iSanta – The iDad Christmas Special

Press play below for a little theme music.


Christmas has always been a magical time of the year in our family ever since iDad was a baby himself. As soon as God Sakes learned to talk Bynel and Mynel became Gam-pa and Gam-mar, which made my mother very happy, and for as far back as I can remember their house has always been a Christmas wonderland. Tinsel hung from every corner of the ceiling while festoons of multicoloured fairy lights twinkled inside and out. The tree was never shorter than six foot two and adorned with baubles, candy canes (fake and real), glass ornaments and an old family heirloom angel on top. Lunch consisted of roasted turkey and pork with crunchy crackling. We had home made Christmas pudding with brandy sauce, baked vegetables, peas, beans and a big fat leg of ham. I’ve never seen such a stupendous spread as the one Gam-mar and Gam-pa dished out every 25th of December. How my mum managed to slave it out in the kitchen during those notoriously hot Christmas days I’ll never know.

There were always presents as far as the eye could see. No one who visited their home missed out on a gift, nor did many of their neighbours. Bing Crosby crooned about chestnuts roasting on an open fire before taking us all to Ireland to experience a Christmas in Killarney. After a massive feast for lunch we spent the rest of the afternoon in the swimming pool before the extended family descended upon us and we ate and drank all over again.

Competing with the Griswolds was going to be tough 😉

God Sakes, Granny and No.1 are excitable enough at the best of times, but with the promise of the fat bearded fellow in the bright red suit squeezing down the imaginary chimney with a sack full of happiness…. well I’m sure you can understand why December in our house was the longest month of the year.

‘Is it Christmas yet?’ [Excitable chatter from one little boy.]

‘Not yet sweety.’ [Kind and loving answer from a weary mother.]

‘Will it be Christmas tomorrow?’ [Equally enthused enquiry from same little boy.]

‘No honey.’ [Audible sigh.]

‘But I want it to be Christmas noooow!’ [Dejected whine from disappointed little boy.]

Don’t wish your life away darling.’ [Typical grown up answer that kids don’t understand.]

Gloomy little trooper leaves the room and is replaced by another hyperactive tyke with similar questions. Thus the Christmas circle of life continues to spin.

Poor Blue Eyes had to deal with this every single day from December first until Christmas Eve and each visit to the North Pole (Gam-mar and Gam-pa’s house) only made matters worse.

At least iDad got to go to work 🙂

By and large, the present shopping for little boys is very easy. Trust me when I tell you that you cannot go wrong with Tonka trucks and toy dinosaurs. Living within a meager budget, though, meant that Blue Eyes and I had to be creative with our purchases. A twenty-four pack of Matchbox cards could be split evenly amongst three children, as could a bag full of dinosaurs, and this trick served to really pad out the Christmas stocking. Kids don’t care if their T-Rex is made in Taiwan.

Special Christmas Tip 1: Substituting monsters from old Japanese horror films does not work. Any five-year-old boy can tell the difference between an Allosaur and Godzilla.

Wrapping on the other hand was an untidy mess. Carefully folding coloured paper over tiny individual odd-shaped items can be a frustrating experience filled with paper cuts and misplaced sticky tape. Did you know that children do not care about the paper you use? In fact, I have serious doubts that they even notice what images are printed on it. Its true! One year we ran out of Santa wrapping and had to use some old birthday paper to finish off. Granny’s rampage didn’t miss a beat regardless of whether the wrapping had Rudolph or birthday cake.

Finally the 24th arrives, the last window in the Advent calendar has been opened and excitement reaches fever pitch. Trying to get overly animated children to sit still in Church the night before all their dreams come true is hard enough. Getting them to go to bed is nigh on impossible. My boys were like sweaty pink pinballs ricocheting off invisible flippers, careening around the house, bouncing off the walls and crashing into the furniture, all without the aid of red cordial, Coca Cola or any other sugary stimulant. Like the energizer bunny they were wound up and without an ‘off switch’. Blue Eyes would manage to get one of them into bed but as soon as she left to grab another, the first child was up, out and wreaking havoc. It was a futile effort that soon gave way to a glass of Chardonnay as we watched God Sakes push Granny into the tree. Eventually they wore themselves out and we were able to corral our two-legged horses.

In spite of the shenanigans, Blue Eyes and I always enjoyed the manic antics of our boys. There is something absolutely beautiful in the look a child has when he or she is deliriously happy. Its the kind of joy that stays on their faces long after they have collapsed into unconsciousness and reminds you that even if you are unsure what you are doing, and lets face it most of us are not given a parenting manual on the day you conceive, today you got it right.

One more quick check to make sure they are still asleep and its time to go up into the attic to retrieve the presents from iSanta.

Special Christmas Tip 2: Attics have spiders – that’s a fact of life. So if a dirty great huntsman the size of a Landcruiser crawls over your hand try not to squeal like a pre-teen girl at a Justin Bieber concert and definitely do NOT hurl the gift you are holding across the room, especially if it is made of glass.

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Monster arachnids aside, the only real problems I ever encountered at Christmas began with those infamous words, ‘Some Assembly Required’.

One year Blue Eyes decided that we would get the boys an outdoor swing set. Auntie Pedie and Uncle Bop had come over for ‘dinner and and a show’ so after the circus had left town for the night we pulled the pieces of my dark green nemesis out of the garage and got started. Blue Eyes and I had never been good at building things together. All our Ikea constructions ended up with her laughing and iDad spitting the dummy, usually after a bashed finger or cut hand. I remember the day we built a wardrobe. In the kit was a bag of approximately 900 panel pins. I made sure that I used absolutely every single one of them and they were all perfectly spaced apart. Moving the unit a few years later I spent three hours cursing the ‘idiot who put so many bloody nails in the back’. Some days you’re the rider, other days you’re the horse.

Wisely Blue Eyes suggested that Bop the BMW mechanic should help me. With his technical skills and my managerial abilities we should be done in time, right? WRONG!

It was a particularly hot Christmas Eve that eventually turned into a thunder storm and by the time we got the boys to bed it was still drizzling.

‘No problem’ says iDad, ‘the sliding back doors will be wide enough to get the swing set out. Let’s build it inside.’

Special Christmas Tip 3: Beer may be nice to drink on a hot day but you can be sure that it will also impede your motor skills and capacity for logical thought.

Two and a half hours later and without referring to the instructions, Bop and iDad stood proudly in the living room inspecting our Colosseum. It was a grand design with a single swing on the right, a two person swing  on the left and an enclosed swing seat for Granny in the middle. To top it all off, there was a shiny slippery dip bolted to the right hand side. Sheer beauty.

‘That’s not going out the back door, you know.’

Bop was right.

Thankfully the ales we had consumed had kept us in good humour so the concept of pulling apart our masterpiece and reassembling it in the backyard was not a huge worry. With the last of the libations in the Esky iDad and Bop stood in the dimly lit courtyard being eaten alive by mosquitoes and cursing the fact that Santa would be getting all the credit.

Some time after three a.m., I crawled in between the sheets. Luckily, the boys let me sleep until it was almost six. We had a rule in our house that if you woke up and the sun wasn’t shining, then you couldn’t get out of bed. Foolishly I had hoped that the storm clouds would still be present and I would get a little lie in. The Southerly buster that arrived just before dawn cooled the city down and blew away the grey skies. It was bright and sunny and the frenzied pinball machines were dancing on my head.

Aside from the exhaustion it was a perfect Christmas morning. The boys rode the swing set whilst iDad cooked ham and eggs on the BBQ. Afterwards we had ‘Jurassic Park’ in the lounge room complete with Velociraptors, plastic soldiers and a bright red Ferrari that God Sakes refused to let No.1’s Spinosaurus step on. Granny was lying in the remnants of the wrapping with a gold bow stuck in his hair trying desperately not to fall asleep. Every so often one of his brothers would throw a dinosaur at him and he would climb out of the detritus so his Brontosaurus could munch on a plastic Marine.

Blue Eyes and I would sit with a cup of coffee and watch our little angels play. We’ve been doing this for seventeen years now and for me, these are the memories that make Christmas special.

Mele Kalikimaka everybody.

iDad © Matthew Green 2010

iDad Greetings from Charlotte’s Fancy

A couple of weeks ago I contacted Molly, my friend from the Net, who has a very interesting craft blog called Charlotte’s Fancy. Molly had designed a greeting card for Fathers Day called the iDad. With her kind permission, and the school holidays on the way, I have reproduced the steps to create the iDad greeting card below and provided a link to Charlotte’s Fancy for those of you with more talented hands than I.

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To create the card you will need the following supplies:

  • Black cardstock
  • White Cardstock
  • X-acto knife
  • Cutting mat
  • Spray Glue
  • Markers

Step 1: Take two pieces of 8.5 x 11″ black cardstock, and sandwich a piece of white cardstock in between, then cut rounded corners. You may want to take out the white piece and cut it down a little further, so that it doesn’t show along the edges. Use spray glue to secure the white cardstock to the bottom piece of black cardstock and set aside.

Step 2: Find some iPad/iPhone icon images online and print them out on cardstock (you will have no trouble finding these on Google). In a Google image search, look for medium or large images, so that the resolution is decent. Once you print them out, cut them out.

Step 3: Arrange the images on your top piece of black cardstock, then glue them down in the order you want them with spray glue. Let dry for a couple of minutes.

Step 4: Using a cutting mat and X-acto knife, carefully cut along the sides and the bottom of each icon to create lift up flaps.

Step 5: It’s time to glue the top piece to the bottom piece. Spray glue very carefully on the back of the top piece, being careful to avoid the areas where the lift up flaps are (you don’t want to get glue in the area where you will be writing your messages).

Step 6: Once you glue the top and bottom pieces together, draw the little button at the bottom (I used a silver Sharpie), and trim the edges to make the whole presentation neat. Then you can write whatever messages you like under the flaps.

Finally, I printed “iDad” onto a piece of paper, cut it out with an X-acto knife and glued it to the front of the presentation envelope.

iDad – The Bare Essentials

Sorry I didn’t post anything new for you all last week. I ended up in New Zealand on business and time simply got away on me. The good news is that iDad found himself being published in the online magazine Bare Essentials. Chief Editor Ms. Inga Yandell is an amazing woman with a passion for fitness and nature, who produces an eco-friendly bi-monthly title centred around adventure and lifestyle. After reading some of my work Inga asked me to contribute to the Inspiration / Knowledge section of her magazine and I was very happy to oblige.

For a sneaky peak at Bare Essentials please click on the image of iDad. The password is wolves16 and iDad is on page 79

About the magazine.

Bare Essentials Magazine embodies the philosophy that the natural world is rich in resources and by recognizing and respecting our wild heritage our spirits will be free to enjoy and experience more.

“Bare Essentials is dedicated to effective exercise and education that supports independence and strength of character!”

Our back to nature resource centers on improving self-image through appreciation for newly developed skills and abilities whilst raising funds and awareness for wildlife.

Serving up a combination of adrenaline sports, extreme nature and pure action.

To subscribe to Bare Essentials click on the banner below.

The Stone Outside Dan Murphy’s Door

Sorry I haven’t posted anything in a little while. Work has been hectic and the desire to turn on the computer when I get home just hasn’t been at its highest.

A couple of years ago iDad took his family on a trip to Ireland. Blue Eyes has roots in there and with K.Rudd handing out donations to all and sundry we figured it was the perfect opportunity to go find the ancestors. Holidaying with children is always a tricky job and when it begins with a thirty-six hour epic flight from Sydney – Singapore – Heathrow – Belfast, you know its gotta get better 🙂

During the thousands of miles we did crisscrossing the Irish countryside I found a little pub in Sneem, County Kerry where I took this photo. Below it you will find the rest of the words to a fantastic little Irish ditty which is bound to bring a little tear to those who are away from home.

Have a nice weekend.

There’s a sweet garden spot in our memory
It’s the place we were born in and reared
It’s long years ago since we left it
But return there we will if we’re spared
Our friends and companions of childhood
Would assemble each night near a score
Round Dan Murphy’s shop, and how often we sat
On the stone outside Dan Murphy’s door

Chorus: Those days in our hearts we will cherish
Contented although we were poor
And the songs that were sung
In the days we were young
On the stone outside Dan Murphy’s door

When our day’s work was over we’d meet there
In the winter or spring just the same
Then the boys and the girls all together
Would join in some innocent game
Dan Murphy would take down his fiddle
While his daughter looked after the store
The music did ring and sweet songs we would sing
On the stone outside Dan Murphy’s door

Back again will our thoughts often wander
To the scenes of our childhood’s home
The friends and companions we left there
It was poverty caused us to roam
Since then in this life we have prospered
But still in our hearts we feel sore
For memory will fly to those days long gone by
And the stone outside Dan Murphy’s door

iDad Redux – Ready, Aim, Fire!

Having an asthmatic child makes it difficult to try different foods. I suppose it was for this reason that God Sakes and Granny always gorged themselves at parties, picnics and other places with a fancier fare. This has resulted in stomachaches, sticky car seats and many other unfortunate accidents that seem to perpetrate themselves upon iDad. I learned early on not to jostle around a freshly fed child when No.1 regurgitated most of his formula into my mouth. To this day I cannot stand the taste, or scent, of soy.

God Sakes had an amazing appetite and would try anything and everything that was put in front of him. Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Greek, Italian; Little God Sakes was eating his way round the world in a nonstop feast-a-thon. One night, in an effort to fill the bottomless pit, I took him to Pizza Hut for ‘all you can eat.’ We definitely got our money’s worth. That was until God Sakes deposited two pizzas, a large Pepsi and half a bucket of ice-cream all over the back of the Commodore.

Three little boys watched iDad clean out the puddle of masticated mush from the upholstery for about twenty minutes before God Sakes uttered those immortal words.

“I’m hungry.”

iDad placed his face in his palm.

Stomach Bugs.

Thankfully the expulsion of stomach contents was not a frequent occurrence for God Sakes so it was relatively safe to cuddle him when he was feeling poorly, without the need for a plastic raincoat. One evening I was lying on the floor panting and wheezing after a rather vigorous wrestle with No.1, when God Sakes arrived complaining of a headache. He clambered up onto my stomach and rested his head on my chest. I touched his forehead and realised that the poor little guy was running a fever. I opened my mouth to call out to Blue Eyes at the exact same time that God Sakes opened his mouth and emptied a warm glass of soft drink straight down my throat. Naturally peristalsis kicked in and I swallowed the sweet liquid. It was actually still fizzy, with a strange citrus flavour.

“Honey!”

“Yes darling.”

“I think God Sakes has a virus.”

“I know darling. I just gave him a glass of lemonade and some of that orange flavoured Nurofen.”

That explains the unique taste. At least it was better than soy.

“A little help would be good about now.”

Blue Eyes collected God Sakes from me and whisked him off to the shower just as Granny entered the room.

“I don’t feel good daddy.”

Not to be caught out again I grabbed a large Tupperware container from the kitchen and sat with Granny in my lap waiting for the bathroom to be free. He was also running a fever and I knew that this was going to be a real trying night. I mopped his brow with a cool washcloth and very soon he settled down.

“Are you ok little man?”

He looked at me, shook his head but didn’t answer. Two seconds later iDad was force fed chicken and corn soup.

Nicer than soy but not as good as Nurofen infused tepid lemonade.

One by one my entire family succumbed to Cryptosporidium that night, but I will spare you from further gruesome details.

‘Diggits’ and the F-Bomb.

Leaning to speak has its disadvantages and the biggest challenge any family will find once their toddlers start mixing with older children, is the inevitable swear word. Although Granny had come close on occasion it was No.1 who would break the ice.

Blue Eyes had been at work all day and arrived home to a teary-eyed little boy and an angry grandmother who had just been told to ‘f*** off.’ Suffice to say that his mother was way less than impressed and she began a long-winded admonishment that finished with the line,

“What have you got to say for yourself?”

Our sobbing little angel looked at her with moist eyes and sodden cheeks and delivered the coup de grâce.

“You swear at people all the time.”

“I do not!”

“Yes you do.”

“No I don’t”

“You do so. Even at ones you don’t even know.”

So forthright was he in his convictions that Blue Eyes had to pause her reprimand.

“What are you taking about?”

“You’re always calling people in the other cars diggits.”

The real word is far worse but this is what he interpreted, so ‘diggits’ became the yardstick for profanities in our family. Needless to say that Nanny and Doughie were rolling on the floor laughing by this stage and Blue Eyes was forced to explain the difference between words that adults are allowed to use and  words that children are allowed to use. The conversation concluded with a ‘do as I say and not as I do.’

When iDad got home from University later that night the three boys were fast asleep and Blue Eyes was sipping a glass of Chardonnay as she looked through the Yellow Pages for a new kindy for No.1

Coming soon: iDad v5 – Night Bears.

iDad © Matthew Green 2010