I’m not saying my life is more exciting than everyone elses but I did just get a bath organiser. It’s only Monday and I have no idea how my week can be topped.
I just want to go cry in a corner, in the dark, until I spew.
So it turns out that the terrible two’s are merely a warm up act to threenagehood. The threenage years are when your cute little button alternates between being the sweetest little monkey in the world and being a monkey with full blown rabies. Possibly some sort of super mutated strand that even Science Fiction writers haven’t imagined yet. Anything and everything is a potential crisis situation.
“I want chocolate.”
“We don’t have any chocolate.”
“Give me chocolate right now!”
“Honestly Angel Cake we don’t have any.”
High pitched squealing where you are worried the neighbours will call DOCS followed by hysterical crying until they throw up followed by you regretting your no chocolate in the house stance. And then it’s breakfast time…
Prior to this transition I’d never heard of the term “Threenager” and to be honest I hope it passes soon. Most of the time she’s the sweetest little angel on Earth but these extreme terrorist attacks are exhausting. After the threenager stage is over it better be smooth sailing until the teenage years. If there is some kind of “Fournado” I will seriously have to consider becoming a high functioning alcoholic.
Ugh. As always any fellow Mad Cows are welcome to join my group if because you’re a little crae crae and you have a fanwah then it’s the place for you. https://facebook.com/groups/563402577109194
I think for many of us at the Kids and YA Festival, at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre yesterday, the highlight was the Pitch Competition. At the beginning of the day we were able to put our names into a box and at the end of the day six names were to be selected at random and those people were allowed to pitch. What we needed to bring was a one paragraph pitch and the first page of our completed manuscript. I like many others did just that, despite the fact I’m not 100% confident that I have my head around this whole how to pitch bizzo. I found myself crossing my fingers like a four year old hopefully as each name was drawn silently willing my name to be drawn.
Unfortunately my paragraph and my first page remained unneeded, unnecessary and uninvited in my sweaty, burrito stained lap. Turns out my willpower is not so flash. When the sixth person finished there was a collective sigh. What surprised me was that it was a sigh of relief that their names hadn’t been called, what surprised me even more was that mine was a small sigh of sadness for not being picked. Apparently I have more confidence and belief in myself than I had thought. Perhaps this INFJ (introvert) is becoming an ENFJ. Stranger things have happened. So here is my pitch that I wrote without knowing how to pitch and my first page. It was quite different from those presented. The boring school teacher in me took things quite literally and the first sentence says the genre, target audience and title. I then briefly state what the heart of the story is. I shall have to think of a way to jazz it up!
Chloe Prime: Alien Space Vet is a fantasy adventure ideal for bedtime reading with middle Primary School aged confident readers. It is set on the planet Giovanus in the year 3021, but some things never change – the first day at a new school is nerve wracking, friends are the best and the worst, and nothing motivates you more than needing to go to the toilet. Join action ready Chloe Prime and her best friend, the studious Hippopotati Joshua Suza as they travel through space and school together, learning to communicate with insects, battling the academic wilderness and doing whatever it takes not to get weeed on.
Chapter One: The Night Before the Day After
Chloe Prime poked her head out above her blankets and eyed her wardrobe suspiciously. Had it just made a noise? She watched and waited for a few minutes. Nothing. Perhaps it had all been in her imagination. A flight of fancy? She nestled back under her covers.
Chloe pulled her covers down again and glared at her wardrobe. Honestly, this was getting ridiculous. She had to get a good night’s sleep for the first day at her new school tomorrow. This just would not do.
Chloe vaulted out of bed and stood in front of her wardrobe in a fighting stance. Her hair reared out from her head in crazy curls, ready for action. Her legs were encased in a metallic exoskeleton, which made her look every bit like a miniature cyborg, with medusa hair, at the ready. If there was a monster in that wardrobe she was going to have at it.
‘I came here for a bedtime story and to kick butt,’ ten year old Chloe challenged her empty cupboard. ‘And I already finished my story.’
Kent Prime came running into his daughter’s room closely followed by her mother. Chloe turned to see her father staring at her in shock.
I’ve just realised the title of this blog is entirely misleading. It really doesn’t have enough vitriol to truly be sour grapes. Hard to get truly bitter about a process that uses random selection and your brother’s best friend from year eight ends up winning. But I made a promise in that title so I really owe it to you to live up to it (if I don’t live up to the promise I have made the reader a certain writing teacher will kick my butt), so I’m going to give it a red hot go!
Darn that Sorting Box. Someone needs to seriously question the impartiality of that box. It clearly had an anti Ravenclaw bias! (I did the sorting hat online and that’s where it put me so I’m assuming this is a solid fact) My daughter played in a box until it broke last week and clearly it was a cousin of the Sorting Box and it used that against me. Darn you Sorting Box and all of your kind! I shall never, EVER, use a box again!!! Shakes fist.
Firstly a big thank you to Aleesah Darlison who was the Kids and YA Literature Festival director at the event I attended yesterday at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre. As always I took away many new ideas and lessons.
1) Children and YA authors all together in one place looks awfully similar to an episode of “Primary Teachers Gone Wild.”
2) I’m pretty sure if they had a cut and paste session we would have all been in. Just the vibe I got from my fellow writers from our reactions to the Keynote Speaker. Boori Monty Pryor deals with primary aged children all the time so has an animated and interactive style. He was having us hug ourselves, raise our hands and roll around on the ground with laughter (ROFLing as the hip cats call it). It was brilliant and everybody was involved. Hence if he’d decided to do the painting activities he does with his kids with us I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been the only one cleaning glitter out of every nook and cranny for the next month.
3) Famous writers are really, really, really, super nice. Pamela Freeman even greeted me with a hug. (Not to name drop shameless name drop ahead I have now received hugs from not only Pamela Freeman, but also Kate Forsyth, Jan Cornall and Walter Mason. Emily Maguire I’m coming for you next!)
4) Editors are really nice too! No really, they are. I know that sounds weird because we’re all fairly convinced that they’re all angry, old, hermits that live in caves, away from the light, snacking on bitter pills and drinking the blood of wannabe writers just so they can wee it into their chamber pots and toss it on the dying embers of our failed manuscripts… over share? But they are nice. Zoe Walton is always so kind and so organised at every festival I have seen her at and Nicola Robinson was nice enough to shake my hand and give me a warm smile. Not one editor asked us aspiring writers to line up and bend over so that they could kick us in the pants. I kid you not.
5) Once you’re a teacher you’re always a teacher. Jacqueline Harvey uses her whiteboard to plan stories. You have done us proud Ms Harvey and we salute you. Whiteboard Marker Pride!!!
6) I want to be Catherine Jinks’ BFF. Should she ever be in the market for one I’m ready. She was so funny and so enthusiastic and so real that I think everybody hung on every word she said.
7) Burritos are a bad idea when you’re wearing pale colours. I got sauced. Bring back the rice paper rolls I say. At least when I spilled them all over myself there was very little evidence. Sure I should learn to eat with some dignity but I’m 34 and still haven’t acquired that skill.
8) I’m weird! When my name didn’t get pulled out of the “hat” for the pitch contestant I was a tad despondent not relieved. Although thoroughly pleased that my brother’s best friend from year 8 the extraordinarily talented and beautiful Ms Alison Whipp, won the contest. Novacastrian pride. I admired her so much as a kid (she’s seven years older than me so seemed so sophisticated and full of grace) so it was lovely to get the chance to do so again.
Now I shall leave you with a few memorable quotes from the festival:
“I wanted to read about heroes and heroines that looked like me.” Wai Chim
“I didn’t want to feel ashamed of who I was.” Sarah Ayoub
“Eat the story, drink the story, paint the story, dance the story, write the story.” Boori Monty Pryor
“Film is very tightly structured, for me, novels are a much more philosophical pursuit.” Isobelle Carmody
“If you were good at selling yourself you wouldn’t be a God damn writer. You’d be an actor or something.” Catherine Jinks
“Writing in Hollywood is like writing with a committee.” Wendy Orr
“I believe in loyalty.” Jacqueline Harvey
“Write a cover letter that shows you believe in your story so that the publisher will too.” Rochelle Manners
“Write a ripper of a story.” Felicity Pullman
And now I’m spent.
People often say to me, “Robin, you’ve got three under three, how do you do it? I struggle with just one/two.” I answer them as honestly as I know how, “I do it with a lot of grace, dignity and glamour.” So they ask me, “how Robin, how, can I be as graceful, dignified and glamorous, as you?” And you know what, the answer is simple.
Start everyday by doing a load of washing… with your feet, you’ll need to use your hands to make bottles for the newborn twins, whilst doing that awkwardly hoist your toddler onto your back and scoop up twins with arms now free from bottles, put twins down whilst you get toddler milk at whatever temperature is specified today, sit down to feed twins, realise you don’t have the bottles, prop twins up on couch whilst screaming over your shoulder at your toddler to stop rubbing the babies heads and that no they don’t need her kisses because she has childcare plague, twins cough, vent a little steam from ears to reduce possibility of eye twitch, get bottles, haul kiss happy toddler off twins, start to feed twins, develop third arm to hug toddler and a fourth to guard twins from toddler love attacks, try to explain to toddler that no she can’t have one of the babies and that although “give baby to big sister right now!” is quite an interesting argument that it fails to address some of the finer philosophical points surrounding the issue, burp twins, burp toddler who does not need to be burped but thinks it’s hilarious, she’s right I am funny (and sexy), finish feeding boys, oh no you only think you’ll finish feeding the twins as toddler needs the potty, throw the twins to the heavens and scramble to find the potty which your husband has put “out of the way” whilst tripping over, have a potty chat always full of metaconversation, empty potty, finish feeding twins, start developing that eye twitch you thought you’d circumvented earlier, change boys nappies whilst being yelled at to “do piggy tails!” it is now 8am, put on “Frozen” because you’re brain is becoming frozen, lose track of time and space… fold the laundry whilst rocking at the end of the day.
Now of course not all days go as perfectly to plan as the one outlined above and for those days I say use “selfie aware” parenting. Here’s a little sample from today. I was changing the twins’ nappies and the toddler crawled up onto my shoulders, totes part of the plan so far, things went slightly awry when the toddler peeed on my back and twin 2 seized the opportunity to pee on his brother’s arm. So what did I do? Took a selfie. Because quite frankly at that point there’s really nothing you can do and at least you’ll have the precious memory digitally immortalised. So if in doubt, tweet a selfie out.
You’re welcome Earth.
Lessons I learned from fairy tales –
(Love this artwork from http://dinagoldstein.com/ )
Wicked stepsisters: your family and the inlaws will go mental when you are pregnant, even more mental if they already are mental.
Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair: sure you’ll have glossy hair on your head but you’ll be a wildersavage all over
Sleeping beauty: you’ll be tired all through your first and third trimester and on top of that you’ll be gassy.
Cinderella fetch me my wig: people will suddenly need you to do everything for them, the thought of losing you once the baby comes will bring out their clingy me me me attitude.
The emperors new clothes: just go nude it’s too hot for anything else.
The little mermaid: you’ll feel fat and cumbersome even in aqua aerobics.
The frog prince: your husband is a toad one minute then a prince the next.
Cinderella scrub the floor: you’ll want to clean everything and anyone who gets in your way is the enemy.
Fi fi fo fum I smell the blood of an English man: you will crave things, not necessarily weird things, probably just watermelon but if you don’t get it you will hulk up.
Puss in boots: occasionally you’ll insist on wearing high heeled boots so you can out hot celebrity mums. It’s your crazy pregnancy hormones talking, don’t listen.
Snow White: retreating to the woods for some time out probably isn’t such a bad idea.
The nightingale: if you are put on bed rest you will go stir crazy.
Fairest of them all: sure you’re skin looks great, you’ve been sweating up a storm vomiting all the time. Toxins don’t have a chance to set in with you constantly doing the old heave ho.
As some people may have guessed I like to have a little bit of a rant and a write. And something else people might know about me is that I have a vagina. Yep, I’m a writer in possession of a fanwah. Some people consider having a vagingo as being genitalia impaired when it comes to writing but I assure you despite having vajayjayes women still have brains and hands so it’s all good. I’ve heard people say they don’t read stuff written by female writers because women only write soppy romance or about periods. Well I can say that is only as true as male writers only write about sport and scratching their arses.
I for one enjoy writing children’s fantasy and I can testify that “Chloe Prime: Alien Space Vet” (sample chapter here https://riedstrap.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/chloe-prime-alien-space-vet/ ) has no soppy romance or periods. I guess I could “vag” it up a little and throw in some sex and menstruation but it just doesn’t seem necessary or appropriate. But hey my vagina does make my girly brain think crazy things.
Speaking of crazy I am working on a creative nonfiction memoir… hmmmm creative nonfiction memoir, that does sound crazy but as it was inspired by my time in the nut house ( https://riedstrap.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/confessions-of-a-mad-mooer-hi-im-a-mad-mooer/ https://riedstrap.wordpress.com/2014/05/05/confessions-of-a-mad-mooer-ive-just-had-an-oprah-moment-2/ https://riedstrap.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/confessions-of-a-mad-mooer-wabi-sabi-and-the-mona-lisas-smile/ https://riedstrap.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/confessions-of-a-mad-mooer-thats-what-she-said/ ) craziness is appropriate. That I could definitely throw in a few steamy love scenes, periods and of course an all girl pillow fight, into, that’d be the creative part. But as on my first date with my husband I asked him to pull my finger romance might not be my strength…
But I digress, as a writer who is vaginally abled (or penial disabled) I came across #pitchbitch http://yeahpitchbitch.tumblr.com so is anybody else researching pitching today? Is anybody pitching today? What are the ins and outs of this initiative? Tell me, tell me everything!!!
As someone with no qualifications as a paediatrician, paediatric nurse, early childhood teacher etc I thought I’d share my expert tip on how to handle a triple nappy change. I’ve got a two year old and four month old twins so this is a regular occurrence in my home.
Step1: get twin a, open nappy, stick baby’s foot in poo, when jingling the baby awkwardly in an attempt to clean foot smear poo all over change table, mop up poo, get weeed on whilst distracted by poo, place baby on playmate to avoid baby getting further soaked again, have baby pee again, quickly put on nappy and move onto play mat with twin b, finish dressing.
Step 2: change twin b next to twin a on play mat as all other surfaces are urine and poop soaked, open nappy, twin a sticks hand in twin b’s nappy, clean off twin a’s hand, whilst cleaning twin a twin b is to power spew all over himself and twin a, as changing clothes of both twins 2 year old to rip off nappy, remind 2 year old to use pottie if they need to wee, 2 year old to tell you it’s ok they can just wee on the ground and crouch and urinate on ground.
Step 3: put nappy on 2 year old, 2 year old immediately does massive poo, chase 2 year old around the house whilst they scream, “no poo, no nappy change,” eventually subdue two year old terrorist and change nappy whilst you contemplate how the poo has managed to defy time, space, gravity and sanity.
Step 4: drink soothing cup of tea whilst developing an eye twitch and thinking about newspapering your whole house.
Can’t wait to share with you how “best” to deal with three kids crying at once…