Let me list the ways I list

I love a good list, almost as much as an excellent strawberry tart.

Attributes of an excellent strawberry tart:

  • crisp pastry shell
  • thin layer of dark chocolate
  • velvety crème patisserie
  • fresh strawberries.

I use lists to:

  • remember the names of meeting rooms
  • make me feel guilty about the friends I need to call, see or write to
  • make my online content easier to scan (is it working for you?)
  • maintain the façade of a multi-tasking super wonder mum (there is a sub-list of the ways in which I am not achieving this).

I’ve graduated from jottings in a very nice Japanese diary (mum work), to MS Outlook tasks and pushy mobile apps (office work).  I thought this would ramp up my home-life productivity performance indicators, but it’s making my personal tasks a bit scary.

Alert – buy that birthday card!

Alert – pay the nanny!

Alert – try to find out the name of the thing that person told you not to forget!

Alert – your brother and wife are having a baby!

Reasons why I still love lists:

  • adding a task to a list is practically the same as starting something
  • starting something on my list is almost like being complete
  • if I write it down, I will clear some brain space for something else
  • ticking things off makes me feel like a Winner and an Achiever.

Hong Kong French toast – it’s not French and it’s not toast

At the top of this blog, there’s a picture of a mysterious fried square thing on a plate. It’s secret identity shall now be revealed as … Hong Kong French toast.

It’s not French and it’s not toast. It has has so little nutritional value that perhaps it isn’t technically food either. It is, however, one of our favourite Hong Kong special snacks.

Hong Kong French toast is usually:

  • 2 slices of soft, crustless white sandwich bread
  • With smooth peanut butter in the middle
  • Dipped in egg
  • Fried
  • Served with golden syrup
  • And a piece of bonus butter.

You might feel your arteries hardening a little as you look at these pictures…

hong kong french toast 1

Classic Hong Kong French toast

hong kong french toast 2

Sharing the bounty of saturated fat and refined sugar.

hong kong french toast 3

Burp.

Let there always be kittens

One day I found myself hopping with a clickety click of the mouse from pictures of vintage French cheese labels, to a pro-anorexia, self-harm Tumblr site.  I have never seen one of these before because I am neither interested in anorexia nor self-harm.  

I started off scrolling through:

  • artful pictures of fading flowers in enamel jugs
  • pretty girls in wistful hats
  • nail art  (I am getting sick of nails painted to look like ladybirds and cheap cocktail umbrellas)
  • biscuits
  • kittens.

I then ended up stumbling through a stream of:

  • skeletal hip bones and shoulder blades and spines of teenage girls
  • rainbows
  • various skin wounds and scratches, sometimes in the form of bleeding red text
  • life-affirming platitudes “never give up” “ you are beautiful” “follow your heart”
  • kittens.

I rolled through these images for a while, wondering at the curious mix of cute sunny fluffy animals and deep self-loathing. Is this what it feels like to be a modern young woman? Is this what my daughter will fall in to as she grows up? Is there any place on the web where it is NOT appropriate to include kittens?

As sad as that desperate collection of images was, I’ve had a tiny useful glimpse in to a dark place that I want nothing to do with.

Thank you Mrs Internet for teaching me a little about the girls who cut themselves because they don’t have a gap between their thighs.  And for kittens. Let there always be kittens.

The Mostly-At-Work-Mum

I’ve recently stopped being a Stay-At-Home-Mum (SAHM). I am now a Mostly-At-Work-Mum (MAWM).

It’s Sunday night. Before I pack my bag for work, I have:

  • tidied away stacks of drawings of ice-creams, love hearts and roses
  • marched up the stairs to tell someone to put away his (Dr Who) Sonic Screwdriver, as he’s meant to be sleeping
  • washed wellington boots
  • found most of the pieces of a (Star Wars) Republic Assault Ship
  • tipped glitter and food crumbs out of school bags
  • secretly recycled even more drawings of ice-creams, love hearts and roses.

[Aside: I don’t recall seeing mums in films doing any of these tasks. They spend a lot of time at kitchen benches slicing loaves of sourdough bread, or washing lettuce.]

During the week, I have outsourced a large proportion of my kid-related responsibilities, so these little things I do at night and on weekends keep me connected with them.

We still have some excellent conversations.

My son’s answer to peak oil and energy resource depletion:  “Buy a load of dead animals and bury them in the ground.”  [This was his variation on the boring old coalification process where coal is formed from prehistoric fossils…]

My daughter was drawing a sea horse. “It’s a French sea horse,” she explained. “Why?” I asked. “Because it’s wearing a bow tie and has a moustache.”  Of course.

So let’s get on with that work-life balance.

Getting older and further away

Several weeks after leaving Facebook, my life continues on.

Older

I had a decidedly non-digital afternoon tea with some delightful ‘old girls’ from my school. I’m not using ‘old’ in a pejorative sense. One of my companions had graduated from school in 1944!

My days are usually spent in the company of people my own age, or with children. It was quite brilliant to share shortbread with an entirely different generation.  No-one secretly checked their messages under the tablecloth. No-one leapt away from the table to grab their iPad to look up the EXACT name of their angina medication. And no-one posted photos of us with mouthfuls of date slice on FB.

I felt younger and springier. Hopeful that I would one day be a feisty senior with sturdy boots and a backpack full of cake, talking too loudly to the bus driver.

We shall be exchanging addresses and sending cards to keep in touch. Hooray!

Further away

I’ve been thinking about the ‘unreal’ friendships that I left behind on FB. I might have commented on photos of their 5 course Peruvian degustation meal, but I really didn’t know what was going on in their lives.  I never asked “How are you?” on Facebook.

Once, a friend received a disturbing email from her very good friend overseas. Lots of apologies for being a bad friend, inadequate mother and general life-failure. Alarming .

Even more sad than the actual email, was our first thought: “Is this real or a hoax?” How could we tell if it was some crazy spam or a genuinely troubling communication? It turned out to be genuine, and I felt so guilty for doubting its authenticity.

I treat email as administrative and functional. In this case, the medium (email) did not match the message (I am feeling truly awful and need a friend).

We have to ask “How are you?” a lot more often. And be happy even if we just get a 🙂  back.

Here’s one I wrote earlier

Love is not dead, it’s just resting.  How often do you tell your loved ones that they are loved? On a sliding scale, I think the most romantic medium are (with 1 being most lovely):

Why Facebook is not my friend

I’ve un-friended Facebook.

I’ve haven’t been popping in to FB’s corporate blue cyber-lounge very much recently. FB was dropping down to the bottom of my To Do list. It was above “Pick up next-door cat’s poo in my garden” but below “Find lost sink plunger”. [We have sub-standard plumbing in this house.]

I decided that in 2013 I would *leave* Facebook. I’m not closing my account, but I’m just not actively checking it or updating it. It’s a bit of a relief actually.

Good things about leaving Facebook

  • I don’t have a constant parallel “I-must-remember-that-funny-thing-so-I-can-post-it-on-Facebook” soundtrack in my mind. I just laugh at it, and move on.
  • I am no longer jealous of distant colleagues’ luxurious holidays .
  • Calibrating a suite of ever-changing FB privacy settings? Ha! I laugh at your privacy settings.
  • I don’t need to comment on anyone’s pictures of their kids. Of course I think my friends’ children are funny, smart, adorable, stylish etc. I just don’t need to prove it.
  • I haven’t had to ‘friend’ either the generation above (parents, uncles, aunts) or below me (nieces etc). I have avoided breaching inter-generational FB sharing etiquette.
  • I have rung, and Skyped and emailed and met with and written to my Real Life Actual Friends. It has been lovely.

Bad things about leaving Facebook

[After a long pause… ]

  • I will not know what you ate at your wedding anniversary dinner.
  • I will not know that you liked the page for “Katie’s Bespoke Ceramic Yoghurt Cooler Pods”.
  • I will not know that you got divorced, deported, promoted, pregnant, married or mauled by a rare mammal on your charity fun run.

Life after Facebook

I read that Facebook is the email of the digital natives. Ubiquitous, functional and essential. I hope that’s wrong, as I’m going to live without it.

This was my first post on Facebook – 3 July 2007:

[From me to friend] Now I’m a zombie chump thanks to you.

This was my last post on Facebook – 9 December 2012:

2013 new year resolution SPOILER: Only 23 more sleeps until I leave* Facebook.

*I’m not even going to pretend to check/update very often. Just can’t be arsed.

There are plenty of other ways we can connect: twitter, linkedin, flickr, pinterest, my blog, your blog, email, skype, landline, mobile, post, or meet me for a coffee?

(But not google+… I suspect that I will be on that even less than FB.)

Here’s one I wrote earlier

We are all alone together. Looking down the hill, the lights of the party twinkled and crinkled through the trees. The wafts of voices floated up past me in the dark. I could see my friends arranging and rearranging themselves in to little clumps of conversation and mid-priced wine.

I am, like, so not popular. I am not a very popular person. I only have:

  • 90 Facebook friends (although if I friended my mum and all my uncles, aunts, cousins and their spouses I’d probably double that). [Update: As at 7 April 2011, I have 100 FB friends.]

Lego is blog superfood

I’ve been suffering from an extreme case of blog procrastination. If this blog was a small child, well-meaning strangers would frown at its unsuitable footwear and thin arms.

But hooray! All the planets are aligned, the Interweb is working, and my hands are warm enough to type.

Quite a few people stumble here by searching for Lego.  So to feed up my poor malnourished blog, here are some amusing Lego pictures. Does anyone ever get tired of cute Lego? Not me.

Lego minifig crocodile man

Grrrr. No idea what this Lego minifig is. Some poor man trapped in a crocodile suit?

Lego minifig hippy

We had a hard time trying to describe what ‘a hippy’ was to the kids.

Proof that I was in New York

I did make an ambitious claim several weeks ago that I would put up some pictures from my NY mini-break. Here they are:

New York Chinatown signs

The ancient Chinese culture and traditions on display in Chinatown.

New York September 11 memorial

The 9/11 memorial at sunset.

New York croissant cat

It’s a croissant cat!!

New York Central park

Central Park. It looks fake, doesn’t it? But it really was this pretty…

New York Met elephant vase

At The Met I found out that mid-18th century French porcelain could be terrifying.

So, the blog child-beast has been fed. And I can happily procrastinate away for another short while.

Here’s one I wrote earlier

Lego love for all the family. It really really hurts when I step on hard, sharp, pointy bits of Lego. I suffer through strange foot indentations because  Lego is wonderful.

Too lazy for words. Greetings from New York. I’ve just popped over for a high-end mini-break with husband.

Too lazy for words

Greetings from New York. I’ve just popped over for a high-end mini-break with husband.

If I was a proper blogger, I would be photographing my food and posting pictures up with tasting notes. Or reviewing the toenail art of the woman lounging at the bar.

But the good camera is broken and we forgot to unlock our mobile phones, so we are without Wandering Web. We are officially free to just go about tourist-ing without sending out a real-life feed of NY delights.

Use the power of your mind to imagine that the following were posted over the last couple of days:

  • The air is so dry, I think my eyeballs are shrinking.
  • Seared octopus with Umbrian chickpeas, red onion, pickled currants. (Il Buco).
  • Uptown is not necessarily uphill.
  • Gold brocade skinny jeans. (Admired, but did not buy).
  • Gorging ourselves on back-to-back episodes of The Newsroom.
  • 9/11 Memorial was perfect. Black pools of textured water – corrugated, smooth and flowing.
  • If I say “Can I eat that here, please?” he will look at me blankly and reply “To go?”
  • Oooooh, my bunions are aching.
  • $400 is too much for a toy baby standing reindeer. (ABC carpet and home).

This post was the blog equivalent of ‘freshening up’ a stale bread roll in a microwave. A more nutritionally-balanced post will appear when I’m back.

Byeeee, Lorraine

Tiny tablets and toys

It was a quiet morning at home. I was pondering the largeness of my multivitamin tablet.

Then I took some pictures:

Hello! We love our Omega-3 fish oils.

Taxi and pill

Delivering the drugs.

Jam and toast and multivitamins

ALL the vitamins you need in one MASSIVE pill.

pills and pencil

The love drugs.

Here’s one I wrote earlier

I heard a bus shelter singing  In these drippy flannel grey spring days, I love colour. My eyes are hungry for bright shiny colourful things. Like these…

Pictures of words  Someone has poured concrete in to my sinus cavities (I have a cold). This is a lazy ‘picture post’ today.  I am too tired to write many words, so here are some pictures of words that have made me smile …

Make your own laptop

I was in one of those over-priced Belgian cafes, filled with equal quantities of rustic wooden furniture and jars of chocolate spread.

Next to me was a smartly dressed family. On a rustic wooden breakfast table, they were occupied thusly:

  • Dad – with iPad resting on muesli bowl.
  • Mum – on iPhone, with salad bowl of coffee.
  • Toddler in high chair – with iPod resting on ridiculous gourmet salt shaker.

They were probably content and well-fed. To me, they looked like 3 people who were killing time until newer, slightly thinner versions of the other family members are available at the Apple store.

Digital death

I spend a lot of energy ‘saving’ my kids from dying an early digital death. As the title of my blog suggests, I’m trying really hard to make sure their lives are not ruled by technology.

I am failing.

My children used to make magnificent craft. Behold a scale model of the Great Wall of China.

Great wall of china in clay

The great pile of …

Now, to compensate for the fact that I am depriving them of electronic wizardry, this is what they create:

the homemade laptop

Can you tell it’s the Windows startup screen logo?

And most impressively, there’s a Logitech mouse to go with the paper laptop.

the homemade mouse

Logitech’s latest prototype mouse.

This came back from a school holiday club:

the homemade mobile

The screen is a bit small, but it’s got an incredible battery life.

And our little animal friends frolic in a forest of cables and keyboards.

little creatures in cables

The perfect place to hang out.

I will continue to paddle weakly against the tsunami of digital stuff. I have my inflatable armbands, and kid-proof passwords on all my devices.

Here’s one I wrote earlier

Slightly ranting about kids, technology, good and evil. I can’t decide. Internet = evil cesspit of narcissistic idiots chatting to gambling-addicted paedophiles? Or Internet = global community of inspiring humanity sharing knowledge and joy? Depends on which parent I am talking to …

Things I say to my kids that my mum never said to me. Here are some things I say to my kids that my mum never said to me. Modern parenting just seems a little more complicated these days …