Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Social Truths

It started with homemade pesto. 

My son Alfie and I had collected, well I collected while he yanked, the delicate spicy smelling leaves off the plant in our front garden. I smashed the greenery together with some pinenuts, some parmesan, some olive oil and whizzed it around in the food processor. Then I gracefully heaped a few spoonfuls in with some cooked pasta and put a warm bowl down on the table next to a Lightning McQueen cup.

My kid ate it all and asked for seconds. I posted a heavily filtered pic of the pasta dish on Instagram and shared it on my blog. I’m a champion.

But actually I’m not. I failed to mention that my son had ONLY been eating pesto pasta or ‘green pasta’ as he likes to call it, for almost two weeks. Straight. He refuses to eat anything else except apples. Whatever. But I didn’t mention that.

This is the absolute joy of social media isn’t it? It hides all of our secrets. And we all know that we have those little secrets, no matter what your social media pages say.

I’m ready to come clean. Remove myself of the guilt.  Shake it all off Taylor Swift style. Reveal it all in the hope that someone else comes clean or throws shit at my car.

Ok. Here goes.

  •          My three year old can ride a bike with pedals like a champion but still wears a nappy and has a dummy.
  •          I bribed my son with a jelly snake last Saturday night to get him to get in the car in his pyjamas so I could go to the shop to buy chocolate. My hubby was working and it was the only way. I was desperate.
  •          I lie to my husband saying that I have diarrhea and secretly play Tetris on my phone in the toilet.
  •          I hide snacks in my house.
  •          Sometimes I rummage through the Lost and Found box at daycare to see if there is anything good that has been left behind.
  •          I choose new Lego based on my own capabilities and enjoyment, not on my son’s.
  •          I’m still wearing maternity leggings. And there’s a hole in the crutch. And I need to throw them out. Tomorrow.
  •          There’s fish fingers in my freezer and sometimes I wedge a few in a white bread roll with mayo and eat pretending I’m hungover so I can whisper to myself that it is a ‘one off’ and that I will never do it again.
  •          I had a skiddie on my pants from my kid and didn’t realise it until 11am when I was at work. I cleaned it up with a wet paper towel in the work bathroom.
  •          My kid farts and I think it’s funny, so I laugh. I know this is not what I’m meant to do, but I can’t help it. It’s funny.
  •          I like to dress like a toddler.
  •          I let my son watch Jurassic Park and it was the worst decision of my life (I forgot how scary that movie is). I didn’t tell anyone in case they judged me for being a bad uncaring mum, which I was for letting my 3 year old kid watch that film.
  •          My son was yelled at by another mum in the park for kicking sand. I was too busy hanging with my mum pack to notice, but turned when I heard her yelling and calling him a brat. I called my son away quickly and stopped him from kicking sand but secretly wanted to pick a fight with this lady, which would not have helped the situation whatsoever (I would, however, have had my mum pack back me up).
  •          I was once so tired I put the film Cars on for my son while I dozed on the couch, ever since this day I’ve had a creepy fascination with Owen Wilson and his purring voice.
  •          My son is three and cries for his dummy.
  •          I cried during the film 27 Dresses a few nights ago. It had been a tough day that seemed to never end. It started with the bmx track at 7.30am and ended with a nudie run through the house where my kid slipped and scored a giant egg on his head. I don’t know what made me cry more during the film – my parenting skills, James Marsden’s inaccessible self or simply the out of reach love scene, so far removed from my house complete with a dog walking around with a pair of jocks caught in his collar, that just made me bawl into my lukewarm beer. But fuck it felt good.
  •          My kid drinks more milk than a potty calf. I’m sure it’s an addiction.
  •          Sometimes I pretend to cry when my kid is too rough so I can get a cuddle.
  •          Sometimes I pretend as though I’m three and it’s so much fun.  Sometimes Alfie and I call each other ‘best friends’. Then I realise I’ve got to be a responsible parent and I stop building the ramp that was to be used as a bike jump.


That’s just the surface. I’d love to hear your secrets. Or maybe you just want to check out my pesto recipes. 

Whatever you do, keep it real.

Peace.
Ali

This story first appeared in BubbaWest magazine. Since I wrote this over a month or two ago, I have to totally come clean and say that MY SON NOW WEARS UNDIES AND DOES WEE AND POO IN A TOILET NOT BEHIND A CURTAIN.

Thank you. 







Sunday, 26 June 2016

The Miseducation of Ali Webb

A few months ago, Alfie and I were enjoying the delights of the Melbourne Zoo, in  particular a brand-spanking new born baby gorilla.

The gorilla was cradled in its mum's arms enjoying a little cuddle. Alfie was smitten. Then I went and fucked up the situation.

"Look Alfie! Look at that sweet little baby monkey with its mummy in their nest. How lovely. You know that baby monkey has only just come out of an egg. And look, here it is now lapping up the sunshine."

I had a feeling what I was saying was wrong, but I couldn't quite figure it out. A gentleman with a kid in a Baby Bjorn and a camel-pak water bag next to me was kind enough to explain the situation:

"It's not a monkey. It's a gorilla."

Thanks dude.

"And a gorilla does not come from an egg - it is neither reptile or bird. It is a mammal."

Yep, gotcha. Thanks dude.

"It's all there (pointing at a brochure in a waterproof plastic pocket), in the kid's hand out."

Shut up.

As Alfie and I journeyed around the Zoo I tried to figure out where my crap knowledge of gorillas came from.

So. Gorillas and monkeys are kind of similar. Gorillas sit in nests. Nests are naturally associated with birds. Birds lay eggs.

Nope.

I worked it out. My pop culture mind takes over whenever it comes to conversations about the world and our natural environment.

Monkey. Fucking. Magic.

Monkey was born from an egg on a mountain top.



Dammit. But it now made sense where my insane 'monkey-nest-egg' theory had come from.

So this leads me to my latest discussions with three-year-old Alfie. We picked up Ice Age on DVD from the shop. I told Alfie it had dinosaurs in it and was really cool.

So we watched it and there were NO fucking dinosaurs. But, there was a mammoth. Which lead to a serious of questions:

"What is Ice Age'. Gah!
"Can I see a mammoth at the zoo?"
"What is extinct?"
"Why aren't there any dinosaurs in the Ice Age?"
"Why do the tigers want to eat the baby?"
"Where's the baby's mummy?"
"What is died?"

All of these questions lead me to explaining, well fudging, my way through evolution. And the questions got deeper:

"Mum, am I a monkey?"
"My dad's a monkey, isn't he, coz he has a hairy face?"
"Is Cheef Dog a mammoth?"
"Do mammoths have doodles?"

And so on...

Why is this so hard? Am I the only parent fumbling around with the theories of life and evolution with a three year old?

I got really frustrated, mostly with myself at not knowing all the answers, so I wrapped the whole evolution conversation in a puff.

"Jesus Christ Alfie! I don't have all the answers.. Let's just take our time on this one and watch Ice Age again."

To which he responded:

"What's Jesus Christ?"

Kill. Me.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Cupcake bedtime treats

When I was a little girl, I had a friend named Kelly. Kelly lived in a small town just near Yackandandah and some weekends our dads would play live music together while we ran around her huge yard pretending to be dancers or fairies or discoverers. Her huge backyard was the best place for a tiny explorer, the garden filled with nooks and crannies; teapots with plants creeping out of them and a kooky concrete boot.

Zoom forward 25 years and here I am reading THIS stunning book titled Cupcake created by Kelly's creative mum Heather Mullen.

It's a breath of fresh air against the stories I've been reading Alfie of late, but all the essential ingredients are still there: the digger, the lighthouse,  the treasure map, the boat, the plane, the thunderstorm and the dragon.

What I adore about this book is that it's not made specifically for just a boy or just a girl, it's made for a kid with an imagination (and maybe a parent too).

Cupcake the cheeky dragon loves his home and shares his favourite places with the reader. After a thrilling thunderstorm Cupcake wakes to find his home has changed from being nature's paradise to a bustling city. He tries to find his way back to the places he loves - the sand, the surf, the mountain, the water but the new city-dwellers keep shouting at him for being too hot!  He goes back to his snug cave and another thunderstorm kicks in for days. The city-dwellers want him to come back so he can stop the storm and he does. Everyone is happy and Cupcake learns to control his temperature.

What I loved about this story was that Alfie had so many questions. The book allows for many interpretations but for me I saw a strong environmental message. Perhaps it was the delightful questions Alfie was asking such as "Does being hot make the ground sad?" or "Can I be a dragon so I can save cities?" that made us read this book over and over again.

Whether or not the climate message rings true to you throughout this story, what both myself and Alfie adore are the wonderful illustrations by Heather which might take you back to your own childhood filled with imaginative journeys through mysterious backyards, discovering tiny Cupcake dragons hidden within flowerpots made of clay.

Heather is launching her new book Cupcake this weekend in Yackandandah at the delightful Yack Station where you can also discover some of the incredible crafts Heather creates.

More info can be found here. Discover Heather and Yackandandah, it's good for your soul.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Meet Dawn Tan - my illustrative superhero

Dawn Tan loves to draw vegetables and boy, does she do it well. Based in Yarraville, but an illustrator of the world, Dawn is the inner west’s Queen of Colour. I discovered her vibrant illustrations while reading one of my favourite magazines. I was first drawn to her watercolour drawing of a croissant, but a little research drew me to her sublime vegie sketches.


“I absolutely love vegetables. There’s something about the colours, textures, tastes and shapes. There are so many different varieties and ways of eating and cooking different vegetables. Growing up in Singapore, I was used to all the Asian vegetable varieties. I remember being in shock when I arrived in Australia – there were just so many new vegetable types that I had never seen before: Brussel sprouts, fennel, dill!

“My husband and I went to London recently and we were blown away by all the different salads at Ottolenghi. They were all filled with strange but new vegetables we’ve never seen or tried before. Vegetables are amazing!”


Dawn runs regular classes teaching food enthusiasts how to draw, paint and colour fruit and vegetables. Perhaps the perfect experience to expand your culinary horizons, but how do you choose what to draw as there are so many varieties to choose from?

“It’s so hard to pick what my favourite vegetable is, but I do draw a lot of corn. I love the colour yellow so it’s only natural that I like drawing (and eating) corn, right?”

“I do cook quite a bit and really enjoy the process of doing so. I find it so relaxing. I love cooking soup at this time of year. I swear by this amazing chunky vegetable and bean soup by Jools Oliver. I’ve cooked it so much my husband is sick of it already, but it’s so good for you with all that crunchy kale.

“I love my local Pompello in Seddon and the Village Store in Yarraville for fruit and vegetables. However, for most of my weekly haul, my husband and I head to the fruit and vegetable store in Highpoint or venture to the South Melbourne Market.


If you don’t bump into Dawn at your local fruit and vegetable supplier, you can find her teaching at one of her workshops or head on over to her website to view her work at www.dawn-tan.com

Don’t like your daily dose of fruit and veg, Dawn does a wicked sketch of house frontages too.

Images courtesy of Dawn Tan.

This profile first appeared in the May issue of The Westsider.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Six Things in Six Days


1. I've worked out how to crochet, now I want to teach myself how to knit. I'm going to start with a scarf before I take on a pair of socks.

2. We are moving offices at work this week so I'm going to bake a cake. I'm thinking lime and coconut. Yesssssssssss.

3. This week, I promise, I'm pruning my roses. I'm hoping my neighbour can teach me (again)

4. I just wanna hold onto that last bit of heat. Found this collection in the local op shop.

5. I picked a stack of this holly in the country on the weekend (it's so fucking prickly). Gonna hang some round the front door and maybe earn a couple of extra kisses (from the hubby or chance visit from Channing / Scott Eastwood / James Marsden)

6. I'm busting to make or build something so getting some inspo from the last edition of Frankie's Spaces publication.

Enjoy your week friends.

xx