Saturday, October 31, 2009

Beltaine and NO-vember...

So, today we had Ari's first birthday party. It was a very intimate affair because I just wasn't up for the big to-do I had with Brynjar's first birthday (which involved 20 adults and 30 kids!)... As part of his birthday celebration, and in observation of Beltaine (the pagan sabbath of fertility, which is known as May Day - where people dance around the maypole amongst other things), I gave each family that attended a small trinket of four bells tied together with white and red ribbons.

The idea behind the bells was to meditate on them, thinking on the theme of fertility, bringing to fruition, growth and so on, and decide what each family wanted to see GROW in their lives in the coming calender year. Then they were instructed to hang the bells in a place where they would catch the breeze, and every time they tinkled, they would remind the family of what it was they were bringing into fruition, or cultivating this coming year.

Now, serendiptiously, a friend on facebook set a challenge to her friends to figure out what they were going to say NO to in NO-vember, being that November begins tomorrow (I LOVE November, and have always been a little envious of a certain beautiful cousin of mine who is fortunate enough to be born on November 1st. I got married in November (many years ago) and had hoped Ari might hold out until November to be born, LOL)...

So, yeah, I've had to think about two things today - What I want to cultivate in my life this year, and what I want to say no to this coming month!


  1. Finishing my Masters degree (am not finishing it this year, so will be finishing it in 2010, was a hard decision to come to, but it's for the best, I want to submit the best work I can, not the most rushed work I can).
  2. A change for the better in my diet and fitness (yes, I realise that sounds trite, but after this year of ill-health, I know I really need to make a substantial change).
  3. Getting some part time work in the second half of next year so we can put some money behind us.
  4. Saving a decent buffer, possibly moving money so we can live closer to the boys school.

  1. NO procrastination!!!
This means whenever I know I need to be doing something, I'll do it instead of sitting here procrastinating. This will feed into my studies a fair bit, I'd say. It will also feed into my knowing that I need to cut animal products out of my diet (ah, yes, I here my nearest and dearest friends heaving a sigh of "here we go again", sorry, just something I've got to do).

So, here we go, bring on a new day, a new months, and a new year!

Friday, October 30, 2009

A 1st Birthday in pictures

My beautiful Ari's first birthday motivated me to dig out the disks for my Canon, so I could take some (half) decent photos of the lad on this momentus occasion! Some of the photos are a bit dodgy, because, quite frankly, I'm a bit rusty - having only taken photos on the iPhone for the past six months (my BAD!)...

Big One year old boy!

Finishing dinner before the present opening and cake proceedings (loved the light in this pic, so it's just gratuitous eye candy of the Squishous One.

Ooooh, what's this?

Ooooh, aaaaah, ooooh, aaaah!

Another present (and release from the highchair, in prep for reception of major present)...

What every Aussie boy needs...

"Hmmm, Erik, I don't know about this, this feels a bit weird, are you sure it's safe?"

What a second... So, I can't crawl, and I can't walk, but they're happy for me to ride a bike???

Ooooh, looky at the trailer, wonder if I can get my rattle in there as well...

The Biker Grimace - don't mess with the A-man, he's tough, he rides!

Happy Birthday to You!!!

Uuuh, and what esactly am I supposed to do with this?

Oh yeah!!! This stuff is GOOD!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lion Lion Eagle Lion

At 9am on the 27th of October, 2008, Ari Leo rushed into this world. He was little little at just 2.75kg, the smallest (by at least 1.8kg) of my brood. But like so many runts of the litter, he's truly shown himself to be a compact sized power house!

His names Ari and Leo were chosen for their meanings. Ari, in the middle east is referential of Lion, and in Iceland, of Eagle. Leo, of course, refers to Lion, as well. So, either his name means Lion Lion, or Eagle Lion. His name suits him perfectly!

He's well known for his ability to closely observe people. He'll stare at people without smiling for ages and ages, looking right into their very person. Many people have been quite unnerved by this trait of his.He is feisty, determined, and has a very sharp wit. When he smiles, no one can resist him, but he is highly selective about who he smiles at and when. Just because you've teased a smile out of him one day, doesn't mean you'll get one the next, but in the same respect, if he's in the mood, he'll smile at a complete stranger (especially if mumma has just told said stranger he doesn't smile a people he's only just met!).

He is very affectionate and within his family, he is very even handed about his outpouring of affection. He shows equal preference for hanging out with any one of us, even at this young age. He'll snuggle into Luey or Dave, as much as he would with me, often preferring to sit with his dad to go to sleep. He jumps on any opportunity to get into the middle of [gentle] wrestling on the floor with Bryn and Erik. He misses his boys, including Dave, when they're all out on a Tuesday.

He is quite patient, but has a keen radar for when he is being fobbed off and doesn't tolerate any such insult to his intelligence, LOL! He is, at once, a glassy lake and charging horse. Still waters certainly run deep when it comes to Ari, but he is never backward in coming forward when he's made up his mind what he wants.

Ari has slotted into and rounded out our family perfectly. The past 365 days with him have been one blessing on the heels of another.

Ari Leo, the runt of the litter, has the heart of a Lion and the spirit of an Eagle!

Happy 1st Birthday my Squishy boy!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Green Smoothie + preschooler = EPIC WIN!

For a while now, Bryn has been doing that thing that toddlers and preschoolers are prone to do. He's been refusing to eat most foods. Well, most dinner foods that is. He'll eat cereal and toast, and sandwiches, and biscuits and yes, even a token piece of fruit (as long as it's apple), but when it comes to dinner time, he flat out refuses to eat anything that isn't in the food group "fish n chips" or "pizza" (and by pizza, he strictly means ham and pineapple, none of that weird veggie pizza)...

Everything green is EEEEEWWWWW!

Actually, anything resembling a vegetable at all is EEEEWWWWW!

So, a few weeks ago when I decided to try and boost my own nutritional intake by trying out green smoothies, I totally didn't expect Bryn to be even remotely interested.

I made my first green smoothie on a weekend morning, and it consisted of a glass or so of filtered water, banana, apple, baby spinach and agave syrup. Erik and Luey wanted something (afterall it was a SMOOTHIE, how bad could it be - luckily the colour didn't put them off). When Master Bryn realised he might be missing out on something as good as a smoothie (even though it was green), he insisted on a taste too.

Well, whaddya know, he liked it!

And so, every morning now, I make myself a litre of green smoothie to drink throughout the day, and he has half a kids cup of it with a straw (we both discovered the delight of drinking green smoothies with a straw).

This mornings green smoothie consisted of a couple of glasses of filtered water, a banana, some frozen raspberries (a current fave), a heap of silverbeat (Americans call this kale), some agave syrup and a few mint leaves... He's sitting just a couple of metres from me sipping his through a green straw and watching kids tv.

I have to say, this is such a relief to me. I feel like even though he isn't eating dinner, and much of what he will eat is not necessarily highly nutritious (I mean, how nutritious is a lot of grain with dairy and honey chucked in for taste???), that each morning he gets a shot of vitamins, minerals anti-oxidants, and most importantly live enzymes...

Hail the green smoothie!

(for any doubters out there, you can't actually taste the spinach or silverbeat, you just taste the fruit, really)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

7 Key Steps to Resist Manipulation

1) Playing for time
Since you may be in the habit of automatically agreeing to your manipulator's requests or demands- agreeing or saying a knee-jerk yes before you've had time to think about it, you'll need to break this habit. The best way to do this is take an immediate breather after his/her request.

If it's over the phone or in internet messenger, you can excuse yourself for a minute, or tell them you'll call them back in a few minutes. Don't ask permission, inform them that you WILL be taking a brief time away.

If it's face to face, excuse yourself from the scene of interaction for a few minutes. It can be for a toilet break, to get a glass of water, whatever you can think of. Make sure it's AFTER the manipulator has expressed the request but BEFORE you reply.

During that time, breathe deeply and slowly. Calm yourself down and focus on your next move, which is to play for time. 

Once you return to the manipulator, you can use phrases like:
''I need some time to think about it, I'll get back to you ASAP'' 
'' I can't give you an answer right now, but I'll think it over and let you know.''

Again DO NOT ask for permission. It seems polite, but will only keep the manipulator in control. You be pleasant and assertive at the same time. You will probably feel anxious, and maybe even a little fearful the first time you try this, that's normal. With practice it will get easier. Whatever you do, don't let you feelings drive your behaviour. That's what you've been doing all along, that's how you've been manipulated. Carry out the behaviour first, your mind will follow. Fake it 'til you make it!

2) The Broken Record

Naturally, you can expect the manipulator to object to your play for time. After all, you're dealing with a master of pressure and coercion. It's critical you don't become engaged with the manipulator about why you need time, what you're going to think over, and when exactly you will be ready to respond. The manipulator will try to push you into your characteristic compliance, but you now have the tools and foresight to ensure you don't fall for the ploy.

1) Acknowledge that you hear & understand the manipulator by accurately labelling the emotion being expressed
2) Repeat your play for time phrase like a broken record.

That's it! No discussion. If you start talking too much, you may lose control. The key is resistance, not debate or argument. You are absolutely in the right to state that you want to think before you act. Make sure you don't appologise if/when the manipulator gets angry.

You can enlist the help of a friend or therapist to run through some practice scripts with you. Write a script that accurately represents a typical situation in your life where a manipulator tries to pressure you.

3) Desensitising anxiety, fear & guilt

To resist manipulation effectively, you must learn to tolerate some pretty uncomfortable feelings. Until now, the fuse on your negative emotions has been short. The manipulator lights it, and you become anxious, fearful or guilty, the fuse burns down very quickly and triggers capitulation and compliance that fuels the cycle.

The desentisation technique you are about to learn will help you withstand the negative feelings without resorting to old habits of giving into demands.

Anxiety levels are raised by uncertainty. Manipulators do this by making vague & ambiguous references to something that may or may not happen. Fear though, is connected to a specific outcome. Manipulators intimidate by arousing fear. Guiltis the result of feeling excessively responsible for the emotions and experiences of others. If you're vulnerable, guilt trips are a skilled manipulator's specialty. 

When you feel any of these three emotions, your response mechanism is propelled into emergency mode. The manipulator merely hands you the fire hose, and points you in the direction of compliance with his desires. The urgency you feel results from the manipulator's pressure and from your overreaction fo the discomfort that you feel. It doesn't come from the reality that a true state of emergency exists.

You need to alter your reaction to your own negative feelings. The fact is, those above 3 feelings will NOT cause you to self-destruct if you fail to quash them immediately. They will cause you discomfort, but discomfort can be tolerated and withstood. In fact, the more exposure you have to discomfort, the less intense it will be. This is called habituation.

You are training yourself to withstand the discomfort, so you can make positive, healthy changes to your behaviour. Instead of panicking, relabel the discomfort as a necessary and worthwhile price to pay to make constructive changes in your life.

There's another reason to change your panicky, urgent reactions. Urgency can produce a thinking error called emotional reasoning. This happens when you confuse your negative feelings with the thought that something negative is happening/going to happen. Eg just because you are afraid of a manipulator's anger, doesn't mean something dire is really going to happen. Or just because you feel guilty for not following a family member's demand, doesn't necessarily mean that your relationship with that person will be damaged inalterably or that you will lose their love.

Desensitisation works like this:
Currently you cannot feel relaxed at the same time you feel fearful, anxious or guilty. By using behavioural conditioning, you will assume a state of relaxation. With the help of a deep breathing exercise, you will simultaneously recall an actual experience in whichthe manipulator elicited strong negative emotions in you.

Recall 3 vivid examples. Write down a sketch of each, and of your reaction, being as descriptive and detailed as you can. Next, use a cassette recorder to record a tape of your examples by reading your written descriptions. You want to recreate the experience (don't worry, noone else will hear the tape but you.)

Now put he components together. Lay down on a bed or lounge. Have your cassette player and tape you made by your side. Begin by breathing deeply through your nose, wait for a second or two, then exhale through the mouth. Continue slowly and rhythmically. Whilst you're breathing, focus your attention on your limbs, imagine they're growing heavy and sinking into the bed/lounge. After 2-3 minutes of this, you're ready to turn on the tape.

Continue to breathe and relax as you listen to your tape. In your mind's eye, visualise the scene as clearly as you can. Try to maintain as much physiological relaxation as you can while simultaneously visualising the scene. Allow yourself to feel the fear, anxiety and guilt, and be conscious of how you can control the feelings by maintaining your deep breathing and relaxation of your body.

When the first scene ends, turn the tape off and say to yourself ''I may be feeling anxious/afraid/guilty, but I can tollerate it. I am ok.'' Continue with the relaxation exercises. Repeat this for the next two descriptions. Do this at least twice a day for a week or two, and gradually you will feel the intensitity of the feelings lessen and you will be better able to withstand them. 

4) Labeling the Manipulation

Manipulation is like a silent contract between manipulator and victim. But when you reveal the agenda by clearly and directly labeling the manipulation, the power imbalance will realign in your direction.

Describe it out loud. This is like a cross to a vampire. Many manipulators recoil in the face of being busted. Use the ABCD formula, as follows.

Behaviour A: When you do ........
Emotion B: I feel.....
Alternative behaviour C: If you would stop doing A and instead do........
Emotion D: I would feel.......

Eg. When you raise your voice and yell at me, I feel anxious and scared of you. If you'd stop yelling and ask me what you want in a calm way, I'd feel alot more respected and valued.

Again, ask a friend or therapist for help role-playing your resistance. Make sure you use the ''I feel'' statements rather than ''You make me feel'', NVC style. Practice being quietly firm. Yelling is more the manipulator''s style. Stick to the formula, and end it with ''I understand it's your choice to (A) and now you know how I feel when you do it.'' And don't say any more.

5) Disabling the Manipulation

This step holds the key to your freedom. You will tell the manipulator from a place of quiet strength that his tactics will no longer work to accomplish his purposes. Eg ''I understand that you want me to go with you tomorrow, but giving me the silent treatment isn't going to work/help/be effective.'' The best way to practice is to combine steps 4 and 5, like a double punch. You are telling the manipulator you know exactly what he is doing, and how you feel in relation to it. Then you inform the manipulator that you know what he wants from you, and the old tactics will no longer work to coerce your compliance.

6) Setting Your Terms

Establish new personal boundaries, and make your boundaries explicit. 
*Announce your intention to make your own decisions, honouring your needs and interests.
* State how you want to be treated.
* State clear boundaries and limits. Give notice that manipulative tactics are no longer acceptable (eg no more silent treatment, no guilt trips etc.) Don't threaten, just make it clear you won't participate in the silent contract anymore.
* Ask the manipulator to acknowledge that you have your own needs, values and opinions.
* Tell the manipulator that you're hopeful that by setting limits, the overall quality of the relationship will improve for both of you.

Practice again via role play. It's unlikely the manipulator will greet this news with joy, or even cooperation at first, however if you've used some or all of the other resistance tactics he won'be overly surprised. You may feel anxious about making these statements, but don't let that disuade you. You should feel more anxious about losing your values, independence and integrity by allowing yourself to be stifled by a controller.

The manipulator may try his tactics, bu ust revert back to your broken record skills to reiterate your terms. You must face the possibility the manipulator may not wish to continue the relationship under any terms but his own. But even if he expresses willingness to change, it won't happen overnight.

7) Compromising or Negotiating

While there is no room for compromise on the tactics used by the manipulator, if he expresses genuine willingness to change, there can be a healthy give and take on meeting your respective needs and preferences. You can model basic conflict resolution through compromise. Here are some basic steps:

1. Describe the other person''s position in clear terms. Eg ''I understand you prefer...........''
2. Confirm/clarify this with him if necessary.
3. State your position in clear terms. Eg '' I would prefer.......''
4. Allow for and directly answer questions designed to clarify. Address how each of you feels about the alternatives, and the degree of importance on the issue.
5. Suggest compromise. ''Is there a third alternative that might work for both of us? Let's think.''
6. If you can't think of one, try a fair but random choice solution, such as flipping a coin.
7. Or suggest a barter. ''How about we do it your way this time, and my way next time?'' or vice versa.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Crazy garden...

Dave and I are not gardeners, that much is true!

When we moved to this house, we found ourselves a gardner. I like him. Dave is ambiguous; the gardener is a good guy, has four boys like us, but Dave asks him to put the cuttings in a particular place in the yard, and the gardener invariably forgets and puts them elsewhere.

Then there was issue with the ILs. We gave them the details of our gardener and they hired him, but MIL felt he charged too much for what he offered and he didn't garden to her liking - that's what comes of being a keen gardener yourself and no longer being able to cope with the job physically.

Anyway, MIL and the gardener had a falling out and she fired him. We had him come over once more to our place but then a dry winter hit, and what was left of the grass after the scorching summer we had last year, just wasn't growing very fast. He asked us to just call him again when we needed him.

Up until a month ago, there wasn't much work to do, to speak off. The maple had dropped it's leaves, and the wattle had dropped pods (I think it was a wattle, I'm NOT a gardener), but other than that, it was ok... So, we didn't call and then it rained... With the rain came growing, and LOTS of it.

As you can see, the grass is now knee deep! Eeeek! So, I call the gardener this morning, and he said he "might" be able to come over this afternoon, if not it'll have to be next week. So, then, so save whatever little embarrassment that I could, I had to go out and move the outdoor toys to a space in front of the garage, then sweep up as much of the leaves and pods as I could with our kitchen broom, LOL... It was a bit of a workout (my poor unfit bod) but gee the sun was nice!!! So nice to have sunshine again!!!

Ari loved it, and Bryn just loved having us outside with him! Can't wait until Ari can walk around and enjoy the yard some more!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I went to a lovely blessingway today for a third time mum - it's
always so life-affirming to sit in a laughing, chatting circle of
women folk. We joked about the "secret women's business" of tying
ourselves together with red string, and lit candles and talked baby
names (a topic that never loses it's appeal for me!)... I was
just... Nice!

I couldn't help but marvel that just one year ago I passed the 40 week
mark by 1 day... I'd been experiencing a lot of strong Braxton Hicks
contractions for a few weeks already and although my rational mind
told me I would need to be patient a little longer, part of me was
already very impatient to meet the little person growing inside me!

What a gorgeous little person he's proven himself to be!

Blessingways, blessing the way for our little blessings...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hello Cousin!

So, tonight, Dave and I sat down to watch a recorded episode of Who Do You Think YOu Are, which airs on SBS (can't tell you when because we have a season pass on TiVo, so haven't bothered to take notice of when it's actually on)... The last episode was about Ben Mendelsohn, who traced his father's side of the family back to Prussia, and his mother's side of the family back to England. His mother's great-great-great-grandfather was one Andrew John Tempany, who, among other things, built only remaining Regency Theatre in England. He also owned property on in London, that included the Old Curiosity Shop which was immortalised in the Charles Dickens novel by the same name! Andrew Tempany fell on hard times after his wife, Honour, died from cholera, leaving him to care for 4 children. The youngest of those children, Elizabeth came out to Australia at some point, and so did her brothers and sister. One of her brother's, Henry, is Dave's, mother's, mother's, father...

Now, as a point of interest. Henry had several children, including a daughter Florence Ethel, who was known as Ethel. Henry built four houses on Barkly Street in Carlton, which bore the names of his four daughters in their stonework. Ethel had three daughters, one of them (the youngest) is my mother-in-law. The oldest daughter, Margot, had two daughter, who each had two daughters, one of those girls being Tempany Deckert, who was named after her great-grandmother's maiden name, Tempany!

Anyway, as we watched the show, and realised there was a very good chance we were not only watching Ben Mendelsohn ancestral history, but Dave's as well, we just sat there speechless. As soon as the show finished we called MIL who confirmed our suspicions (she didn't know the Mendelsohn link)...

Then she came back with a story of her own... It seems one of the judge on Masterchef, Gary Mehigan, is the son of MIL's cousin, Les, who is the grandson of Henry Tempany, son of Andrew John Tempany...

So, basically, Andrew John Tempany who dabbled in theatre, and built the last remaining Regency Theatre in Britain has at least THREE decendants who went on to either act, or being in television somehow! Not shabby for a man who died alone in a workhouse...

What I want to know is, do these three Aussie actors/personalities know they're related (if distantly)???

No TV for under 2s...

I've seen THIS article being posted on Facebook and various forums this morning, and a lot of discussion eminating from it. The discussion has ranged from "They CAN'T BAN children under two from watching tv!!!" (they're not trying to, dear, these are just guidelines, read the article thoroughly) to "I totally agree, my child isn't allowed to watch tv, ever!"...

My Opinion (it's just an opinion, and as they says, like sphincters, everyone has one)

Parents need to just use some common sense! If the tv is on and no one is actively watching it, turn the bloody thing off. If the child is actively watching tv for hours on end, turn the bloody thing off. If the child watches some tv, but also has plenty of active play time, is able to amuse themself ... Read Morewithout a screen in front of their face, and has an active imagination, you're probably doing ok...


Non-commercial stations and Edumacational television is STILL television.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Where GPs go wrong...

This is copied and pasted from a thread I posted on - so, my apologies for cross-posting...

I took Ari to the doctor's this morning because he developed a temp late last week and has since had cold symptoms (runny nose etc.) which have morphed into a chesty cough. He had bronchitis in July, so I was concerned about that, but also there has been a lot of talk about the rise and rise in whooping cough. My mum contracted whooping cough while caring for me in hospital back in March (Ari didn't catch it even though he went everywhere she went). So, anyway, it's on my mind.

So, I get in there. This is a centre I've been going to for two years, I've seen about four different doctors there, both male and female, all in their 40s or older - the topic of vaccinations has come up with them all at some point and I say we choose not to vaccinate and they make no comment on that.. Today I see a new dr. She is young, maybe late 20s. She's asks what I'm in for. I explain Ari's cough, and say he's had bronchitis earlier this year so I just want to make sure his chest is actually clear. Without saying, "I'm concerned about the possibility of whooping cough" I give her his symptoms over the past week - a textbook first stage symptoms for whooping cough.

She asks if his immunisations are up to date. I say we haven't vaccinated him. She asks if there is a particular reason, I say after my second child developed allergies around the time of his first shots, our paed at the time advised us to postpone further immunisations. She asked which doctor, I gave her a name and an approximate address and told her this was 8 years ago (she obviously looked him up on her database, but couldn't find him). She asked if Ari had any allergies, I said he didn't, and neither did my third son, who also wasn't vaccinated at all, so the theory seemed to have worked in our family. She said allergies don't run in families (hmmm, she didn't say the predisposition to them, however, does)...

She then produces some leaflets, which I told her she might as well keep because I'd already read them from the mchn. She then lists all the illnesses that children are vaccinated for - and ran out of fingers to count them on - and says, "and children DIE from all these illnesse!" (her emphasis on the word die)...

I said I'd personally had measles three times, despite being immunised. She said, "Well, vaccines don't produce 100% coverage, but they provide about 90-95% coverage..." Now, besides that not being the point I was making (my point being I'd had measles three times and not died once), her FACTS weren't accurate. I responded, "Yes, some provide that much coverage, others don't".

She said that if I was concerned about allergic reactions, I could have my children vaccinated in a hospital - which, obiously, may be able to prevent death from an anaphalactic reaction immediately after the shot, but could not prevent other damage that might take longer to show up...

If GPs want to try and convince conscientiously objecting parents to vaccinate, they need to acknowledge that the slight threat of death is obviously not a deterrant for us, so using the D word is not likely to instantly change out minds. They also need to acknowledge that most of us have read up on the vaccines, and the Government's OWN website will tell you many vaccines only have 60-80% coverage rate, so tell us it's much higher only undermines the GP's own credibility.

I was kind of taken aback to be accosted like this after several years of not having to defend my vaccination choice to anyone, but certainly nothing this GP said caused me any kind of pause.

For some reason, it never occurred to her to test Ari for whooping cough, either, despite him not being vaccinated for the deadly childhood illness and show all the early symptoms of it... That said, chest, ears and throat were all clear...

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Hey, Hey, you're just not that funny...

Lots of to-do in the media today about a skit on Red Faces last night. A bunch of doctors rehashing a skit they'd done on Red Faces back in the day when they were just lowly medical students. Despite their apparent intelligence, they exhibited a shocking lack of foresight when they decided to do a skit about the Jackson 5 involving four of the little skitters donning blackface, and one a whiteface (he was depicting Michael in modern times)...

Harry Connick Jnr was on the panel and was not at all impressed by the obvious racism.

Now, the vast majority of voters on a Today Tonight polls (that paragon of virtue) voted that the skit wasn't racist. Many responses to the incident that I've read amongst the Aussie public said this was just typical of "Aussie humour" and that obviously Harry didn't get it because he was American. Fingers have also be pointed at Harry because he himself has worn blackface on a couple of occassion in his past, so obviously he's being completely hypocritical.

Many have said the skit wasn't at all about the colour of the Jackson brother's skin, but rather an exercise in mocking their performace style - their moves...

I didn't see the entire skit - because, let's face it, I LOATHE the show and celebrated when it was shut down. I'm pretty annoyed that it's been resurrected, and OMG, it's not even on a Saturday??? So, I only caught a brief referential clip on one of the news web pages, but it seemed to me that the main focus of the skit was on the juxtaposition of whitefaced Michael singing with his, quite obviously, black brothers. That the man playing Michael's part had to LIGHTEN his face to play a black man...

This isn't racist, or so it seems. It's not about races - as Michael sang...


Well, it's mocking the fact that a good looking black man hated his appearance so much that he undertook several procedures to wipe away the traces of his African American origins. Yes, I know he claimed to suffer from a skin disease that lightened his skin, but even putting that aside, he had his nose narrow, and lips and chin altered, and why? Well, it's widely speculated that he grew up in America during a time of racial turmoil, and he was adored while he was a little dancing black boy, but once he started entering manhood, he started to become what was so often stereotyped as threatening in the US, he was becoming a black man...

So, the skit was in bad taste, because it mocked a man for having major insecurities about his appearance because his appearance represented a race that has long been the victim of racial slurs...

Oh, but hey, that's just Aussie humour, right...

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Hehehe, Why I try not to travel with kids!

Dave just read a very funny column article to me, from The Age, by Catherine Deveny... I had to laugh, because my brother and I were these kids, and yep, I have these memories! I feel kind of sorry for parents who feel they must inflict world travel on their small children for the children's benefit - and inflict their small children on other people in the close confines of airbuses for lengthy overseas flights...

Article here

But for those of you too lazy to click the link...

Kids should not be taken on planes

October 7, 2009

Comments 22

I need to make a public apology. I am deeply sorry for travelling on planes with my children when they were babies and toddlers. I am ashamed. I am remorseful. I am scum. I thought when people ignored my kids they didn't hear, see, smell or feel the pressure to smile at my evil spawns of Satan who had clearly overdosed on arsehole pills.

When I plaintively looked at people for approval and they smiled back, I thought they thought my kids were cute, special even, and that we, the parents, were incredible cultural ambassadors and amazing parental commandos who should be commended, possibly publicly recognised for taking child-rearing to the level of an extreme sport as we displayed commitment to quality time and expanding their horizons.

I now know you thought we were indulgent wankers selfishly inflicting our need to make people think we were better than them on the rest of the world. And the truth is, we were. I am so sorry. It's only now I realise the only reason you smiled back was because, sure, you had eight hours with my evil little freaks but you knew we were all stuck with each other for the rest of our lives.

Where has this sudden urge to apologise come from when my kids are now aged six, eight and 11? Because I recently went to Europe on my own for the first time since having children and I was stuck next to 18-month-old twins. I had no choice but to reach for the alcohol, ear plugs and eye-mask and spend those 24 hours reflecting on the stunning heights of my selfishness and delusion. Please bear with me, I need to share so I can move on and grow.

My wall of shame: a three-year-old in Bali - I am sorry; a one and four-year-old in Vanuatu - guilty as charged; a one, two and five-year-old in Borneo - what was I thinking? A two, three and a six-year-old in Vietnam - shame on me; a three, four and seven-year-old in Thailand - I feel sick just saying it; Sydney twice; Port Douglas three times. They didn't swim there. They went on planes. And I put them there. Please forgive me.

Trust me. Don't do it. Save the money. Get 'em a PlayStation, take them to the pool and buy them a packet of Smarties. If you want to expose them to some culture, cook 'em a stir-fry, buy them a sarong and introduce them to someone whose name ends with a vowel.

All my kids remember from all those expensive back-breaking orgies of cultural delights, natural wonders and flash resorts is the little white van that picked them up from the airport and that they didn't have to wear seatbelts. Oh, and some ''people with black faces'' who served them breakfast and cleaned their room.

Watching grubby, overweight, badly dressed, stressed-out parents wrestling their indulged, whinging little brats into their oversized monster-truck prams as they have car-seat thrones for their precious prince and princesses strapped to their back as they disembark the aircraft makes me want to do to them what I wish someone had done to me. Grab me by the throat, pin me against the wall and ask: ''What exactly are you trying to prove and to who? Get over yourself. You look like crap, haven't had sex since Britney Spears had pubes and are trying to make up for the gaping inadequacies in your life with a nauseating self-congratulatory blog that you think is adorable but we are all laughing at behind your back because it's just a blatant shrine to your raging narcissism.

''And you know that photo album you keep shoving under our noses? The one you ask if we want to see but have no choice? It's nothing but a spin-doctoring press release for your imaginary family.''

Forgive me. I am scum.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The things you don't expect...

When I had Erik, I sense quite early on that he needed to be with me. Close to me. I carried him, breastfed him, I didn't co-sleep with him because I didn't have the confidence to do so, but basically I was never far from him - in the first 18 months I was never more than an arms length away from him except when he slept.

I knew he would not cope well with childcare or kinder or school, so I planned to homeschool him, and we did so until at 7.5 he asked to go to school. I was worried for him when he first started but he was very confident with his choice.

With Luey I was even more close to him in the first 5.5 years in as much as I did everything I did with Erik plus I co-slept with him.

The surprises started when he was 2.75 years old and ASKED to go sleep in the bunk with Erik. Luey was adamant he didn't want to sleep in mum and dad's bed anymore, despite so many sources of parenting advice PROMISING us he would NEVER want to leave our bed. Then when Erik decided to go to school, we were quite happy for Luey NOT to go, but when we went and looked at the school, Luey announced that he wanted to go as well... Oh dear, this was just not how it was supposed to be. Children were not supposed to want to sleep away from their parents or want to go to school and spend their entire day with strangers!

And it seems Bryn is following in his brothers footsteps.

Despite our best intentions to keep him with us, and to "baby" him and avoid him learning independence, just in the last 24 hours, the following two incidences have occurred:

  1. Last night at bed time, Bryn wouldn't be quiet and allow Erik and Luey to fall asleep peacefully, so I said to him, "Listen, if you can't be quiet, you're just going to have to come and sleep in my bed with me..." "No!!!" He cried, "I don't WANT to sleep in your bed, I want to sleep in MY bed!"
  2. This morning Dave got him ready for creche (he goes for three hours on Tuesday mornings), and as they were getting ready to go, I hear D saying that Bryn has to stop rubbing his eye, and that D needs to get the crusty stuff out. I hop out of bed and inspect the eye and realise Bryn has conjunctivitis and that he can't go to creche (because he'd be sent right back home again). Poor Bryn has been inconsolable all day. Crying on and off because, "I REALLY want to go to creche! Look mum, my eye is all better, can I go to creche now?"
Ah, LOL, my attachment parented child who I was promised would be dependant on me forever if I didn't teach him to self soothe and who would HATE any kind of care other than my own... What went wrong?

Nothing, I tell you!

Nothing went wrong.

This child has always had his every need met. He was allowed to sleep with us until he was ready to sleep in his own bed (he was 3.5 years), and who was only sent to creche because our friends Jayne and Sienna were going to be there, and we already knew the center from having attended playgroup there, and one of the mums from school also works there, and another mum from school sends her boy there, too (in other words, creche is an extention of the rest of his life, not a place he goes seperate to everything else in his life).

Nothing is black and white.

Good and bad is only what you MAKE of it...

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Kaleidescope image

Kakeidescope image

Appreciating the differences.

Took Luey grocery shopping with me today. I usually go on my own unless I feel one of the two oldest boys needs some time alone with me - or me with them (usually to suss out stuff, CPO - covert parenting operation)...

So, he wanted to come today, apparently I'd taken Erik the last three times I took someone (I'm sure it wasn't three times, but Luey still suffers from middle child syndrome)...

Used to be, for years after he was born, I thought maybe I liked Luey better than Erik. That sounds appalling, I know, but I like to keep it real, so there it is... Erik was hard work at the time, hyperactive, impulsive, odd, LOL... Luey was sweet and although he had an aggressive streak that Erik has NEVER had, he was very, very NORMAL - very like every other boy I saw around the place, mostly because he was not as impulsive as Erik, and he had the ability to moderate his own excitement levels to those around him (whereas when Erik became overstimulated, the only way to calm was through a MASSIVE meltdown)...

But then Erik hit 7.5 and started to become a lot easier, a lot less likely to become overstimulated and able calm down without a nuclear meltdown.

By then Luey was well and truly entrenched in "middle child trauma" after Bryn's arrival 18 months earlier. Luey had decided the entire world was unfair, and that he ALWAYS drew the short straw. Our golden boy lost a bit of his sheen.

The perpetual "glass half empty" world view Luey had worn me down quite a bit, and so in the past couple of years, it's been a bit hard to see the lovely side of Luey and to appreciate those aspects of his personality that make him so very popular at school and actually quite a likeable companion (on his own).

Today I was reminded that Luey:

  • understands that you can comfortably enjoy someone's company in silence (that is, he doesn't need to talk and fill every moment with runawaytrainofthoughtness).
  • isn't obsessed with the "next thing"; he won't get something and even before finishing it be casting around for what else he can get.
  • stays put when you tell him to stay put, even if you walk out of his line of sight.
  • is actually happy with his lot, even when you expect him not to be.
Sometimes it's very good when you're reminded - as a parent - that you children change over time, even when you're not looking for it...

Friday, October 02, 2009

Ís "fair" a realistic goal in parenting?

It's birthday season...

Let's me try that again. It *should* be birthday season still, only problem is that it doesn't FEEL like birthday season because usually birthday season is Winter Sport for me and it's Spring now. I've done Erik, Luey and Bryn's birthdays and in the previous three years, that was the end of it, but this year I've still got Ari's birthday to go, and hmmm, I just don't feel motivated...

He's turning one, and quite frankly, he probably doesn't give a damn, my dears, if he has a big birthday bash or not. I'm sorely tempted to, "or not"... Ah, but that's so wrong, isn't it? I mean, I went all out for Bryn's first birthday; specially made cupcakes with B's on them, a massive party here at home, grand lolly boxes, pinada, a memory bear! After all, he was my "last baby having his first birthday"...

And then we had Ari, LOL.

So, would it be "fair" to skip the first birthday hoo-ha for Ari when I did it for Bryn?

But also...

This year I did a big party for Erik and Luey at Dark Zone (they'd been looking forward to it for two whole years - having to wait for Luey to turn 8 to be able to have a party there). Then I did a bowling party for Bryn... So, having done parties for all his brother AND this being his first birthday EVER, can I really just let it slide???

I have decided I can't keep doing birthday parties for all the boys every year! But it's all good because even if I just do the special birthdays (5, 10, 13 etc.) I can fill the next few years fairly "fairly" between the boys...

2010 - Bryn (5)
2011 - Luey (10)
2012 - Erik (13)
2013 - Ari (5)
2014 - Luey (13)
2015 - Bryn (10) Erik (16)

Hmmmm, still don't know what I'm going to do about Ari... What's fair?