Tuesday, March 31, 2009

All that glitters

My daughter Tinker (her name for the purposes of this blog) just got some new shoes and they fit beautifully. This is them, everyone needs some gold sneakers, surely?:

I also bought her a pair of these sandals but they don't fit. Way too big. Oh well, given my record one out of two isn't too bad!

Monday, March 30, 2009


I was at the supermarket this morning for what I call 'housewife happy hour'. 9.30am -10.30am the aisles are full of mothers getting in early, either with their babies in the trolley or having just dropped their older kids at school & daycare.

I go alone, my little cherub doesn't like shopping. She demands full 1 on 1 attention at all times and will not tolerate her mama looking at anything but her, so she visits Grandma while I get the groceries. Anyway I was gliding up the dairy aisle. Yes, gliding. For a change I didn't have the trolley with the bung wheel and I didn't have the child in the seat so it was quite a light ride really.

Housewife happy hour is great because the deli items are fresh and all the shelves are fully stocked unlike Sunday night shopping which I do in desperation sometimes. Anyway I was in the dairy aisle when I heard someone speaking French to their baby. Baby talk in french is slightly cuter than baby talk in English. Anyway she was asking the child whether she enjoyed sitting in the trolley and then she was telling her the name of each item as she packed the trolley.

"Du beurre" she was saying as she put some butter into the trolley. I turned to see which butter she had chosen since I do like a good quality butter. I was horrified to see she had in fact chosen a dairy blend. Not even real butter? What? How on earth could a French woman choose fake butter. Horrified, I turned back to the yogurts. I was carefully scanning ingredients to find the best one for the little miss when I heard the French mother saying "fromage" to her child. Curious, I looked up. She hadn't chosen a cheese at all. She had chosen a packet of floppy pale yellow plastic.

Kraft Singles. Not cheese. Never ever would I even think to put this rubbish into the cheese category. Fake Cheese. Yes, it can go in the FC box but no sir, it should never ever be called cheese and definitely not fromage said in a sexy french accent. Horrible, how horrible.

That lady had totally ruined the reputation of glam French yummy mummies everywhere. They were not whipping up amazing gourmet yummies for their babies. They were not choosing real food they were buying awful fake plastic cheese. Hmmf.

Suddenly I felt slightly wholesome, slightly superior. Maybe I am a yummy mummy after all. I make food from scratch, I buy good ingredients. Ok so maybe I'm still sporting a massive post baby muffin top 15 months after giving birth but I glide up the aisles and I never ever call Kraft Singles fromage.

Online Mothering...

For anyone who has had anything at all to do with online forums about parenting and pregnancy and the like this article will surely strike a chord with you:


It's enough to make you back away from the computer and then quickly throw it out the window.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Market shopping

There is something so fun and quaint about shopping at markets. Pottering about picking up peaches and hand made oven mits, fresh cakes made by old ladies ... but then there is the annoying side of market shopping.

Where we live we are lucky to have a local market on every single weekend. One week it is the farmers produce market, then we have the general market that has all sorts from second hand clothes to fresh satay chicken, we also have an arts and crafts market and then another general market.

My mum and I go to at least one a week, we can walk there and it is a really nice weekend activity. Today I bought some fruit and a little knitted trinket for my daughter. My issue with markets is the browsing factor.

It is hard to browse. In a regular store I have no qualms about picking something up, looking at the price and then walking out because I think it is too expensive. IN a market I find that really awkward. Often the items don't have price tags so you have to ask the price. Then if it is too expensive you feel embarrassed to smile and walk off so if you are like me you then feel the need to make some awkward small talk and often conjure up some lame excuse as to why you can't buy it. Usually this gets you into even deeper water because they might respond -oh don't worry I have the next size down here under the basket. What do you say then?

Ummmno actually I was lying. That isn't too small it's just overpriced. I would never spend that kind of money on that item that you have poured your home made heart and soul into...

I hate it. I feel dreadful. Because market stalls are usually run by owners who have not only produced the items they have usually done it out of passion and love. Not just some weekend job to make pocket money, they tend to enjoy talking about their wares.

I then find it hard to walk away without showing some interest and then I feel compelled to buy something and then we have the above scenario. Plus because markets stalls are usually just tables under tents with the goods on the tables if you are looking at the goods you tend to end up face to face with the seller and this can also be awkward if the stall is empty. I feel really bad for looking and not liking! Take today for example I noticed three stalls that I wanted to check out. The one in the middle was empty.

The seller was sitting there looking very smiley and hopeful. She was wearing one of her own hand made aprons and she looked very eager. The two on either side of her had so many customers that it was hard to see exactly what they were selling. So me being me, I felt sorry for her so I went in to her stall. I immediately saw it wasn't really what I was after but I felt I at least owed her a proper look. She started talking. And talking. And talking. If only I'd had my baby on my hip I could have used her as an excuse to escape. Alas I'd left her with my husband at home.

I felt I needed to examine her things since she was nattering on about the fabrics etc. Then I ran out of small talk and asked the price. ARGGGHHH are you crazy lady. So over the top! I didn't know what to say so I smiled and said "oh, that's great." great for who? Some poor Japanese tourits> Can't think of anyone else who'd be roped into paying that for a bloody apron... Anyway I said -I'll have to get going now I should buy my fruit and veges first then I'll be back.

My excuse made no sense at all. Why would you get the heavy items and then the light item on your way out? Ughh what is wrong with me? I am such a George Costanza. Who else could possibly make a lovely trip to the market so awkward?!

Fancy a whine?

Since I fell pregnant with my daughter I have been whining about the lack of quality nursery furniture in Australia. Everything is clunky and ugly and most nurseries are horribly twee and completely lacking in style. Sorry Australia but your kids rooms are bad! It isn't just the Winnie The Poo wall vinyl letting us down it is the chunky glider chairs like these:

Can someone honestly hold their head up high and say they think this "pleather" glider is nice piece of furniture, can they, honestly? What is nice about it?

Now who actually thinks this fugly plastic/polyester ensemble is "fit for a princess"?

What is going on in this country how can we be so uninspired?

Look at this bedding:

This is what many Australian parents aspire to when it comes to their dream nursery:

It is so horrid, we are so deprived when it comes to great stores for children over here. I wasted hours online when I was pregnant trying to figure out how I'd import some stylish nursery furniture into the country. In the end I had to settle for making do with slightly changing drawer pulls and making some of the soft furnishings myself.

I'll post pics in a few months time but for now please join me in a collective groan about how lacking Australia is when it comes to gorgeous baby things.

The yanks might have half their population living like paupers in the 3rd world, the most hideous health care system and millions of freaks with guns but at least they have cool glider chairs like these.

Yep there are wars on, people are dying, the economy is a mess and I have just wasted an entire post on a rant about daggy nurseries. Sorry about that. Humour me, someone has to be shallow. Without me, how would you know that your quality blog posts on world politics and complex human emotions were so well thought out and worthwhile?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Janie & Jack

One of my favourite children's clothing stores is having a sale and I have a code for a further 25% off everything. Send me an email if you'd like the code.

I'm afraid even I can't allow myself to buy anything now that my daughter's clothes spill into 2 wardrobes in this house and she still has a number of boxes with brand new stuff for next season.


Small Hopes

Ok so does anyone in Sydney need a cleaner?

My cleaner is a really sweet Thai lady and her rates are really really really reasonable. She sent me a rather desperate email today, I have copied it below. The line about her small hope for her life really got me. Shame! Let me know if you want her details.

I've something for you help me please.If you have your friend if they need a cleaner to cleaning them house,can you call me please or sms and email. I've available on Monday,Thuesday and Thursday.(Is it small hope for my life.)Thank you for read my email


According to the always handy Wikipedia, Pediophobia is the fear of children.

Before my little girl was born my friends and family often joked about my obvious disdain for other peoples children. They wondered how I'd take to motherhood. I think may were surprised that I am completely and utterly obsessed with my ruby haired little doll. I love being a mother.

Still, while I absolutely adore my precious girl I'm not in the least bit 'clucky' about other babies and I never feel the urge to babble away like an idiot to strange babies in lifts and other public places. I find a lot of children very tedious. My daughter, of course, is the most charming, entertaining, clever kid on the planet but most other children- bleurgh!

My daughter has a BFF they are so cute together, I think they really do like each other. They have hung out since their were in utero! Her mum and I were pregnant at the same time and we shared everything so her daughter is one of the rare exceptions to my 'other peoples kids yuck' rule, I love her to bits but she is the exception.

We are not in a rush to have another child until our little girl is a little older and less dependant. I am fiercely protective of her and 'our time' together. She is politely described as a very 'busy' child (high maintenance) so we decided against a close age gap for her sake more than anything. She is very alert and demands a lot of attention. Quite a few friends have responded quite negatively when I've explained our rationale for wanting a larger age gap and I have even once been described as not being very maternal.

What makes a mother non-maternal? Is it because I find screaming children in shopping centres hideous? Is it because I don't believe 'all children are beautiful' and I don't want 35 of them? Is it because I don't wish my amazing toddler was a newborn again? Is it because I am a very cynical person and I hate all the saccharine lovey dovey googoo gaa gaa you hear from a lot of mothers?

Maternal is defined as having the qualities befitting a mother. I think I have those. I'm patient with my daughter and I don't get bored being at home with her 24/7. I do not miss my 'old life' one bit. Not because I didn't enjoy it but because I enjoy this more. I am committed to raising a happy, healthy little girl and I don't believe in paying others to raise her. I miss her desperately when I'm away from her running errands and I genuinely enjoy her company. I do whatever I think is in her best interests, even if it means my own relatives think it is creepy that I am breastfeeding a toddler til she self weans.

Ok so I am now thinking that this post has become one of those uber defensive pathetic "I'm a good mother" rants. I hate those! That wasn't really where I planned to go with this post. What actually started me thinking about pediophobia was this news article here:


To discourage what is now known as "anti-social" behaviour (aka teenagers hanging out together in public places) community organisations have resorted to pink light areas. No, this isn't a female version of the blue lights they use to make it hard for junkies to find a vein when shooting up in public toilets. These pink lights are the ones beauticians use to highlight pimples. So the pink lights highlight the teenagers acne and they feel embarrassed and uncool and move on to another area. They also play classical music and daggy old tracks by Barry Manillow.

Having worked with teenagers ad nauseam in the childrens courts I can, on one hand, relate to the majority attitude amongst the oldies that teenagers are annoying, trouble making time wasters. On the other hand I really think community attitude should change. I was a handful as a teenager, I thougth I was too cool for school and tried so hard to 'fit in'. I went through all the 'phases' and I was a complete loudmouth and I turned out ok. I don't think we should be discouraging teenagers from hanging out together in groups bigger than 3. Really, that is absurd. I don't think we should be shining lights in their faces and humiliating them. It is a really difficult time, changing, discovering who you are. Adults should be more sensitive...

Maybe, just maybe if our culture valued mothers and families a little more then it wouldn't be so uncool to admire your parents and hang out with your older relatives and teenagers wouldn't feel the need to find family in gangs. I don't know, just a thought.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Ok I may be a red neck after all.

I have purchased a gun online!

Shocked? Horrified?

It is ok, I haven't totally lost my mind. Here is my gun:

Inspired by my extremely clever crafting friend Kylie from All Things Lovely I have decided to try and recover a chair. I have wanted to do it for years and until I saw her tutorial I thought it was way beyond me. It probably is way beyond me but I'd like to give it a try anyway. My gun is on the way and I have to decide on some fabric. I'll post pics to keep you all laughing.

Next thing on the list is wadding and then spray glue and I think I might need new foam. We will see.

So, what is stranger- me buying a gun or a attempting to do my own upholstery?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I'm really not a fan of Gwyneth, she always seems so daft and aloof. She named her first child Apple and she lived on a macrobiotic diet for a long time. She has that annoying spanish cooking show where she fluffs about Spain being exposed to THE most amazing meals but only manages to barely nibble a mouthful here and there. Oh I could go on, but I won't bore you. I'm not a fan, I won't labour that point.

So imagine my surprise when I read this article here:


Sure, she sounds like a stuck up twit, surprise surprise but she and I actually have something in common. A little condition I have named "preschool panic". My poor friends and family. They have had to listen to me ranting on about schools since before my daughter was born.

I'm not sure what I want exactly, but none of the preschool options in Sydney seem desirable to me. Same with primary schools. My little girl is only 1 so it isn't like I need to decide today but I can't stop thinking about it. I have enrolled her a couple of 'big' schools and one preschool but still I'm not satisfied. Why have I become this insane parent?! I am horrified at myself!

My daughter is bright and friendly. She is as cute as a button and very funny. I'm sure she will do fine wherever she goes. At the end of the day, at 3 years of age I'm sure all they do is play with Lego, sing some songs and paint the odd finger painting or two. Rationally I understand this but I still won't rest til I find a really special preschool for my precious little tinker.

Lucky for my now twin Gwyneth, she has found a place for Moses. I'm still doing the high pitched panic about where to send my little one!

Shopping with a conscience...

image credit "hippy"

I read an article this morning about the mayor of Sydney Clover Moore (the one who wears dog collars as some sort of foul fashion statement). She has banned Tim Tams and a range of other foods from City of Sydney Council meetings. You can read the full article here.
It is all part of her initiative to serve only sustainable, "cruelty free" foods at Council events.
She subscribes to the belief that 80% of the world's cocoa comes from The Ivory Coast, apparently where there are allegations of child labour... According to the article, Arnotts dispute this.

It got me thinking, how many of us actually loyally subscribe to the "shopping with a conscience" style of living? I don't. And to be brutally honest I'm not sure I feel all that guilty about it. I mean I'm not out buying ivory from South Africa or face cream made from panda testes but I don't always buy organic meat and I usually choose things based on quality and value for money not "green-ness"...

Is it just hard core hairy armpitted, furry browed hippies who genuinely lead these lifestyles? I guess mega rich Hollywood types can sustain it as well. What about regular folk? I was at Macro Wholefoods the other day. Not really by choice. I was actually grabbing some scones from the bakery next door and decided it was easier to run into Macro and buy an overpriced carton of organic fresian cow cream than go to the supermarket down the street and queue up for a regular priced carton.

It turned out to be a $148 carton of cream thanks to a parking ticket I got from stopping in a loading zone out the front. Ooops. While you can park there in the afternoons it is not ok in the morning. Hmmf. Thanks North Sydney Council, you rock. Anyway I was in there looking for the cheapest carton amongst the $10 cartons of rip off cream when I noticed a few people wheeling large trolleys around. Full of groceries. Who does this? Who are these people? I really want to know. I mean a few items is fine but who does their entire weekly grocery shopping at Macro? It would be about a $1000 a week for two people not to mention how tasteless a lot of that stuff is. I like a bit of salt, oil, flavour. Shoot me!

This so called "green shopping with a conscience" thing seems to be a real domino type thing. Where do you stop? What makes the plight of the Indonesian fishermen more important than the poor basket weaving kids in Fiji? You could go on and on until you are left totally naked living in a tree.

Monday, March 23, 2009


I can't buy shoes. I love them but I can't buy them.

For as long as I have been buying my own shoes I have had great difficulty with fit. I have bought more shoes in the wrong size than I can count. Something about shoe shopping gives me the creeps. I don't know what it is exactly.

Take for instance my stunning leather and denim ballet flats from Louis Vuitton. My husband bought them for me a few years ago. I had to have them, they were so gorgeous.

Tried them on in store they seemed comfortable. Wore them once for 20 minutes and realised they were too small. So small that I felt like one of those poor little girls in China hundreds of years ago with the foot bindings on my poor tootsies.

Two sizes too small. Of course being leather soled they were scuffed and couldn't be returned. My husband, then boyfriend, kept asking why I hadn't been wearing my new shoes. The gorgeous generous gift he had given me. So I squished my feet into the size 36 flats and I limped around town until the blisters were on the verge of sending me to an early grave.

So now my pretty little shoes sit on a shelf looking fabulously lonely and I flap about in some cheap ballet flats from witchery that aren't even leather lined. My friends have done well out of my shoe buying. I have given away more shoes than I have kept because time after time I buy shoes that don't fit. It is so bad now that I have not bought a new pair in over a year. The last pair I bought was from Kmart. Mens size 10 thongs. Why? Because I was 35 weeks pregnant with blood pressure so high that I was carrying 12 kilos of fluid squelching around in my feet and ankles so bad that only massive mens thongs would fit. My best friend who I love dearly kindly referred to my massive swollen feet as canoes. Nice. She has some nerve, she has inherited lots of my tiny shoes over the years.

My latest problem is that I need to buy new shoes for my daughter and I have started getting that same anxious feeling I get when I need to buy shoes for myself. Oh dear I can't pass this condition on to her. She has perfectly lovely feet I am so worried I will buy her the wrong sized shoes as well. Until now she has mainly worn Pediped shoes and Tip Toey Joeys. I counted and she has 33 pairs of shoes already. Almost as many as her father who is a complete shoe nut. They are adorable little baby shoes made for the most discerning little feet. Now that she is finally walking at 14 months of age, she needs some proper shoes. No more soft soled pre-walkers.

I am in a right tizz about it! I have spent this morning trawling the web for info about the best thing for new little walking feet and I found some adorable little shoes but panicked at the online checkout and didn't buy a single pair. This is exactly what I do in stores when buying my own shoes. I try them, prance about the store then at the last minute I pull out. The poor salesgirls look so deflated. I'm sure many shoes stores in Sydney have photos of my face up in their staff rooms. "Time Waster" I'm sure the heading says...

My little girl in her first shoes:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

This Little Piggy...

Went to market!

My daughter is obsessed with the "wee wee" story. She asks us about 10 times a day for "wee wee" and she thrusts her feet in our faces. She loves it when we tell her the Little Piggy story on her toes and her favourite bit is the littlest piggy who "goes wee wee wee all the way home."

Today, however, this little piggy is off to market. Mathilda's Market http://www.mathildasmarket.com.au/ that is, to see a room full of clever crafty types selling their gorgeous wares. Most importantly we are going to visit our dear friend Wynona, creator of Ivy Designs http://www.ivydesigns.com.au/.

One of the cleverest, lovely people I know. With our hectic lives we haven't been able to get together for a playdate recently so under the guise of visiting Winnie, I am off to the market. I have promised my husband I will not be buying anything today... Let's see how I go.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Von

For as long as I can remember, I have suffered from a very serious and socially debilitating disease. Chronic Foot in Mouth Syndrome. I say it is a syndrome more so than a disease because there are a number of different features that define it, one of them is no matter how hard I try I always say the wrong thing. Most of my friends have been dining out on my shocking faux pas for years and I'm sure for many more to come because as far as I can see, there is no hope of a cure.

I was reminded the other day of a very funny one, it happened a few months ago at a to la-di-da corporate dinner where I was supposed to play the perfect corporate wife. You know the type that smiles, nods, laughs at lame jokes and says the occasional upbeat chipper comment about something harmless and lighthearted? Never the cynic and absolutely never the grump. The corporate wife has no worries and only thinks pretty, happy and friendly thoughts. I always set out to be this person, not because I feel I should but more as a challenge for myself.

I like to test myself to see if I can actually sit through one of these poxy dinners without saying one inappropriate thing. Anyway at this particular dinner a certain famous Australian actress was in attendance. One who seems to poo-poo commercialism except when it comes to a certain Japanese cosmetics brand. Anyway that's a whole other story. The night started out quite well apart from my awkward bathroom encounter with the above mentioned actress. You know those moments where, being under 5'5 you often walk straight into people's chests? Anyway I have those a lot. She was coming out and I was going in. Then we had that awkward encounter where one goes to the left but so does the other then the right then the lest and you end up looking like pair of pins in the bowling alley...

Ok so I was introduced to the wife of one of my husband's business acquaintances. We got chatting about surnames I can't remember why. She was saying she had a friend who changed his surname to his wife's first name. I thought that was interesting but asked why he didn't choose to take her surname, it was Bottom. Fair enough. Then I said my best friend and her husband both changed their surnames when they married, they chose a name that had special meaning to them. I said I'd probably choose something super toff, something with a von involved like last year's youngest billionaire Albert von Thurn und Taxis.

You all know how this story ends don't you? Madame with the perfect blonde quiff smiles pitifully at the poor washed up housewife wearing her mother's unironed sack of a dress (yes I really did wear one of my mum's dresses. Let's not even go there ok. Baby weight is hard to lose and nothing of mine would fit!) and she chuckles condescendingly, "oh my sister's married name is Von ...." something or other. Of course she is. Excellent.

Honestly you just can't take me anywhere!

Oh and for the single ladies, here is Albert, 25 and worth $2.0 bill. You'd think he could afford a nicer shirt.

image credit bittenandbound.com

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Oh Dora!

Image credit http://www.doratheexplorertvshow.com

Mia's blog led me to do something I rarely bother doing. I have signed a petition.

Back in the day, I may have signed petitions against refugess in detention, Australia's antiquated laws on adoption and surrogacy and now I am signing petitions about... cartoon characters. What have I become?

Dora the Explorer is getting a skanky makeover and I agree with the others out there who think it is a lousy idea.

I like smocked dresses, bows and all things lovely, pretty and childish for my daughter. I am very fussy about what she wears not just because I am being a snob but mainly because I have very strong views on children being children not mini adults. You have plenty of time for cutting edge and only a few years for fluffy sheep and cuddly bears.

I was always against allowing my baby girl to watch television but I relented and now she is allowed to watch one episode of either Teletubbies or Fimbles each day. She loves these shows and they are the only ones I allow her to watch, because I think they are fun, gentle little shows that won't fill her head with cheesy tacky glittery things. She used to enjoy In The Night Garden but she has gone off it now.

Anyway amongst my banned list which includes Barbie, Bratz, Hi 5 and a few others, I am now having to add Dora. In principle! I think it is nice that Dora is so popular with little girls. She is a short, chubby dorky little girl with lots of confidence who finds her own way in the world with her little mates and her trusty backpack. Very sweet indeed.

Now the makers are making her skanky like those feral Bratz dolls and I think that is wrong so I'm boycotting her and I proudly signed the petition against the new skanky Dora.

This is a mysterious silhouette of the new "tween" Dora:

As you can see, her ultra practical little bob hairdo has been replaced by lustrous long layered locks, almost Farrahesque. Her daggy sneakers are now some delicate ballet flats and her chubby hands are now lovely petite little feminine hands. Gone are her daggy shorts and t-shirt. Her arms and legs are no longer the chubby little limbs of a youngster but the long thin limbs of a sexy model type. Shame!

Here is the petition link:

Hi, I wanted to draw your attention to this important petition that I recently signed: "Let's Go: No Makeover for Dora!"
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/Dora_Makeover?e I really think this is an important cause, and I'd like to encourage you to add your signature, too. It's free and takes less than a minute of your time. Thanks!

Back to School

I have found a one day sewing class for complete beginners. It goes from 10-2pm on a Saturday and I have enrolled myself.

I am awfully excited about it and as usual my expectations are unreasonably high. I really hope I can leave the course with Project Runway worthy sewing skills... ok so I'll settle with just knowing how to do a zipper.

The class isn't on for a month so until then I am going to ignore my sewing machine lest I ruin anymore beautiful pieces of fabric with my hideous clumsy sewing.

Just imagine, I may get so good that I want to do this to my arm:


No, actually that will never happen. I don't like tattoos.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sneak Peek

Just thought I'd mention something funny about our trip to Thailand. Everywhere we went we found that there were extra fees for foreigners. It was such a small fee that it really didn't matter but it was funny to see the signs everywhere.

After a while though, we thought we needed a sign of our own. Our ruby haired baby was like a celebrity over there with people queueing for photos with her and opportunities to touch her alabaster skin. We thought perhaps we should charge 30TBHT for every encounter.

Another funny thing, to visit the temples you must not be wearing shorts. Beacuse of the extreme heat over there, most foreigners swan about in shorts and singlets so they get stung when they arrive at the temples and see the signs forbidding them to enter:

So for those poor souls unfortunate enough not to know about the long pant rule. If they still wish to enter the temples and palaces, they can hire some long pants. I am not sure, but I think the Thai's are surely poking fun at the ignorant foreigners by punishing them with these hire pants. I snapped this photo of a pair of rather sheepish looking Israeli guys. Poor things!

Monday, March 9, 2009


Ok so our Thailand holiday is done and dusted and I'm back in my apron!
Normally after a holiday I feel refreshed and full of spark but this one was a little different and I needed the past week to catch up on sleep before bouncing back into things!
Why? You may ask...
You obviously haven't taken a very "busy" one year old half way round the world!
We had a great time but there wasn't a lot of sleep involved so this week has been all about getting the little one back into a routine and finally catching up on a few weeks of broken sleep.
I'll be back soon with photos and tales from what could be described (at times) as a bit of a Griswald holiday.