Monday, February 28, 2011

Bike Rides and Pop Music Lessons

My ten year old and her friends are at the age where they are visiting each others’ homes and going for bike rides. It’s lovely. After school and on the weekends we’ll have a knock on the door and off the girls go. Sometimes they ride together to visit another friend, that friend hops on her bike and off they go to visit another friend, until it is time to unwind it all and be home before dark. They’re free-ranging. Popping in for games and a snack. Going for picnics. I like it.

One of her friends, lets call her Elle, is the daughter of my dear friend, lets call her Jay. (So cryptic, for local players...). They don’t have a lot of music in their household. They have a lot of compassion, wholesome food, recycling, simplicity, reading, kindness and lots of good things, but not much music. I don’t think Jay would be insulted if I say she wouldn’t know a Bieber from a Beatle. She admits she couldn’t sing a song the whole way through - she doesn't know the words. I was a bit surprised when Jay bought Elle a book of popular music to play songs from - she plays flute - and Elle knew none of the hundred songs. None. I suggested she do some research on youtube, which she did. So, with permission, I’ve taken it upon myself to give her family cds as gifts for their birthdays, and offer Elle a little lesson in popular music whenever she sits down for afternoon tea before going for a bike ride.

It started when she came over the other day and there was a Q magazine on the table. It was an old “Women in Rock’ issue with Madonna on the cover. (I was once working on a series of drawings of Women in Rock.) She didn’t know who Madonna was. So the lesson began, with pictures, albums, music, and my potted history on why certain aspects of her work are influential or important in terms of pop culture. As the girls put on their bike helmets I said, ‘Next week, Kate Bush.’ Half joking. But, next week, we did cover Kate Bush, in ten minutes. So now, it is our thing. It’s fun. Next week is Joni Mitchell. I’m thinking I’ll move on to Burt Bacharach, Phil Spector, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and on forever until they get sick of me. My own children are a little bit eye-rolling with my enthusiasm to teach them certain things (‘who’s singing this song?’), so having a new pupil is, for me, a gift.

Where do Motherhugger guests come from??

I've been checking out where visitors to the site come from, and have been surprised the find the answer. Everywhere!

From the US, UK, Canada, Russia, Malaysia, South Korea, China, Israel, India, France, Sweden, Slovenia, Netherlands, Brazil, Latvia, Poland, Germany, Denmark, UAE, Indonesia.

Wow. Welcome. Feel free to leave a comment, and let me know where you are from.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Music for kids to dance to

I've been helping the teacher who organises the school dance groups with ideas for music the kids can dance to. We have over a hundred children in the dance groups this year - pretty amazing!

She agrees that we won't introduce them to songs that warrant a warning sticker. That we need different types of music for the older and younger kids, for the boys and the girls, ie, music that appeals to them, but we want to avoid giving stereotyped gender messages. And we agree that we won't be using music that contains lyrics we could change because if the children think the dance is about one thing and the audience thinks it is about another, then that isn't being respectful to the children (and frankly, I'd go so far to say, it's exploitation).

The teacher takes her cues from School Spectacular. She's had some great ideas that have worked really well - a very moving Anzac dance, a Japanese dance, a spooky dance, an air hostess dance, a Michael Jackson medley, a circus dance (without Brittany) - and likes the idea of having a theme so she can work with different groups on different songs, then put them together. I looked up some sites where dance teachers share their ideas - very disappointing. Lots of Barbie Girl, Hannah Montanna, and Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend.

I’m sharing some great dance ideas I’ve seen - because it’s all very well to say kids shouldn’t be dancing to this or that because the lyrical content is too adult, and that just dancing to Disney songs - the songs from the animated movies and the songs from current tween stars - is lazy, but then what? I love a good concept dance. I want children to know that music and dance (and art and literature) can be about anything. Any concept or idea or situation. I am the apeman. I am the walrus.

Anzac dance to I was Only 19, Oxygene
Japanese dance in kimonos
Flight attendant dance to Come Fly with Me
circus dance
spooky dance to Horror Movie, Ghostbuster, The Addams Family
garden dance to U2’s It‘s a Beautiful Day
Wild Thing & Born to be Wild - for Where The Wild Things Are dance

Wizard of Oz Dance to Ease on Down the Road
School bullying dance to Caught in the Crowd - Kati Miller -Heidke
Istanbul not Constantinople - They Might be Giants
Aboriginal dance to Treaty
Theme to Six Feet under
Me and My Shadow
Theme from Friends

So, here is my list of ideas - a work in progress. I'm going for songs for primary school age kids, so the stage after dancing to Hi-5 and Justine Clark and Ralph's World. We have six year old boys who love Abba, and eleven year old boys who love Gorillaz. With Banjo bringing in songs each week to dance to for Year 1 news (mostly Cyndi Lauper), I reckon I have few more years of this ahead of me.

Working on the list has reminded me of what hip hop/rap was when it began. Songs like Fire by Sly and Robbie. Television (The Drug of the Nation) by Disposable Heroes of Hiphopracy. Grand Master Flash singing The Message, We Got Style and (not for kids) White Lines. They made protest songs. What happened?!?!

Feel free to add - it's a fun game to play!

Ideas for dance groups

For boys

Real Wild Child - Iggy Pop
War, What is it Good for - Edwin Starr
Computer Games - Mi-Sex
Evolution of dance
Should I Stay or Should I Go - The Clash
Eagle Rock - Daddy Cool
Crocodile Rock - Elton John
Jump - Van Halen
Don’t Stop me Now - Queen
Radio Gaga - Queen
Shout - Johnny O’Keefe
Twist n Shout - Beatles
Helter Skelter - Beatles
Band on the Run - Wings
Gimme Shelter - Rolling Stones
Break on Through - The Doors
The Jam - Going Underground
Bad Moon Rising - Credence Clearwater Revival
Muse - Knights of Cydonia (instrumental)
Stand - REM
Once in a Lifetime - Talking Heads
Sledgehammer - Peter Gabriel
The Final Countdown - Europe
Underneath the Radar - Underworld
One Step Beyond - Madness
King of the Road
Little Green Bag

Possibly songs by Foo Fighters, The Who, The Beach Boys, Cream. Guns n Roses, Led Zep, Bon Jovi

Beginning of Hip Hop - protest songs

Television (the drug of the nation) - Disposable Heroes of Hiphopcracy
We Got Style - Grandmaster Flash
The Message - Grandmaster Flash
Fire - Sly and Robbie

Robot Boys (on tv talent show) popping mix - see their style - music without lyrics

Higher Ground - Stevie Wonder/ Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Are you Gonna Go My Way - Lenny Kravitz
White Room - Cream
Kashmir - Led Zep
Stairway - Led Zep
Children of the Revolution - T Rex
The Porpoise Song - The Monkees
Tin Soldier - Small Faces
Sky Pilot - Eric Burden and the Animals
Itchycoo Park - Small Faces
Tomorrow Never Knows/Strawberry Fields Forever/ Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds/I am the Walrus - Beatles
Somebody to Love - Jefferson Airplane
Crosstown Traffic - Jimi Hendrix
Magic Carpet Ride - Steppenwolf
Hole in My Shoe - Traffic
McCarthur Park - Richard Harris/Donna Summer

Drama to act out

Tenterfield Saddler - Peter Allen
Caught in the Crowd - Kate Miller - Heidke

Living for the City - Stevie Wonder
Bjork - It’s Oh So Quiet
Sufjan Stevens - Chicago
I like to move it - Madagascar Soundtrack
Your mama don’t dance and your daddy don’t rock n roll - Poison
Higher Ground - Stevie Wonder
Conga - Miami Sound Machine
Walk Like an Egyptian - The Bangles
Popcorn - Jean Michel Jarre
Wake Me Up Before You Go Go - Wham
Spinning Wheel - Earth, Wind and Fire
Sat in Your Lap - Kate Bush
Gypsy Kings

Pablo Nutini - Pencil Full of Lead
- New Shoes

Sergio Mendes - Magdalenha

Sergio Mendes - What is This

Bustop - the Hollies
Umbrella - Rihanna (or cover - by The Baseballs, Mandy Moore etc)
The Bustop
Singing in the Rain
Pennies from Heaven
Laughter in the Rain

Pure Imagination - From Willy Wonka
Imagine - John Lennon
I got to use my imagination - Gladys Knight & The Pips
Just my Imagination - The Temptations

Spy songs

Peter Gunn Theme
James Bond themes
Every Breath you Take
One Way or Another - Blondie

It Might as Well be Spring
Autumn Leaves
Winter Wonderland

Radio songs
Radio Gaga - Queen
Turn up the Radio
Mexican Radio

Ann Margaret dancing - 60s

The Baseballs - I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’
The Baseballs - Lets get Loud

Swing Dancing

Waterloo sunset
Red Sails in the Sunset

When You’re a Jet - West Side Story
The Addams Family
Mary Poppins
Annie Get your Gun
Peter Pan
The Sound of Music
42 Street
The Music Man
Into the Woods
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Camp Rock II - Can’t Back Down

Moulin Rouge
Happy Feet

Coffee in a Cardboard Cup

The Beat Goes on
Beat It
Beat’s so Lonely
You Can’t Stop the Beat
‘Stop scratching and give me a beat ‘ - Nina Cherry
Don’t Stop Movin’ - S Club 7
Dr Beat - Miami Sound Machine

Rhythm is a dancer
Rhythm of the Night
Get Rhythm (when you get the blues) - Johnny Cash
Slave to the Rhythm - Grace Jones
Rhythm Nation - Janet Jackson
Hit me with your rhythm stick (?) - Ian Dury
I Got Rhythm (from An American in Paris)
Rhythm of my Heart - Rod Stewart
The Rhythm of Life (from Sweet Charity)

Music - Madonna
You Can’t stop the Music - Village People
Please don’t stop the Music - Rihanna
Rock and Roll Music - Beatles
The Sound of Music
When the Music’s Over - Doors
Dance to the Music - Sly and the Family Stone
We Belong to the Music - Miley Cyrus

Lolly shop
I Want Candy - Bow Wow Wow
Lollipop - Chordettes
Sugar Sugar - The Archies

Cake Walk like on Soul Train, to a Sly and the Family Stone song

If you click these links you'll see lots of songs by topic (eg, colour, day of the week, transport, time, animals, food) - a great resource!

You can check out which songs are appropriate for what ages, and why, here. I really recommend it. This is a great resource. You can also search by genre.

More advice here

And information on young people and the media here.

I've already written about cds for kids - have a look here

And I’ve written a list of questions for dance schools here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Have you seen the ad on tv for vitamins for a mum who does yoga on a mat her child has drawn on? Nice looking ad. But why is the vitamin for 'women with children' rather than 'for mothers'? And why do 'women with children' have different vitamin requirements from women without children? Once we stop breastfeeding, aren't we all the same?

And the ad where the women is on a date and needs to scratch her head. Clearly, she needs the speical scalp-care shampoo. Why does no-one consider she might have nits? In my world, no-one is thinking of itchy scalp shampoo. We think of treating nits. Over and over. Why is there no tv advertisement for nit treatment?

My friend rang me in despair because her son has just started school and she has been combing him and herself, productively, every second night. When he stayed with his dad over the weekend, no combing. I suggested she go on RSVP and ask for a man who is handy with a nit comb.*

So, I'd like to see advertisements where parents of both gender are combing their children for nits, just by the way, as they order the take away food, or need that quick, easy to prepare meal. Because combing for nits takes up time our of your busy day. Or maybe we need to advertise gift vouchers for professional nit treatments. That's one gift I'd love to receive. Or ways for mothers to stay calm while combing three people for nits, making sure they do their homework while feeding them healthy meals, and then combs herself when the children are in bed. Or maybe we could lobby for collective action to make sure EVERYONE treats for nits and have certain days where we all schedule it in, and organise nit parties where we invite in the aunts and uncles to help comb our children. Help a mum. Comb a child. That's an ad I'd like to see.

* I also suggested she raise the issue at the P&C - do they enforce the kids with nits aren't to be at school policy? Do some people just not bother treating their kids?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Getting it all together

The term is starting to come together. Almost all our extra-curricular activities have begun, and, for me, uni officially begins on Monday. I must admit, our household is a bit of a mess.

It turns out the girls’ dance classes now finish later two nights a week. Clancy has something on before school four days a week. This is the child who, two years ago, said to me, ’Mum, don’t sign me up for anything. I’m good all day at school, but after school I just need to play or watch tv.’ Times have changed. Matilda has a music lesson before school at 7.20am. The schedule is getting pretty full. This week, we’ve been a little tripped up - quick dinners, homework not done.

Weekends, however, are mercifully quiet. This weekend we’ll be looking at at-home schedules, and household systems. The processes we will need to put into place to keep everything running smoothly. To avoid the rushing, frustration and shouting. It turns out that more scheduling means more scheduling. They need to plan their music practice, plan when to do their homework, plan when to clean their room and help out a home. I need to plan meals in advance, have dinner as early as possible, and keep the clutter at bay. And restrict the tv viewing. Most mums I talk to lately have either eliminated tv during the week, or severely restricted it.

Then I need my plan of getting uni work done, going to the gym, and keeping on top of the housework.

I'm sounding like a Tiger Mother, but alongside all this we have playdates, bike rides, games, singing and dancing.

Fail to plan; plan to fail. And keep breathing.

Wish me luck! All advice welcome.

The family business

There have been two stories lately about famous people who put their children on the stage.

A few weeks ago a US writer tweeted that Will Smith and Jada were ‘pimping’ and ‘exploiting’ their kids. Both their children, Jaden and Willow, are working in the entertainment industry. This week there is the story from Billy Ray Cyrus that the tv show, Hannah Montana, ruined his family, as it led to his divorce and his daughter, Miley, now 18, is out of control. He regrets being involved with the show and regrets trying to be a friend to his daughter, rather than a parent.

Here is a quote from Will Smith, in 2007.

"And Willow is Paris Hilton, Smith says, laughing. "Willow wants to be on TV."

Smith says his daughter's strong personality contributes to her impressive work ethic. "You don't work with Willow," Smith says, teasing. "You work for Willow."

Here is a quote from Willow, who was born in 2000.

“There is a tutor most of the time, but usually I am working so I never get to do the lessons. The worst thing about maths is all the kids are ahead of me because they go to school.”


There have been lots of posts on various forums about the whole thing. Are the children truly talented? Are they well balanced good people? But there are two aspects I haven’t seen mentioned.

One. The family business. You go with what you know. Ever see Italian or Greek children working at the green grocery? Chinese children working at a restaurant? The father who starts a successful business passing it onto his sons? The classical musician parents who want their children to learn classical music? The family business. Nothing so strange about that.

Two. Some children really do have to work in awful jobs to survive. Begging. Sex work. Factories. This is from the UNICEF site:

An estimated 158 million children aged 5-14 are engaged in child labour - one in six children in the world. Millions of children are engaged in hazardous situations or conditions, such as working in mines, working with chemicals and pesticides in agriculture or working with dangerous machinery. They are everywhere but invisible, toiling as domestic servants in homes, labouring behind the walls of workshops, hidden from view in plantations.

* In Sub-Saharan Africa around one in three children are engaged in child labour, representing 69 million children.
* In South Asia, another 44 million are engaged in child labour.
* The latest national estimates for this indicator are reported in Table 9 (Child Protection) of UNICEF's annual publication The State of the World's Children.

Children living in the poorest households and in rural areas are most likely to be engaged in child labour. Those burdened with household chores are overwhelmingly girls. Millions of girls who work as domestic servants are especially vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
Labour often interferes with children’s education. Ensuring that all children go to school and that their education is of good quality are keys to preventing child labour.

So, what should the story be here? Do we give our attention to a few wealthy, privileged and perhaps OK children, or do we pay attention to the 158 million children who are not having childhoods and are likely to be at serious risk? For millions of children becoming beggars or sex workers is going into the family business.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Shangri-Las in the Car

I like to sing. I've sung to my kids since they were born. Before they were born I was singing into a microphone on a regular basis. Sometimes I sing to them. Sometimes I sing for me. Sometimes I amuse myself, and annoy them, by singing a song related to whatever we're talking about.

We sing in the car. Over the years we've sung California Dreaming, and Big Yellow Taxi, with me doing lead, and backup vocals from the back seat. Our song at the moment, suggested by the children, is Leader of the Pack.

What a song! Dramatic. Sad. Funny. And it has sound effects. Perfect. The kids think the leader of the pack is like Fonzi. And wonder what he was doing in the candy store in the first place, because hanging out in candy stores doesn't seem so tough. The kids wonder if the girl singing the song really is to blame for the leader of the pack's death. Textual analysis. Ethics. This song is giving us lots to work with.

I just need to keep in mind that we're singing Leader of the Pack and not New Rose by The Damned - they start the same way.

I wouldn't be surprised if our next song is My Boyfriend's Back. Bring on the handclaps!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Common Sense

Did you know that Michelle Obama won't let her kids on Facebook? Well, I know that know because I read it on Common Sense, the website that tells you what age each website, game, movie, tv show, book, app or music release is appropriate for. You can search by product or age group. Parents and children review products, and well as social media. They also have stories, with recommendations, for example this one on the role of the media in early sexualisation of girls, including recommendations of media with positive role models for girls.

Will I let my kids on Facebook? No. It bothers me that we have recommendations, even laws, that parents let their children disregard. Drinking under the age of eighteen. Sex under the age of sixteen. And FB under the age of thirteen. Naive perhaps, but I'm hoping my kids won't be very interested. They already are critical of lots of ways modern technology is being used. My youngest made a sign for the entrance of our house saying 'No Mobile Phones' - she thinks using them at our house is rude. They'd rather interact in RL. We'll see.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Me: Girls, I'm thinking it's time I got a job.
Clancy: You could be a secretary, mum. You're pretty enough.
Banjo: If you straighten you hair. Wear some make-up.
Me: ???????
Matilda: I'm not going to vacation care.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Honoured feminists disassociate themselves from the f word

In SMH today - a piece by Nina Funnell.

This year, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, the Australian Postal Corporation printed four stamps commemorating the contributions of four feminist "trailblazers", Germaine Greer, Anne Summers, Eva Cox and Elizabeth Evatt.

Only here is the peculiar thing. During the lunch to launch the stamp, the word feminism was not uttered once. Zero. Zip. Niente.

Afterwards I spoke to Greer to get her thoughts on it all. "Feminism?" she queried. "Oh it's such an old fashioned word anyway." Cox and Summers went one step further, describing the word as both traditionalist and conservative.

"To be honest, I am not - and never have been - hung up on the word 'feminism','' says Summers. ''I never used it when I was young because feminism was seen as very conservative and backward-looking then. Today's young women have a similarly disdainful attitude. They see feminism as old-fashioned - just as we did when we were the same age. To me, what matters is that women (and men) support women's equality and all that is needed to achieve that. It's what we think and how we act that really matters."

Cox adds that feminism was an extremely conservative term and so "was not the term preferred by many '70s activists who used the term women's liberation [which was considered far more radical]".

Um, I'm sure I've seen and heard these women at feminist conferences. I'm sure I've heard them use the word amongst other feminists. What is going on here?

While I do understand that walking the walk is more important than talking the talk, and that the word has negative connotations that cause young women to not identify a feminist, I also don't understand why these older, active women want to distance themselves from the word. Did they have a meeting and agree on this?

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Dangers, real and perceived

My friend and I were talking the other day about the news stories that freaked us out when we were kids. For me the story was the abduction of Eloise Warledge.

Eloise Warledge was taken from her home in Melbourne in 1976. She was eight years old. When her family discovered her missing they found the front door unlocked, the bedroom window flyscreen was cut from the inside. No-one was ever charged with her abduction, and no trace of her was ever found. The parents had been on the brink of separation, had argued that night, the father had been drinking, and each parent had neglected to close the front door. It was left open. I was aged eleven and totally freaked out that a child could be taken from her bed. Police investigators found 200 incidents of suspicious behaviour in the locality on the night she disappeared. I wonder if anyone would have reported those incidents if she hadn’t disappeared that night.

For my friend (who is a little younger than me) the story was about Samantha Knight. In 1986 Samantha Knight was aged nine. She went missing after school in Bondi. She was taken and drugged by her abuser, Michael Guider, who accidentally overdosed her. He was convicted sixteen years later. Samantha had routinely been left unsupervised after school. Guider was a free babysitter to single mums, and had routinely been drugging and abusing children for years. It turns out that another of the children who had been in his care had told her mother about the abuse a few weeks before Samantha died. The family had not told police, nor the other families who had trusted Guider.

So, what can we, as parents, learn from these cases?

We are, thankfully, more aware of child abuse now, and, hopefully, more likely to report cases that are brought to our attention. A child of Samantha’s age would now go to after school care rather than go home alone. And she would have a mobile phone and tell her mother where she is going. The story does, however, point to the vulnerability of single parents, who need support, still, and always will.

But what about the case of Eloise Warledge? A similar case happened in Sydney in 2005, when 19 month old Rahme El-Dennaoiu was taken from her home where she was sleeping in a bed with her sisters. The fly screen over the window had been cut. And, of course, the case of Madeleine McCann, who disappeared from a hotel room in Portugal in 2007. How can we protect sleeping children? We can lock the front door and stay in the same premises, but, in the case of Rahme El-Dennaoiu the audacity is astounding. There is nothing that could have been done.

What I find extraordinary is something attributed to Eloise’ mother, Patsy, in an interview in 2003. She had two younger children, and wanted them to live normal lives.

Shortly after the disappearance, Anna and Blake made a kite and wanted to take it to a nearby park for a test flight. Patsy was finishing cooking but let them go alone - following just minutes later. Instinctively, she says, she knew she had to let them live normal lives and not be prisoners to their sister's mystery.

So, what are we doing? Are our children prisoners to the tragedy of the few children who disappear? What do we tell our children? What of our own experiences?

There are times I’ve been in danger.

At seventeen I was raped by a young man I trusted. I told a friend who didn’t believe me. The man behaved as if he had done nothing wrong, even though I was retching and in shock. I told him he was never to speak to me again. A few times I’ve been felt up whilst on a train. The first time it took me a while to realise what was happening was not an accident. I didn’t say anything - I was nineteen, I think, and the train was crowded - but I remember I cried when I got home. It happened again when I was pregnant. I yelled at the man and got off the train, was late for work, and cried when I told my boss why I was late. When I was younger I would often walk where I was going, alone, late at night. I worked for a time at a nightclub in the city and would walk home to Darlinghurst through Hyde Park at 3am. I often walked from the train station through the quiet streets to my parent’s house and once encountered a man masturbating with his face covered, so I knocked on the door of the hospital and asked them to call the police who drove me home. I also called the police one night when I was working as a phone sex operator (that was the official name) and someone had rung saying he knew where we were and he would get us. Then there was a banging on the door at the time my shift finished so I rang the police to escort me to my car. I've been held up at gunpoint when working behind a bar at a club on New Years Eve. At a share house I've woken up to find a drunken and uninvited police officer lying on top of me. At another share house a home invader broke our front door in, door frame and all. I've been in minor car accidents. I had a psychotic reaction to an injection of antibiotics when I had mastitis - the psychosis was that I believed I was dying. Other times I’ve trusted my instincts to turn away from danger, like the time when I would walk through a park on the way to work, and one misty morning a man was cycling in circles in front of the tunnelway and I couldn’t see past him, so I turned and went the long way around, again, making me late for work. Sometimes the turning away from danger was simply by going home instead of partying on. (I’ve done some pretty stupid, trusting, things by partying on - I’ve been very lucky! I’ve avoided disaster many times by sheer luck.)

But I'm OK. I've never been bashed. I've never experienced an earthquake, flood, fire or cyclone. I haven't witnessed a massacre (my friend was at Port Arthur). Some dangers you can prepare for; others just hit you out of nowhere.

So, I’m telling my children to trust their instincts. I’m telling them to ask for help when they feel unsafe. That it is OK to be late if the option is a risk to your safety. That it is OK to call the police. But I’m also telling them they can walk to school on their own, and walk around the neighbourhood to see their friends and run errands. Safety first, but within that, have fun. I’m listening to Eloise’s mother. If she can do it, so can we.

For more on raising kids to feel safe and free, see Lenore Skenarzy’s Free Range Kids.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

It's Too Darn Hot

The children went back to school this week. We’ve just been trying to deal with the heat.

Sydney has had a weeklong heatwave. Last night at 1am the temperature was 30 degrees. This morning, the same. On Monday, after the first day back at school, we walked home in 39 degree heat. Clancy’s feet were burning through her shoes. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday we went straight from school to the pool. We’ve been living on iceblocks and icecreams and cold drinks. Crackers and dip and fruit and cucumbers. Too hot to eat properly. Matilda has kindly been placing wet washers in the freezer and draping them on me. Banjo has kept up her chant of ‘can we go out?’ Two parties yesterday, (at one, at a park, a woman said to me, ‘you know, I’m much nicer under 27 degrees’) so today, sorry, no.

We don’t have air con, but have been using fans, which have worked well. We’ve needed them to be able to sleep.

I’ve been sorting out what I’m dong this year. Organising meetings and filling in forms. Turns out my uni enrolment for the Dip Ed is a big puzzle. Must do this unit first, that one with that, this one before that. I’ve enrolled in three subjects, although can drop one to do later. Turns out I have a residential school exactly the same time as the A-MIRCI conference, at which I was giving a paper, so I’ve had to think about priorities. For now, voluntary work and unpaid interests will have to take a back seat to the prospect of earning money. And I do want to earn some money - now (all suggestions welcome - I may be helping a local women look after her baby)and when I’m qualified to teach. So, disappointing, and I am still interested, but I won’t be able to attend the A-MIRCI conference afterall. I was planning to invite singer songwriters who are mothers to a panel discussion, and to play songs about mothering. Maybe next time.

During the holidays I drafted lots to blog about, but didn’t realise how hot a computer is. And I haven’t been to the gym this week. So, when it cools down a bit, it’s back to the to-do list and normal activities for me.

The heat should break today. We are all looking forward to it. Sydney will let out a collective sigh.

In the meantime, we have Ella Fitzgerald to keep us company.

And Marilyn singing Heatwave. (Which explains something about current music videos...)