Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year Witchiness!

The New Year is but a few hours away, and as per usual I'm preparing for my New Year ritual!  Usually, for the New Year, I focus on the things I want to achieve in the coming year, or attract into my life, but just recently, I read a blog post over at Confessions of Pagan Soccer Mom and it was as if it was written for me!  If you follow the link you'll find the ingredients for a New Years ritual that banishes negativity!!!

This is just perfect for my "third time lucky" attempt at a brilliant year!

I am particularly enamoured with the idea of putting all the things I want to let go off down on toilet paper and then FLUSHING the old crap down the loo!  How modern!  How appropriate!

This New Years Eve is a particularly good one for banishing spell-work, too.  We're in the last quarter of a waning moon, and New Year's Day falls on a Saturday, the best day for averting negativity - so a great start to a positive 2011!

In the kitchen I thyme, rosemary, salt and eggs.  I have rose quartz, pearl and amethyst stones ready as well.  There is enough toilet paper in the house for a banishing an few lifetimes of negativity, if need be as well!

In that I'm planning to banish anxiety and stress reactions, I've also bought some green tea to drink, as I recently heard that 4 cups of green tea a day contains enough of a particular herb to reduce anxiety.  I've also stocked up on frozen bananas, baby spinach leaves and cherries (I usually get raspberries, but the shops were out, so I thought I'd go posh!) for some green smoothies!  The green smoothies are to boost my energy levels a bit.

I'm so excited!  I just love this day!

I'm planning on banishing:

  • Unhelpful doubts (still want my intuition to work, though)
  • Anxiety
  • Pessimism
  • Other people's negativity
  • Obstacles to achieving goals
  • Financial difficulties
  • Ill-health
  • Friction
  • Cravings for non-nutrious foods
  • Lethargy
  • Aggression
  • and most of all instability!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 - the good, the great and the magnificent!

I thought I'd write up an overview of all the things that were great about 2010 in this household...

  1. Our family created a new tradition - the summer games tournament - and at the end of it we celebrated one teams victory by having a fabulous meal out at the Pancake Parlour, and Bryn was voted "Sportsman of the Tournament" by a unanimous family vote! - we're all very excited to redo this event, starting this coming weekend!
  2. Bryn finally got to go to kinder, most specifically the kinder he'd been asking to go since the beginning of 2007 - three years is a very long time to wait when you're not even two at the time you start asking for something.  Getting into that kinder was a bit of a miracle in itself as it was a very popular kinder, but I wangled our way in by saying I didn't drive and needed a kinder in walking distance.  Of course, the very day Bryn started, we got a notice to vacate and within 5 weeks we were living nowhere near walking distance from kinder - Murphy loves our family!  At kinder Bryn made a handful of fabulous friends who shared his deep devotion to Ben10.  This lead to play dates and birthday invites, and finally a party of his own where he invited "only my friends!" as opposed to mum's or Erik and Luey's friends.  2010 was a great year for Bryn in regards to social interactions!
  3. Even though we were unexpectedly given notice to vacate our home of 5 years, we managed to quickly find another home, with a HUGE back yard on the same street at the boys' school - a long held dream of ours!  Our old landlords let us leave the old place before the lease was finished, though they could have made us pay the difference, and that was really nice of them!
  4. Because we moved so close to the school, both Erik and Luey were able to visit their school friends nearby.  Luey made the most of this - going over to a friend's house after school at least 2-3 times a week.
  5. Erik was able to enroll in a local art class that he was able to walk to after school.  He loved this!
  6. Luey finally freed the dancing spirit inside him and made some more friends along the way, and mum got to make a new friend, too!
  7. Dave continued his driving lessons and FINALLY booked a driving test, which is only 5 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS away now!!!
  8. I enrolled in and completed a Certificate III in Children's Services, and while the course itself was stressful, meeting up with Jayne three times a week was a hell of a lot of FUN!  And I got a qualification which I hope will bring some extra income into this household in time to come.
  9. I FINISHED MY MASTERS requirements!!!  During this time, I spent a lot of time talking to, and working with, mum and realised we make a fantastic team!  From this we've decided to go away together to work on projects together in the future, and I'm really looking forward to that!  I also realised just how much work is really involved in writing - even just a short YA novel! - and I realised I really do LOVE writing!  I also discovered where I belong, the kind of people I belong with, and finally I had a sense of who I am which has healed a lot of wounds I've inflicted upon myself trying to fit in with people I will never fit in with.
  10. I found clothes I love in my size, and that I can afford!  That might seem like a small thing, but it has really boosted my confidence and again plays into the not feeling like there is nowhere I fit (or in this case, nothing I fit into that speaks to my personality and tastes).
  11. Dad dropped in a for a visit twice!
  12. Michael donated many days and his talent to creating 5 tattoos for me!  I had wanted tattoos for so long, but have always been shy of going into a parlour - they are very intimidating places to me! - and then Mike became a tattoo artist and finally I could get tattoos done in my very own kitchen by someone I trusted!
  13. I finally dug up the courage to go to the Writer's festival!!!  It was amazingly fun and cool and wonderful!
  14. I met, spoke with and got a signed copy of "Sophie's World" from one of my favourite author, Josteinn Gaarder!
  15. Erik participated in his first ever art exhibition, and sold a piece of work!
  16. I went to a Simply Red concert!!!  The first proper concert I've been to this century!  I had a complete blast and was surrounded by people I liked (just by chance!).  It was a great night!
  17. Mum came for a three day visit.
  18. I got free tickets to see a great movie.
And so many more little things that gave us pause, a chance to smile and a reason to be grateful!  There is no denying that 2010 was a challenging year, but it was also a year of many blessings - some borne directly from the challenges we had to overcome.  Some we might never have appreciated had it not been for those challenges!

I am looking forward to 2011 now.  I can see a handful of upcoming events that promise to be highlights, already.  I know there will also be challenges, but I'm excited about what we will learn and reap benefits from because of those challenges!!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Aha moment...

Those who know me personally will know I'm the sort of person who always manages to achieve whatever I set my mind to.  In fact, life is always kind to me in that way.  That said, the past two years have been a trial, and in particular there have a been a few things I've wanted to achieve that seem to have been very slow in coming to me - which has been quite weird, actually...

So, I've been observing myself and trying to figure out what it is that stands in my way at this point in my life, and I've realised something.

You'll hear, with regards to manifesting, that if you can imagine it, you can see it come to fruition.  Quite often this is couched in the caveat that if it isn't happening for you, then you just don't have enough faith - irrespective of whether the people doing the couching are New Age or of some other distinct religious bent.

What I've notice, just personally, is that if I can imagine it NOT happening, then there is a far greater chance it won't happen!  It's not so much about faith, as need.

For example, finishing a thesis Masters so I could attempt to qualify for a PhD was something I just could not imagine NOT happening.  I started my first Masters degree back in 1999, but about half way through that degree, I found that because I had a baby and a was pregnant with my second, I just couldn't keep up the work to complete the thesis in a timely fashion. So, I changed over to a course work Masters.  Even then, I knew the day would come that I would have to undertake a second Masters degree in order to be eligible for a PhD at some point in the future.

After that first Masters degree, I didn't study for 4.5 years, but all the time, I knew taking up another Masters was inevitable.  And so, three and a half years ago, and opportunity presented itself to do exactly the kind of Masters degree I wanted to do.  Doing this second Masters really tested me, there were a lot of obstacles to overcome, and yet I always knew I would finish it - not finishing it just wasn't a real option to me - even when I confided in friends that I was considering dropping it (and unanimously they all told me I wouldn't drop it - they knew too).

One day I will have the letters 'Dr' in front of my name, and I am certain about it, simply because I can't imagine it not happening (if it doesn't happen, it'll be because I stopped living before I achieved this outcome, which would be why I can't imagine it not happening, I can't imagine not living)...

On the other hand...  I can completely imagine living on a very low income and getting by from week to week the way we do now.  I know we can continue to do this and be okay - not great, but okay - and I think that is why we're not moving forward in this arena of our lives.

When you can't imagine not seeing something come to fruition, you are more alert to the opportunities being presented to you, and you are motivated to act on those opportunities.  This is not to say that "you make it happen", I still believe there is a greater power but you have to connect with that greater power (call it God, or the Universe or whatever pleases you), you have to be ready to graciously acknowledge and accept what is right in front of you, being offered in response to your request...

If you put it out there that you are starving, but then shut your eyes to the food put on the table in front of you, you will continue to starve - which begs the question, how starving can you actually be if the aroma and sight of the food in front of you doesn't cause you to spring into action with gratitude and renew verve?

Something for me to think about...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Taking a moment to breathe on Christmas Eve...

It's 2pm Christmas Eve and in about an hour's time, I have to get started on Christmas dinner.  Being Scandinavian, we celebrate Christmas today.  We ring Christmas in at 6pm, and sit down to eat.  Later it's time for presents, and in this household, that is always followed by watching Carols by Candlelight.  Most years it's just Dave and the boys and myself on this day (and then we get together with Dave's mum on Christmas day), but this year my brother Michael will be join us.

So, right now, the tree is decorated and twinkling with lights, the presents are arranged under the tree, and the boys are playing (or fighting, depending on the moment) in the sunshine filled front yard, and I have just a few moments of peace to apologise for not having updated here in over a week.

The week following my birthday was complete crazy with stress inducing situations.  There was kinder duty, and Bryn's finishing kinder, the boys finishing school - interlaced with dramas resulting from they having trespassed on school property the weekend before - and of course, as ever, my thesis.

Yet again, I experienced a 27 hour day of working solidly on the exegesis and manuscript.  Mum and I were on the telephone almost constantly throughout that time as she read through the exegesis with me as a second pair of eyes to pick up the ever present "typos" - I've discovered I have some for of dyslexia whereby I think one word but type another, sometimes completely different, word.  I had already been aware of my tendency to drop affixes from words (writing could where I meant to write couldn't, or cat where I meant to write cats), but this practice of writing and where I meant to write an, or intimate where I meant to write initiate is a bit of a worry because it leaves the impression that I just don't understand the meaning of words!

Anyway, after many, many wakeful, strung out hours, days, weeks and months, I FINALLY sent my thesis files to mum via dropbox and she saw to it that they were printed and bound and signed off on.  On Monday the thesis was mailed out to my examiners, who hopefully have it in their hot little hands right now (though I doubt they'll even look at it until after the New Year.  As they have eight weeks to mark the thesis, I could very likely miss the mid-February cut off for submitting finals marks in order to attend the graduation next April.  I'm a bit sad about that because it feels like there won't really be any celebration of completing the degree without the ceremony, and even though I can attend the following year, the time lapsed will be so much that it won't feel like a celebration so much as just another ceremony.  If I'm very, very lucky, they examiners might decide to sit down in January and mark the thesis and get the marks in before the cut off, that would be marvellous, but I can't count on it happening.

As to what mark I will get...  Well, I would hope to pass as the manuscript and exegesis were signed off on, I would love to get something better than a pass, and really must get something significantly better than a pass if I want to gain acceptance into a PhD - which is my ultimate goal!

I'm very keen to hear what the examiners have to say, at any rate, regarding the manuscript.  I'm hoping for some constructive criticism so I can move onto the next step of trying to get it published, which will be to go in search of an agent, probably via the Writer's Centre here in Melbourne.  There is also a competition I've heard of for submitting unpublished manuscripts, which I'm very interested in enter it into.

In the meantime, I am determined to read more, both fiction and books on the craft of writing.  I feel I have been extremely remiss in this aspect of my preparation and I want to right that wrong.  If this Masters has taught me anything, it is the importance of reading and research!

So, now we are all on holidays.  Next weekend we'll start our summer games tournament.  In a few short weeks Bryn will start school, and a handful of weeks after that we will move house yet again.  So, for the next month or so I want to focus on strengthening our family connections and reading, reading, reading!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Measuring off another year!

In Icelandic, the word "afmaeli" which is loosely translated to "birthday", strictly means "to measure off"...  It's not so much about the day you were born, as how many years you have survived!

Today I have survived thirty nine years!  I've been telling people all day that I'm either celebrating my first 39th birthday, or my tenth 29th birthday!  In actual fact, I don't mind getting older.  I don't even feel as though the main part of my life has started yet, so far it feels a bit like dress rehearsals before the main production.  Of course, this would be completely scandalous to some people, because, well, today could be my LAST day of life, but to me, it just means the best is yet to come and I'm excited to see what that is before it's been pretty damn fine so far (despite my copious whinging over the past couple of years).

I thought, in celebration of today, and in preparation for the big 4 0 next year, I would write myself a bit of to do list.  A list of all the stuff I want to achieve before I turn 40.  My is calling it my bucket list, but there's not way I'm kicking the bucket in 365 days time!  Here it is...

  1. read 40 novels
  2. do a class/course at th wheelers centre
  3. write two more novel precise
  4. find an agent
  5. finish my masters
  6. paint a large painting and hang it
  7. get some portrait photos taken of our family - including Dave!
  8. go to a gold class cinema screening
  9. spend at least one night away at a hotel with Dave
  10. go to the beach
  11. self publish a coffee table book of photos of things I love for me
  12. get a short story/poem published
  13. finish the colour on the boys tattoo
  14. get Dave's tattoo
  15. get the lotus tattoo
  16. get a pedicure
  17. track a copy of skólaljóð
  18. join a writers group
  19. join a book group
  20. get an iPad
  21. cook a roast (all by myself)
  22. learn how to make a pavlova
  23. buy 4 albums
  24. learn how to sew (really simple stuff) on a sewing machine
  25. crochet a granny square blanket
  26. decorate my belly cast
  27. get a 1 year subscription to Better Homes magasine (yes really)
  28. go to the dentist
  29. writer letters to all my children telling them all the things I would want them to know if I died
  30. write a will
  31. sort my jewelry and take better care of it (like a grown up)
  32. get an all white manchester set
  33. learn how to use a lawnmower
  34. make mum's fruit and cream birthday cake
  35. go to a musical
  36. cut my hair super short and colour it something bold
  37. volunteer
  38. save $4000
  39. learn how to download whole seasons of shows
  40. write a 45 things before I turn 45 list 
I can already tick off #34, because as soon as I wrote the list, I rang mum and asked her for the recipe, and it turned out to the be the simplest thing around!

Three glass cake

This first photo is rather grainy because my five year old had been playing with my camera, and I didn't notice until after the cake was made.  Basically it shows the ingredients in the sponge, and measurements.  Take any three identical glasses, put 2 or 3 eggs in the first glass, and that'll give you the measure for the sugar (I used raw sugar) and the self-raising flour.  Then you whip the eggs and sugar together until they're light and fluffy and you slowly cut in the sifted flour.  Heavily grease a cake tin of your choice (I used a 25cm flan tin) and bake for as long as you'd normally bake a cake in that tin (for me it was 20-25 minutes).  Let the cake cool, and turn it out.  Decorate as your please.

I decorated my cake with fruit cocktail and whipped cream.  Alternatively, I could have put any single tinned fruit, or fresh fruit, or berries and cream.  I also pour some of the tinned juices over the sponge before topping it.  Then I let it sit in the fridge and settle.  It's so yummy on a hot day!!!

For fun (or because I'm quite insane), I decided to try and get a photo of the four boys TOGETHER today...  It took many crap shot to get a good one...  Luey didn't want to be in the photo at all - can you tell?

Come on, Luey, smile, you know you want to smile...

Erik, Ari, look at the camera!

Maybe this angle with work, Ari, look at mummy...

Aw, come on, you guys, SMILE!  Ari, look. at. the. camera!  Bryn, that is NOT a smile!

Nearly, just one more...  I promise it'll be the last one (if you just look at the damned camera and smile, pleeeease!)...

YES!  Finally!  Hurray!  Okay, it's not centred, and Luey isn't looking directly at the camera, but honestly, this is about as good as it gets these days...  Maybe we'll do better by the time I turn 40?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Loan me some Christmas spirit?

If anyone has any to spare, I'm right here ready to receive it!

I'm not feeling all "Bah Humbug" or sad.  I'm just not feeling "it".

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE December.  It's honestly my favourite month of the year!  It's the beginning of summer, and it has Christmas in it, which gives me the best excuse to play Mariah Carey's Merry Christmas (playing as I write this) and sing along!  People are nicer to one another in December.  Life just feels easier in so many ways.

This year though, I dunno, I can't summon my usual level of inner joy and peace.

I miss my old house.  This house is nice - I love our green walls - but it doesn't feel like "home".  The Christmas tree is sitting in the garage, and I've promised the boys I'll pull it out after my birthday, but to be honest I'm kind of dreading the day after my birthday when they expect to see that tree in the corner of the lounge room  I'll just have to suck it up and do it, and maybe by doing it, I'll unpack that Christmas spirit, too?

Maybe it's just that I haven't finished this bloody thesis yet.  I thought I'd be finished 7 weeks ago.  I have been promised I will be finished by Monday at the very latest - hmmm, we'll see.  Maybe I'll be able to rustled up some Christmas spirit between next Monday and Christmas Eve the following Friday?

We can't source any triple smoked ham, and Erik thinks that means there won't be Christmas, because everything has to be the same.  I've been trying to convince him that traditions can change and it can still be Christmas, but maybe I'm not that convincing because I'm finding it hard to feel "it" myself?

I have to admit, I miss my mum - I haven't spent Christmas with her for 12 years.  I wish I'd appreciated our last Christmas together more.  I was so full of my own need to do my own thing and feeling pressure to be a certain way because Mum always wanted her Christmases just so.  I hope we can have Christmas together some time in the future.

I also miss Dave's dad - he was always Christmas, always cheerful and generous in spirit.  Today we heard that Dave's uncle died last Thursday.  I never met the man because Dave's mum and her sister has a falling out years before I even met Dave and haven't spoken to one another since.  MIL is sending a condolences card, but won't be attending the memorial.  I think Dave is a bit sad his uncle has passed, he was saying before that Uncle Terry was his "funny uncle".  But then he hadn't had much to do with him since he was 18 and hadn't even seen him in the past 20 years.

I don't know Dave's aunt, and from what I hear, she isn't the easiest person to get along with, but I still feel terribly sad for her  My friend Jayne lost her dad just before Chrstmas last year, and last week, another friend's FIL passed away.  There should be a ban on people passing away in December, it's just too cruel.

But you know, those aren't the reasons I not feeling "it".  Maybe there isn't one reason, maybe it's just the end of a long year and I'm too tired to feel "it"...

Anyway, if you have some Christmas spirit to spare, please spread it around because I suspect I'm not the only person not feeling "it" right now, and there are many people who have better reasons that me....

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I was going to post about yesterday's visit by the police, but suffice it to say, Erik and Luey did not come home via the agreed upon route, they therefore found themselves tempted by an open door up at their school, and were discovered trespassing by the police and escorted home, which scared the bejeezus out of them.  Free range fail, or natural consequences score?  Only time with tell.

Meanwhile, I was suitably embarrassed my by own state of unwash and feral dress, and the house's state of mess, to swear that I will NEVER get caught out looking like a feral again!

Moving right along...

This got me thinking about assumptions and generalisations, and how they can be manipulated to suit any situation, really...

I mean, my boys were out unsupervised and because they followed their impulses instead of using their eminently capable brains, they got into trouble with the police.  On the one hand, this could be seen, as a friend put it, as a "rite of passage", children will do silly things and who hasn't been escorted home by the police at some stage (well, Dave for one - wish I could say me, but while I wasn't escorted home, I did have to make a statement to the local police over that shed my brother and I burned down when we were 11 and 9).  On that same hand, you might say we were allowing our children to learn from their own mistakes rather than cooping them up at home, under our watchful gaze 24/7, and sheltering them from life to the point where they're too invalid to move out of home until they're 30-something.

On the other hand, we could also be considered neglectful parents.

And my state of slovenliness at 4pm could be put down to being up all night studying for a Masters, living in a small house with four children, prioritising being with my family over cleaning, and it being a lazy Saturday...


It could be deemed a sign of my lack of caring for myself and my family, possibly even mental illness.

It depends on who is judging and what their agenda is, doesn't it.

I've just seen a debate about Julian Assange where one side is arguing that his determination to reveal Government and Corporate secret, his free thinking, as a result of being home schooled and not broken by the formal education system.  While the other side argued that the his apparently social ineptitude, or even sociopathy is a direct result of not having been socialised through a formal education system.

The thing is, both could be true, and equally, neither could be true, it's all about judgement and agendas.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Things I know...

  • As harrowing as "working all through the night" might sound (especially when you've been doing it for weeks), I LOVE the silence it affords!
  • If you have always been attracted to a certain style of clothing, just GO FOR IT - the satisfaction of a swishing-swishing pair of pants and flowing tent-like top, or the intricate beauty of brocade, brings me so much more pleasure than "fitting in".
  • Even if you live your life as an open book with a public blog that feeds to your Facebook page for all to see - you may still feel vulnerable when someone refers back to an old, personally revealing post!
  • As much as I believe formal education assessment is a load of old bollocks, I still get that zing of pride when my child brings home a favourable school report.
  • Just when life seems to be one endless struggle - someone will leave a great pre-loved toy on your doorstep for your kids!
  • As much as I've struggled against the pressures of this degree, I'm a little bit scared that without it, my life will lack direction and momentum.
  • I should wear green more, especially when my hair is coloured red - I look HAWT in green when I have red hair!
  • Winter SUX, Summer ROCKS!!!
  • If you have enough children, one day you will realise - it's them, not you.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Leaky boat a.k.a Hole in the plot...

I'm about to starting editing my thesis novel for some suggestions from readers to round out the plot.

A story is never really done, is it?

I mean, even the books that were presented to and contracted by publishers.  The manuscripts that went through months and years of editing, finally got published and sold in their millions, even those manuscripts could be improved on, filled out, or streamlined a bit more...

As I've mentioned before, the most time consuming part of my writing is the thinking part that happens before my fingers even hit the keyboard.  The thinking part can take YEARS, literally years.  So, when I'm asked by my supervisor to add a plot element to round out the story or build suspense a bit more in a particular passage, it's not just a case of sitting down and writing.  Much thinking must occur first.

So, tonight I was thinking about something I will be writing in the next couple of hours, and that led to another  aspect of the plot that would or could be enhanced, and suddenly I found myself staring into a gaping black hole in the last few pages of the manuscript that no one seems to have noticed before!

You might think, well, if no one else has noticed it, then it's fine to let it go, but actually, I think the sentence here and para there that I'm planning on writing tonight will, in fact, highlight this black hole, so like I dentist I'm forced to get in there and fill it before it causes further decay!

Eeep!  Writing can be a bit like trying to keep an old boat afloat; just when you patch up one hole, another appears and the slowly water seeps in but the only vessel you have to bail water with is a tea cup, and it's just not enough - you need to get this boat on dry land before it sinks, and takes you down with it!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The relativisation of abuse...

There has been a campaign on Facebook in the past couple of weeks, aimed at generating awareness of child abuse in the community.  I have seen quite a lot of material about child abuse lately, and this blog post has been forming in my head for a while.

Child abuse is a very difficult topic to discuss because there is so much contention over what constitutes abuse these days.  Apparently, breastfeeding a child past twelve months of age is often considered a form of child abuse, as is allowing a child to become overweight, but smacking a child as a disciplinary method is often not considered child abuse.

A couple of months ago Pink rocked a few boats by saying she believed children needed to be thrashed.  Her own father apparently put her through a wall once, and not only does she feel she deserved this but she would do this to her own (as yet unborn) child if that child was bad.  I was kind of surprised to find a lot of people agreed with her.

A cousin of mine put the following in her status update (I'm translating this loosely from Icelandic), "A small child ran up to his mother and exclaimed, "Mummy, I wrote a note for you on your new sheets with a crayon!", the mother flew into a rage and slapped her child so hard he fell to the ground unconscious.  By the time she realised what she had done, his little heart had stop.  Crying, she stumbled into her bedroom to find the following written on her sheets, "Mummy, I love you!"

The point of this status update was to remind us all how innocent children are, even when they're being "naughty".  That story - even though fiction (I hope!) - haunted me for days!

Then, last week, the following you tube video made the rounds on facebook...  WARNING!  While this video doesn't contain smacking or swearing, I found it to be extremely disturbing (so much so, I've only ever watched it once, and that made me cry), but I'm posting it for people who might want to see for themselves.

This video disturbed me so much because this mother wasn't smacking her child, but she was still abusing him, physically and psychologically.  I googled to see if anyone had discussed this video and it seemed plenty of people had but most people just wanted to say how this little boy was a "pussy" and didn't know "how good he has it:", compared to themselves when they were children...

Many people reported having been smacked, beaten with belts or other implements, burned with cigarettes and so on.  They had no compassion for this child and felt more children should be physically deterred from "bad behaviour" such as lying and generally being "naughty"...

This morning, yet another discussion about the discipline of children was pointed out to me.  Apparently, a mother of three has self-published a book about going back to traditional parenting, including smacking as a first resort.

I don't doubt for a minute this woman was smacked as a child.

The thing about physically and psychologically harming your child, even in "their best interest" is that even if they grow into a polite, socially acceptable person.  Even if they don't turn into animal maming psychopaths, is that you diminish their capacity for empathy.  The proof is in all the people who were smack, or beaten, or had Tabasco put on their tongue for lying, or were in some other way physically and psychologically threatened into behaving in the way that pleased their parents, or teachers, or other "elders", and then, decades later are incapable of connecting with the panicked screams of a 7 year old child who is confused, afraid, and in physical pain.  Who says, "That NOTHING compared to what I had to endure, and I'm okay!".

Abuse isn't relative.  Abuse is abuse.  Your abuse cannot diminish or be diminished by, someone else's abuse. The need to diminish someone else's experience of abuse is, in itself, the evidence that YOU ARE NOT OKAY!  If you believe for a second that just because you survived being smacked, it's okay to smack your child, you are not okay, and neither will your child be.

The inability to empathise is the strongest evidence that physical and psychological abuse impacts negatively on human beings.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Interesting Weekend...

After posting that blog post on Saturday about letting go, I went to put Ari down for a nap.  Dave had left the house earlier that morning to take Bryn birthday present shopping for a party the next day and I was waiting for the Nutrimetics lady to pop around with orders for a couple of friends.  Ari was getting rather cranky, so I thought, if I was lucky, I might get him down for a nap before the lady arrived.

Ari was probably quite overtired because he struggled to settle down despite my best renditions of Twinkle, twinkle little star, and the Rainbow song.  I thought about "letting it go", but knew we had a big afternoon coming up with Luey's dance concert (the epic trip to Richmond in 32 degree heat, alone, would be trying on all of us), so I persisted and eventually his eyelids started drooping.

Suddenly, there was a loud banging on the front screen door.  I thought it was quite loud for the Nutrimetics lady, but figured she must be in a hurry to get to her sister's place.  After asking Ari to wait in bed, I answered the door, and there was an older man standing there.  For a second I thought perhaps the Nutrimetics lady had sent her husband in her place, but then I realised it was actually my dad!

Dad has a tendency to visit with not notice.  He lives just over the border and has a friend who lives in Melbourne and is a quadriplegic after a terrible car accidents just three weeks before Ari was born.  He visits his mate about once a month, but only pops in to see us once or twice a year at most (before his mate moved to Melbourne there had been up to five year spells between visits).

It's always as if we just saw him last week.  He comes in, has a hot drink, a chat, and he used to have a smoke or two on the porch, but he's quit smoking again.  Then he leaves.  This time was no different.  Except, like about this time last year, at some point during the conversation, we were talking about cutting the grass in the back yard and he suggested we buy a whipper snipper (because it's so long - I'd asked him if he didn't have a ride on mower), and he pulled out a wad of fifties bound together with a rubber band.  He'd obviously planned to gift us this money before he came around.  "For you guys and the kids for Christmas." He said.

He has no idea what that money means to us.

So, once again, just when things were looking impossibly tight (and we didn't want to ask MIL yet again for help), someone comes to the rescue.  We've had help from all our parents this year, and it's humbling, but it's also heartwarming!

After Dad left, we headed out to the dance concert.  We thought we were going to miss it because the public bus system was not playing nice, but we got there in time, and before many others.  The "concert" was nothing like how we imagined.  It was very casual, more like a Christmas party for friends with kids occasionally performing a dance, and in between playing various games (like statues and the limbo - which Luey won!).  It was hot and steamy, but reminded me a bit of the community Christmas parties we used to have in Iceland.  I also got to swap numbers with a mum from the dance class in case our kids both do the same class again next year.  That was nice.

On the way home we stopped at Richmond station for a drink and then at Box Hill for some Maccas, and it was just a nice family outing - something that doesn't happen often enough!

On Sunday, Dave took Bryn to a friend's party, and I cleaned up some areas of the house that had been bugging me for a while.  That's when my thesis draft arrived.  From my last blog post, you can probably tell, I lost my "let it go" attitude for a while yesterday, but by evening, I decided to get back on track.  I have probably been a bit too naive about my abilities.  In my family we call this my "Silent Night syndrome".  That refers to the time when I was nine and told my teacher I could play Silent Night on the piano for the school Christmas pageant.  By "play" I actually meant I could plink out the melody, slowly, with one finger, sort of...  I have had a tendency to over-estimate my own ability many times.

So, this morning I went to library for a look-see, and after that I did a bunch of other errands.  Tomorrow I'll get back into the editing job ahead of me.  I'm not setting any deadlines any more.  Que sera sera.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

This'll be a funny story one day...

One day, when I'm a famous (or infamous) novelist, or one day, when I'm a lecturer in writing like my mother, the following will be a funny story...

Today the mail arrived.  Today is a Sunday, so I was quite surprised when Erik and Luey ran into the house with a package. For a minute I thought it might be the clothes I'd ordered on ebay as birthday presents to me from Dave and the boys, but as soon as I opened the package, I realised it was my thesis novel and essay returned to me by my supervisors.

I put the package away in the study and continued cleaning the house because I had promised myself I wouldn't fret about this thesis any more and I would get back to work on it tomorrow.

Some time later, Dave returned home with Bryn and I mentioned to him that my thesis draft had arrived back in the mail today.  He was keen to see the comments on it, so I reluctantly brought it out and we went over them.  I have to say, I'm fairly relieved, nothing more is expected of me than what I suspected would be anyway.  I can cope with the changes I need to make, it's all good.

One comment stood out like great big hairy dogs balls though...

 "Your English as a second language shows up more in the essay..."

I was not born in Iceland, like my mother (who my supervisor knows well), I was born in Australia and the first language I learned to speak was English.  I was exclusively spoken to in English until I was 10 months old.  Yes, then I did live in Iceland for ten months, and I did live with my Icelandic grandparents for most of that time, and they did speak Icelandic to me, but then I move back in with my parents at about 20 months and spoken only English for the next year.  Then we moved back to Iceland I had to LEARN Icelandic, which I learned to the level of a 3-4 year old before move back to Australia until I was almost eleven.

The third time we moved to Iceland, when I was almost eleven, I didn't speak or understand Icelandic at all.  For the second time in my life I had to learn the language, pretty much from scratch.  English is the language I've spoken consistently all my life.

My mother's second language is English, and she taught me English, but my father is English, and he also taught me English.  I can read Icelandic and Norwegian, and if I lived in either of those countries for a month or two, I could probably speak Iceland or Norwegian well enough to make myself understood for the most part, but neither Icelandic nor Norwegian is my first language, and if English isn't my first language either, then I have no first language...

Anyway, so one day, when I'm in front of a class and one of my students complains that they will never get published or be a good writer because their English is so bad, I can tell them that when I was doing my second Masters degree, my supervisor thought my English was so lacking because it is my second language - which it is not.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The lesson of letting go...

At the end of last year, I was doing some fossicking around on the net for forecasts for 2010, you know, horoscopes.  I'm not a big believer in general horoscopes; the simplistic mass media generated kind, but on the more astrologically sound sites I was checking out the forecasts kept repeating the same theme over and over, and it wasn't one I liked much.

Basically, it said that for me, 2010 would be a year of waiting, of overcoming obstacles and delays.

Those of you who know me personally, know that I completely missed out on the patience gene.  I'm not entirely sure there is a patience gene on either side of my family anyway, but if there was, it wasn't transferred to me.  I did get a double dose of drive though.  So much so, that I've often heard myself described as a bulldozer.  That is not a particularly flattering description but even I have to admit it's fairly apt.

In many ways, this drive I have to get things done has served me well.  I have not had a life without challenges and so, I've been grateful for my "just keep going" impulse.  It's extremely strong, this impulse.

I doubt that without this impulse I'd have the things in my life that I cherish so much, my husband and my children, and my various degrees.  So, as you can see, I don't want to deny my impulse to push through obstacles because it's served me very well up to now...


Well, these last two years have been nothing short of harrowing.  Quite frankly (and I don't want to be a drama queen, but let's speak plainly here) there have been times in the not to distant past where I have wondered if I can really keep doing all of this.  Dark hours in the middle of the night when I've wondered if it wouldn't be easier to just put an end to all my misery.

The thing is, my children wouldn't survive that event.  Neither would Dave.  So, I have to find another way.

I've fought the obstacles, I've pushed and strained against the overwhelming tide of challenges that seems have relentlessly washed over us these past couple of years and I'm tired, so, so tired.  Tired, lonely and really not very well in body or mind.

Last night, after a lovely dinner out with friends that involved lots of laughter, I came home and collapsed into a pit of despair - for all my struggling and worrying or resisting, 2010 is nearly over and not much has changed from this time last year.  Different house, but same situation - we're going to have to move and Dave doesn't have a job or a licence yet.  I haven't finished my degree and I don't have work either (and don't want to work because I don't want to be apart from Ari who I think needs this stability in the stormy seas that are our life at the moment).  2010 has, indeed, despite my very best efforts, been a year of delays and waiting.  And I'm still waiting.

That really only leaves one option.  That option came to me last night.  It doesn't thrill me because it goes against everything that I am, really.

I have to let go.

I have to let be what will be and stop fight and pushing and struggling and worrying.

I have to stop feeling responsible for everything and everyone.

I actually have to stop being so arrogant that I believe I am the agent for change.

This has been an extremely tough lesson for me to learn and right now I'm not sure I've grasped it completely, it's more like I've intuited the answer without understanding the mechanism, but I'm going to practice letting go this week, just doing what I can in the moment and not thinking about what the consequences of everything may or may not be.

It's a matter of trust.  Trusting that things will work out, somehow.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Hey, it could be so much worse!

  • I have had the head cold from hell, and my period arrived 4 days early as well, and all this happened just when the big boys were leaving on their three day camp trip and I was looking forward to some peaceful enjoyment of the time with just Bryn and Ari - but you know, what better time for all of this to happen, really.  Being sick and having to care for four children is so much harder than being sick and caring for two low maintenance children.  So, I'm grateful I got sick now!
  • I found out this week that none of my assignment marks for the poetry unit I did back in 2007 got recorded and all my assignments are on the laptop that died last year, so for a moment there it looked like I might not be able to graduate because I hadn't passed that unit on paper (despite doing and submitting all the required work).  Then I mentioned to mum that because she was the external student co-ordinator back then, I'd sent all my assignments via her, and she went and checked her inbox, which she apparently never clears, and Voila!  there they were!  They still need to be remarked, but at least that is possible now!  I'm so grateful for a mother who is "disorganised"!
  • It's been raining for over a week,and every day for the next week is also forecast to have rain, and it's also been warm - 25+ each day - but I so much prefer warm rain to cold rain and I'm so grateful it's warm.  Warm makes it possible for me to keep functioning when I feel crap.  I'm also grateful for cool nights and my airconditioner!
  • In just another two weeks school holidays will begin.  With no car until they end, we're not going anywhere or doing anything terribly exciting.  We will do our traditional summer games tournament though, and we're all looking forward to that.  I'm so grateful I have this large, rambunctious family that forces me to think outside the square!
  • Last fortnight's pay went almost entirely on preparing for camp and paying bills, food and so on.  Next fortnight's pay will go on paying rent, with a tiny portion left over for food.  I am so grateful Big W has layby, which means when we get paid on the 23rd of December, we can go pick up the layby instead of trying to find Christmas presents for our children out of the bits and pieces left over after everyone else has raided the shelves, and I'm also grateful for the minimum 10% deposit on laybys that meant $400 worth of presents only cost $40 to layby!  I'm also grateful that my children will appreciate the $100 worth of presents they each get because they don't expect to get $2-300 worth of presents each like so many children seem to these days with electronics etc...
  • I am so grateful my brother became a tattoo artist!  It's been about a month now since I got the last three tattoos and every day I love them more, and not least of all because he created them and in some way that brings us closer together.
  • I am so grateful it's December!  I love December!  Yes, my birthday is in December, and so is Christmas and I love both those events, but it's also the end of the year, and I have such high hopes for 2011.  This last year has been a tough one, and the year before that was also tough, but I had more resources then as well.  I believe deep within my soul that the end of the year will really bring a new beginning, a stepping into the light and 2011 will be the year for moving forward, at last!  So, I'm eternally grateful for it being December, and am looking forward to my last year in my 30s with great anticipation!  Bring it on!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Three signs it's nearly Christmas...

Sign #1 - the preparing and consuming of the Christmas calendar!

Each year I make a Christmas calendar for the boys.  The first few years when it was just Erik, and later Luey as well, I used a wall hanging with hooks on it, to which I attached small wrapped presents, but once Bryn arrived the presents got too heavy for the wall calendar and I started having Christmas boxes or bags on the mantel piece. That was also about the time I started the jigsaw tradition, where each present would contain a piece, or pieces of a jigsaw, that we would construct together as a family leading up to Christmas.  We don't do jigsaws a lot throughout the year (they occassionally pull one of the simpler ones out of the cupboard on a rainy day) so this has become a Christmas tradition for us.

I have tended to help the process along a little by spending an while on the eve of the 1st of December, sorting all the "edge" pieces that form the border of the puzzle from the rest of the pieces and storing them in a separate bag.  I then divvy them up over the first few days of the calendar so the border can be created first, making it easier to put together the middle (because they don't get the box to look at for reference!).

Each bag also contains a lolly or two, on the first of December they usually get a bit more in the way of lollies, to kick start the calendar, and also on the 24th (which is when we celebrate Christmas in this household).

So, then the bags or boxes are put on the mantel piece to be discovered on the morning of the 1st of December, and ever morning thereafter up to and including Christmas Eve.  I don't number the days, as many people do.  I realise that, being a calendar, there should probably be number, but usually we also have a little ornamental tree with drawers under it containing decos that get put on the tree each morning, and that works for counting the days  This year, that is still packed in the garage (oops - it's been a tough year for remembering it's nearly Christmas, hence this blog post!)...

Here are three of the boys getting stuck into their bags!  Ari got his as well (under supervision so he didn't EAT the puzzle pieces).  A couple of years ago, we also received this great puzzle felt for storing the uncomplete puzzles on - which is so great for us because we don't have room to keep a puzzle laying about in semi-complete form for three weeks!

From the first morning we were able to find two border pieces that belonged together.  Over the next two mornings Erik and Luey will be at camp, so then the puzzle pieces will stack up a bit as we wait for them to come back and raid their bags (two mornings worth of lollies and puzzle pieces!).  I expect the border will really start to come together then considering each boy gets 5 puzzle pieces each morning (so 20 pieces are added to the puxxle each day).  And that brings us to...

Sign #2 - The school camp trip.

Ah, yes, for the second year in a row, we have a child in grades 3/4 - in fact, this year we have TWO children in those grades  - and that means SCHOOL CAMP!  Both boys have been planning for school camp pretty much since...  last school camp!

Erik went last year, with mixed reviews.  Sadly, he was subject to a little bullying at last years camp, but ever the optimist that he is, he decided to actively ensure this year's camp would be different!

The first thing he did was enlist Luey's help in drawing up a list of kids to form a group and vy for a cabin!  Erik has a future in project management, I'm sure, because he knows how best to employ people's strengths to his own advantage!  Luey is the people person out of the two of them, so while Erik had one good friend he wanted to put on the list (a boy who would be attending as a day tripper), he cleverly enlisted Luey to ring in the other six!

 Dave and I were a little concerned when we heard the final list of co-conspirators.  But like the other (no less concerned through the laughter) parents, we decided it was best to let the teachers decide what they thought they could handle.  Apparently, they didn't think it was a problem, so late last week Erik and Luey came home triumphantly celebrating their own private victory!
 Erik wanted to pack on Saturday (for departure the following Wednesday morning), but I managed to talk him out of it.  The amount of stuff they have to take with them is mind-boggling, but as I sit here with rain and hail pelting the study window, I'm kind of grateful they have so many changes in their luggage!

Being in different classes, they boarded different buses with their respectively buddies.  Erik informed me that he and J (his bus buddies) weren't calling themselves "partners" but rather "part-nerds" - nerd humour...
Next year will be the last 3/4 camp for a few years, but the following year, Erik might go to the grade 6 camp, and Luey might follow in his footsteps the year after that, and then it'll be Bryn's turn to go on the 3/4 camp, so we have many camps ahead of us yet, though not all of them at this time of year!

I have to say, there aren't a lot of us parent with more than one child in the 3/4 section, so Dave and I had a fairly good reason to be celebrating the "freedom" of not having two extra people to deal with for a couple of day - a holiday of sorts.  But we were, by no means, the loudest celebrants as the buses took off!  There were mums (not so much dads) whooping and cheering as they child left.  It really bordered on the distasteful!  If you're really THAT happy to be rid of the little ****** for a couple of days, just keep it to yourself - how do you thing your child might feel?  Maybe I'm being a bit over-sensitive, it just got up my nose...

Sign #3 - Rosellas munching it up in the trees!

On the short walk home we spotted eight rosellas having a feast in the trees along our street.  Such beautiful birds (and of course, I've probably identified them all wrong, but I'm sure someone will come along and correct me!)...  It's definitely summer (despite the over wet weather - who thought we'd ever complain about too much rain ever again?)...

Good Job!