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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Parental Olympics

After a bottle of wine (ok, that's a lie...it was more like at least a bottle's worth of wine from a cask) and some vodka Mojito's, #1 Hubby and I solved the world's problems, and moved on to more serious issues.

Namely, beauty pageants, talent quests, triathlons and lawn bowls country week.

All chances to pit yourself agains others, to prove how awesome you are at your chosen speciality.

We agreed that competitions would be much more interesting if they covered every day activities.

Because, come on, how often do you see a gymnast and think "yep, totally did one of those triple twirly moves myself the other day...she's got good form...but I can do better".

I for one am more inclined to think to myself "get that malnourished waif some chocolate and a padded bra, Stat!"

So we decided that a Parental Olympics would totally be the shiz.

And when #1 Hubby got distracted by sport on TV, I went to my happy place (metaphorically, in my head – but also literally, the drinks cupboard) and thought some more about the Parental Olympics.

Here’s what I came up with in my totally A1 state of mind :

Parental Olympics venue 1 : School

Defensive Driving : An obstacle course of parallel parking, kerb parking (half on - half off), squeezing into a spot that doesn't exist, and blind parking around school buses.  All competitors will be driving mini-van's and vying for the same grossly inadequate spots at the same time.

Lunchbox Liaison : Negotiating with a whiny child over the contents of their lunchbox.  Limited, healthy ingredients only.  Nothing in deceptively branded packaging that may influence the child to accept or enjoy the item.

Schoolbag Stuffing : Standard issue schoolbag that must be packed neatly with all items, so that you can still close the zipper.  Includes sporting equipment, musical instrument, enormous water bottle, lunchbox, school jumper, raincoat, library book, homework, textbooks, and awkwardly shaped, fragile science project.


Parental Olympics venue 2 : Home

Post-school Pow-wow : Winner will be whoever can get the most words out of a teenager on the topic of what they did at school that day.  "Good" and "Not much" and "Y'know...the usual" are not acceptable answers, and will not go towards the final word-count.

Television Taboo : The parent who holds out the longest before allowing the TV to be turned on is the winner.

Toy Tidy-up : A selection of toys strewn across every possible surface must be returned to their correct storage location within a set time.  Obstacles include sharp, pointy, moving toys as trip hazards.  Toys ingested and inserted into inappropriate bodily locations on your children will also require safe removal and relocation to their correct place.

Dinner Disaster Management : All children must eat the same vege-packed healthy meal within the allocated time.  Points will be deducted for every time a child leaves the table or attempts to covertly discard food.  Obstacles and distractions will include telesales phone calls and door-to-door collectors during the meal.

Bathroom Biathlon : Includes two events - shower/bath and teeth cleaning.  All children and adults to complete both tasks within the allocated time.  Points deducted for water and toiletries spillage and wastage, and wet towels left on the floor.  There will also be an inane telephone call from your mother in law at some point during the event, in which you will be required to politely converse on her chosen irrelevant topic without once sounding rude, flippant, offhanded, or downright pissy.

Bedtime Bargaining : All children to be in bed by a specified time, amid continual requests for toilet breaks and drinks.  Rooms of older children to be swept for communications devices such as laptops, iPads, iPods, and mobile phones.  This event will only take place when the organisers think that you are sufficiently frazzled and at your wits' end, with no patience remaining for the usual bedtime delay tactics.  Your mother in law will call again at some point during this event.

Morning Mayhem : Spouse's are not permitted to assist with this event.  They are, in fact, instructed to act as an additional child.   They too will require feeding, clothing and esuring they are fully equipped and packed off to work for the day.  Children will be tired, grumpy, and unwilling.  You must convince them to eat a nutritious breakfast, dress, carry out all personal grooming, and remind them of any school requirements for the day.  Shoes and/or socks will be misplaced (after you carefully put them out the night before).  Forgetting homework or a project, or a last minute dress-up or cake sale requirements will only be advised as you are getting in the car.

Parental Olympics venue 3 : Shopping Centre

Shopping Survival : Complete a week's grocery shopping with two young children who will fight over the trolley seat, ignore all pleas to shut up and behave, and all forms of bribery other than sugary processed treats ripped from the shelves in desperation.  Your set shopping list of items will be located at all corners of the massive supermarket.  Other shoppers have been instructed to block the aisles, to stop you to discuss how adorable your pre-tantrum children are, to ask if you know where an item is located because they mistake you for a supermarket employee, and to regularly manoeuvre their trolleys into the back of your feet.  Supermarket staff will be pushing massive pallets of stock in front of you in a slow manner, and erecting large displays at the end of each aisle to hamper your efforts to turn between aisles in anything less than a standard 3 point turn.

Public Tantrum Taming : This event follows directly on from Shopping Survival.  As you leave the supermarket with your overflowing trolley, one child will burst into tears and the other into a screaming tantrum.  Without losing your load (the groceries or your cool), you must calm both children.  You will only be allowed to use your negotiation skills, one free hand, and whatever shopping is in the bags on the top of the precarious pile.

Opening and closing ceremonies will be held at McDonalds.

The awards / prizes would surely have to be Vodka and Sedatives for the parents, Nannies for the toddlers, and boarding school tuition for the older kids.

So, who's in?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Home Care Horror Monday : Part 5



This post is dedicated to idiotic post-genius-invention inventions.

Sound confusing?  Not nearly as much as these items.  But, let me explain.

You know how awesome Post It Notes are, right?  Well I’m talking about the kind of items that came after the genius items.  So, it would be something like an idiot creating a tiny piece of blackboard the size of a post it note, with double sided sticky tape on the back, so you could attach it to a small patch of wall where you won’t miss it, and use the tiny piece of chalk attached by string to write yourself important reminders and notes.

Then you simply wipe off the note with the tiny duster, also attached by a piece of string.  When you leave the room, you can simply pull it off the wall and take it with you to attach at your next destination.

Stupidly stupid, right?  Because I took the genius creation in the Post It Note, and tried to make it better.  Only I failed spectacularly.

Here’s some more examples of idiotic post-genius-invention inventions.

Easy-Fit Door Privacy Curtain  $39.90

I’m not totally digging the classy vibe of this one.  Call me crazy, but I prefer to use an actual door if I want to obtain privacy from a doorway.

Also, with the green and white stripes running down it, this item makes me think I’m walking into my local corner store, circa 1980.

In all fairness to the product, it states that “it’s an affordable way to stay comfortably cool” – so, you know, it may have a use.  Except, again, I’m sorry to poo-poo on their parade, but I like to use a regular, standard type flyscreen door to let the breeze in through my house.


Home Care Horror Rating  :  3/5

 --------------------------------------------------------------------------

Walk Through Door Curtain  $34.90
Same as the previous item, only extra tacky because it has a gross pattern on it that belongs on 1970’s jacquard furniture coverings.  Fail.

Home Care Horror Rating  :  4/5

 --------------------------------------------------------------------------

Insect Screen for any doorway  $17.90


Their online pic cut off half the image.  This grainy shot is from the magazine, so you can truly capture the essence of floaty flyscreen.  Romantic, right?


Nothing says stylishly making an entrance (or exit) like fighting your way through a giant piece of flyscreen netting minus the door frame that normally sees it sitting tight and taught and easy to push open and closed.

Also, having the opening in the middle means there will inevitably be a gap where the flies – far superior in intellect to the creator of this item – will all form a straight line and line dance their way in to your home.

Guess what?  They also make these for windows.

Really not sure how someone could look at a regular fly screen door or window, and decide that this was way cooler.  That anyone would ever buy these.  Have you ever seen how crusty and dusty your fly screen’s can get?  Imagine face-planting that when you try and claw your way through. Ewww.

They were so confident of the popularity of this item that they featured it twice.  Either that or they thought that if they’d missed any stupid people at Page 3, they’d have a second chance to get them at Page 67.

Home Care Horror Rating  :  5/5
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Window Privacy Film  $14.90

Firstly, immature snorts abound from my mouth as I found this item on page 69.

This product is touted as being your means to “avoid the hassle and expense of having curtains or blinds installed with this great alternative”.  Wowness.  They are so thoughtful.  If you were the type of person to buy this product, I would recommend you use the money you save on curtains and blinds to pay for therapy and medication.  Clearly, you need it.

Curtains and blinds have remained successful across the globe since their inception for a reason.

I’m a tad disappointed it is holographic material.  From the image it looked like bubble wrap style pockets of air.  I would’ve considered buying it to adhere to the kids whenever they wage war on each other and leap off the furniture if it had been filled with cushioning bubbles of air.  Kind of like DIY air-bags for your kids.  Oh well…back to the drawing board for this inventor.

Home Care Horror Rating  :  5/5

Friday, June 24, 2011

Deals for Mum : Mathletics & Spellodrome review and giveaway



Deals for Mum previously caught my eye and set my imagination running wild with their Concierge deal.

Today, however, I'm spruiking their fabulous Mathletics and Spellodrome deal.

Kat from Deals for Mum was kind enough to offer me the opportunity to test out both Mathletics and Spellodrome, in the lead up to a fabulous deal she will have up on Deals for Mum.

And when I say test them out, I mean really put them to the ultimate test - a 5yr old with a very short attention span, and a very low frustration threshold.


A bit of background on the "guinea pig" for this review

Miss5 is not a concentrator.  At all.  Ever.  Unless it's a cartoon or ad on TV.  Then she's all ears.  Also if it's an adult conversation taking place that is not intended for her ears.  Or if I'm attempting to stealthy open junk food in another room.  All that stuff she hears and takes in brilliantly. 

When it comes to learning, school and educational stuff - she tunes out.  I've often joked with her teacher that if only they could put the teacher in another room hooked up to a web cam or video camera, and broadcast the teaching over the internet or television - then Miss5 (and no doubt most other kids) would be totally enthralled and paying attention, on the assumption that they were watching TV.

I know I'm not the only parent who feels this frustration, right?


A bit of background on the programmes 

  • No matter what age your child is, these programmes will suit them.  They have activities suitable from 5yrs - 18yrs.
  • Activity level options are targeted at schooling, so you can select Year 1, Year 2 etc. if you're unsure what your child should be learning.
  • There's advanced stages if your child is finding their relevant level easy.  This I love, because it gives you something to aim for, should your child want something a little more challenging.
  • The games are fun, and they capture and hold a child's attention - something that is quite difficult in this day of instant gratification and flashy electronic games and gadgets (OMG...flashy electronic games and gadgets...I totally sound like my mother...).
  • Your child earns rewards as they proceed through the games.  Miss5 absolutely loved seeing that she was working towards something, and got so excited when she earnt an award or bettered her previous score on a game.
  • There are tests for each level, so you can see just how much your child has learnt.  I love this, because I'm not a teacher, I don't know how to gauge exactly what information Miss5 has retained and truly learned.  This helps show me that she really has taken the information in, and not just stared at the screen and 'fluked' the right answer.
  • You can play live competitions against other people or against the computer.  Interactive.  Cool.
  • Statistics are readily available for parents to see where their child is having difficulties and where they are excelling.  Another area I found brilliantly useful, and I even mentioned the results to Miss5's teacher and speech therapist on occasion.
  • There is a weekly report that you can have emailed to you.  Love, love, love this for older children.  The weekly report will give you a true account of what your little darling has done that week.  You think your child is doing their work as they type away, but are they actually on Facebook or stalking the Justin Bieber chat forum instead?  (This is totally what I expect from the conniving Miss5 in future years...but I'm on to her, so I say BRING IT!).  


Mathletics

This was a mega hit with Miss5.  In fact, she loved it so much she didn't want to log off and try out Spellodrome.

Creating her own personal avatar (hair, face, background, clothing - the works) totally won her over before she'd even started the learning.  Learning that is cleverly and stealthy doled out via fun games, tutorials and tests.

I love that there is the option to choose "something harder" if you are blessed with a child who excels at the activities designed for their age range.  Miss5 didn't want to try this, because she was so pleased at actually understanding and being able to progress through her own age-range of activities. 

I am confident that, after a few more months practise,  she will be able to work out my new price after discount when we're shopping.  Unfortunately, she will also be able to work out that my "just one more" stance on peas and beans is substantially more than just one more...

Spellodrome

A lot like Mathletics, this program also impressed Miss5.

She really loved the different characters and games that took her through spelling, letter sounds, word groups, and the like.

Miss5 isn't really into trying to sound out words in books or really trying to read them.  The interactive games on Spellodrome had her reading sentences without her even realising.

She is loving letter sounds at school, so it was great to be able to sit her in front of the laptop while I  defrosted chicken nuggets and sipped wine  made dinner, and listen to her progressing through the activities without too much drama.

Being a bit of a defeatist with a low frustration threshold, I was thrilled that she got the hang of the program so quickly, and enjoyed it so much, that she happily played on and on until I had to kick her off for my Twitter and Facebook fix.


The verdict

Love it!  Simple as that.  When I'm competing with TV and video games for Miss5's attention, this type of programme is perfect for engaging her and keeping her attention.  She has so much fun she doesn't realise she's learning, and I don't have any parental guilt about being proactive with her education.


And the best part....thanks to Deals for Mum, I have a 6 month subscription to Mathletics and Spellodrome to give away!

Here's how you can win :

    Follow this blog via Google Friend Connect or Networked Blogs
    Follow on Facebook or Twitter
    Sign up with Deals For Mum to receive their deals
    *Their excellent deal on Mathletics & Spellodrome is coming up,
    so sign up to make sure you don't miss out.

    Extra entries:
    Share this competition on Facebook
    Retweet this competition on Twitter
    Refer a new Google Friend Connect or Networked Blogs follower
    (make sure they comment with your name so you get your extra entry)



Terms & Conditions :

    Open to Australian residents only
    Entries close midnight (WST) Sunday 3 July
    Winner chosen by random.org
    Winner posted on the blog Wednesday 6 July
    Winner has seven (7) days from posting to advise contact details
    If winner does not make contact in time specified, there will be a re-draw
    Maximum of three (3) extra entries possible:
    - One (1) extra entry for Facebook share
    - One (1) extra entry for Twitter retweet
    - One (1) extra entry for any/all new followers referred


Entries close midnight (WST) Sunday 3 July

Good luck!


If you want to grab a subscription to Mathletics and Spellodrome for yourself, check out Deals for Mum, because they have an amazing deal on a 6 month subscription for only $39 - that's a fab deal, as the subscription is worth $88.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Alice in Wonderland : DVD Review and Giveaway



Just in time for it's 60th Anniversary, Alice in Wonderland is the latest classic that Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment have digitally remastered and released on DVD and Blu Ray.

I was so excited to sit down and watch this with Miss5 after how much she loved Snow White.

So we put the twins down.  Not literally.  In the nap-time sense of 'put down'.

We grabbed some snacks, and sat down to watch it on the laptop.  Because the DVD player is dead (R.I.P babysitter extraordinaire).

Miss5 went nuts over Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.  Although, that could be because she thought the characters were based on her father and uncle, as she has often heard me referring to them as Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Even Dumber.


Miss5 has now started referring to the twins as Tweedum and Tweedee, which she thinks is freaking hilarious.  Each to their own, right?

What got me totally beside myself was the magical broom-toting dog. 


I so need to get me one of these to run around after  me  the kids.

After a short intermission thanks to the Mad Hatter's tea party leaving me with a severe tea craving, we were back into it.

Speaking of the Mad Hatter's tea party....is it just me, or does the tea-totalling Dormouse seem fairly zonked out for a tea-totaller?



Anyway, Miss5 is now on at me to celebrate un-birthday's.  She can't quite work out addition and subtraction, but she is sound on the idea of celebrating 364 un-birthday's a year as opposed to one birthday.  Typical.



So, after much laptop pulling and some seat-shoving for the best viewing position, I can safely say that - as with all the Disney classics - Alice in Wonderland has been a total hit in our house.

It is so amazing to be able to share with my own kids, the exact classics I watched as a child *not so long ago* *cough / choke / splutter*.

And, with thanks to Porter Novelli and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, you can also win a copy of Alice in Wonderland - 60th Anniversary Edition on DVD and Blu Ray.

To win your own  babysitter  copy of this classic :

    1.  Follow this blog via Google Friend Connect or Networked Blogs
    2.  Follow on Twitter or Facebook
    *   Re-tweet and/or share this post on Facebook for an extra entry
    3.  Comment below confirming you're following
         (and if you tweeted/shared for an extra entry)

Entries close midnight (WST) Saturday 2 July.


T&C
    Entry open to Australian residents only
    One extra entry each for re-tweet and sharing (maximum of 2)
    Entries close midnight (WST) Saturday 2 July
    Winner will be posted on blog Sunday 3 July
    Winner has seven (7) days from posting to respond with their contact details


Goodluck!

Now I'm off for another nice cup of  wine  vodka  tea.


----------------------------------------------------
Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of the DVD courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment via Digital Parents. No financial payment was offered nor accepted for this post. All opinions expressed are purely my own.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Home Care Horror Monday : Part 4



Wow, this segment is really getting a lot of interest.  Thank you to those who have suggested items for future issues.  I promise, I am definitely going to dedicate an entire post to the Snuggie.

This week, I thought I’d focus on Meerkat’s.  No, really.

What does the Meerkat have to do with a catalogue dedicated to homewares and home maintenance?

Bugger all, in my opinion.  But those “clever” **  types at Home Care have managed to weave them in to the catalogue to such an extent, that they have earnt themselves an entire post of Home Care Horror Monday.

**Disclaimer: clever in the sense of totally inane and Homer Simpson style stupid.

Here’s how they managed it :


Meerkat Welcome Sign  $16.90

Imagine this lovely little guy at the front door.  Doesn’t it just make you want to go inside and visit the occupant of said house?  No?  Me neither…

But, on the off-chance you do ignore your instincts and go inside, this is what you’ll spot next :


Meerkat Family  $19.90


In the photo, they’ve been placed outdoors.  However, I’m fairly confident that the person who has the Meerkat welcome at their front door, would invariably keep this lovely family of 3 indoors.  To keep them warm in winter and cool in summer.

By now you’re feeling uneasy.  You’re searching for your quickest escape route.  You spot the back door and attempt to make a casual bee-line for it.

As you get outside you are flooded with a sense of relief.  Until you see this :

Set of 4 Individual Meerkat's  $59.00
Yeah I know, there's only 3 in the online pic.
There's 4 in the catalogue.  More Meerkat for your money


Your relief is replaced by panic.  These are some bad ass Meerkat’s, as evidenced by the bandana toting Homey.  He's the leader of the pack.  Word.

RUN.  GET OUT WHILE YOU STILL CAN AND NEVER EVER COME BACK!

This house is clearly occupied by a deranged psycho who has willingly forked out a grand total of $95.80 plus delivery for their multiple Meerkat – their insanity knows no bounds and their credit card should be cut up.  Get them a padded helmet STAT.

I award the Meerkat mob / gang / clan a collective rating :

Home Care Horror Rating : 5/5


For shizzle I Googled it, and those are the terms the Google Gods responded with for a group of Meerkat - I'm telling you, they are totally badass with such menacing references when referred to in the group form.

But seriously, what up with all the Meerkattage?

Are they trending on Twitter and I didn’t notice?

Is Paris Hilton carrying one around in her poncey overpriced pet carrier / handbag instead of her usual itty bitty rat dogs?

Did Justin Bieber finally admit that his hair is really a toupee made from Meerkat fur?  (Fear not, PETA types, it would invariably be a faux Meerkat toupee in order to protect his squeaky clean Tween-friendly image).

Sidebar : Quick shout out to Mrs Woog @ Woogsworld  – would there be a market for a Meerkat merkin, if Justin Bieber did in fact start a global trend of Meerkat toupee’s?

Friday, June 17, 2011

I went to my "Happy Place" and the Twin Tornado ruined it

Today I went to the airport to collect #1 Grandmother after yet another holiday.

The airport was filled with irritatingly happy holidaymakers.  Excited to be going on holiday, relaxed and refreshed coming back from a holiday.  Whatever.  Either way, they were decidedly more relaxed than I.

Here's why :

I spent my time trying to decide if I should stop Miss2 from stealthly liberating #1 Grandfather's Smarties (her slidey eyes darting from me to him, as her hand repeatedly slithered up onto the table for more).  It was either stop her and risk unleashing her tyrant wrath upon me in a crowded public place, or ignore it and hope she burns off the sugar buzz before we get in the car to go home.

When she wasn't downing fistfuls of Smarties, she and Mstr2 were trying to run through the arrivals doors every time they opened.  The doors that very clearly say NO ENTRY.  Shame your average 2yr old can't read.

And when they weren't trying to rush Customs and Immigration, Mstr2 was attempting to pick the combination lock on a bright purple suitcase emblazoned with large pink cows, which belonged to a Japanese girl at the next table.  I swear to vodka, no exaggeration on the description.

The twin tornado ruined my most favourite place in the world.

I adore going to the airport.  If the parking wasn't such a rip off, I'd go there just for coffee, to browse the newsagency and bookshop, or to get my Red Rooster (roast chicken fast food chain in Perth.  Second only to Macca's, simply because they don't have a playground for me to dump the kids in for a few hours).

They have a bar that is open beyond standard trading hours.  That is a mega huge plus.  Although, I've never made a special trip out to there to the bar at odd hours, mostly because they don't have a playground either.

The point is, I love the airport more than anywhere - even Macca's.  I get up at all sort of ungodly hours (prior to 8am) to do the airport run for extended family, friends, casual acquaintances, neighbours, anyone whose face I vaguely recognise.  That place is my drug of choice after wine and vodka.

Awesome people watching.

Only, not today.  Today people were watching me, as I shot out of my chair every 5 seconds to grab a twin, and in return, I only had eyes for them.  I missed many heartfelt reunions, excited departures, complaints about the price of snacks and coffee.

Fantastic buzz in the air.  All electricity and excitement (Shut up, it's my happy place, ok?).

Only, not today.  Today the air was thick with stress (mine) and potential temper tantrums (mine, and Miss2's if I'd dared stop the Smarties supply; and Mstr2's if I'd continued to hamper his attempts at cracking the combination lock on the purple suitcase with the pink cows).

I've been stuck at home, holed up in the house with the twin tornado for over a week.  The weather has been lousy.  The temperature has been too cold to let the kids outside, and it's been raining half the time.  We have been virtual prisoners in our house.

I have been LIVING FOR this trip to the airport.  Seriously.  I shit you not.

Those little  bastards  darling's completely screwed up my favourite place, my one single outing for the week besides Miss5's school runs.

They will pay.  I'm not sure when, I'm not sure how, but they will pay.  Mummy loves you, but not so much when you ruin my special Happy Place.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

In a perfect world...

Have you heard of Fantasy Football?  Dream Team?  Ultimate Team?  All fantasy sports leagues, where you get to create your very own dream team out of the entire league of professionals.

Yes?  No?

Okay, how about Farmville?  Frontierville?  And other such online games where you create your own vision of a perfect utopia.

While I don't have time to play any of these while busy  blogging, watching TV, drinking  parenting, it did get me to thinking about my own personal version of a perfect idyllic type setting.



Ultimate Fantasy Playgroup...ville

For those  stuck  enjoying the stay at home parenting gig.

Think your regular, standard issue, garden variety Playgroup - but perfected.  A kind of Playgroup Nirvana, if you will.  Pimp my Playgroup, a la Pimp My Ride.

Picture it...

You're picked up from home by a stretch limo with the maximum ANCAP safety rating.  There are two separate sound-proof sections.  Kids in one, airbagged up to the max.  With soft, BPA-free plastic balls to play with.  And liquidized brocolli, bok choy and spinach to sip on, that tastes like choc milk, so they love it.  Or, you know, something like that.   Say goodbye to the kids as they step into their section, because it's the last you'll see or hear of them all day.

Kids' seat, complete with harness style seat belt and multiple airbags


In the back section, the parents.  Two words.  OPEN BAR.  Sippy cups with sealed lids and straws so there's no fussing over spillage on the drive to Ultimate Fantasy Playgroup...ville.  Massager chairs with seat belts.  Mood music.  Mood lighting.  Essential oils burning in whatever aroma covers calm, relaxed and zenned out to the max.

Parents' seat, complete with faux fur lined massaging seat belt and retractable foot spa


As you pull out of your driveway, a team of cleaners and chef's wave goodbye, as they take over your house/bombsite to magically transform it into a shiny, sparkling, germ-free palace of display home standards - all in time for your return home that evening, to feed the kids the healthy and delicious meal that has been prepared for you.

You arrive at  Ultimate Fantasy Playgroup...ville, and you're promptly whisked away to the Day Spa section.  It's so mega huge it has its own section, you see.

Cappuccino's and Latte's await, as you sit back and enjoy your chosen treatment.

Somewhere, way way way at the other side of the property, beyond hearing distance, your kids are being educated.  Sure, they're too young for school, but Ultimate Fantasy Playgroup...ville manages to pack them full of enough educational goodness to allow you to forego any parental responsibility or guilt for the rest of the week.  Can't be assed reading that bed time story?  No need.  You've been to Ultimate Fantasy Playgroup...ville, where they read a dozen books to cover you for the whole week.

Morning tea is a High Tea type affair.  Fancy little miniature cakes and savouries that you don't have at home because you don't have time to make them between picking up Playdoh before it gets squished into the carpet, and fishing toys out of the toilet.  All washed down with Bollinger, Moet, Veuve, whatever your chosen fancy pants bubbly of choice.

They use only the fancy crockery and cutlery. Please note the lack of chips, cracks and grotty finger prints.


Your kids are happily snacking on organic, corn fed, farm bred, free range hypo-allergenic everything.  And loving it.

Also, they only crap on Ultimate Fantasy Playgroup...ville day.  Once a week, like clockwork.  Where the staff take care of it.  Never at home.  True story.

After morning tea it's time for some trash TV.  Everyone congregates around the mega enormous TV screens that are free of smudgy child-sized hand prints.  You get a whole lounge to yourself.  A lounge with a matching lavender scented, plush, whiter than white blanket.  No stains, no sharing, no suspicious wet patches. Did I mention it's white?  A colour you may not be familiar with since having kids and discovering off-white, grey-white, blue-white, white-with-blotches, and spaghetti-white.

Cocktails are served as you flick through every available channel.  Except sports.  They don't get sports channels at Ultimate Fantasy Playgroup...ville.  They do, however, have multiple shopping and Real Housewives of.... channels, plus channels dedicated solely to Dr Phil, Oprah, Wentworth Miller in Prison Break (that one's for me) and Cougar Town (also for me).

If you feel a twang of parental guilt, you can flick over to the iAppease channel to see what your little darling is up to.  But you really don't need to, because they will most likely be learning a foreign language, or the violin.

Guilt appeased, it's cocktail time.  Again.

Lunch is whatever you want it to be.  McDonalds, Heston Blumenthal, you name it - they've got it.  Meanwhile, your kids are eating more of that organic stuff from earlier.  With tuna and salmon, for Omega 3 and brain development.

After lunch and cocktails it's nap time.  For you, not the kids.  The kids are kept up and active the entire day, to ensure that when they leave, they have only enough energy to smile, cuddle, shower, eat and go to bed for a deep sleep of 12 - 14 hours duration.  No shit.

Please note the distinct lack of stains. Anywhere.


You slumber in your private sound-proofed room.  Alone.  No sharing the blankets or the remote.  Watch what you want on TV as you drift off to sleep, or read one of the many literary tomes, or gossip magazines.  It's completely up to you.  Enjoy your silent, solo, blissful sleep.  You will not be woken by snoring, farting, coughing, crying, screaming, fighting, yelling, small hands tugging on your hair/clothing/limbs/blankets.  Nor by anything warm/wet/slimy being stuck into any of your facial openings.

After some post-siesta cocktails, you enjoy a shower.  SOLO.  With fully functioning hot water.  The only things occupying your ensuite are  expensive toiletries, plush towels, and you.  No toys to trip over.  No kiddy cosmetics or toiletries.  No garish cartoon towels or flannels.  It is an adult sanctuary.  Enjoy.  Light a few non-kiddy-friendly scented candles.

Finally, it is home time.  Your cherub's are deliriously happy, but in a quiet and non-feral way.  They've had the time of their lives.  So have you.

You're whisked home in the uber-limo, in time to beat your hard working spouse home, so you can claim the domestic excellence and culinary genius that took place in your absence as your own.  Clearly, you've been busy today.  The kids are fed, watered, put  out to pasture  to bed.  They're buggered after the day's physically and mentally challenging and educational fun.

You've done well today.  Pat yourself on the back before heading to your freshly made bed with a wine.  Mind the Belgian chockie on the turned down bedding.



That's just how we roll at Ultimate Fantasy Playgroup...ville.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Home Care Horror Monday : Part 3



I'm not sure anything can possibly compete with last week's beer glass, but here we go....

Today we explore the phenomenon that is "unique" or "kitsch" salt and pepper shaker sets.  Sure, salt and pepper shakers are nothing new - but, have you RECENTLY (say, in the past 30 years) seen any of these suckers being offered up as new (not second hand shop material) or worthy of glossy catalogue spruiking?

There appears to be an all-animal theme on these.  I must've missed that trend memo?


Chicken Design Salt & Pepper Shakers  $10.90

They are not disgusting.  In fact, I wouldn't balk at them if I saw them on a table. I actually think my own mother may have a set of these or similar.  But still....they're a little bit ugh and part of a worrying trend displayed inside this catalogue, therefore, they make the shit list.

Home Care horror rating : 1/5
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Next up in the animal themed salt and pepper shaker department :

Ceramic Cat Salt & Pepper Set  $9.90


CATastrophic.  The designers have seen the clear line between cutesy and nauseating and pole vaulted over it.  I am a cat lover, but I would not be caught dead shaking these.  I would be very wary of anyone who owned a set.  Crazy psycho stalker wary.  The only person who may possibly own a set of these, is a crazy old cat lady.  And even that is a cheap shot at a well known stereotype.

Home Care horror rating : 3/5

I'm being nice because I like cats.  Other animals would rate 4/5
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The following comes as a set, since the shakers were a bit too bland on their own, apparently :

Donkey Figurine with Salt & Pepper Shakers  $19.90

Maximum ass.  You'd have to be a dumb ass to design or buy this product.  You couldn't just whack a set of regular, run of the mill shakers in the catalogue, could you, Home Care innovators?  No, you had to jazz it up with an ass of a holder.  It is missing a piece of straw hanging out of its mouth.  And perhaps its own straw hat, with the ears sticking up through the sides.  May as well go completely ass-about, no?

If you ever see one of these, do the world a favour and smash it.  Please.

Home Care horror rating : 4/5
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And just so you don't think me evilly cruel for relentlessly pulling the piss out of this one catalogue, take a look at what I found in my own home.  None of which were purchased by yours truly, and none of which are owned or used by yours truly.  The #1 Grandmother takes full name and shame blame for these gems :

Oinkus maximus




Tragedy struck, the matching shakers fell and smashed while I was manouvering this bad boy for the pic.  They did sit on either side of the head.  Of course.


Hola Amigo's!  These are kind of cute in a European way.  Right?  No?  Okay


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