Monday, November 30, 2009

No-procrastination-vember is coming to an end...

For the whole of NO-vember, I've said "No" to procrastination. More specifically though, house maintainence procrastination. This is what my house has looked like for the past 30 days straight.








Mostly, I manage to keep our home tidy on a semi-regular basis. That is, I might let things slide for a day or three, and then have a big clean up. However, over the years, and particularly in the past year or so since Ari was born, I've found the slide seems to happen far more rapidly and dramatically than it used to, and the "big cleanup" as, on several occassions, morphed into a "massive cleanup".

So, I decided to try and maintain - at least - a level of neatness in the house every day. To do this, I'm spent about 20 minutes each morning going around a putting away stuff that wasn't in it's place, making beds, and putting on a load of laundry when the bins got to about half full. Then each evening after dinner, I've done the dishes and cleaned the kitchen/swept the floor, and done another quick tidy up throughout the house - enlisting the boys to help, of course.

Amazingly, this seems to have been enough! The house is almost always tidy and if not, it's within 10 minutes of tidy! The most interesting bit is how little effort it seems to have taken!

For December, I'm going to make a "decision". That December decision is that I won't buy any more "stash" to eat at home. For the month of December, I'm going to say it's fine to eat lollies, icecream, chips, soft drinks, etc. when I'm out of the house, but that stuff will not be bought and brought home to munch on in the evenings. Hopefully this will help me break my night time snacking habit...

When did we stop thinking for ourselves...

And letting our kids think for themselves.

That which is discussed in the following blog post is of a sensitive nature. Sensitive because parents, rightfully so, want to protect their kids from harm. However, I, and many others, are beginning to wonder where the protection mentality will end. This blog is NOT having a go at any of my loving, conscientious parent friends who only want their children to be happy and healthy - this is merely a blog questioning and discussing the lengths to which we, as a society, are going to protect children from the world and themselves.

When you have a baby, you whole view of the world changes! Quite literally, you see the world with new eyes, you baby's eyes, eyes of wonder and innocence, and inexperience. Suddenly the world seems a lot bigger and, for some parents, a helluva lot scarier!

For some reason, that might be explained by media scaremongering, or by advances in technology that allows to feel more in control, parents these days seem MORE afraid of losing their babies than any other generation before them.

Luckily for us, technology is constantly offering new and exciting (and often expensive) ways to protect our children!

Take car seats, for example, fantastic inventions! I'm a fan of them for many reasons. Not only do they prevent your baby or child from being hurled through a windscreen in the event of an accident, but they allow the child to see out the window and prevent the child (mostly) from climbing into you lap while your driving - or wrestling with their brother in the back seat as I was prone to do on occassion.

The laws on child restraints are constantly being tweeked. Now children have to be in child restraints in cars until their 7th birthday. Many, many people think this is great. What concerns me is that it seems to give drivers who aren't carting around children the false sense of security that it is ok to hoon about because you're far less likely to kill a child who is strapped into a sturdy carseat in a car with sorround airbags... What next, roll cages in cars? I think it's probably inevitable.

Car seats aren't a legal requirement in Victorian taxi cabs - this is because drivers refuse to carry them, under the argument that a cab driver can't be expected to carry every variety of capsule, carseat or booster required for different ages and stages. Fair enough, I say... I take cabs every single week and more often than not have some combination of children with me. What I resent though is being lectured by cab drivers for not providing my own car seat for my child, or children.

On one occassion, Dave and I were taking Erik and Luey on a holiday interstate. Erik was 3 and Luey was 1. The cab driver spent the entire 35 minute drive to the airport telling us we didn't love our children because we hadn't taken car seats to put in her cab! We asked her if she thought we should be trying to haul two small children, a stroller, a port-a-cot, and two suitcases AS WELL AS two carseats with us to Adelaide. She agreed that would be very difficult and suggested maybe we just shouldn't go on a holiday if we couldn't manage to take the car seats as well as the rest of our stuff and ourselves.

Is this the solution? Just don't do anything that might incur some level of risk? I asked because everything has some level of risk. On the Free Range Kids Blog it is pointed out that while there is a 1 in 1.5 million risk of your child being kidnapped and killed by a stranger, there is a far greater chance of your child being injured or killed while driving in the car with you - and that's in the US, so the risk of being kidnapped and killed in Australia is probably even smaller than 1 in 1.5 million.

But I'm not arguing that you should put a backpack on three year old Sammy's back and tell him to find his own way to kinder and you'll see him when he gets home. My house is full of safety items ranging from kiddie gates to prevent my babies from getting underfoot while we cook in the kitchen to spoons that change colour when heated to prevent Ari from burning his lips on his cereal in the morning (because, yk, I couldn't just test the cereal on my own lips).

A recent change in laws that started me thinking about all of this was the new law that it is illegal to leave your children in a car unattended for ANY length of time. This law came in after kids were found dead or dying in superheated cars on stinking hot summer days while mum or dad popped into the milkbar (or the pub, mind you), and after other kids were found to be left OVERNIGHT in cars in Casino carparks while mum and dad fed their gambling habits.

The law in itself may save lives, and that is a good thing, but isn't it pathetic that there NEEDS to be a law to enforce what is essentially commonsense? And the law now also prevents commonsense from taking place. Parents are now, no longer, allowed to assess risk levels for themelves. There will be no more tolerance for letting little Emily finish her nap in the car in the driveway of your own home with the car doors open on a mild day because, well, you just never know when you might electricute yourself in the house and Emily might wake up and let herself out of her car seat and wonder off onto the road while you lay in a coma inside - or what if some idiot runs off the road and smashes into you car in the driveway - OR what if there really is extra-terrestrial life out there and they pick that very day to invade earth and shoot the car with their killer ray!

Yes, I'm getting silly, but so is this "what if" obsession our society has when it comes to keeping our children safe. All the foods and drinks you can't have when you're pregnant in case they harm your baby. You're much safer not getting pregnant, for your baby's safety.

Another anecdote from my childhood, for your entertainment, bear with me, it does added to this line of thinking.

When I was 13 and my brother was 11, we lived in a small village in the Artic circle on the north-west coast of Iceland. One summer's day we decided to take our four year old cousin and go and play in an abandoned fish-drying hut on the edge of the local garbage dump. My brother's (untrustworthy) friend had told us his father owned the hut and it was ok for us to play there. I can't remember what we were playing, but at some point we decided we'd "cook" some lunch, or try to get warm (summer days in Iceland are a balmy 13 degree celsius or something like that), so we found a scrap sheet of tin and layered sticks and cardboard and suchlike onto it, and then lit a fire with the matches my brother always seemed to have on hand. The fire was lovely and warm.

It seems some factory workers nearby saw our little fire and decided that it was dangerous so close to the rubbish dump so they came over and told us to put it out and throw the remains down to them (we were on the second story of the hut, sitting in an opening in the wall - nothing to prevent us falling from the second floor mind you, LOL - so, we did what they said and they went back to work and we went downstairs to play some more.

After a while, we decided it was time to go home for lunch. My brother when to open the door but it was stuck. Sometimes that happen, so he hopped out the window at the side of the hut and went around to pull the door open for me and my four year old cousin.

Suddenly I hear him yelling and crying and panicked, but I couldn't understand what he was yelling at me, so I hoisted my cousin out the side window and then got myself out and we came around the front of the hut and found the entire front wall was aflame.

Black smoked billowed into the air above us and very soon we heard a fire truck coming. Workers from the factory came running and told us to get out of there so we ran some distance away and watched as the flames took the rest of the hut in a matter of minutes.

To this day I'm convinced that had we been left to our own devices, we would have made sure that fire was properly extinguished and the hut would not have burned down, but instead we deferred to the adults - the higher authority - because that was the right thing to do, and they obviously didn't make sure all the embers were out.

When we put someone or something else in charge of our safety or that of our children, we slip into a mindset that isn't as alert.

And will we hear parents saying, "Hey, there's no law that specifically states I can't feed my child dog poo for dinner, and until there is one, I'll just keep feeding my child dog poo because it MUST be ok if there isn't a law saying it's not..." You know, because obviously parents now need governments to tell them what is ok and what is not ok when it comes to commonsense in parenting.

But more than this, we're now raising children who see danger at every turn and feel helpless to protect themselves because we constantly tell them it's better just not to live a full life than to risk losing your life. It's better not to go on a holiday than to risk being killed in the cab on the way to the airport because you can't carry a car seat whereever you go. It's better not to play outside in your own yard than to risk being kidnapped because mum and dad don't have time to sit out there with you and watch you. It's better not to ride a bike than to risk falling off your bike and breaking your arm.

And while we're at it, don't co-sleep because you might smother your baby, but don't you dare put your baby in a cot because then it might smother itself in the bumpers or the blankets. Don't wear your baby in a sling because it might fall out of the sling, but don't put it in a pram because the pram might roll under a train. Don't vaccinate because your might cause serious damage or illness to your child down the track, but don't NOT vaccinate because your child might die from complications of a childhood illness. Don't homeschool because your child will become isolated and turn into the unibomber, but don't send them to school because they will be bullied and turned into those kids from Columbine.

Better still, just don't have kids because whatever you do, you're going to regret it.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Good vs. Bad Self-Esteem...

I reject the idea that self-esteem is a homogenous entity. I don't believe you can have good self-esteem OR bad self-esteem. I haven't researched this, but I'm pretty sure I couldn't be the only person who believes people have areas of self-esteem and those areas variety in health.

Taking myself as an example - because it would be kind of rude to use anyone else as an example - I would say I have great self-esteem, generally speaking. I like me. I generally believe other people don't appreciate me as much as I do, mostly because I'm not particularly good at interacting with other people. The interpersonal part of me certainly suffers from low self-esteem. I believe I fail in the area of interpersonal relationships because I tend to be a bit tactless (fail to engage brain before engaging mouth, or worse, lack enough sympathy to be bothered engaging brain before engaging mouth).

I often misread how other people view me, often opting to believe they don't understand or don't like me, but mostly are just being polite.

Now, in the homegenous view of self-esteem, that would probably be interpreted as me not understanding me or liking myself and therefore projecting that onto other people, but this truly isn't the case. I tend to think I'm very insightful and funny and generous and likeable, but I think other people don't get those things about me mostly because I'm not terribly adept at communicating with other people on a person to person level. I tend to approach people with that distance, intellectualised self-defensive mechanism of analysis.

I struggle with saying stuff I don't believe at the core of my being, so I fail at a lot of the niceties of human interaction.

I often feel my own critical nature causes me to be quite the bitch - to use colloquial expression.

But I still have great self-esteem!

Does that make sense?

I guess in the commonly accepted understanding of self-esteem, I'm contradicting myself a lot here, but that is how it is. I think I'm great, I just don't think other people think the same because I don't translate well interpersonally.

I don't believe one person either has good self-esteem or bad self-esteem, but rather a multi-tude of self-esteems related to various aspects of themselves.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Self-sabotage?

So, it occurred to me this morning, as I sat here playing Bejewelled, knowing it's just a complete waste of time, and yet not being able to motivate myself to do much else (though, of course, the care an maintainence of the youngest child did get a look-in)... Hmmm, what was I saying? Oh, yeah, so it occurred to me that success - achievement - is well and truly within grasp for me, but for some reason I resist grasping it.

I know EXACTLY what it would take to achieve the things I would like to achieve. The effort of achieving would not be disproportionate to the contentment I'd feel once I've achieved, and yet I can't seem to just do what needs to be done.

There are three goals I'm thinking of specifically, here.

  1. Finishing my Masters degree
  2. Saving money
  3. Becoming healthy (fit and a healthy weight/size)
To finish my degree, I just need to do the editing and rewriting required. I have time to do it, I could be doing it right now. I could do it at night instead of watching tv or playing bejewelled. I would probably even enjoy doing it because I really enjoy the creative process. It's almost as if I'm denying myself the joy of achieving this goal and of writing (which I really do love to do). For the life of me I don't understand why.

Saving money is really just a matter of not spending money on stuff we don't need - in fact, I spend a lot of money on junk food, chips and chocolate and so on to munch on at night while I procrastinate from finishing my degree. If I didn't spend money on things I really don't need, I'd be able to save a decent amount of money.

Becoming healthy really isn't that hard. I know EXACTLY what it take to achieve this. I've managed to do it several times before (though my committment to eating nutritionally rich food and to exercising never stuck). Not sitting around munching on crap at night would also help me achieve my goal of finishing my degree and saving money...

So, why don't I want to succeed? If success is so easy to achieve, why don't I just do what is needed? What am I afraid of?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Hazards of Thinking Out Loud...

I love to think. I love to sit and think about stuff more than anything else. More than reading a book, more than eating chocolate, more than making love (and I love making love - who doesn't)...

Unfortunately, I also love feedback on my thoughts. Partially because I think I'm oh-so-very-clever in some of my thinking, no truly, I tend to think that the way I think about stuff is so totally different to how other people think about stuff that it MUST be completely original and therefore fascinating for others to read... Partially because, ironically, I want to be challenged on what I think - this both tells me how original my thinking is, and whether or not I'm actually retaining any contact with reality in my thinking.

The problem is, I don't really take my thinking all that seriously, but quite often I sense that other people do.

I'll throw a random thought or idea out there into the interwebs and I might be well and truly married to the idea in the millisecond that it takes to pass from my mind to the screen, but that might be where my commitment to that idea ends. Sometimes though, I sense that other people read my thoughts and think I not only wholeheartedly internalise the beliefs sorrounding the random things I spout on any particular day, but that I am in some way judging them because they can relate to something I've said.

Maybe my blog should bear the subtitle: Enter at your own risk.

Now, I guess the immediate solution to this issue would be to stop blogging my random thoughts. Or to do a course at Tafe, perhaps "Tact 101"... If only I could grow some interpersonal intelligence. Which leads me to the question, how responsible am I for how other people might feel when they read my words? How responsible am I for other people feeling, in some way, judged by me? I could flippantly say, that's not my problem, people need to own their own self-image and if what I'm saying doesn't ring true for them then they need not feel judge by me because who am I anyway, just another opinionated blogger.

The thing is, I'm not able to detach myself that easily from other people's responses to what I write. I don't want to make anyone feel judged by me. Certainly, my intentions are never to cause other people emotional turmoil or pain. So, I can just hope that people will not take my public musings as anything other than what they're intended - me publicly exposing my internal workings for feedback and review.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Black clothing...

Wearing black is very popular in Melbourne. Melbournians are quite proud of this. Black attire is probably equated with sophistication and it certainly has a reputation for being slimming.

I was thinking about it today, though, as you do. I'm actually kind of surprised that I've never heard of black having an aging affect on the wearer. I'm sure many won't agree with me on this point, but I really think black can make people look tired and older than they really are.

Just think about it.

Black is a favoured colour (ok, it's not a colour, but let's not split hairs) among young people. Certainly, black is dark, brooding, and often considered to be the antithesis to the playful rainbow of colours children wear. Adolescents most like adopt wear black to mirror their own ambiguity, the fact they DON'T want to reflect something about themselves, they want to remain dark and mysterious and so on. Also, though, black is considered sophisticated (possibly because it reflects nothing!), and so adolescents who wear black take on an air of sophistication, complication, and the appearance of "being older".

Adults chose black for work a lot, because black is serious, it's measured, it's mature. It's not frivolous or bold (though combined with other colours it can be made bold), or attention seeking in a loud sort of way. Black is conservative. A black miniskirt is far more conservative than a red miniskirt or a cobolt blue miniskirt.

Conservativism is often equated with age and maturity as well.

So, taking all this into account, it stands to reason that black will continue to make you look more mature, more conservative, more dark and aloof and yes, slim even as you get older.

Black has been said to be too strong for the softening colours of age. Certainly there are older men and women who look good in black, but they are going to be in the minority and honestly, do they actually look YOUNGER in black or just neater?

Imagine a woman in her sixties, vibrant and vivacious. She's very active in her day to day life. She does yoga, she works, she goes out with her friends at night and on the weekends. What is she wearing? Is she wearing black? She never is in my mind. She wears white and red and blue and yellow and well, almost every colour except black.

Picture a woman in her sixties wearing black, what is she doing?

I can't help but picture the old greek ladies at the shopping centres. Head to toe black. They always look neat. They look old.

Even women in their forties look old when dressed in head to toe black.

Don't know why I'm blogging about this, really. It was just something my mind got stuck on this afternoon. I think, though, I might be more careful choosing clothing in the future. Black might be slimming, but I'm now convinced it's also aging. I don't want to look or feel old at this point in my life :).

2010

I have to admit, I've already left 2009 behind, mentally. Yeah, I don't think I'd ever make a great Buddhist!

2009 has been a big year with a lot of changes and a lot of challenges. I hesitate at calling it a "terrible year" for a couple of reasons. First, it has been the first year of Ari's life and that, in itself, has been a joy and I don't want to diminish that time at all. Second, challenges are a chance to grow and I do embrace any chance to grow.

That said, I'm quite looking forward to 2010!

Just the fact that it'll be 2010 and that being, for me at least, quite an iconic "year" makes it kind of exciting!

It's going to be a very busy year, and I don't mind busy. I prefer busy to "don't know what I'm going to be doing".

Bryn is starting kinder next year. He will be the first of my brood to ever go to school. When Erik and Luey were 4, I was in full homeschooling mode - well, unschooling mode. The thought of sending Erik, in particular, off to spend several hours a day, two or three days a week with people who were neither Dave nor myself, seemed AWFUL! Even in hindsight, I don't believe Erik would have coped well with that situation, he was definitely a boy who needed to stay close to home until he himself decided he was ready to take on the world.

In hindsight, I think Luey might have liked the idea of going to kinder, but the reality, for him, would have challenging. He struggled a fair bit with his first year at school as it was.

Bryn, however, could be going to kinder now. He's excited about the idea and more than ready to mix it up with a new group of people. I'm excited right along with him!

I'm also hoping to be doing a Certificate III in Children's Services course at our local Tafe for the first six months of 2010. This will provide me with qualifications to allow me to take on some part time work around the kids school times. The plan is for Dave to be with Ari, and Bryn when Bryn isn't at kinder, and for me to do the course, and later to work. Of course, if Dave becomes gainfully employed himself before February, this plan will probably have to be shelved, but at this point, I just can't see that happening. I'm hoping to get an offer in the next week or so. That's both exciting and bit nervewracking - not sure how I feel about being away from Ari while he's still so little, but I do know he'll be in good hands with his dad.

I'll still be working on my Thesis (novel) and am planning to submit next November. At this point, I have nothing more to say on that subject.

We might move. There are no plans, firm or otherwise, to move, but it's been on the card for a couple of years now. Dave and I have recently been talking about inviting his mum to come and live with us if and when she feels she needs more help with day to day living. At the moment, she's fairing well on her own. Yesterday was her 81st birthday, but she is still comfortably doing all she needs to get done. However, if a time should come when she feels the need for more support, we've decided the best bet might be to all move in together. Still not sure if she would even be open to this possiblity - I mean, it's been her and FIL for the past 12 years or so, and that is just a little different from living with 6 other people, four of whom are boisterous pre-adolescent boys... Hmmmmm. Well, anyway, that's out there in our future as well.

I'm also still waiting to hear back from the Eye and Ear hospital with regard to my eye-straightening surgery. When I attended the assessment in July (I think it was July, it's all getting a bit blurry now), they said "between 6-9 months, 12 months at the most"... So, we're hitting the 6 month mark now. It's cosmetic surgery only, and the effects of the surgery may not be permanent (there is a good chance they'll only last 5-10 years, but could last as little as 3 months), but for my self-esteem, I really need to get this seen to.

I have to start meditating on what person goals I would like to achieve in 2010 as well.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Satisfaction...

Step away from that hairbrush! It doesn't matter how much you pout those lips, you're never going to be Mick Jagger, so just let it go already...

Been thinking a lot about satisfaction of late.

I tend to lack it quite a bit and have been wondering why that is and whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.

If asked the question, "Are you satisfied with your life?" I would probably have to say that I am. Well, I'm satisfied with the big picture. I live in a great country (on the whole, let's face it Australia is a pretty good place to live), I have a nice home, a loving husband, four fantastic kids. I have plenty of friends and my social life isn't too bad (for a mum of four kids). I'm able to be at home and study (when I can get my act together). Life's good.

And yet, I quite often feel a niggling sense of dissatisfaction.

This could be because our society is set up to encourage us to be on the constant look out for the next "big thing". From a very young age, we're taught to seek bigger and better. We're taught that the simple life is all good and well for monks on Peruvian mounts, but in the "real world", if you want to be truly satisfied with life you must have the latest "new thing"...

I think though, maybe that is too easy a thing to blame for lack of satisfaction. It might even be possible that the whole concept of "being satisfied" is all wrong. Do we really need to be satisfied, or is that just the carrot that is dangled in front of us to prompt us to keep buying or seeking the products and services our Western world wants to sell us?

Buddhism promises freedom from that gnawing sense of dissatifaction, but I have to ask myself, do I really want to NOT want? And is wanting to not want, wanting in itself. Hmmmmm... I'm sure a Buddhist or two will be along shortly to explain to me how I've completely misunderstood the whole Buddhist philosophy... In the mean time...

Maybe dissatisfaction is what has caused the world to turn all these millenia. Dissatisfaction is what got humans to get up every morning and hunt or forage for food. Dissatisfaction was at the root of discovering fire, inventing the wheel, and landing on the moon...

If I was completely satisfied, I would probably just lay down and die, I think.

So, that gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach might just be the essence of life, right?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Good Old-fashioned To-do List...

Been doing well on my No-procrastination-vember thingy-magig. The house has been really tidy and surface clean all month, so yay me! Anyway, as there are now just under 5 weeks until Christmas, the time has come to start do a bit more a fine toothed comb throughout the house. To this end, I thought I'd do a bit of to-do list a get a couple of things done today (Sundays are always dedicated shopping and attempting to relax days)...

So, today I want to achieve the following.

  1. Clear out and wipe down the glass cabinet in the kitchen
  2. Clear out under and behind the couch and behind Bryn's bookcase
  3. Get the gunk of the corner of the sink in the laundry (that'll be Dave's job as he put the gunk there in the first place)
  4. Clear out and tidy my wardrobe, including relocating unused clothing to bed drawers and pitching the old Christmas lollies from last year that are attracting ants, eep!)
  5. Get Dave to surface tidy the study so it doesn't look so much like a dumping ground
  6. Give the bathroom cabinets a once through to pitch crap that has been sitting there unused for the past year
Ok, if we get all of that done, I'll say it's been a very productive day. It's not even 7am yet, so I reckon we have a good chance of getting it all done :).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Head scarves should be required clothing at all child centred institutions!

I'm upset. Very upset! This morning I've had to shave Luey and Bryn's heads, and this afternoon I may have to shave Erik's. Why? Well, because of head lice. Now, some of you may feel I'm over-reacting, but in all honesty, I'm not. We had our first case of headlice almost as soon as Erik and Luey started school. They'd never been in childcare, or to kinder, and somehow in the playgroups they'd attended (sometimes weekly, sometime less often) they never did catch headlice.

For 18 months after they first contracted headlice, we had a continous battle with the little critters. We tried EVERYTHING on the market, and every natural solution we could find until eventually our only recourse was to shave the boys heads.

That's when we first heard a phrase that has since come to irk me so much I want to scream every time I hear it...

"Well, luckily you have boys, because if you had girls you couldn't shave their heads.

Really, why not?

The truth is, I also caught headlice when the boys caught it, and with my long, curly (at the time) hair, it was bloody impossibly to get rid of them. It turned out I was quite intolerant to whatever the de-coagulant they inject into human skin to draw blood, and soon I developed a horrible rash on my nape which progressed to my back and shoulders. Finally, the only thing I could do was shave my head. I used that opportunity to raise money for Cancer, but basically that wasn't my motivation - the motivation was to finally rid ourselves of the lice scurge.

Since then, the MOMENT one of our boys has lice, their head is shaved.

Shaving their heads SUCKS!!! Sure they're boys, but they have BEAUTIFUL hair, all of them, it's so naturally straight and shiny and the colour is just gorgeous (golden red for Luey, and chestnut for Erik and Bryn). As well as this, Erik is currently working hard at growing his hair out. He's so pleased with his longer hair. If he has lice now, he'll be devastated, and so will I.

Why should girls not have to have their hair shaved off if the same is expected of boys with persistent head lice? How is that fair. Where are the raging feminists and their undying sense of equality when it comes to shaving their daughters heads? I ask you!

But, you know, shaving hair off wouldn't even be necessary - very much - if it was made compulsory that children with longer hair and the people who work with them had to wear head scarves to cover their hair and prevent the spread of these blighters. In fact, I don't understand that people who work with children wouldn't just do it of their own initiative to avoid catching lice in the first place!

Back in the "olden days" women and girls used to wear caps and bonnets, and men and boys wore caps and hats - maybe they were onto something!

We rely far too heavily on chemicals and look what's happened, the lice have become resistent to the chemicals and we're back to using conditioner and a comb - whch might work well for some, but for the rest of us, it's pretty bloody ineffective!

I bet muslim women don't have too many lice!

A good friend of mine has gone up against her school by putting a head scarf (just a little triangle one that covers the root of her daughter's hair (which is then also plaited and sprayed with hairspray as an extra barrier against lice, I believe) in the school colours). Why can't all schools adopt this?

Why should I constantly have to sacrefice my sons' lovely hair when mothers of girls aren't expected to do the same???

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What Ari has taught me about himself just recently...

The child finds it much easier to take a firm, "No!" over me trying to figure out what the hell he wants.

It's been a bit of a gradual lesson. Started a few weeks ago when he started on that same little thing the others had done around this age where he wouldn't just feed then pop back off to sleep, oh no, he wanted to graze... And GRAZE is just about the right word for it, too. I certainly was feeling very "grazed". So, despite him being just around the age of one (he was a little before one when this started), I took to telling him, "No more, sorry, that's all there is, shhhh shhh, time for sleep..." Well, I really wasn't expecting it to take, I was just feeling desperately tired and hoping even 10 minutes of dozing might help me cope a bit better.

Lo and behold, he grumbled, turned over and went to sleep.

So, I've been doing it ever since. He feeds through the night, but not at all continuously. He's on for about 10 minutes or so, then I say that's it, no more for now, and he goes to sleep.

Anyway, then this week he's been very tantrum-y. Not something I'm used to in a child this age. I think it is partly a reaction to us going out on Saturday night and leaving him (and the others) with a baby sitter. His first time. "A" (our babysitter) was brilliant. He's a lovely dad! He just walked Ari around in the front yard, and then in the house until he fell asleep, then he held him until we got home - couldn't have asked for more.

Ari was NOT impressed with us on Sunday though. Full on back arching with blood curdling screams of protest each and every time he felt thwarted. Since then he's been wanting to comfort feed a lot, but also not being content with that, still tantruming and carrying on. I've been letting it ride because I understand he has stuff he wants to express and needs to test and see how much he can rely on us now that we've left him with a virtual (for him) stranger.

Tonight though, after a fair bit of off again, on again feeding with some back arching and carry on, I said to him, "Ok, obviously this isn't doing it for you, and it certainly isn't working for me, so the bar is closed for a bit now." For a minute he persisted with the back arching but then he snuggled in for a cuddle and seemed happier than he'd been in a couple of hours.

I guess he's just trying to tell me he prefers to know what's what and not to have me look to him for the answers. He's a lot like Erik in this way - in fact, he's showing quite a few signs of being similar to Erik, but that's a whole other post...

Transitions...

Life is full of them, isn't it?

Right now, Luey is in the middle of his transition sessions as he moves up from grade two to grade three. Might sound strange to some of you that he needs trans session for moving up a grade, but at the boys school there is a system of multi-age classes (which is different from composite classes in that it is an intentional pedagogy rather than a situational compromise). So the preps, 1st and 2nd graders are grouped together as one class with the same teacher (theoretically, though this hasn't been the case for Luey due his first teacher being a complete tool and him needing to change classes and then his second teacher taking up a position in a new school) for three years. Then they go to "middle primary" for two years, which is 3rd and 4th grades together, and finally "senior primary" which are the 5th and 6th grades together.

So, this month Luey is transitioning to 3rd grade, which means every Wednesday he spends part of the day in one of the 3/4 classes. Erik transitioned to 3/4 last year, so Luey might end up in Erik's classes for one of the sessions, though he won't end up in Erik's class next year as the school mostly keeps siblings in different classes (unless the parents specifically request otherwise.

Last night it dawned on me that next year Erik will be transitioning to 5/6 and starting the final leg of his primary school experience! It seems too soon! He only started school a couple of years ago! Bryn will be starting school the same year Erik transitions to 5/6, so 2011 is set to be a big year!

These kinds of changes always bring about philosophising about how life just continues on, whether we're ready or not. Change happens and we can either adapt or fall apart, freaking out about it all.

Last year, Erik still seemed very much like a small child. Last night Dave and I were discussing how, despite our concerns about his level of maturity, we have little choice but to give him the opportunities to develop his self-esteem through allowing him his independence. Dave worries more about this than I do because Dave was far less impulsive than Erik is at this age. I, on the other hand, was just as impulsive as Erik, if not more so, and yet I had a lot of responsibility and while it would probably have hastened the development of grey hairs on my parents heads had they known the stupid risks I took when left to my own devices, I managed to fumble through some pretty hairy situations without their management.

This is why I have a fair bit of confidence that, allowed his independence, Erik will be ok.

Transitions are scary, whatever age we are, but we're going through them every single day of our lives, and the only way to cope is to embrace them wholeheartedly.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A difficult decison...

Today I'm made a difficult decision on behalf of my family. I've decided this Christmas will be a one gift Christmas for each of us.

It's a difficult decision because I want to be able to do so much more for my kids, but finances won't allow. It's difficult because I know my kids won't like the idea at all because all their friends will receive so much more than one gift. It's a difficult decision because the anguish I'm feeling about making this decision proves how much I and my kids have bought into the idea that more is better and that we are ENTITLED to more than one gift at Christmas.

How did we get this out of control - by we I mean, as a society. Most people spend $100s and $100s at Christmas time in presents and food and whatnot, and we do it because "that's the way it should be". If we DON'T spend lots of money on our kids, we're absolutely depriving them - and that's not only in their opinion, many of us parents believe that in our deepest heart...

Dave and I have decided to get one gift for each child to the value of $100 per gift. Potentially, we could spend $400 on those four gifts alone. That's a lot of money, really. That's not including gifts for D or myself (yet to be seen if those will eventuate) or for our parents and my brother. That also doesn't include the cost of food. What is it all for? Seriously, it is necessary to spend all that money, whatever your religious or secular beliefs?

Despite the fact that when I look at it closely it doesn't seem reasonable to spend all that money for this one day, it feels a bit like I've decided to break the law by not indulging more.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Big Picture Update...

Been neglecting the pictures of late...

These aren't in order of anything much, so I'll just comment on each one...

Daytime napping! We've pretty much stopped napping him in the pram during the day because he can't turn over and gets shitty. He's had a couple of spills off the bed and won't learn to crawl off backwards, but that'll happen with time.

Bought this button under for him last summer, and it fits now, LOL! Size 00, love it! And doesn't the expression fit the text, hehehe!


Life is a serious business!

That tear in his eye was from the tantie he chucked because i wouldn't let him play with my iPhone...

He's popped four teeth in the past month, so there's been a fair bit of finger-in-mouth going on.

LOL, and this would be that "I MUST have your iPhone" tantie I was talking about...

Erik and Luey's school fair last weekend. The school fair is fabulous, btw, I was totally impressed this year. Rides, hair painting, fake tatoos, devonshire tea cafe, live music and performances from various groups, pre-loved clothes, books and CD stalls, snacks galore and a bar (we never partake of the bar)...

Bus stop boys...

Playing with EcoToys toys

Isn't he lovely...

Ari is in love with looking at books and seems to be quite gentle with them the way Erik used to be (not at all like Luey or Bryn, who between them managed to wreck many of our books)...


Luey on the jumping castle at the fair.

Erik on the Cyclone! He's second from the left in the blue tshirt.

Erik on the Cyclone before the ride got started for real.

Erik waiting to get on the Cyclone with a couple of friends.

The other end of the fair. The new part of the school; new building to the left, new sand box (Bryn loves the sandbox and wants to go to school just so he can play in it every day, rofl).

Luey's hair colouring - look at the cranky face (was a 36 degree day!)...

Punk would look good on him, yeah?

Erik's hair colour; he went all Christmassy, LOL, red, green and white...

That's not a shadow falling across his head, it's the white and green paint, interesting effect though.

Bryn and Luey on the jumping castle.

Nekkid boy - he seems to get nekkid whenever he wears this tshirt, LOL!

Awww! Check out the wittle, wittle bum!

Dave carting ice for the sno cone stall he worked on at the fair.

Dave working at the sno cone stall!

Bryn's Ben 10 tattoo (he actually got two, but I don't have a pic of the other one).

Ari in his first set of shorts and tee for the season. Shorts are size 000, tee is size 00, roflmao - yes, it's a "girl's" tshirt, and here's a funny thing, I have the "boy" version of this tee as well (it has a blue collar), in the same size and it's a BIGGER cut with longer sleeves - got figure!

Nearly a family photo - don't know where Luey was when this was taken... Oh LOOK! Dave is actually smiling in this one! He never smiles in photos and I don't understand why not, smiling really suits him! Meanwhile, dontcha love how photos like this show you just how much you've let yourself go??? Next years birthday photo of ME is going to be much nicer, that's my VOW!

Bryn lending a helping hand to Ari...

More book love!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Erik's theory about drawings and why he doesn't like to tear drawings up...

So, the other day I went and picked Erik up from school. Luey was home sick that day, so Erik and I had a good long time to chat about a whole range of things uninterrupted. When you have four children, that is something of a golden opportunity to find out what is really going on inside you individual child's head...

Erik is completely and utterly obsessed with drawing, just like his uncle Mike at this same age. What Erik draws, the style and some of the subject matter, is quite different, but the intensity of his passion, and dare I say it, the competency of his drawing is very reminiscent of my brother and it's something I'm gaining incredible enjoyment from watching develop.

I'm not sure how the conversation came about, but Erik told me that he believes that at night the creations people draw on paper come to life and swirl around the room. Black and white drawings, according to Erik, are kind of transluscent and puffy, while coloured drawing are flat like the paper they're drawing on because when you colour the drawings in, you flatten them.

He went on to say that tearing up a drawing was not a good thing to do because, essentially, you kill the creation and it is not able to become aninated at night and that is why he doesn't tear up drawings, even the ones he doesn't want anymore.

I'm assuming from this it's ok to screw the paper up and bin it, just not tear it up!

I love his mind!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The fear of being ordinary...

Sometimes I think I'm compelled to make choices that promise to launch me out of the realm of ordinary.

I'm not ordinary (if there even is such a thing, I mean ordinary is pretty closely related to the concept of "normal" and it's widely accepted that there really is no such thing as "normal" - to the extent that the word "normal" is almost never written or said without the accompaniment of double quotes). I have a less that ordinary brain for one thing, but let's not go there because it usually leads to, "Well, we already knew THAT..." smirk encrusted comments.

I haven't led much of an ordinary life either - not according to most people I talk to.

I've had three legal names, for one thing.

My parenting choices are not ordinary either, but this is where I begin to think that I've made a lot of choices in my life with, at least, an underlying motive of "not being ordinary".

So, what's so wrong with ordinary?

Well, it's boring, right? It's been done to death and is so 1978, or something like that...

Ordinary doesn't make a very good defense mechanism either. You can't shut people out if you're just like them, now can you. They identify too much with you then, and you can't pretend you have nothing in common with them and that they just don't "get it"...

And there's another point... Ordinary suggests mainstream, which seems to be equated with the lowest common denominator. The lowest common denominator has never been anything much to write home about. It's low brow. Based. Unintelligent. Who wants to be viewed as unintelligent? Certainly not me! I have an IQ of 135 and I want to the world to know about it - coz then maybe I'll get some respect...

Hmmmm, so maybe now we're getting to the core of things...

When you're not ordinary. When you're EDGE. When you go against the mainstream, a lot of people seem to think you're brave - mad, but brave. I mean, it takes a lot of spunk to go against the mainstream, to stay true to your path when everyone around you is talking you down. People try to scare you into being ordinary like them, mediocre, low-brow, gray people who don't stand out from the crowd, don't distinguish themselves, are ordinary.

No, it's better to be EXTRAordinary because that must mean you're strong, smart, an INDIVIDUAL (just like all the other individuals)...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Village Misconceptions...



We often here, "It takes a village to raise a child", and with this in mind, many mothers today try to work together to support one another through the trials and tribulations of parenting in this modern world.

The thing is, in villages, it wasn't peers supporting one another with parenting, so much as an intergenerational support system, and I feel - I've witnessed a fair bit of this - that many women in peer community groups end up feeling let down by the concept of it taking a village to raise a child.

The problem with peers trying to be support to one another is that everyone has the same needs, and when you have a particular need, it's very hard to give of yourself to another person who has exactly the same need, because you have little to give.

When you're emotionally spent, and all touched out and the kids are demanding you constant attention, do you feel able to give someone else's children - as well as your own children - the attention they need in order to help out another mum to who is also emotionally spent, all touched out and has kids demanding her constant attention? Somehow, I doubt it. And so, community peer support often extends only to brief encounters with the dispersing of much anxious energy. Quite often women come away from these brief social encounters feeling less isolated, but not less tired.

There is no doubt it's great to laugh and cry with other women, but to what extent can this alleviate the symptoms of severe anxiety, stress, sleep deprivation or loneliness, particularly if it's a once a week, or once a month event?

Village life was all about the previous generation helping out the next generation, and the subsequent generation helping out with the one before it. It was about meeting complimentary needs, not competing needs. When everyone has the same need, it means they are under-resourced in the same way and are not going to be able to be a resource for the same need in one another.

As a mum of young children, it breaks my heart to see other mums of young children struggling, and yet, I am not able to meet their needs because I'm barely meeting my own need; two drowning people cannot keep one another afloat no matter how much they would like to!

For women to make the most of a village support mechanism, they need to be able to accept support from "aunties, uncles and grandparents" - I put this in double quotes because for some of us those "aunties, uncles and grandparents" are not going to be able to be blood or marital relatives, they're going to be the other wise elders. Just as with village life, we have to accept that we may not always see eye to eye with their perspective on parenting (Do we really think villages were Think Tanks? Of course they weren't, the next generation is always going to want to show their independance by reinventing the wheel). Mostly, we need to acknowledge that doing it all ourselves, or EXPECTING our friends (who also have children) to keep us afloat is not going to serve our children in the long run when every resource is beyond exhausted and we fall in a heap...

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Barbecue Culture...


It's Melbourne Cup Day! I love Melbourne Cup Day even though the Salvo legacy causes me to baulk at betting on the horses (somewhere in Australia today, someone is going to lose a heap of money and put their family in crisis because of a gambling problem that our society seems to mostly just scoff at and that makes me feel sick), hmmmm, I digress.

Anyway, I felt like I'm missing out on something. Something particularly Australian - ok, I realised other nations also do the BBQ thing, but it is an iconicly Aussie passtime, isn't it? - the backyard barbie!

Dave isn't entralled by the idea of al fresco eating. The idea of sharing his meal with flies and mozzies causes him to screw his face up in the most unattractive grimace that I mostly avoid bringing up the idea. Besides this, our house isn't well set up for outdoor eating. We have a relatively flat, concreted area just outside the back door, but it's right in front of the garage on the driveway and not very inviting. Also the back steps are an out and out health hazard, so we never use them and then we have to walk half way around the exterior of the house to get to that spot which tends to squash any motivation I might have if I can get past the image of Dave's screwed up face.

But I still dream of one day having family barbecues on those occassions that call for them!

One day we'll live somewhere where I can splurge on a barbie, and we can cook and eat out of doors and watch the Big Race! All the boys will be here and who knows, we might even invite other people and make an event of it.

One day I want to have a New Years Eve barbie, and a Solstice barbie, and a for-the-heck-of-it barbie. I want to participate in the Great Barbecue Culture! One day! One day soon!

Teenagers and the failing parent...