Sunday, June 28, 2009

The elipses of life...

So, i touched on this topic briefly in yesterday's post, but wanted to probe it more closely today...

Soon i'll be applying to undertake a Tafe course that i actually applied for twenty years ago (it's probably not EXACTLY) the same course, but very similar, on the same career path. I didn't get into the course twenty years ago because i was overseas at the time of applicant interviews. I guessits been playing on my mind how not getting into that course two decades ago changed the trajectory of my life, and how a multitude of moments like that are constantly changing our lives...

I'm not a fatalist, but i believe in grand designs, all the same. Many eliptical grand designs that propel us through our lives in accordance with the uncountable decisions we make every day.

I wonder, though, when my life takes a turn like this (wherein i seem to have come full circle over a twenty year cycle) at the importance of this choice in my life?

I have an old friend, we were once good frinds but time an geographical distance have made us distant observers of one anothers lives, who is now leading the life i'd planned for myself some 21 years ago. Back then this same friend would have sworn up and down that the life she has now was not for her. She has followed in her parents footsteps, which was very much expected of her (as it was of all of us in that community a lifetime ago), but back then she was adamantly against then idea of becoming what her parents had become, whereas i was enamoured by the idea and had my life mapped out for that vocation.

Then events intervened to completely throw me off that trajectory and onto one where i would travel to the other side of the globe and become a childcare worker - or so i thought...

Life is just never that simple!

I didn't get into the childcare course, and my life took yet another turn, a turn that resulted in meeting Dave and having four children, and studying, and meeting and befriending some amazing people!

Now, the life i would have chosen to decades or more ago seems like and alien reality that i could no more live in than the depths of the ocean...

But still, here i am returned to a place so similar to one i found myself in twenty years ago, and yet so very, very altered. I sense there is something to be aware of now, but i'm not entirely sure what it is, time will tell, i'm sure of that...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

So ,uch going on, I´ll try to order my thoughts under subheadings...

Big week

As the sub heading suggests, it´s been a big week. The last week of June always heralds in the birthday season in our family. First there´s Luey on June 25th, then Erik on july 6th, then my dad on August 4th, then Bryn and my mum both on August 16th, then my brother on September 24th and now Ari on October 27th...

Erik and Luey traditionally have a joint birthday because many of their friends knows each other and so it´s always more fun to bring everyone together at once. This year was extra special as the boys FINALLY got to go to Dark Zone! They´ve been wanting to have a party there for two and half years, since Erik was first invited to another friends party there, but as the lower age limit is 8 years, we had to wait for Luey to turn eight. The excitement has been building all year! I woke this morning with the usual nerves. I´m not great with parties, I worry too much about everyone having a good time and such like. One of Erik´s intivtees wasn´t able to make it and I was stressed that that might somehow throw out the balance and ruin the party for Erik... LOL, of course, I was worrried about nothing. Everyone seemed to have a great time, and the boys certainly had a fantastic time, and basically it was a huge success!

I´m so glad that´s over for another year, LOL...

More Party plans...

I´m already thinking about Bryn party in August. I know where I´m going to have it, and pretty much who we´re inviting, now I just need to book it and organise invites (and not leave it until the very last moment the way I did with the boys). Will probbly go for the 15th of Augast, as that is a Saturday. It'll be a bowling party at a local bowling alley (not one of those big chain ones I once worked for, LOL)...

Last night Ari's 1st birthday time and theme came to me and I'm quite excited about it! I'm going to have his 1st birthday on October 31st and have a Beltaine theme with a maypole - so put that in your diary folks!!! Hopefully the weather will be warming up just nicely by then, and about five years ago some friends and I had a Beltaine get together here with a Maypole, and it was fabulous!!! I love Beltaine!

Bronchitiseseses...

We;ve all been sick this last week with Bronchitis. Dave and the boys are all slowly working through prescriptions for antibiotics, but I've taken so many ABs this year already I'm trying to get by without them, dozing up on olive leaf extract and panadeine and sudafed instead, it's mostly working though this afternoon I'm feeling a bit like I'm dragging myself around, and this morning I was in Spotlight trying to source darning needles and ended up coming out of the shop completely empty handed after spending 40 minutes marvelling over merino yarns and not being able to think clearly enough to make a bloody decision about what to get, rofl...

Holidays, or not...

School holidays are here, but of course we've all been home all week (except Erik on Friday when he insisted on going to school)... As as far as holidaying goes, I still have far too much work to do to consider lounging around like some lady of luxury reading books or painting my toenails (though those things might appeal)...

I've basically got to write a minimum of 2500 every day between now and July 10th, so that my first draft is ready when I take it to Adelaide. Other than that we have no real plans for the holidays which suits me to the ground. I might be going out on Wednesday, and maybe catching up with some friends next Sunday, and maybe some other friends at some point, maybe... But nothing set in stone.

Adelaide...

I can't WAIT to get back to the Barossa!!! Visiting mum has become one of the highlights of my calendar and I'm very excited to see the newest developments with the back yard, and to ride in the new car, and maybe get out to Maggies for a picnic lunch, YUM!!! At the same time, I HAVE to have my work done BEFORE then and "then" is only 13 days away, ARGH!

Studies...

LOL, tricked ya! Bet you thought I'd already writen about my studies, but no... I found out a couple of weeks ago that my Uni has just gotten clearance to run a PhD in Creative Writing probably from about midway through next year. I'm completely geared up to get into that degree and finally, FINALLY get my doctorate, whoo hoo! It's a major life goal!

I said about one or two weeks ago that this was part of my five year plan, to get work as a tutor and later a lecturer at a Uni so we can finally afford to buy our own house.

Well, I've been thinking about it some more, and really I need to think about working well before then. I need to start work some time next year. Teaching at a Tafe doesn't appeal, but my only in class teaching qualification is at a tertiary level... Then someone gave me the idea of doing a short course at Tafe to become a Kinder teachers assistant. In many ways that kind of job would suit me to a tea. I already have qualification in that general area, and an interest, and the hours would suit me well with young kids, and not wanting full time, 9-5 work... So, the plan is for a friend and I to do this course together (I'm only not saying who in case she doesn't want it broadcast)... The course is six months long at my local Tafe, hopefully only three full days a week, so Dave can have the boys... At the end of the course I could get a job at the local kinders or creches, of which there are quite a number locally! The huge irony here is that twenty years ago, I'd just decided to move to Australia, and my Nanna put in an application for me to do a childcare course at a local Tafe then, the only reason I didn't get into the courtse was because I wasn't in the country in November that year for the in person interviews... Here I am a full 20 years later applying to do the same course, having done a degree, post grad diploma and almost two Masters degrees in between, LOLOLOLOL,,,

Noise...

There is so much noise in this house atm. Six people, even when they're being quiet, make an extraordinary amount of noise. Just breathing, my decibel app on my phone reads 47 decibels! But when you add to that the noise of a heater fan dying a long, slow, metal grinding on metal kind of death, the decibel reader bounces right up to about 75 decibels! Is it any wonder that my head is constantly pounding and panadeine has become all but a dietary supplement to me these days... The heater people assure us they're coming over on Tuesday to have a look at the heater - I hope they do more than just look at it...

And now, my baby is awake and wants a huggle, so more later...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

More fun with the crop n frame app

Loving my iPhone!



And yes, my boy too!

Happy 8th Birthday Lulu Blue!!!



LOL, there's that familiar feeling again... Where did the time go? Eight years, it's not a long time, but it's such a long time, all the same!!! Luey is a beautiful kid! He's never been much of a worry to us, except when he had severe reflux teamed with colic in those very early months, but we did eventually get through that. He's a boy who feels things very intensely, but is not at all overt with it. As a baby, once we dealt with the pain of the reflux, he smiled and smiled and smiled. We used to call him Miles of Smiles because of that. But he is truly a boy of balance, and to balance out all that smiling, he sometimes went to some very dark places and sometimes needs help to unfurl himself.

He's stubborn as the day is long, but endearing with it.

He's at once completely self-oriented and completely empathetic. In particular they adoration he shows for Ari reveals how absolutely GIANT his golden heart is.

Golden, yes, that describes Luey well. His hair is golden, but the quality doesn't just end at his roots, it sinks deep into his soul, that golden hue that is warm and shiny and at the same time, sometimes so precious that it seems untouchable.

People love Luey. He's somewhat of a teachers pet, and very popular in his class. I think this is because he's very approachable and easy going with outsiders - I say outsiders because he saves all his deeper feelings for his nearest and dearest and reveals his soft underbelly with us because we are his safe place.

It has taken 8 years to learn this much about Luey, and I'm sure we've just bearly scratched the surface of what there is to know about him. We are so blessed to have Luey in our family, to have the opportunity to get to know the person he is under the smiling golden exterior!

It only took 30 minutes to birth you, Lulu, but it'll take a lifetime to unfurl you!

Happy 8th Birthday!!! Little Matey!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I would never wish giftedness on my kids...

I have to say, just recently, I've been seeing so many references to "the smartest toddler in the world" and "how to switch on your child's potential genius"... And then there is all the talk about "Early Literacy" and "getting in while kids are still in that sponge phase of develop"...

What is the obsession with early high achievement and giftedness in children?

Do people honestly think gifted children will be more succcessful or more happy in life?

The smartest toddler in the world is a two year old with an IQ of 157 who can tell you the capital cities of 35 countries and count to 20 in spanish (as well as English, I'm guessing)... Her IQ was compared to Einsteins, which was 160, even though the IQ of a two year old cannot possibly be compared to the IQ of a grownup. And, what exactly is the point of testing a two years olds IQ? Does it benefit the two year old at all? Or is it just for spectator amusement?

Does being gifted make life easier?

Mostly, I don't think it does. Gifted children are curiosities to adults, they're like new toys that adults want to "test out" or even compare themselves to. They often ridiculed or resented. They struggle to be taken seriously by most people outside their immediate family, to have their needs met - both academic AND emotional needs. They're constantly involuntarily put "on the spot"... Some parents do their bright and gifted children a MASSIVE disservice by constantly pointing out to other people who bright and gifted their child is. This has the unfortunate side effect of not allowing the children to be known for themselves, but rather for what they CAN DO.

Who a child is, is not the same as what a child can do. So many gifted children are only ever known for what their latest "amazing trick" is because it seems to be what many parents fall into the trap of focusing on - or at least what they seem to believe other people want to know...

And I can tell you, from personal experience, that not processing information the same way as "normal people" is a very isolating thing. It is very hard to get people to relate to you when you are not doing or thinking what they are doing or thinking at the same stage as everyone else. When the way you think differentiates you from other people, this massive gulf opens up and makes relating to other people very, very difficult.

Some bright and gifted children have a lot of charm that closes the gulf, but many don't have that (as with the wider population, charisma isn't something everyone is born with), and then, if you've grown up being known as "the world smartest toddler", it's very hard to overcome other people's expectations that you are going to be impressive...

Grasping concepts intuitively, easily and very early in life is great, but when that become "who you are" to other people, it can be a massive social handicap. I just don't get why anyone would wish that on their child...

Monday, June 22, 2009

NOT a homemaker, NOT a career woman...

This article might suggest that's makes me "adaptive", but that's not really true either... Just like the stereotyped housewife referred to in the article, I could quite happily NEVER go out into the workforce...

Ideally, I'd like to be able to continue to study and write, and be paid handsomely for doing both, but not to anyone's schedule but my own...

I LOVE having a house that runs smoothly, but not because I have a strong desire to be a homemaker, and to show my love for my family through caring for them. Don't get me wrong, I adore my family. I'd be completely devastated if I lost any one of them. Honestly though, I don't have the patience to sit and do crafty stuff with the kids. I prefer to wait until they're in bed to do baking, and as far as I'm concerned there isn't a thing in this house that I can do that Dave can't or shouldn't do as well, and quite frankly, if I had a choice, I'd prefer HE did most of it (though, reality never quite lives up to fantasy, he does do more than a lot of guys I know)...

I do get some pride from making the house run efficiently, because I like to think of myself as fairly smart, and getting things done in the quickest, easiest way possible is smart. But I'd feel the same way about anything, not just the running of this household, and if someone else offered to take over the management of this house and did it as well as I do it, I'd GLEEFULLY hand it over...

At the same time, I just don't WANT to work. I don't want to have to commit to ANYTHING for any amount of time, and work, whatever form it takes (as an employee, or employer or self-employed) requires committment, something that I tend to end up resenting because I have such a short attention span.

I guess I just want to be a lady of leisure, an artist, a student. I might like to work on "projects" because they suggest an endpoint, an end to committment... I don't think I'm lazy, per se. When I sets my sights on something I tend to work full bore at it (then collapse in a heap at the end)... I'm intelligent, determined, focused and damn well organised when I have a focus that drives me, but my focus is that of a sprinter, not a marathon runner, and I think that's the problem with these aforementioned labels...

The career woman commits to a career. The home maker commits to the making of a home. The adaptable woman commits to doing whatever needs to be done at the time, be it hand raising small people, or earning money for the household... I don't fit into these categories because I lack committment to anything in particular...

But, yk, I can't see that as a bad thing, because despite my general lack of committment, I'm here for my kids, I'm here for my partner, I do earn money, and I guess I'm on a kind of career path, and I'm doing all of this without the framework of a label...

How to keep a 10 year old quiet...

Thanks for that Mongoose!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Amazing Arius Darius...



Just have to love on my boy a bit - virtually speaking...

The boy has a cold, a chesty cough with it, and has been running a temperature on and off for the past three days - overnight, he was quite feverish...

And yet, and yet!

Yet, he giggles and laughs and screeches at his brothers' antics. In fact, around this time of day (between about 4.30 and 6.30pm) is getting to be known as Schreech-o'clock, because he loves to belt out high pitched screeches...

Some days he's so content, like today, he's sat and played on his mat for hours and hours! He's had feeds, and a sleep, but has just amused himself for ages and ages and ages! I guess with the other three at home there is always something to see and someone to talk to. I've been pretty busy with other things, and don't wear him anymore (though I do still hold him a lot) because the strain on my neck (even with the best of the best slings, carriers etc.) gives me terrible headaches.

I've long thought that Bryn was my most content, easy going baby, but I have to say, Ari seems to be matching Bryn, even though Ari has a very different base personality (from what I've sensed from him, he's more sharp and zingy than our Buddha boy who has always felt very soft and round and mellow-lala.

Ari is easy to appreciate though! Mellow is not a word I'd use to describe him, but he's very self-contained, scrutinising, and devoted to his family! He's open to strangers, but on his terms only, some he's very happy with, but others (he'll give me this look like, "You've got 10 seconds to get me away from this person, or YOU'LL BE SORRY!")...

He certainly is a dark horse...

Continuing the Weekend of Work theme...

Today's to dos:

  • Fold and put away 5+ loads of washing... this job was the biggest and most tiring of them all. It feels good to have all the laundry bins empty though!
  • Sort out boys toys in big boys room so Bryn can finally access the room freely. I should say, this job is MOSTLY done, because we've discovered we could really do with another set of drawers because of the boys ever expanding lego collection - will post pics when second set of drawers is up and running.
  • Swap out Bryn's books from bedroom and loungeroom so he can browse "new" books. Bryn could really do with some ACTUAL new books, wish there was a second hand book shop with kids books around here...
  • Hand over eliptical. And got rid of the Bumbo and tray as well - BONUS (Dave was really sick of tripping over the thing...)
  • Dishes
  • Vaccum throughout
  • Bake cupcakes

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ah, that feels better...

Ok, so here is my update from today's to do list...

This became...

this.

This became...

this.

The baskets on top of the shelves contain, respectively (left) nappies and wipe for boys, and (right) hats and gloves for all the kids. And below you can see how I've organised the contents of the cupboard - car seats on top, Erik and Luey's school bags bottom left and Bryn's bag, boots and gloves, bottom right.


The messy changetable in the bedroom...
gone!!!


Still have the boys lego to stow away...

in these drawers - except they'll be divvied up and put on top of the shelves so Bryn can't access them... Will show you the end result tomorrow...

Today's To Dos...

Ok, as Dave said to me the other day.. In the last 9 months, we've

  • Had a baby
  • Dealt with my gallbladder attacks, operation and adhesions
  • Dealt with FIL being very sick, MIL needing extra support to care for him
  • Dealth with Dave losing his job
  • Dealt with FIL dying and the funeral

So, can we have a break now??? Can life just run a bit smoothly for a little while? Can we try to rediscover a bit of boring old, NORMALCY???

Trying to put all of that behind us - and making the house run a little smoother so I can finish this degree this year... I'm referring back to my tried and trusted "grounding" exercise of SORTING THIS HOUSE OUT!

I always feel so much more centered when everything has a place and is in that place!

So this weekend will be about sorting the house out so it runs more smoothly. To that end, we're going to...

  • Do a general tidy
  • Move the old cabinet into the hallway, where it'll now be used to store car seats and school bags.
  • Move the hall table back to my study corner and put the laptop back on it, so I can type at a reasonable height without having to crouch over the bloody thing...
  • Move the changetable into the loungeroom and convert it to a printer and book stand
  • Take two of the baskets from the change table and put them on top of the old tv cabinet in the hallway; one for Bryn and Ari's nappy needs and the other for the hats and gloves that always fall out of the shoe stand and end up all over the hall way.
  • Sort out the toys in the boys room so the lego is out of reach of Bryn
  • Get the Thunderbird stuff out for Bryn, and maybe some other stuff the boys have in their room that they don't play with anymore.
  • Get some new toys out of the garage for Ari
  • Get some winter clothes out of the garage for Bryn
  • Put a bunch of boxes INTO the garage
  • Hand over the eliptical trainer to Shae
  • Microsort the clutter in the kitchen display cabinet (that's really beginning to shit me!)
Ok, off to take some before pics, so I have some comparison to show off later (mostly for my own sense of satisfaction...)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Laws of physics need not apply...

Time is doing weird stuff again. Time has a mind of it own, don't you think? We humans tend to think of it as linear, but there is no REAL evidence that it is linear, and for me atm, it certainly doesn't feel that it is.

On the one hand it's speeding by, my goodness it's nearly June 19th already. Luey's birthday is 6 days away, haven't even THOUGHT about his present (though, I'm sure he has, not that he's said anything to us - I need to take him aside and ask him when Erik isn't around to sidetrack the discussion). Then Erik is 11 days after Luey. Their combined party will be two days after Luey's birthday (last year it was on E's birthday). That'll account for the first weekend of the holidays. Going to Adelaide with Luey will take up the entire last weekend of the holidays.

Of course, while in Adelaide, i'm supposed to be discussing the first draft of my novel which I'm a long way off completing as off tonight - the looming (well, actually overdue) deadline probably has SOMETHING to do with my sense of time speeding along at warp nine...

And yet, I feel like I'm floating through space where time stands still or becomes irrelevant.

I have to get a grip though, because a few things (besides my novel) aren't getting done, that should be getting done, like

~ posting back public system referral for my eye operation

~ posting Bryn's kinder application

~ the washing! (Mt Washmore is rising!)

~ organising boys toys so that Bryn can't access special Lego but can access more interesting bigger (than he was6 months ago) boy stuff...

~ locate toys for Ari boy from garage

~ store eliptical unless interested parties want to pick it up soon

oh, and...

~ write that bloody first draft...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Feeling slighly vindicated...

Erik brought home an article from the Herald Sun, June 7th this year about friendship. It was part of a homework assignment (that had to be handed in this morning. Do these teachers NOT realise there is life beyond the school yard?)... The assignment was to have a parent discuss friendship with the child. We were to discuss what made a good friend, and how we were good friends to our friends (roflmao, I LOA'd that one), as well as what skills were useful in managing friendship.

The article that accompanied the assignment was interesting... Michael Grose from Parenting Ideas had written an article on friendship. He listed the common skills of those children who found it easier to make friends, while distinguishing between popularity and friendship (saying that popular kids are often good looking, talented etc. but that these children don't necessarily have a lot actual friends. Fans don't equal friends). He went on to say that in "the olden days" children used to learn the skills of friendship through interacting with siblings, and older and younger people, but that now-a-days, there was a leaning towards a parenting style which put the rights of the individual before the harmony of the group. He drew a link between smaller families sizes and children not being made to share. He also suggested that children these days are not "made" to get along and figure things out, suggesting that instead parents and other adults would step in and sort out for the child.

Anyway, I couldn't help reading the article and feeling slightly vindicated in my belief that having all my kids share a room, even when they might not WANT to, and having them share toys, even if they wanted "their own" which no one else could have, was not actually MEAN. In fact, it seems I could be teaching my kids the very skills they will need to be able to make and maintain friendships.

Something else occurred to me... Perhaps, if my kids have difficulty making friends, it's not actually because THEY lack skills, but because so many OTHER KIDS lacks skills and aren't able to be considerate of others, or share, or be a good listener, or have decent communications skills. Perhaps the other kids have become the self-centred and unhappy kids Michael Grose seemed to think parents needed to be a lot more conscious of avoiding these days...

Monday, June 15, 2009

An oldie, but a goodie...



Just wanting to revive my old toy whinge...

Dave and I have such very different ideas about toys, and the use of toys... Previously, I've lamented Dave's need for the boys to build their lego models according to the instructions in the pack then set them up on a high shelf (so small kids can't reach them and wreck them) and LEAVE them there to collect dust for all eternity. Better still, he insists the boys keep the original box AND the instructions, so he can "refer back to them in future if we need to"...

Argh!

The way I see things, toys are for PLAYING WITH not LOOKING AT.

Dave has this morbid fear of the boys toys being broken, or scratched, or misplaced, or anything that prevents them maintaining their "as new" condition.

This morning, I allowed Bryn to have one of the Erik and Luey's Thunderbirds ships. It is from a set we bought for E and L for their 6th and 4th birthday (they often get shared presents because their birthdays are 11 days apart). In all honesty, the big boys have played with this set maybe 1/2 dozen times, but then it's been put away on top of a cupboard because Dave felt their were too rough with it (because they swooshed the ships around in the air!)...

The set cost something like $120, so Dave has deemed it irreplaceable - which is fine, because it is, we couldn't afford to replace it if it was broken or lost. The problem is that we spend a decent amount of money on these toys then Dave won't let the boys play with them because they might break them...

I see two problems with this way of thinking...

1. The toys are designed to be played with by children, they're pretty hardy, they're NOT collectors items.

2. If the kids aren't allowed to play with the toys until they are "responsible enough" (by which time they mostly lose interest, anyway), what's the point of spending the money in the first place???

How to deal with this? Well, at the moment I'm going with the bulldozer approach because I've repeatedly tried the softly, softly approach to no avail. I'm getting some big clear tubs for the boys to store their lego sets in, so no longer displaying them on top of their shelves. The old boxes are going to be binned! If DAVE wants to COLLECT lego as a collector's item, he is more than welcome to spend his money on doing that for HIMSELF.

Bryn will be allowed to play with Tracy Island and all the Thunderbird stuff. I will supervise him (not too closely) and encourage him (as I always do anyway), to be respectful with his toys. If they do get broken though, at least they got used!

I don't know WHO Dave is saving the toys for. His parents kept his toys after he outgrew them (as pictured above). The toys are still in the house, sometimes Erik and Luey get to play with them, mostly they just sit in boxes, unused, it's such a shame, and imo a WASTE!

The five year plan...

Amongst my friends, I've been a bit of an odd-bod (yes, I realise I wrote a post only a few days ago which seemed to suggest I didn't have any friends, but that wasn't what I was saying, in fact, so far I only know of ONE person who actually understood what it was I was trying to say in that post...)...

This time, I've been odd because I've never been interested in owning our own home. In fact, the very idea of getting a mortgage and being all grown up and responsible has made me want to run for the hills! I've enjoyed the financial freedom of being a renter. Sure I'm paying someone else's mortgage, but let's just call that my good deed of the year, ok?

Anyway, in recent months the worm has been wriggling and slowly but surely, starting to turn. And now, finally, I'm ready to admit that I'm tired of renting, and anxious for us to get into our own place.

Not unlike my usual style, my timing for deciding I want to be tied to a mortgage, could almost not be worse. We are now a double Centrelink dependant household. With Dave having been retrenched in April, and being the magical 50 years of age (by magical, I'm referring to that fact that he is now eligible for a range of "seniors" services, because he's apparently "senior"), Dave is now in a position of facing long term unemployment. He's trained in a very youth oriented industry... Uncharacteristically, for him, he has a lot of faith in his ability to gain employment again, but I'm not so sure...

Today we were talking about it and he said that if worst came to worst, he could always train to become a Tafe teacher (his idea of utter HELL! LOL)... But I've been thinking along other lines...

So, my five year plan goes something like this...

Finish my Master of Arts (Creative Writing) by the end of this year.
Enrol in a Writing PhD next year - I have an excellent lead, I just need to show that I can do it!
Contact my local Uni which has a range of writing degrees and see if I can get casual work tutoring, and then try to work my way up to lecturing.

Dave can study/work around me and have Ari while I work. Bryn will be at Kinder next year (hopefully, assuming he gets a placement), and at school the next year.

Aim to put together a solid deposit (because Dave's age might be against us)... Get into our own house by the time Ari starts school... By which time, I might even be Dr Sif Dal... Doc to you! Roflmao!

Those are the broad strokes of the plan, anyway...

Friday, June 12, 2009

When in doubt... Shoot for the stars!

I'm stumbling along here... I've been wading through a bit of a quagmire of late, and wondering if I can actually reach my goals, or if I'm just setting myself up for failure - LOL, labour is not the only place where you find transition and all the anxiety and self-doubt and fear that often wells up then - then today I hear some news...

Yes, I'm being a bit vague, mostly because I don't want to pre-empt myself, but suddenly one of my life goals looks like it's developed a door with a big, friendly looking WELCOME mat on it! There is a bit of hard work ahead of me, but the tunnel is in sight, and at the end of the tunnel there is a light, I just *know* it! Just this morning I couldn't even see the tunnel!

I'm excited! I've just gulped down a HUGE spoonful of ambition and I'm raring to go! Whoo hoo!

Our wonderful big boys...

Partnership meetings this morning...

Erik was up first. During the partnership meeting the child goes through their collected portfolio from the first half of the year. The portfolio contains the best samples of exercises and activities done during class time, and from these the child chooses three to present to their parents, explaining what the exercise or activity was, showing what they learned or chose to focus on in the exercise or activity and discussing why they chose to show the parents these three pieces.

The first thing I have to say about Erik's folder was that it was a visual DELIGHT!!! That child put so much effort into the presentation of his work, it really impressed me! He has such a natural sense of balance and visual effect. He'd laid all his work out clearly and in a way that drew attention to the most important stuff first and allowed for an easy flow through the work or around the page - I think this has to be something he has in common with his father. I love to make things pretty, but Dave has a great sense of flow and order and visual effect.

From the way Ms A was talking about Erik both in front of him and once he was out of earshot, we'd have never known she ever had any issues with him, except for the letter she sent us. Turns out she sent the letter last week and Erik didn't mention it to us. Because we were distracted, we didn't see it until Wednesday. Dave had spoken to a teacher who was standing in for Ms A yesterday about his father being on his deathbed and that that might be affecting Erik's behaviour negatively, so Ms A was bending over backwards (and almost twisting herself into a pretzel) to *understand* that Erik might be upset atm... I made a point though of saying that from the middle of the year each year, he has previous lost some of his focus, and that we'd talked to him about how it is very sad that Pa has died and we understand that might make it hard for him to focus, but that Pa dying couldn't be an excuse for mucking either. I did mention to her that Erik doesn't feel like he has any friends in class right now, and that his one good friend wasn't talking to him atm, so that might also be affecting his behaviour. She made all the right noises of concern of that at well...

I also brought up the fact that the kids seem to be let out late very often, for which she apologised profusely and said that if I needed to leave on the bell, I should definitely feel welcome to just pull him out and leave if they were dragging their feet... Apparently, she reckons she is just slack and forgets to tell them stuff etc. until the bell actually goes, and that that is what holds them up...

So, yeah, apparently Erik is doing really well other than having been a bit more distractable than normal (for him) in the past couple of weeks...

Luey was next focused on his maths stuff - apparently he is an excellent maths student. When asked what he might want to improve in the final half of the year, he said his maths, LOL... Now, even though his report this week had been GLOWING, his teacher also said he needed to working on his seating choices because he tends to be distractable in class as well. LOL, I think that's just a theme with our kids (I suspect with the majority of kids, tbh)...

Luey presented a poem to us as well, that I just have to share here...

Sun

Hot and sweaty
Sticky and smelly
Can't walk, to tired
I am too tired
Going to fall
Sunning hot.

While we were having the partnership meetings, Luey and then Erik took turns to keep Bryn occupied and quiet in the background by playing games with him on my iPhone. They did really well, and all the boys were on the receiving end of a lot of positive attention!

There was one other family at the school with four boys, and sadly they moved away yesterday. Apparently, it's been decided we're the "new" family with four boys... I hope that is a good thing...

The end...

FIL slipped away peacefully at 12.20pm today with Dave and MIL tending to him.

I can't believe this day has come and gone already.

The boys have had mixed responses to the news of their Pa dying. Erik is sad, but has taken it relatively well. More than the others, I think he's been preparing for today for the past week and a half. Sometimes he blows me away with his emotional maturity - he has some, and no mistake, I'm so glad this is one occassion when it's shone through.

Luey has not passed much comment about Pa getting ready to pass on this last week or so. Luey keeps his emotions very much to himself until the pressure builds up and they escape... Today, he barely acknowledged that Pa had passed away when I told the boys before Dave came home at dinner time. When Dave first got in, Luey seemed fine, but as the next hour or so unfolded, Luey seemed to become more and more agitated. He wanted Dave to put a dvd on, rather than watch The Simpsons. We never put a dvd on in the evenings, so weren't prepared to do it tonight either. Luey became very stroppy and sullen and then quite defiant (wouldn't help put away his clothes). Dave and I could see he was hunting for an argument, so Dave took him aside and just hugged him. Luey was pretty upset and Dave had to comfort him for quite a while...

Bryn wasn't really part of my original discussion with the boys about Pa having passed on, so a little while later he asked where Dave was, and I told him Dad was at Nanna and Pa's because Pa had died this afternoon. Bryn asked if we were going to see Nanna and Pa (we visited last Sunday) and I said that Pa was "gone".

"Where has Pa gone?"

"Pa has died, he's not with us anymore, Bryn"

"Where has he gone?"

"Well, he's in our heart and in our minds, in our memories, Bryn, we just can't see or touch him anymore because he's gone"

"But WHERE has he gone?"

Honestly, I was at a loss as to how to answer that question. I considered telling him that different people believe different things about what happens after you die (as we told the boys because we don't want to prescribe a belief for them), but that seemed to be an answer that would only lead to more questions. So instead I said, "He's gone to Heaven." Making a mental note to describe Heaven as "whatever you think it might be" if he asked where Heaven was, or what Heaven was...

At that reply, he nodded seriously, smiled and went off to play.

I don't know if he has a concept of Heaven at all, or where he might have developed a concept of Heaven, but he was satisfied to know that Pa was *somewhere*, not just "gone"...

I'm a firm believer that endings are never just endings, but also beginnings... So today saw the end of what we knew before, and the beginning of something new...

I can still see FIL smiling, and hear him telling stories, so he's not really gone...

Here's how, Keithy boy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I should be going to bed right now...

But I'm terribly churned up.

I'm alone in the house with the boys, which isn't my favourite "status", so to speak, but it can't be helped.

Dave is at his parents place supporting his mum through what will probably be his dad's last night on this earth. For all I know, FIL may not be with us anymore, already - Dave said he wouldn't call until morning because there is no point none of us get any sleep tonight...

It's a bit like waiting for a baby to arrive... The days leading up, you know it's got to happen, and soon, you just don't know when. You have "feelings" about this date or that, and stronger feelings that it might happen at a partcular TIME of day; after sunset, at dawn, but you just don't know... So, you wait.

With birth though, you're waiting to be estatic.

With death, the opposite.

As with birth, this event has also corresponded with another, and no so terrible, but all the same, crisis...

Tonight I baked two dozen cupcakes. That doesn't sound too bad, and it wasn't, but the reason I baked two dozen cupcakes was to avoid one of my sons feeling totally and utterly isolated and rejected by his classmates (the other son is also getting cupcakes, but that's just because the first one is)...

Erik had an incident last week were his class were asked to bring a plate to share, we were told about it last minute, so Dave grabbed a large bun from Baker's Delight. Dave didn't have an opportunity to slice it and present it nicely, but thought the class teacher would see to slicing it. Unfortunately the class teacher was away and the substitute teacher either didn't know where to source a proper knife or had a case of the CBBs... So, Erik bun went unsliced and no one ate any of it (because they could access it easily, I believe). Erik felt they hadn't eaten the bun because they don't like or respect him - he was VERY upset!

So, tonight I baked cupcakes...

But that is not all.

Tonight we received their report cards. Luey's was glowing. According to Luey's teacher, Luey is just the bees knees, bright, witty, and a maths wizz! Yay!

Erik was full of double talk. "Erik has an extraordinary vocabulary when he chooses to use it" - Huh? Where does it go when he's NOT using it? "Erik often chooses to be distracted in class by other children" - didn't realise being distracted was a choice???

And apparently Erik has been exhibiting "very challenging behaviour" this past week and is now at risk of missing out on a special class event because of several incidences of "choosing" poor behaviour, particularly with one other child in the class.

We specifically told Erik's teacher that towards the middle of the school year, his behaviour might start to decline, it has the past two school years, and we SPECIFICALLY told her to inform us IMMEDIATELY if there was a negative change in his behaviour, BEFORE resorting to threats... Obviously, she "chooses" to forget our explicit instructions!

If she'd mentioned this too us earlier, we could have told her that the other child is his ONLY friend in class, and that said friend told Erik this week that he was no longer playing with him, nor was he attending Erik's birthday party. We could ALSO have told the teacher that Erik's Pa is dying and that every single day for the past 10 days, Erik has asked how his Pa is fairing morning and night. Erik has been deeply affected by his Pa's rapid deterioration. We could have also told her that when Erik is anxious (which he has a couple of pretty good reasons for being right now), he tends to act out (most kids DO!), and that making threats only INCREASES his anxiety and his acting out...

Yeah, so tonight I'm feeling wrung out, and unable to sleep...

Tonight my MIL is facing losing the love of her life, her partner of 62 years - my heart is breaking for her!

Tonight my husband is losing his gentle, cheerful, easygoing dad, a man as good as the day is long. It's just too sad...

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Today's thought...

When the pain of anxiety becomes too great
Remember
Perception is everything, and
You are your sole oppressor.

Monday, June 08, 2009

I remembered why I want to write Young Adult fiction...

I spent some time wandering through the young adult fiction section at Borders the other day. Haven't looked in that section in a very long time. It's so funny, there was a time when all I wanted to do was write young adult novels, then I got side tracked. I do have stuff I want to write for grown ups too, but grown ups are such screwed up creatures with preconceptions about just about everything, everything is to be critiqued and analysed and shredded until it no longer resembles what it started out as.

I found this when writing my precise for the birth journey novel I will eventually get down on paper. I just *knew* that no matter what I wrote, what perspective I took, someone would read my novel and go, "It's just not like that, this woman hasn't got a clue..." I didn't want that to be my first novel out, so I'm saving it for when I have one under my belt...

Anyway, back to the young adult section of Borders. The books there were great! So, I dunno, unpretentious, not trying to be sophisticated or artistic or thought provoking, and yet, they can be very thought provoking.

Teenagers and young adults go through a lot, they're expected to go through a lot, but they're not expected to have all the answers or to be self-possessed, or to "know better"... They can just BE what they are, even if they aren't sure what that is yet. Young Adult fiction reflects this.

I have a book I want to buy this week that looked like a lot of fun! I'm actually excited about a novel!

Obviously, LOL, I'm just very immature :D! But SO WHAT? Who cares??? Being mature is WAY overrated, so there! I pity kids who have it all figured out by the time they're 15, in fact, I pity people who have it all figured out AT ALL, how boring for them! How stale! Once you've got it all figured out, there's no going back to the innocence of not having all the answers. Who wants to be a know it all? From what I've observed, know it alls make for lousy companions in life, LOL...

I'm feeling somewhat refreshed by the browse through Borders, and I think I'm going to have to make it a regular port of call during my week to keep the juices flowing!!!

A week or two...

This morning diagnosis from FIL's Dr is that he might last another week or two. Kidney function is minimal. FIL is dying in the way most of us might have thought would be the best way to go, naturally.

I was talking to MIL about it yesterday though. Between us, we are of the opinion that it ISN'T necessarily the best way to go. In fact, there may not be a best way.

FIL is 86, he's lived a long life, and mostly it's been a very peaceful, joyful life. He had a battle with bowel cancer three years ago, but won it. Before that he hadn't had any major illnesses that I'm aware of. So, basically, his body is doing it's natural thing, it's winding down. At first the wind down was slow, but in the past six months it has picked up speed. A bout of shingles gave the wind down a kick up the rear earlier this year.

FIL will get to die peacefully at home, which is a blessing to him.

When we saw him yesterday, I hadn't seen him since his birthday in January. He was drifting in and out of sleep, and only had a very small window of lucidity right at the end of our visit, or so I thought. His eyes were wide open, and I'd brought Ari in to say goodbye as we were about to leave (of course, for Ari and myself it was our last goodbye, but I wasn't dwelling on that at the time). He acknowledged us, so I leaned over the bed and kissed him, and then as I was standing upright again, he asked me to pass him a towel from the other side of the room. I couldn't see a towel, which I thought was just my lack of vision, so I fetched MIL to find it. MIL then ascertained that FIL had thought he was being seen to by one of the visiting nurses, he thought he'd just had a wash down and needed the towel to dry off. Oh dear, he was probably wondering why the nurse kissed him, hahaha!

But anyway, he was so diminished, and it was quite a shock to me. FIL has always been quite the "have-a-chat", and yesterday he was so very, very quiet, and what little he did say was almost completely incomprehensible as he mumbled it.

So, dying naturally, slowly, is no less painful than dying suddenly.

I've been thinking back on my grandad dying a lot these past few weeks. I wasn't there for much of it as I was away studying, but right at the end I went and stayed with the family as we sat by his bed. I was there when he went into a coma and there when he took his last breathe, it was peaceful, but nonetheless painful.

I also remember my uncle Paul dying, on his 26th birthday, in a motorbike accident. The death was sudden, horrific and very much unexpected...

My other grandfather also died suddenly, but it wasn't unexpected, in many ways, that might have been the easiest way of dying I've witnessed, and it still wasn't easy.

I just can't see that there is an easy, painless way to die.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Cool Equity...

Erik (nearly 10) was lamenting to me the other day about how our family just isn't cool. His friends families are cool. His friends parents have travelled to every country on the planet, apparently, and their parents allow them to watch all the Terminator movies and all the Wolvereen movies. Also, the kids with the cool parents buy them Wiis and DS Lites (yeah, saw that coming a mile off)...

I told him that his family was so cool, I mean, after all his mum (me) has lived in the artic circle!

Yeah, but, but, but, the cool families have all this cool stuff. Like Wiis...

Uhuh...

Yes, well, STUFF doesn't make you cool...

I should know, I have an iPhone and I'm STILL NOT cool...

The truth is, either you have it, or you don't, and unfortunately for Erik, we don't...

I explained to him that there are lots of very uncool people, like us, who have lots of cool stuff, and are still not cool, ourselves. We do not hold stakes in Cool Equity. In fact, when we get cool stuff, we DEVALUE the coolness of that stuff, and suddenly it seems a helluva lot less cool, and so then the people who DO have cool equity are forced to go get DIFFERENT stuff to raise the value of that equity again (which they do simply by deeming whatever they buy cool, so the rest of us can be in awe and dream of getting stuff just like them so we too can be cool, which we never actually can be... It's a vicious cycle)...

So, anyway, all this came back to me tonight as I saw people twittering about all this stuff they think is cool that I just don't get, like Wiis (and Pink, and baking, and...). Wiis cost a helluva a lot of money (in my books), and if I'm going to spend a helluva lot of money, I want to get a helluva lot of use out the item I spent the money on. So, if I bought a Wii, I'd want to see it used a LOT. Just like if I bought the boys those DS Lites they so badly lust after. But therein lies the rub... I'm OPPOSED to gaming units that are used a lot because it concerns me particularly when children use them alot. So, I'd buy the things and then be torn because if they weren't used a lot, it'd be a total waste of money, but if they WERE used a lot, I'd worry about my kids sight, and brains, and well, just how unnatural it has to be for children to sit still fidgeting with their fingers for hours while staring at a screen (and don't anybody point out what I do for a living, because that's different, I'm an adult, whose brain is fully grown and on the downward spiral now)...

Anyway, I digress.

The point is, I will never be cool, as much as I love popular culture, there is so much of it - especially the actually cool stuff - that I just don't get (probably because I lack Cool Equity), and if I did get it, and tried to partake of it, it would cease to be cool, anyway...

I understand how Erik feels. I wish I could somehow make it not matter, but being social beings, it kind of does matter to us humans to be cool, even when we claim it doesn't... Even the "alternative types" who eschew popular culture have they own version of Cool Equity, that usually comes with an organic hemp swing tag (and no, I have no Cool Equity with that lot either)... Erik comes for a long line of uncool people, on both sides of the family, and it isn't going to matter if he has the latest "in" thing in his possession because his very DNA will uncool the item at the moment of contact...

It's a hard life...

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Year of Birth Trauma....

Been sitting on this blog for a while because of the inevitable flack it is likely to attract... Though, perhaps not, perhaps it will be so ridiculous people won't bother to waste their time commenting ;)....

Anyway, one particular parenting forum in Australia has dubbed 2009 the "Year of Birth Trauma".

I believe in birth trauma, I believe it is more than just physical trauma, I believe it can be emotional and psychological. I believe it is not widely recognise, and is often dismissed as simply post natal depression, wild post birth hormones, or even "too high expectations"...

I believe because it isn't widely recognised it isn't properly treated and definitely not properly prevented.

There is something else I believe that might not sit well with some people.

I believe that it puts BABIES in danger, real life, not just "one of the sad facts of life" life-threatening danger.

I once heard a woman say she would rather have a dead baby than another baby born in hospital, all because of her birth trauma. She said this in the context of discussing what to do in the event of premature labour (before 35 weeks) when a midwife would usually refuse to attend the birth at home. The women discussing this were all very strong advocates of homebirth over hospital, and all things being even, I would be right there with them hoping all women saw the benefits of having your baby at home...

In this discussion it was widely agreed that a 33 week baby would have a fairly good chance of surviving, albeit with little ability to self regulate temperature and probably a weak suck, but with plenty of kangaroo care the baby would likely be ok.

When that question was put out about a 28 weeks gestated baby, the "better dead than hospitalised with tubes etc." point of view was put forth. If the baby only had a precarious grasp on life, then shouldn't that baby live their short life in the loving arms of their parents, rather than isolated from human touch and subjected to painful procedures, which, even if the child survived, the child would be forever deeply traumatised by...

Part of me wants to embrace this argument, but then I wonder, could it be that this argument better serves the traumatised mother who can't face entering a hospital again, than the baby who's life is at threat.

How many mothers will be more strongly motivated by their birth trauma to avoid a hospital at ANY cost, than to access medical assistance for themself or their baby.?

Atm, the "death is just another part of life" argument is circulating as an explanation for not needing to access medical assistance except to register the death of a child, and yet, that argument seems to go against the survival instinct that has propelled humans to dominance on this planet (whether or not that is a "good" thing)...

I can't help but wonder if this loss of survival instinct isn't the most obvious symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder we have!

Surrealities...

Dave and I were at a cafe the other day. We sat there with brown hair, brown eyed Bryn on one side of the table and red haired (well, it's definitely auburn), light eyed (probably blue/green) Ari on the other side.

Erik and Luey were at school...

I kept having these surreal sensations of time stopping. If you hadn't seen us in seven years, you might have been forgiven for thinking we were sitting there with Erik and Luey... In fact, it occurred to me that we could really mess with the minds of a couple of cafe owners on Swanston in the city by sitting down with Bryn and Ari, 7 years after the last time they saw us when we only had Erik and Luey...

I had this same feeling a couple of months ago when Jayne, Jen and I went and visited Amanda, with Sienna, Archie, and Ari in tow... People who might only have met us at the Richmond playgroup many moons ago, might have wondered about the reality shift if they saw us with only the children we've had in the past 4 years...

Anyway, with Dave being home so much, and it being the four of us at home, it sometimes feels like we've had two families, with two different sets of children, and it's very unnerving! I find myself feeling much calmer once we can get Erik and Luey into the frame as well!

Another surreality is the timing of FIL's passing. At this time, 10 years ago, I was officially "term", that is 37 weeks, and we were waiting for Erik to arrive. So, ok, so he didn't ACTUALLY arrive until he was unceremoniously booted out of my womb, five weeks from now, but nonetheless, 10 years ago, I was convinced he'd arrive on the 10th of June...

Again, the 10th of June is looming, but this time I have feelings about LOSING someone on that date, namely FIL, and I have to wonder if that was what I was tapping into 10 years ago - that that was why the 10th of June was so significant to me... I kind of hope not...

This week's menu plan - for Stitch Sista

Ok, so groceries and all cost $153 this week, and Sitch Sista was interested in knowing how I fed 6 people on that amount for a week... So, here goes... Though, I can't remember what order we had the meals in, LOL, but this is what we had planned... Items with crosses next to them were already in the pantry/fridge...

Saturday: Homemade pizza. Made the dough myself, and didn't need to buy flour, dry yeast, sugar, salt or warm water for that. Toppings were Ham, onions, olives (x), semi dried tomatos (x), mushrooms, tomato paste (x), cheese (x)...

Sunday: Chicken Tikka. Chicken (x), rice (x), Tikka paste

Monday: Rissoles, eggs and baked beans (were supposed to have steamed vegies, but Dave piked)...

Tuesday: Tuna Mornay. Tuna, Mornay sauce in jar, spiral pasta, cheese (x)

Wedsday: Shae's slow cooker meal. potatos, leeks, garlic, carrots, 3 bean mix, chickpeas, bolognese sauce, didn't find any Braggs - soy sauce, rice (x)

Thursday: vegie and bean bolognese. pasta sauce, 3 bean mix, zucchini, carrot, onion, garlic, pasta spirals

Friday: vegie curry. potato, onions, carrots, asparagus, mushrooms, cream, curry powder (x), rice (x)

We mix up the vegie and meat based meals, but also I'm limiting meat, so I was having vegies when the others had rissoles and ham etc...

As well as this, there was cereal and toast for breakfast, the boys school lunches consisting of sandwiches, apples, sultanas and nuts and yogurt (and our lunches at home, which were sandwiches and fruit), and other things such as toiletries, etc... Limiting meat really helps, and our bill is always between $150-200 per week, though, as you can see here, we don't have to buy all the ingredients for every meal each and every week because some can be used over several meals...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

With all the profits they make...

You'd think Telstra could send out a fix-it guy within 5 days to fix a faulty line...

This afternoon our phone line went dead. At first we thought it might have something to do with the works at the end of our road, but no, apparently not. Dave called Telstra from his parents place to find out what the problem was and they confirmed a fault on our line. Aha, good, something they can fix!

Yes, well, they're sending a guy out on TUESDAY next week to fix it. Until then, we have no phone at home. Perhaps Telstra fix-it guys don't work weekends? I would have thought they would, yk, seeing as phones are so integral to everyday living these days...

They're forwarding all incoming calls to our home number to my mobile. I don't know if that means the caller pays mobile rates or regular rates? I would call telstra and ask, but I don't have a working line to call out on.

I could use my mobile, but with just $30 of credit on the mobile, and nothing in the budget for adding more, I don't want to take my chances with their answering "service" a.k.a. "press 1 for such and such and sit on the line for 20 minutes while we scratch our collective arses"...

This means that when I'm out, I can't call home, and Dave can't call me. And I do have to go out in the next 5 days...

Thank goodness we got cable broadband a month ago! Otherwise we'd be completely communications free right now!

Teenagers and the failing parent...