Definition: The act of pushing an adversary or colleague to the limit of what is believable bullshit, in order to win advantage over them. This is particularly amusing when sitting in a meeting and you have no idea what everyone else is talking about but rather than losing face and admitting that you must have zoned out at some point of the conversation, you engage in the risky act of brinkmanshit to prove to your enemies or work colleagues that you can BS with the best of them. The height of brinkmanshit is when you all look at each other, puzzled, as if someone has just defecated in the middle of the room and set fire to.
Who would have funk’d it? Those 3 immortal words from that great soul legend George McRae (not the 19th century Scottish textile merchant or Australian poet, although either could have penned those lyrics years before disco ever came into fashion) have been playing on heavy rotation in my somewhat vacant mind for the last 62 minutes as I nobly attempt to put Sybella to sleep.
Actually rocking your baby is quite appropriate for this nocturnal activity. I had pondered the use of Michael Jackson’s Rock With You, but the tempo is better with George. You can set your settling soundtrack to any artist that takes your fancy (maybe not death metal, but certainly Metallica works as well as Mozart). If you take Off The Wall and Thriller you can easily boogy the night away to 2 of the best albums of all time. Just as Thriller builds to a crescendo baby and you will be as one in a motion that not only will ensure that your newborn gets to sleep but you too can burn those calories with just 60 minutes of dance fitness.
You can even mix it up in terms of dance styles; in fact, why stop at dance when you can incorporate olympic events such as speed skating or nordic skiing. Imagine yourself as a cross between John Travolta and Steven Bradbury in a darkened room with no one watching. I did this with Frankie, our firstborn, and ever since then I have had calves like Cadel Evans, not to mention a booty as firm as the Elgin Marbles.
The other thing to consider is when to actually put your baby down. I call this the meat thermometer test (not the most imaginative title I know), similar to the test you perform on your roast to see if its cooked. The baby meat thermometer test uses that same principle in that you prod an object in a piece of meat to see if its ready. With a baby you put your pinky in its mouth to see if they react, if they stir they’re not ready, if they dont even twitch – your roast is done and you can now lay it to rest in its cot/bassinet.
Once the baby is down, another dilemma will confront you as a concerned parent; which side to put the baby’s head. Now at this stage let me just say that after all that dancing and hip swaying you just want he/she to go down so you may not care that they develop a slightly flat side of the head. I have to admit, I dont really care – if it means she sleeps for at least another 3 hours and I can get some downtime, so be it. Its amazing what a dodgy haircut and a baseball cap can do to hide unsightly features.
And so another evening ends with a big sigh of relief and the inevitable question: “When does it get better again?” Ah, thats right, in the next couple of months…
For all those who remember Mr McRae the soul legend, here’s a little treat for you (and dont forget to practice those dance moves):
Australian retail (b.1947 – d.2012)
The Australian retail sector, formerly Australia’s largest industry, died suddenly on December 2, 2012 due to complications with understanding consumer sentiment and demand.
Born after WW2, the sector was once famous for bringing us the infamous Ugg Boot, Ron Bennett suits, Harvey Norman and Dollar Dazzlers. It outlived its elder sibling, Manufacturing, by 20 years.
After a successful career spanning some 60 years, Retail struggled to keep up with the changing buying patterns of its customer base. Many of them had discovered the Internet, an invention that had become de rigueur in the 1990s in Europe and the US, and from then on retail in the 21st century changed forever.
Retail giant guru Harvey Norman adamantly declared in the late 90s that the Internet would be a flash in the pan and the thought of customers using it to buy goods was preposterous. Norman would later go on to expand his electronics and white goods empire to prime markets, such as Ireland, Slovenia and Malaysia. Harvey Norman continues to struggle today but has, at least an online presence after much hesitation and head scratching. He concedes that he did not see Retail’s impending death coming: “I only created our website in 2010, after those bloody commie pinko politicians who think they run the country would not tax consumers on goods under $1000 that were imported. Honestly, I dont like it – we should be able to screw competitors and consumers alike and the government should help us do that. So now I source my goods from China and sell them to Aussie customers so that I can bankroll my expansion plans in the Cook Islands.”
After investing heavily in bricks and mortar stores, many retailers failed to comprehend consumer reluctance to spend money on goods that were up to 70% cheaper overseas or online. Even as late as 2011, Retail introduced heavily discounted stocktake clearance sales every 20 minutes. One store was even rumoured to be having sales on stocktake sale items.
By the summer of 2010 staff to customer ratios reached unprecedented levels, by Q3 2010, analysts predicted this to reach 1278:1.
Even at prestigious labels’ flagship stores customer service was at an all time low. Louis Vuitton, who had previously trained their store staff at the largest customer service centre in Latvia, could not prevent weak sales, eventually pulling out of the Australian market and opening up stores in Slovenia and Ireland.
Industry experts pointed to 2 key shortcomings in the retail sector: out-of-date products (David Jones were still selling powdered eggs in their upmarket foodhall in 2009) and a lack of customer service. The prevailing philosophy was that if a customer wasn’t wearing Gucci and draped in expensive jewels, they weren’t going to spend thousands of dollars at their stores. Hence, Russell Crowe doesn’t get a look in when he is in Sydney.
Retail leaves behind a wife and 2 children: Mining and Education (from a previous marriage).
So I went for my follow up gastroscopy yesterday, which, for those that don’t know, entails sticking a tube with a camera on the end of it down your throat and presumably into the gut to see what is going on down there. My previous encounter with this procedure was to diagnose my gastric ulcer and this one was to see if it had healed. The good news is that it has healed and aside from a tiny scar I should be ulcer-free and able to eat anything (this is what the specialist said) I want.
Now I have never been under general anaesthetic before and the first time it was a rather nice feeling being put to sleep (I wonder if that is what its like when they give Death Row inmates the lethal injection), but even better coming round. When I woke up the first time I recall saying to the recovery nurse that she reminded me of my late mother, which is totally absurd as my mother was a 5ft 6 Asian woman and this nurse was a dyed-in-the-wool Aussie with a lovely bedside manner but actually reminded me of a cleaning lady rather than my dear mother. Suffice to say that after that initial comment, more drivel came out of my mouth, some of which I am to embarrassed to recall. No one told me that one of the side effects of being under a general is that when you wake up you say the first thing that comes into your head. Not the first sensible thing that comes into your head, but the first senseless thought that you can think of (or not as the case may be).
Second time around I wake up in the usual marijuana-induced stupor and I quickly think to myself: “Don’t say anything stupid.” Especially as it is the same nurse. So, with a few weeks of broken sleep under my belt from having a newborn, I figure I will wake up and my commando-like instinct will kick in and I will be able to refrain from saying something that I might regret. I end up sounding quite coherent and joke to the nurse that I would have liked to have stayed asleep for a few more hours now that we have a 6 week old baby. I look quickly at the nurse expecting a sympathetic smile, but all I get is a look to say: “Just another stoned patient talking out of his arse.”
So I feel quite confident that I have come out of this unscathed, and as I sit down to enjoy my tea and biscuits and some morning TV, out come a couple of other ‘out’ patients, who clearly are doing this for the first time. One of them sits down and tries to make some polite conversation with the other patient and myself and he ends up giggling to himself and commenting how 3 grown men are sitting in some slumber chairs watching an infomercial on the Aghhh Bra (which is the most comfortable cross-weave bra a woman can wear). Pitying the man for such an inane comment I reply by saying: “Yeah, that’s equality for you!”
He shoots, he scores.
Well maybe not insightful but definitely from their mouths (feel free to add your own, I’m sure they’re even funnier):
Me: “Do you need a wee before bedtime?”
Frankie: “No I checked my penis and I dont need to go”
Frankie: “When Sybella (younger sister) grows up she will be older than me”
Frankie: “We dont kill ants ‘cos they’re so small compared to us, aren’t they Daddy?”
Frankie (5 minutes later): “Daddy, can you come and kill the ants in my bedroom?”
Frankie (laughing after said ants are dead): “Yay!”
Frankie: “Can I see Sybella’s poo? We mustn’t eat it must we?”
Before you read this, take note: this is not ‘Essential baby things’. Its more about the things I/we thought we needed when building our overgrown and unkempt nest for our little ones. Its not an endorsement of any company’s products nor is it Choice magazine’s best products on the market.
Caveat emptor: if there was a gadget for testing the IQ of your unborn baby – I would buy it.
Without doubt, one of the most resource-intensive aspect of having a baby. In the old days, it would have been terry nappies, which would turn the poshest of houses into a San Franciso backstreet Chinese laundry. These days its disposables that are supposedly so easy to put on that any idiot can do it (provided you figure out which is the back and which is the front). The question then is: “what do I do with poo-filled nappy, when i have one hand on my baby’s privates and the other with something that resembles green rice pudding?”
Video or audio we have about 3 in the house – 2 video and 1 audio. Great for paranoid parents and when there is nothing on TV (so about 95% of the time). There are quite a few on the market, but expensive in Australia so I would recommend buying them overseas as its usually about $50-100 cheaper.
Popular brands: Summer Infant, Lindam, Luvion, Phillips (Avent), Angelcare, Oricom (Aus), Motorola and Samsung.
I bought the Luvion, Lindam and Motorola models which are all great. You might want to invest in video monitors as they also have audio mode which saves on battery life.
Not really my area of expertise but one thing I would say – use the kitchen sink! Although make sure to take out all the dirty dishes and pans before you bathe them.
If you have a large porn star bath like we do – get a bathing seat or baby bath to put in – and then get in the tub yourself (your back will thank you when you’re 50).
Baby baths are great to put on tables and counters but remember that when its filled it can be quite cumbersome to empty unless you are right by the sink and it has a hose that you can pull out to empty it. The first time I tried to empty one I managed to spill half of the bath water on the floor and the other half on me. And you look like a drunk tramp when you try and stagger 10 metres carrying it to the sink. Alternatively, get a bucket and empty it from wherever you are.
All the other stuff you will learn from the midwives or pick up as you go along.
You can really go to town on this – honestly, I can fill my car with all the equipment needed just to get the baby a short distance. Buggies, strollers, scooters, baby carriers and thats just for me.
Gerry Harvey wont like me for saying this, but try before you buy (online). Baby stuff is like wedding stuff, as soon as you mention babies or weddings, the markup goes through the roof. So shop around, if you can get the same buggy online or overseas cheaper, then try it out in a shop and then go somewhere else to buy it. Sounds like common sense, but you would be surprised how many people are still paying through the nose for products in Australia.
Best brands: Mountain Buggy, Maclaren, Bugaboo, Phil and Ted (or is it Bill and Ted?), Stokke (if you like having your baby up high and resembling a shopping trolley, go for it – although that being said, they are very manoeuvrable). We have Maclaren stroller and Mountain Buggy. Both solid and reliable brands.
Baby carrier – only really one brand for me: Baby Bjorn – so cool and comfy I would still have Frankie in there if she didnt weigh 15kg and was a metre tall. Slings can be dangerous, especially if you catapult your kids (only joking) – I did read somewhere that you cant tell if they are breathing very easily and there was a story more recently that a newborn died in one so I wouldn’t buy anything that obscures your view of bub.
Car seats and capsules – if you can rent a capsule do so, otherwise its money down the drain in 6 months’ time (mind you get used to that too). Car seats for toddlers are pretty much Safe and Sound; you cant really buy car seats abroad as safety requirements are different here (more lax if you ask me).
Again, not my area, but buy in bulk and in different sizes, blink and they are a size 00 before you know it. Avoid the Bonds all-in-one jumpsuits – its like watching Houdini escape from a straight jacket getting Sybella out of them – supposedly easier and more comfortable without buttons but imagine yourself trying to get into a jumpsuit with only a slit for an opening around the bum area (actually I might try that later on).
So we are new parents again – the joy of 9 months of guessing whether we would have a 10 pound sumo wrestler or female shot-putter, finally put us out of our misery and out popped 3.5kg Sybella Rose. Smaller than expected and female rather than male (not complaining), she is another bundle of joy but means that I am now outnumbered 3:1 by girls.
What they tell you in hospital is that babies tend to make funny noises when they sleep, which is quite normal: grunting, snuffling and the occasional popping sound. Apparently, some of this has to do with the fact that being in the womb for 9 months, a lot of fluid gets into their system and so, in effect, babies start to dry out or fluid tends to find its way out of them … at 3am in the morning.
Sybella is a snorer, I have no doubt about that. I think its karma for all the snoring that woke Sarah up. Thing is, you cant strap a tennis ball to a 5 week old baby’s back and roll them over when they dribble and snore. So you try and get used to it, which I think I nearly have. There is an iPhone app that allows you to play all kinds of soothing sounds to put your little treasure to sleep. So i pay the obligatory .99 cents and install what can only be described as some noise that a bloke recorded or downloaded for free and some pictures to indicate what kind of noise it is (like I need to see what a rainforest looks like). No wonder this guy has made millions of bucks and moved to California. The sound of a motorboat does not make me feel relaxed, let alone a newborn. Tibetan Singing Bowl is my personal favourite – I cant sleep without the sound of perpetual ringing in my ears to send me off to lala land.
A few people have asked me what to buy in preparation for the baby and my next post will have some ideas on what we needed and didnt need – the last thing you want to do is spend hundreds of bucks on something that is only going to sit in the shed for 12 months (folding change table I am looking at you).