Thursday, December 31, 2009

My 101 list...

I promised I'd get this done by the 1st of January, so today is the day to do it! To be perfectly honestly, I haven't sat down and worked this out at all and am about to the write out the list HERE AND NOW. This is one of the reasons I've decided to do this, I procrastinate way too much and thereby end up leaving myself short of time to really think about the decisions I end up making... I'll give you one guess what the first thing on my list is going to be...

  1. STOP PROCRASTINATING; just do it and do it right! (I realise this is vague, but at the end of the 1001 days I'll rate my satisfaction with my performance and score a pass on myself if I am 60% satisfied).
  2. Participate in a NaNoWriMo.
  3. Become a member of the Victorian Writer's centre.
  4. Participate in 10 short story competitions. 0/10
  5. Hug each of my children every day!
  6. Take one awesome photo of each boy and have it printed on canvas. 0/4
  7. Get a family portrait done WITH DAVE AND MYSELF IN IT!
  8. Read a book of fiction every month - from cover to cover.
  9. Drink 8 glasses of water every day!
  10. Walk 10 000 steps every day!
  11. Graduate from my Masters degree!
  12. Start my PhD!
  13. Do at least course in Auslan.
  14. Get a part time job outside the home!
  15. Get my birth certificate and name change certificates replaced.
  16. Decorate my belly cast from my pregnancy with Bryn and display it somewhere.
  17. Grow some vegies MYSELF!
  18. Move closer to the boys' school.
  19. Visit my Nanna with all the boys!
  20. Have a session in a sensory deprivation tank.
  21. Take each of my boys out for dinner and a movie, individually! (0/4)
  22. Have my first ever ride on a ferris wheel!
  23. Paint on canvas once a month!
  24. Grow my hair really long down my back one last time.
  25. Finally design and get that tattoo I've been thinking about for a decade.
  26. Take Dave back to Bondi!
  27. See a dentist and get my teeth fixed.
  28. Have four pendants designed and made for the boys.
  29. Re-new my wedding vows and have a big party with family and friends.
  30. See 10 movies at the movies that aren't kids movies! 0/10
  31. Learn CPR.
  32. Clear out the garage of stuff we haven't used in forever and probably won't ever use!
  33. Get Erik into his own room!
  34. Get back into my size 12 jeans.
  35. Apply for a job teaching writing.
  36. Be a class helper in each of my boys classes at least once each school year.
  37. Save $10 000 for emergencies.
  38. Get my cholesterol checked.
  39. Go technology free for a week (no mobile, no computer, no tv).
  40. Have 30 days of silence - where I don't speak one word 24 hours. 0/30
  41. Find an affective anti-aging facial moisturiser and use it!
  42. Do a yoga class.
  43. Go to the beach 5 times. 0/5
  44. Crochet a multi-coloured granny square blanket.
  45. Build and decorate a gingerbread house with the kids.
  46. Make a gift for someone.
  47. Have a no spend month (excepting groceries).
  48. Make a trifle for Christmas dessert.
  49. Host a Summer Solstice Celebration.
  50. Plant a tree.
  51. Attend a musical production.
  52. Attend a play.
  53. Find 10 new artists or bands I like and buy an album from each. (0/10)
  54. Attend a bonfire!
  55. Borrow a book from a library, read it and return it ON TIME.
  56. Buy five plants for inside the house and keep them alive.
  57. Start a new handwritten diary.
  58. Go vegetarian for three months.
  59. Go vegan for three months.
  60. Go raw vegan for three months.
  61. Buy someone a home delivery of organic fruit and veg.
  62. Brush my teeth 3 times every day for a month.
  63. Update my resume.
  64. Write a will.
  65. Sort the filing cabinet.
  66. Get an organ donor card of some description.
  67. Get a wooden chest and create a family treasure chest containing a family tree, baby clothing, and other memorabilia.
  68. Embroider a table runner.
  69. Submit a manuscript to a publisher.
  70. Rid this house of baby equipment and clothing once and for all.
  71. Go for a 10km walk.
  72. Frame photos of all my extended family and display them.
  73. Have dinner with Dave at a high end restaurant.
  74. Learn how to make my own hommus.
  75. Take a dance class.
  76. Buy some new make-up and replace it when it reaches it's used by date!
  77. Take the boys camping, even if it's just in the back yard!
  78. Buy a BBQ and host a BBQ!
  79. Host a New Year's Eve party.
  80. Host a dinner for my friends.
  81. Peel an apple in one continuous curly strand.
  82. Get a real 4-6 cup teapot and use it with visitors.
  83. Knit a cute tea cozy for my tea pot!
  84. Get a Djembe and figure out how to do some drumming.
  85. Make a macrame wall using fall wood as an anchor.
  86. Downsize my wardrobe to 25 items of clothing (not including underwear and accessories) including coats, pants, skirts and tops for casual and special occassions.
  87. Send flowers to three friends. 0/3
  88. Keep an emotions journal to try and nut out my emotional responses to other people.
  89. Stop swearing completely for three months.
  90. Adhere to "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" for three months.
  91. Stop name calling for three months.
  92. Perform 10 random acts of kindness. 0/10
  93. Go out on the Eureka tower skydeck!
  94. See 10 films at the Melbourne International Film Festival (don't have to be in the same season) 0/10
  95. Build a sandcastle and watch it get washed out by the incoming tide.
  96. Create and bury a time capsule.
  97. Learn how to make my mum's Icelandic pancake and kleina.
  98. Find and obtain a copy of Skólaljód.
  99. Learn how to make nori rolls at home.
  100. Learn to play a few basic songs on a classical guitar.
  101. Have an evening picnic under the Federation Bells as they play.
  102. ETA: I wanted to explain that the items I've listed as doing for extended periods (1-3 months) are practices I'm hoping to develop into life long habits, but I also wanted a distinct end point at which time I could tick them off the list.

Monday, December 28, 2009

In our kids best interest...

Been thinking about highly strung, overly uptight, anxious and self-involved parents - you know the kind. Those parents who pour over every single study available online to comb out the "truth" about conventional parenting choices, mostly to prove they're all wrong. Parents who consider themselves conscious. Parents prepared to cut everyone, including grandparents out of their children's lives for using the wrong WORDS.

Parents like me.

Well, parents like the parent I've been from time to time.

You know, and I'm sad to admit this now, but for the sake of a honestly I will, there was a time when I had myself so tied up in knots about Dave referring to my boys penis' as "willies" that I was seriously wondering if he was the kind of parental figure I wanted in their lives. It wasn't only that he steadfastly refused to use the right word, but he also had a tendency to be grouchy and to call them naughty, and yes, even to use the word "No" like it actually had some sort of positive influence on their behaviour.

For a while, I thought my children were better off without their grandmother - my mother - because she dared to question me picking my eldest up when he but murmured his need for me. "Oh, is that all it takes for you to pick him up?" she asked, and based on that I refused to let her babysit him. She felt my rejection deeply. So deeply, she actually moved to another state because she was sure I didn't want or need her.

I'm very sad about that now.

Obviously, I STILL want my boys to know that their penis is their PENIS and not their WILLY. I also still believe the word "No" is completely and utterly useless when applied to a children under the age of three or four, and it's much better to just state to the child what you would like them to be doing instead. I absolutely still pick my babies up BEFORE they cry whenever that is possible - and it's almost always possible.

The thing is, I started to realise that while I was being the best parent I knew how to be, I was also robbing my children of so much with my hyper-anxious, closed minded, overly critical view of everyone else's behaviour toward them.

No, my kids eating copious amounts of fruit was NOT a good thing, especially for Erik, it sent him nuts. Cocoa also sent him nuts. Very occassionally well-meaning people ignored my pleas to abstain from feeding my children these foods. At first I would just cut those people out of our lives, but soon I realised our social circle was becoming incredibly small and someone sourfaced. Also, my kids were feeling the underlying anxiety and acting it out.

When my eldest was 15 months old, I took him to visit my mum interstate. I was a wreck. I just KNEW she was going to do EVERYTHING wrong. She wasn't going to abide by my very narrow, unforgiving guidelines about how to act around him. And she did do a lot of things "wrong" too. The thing is, Erik wasn't suffering, he was DELIGHTED with her. He basked in the glory of her grandmotherly attentions - even when they were peppered with the occassional, "If you're a GOOD BOY, I'll give you a car from this box on the fridge, but if you ask you won't get one, you just have to be good and wait"...

Today he LOVES his grandmother.

My ILs said and did EVEN WORSE stuff! They gave him and Easter Egg when he was 9 months old. They didn't support my full term breastfeeding (they thought it was odd and should definitely be done behind closed doors), they bought us a COT! They were TERRIBLE! MIL even upset Luey when he was 18 month by threatening him passively with the wooden spoon!!! He set her straight - he didn't hug her for 3.5 years after that! He LOVES her all the same.

My children would be missing out on so many relationships if I had just cut out the offending friends and family who refused to be as conscious as me (despite my long-winded explanations of the merits of my research). Their lives, and mine, would have been very much poorer for it all.

I think also, my children would not have learned to just do what they believe and command the respect they know they deserve if they had never had to "endure the horrors" of interacting with people who didn't believe the same thing as they have been raised to believe.

I see my kids as bi-cultural. They know that a penis is also called a willy but that that is a nickname that people use because they aren't very mature (hehehe)... They know that "good" and "bad" is about perception and not reality. They know that many people expect babies to sleep in cots and drink from cups after the age of 12 months, but that you don't have to do everything most people think is true. They know that they CAN have chocolate, but that it might make them feel out of control, so to be careful when having it, or to say no if they think it's not a good time for being out of control.

They know that people aren't perfect. They know that imperfect people love them, so they don't have to be perfect either. And they are sorrounded by LOTS of people who love them!

PS. Something else I learned is that you can read all the same studies, know all the same stuff and come to different CONSCIOUS parenting choices. Conscious is not a catch-all for one way of thinking.

Personality and loyalty...

Dave and I were discussing our boys last night - as we often do. Somehow the conversation turned to personality difference and more specifically their individual approaches to loyality.

Loyality is a personality trait that is much esteemed in our society, and also often used to manipulate people into tolerating behaviours in others that really should not be tolerated. Loyalty is a bit of an enigma. My understanding of it is that it is earned and once developed bridges the gap between self-preservation and standing by one's who have earned your loyalty.

Some people seem to interpret it as being a stop gap for standing by someone despite their inexcusable behaviour...

So, back to the boys.

Erik and Luey are both very loyal people, but they employ loyalty in different ways.

Erik is very readily loyal to anyone who is nice to him. His loyalty seems to be about needing to be liked. Erik is quite pre-occupied with being liked. To him being liked is synonymous with being safe. I believe this speaks mostly to Erik's innocence and ready optimism about people in general. I love that he is like this, but sometimes fear for him because of his inclination to be loyal to just about anyone who smiles at him.

Luey is loyal to people he has extensively vetted. He opens himself slowly to people, but those people he deems trustworthy I'm sure he'd just about sacrefice all for (though he does have a strong sense of self-preservation, so perhaps not quite lay down his life for). It's not easy to earn, but once earned it's a strong loyalty.

So far, we don't sense that Bryn shares the same approach to loyalty as Erik and Luey. Bryn is only four, so still a few years until his base personality is fully developed but by this age Erik and Luey were both in possession of the loyalty traits they bear now. Maybe his loyalty is even harder earned than Luey's and so we haven't seen anyone bestowed with his loyalty yet. Maybe loyalty is something that doesn't weigh as heavily on him as it does with his brothers, so he hasn't seen cause to exhibit it yet. Perhaps those he is loyal to haven't been challenged yet, so his loyalty hasn't been required. Whatever the case, he hasn't exhibited this trait to anywhere near the degree his brothers have, and yet, he is a completely likeable person for lack of any strong exhibition of loyalty.

Ari is, of course, far to young to assess.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sif's 10 Rules for 2010...

I've set myself the following 10 Rules to live by in 2010, in the hopes of improving my enjoyment of life (that is, so I can stop getting sick and ending up on anti-biotics and feeling tired and critical and cranky all the time...)...

  1. Be in bed by 10pm each night (unless out of the house on one of my rare evening social engagements).
  2. Eat breakfast before 10am each and EVERY morning and finish eating for the day by 7.30pm (so I can get to sleep without the interruptions of digesting!).
  3. Eat consciously and be true to my conscience (that is intentionally vague!).
  4. Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day.
  5. Walk 10 000 steps every day (even if it means walking up and down the driveway to make sure I tick over the entire 10 000 each day - but hopefully I'll find more creative ways to use those steps).
  6. Spend no more than 1 hour per day on PC based internet (twittering and checking facebook on iphone permitted because that is naturally limited by download limits and battery!) - That's 7 hours per week, and those 7 hours are transferrable if not used.
  7. No procrastinating! I know what most needs to be done at any given moment, so I'm just going to DO IT!
  8. Celebrate all the Sabbaths by doing an appropriate activity with the kids for each one!
  9. Read AT LEAST one book of FICTION each month. This is NOT transferrable.
  10. Do one canvas artwork each month. It doesn't matter that I don't have any experience, I'm just going to have fun with it!
I'm hoping these things will help me be a more joyful, creative, and healthy me this year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The choice to believe...

It's Christmas Eve tonight.

We'll be sitting down to dinner in a couple of hours and then turning on the Carols by Candlelight and openin the presents under the tree...

Erik has already reminded us that we need to put out milk and cookies for Santa tonight, and for that I love my boy!

He knows. He knows what presents will be in the stockings tomorrow morning, at least one of them. He was there with me when I bought them. He knows, but he CHOOSES to believe anyway!

I love that Erik CHOOSES TO BELIEVE!

I believe this is a trait that will stand him in good stead throughout his entire adult life. His willingness to hold onto the possibility of...

Merry Christmas Everyone and don't forget to hold onto the possibility of!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

For Jayne and her family...

In memory of Jayne's loved dad, and Liam and Sienna's grandad who passed today at 1pm, aged 92 years. All our love to you Jayne, and to your mum and your kids! Love Sif, Dave, Erik, Luey, Bryn and Ari xxxxxx

I Am With You Still
In a twinkling of an instance
A dream comes to an end
The winds of change presented
Coming round the bend

And so your world is shattered
A breaking of your heart
The fabric of your being
So quickly ripped apart

It's all that you imagined
In all your wildest dreams
The emptiness surrounds you
With pain or so it seems

But this is not the ending
For strength lives on through will
My love is always with you
And I am with you still

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's been a long day...

Thanks to the Australia Post strike, the letter I needed with the pre-admission appointment information didn't turn up yesterday. I ended up calling the hospital to find out the appointment time. They said 10.30am, which was great. I figured I might even have time afterwards to go to Ikea or get to the boys' school for end of year break up.

Got the pre-admission department WAY TOO EARLY at 9.30am because I wasn't 100% sure where it was and didn't want to feel stressed if I couldn't find it easily. They didn't mind me being earlier, said the earlier the better and I sat down feeling rather pleased with myself, thinking I'd definitely be out of there by 10.30am, leaving plenty of time for Ikea and getting back to the school.

Then the nurse tells me I have an optic appointment in the clinic on the fourth floor at... wait for it... 1.30pm!

So, yep, as predicted I walked out of pre-admission at 10.30am, having been weighed and measured and questioned and then had three hours to kill until my next appointment.

Luckily Ari slept for an hour of that time. I talked to Dave on the phone, and played bejewelled and spammed twitter and facebook with my whinging - I LOVE my iPhone!

1.30pm rolled around and I went in to see one dr, and a student dr, and then out to wait some more before meeting my surgeon.

The upshot after more measuring was that my eye was quite turned so either I could just have an adjustment done of my left eye, but it might not completely fix the squint and I'd probably have to come back and get my right eye adjusted too (the eye work together, so both eyes actually need adjusting), or I could get the whole job done at one but that would mean surgery on three ligaments, two in my left eye and one in my right.

I struggled not to laugh the entire time the doctor - whose name is Lloyd Bender (rofl) - was talking because he had this English accent that reminded me entirely of the guy in the following ad!



Anyway, did manage to get to Ikea and now have peppercakes and lingon berry jam and Daim (I hate that they've changed the spelling on those!) to soothe me over Christmas as I endure a pair of eyes that feel like they have gravel in them...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My gratutious cosmetic surgery...



Tomorrow I'm going for a pre-admission appointment at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital here in Melbourne.

This journey began when I took myself off to the optometrist in early March to see about getting some reading glasses to alleviate the many headaches I was experiencing at the time.

During the appointment I mentioned to the optometrist that I'd been feeling more and more self-conscious about my left eye turning out. She said she had a colleague who could probably fix that and that it wasn't hard to get the operation done, and not too expensive either. I was very excited at the prospect of getting my eye fixed. It wouldn't improve my sight any because my left eye is completely blind (which is probably also the cause of it slowly becoming lazy). I'm lucky that I don't see out of that eye because with it turning out like that my vision would have been adversely affected.

Many friends and family have said the turn out is barely noticeable, but to me it is noticeable and it is there all the time - I took a photo just before to show the turn out, in case those of you who see me in real life actually believe it's not very noticeable, LOL.

If you place your hand over the right side of my face in the photo, I should be looking straight at you, but if you put your hand over the left side, it looks as though I'm looking past you.

This has caused confusion for me when trying to get service at counters - the staff don't know if I'm looking at them or the person next to them, LOL...

So, anyway my optometrist's colleague was happy to do the surgery, and only for $5000! Might as well have been $5 million, LOL, I didn't have that kind of money for an operation that was basically just cosmetic.

I went back to my optemetrist and she was quite disappointed that the op was going to cost so much and I couldn't afford it. She suggested contacting the Eye and Ear hospital and trying to get on their waiting list.

I got an assessment with them in June or July, I think (it's been a busy year), and they said they'd put me on the list and it would be a 6-9 month wait. So, then I got the phone call two days ago to come in tomorrow for the pre-admission. It's right before Christmas, which is a bit of a PITA, but at the same time I just want to get this over and done with.

I have to admit to being nervous now though. I really hope it goes well, and WORKS LONG TERM (sometimes the effects of the operation only last a very short time and then the eye starts to turn again, but I live in hope that it'll still for long while). I hope I recover very quickly with no infections or complications. My worst fear is of losing the eye somehow, but it doesn't bear thinking about!

I hope the next photo I put up here of myself shows both eyes looking in the same direction. Might be a couple of months until I do that - they like to slightly over-correct so that when the tissues heal and relax the correction is spot on, and also my eye will be very bloodshot for a while...

No more taking 100s of angled photos to try and get my eye to look more or less aligned for avatars! Yay!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Updates...

Thought I'd do a general update of a couple of things...

The Boys Classroom assignments for 2010.

Yesterday we found out which 3/4 class Luey was moving up. In case you don't know, our boys go to a school that has multi-aged classrooms. So, the Preps, 1 and 2s are in classes together, then the 3s and 4s and finally the 5s and 6s are together. This encourages kids to work at their own pace and to learn from each other.

So, in theory, Luey should have had the same teacher and class mates (more or less, there are always students leaving and new ones coming in each year) for the past three years. Unfotunately, for Luey, it hasn't worked out that way. The teacher he had as a preppie didn't get along with him, so we had him moved. Then the teacher he had as a 1st grader moved to a different school this year, so he got a new teacher. Three teachers in three years! And now he's moving up to middle primary, so yet another new teacher.

So, yesterday we found out he's going up to the class he wanted to go up to AND his two best mates from his current class are going with him! He is RAPT to say the very least. I feel sorry for his new teacher, LOL! The three most vivacious kids from his class all moving up together! But it'll be great and we're all excited for him!

So, then there was the issue of Erik possibly being moved from his 3/4 class to the new additional 3/4 class that was being formed to accommodate a surge in enrolments. Three times we were asked if he would move. He was keen to move because two of his friends from other classes would move if he did, too, but we felt the move would not be in his best interest as it always take him a while to settle into a new situation and the anxiety that inevitably brings leads to distracted and distracting behaviour in him. The school would give us NO assurances that he wouldn't be moved, so we were beginning to believe they were prepared to just run their own agenda on this one, and Dave was setting up to give them what for if they did...

Crisis averted! Erik is staying in his current class! Not only that but THREE good friends, including his best friend in junior school are moving up to his class! He's beside himself with joy! Turns out the two kids who were also going to be in the new 3/4 class pulled out when they heard Erik wasn't going to be there. So, now we believe we understand why the teachers and the Principal were putting some pressure on us. Erik was a kind of lynch pin that was holding the threesome together and would have made it easier to form the class with three volunteers moving over... I personally think that grouping would have been disasterous, not only for the teachers, but for Erik as well, and I don't think the teachers and principal were really aware of what dynamic they were encouraging.

So, both boys are excited about starting 2010...

My eye-straightening operation.

I've been keeping an eye on the mail for the past couple of weeks, waiting to hear from the Eye and Ear Hospital with regard to my eye-straightening (purely cosmetic) surgery. I went for an assessment in June/July and back then they said I'd be contacted in around 6-9 months for with an op date. I was hoping to have the operation during the holidays so that we didn't have to work around school and kinder and baby schedules.

Anyway, was visiting a friend yesterday and got a call on my mobile. It was the Eye and Ear hospital and they wanted me to come in on Friday for a pre-op admission to have the surgery on Monday!

Eeeeeek!

Monday is what? THREE days out from Christmas??? We celebrate Christmas Eve here - but also Christmas day for Dave's family. That's cutting it (pun intended) all a bit fine! I would have the op on Monday, come home on Tuesday, rest on Wednesday, have a low key Christmas Eve of Thursday and MIL over for Christmas Day on Friday...

Dave is really worried the op might end up complicated like my gall bladder op was earlier this year and that that would ruin Chritmas, but this op is so different from the other one. Nothing is being removed. I imagine my left eye might be sore for a while, so I might need panadeine, but I can't imagine it would be anything like recovering from complicate gallbladder surgery.

The time is obviously not great. I only got offered this time because someone else cancelled, no doubt because it was so close to Christmas. I did ask when the surgery would be likely to happen if I didn't accept this time slot and was told probably not before February. February would actually be worse because I'd be doing my course by then, Bryn would have newly started Kinder, the boys would be at school. Ari would already be dealing with not seeing me for most of three days a week, to then also be away from me overnight might just push him over the edge...

Another thing that keeps playing on my mind is how I'd like to get this done this year. I don't want to contaminate 2010 with 2009 stuff. 2009 has been a very challenging year for all of us. It started with my gallbladder attack (literally on New Years Night)... So much else has happened this year. If I could get this op done and be well on my wait to recovering by the time 2010 rings in, that would be an excellent bookend to the 2009. I could start 2010 fresh and new...

So, there you go...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Nothing clever to say...

I don't have anything clever to say today (yes, it's fairly disputable whether I have anything clever to say ever, I know)... On facebook this morning a friend's status update let her friends know her dear grandmother had passed away. At the same time a very close friend's father went into palliative care today and will likely pass this coming week. And so I'm reminded that while this time of year is lovely, it's also a sad time for some people. Dave and his mum will be celebrating their first Christmas without a dad and a husband, and while it's been six months, the pain just sits there quietly in the air. Occassionally, I can see it brush against them when they're not expecting it to.

So, for all the people who will be missing people this Christmas, I wish you happy memories to warm you and maybe even make you smile through those tears that threaten when you remember your loved ones.

Friday, December 11, 2009

And a Bah Humbug to you, too!

Ok, I do realise we're in the Age of Questioning, where the discerning and CONSCIOUS parent questions EVERYTHING concerned in raising their child, but my goodness some people need to "stickectomy"!

It seems some parents are dead seat determined to take every ounce of fun out of childhood. I'm not just refering to the safety conscious, this time, who won't let their kids do or have anything that might in any way cause them any kind of harm, but also the parents who are determined their kids won't have any form of stimulant, be it sugar, caffeine, television, brightly painted-plastic toys, or scary or silly stories...

The latest, Anti-Christmas craze is a real downer, I have to say.

Fair enough, if you're not Christian, you don't want to be hypocritical. And also fair enough, there is a LOT of capitalist, consumerist hype around Christmas, but honestly folk - CHILLAX A LITTLE - there is still a lot to be gained from Christmas, and there is a social benefit to children in being allowed to participate in a society based activity.

I so often hear, it takes a village to raise a child, and yet I so often SEE parents refusing to allow their children to participate in village life because they, themselves, feel it's not ideal enough.

In this household, we don't have letters to Santa or wishlists, and Santa doesn't bring presents, but that's not because we believe engaging children in the Santa-myth is the same as LYING to them. Neither do we believe that having or interacting with Santa representation is the same as buying into the Capitalist Coca-cola Santa Consumerism Movement (CCSCM). It's simply a matter of it never having been part of our own childhoods.

My mum pushed the Icelandic Christmas tradition, so we grew up knowing about Santa, but also having this 13 Christmas lads to revel in... I'm not 100% sure what Dave's childhood Santa traditions were, but knowing his parents, who were quite self-conscious, I image Santa and reindeer footprints were not found on Christmas morning in his house. It was a much more sober affair - which, buy the way, left him not seeing much magic in Christmas at all, and me having to re-create it all for him at the age of 38 (thank you very much ILs ;P)...

So, our kids know all about the Christian impetus for Christmas. They know about the old pagan beliefs as well. They know about St Nicholas and his work. They understand that the Santas in shopping malls are representative of a spirit of kindness and charity. They know mum and dad adopt that spirit when giving them presents at Christmas and everyone is Santa to everyone else in that sense but that it's not all about the material giving of gifts, there is also the emotional and spiritual giving of kinds and charity, and that Christmas is but a reminder and celebration of this spiriht which should be adopted all year round, just like God gave the Earth Jesus, and The God and Goddess gave the Earth the Sun (in the northern hemisphere where Yule is a celebration of the coming light). We also adopt a very Icelandic tradition of NOT telling our kids that Santa isn't real, or that anything not straight-down-the-line tangible is not real. Afterall, do you KNOW Santa doesn't exist in some form? Do you KNOW there is not Spirit of Christmas (God or oversized gnome alike) that doesn't intervene to create everyday miracles... If so, then you certainly know something many of us don't - and we'd rather you DIDN'T tell us - we like our little self-delusional world, it's pretty and full of hope and love.

They have it all, our kids.

dIt seems to me that a lot of this rejection of Christmas as lying to children and Capitalism pushing Consumerism, is actually turning a lot of parents in the miserly old scrooge's that the Spirit of Christmas (from whatever perspective you look at it) was trying to do away with through kindness and generosity and opening your heart to the rest of the village.

But fair enough, you can't MAKE people be less critical and less closed off to all that is around them. You can't make "glass half empty" types see that the glass is actually half full, unless they WANT to see it for themselves...

You can have a non-lying, non-consumerist Christmas WITHOUT all the bile and vitriole, and you CAN let other people continuing "lying" and consuming to their hearts content, if only you dig deep and find some of that kindness and generosity that the Spirit of Christmas is all about...

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Are you the kind of friend you'd like to have?

I came across this question on a blog somewhere in the last couple of weeks and it's really been irritating the back of my brain ever since I read it.

I can honestly say, I am NOT the kind of friend I'd like to have.

I'm far to critical. I really lack compassion.

I think being highly critical of other people says a lot about a person, and none of what it says is particularly good news!

I think I definitely need to work on myself a lot more consciously.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Studying and working.

I never thought I'd go to Uni, but thanks to a TAFE teacher who asked me (on the last day of applications) what courses I'd applied for, and then asked me with a shocked expression WHY I hadn't applied for ANYTHING, I ended up applying for and getting accepted into a Uni undergraduate degree.

The degree was in computer programming - can you believe THAT? Well, if you don't know me, maybe you can... Those who do know me are probably still laughing uncontrollably on the floor next to their computers, so let's give them a minute to compose themselves...

All good? Right, where was I?

Ok, so it took me about a week to realise that I was just NEVER going to pass Discrete Maths A, and would struggle with Probability and Stats, and that I'd being doing everyone a favour if I transferred to another course.

Me being me, I couldn't do anything the simple or straightforward way, so not only did I transfer courses, I transferred departments, and instantly became a pain in my Uni's arse.

After several years of failing (due to arrogance and a slack attitude), going part time, and even deferring for six months, the Vice Chancelor signed off on my Bachelor of Arts in Communications (Professional Writing), and heaved a huge sigh of relief that I would no longer darked the hallowed door of his University.

Now, a Bachelor of Arts in Communications is pretty much a birdie degree (you fly through it, but you come out pretty much unqualified to do anything in particular). Sure I could compose a sentence, and could tell you how to communicate clearly interpersonally and in a large organisation, but really there is no such job as a Communicator - well, not one that pays anything...

So, I decided, in order to get a job, I would do a Diploma of Education. I decided to do this at Melbourne Uni because they offered a one year diploma for which a degree in Communications was an acceptible pre-requisite. I thought I might go on to teach writing at Tafe, or somethng like that...

Yes, well, finished the course and realised that to teach writing at Tafe, I would have to formulate a course myself and then "sell" it to the powers that be, and if I got to teach, it would be on a short term contract basis. It sounded like a lot of gain for very little benefit. So, I decided to do a Master of Education instead, because then I'd be able to tutor at Uni, and maybe even lecture one day.

Good plan, in theory.

Having two kids before finishing the Masters and then choosing to be an attachment parent (and, in the early years I was quite zealous about the children needing ME and only ME to care for them 24/7), well, it wasn't condusive to going out to work. Besides, I was going to homeschool them, so then I couldn't really go out to work either.

This is where I tell you that in all the years D and I have been together, he has never had a permanent full-time job. Mostly he's work permanent part-time three days a week, sometimes more for short periods of time if his workplace was busy (seasonal work), sometimes less. We've gotten buy because I receive a non-means tested pension and family allowance payments for the kids.

After the M.Ed. I took five years off studying. I didn't have paid employment during that time either though because I was busy caring for Erik and Luey, and later Bryn as well.

Then I enrolled in a Master of Arts (Creative Writing) in order to pursue my love of writing, possibly get publish and further my ambition of one day doing a Ph.D. I'm still working on that Masters.

But now we really need some more income in this house. Dave has been out of work since April. Despite all my years of study, I don't really qualify to do anything! Being legally blind means there are many jobs I physically cannot do, and many where I can do the work, but the employers just won't employ me.

All the same, this morning I went for an interview to do a Certificate III in Children's Services. A 5 month course which will qualify me to work as a kinder teacher's assistant. The irony of having done 7 years of tertiary education (over the past nearly 20 years) and yet having to do a 5 month certificate in order to get work, has been playing on my mind all day. I could have done this certificate (and nearly did!) 19 years ago!

However, by the middle of next year, I should be eminently employable, and for the first time in 15 years I will be earning an income, however small from working outside the home!

I'm kind of excited! I'm most excited about being in a classroom with other students again!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Night Terrors - a sign of great intelligence, right?

You know how whenever your child is getting into everything in the house, or is being hyperactive or disruptive in class, it's always because they must be especially intelligent and need more stimulation or some such thing? Yeah, while there is some truth in these reasonings, we all know that mostly being told our child is really bright is to make us feel better for having to struggle with them more than what seems (from the outside, looking into other people's lives) the norm.

Ah yes, well, at 4.10am, after 2 hours and 10 minutes sleep (Ari apparently decided that after a long day of socialising, he really only needed a 2 hour "nap" between 7pm and 9pm, and then needed to be awake between 9pm and 2am), Ari woke with a blood curdling scream. Luckily for him, I was sleep right next to him our family bed. Unluckily for me, I was sleeping right next to him in our family bed... After slipping back into my skin, I attempted to comfort my distressed and writhing baby. He flailed and screamed, and twisted his body this way and that. I attempted to breastfeed him (that's pretty much my go-to solution for distress, their's and mine!). He wanted no bar of the boob. In fact, he wanted no bar of me either. It was like I was the monster in his nightmare that he was trying to get away from.

TBH, I got a little annoyed. I was half asleep, roused from what would have been DEEP sleep, after an 18 hour day. It took me a good 15 minutes or so to accept that he was totally losing the plot and that this might actually be a night terror episode. You see, we're not unfamiliar with night terrors in this house. All the boys have had them, though Luey only had one, so we don't even really count it. Erik had a half dozen or so, REALLY awful ones where he would run from us screaming and cower in a corner. The light would be on, but seriously no one was at home, he was in his own - obviously very scary - world. Then after 30 minutes or so, he's come out of it, be calm as cool water. But he was 20 months or so old.

Bryn has had many, many night terrors. They started at about 2.5 years of age, and we're still working through the odd one here and there. His were only moderate, and seemed mild compared to Erik's, though many more in number.

So, anyway, night terrors aren't a new phenomenon in this house, but NEVER has one of our children had one this young (13 months). Ari's was on the same level of Erik's, but unlike Erik, once I realised what I was dealing with and turned the light on, Ari seemed to recover. Took him a couple of minutes, but he came out of (Erik would only come out of it if we held him tightly on our lap and said his name over, and over, and over.

Night terrors are thought to be causes by overtiredness and overstimulation. Children (and adults who very occassionally suffer night terrors) are not thought to recall the nightmare they live so realistically for the period of the night terror.

I just wish there was some pay off for night terrors, like it meant they were super intelligent... Because they're so awful to go through, especially when you're woken from a deep sleep to try and deal with it.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

And now for something different...

Erik is growing up so fast!

We had major dramas here last night, because I got a terse call from the school nurse about Erik having nits in his hair. She made a point of telling me she'd actually yanked out a strand of hair to SHOW Erik the nit attached to it - he was obviously protesting that his psoriasis LOOKS like nits sometimes.

So, yet again (for the fifth time this week) with condition and a nit comb, we sat down last night to try and get rid of the nits. This a very difficult process for us because I'm legally blind and he does have psoriasis, so it's hard for me to see the nits, let alone get them (his hair is so fine it slips through the come with nits still attached, very easily). I can't let Dave do the job because, for some reason I cannot fathom, he seems to have even more trouble seeing the nits than I do - male patterned blindness, I suspect.

We conditioned and combed, and I have to say, because Erik's hair has been conditioned so much this week, it was so silky to comb, even with the nit comb. I don't know if we got any nits, but sadly we got over two dozen live lice! Aarrrgh! Yes, even with all our combing - I'm sure they all hatched in the 48 hours since the last comb through, when we only got one louse. ONE!

As much as I'd vowed never to buzz cut Erik's hair again - there's a blog post in November about it, if you were living under a rock and didn't see my spaz attack here and on Facebook - I had to admit defeat last night.

Out came the scissors, and then the clippers, and for an hour Erik cried while I cut and clippered his locks. Then he went and hid and cried some more under his bed.

He told me NOT to buy him the Trilby hat he'd asked for for Christmas. According to him, there was no point having it, as he would now not achieve "the look" he was aiming for.

Adolescence is happening.

I got onto Google for about 30 minutes and looked up all the short haired trilby wearing guys I could find. That cheered him up a bit. A long cuddle on the couch with mum cheered him up some more. Finally, a long chat about "men's stuff" (the plot in and outs of The Terminator - which he hasn't watched, but which Dave was explaining to him for some reason) in the study with Dave had him off to bed with a smile on his dile.

Who knew he could get so keyed up about his appearance and about how others would perceive him! He's beginning to formulate an identity for himself. He's really moving into adolescence. Thank Goodness we were able to help him make the most of a bad situation, hopefully he's also learning there are MANY ways to be who you want to be!

The Annual Complaint about Christian Religious Education Christmas concerts... (not my complaint, other's)

Warning: No holds barred telling it as I see it ahead... Read at your own risk...

A friend just twittered about having to attend her child's CRE concerted, and in the tweet my friend seemed annoyed that state schools offer Christian Religious Education - I'm assuming, as opposed to General Religious Education, or even No Religious Education (hey, what about Ethics Education instead)...

Fair enough, I tend to agree, schools offer Christian Religious Education, under the guise of teaching our children about morality and values and ethics, or some such thing, when it all reality, it's about interest groups infiltrating the education system - no doubt offering the schools some sort of fringe benefit for being allowed to do so - rather UNethical, in my opinion.

The thing I don't get when I hear this complaint from one friend or another EVERY SINGLE YEAR is why these friends choose to support a practice they are so very against.

Children do NOT have to attend these classes. Many children do not attend these classes. The thing is, someone always has to be first to opt OUT, someone has to lead the way. Many parents worry that their kids might feel "left out" if they aren't allowed to attend the CRE classes or the concert at the end of the year. To those parents, I would suggest CRE really isn't that big a deal for them is upsetting their child in the short term is a greater concern. Will these same parents be buying their kids beer to drink at the park when "all the other kids are out there having fun"? Or would these same parents allow their kids to attend a One Nation party, if it came into the school? Yk, because otherwise the child might miss out on the fun.

Of course the CRE instructors are going to make their classes and end of year concert FUN! That is how they sell their message! If you don't like the message, don't attend the classes or the concert.

If attending the classes or the end of year concert is really not THAT much of a big deal that you'd make your child "miss out", then don't whinge about how wrong it is that state schools allow CRE onto the premises. If you don't like it, don't support it, if you don't really care that much, don't whinge about it. Simple really.

Shall I end with a "Suck it up, Princess!" or is that too mean?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Two of my favourite things...

Goals and lists!

Love 'em! And now I've found something new and inspiration to, um, inspire me!!!

It's call the Day Zero Project and basically, what it is is a list of 101 things you'd like to achieve in the next 1001 days. But it's more than just a to-do list, (I mean, you could put "clearing out the linen closet" on the list, but...) this is more like bucket list of things you might like to try on for size, or do just once in your life.

I've become quite excited by this concept and have decided to do this. I'm not going to be terribly original, I've decided to start from January 1st, 2010. That gives me time to have a real think about things I want to put on the list, so I don't just put on things that I've seen on other people's list but that are not necessarily particularly meaningful to me...

I'll blog my list on January 1st (a month from now).

Teenagers and the failing parent...