then my ashes could be sprinkled in a place that was special to us.  She was concerned that if my body was burned my spirit would be destroyed and she sat in the back seat of the car sobbing quietly, tears streaming down her face.  Naturally this coincided with being stuck in traffic with no possibility to stop to talk properly.  Instead I was forced to keep talking about death and ways to celebrate the life of a person who has died, how you can keep a person’s spirit alive by keeping them in your heart and your thoughts.  She seemed content with that concept and added, “But we shouldn’t have to worry about that for a long time yet, should we?”

As well as being a dwelling daughter with thoughts that, to me at least, seem in appropriately mature for one so young, she also has interests not so typical of an almost 7 year old.  She wanted to make a gift for the girl who’s birthday party she was attending today, her oldest friend in the world.  She wanted to make something special so she dragged out our her favourite book of inspiration “Meet me at Mike’s“.  She wanted to make something that she would love for herself, whilst the Softies in the book are beautiful, she declared that a 7 year old wouldn’t really need any new teddies.  Instead she should have something that she can use all the time.  The resulting birthday gift choice was a book cover and a little bag that can hold her pens and treasures.  Since we (well me really) were in a hurry, I did the sewing and she did some of the cutting and most of the embroidery.  The finished result was pretty darn cute!

The Book Cover Birthday Present

A bag for treasures

Perhaps I should make one for girl-child for her birthday in 3 weeks, I just don’t know who I can get to do the embroidery!

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2010 in the monsters, Uncategorized

 

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The Latest Dance Dilemma

I posted ages ago about how the kids both dance and about the experiences we have had at the different dance schools that they have both attended; the teachers, the environment, the other parents and of course the crazy end of year concerts (here is the post).  I think the post ended with me preferring the new studio to the old one, either that or I was just too lazy to look at moving schools again.

Anyway, information came home a few weeks ago about the end of year extravaganza and both kids decided that they wanted to take part, no surprises there.  They had to sign ‘contracts’ saying they would commit to going to all of the classes and additional rehearsals, including taking time off school.  They intended to go to all classes so that shouldn’t be a problem, except it is – we are going away for three weeks in November, meaning they will be missing 3 weeks of classes, less than 2 weeks before the concert date.  We all sat around and talked about it rationally.  They both wanted to do the concert but knew that they would be behind in the routines by being away for so long, and that they would no doubt be exhausted from the holiday and busy when we returned.  Without too much cajoling from me, they said that they would miss this year’s concert and recover from their holiday.  All was well, I got out of the madness easy, it was time to celebrate, or so I thought.

I withdrew the kids from the concert last week and this week girl-child’s teacher let me know that she was happy for girl-child to take part in the concert even if she did miss so many classes, she already knows all the routine and picks up new work quickly so she would cope with any last minute changes.  I was still sitting on the fence being non-committal and said I would let her know after the holidays, after we all discussed it.  I didn’t want one child dancing in the concert (costing me a fortune) and not the other.  I know it is a cop-out, but I wasn’t going out of my way to talk to boy-child’s teacher and was hoping to let the whole concert thing slide!

As we were leaving the studio, boy-child ran ahead.  I got downstairs to see boy-child chatting with his teacher.  The two of them were really animated as they stirred each other up.  His teacher mentioned to me that he was doing really well in his class and has amazing technique, especially since he had just admitted to ‘never practicing’!  I had to ask him if he thought he would be ready to dance in the concert and the answer was a resounding ‘yes’.  I mentioned that we would be away heaps in the lead up and the teacher said he would modify the routine to make sure he was able to keep up, he had worked really hard and as the youngest in the class he had the most natural ability.  I have to say my parental pride went through the roof and more importantly, boy-child was positively beaming and even promised to practice, just a little bit.

What am I to do now?  Both kids want to dance in the concert, both teachers think they will cope with missing out on three weeks work.  I know that after 3 weeks of holidays they WILL be exhausted, add to that extra dance rehearsals and time off school and I don’t know if they (or I) will cope with it all.  I want the kids to enjoy being in the concert and I especially want boy-child to continue to love dancing and keep wanting to go to classes.

I think I have answered my own questions, I want them to be in the concert.  At least I have a 2 week grace period during the school holidays to decide.  If the break isn’t too hectic then maybe they will survive the madness.  Someone please convince me I am insane or take out a second mortgage and come to the concert with me!

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2010 in all in the family, the monsters

 

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