Don’t need a weatherman…

I started to declutter my junk drawer the other day. I’m still going. It’s taking a while because it is actually a junk chest of drawers that is also masquerading as a bedside table. Which means 4 levels of junk – 3 hidden and 1 in full view. The finish line feels like a mirage in the desert. But with less hope.

You know you’ve left it too long when some of the things you find make you question if these are, in fact, your drawers and you haven’t accidentally started sorting through someone else’s stuff, because a) you don’t recognise the contents and b) you can’t believe you are the type of person who keeps the envelopes from birthday cards in case they come in handy for craft. It suddenly dawns on you that if you had time for craft-like activities, you probably wouldn’t have let your drawers get into such a state. Oh, the irony.

Before continuing, I look around for confirmation of ownership and find it in the jar of homemade slime on the windowsill and the 15 hair-ties belonging to my 9 year old (so that’s where they are!) Yes – this is, indeed, my bedroom. No more excuses.

The decluttering process uncovers the following:

  • scented candles that are waiting for a ‘special occasion’
  • Australia Day face paint kit. (Australia Day is in January. Keep for next year?)
  • dubious-looking tube of hand cream circa 2013 (bin it!)
  • about 27 pens, not all of which have ink in them
  • bright pink lipstick, as yet unworn and no longer to be saved for a possible 80s Revival Night.

Amongst the clutter, however, I find a gem. No, an actual gem, set in a mood ring. If you ever had one of these as a child or a teenager in the 80s or 90s you will know the excitement of checking the stone for a magical shift in colour that (allegedly) corresponds with your emotional state. Light blue = relaxed, green = active, brown = nervous, etc.. I think I had this ring when I was about 18 and it has miraculously survived three continents and 20+ years. I slip it onto my finger.

My 9 year old is excited. ‘Mummy, you have a mood ring?!!’ Apparently it is back in fashion (I am now ‘retro’) and she is familiar with its colour-changing powers. She looks at the ring (the stone is black) and then looks at me with pursed lips and raised eyebrows. ‘It says you’re stressed!’  I tell her I haven’t worn it in a while so the ring and I just need to get used to each other again. She knows the science behind it – that it responds to a change in temperature – so she holds my hand and declares that it is warm enough for the ring not to be showing black. But it doesn’t change. She furrows her brow.

I know this ring is an inanimate object but as it claims to have special powers, I try to engage with it whilst breathing deeply, in the hope that it will pick up on the change. Nothing. I wear it to a dance class. I wear it to a presentation I am giving at work. I wear it driving home with my Karaoke playlist at a volume high enough to drown out my singing. All situations that should induce different moods and therefore different colours on the ring:  Relaxed, Active, Nervous, Happy. But nothing. It stares back at me, still black. For a mood ring, I say to it, you’re not very forthcoming. It ignores me. This ring is, in fact, just not in the mood.

So I take a different approach. Perhaps I just accept that this ring is not for changing. Perhaps it is time to look inward rather than out. Mood rings are fun but there is only one real authority, one expert, one guardian of our own emotions. Bob Dylan said it best in ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’: ‘You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.’ 

To appease the 9 year old who is now worried that her mother is perpetually stressed, I look it up. “Eventually a mood ring will turn black and stop responding.” Aha! There is a logical, scientific (and slightly depressing) explanation for this mystery. If this ring was a Shakespearean character, it would not be Cleopatra because age has withered it, and custom has staled its infinite variety.

I’m still wearing the ring, though. Obviously not to tell me what my emotional state is, but to remind me that my mood is my choice. The stone may be black but there can still be warmth on the inside.

Oh, and it is also a reminder to light those scented candles and get those drawers finished. Preferably before Australia Day.

©2017 Seetha Dodd

Shutter up

Sometimes words aren’t the right words to say,’ to quote a Passenger song. This week the words just didn’t flow. So if the old saying is right, that a picture says a thousand words, here are 6000 of my best.

1000: Rainbow sky in Cremorne

night sky

2000: Palm Beach sunset

palm beach sunset

3000: Clouds at sea – Balmoral Beach

clouds at sea

4000: The Sky says ‘Dance!’ and the clouds pirouette

the sky says dance and the clouds pirouette

5000: Martin Place at Twilight

sydney at twilight

6000: The Kiss, Balmoral Beach

the kiss

©2017 Seetha Dodd


Espresso yourself

3littlebirds was not created as a ‘mummy blog’. Still, after the third parenting-themed post, a friend threatened to ‘unfollow’ me because it might affect his “street cred”. After gently pointing out that that ship had already sailed, I took a long, hard look at my posts.

But rather than highlight the amount of mummy-blog-type content on these pages, it made me realise that the posts about my three munchkins – these adorable, messy, exasperating, hilarious creatures – were the easiest ones to write. Inspiration overflows in this crazy, chaotic, beautiful world where stressed is not just desserts spelled backwards but an actual, frequent example of one thing (stressed) leading to another (desserts). It’s all about the balance.

Speaking of desserts, inspiration came in another (delectable) form today. So I decided it was time to write about another of my true loves: gastronomy. The art and science of food. Which I suppose technically also covers drink. Molecular gastronomy, perhaps? Ok, ok, just cocktails.

An impromptu, post-work drink date with a girlfriend took place this evening, instigated by the sweet, caffeinated promise of a $10 espresso martini at Firefly in Neutral Bay – a stylish yet comfy wine bar & restaurant on this side of the Bridge. It is our 9th birthday, the promo email said. Help us celebrate, it said. Our martini is topped with cookie & cream shavings, it said. How. Not. To? Who am I to turn down a drink that is a fusion of coffee, chocolate and vodka? The trivector of guilty pleasures lovingly poured into one sexy martini glass. So we went. We ordered. We took a photo.

espresso martini

A drink so beautiful that even the camera made everything else fade into the background.

Impromptu martinis are the best kind. I might even ask for one without the vodka next time. Forget the street cred.

©2017 Seetha Dodd

You can’t handle the tooth!

Dear Tooth Fairy,

Thank you for your visit to our home this week. We have a happy (toothless) 7 year old despite your somewhat questionable performance of late.

I fully understand the magnitude of your job and the vast geographical area you have to cover but a little consistency wouldn’t go amiss. This is, after all, your sole vocation and the very purpose for your existence. And frankly, we need to talk.

Over the years, we have had teeth fall out in dramatic and not-so-dramatic ways. Sometimes the tooth is wobbly for 2 weeks and then just drops out mid-sentence. At other times there is more excitement, a more theatrical story worthy of a school News item or a parental Facebook post. We have had a tooth fall out in the swimming pool (and remarkably retrieved), one fall out whilst eating corn on the cob, and one fall out on the soccer pitch mid-game (and sadly lost forever despite my attempts to comb the area like a sniffer dog).

These prized possessions are carefully placed under pillows in various forms: in sealed sandwich bags, in pretty jewellery boxes, with a special thank you note, and – for the optimistic – just loose, kept in place by the weight of a hopeful little head.

When that tooth fell out on the soccer pitch, the 7 year old was distraught.

‘If I can’t put it under my pillow, how will the Tooth Fairy know that I’ve lost it?’ he wailed.

‘How about we write her a letter?’

So we did. We told you exactly what happened, we gave you an address and a description of the pitch as well as coordinates of the incident so you could retrieve the tooth. We put that letter under his pillow and crossed our fingers.

My kids go to bed all excited at the promise of you, mythical creature, visiting at night to collect the prized tooth (or letter of explanation) and leaving, as a reward for this amazing feat of nature, monetary compensation.

I’m not sure if you are just too busy, too tired or have a glass of wine and just forget, but there have been too many instances of a child running into my bedroom at 6am with the tooth in hand and a trembling lower lip, crying that you didn’t come. Do you know how heart-breaking that is? Do you know how terrible that makes me feel? This is a parenting fail that is much, much worse than ‘incomplete baby book’ or ‘Happy Meal for lunch’.

I then have to make up all kinds of excuses for your incompetence. The one I end up having to use most often is that you were a bit clumsy and the money must have fallen behind the bed. I ask the child to wait in my room while I investigate. And sure enough, there it is, a gold coin (or note depending on the guilt factor) under the blanket, on the floor or sometimes tucked inside the pillowcase.

There is still a minor problem. I present the money (my money) to the child and explain the situation. But a 7 year old understands the concept of a fair deal.

‘Why didn’t she take the tooth?’

This is how one little lie can lead to another. And I blame you for it, Miss Fairy.

‘Maybe she had enough teeth this week. Maybe she wanted you to keep it because it’s so beautiful. Maybe she will come back for it tomorrow.’

We’re keeping up our end of this contract. You, however, are falling short, and I am sick and tired of cleaning up your mess.

I recommend a performance improvement plan. Otherwise you may be relegated to the ranks of ‘Mythical Creatures We No Longer Believe In’ like Santa Claus.

Oh, and you owe me lots of tooth money, with interest. I’ll be in touch.

©2017 Seetha Dodd

All the world’s a music video


The other day I heard a radio presenter say it’s a shame that life doesn’t come with a soundtrack. This perplexed me on so many levels. Especially as it came from someone who chooses and plays music for an audience every day.

What on earth were they talking about? Had they never made a mix tape or had one made for them? Had they never heard a song that transported them back to one sweet memory of their yesteryear? Had they never created a playlist for a single moment of bliss, a week of indulgence, a month of anguish or a year of loneliness? Had they never memorised the lyrics to Girl You Know It’s True because they believed in Milli Vanilli despite those distressing lip-syncing allegations?

Surely everyone has a soundtrack?! Even if you haven’t officially started compiling it, it is there. It exists somewhere in your memory bank. For me, a soundtrack would be made up of 2 types of songs:

  1. The songs of my past – the ones that make me feel nostalgic (these songs don’t change)
  2. The songs of today – the ones I have on repeat now (these songs change regularly until they are worthy of nostalgia and are then elevated to ‘songs of the past’).

The nostalgic ones can be happy or sad. Songs that attach themselves to a memory and hold on so tight that they eventually fuse into one, and you can no longer listen to that song without recalling the memory. Songs that make you stop in your tracks (ooh!) and smile wistfully or wretchedly, depending on whether it is Tone Loc or Sinead O’ Connor and how many tears were shed.

These songs link me back to the girl I was at 8, singing along with my sisters to Bob Marley and Tom Jones on long car journeys with my dad.

They remind me of a 10 year old’s obsession with the ‘American Top 100 Year End Countdown’ on the radio, when I recorded George Michael’s Faith (#1 in 1988) onto a cassette tape to play-pause-play to ensure accurate lyrics for singing into a hairbrush.

These songs are a nod to the romance-angst combo of the teenage years with so much Hootie and the Blowfish and a big, angry dose of Alanis Morrissette.

If Chris Martin wasn’t singing about Gwyneth, perhaps he was singing about music itself, and its power to comfort in Everglow: ‘And you’re with me wherever I go/ And you give me this feeling, this everglow.’ The beauty of recollection is that it allows me to relive the moment whenever I choose. Whilst the memory remains in the past, the song is here in the present moment to serve as a portal through which I can, at anytime, delve into the far recesses of my mind, my soul, and my ‘80s boombox.

I close my eyes, play What’s New, Pussycat and it is 1990. I am in my dad’s car, looking out of the window, thinking about what awaits me when I get home: homework, my grandma’s chicken curry and my mother’s smile. And then in an instant, it is 1998. I am at university, dancing to No Diggity and drinking Snakebite & Blacks.  Blink again and it is 2007. I am on holiday in Australia, hearing Ben Lee’s Catch My Disease for the first time with the summer breeze messing up my hair, ‘and that’s the way I like it.’

What about the songs of today? These are the ones that enhance the present. They make you smile, laugh, cry, dance, unwind. They pump you up before a big moment or just keep you company with a glass of Red Red Wine.

I have many, many playlists on Google Play. They range from ‘Mellow’ and ‘Zen’ to ‘Dance’ and ‘Dance!’ A subtle difference for the level of body rolls required. There is one for my kids’ favourite tunes including Gangnam Style (the 3 year old randomly shouts out ‘Hey sexy lay-deh!’ in public), and one called ‘Karaoke’ for the hairbrush/ in-shower rehearsals which end in rapturous applause and certainly no booing from the entranced audience of…myself.

There are songs for the drive in to work, songs for a bus ride, songs before a dance class, songs for dancing in the kitchen with a wooden spoon. There are even songs to strut down the street to in the style of a Coldplay music video.

So if life doesn’t come with a soundtrack, perhaps it’s because you are the DJ, the curator, the director and the lead singer.

What’s on your soundtrack?

©2017 Seetha Dodd