Monday, March 28, 2011

Making Monday...

In review, it seems today was a day for making...

Bryn started it off by making a good enough impression on his teachers in his endeavours to be helpful in class as to have a class award bestowed upon him - his first! He was happy about it, despite the lackluster expression on his face (must be quite a view looking out over the entire school assembly and all the teachers and parents from that new perspective!). He looks so odd to me in this picture, suddenly his neck is very long, and his face is longer, too. I see more of Erik in him - but somehow I hadn't noticed it until right now.

To show he does smiles, a picture of him before proceedings, um, proceeded - just as he spotted me right up the back with my telescopic lens!

At home, Ari made some beautiful pictures...

Bryn had made plans for a school friend to come over after school, so Dave made some mini-mini muffins!

And I was suddenly overcome with a need to knit (probably because I have editing I should be doing). So, I started on a stocking hat for Ari for this coming winter...

There is something very satisfying in making stuff, particularly stuff that doesn't take too long to make (so you can see the fruits of your labours without having to be overly patient). Having spent two years writing and rewriting my novel, that feeling of satisfaction has seemed forever to be on the back burner waiting for the timer to go off. I used to knit a lot, but haven't knitted in a while. I haven't painted in a couple of months now either. I should really do more of both!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I'm no helicopter parent, but I'm not THAT cool!

For some time now, I've been allowing my big boys (aged 11.5 and 9.5 now) to take themselves off to the park, or run quick errands to the shops for me. They have certain restrictions laid upon them, including an agreed upon route, and estimated time of arrival home. They do not carry a mobile phone with them because I don't believe it would protect them in an emergency, and where they are allowed to go is always close to residential housing. There is also another reason I don't allow them to have mobile phones, and the following example will help to illustrate this.

Yesterday, Luey had just come back from the park when there was a knock on the door. It was a girl from his class, her sibling and another friend. They said they'd been wandering around the local streets for a while and had seen Luey and his younger brother when I'd ask them to sweep some leaves and seed pods off our footpath and driveway, so these kids had stopped by to say hi.

Luey went out to the front yard with them, but was back in the house a couple of minutes later because it was home time for the other kids. I thought the children stopping by was really lovely and it reminded me of when I was Luey's age, and neighbourhood kids would come by to play, or I'd stop at a neighbour's house for a play.

Apparently, the children had tee'd up to go to the park today at midday, and the others were dropping by here to pick Luey up on their way. Midday came and went and Luey finally asked if he could go to the park himself, and if we could let the others know he was at the park if they stopped by. I said that was fine.

Sometime later Luey came home and said he'd run into his friends at the park, or rather, he ran into one child, and then that child took off, then he ran into the other two, who were looking for the first one, and then they disappeared as well. Then he saw all three of them, and was talking to them, and then suddenly they were all gone, so he came home. He wasn't worried by any of this.

Later in the afternoon, they stopped by again, and he asked if he could go to the park with them, and I said, "I need to know you're going to the park, and only the park!" and the next thing I know he's gone - no goodbye. I wasn't happy. I waited until Dave got home from an errand a short while later and then sent Erik to retrieve Luey from the park. Erik found Luey walking up from the park with two boys from school. Luey has been on play dates with these boys before so we know them, however they were not part of the original group of friends who picked him up from home a little while before.

When he got home I asked where the other three had gone, and he said he didn't know! They'd just left, but these other two boys had turned up and were on their way to another girl's house which was on the way home for Luey, so Luey was just going to walk with them as far as this girl's house, and then walk the rest of the way home himself.

I know for sure that two of the children who picked Luey up from home have mobile phones, I don't know about the other child. I also don't know if the two boys Luey ended up leaving the park with had phones but either way, I would never have known he'd even met these boys or left the park with them.

These other children (with the phones) seem to have been roaming the local streets all weekend and not even sticking together - I suspect they were going their separate ways then calling each other to find each other again. I wonder if their parents realise they are doing this? I wonder if their parents are reassured simply because their 10 year old has a phone and is with a group of other children? I honestly think giving a child - who obviously has no sense of responsibility (or they wouldn't have picked Luey up from home, then just deserted him at the park) - is a false sense of security. If the children didn't have a phone, would their parents allow them to just take off all day like that (in this day and age)?

Do they believe if their children have a phone, they can ring them and say, "Are you in the park right now?" the child will necessarily tell them the truth if they are, in fact, at a friend's house? Did these children's parents realise the children were dropping into our house throughout the day or that the group was dispersing and then "losing" each other?

As I said to Luey, "I'm not that cool!" I'm happy for him to go out on his own, but there are rules and so he knows I'm serious about those rules. He doesn't get a phone, and he does have to stick to certain routes, so that *at any time* I can send Dave or Erik out to check that he has followed the rules.

Calculated risk. I have already had my children brought home by the police one because they followed their childish instinct and wandered through an open door at their own school on a weekend day (when there was possibly a burglary taking place!). Putting faith in an electronic device seems fool-hardy to me when the device is only ever as smart as the person employing it...

Things that have made me smile recently...

Even when the weather is getting darker and more gloomy ever day, it's important to smile! Smiling not only relaxes your face muscle - relieving them of tension, but it's messages the brain to release feel good hormones, so smiling actually makes you feel better! Smiling has been shown to strengthen the immune system, and going into winter, we all need that! Here are some things that have made me smile recently...

Every time I walk past this carseat for 4-7 year olds, I find myself smiling for many reasons! First of all it was a generous gift from a friend, whose son had outgrown it (that boy is turn 8 soon, and was only a little baby when I first met him and his mum, awww!). Secondly, because it was a gift, that's $100 or so that can go towards our trip to Adelaide - for which we needed this carseat in the first place, instead of into buying a carseat for Bryn! Finally, it reminds me we'll soon have a licensed driver in the house, and a car of our own!

Dave been told he can skip the first round of interviews, and the company will contact him for second round interviews next week!

I've spent the afternoon revising finger knitting with Erik, in particular, and the boys. Erik has to teach his class an activity tomorrow, and after much - agnonising - deliberation, he's decided to teach them to finger knit! So, he needed to remember how to do, then practice teaching it to someone who didn't know how to do it. From all the finger knitting practice, they've made themselves various scarves, necklaces and wristbands. There were many exclamations of "This is soooo relaxing!", "I could do this ALL day", and "Wow, this is cool!", which have made me smile a lot today, 

One of my boys friends dropping by, unannounced to ask him to go to the park for a play.
(this makes me smile because it's like when I was a kid)

The impromptu fuzzy scarf I finger knitted for myself!

Finding out one of my poems was published!

Another generous gift! This time from a friend's mother who had bought herself a new laptop and wanted her old, but functioning, computer, out of the house! This makes me smile because having two computers has halved the bickering over who HAS to get on Mathletics RIGHT NOW (or they'll spontaneously combust). It also makes me laugh because my friend and I set up the computer in 10 minutes and we both know that had we left it up to her techy Ex or my ludite Dh, it would have take MUCH, much longer than 10 minutes (both guys had wanted to create problems where there really wasn't any problem, LOL).

What has made you smile recently? Write a post about the thing or things that have made you smile, and add it to the link up below!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Reading... How, When, and What? (Tell Me!)

I had set myself the goal of reading 52 books this year. I know if I tell you I've read two, you won't fall out of your chair, because let's face it, we're talking about me here...

I used to read a lot. A LOT! I've read thousands of books in my 39 years (more specifically in the past 35 years), and I mean literally thousands. Most of these were reading in my adolescence. I did read a lot in my twenties, but sadly, most of the books I read then were textbooks, and I say sadly because reading textbooks is probably what killed reading for me.

Kind of a terrible admission from a writer, isn't it, that they don't like to read. Was it Elle who said the only book she'd ever read was one she'd written herself? I'm sure she was trying to say something about finding the truth within yourself, but that didn't stop people thinking she was just stupid, did it?

I don't know what it is, but there are very few books that catch my imagination any more. Maybe I'm just not reading the right books? I was lamenting to a friend today that it seems to me everyone is reading, and writers read the most! Is it just that people aren't writing anything new these days - I know that's not it, so please don't burn effigies of me - or have I lost the ability to think and therefore can't cope without visual cues?

I've heard writers say they don't blog because they don't have time to blog, it eats into their writing time, but I've never heard a writer say that reading eats into their writing time. They always have time for reading, a least one book a week, if not five!

I've also heard it said that you can't really be a good writer until you're a good reader. I'm hoping that all the reading I did between twenty and thirty years ago counts!

Mind you, books have only been in print in the past - what? - 500 years, and they weren't readily available until about 200 years ago (right?), so if the best writers are veracious readers, why are many of our most renowned writers from back when there weren't as many books and they weren't widely available?

This week I've done a lot of writing, on my blog, on my thesis (just a bit of editing, really) and that short story I wrote yesterday. Between researching, writing, and parenting, I've been quite exhausted, and although I did manage to read a chapter of a, um, writing textbook, I was struggling to keep my eyes open!

How do people find the energy to read?

When do you read, and what is you most highly recommended book at the moment?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Things I know...

  • On Monday, Friday always looks like a long way away, by Thursday night I always wonder why I commit to getting things done by Friday
  • That job you secretly hope your husband won't get (and then doesn't get) will be the one you'll be jumping for joy about when he get a second interview (for the same job almost a year later).
  • Sitting on a green lawn, in the sun, eating hot chips with someone who really "gets it" is the best pick-me-up!
  • Korma with aniseed ROCKS!
  • Even if burping makes you want to hurl and scream abuse at the offending performer - when it's your two year old, you'll laugh all the same.
  • Mint Chocolate Aero ROCKS!
  • I may only have a 1/16 million chance of winning the lotto on Saturday night, but if I don't buy a ticket, I won't have any chance at all.
Linking up with Yay for Home.

Friday Fiction Link-up: Battle Wary by Sif Dal

It's Friday!!! As I said at the beginning of the week, from today Fridays will have a Fiction link-up here At the Bottom of the Garden! So, here's my contribution for the week - I really hope to see others link up to their own short fiction or poetry (hey, write a haiku!). Link up at the bottom of this post!

Battle Wary 
by Sif Dal

The cafe in the narrow city side-street was surprisingly well lit by the sun’s rays that performed Olympic-like rebounds off the wall of glass across the way. Gnarth sat in the darkest corner of the cafe, away from the windows, where he could watch the comings and goings. His suit was clean, but worn and shiny in places. He had considered getting a new suit some time ago, but decided he had no need to impress anyone these days. He’d long since lost the bright hue of youth in his skin. He was more pallid grey than iridescent puss green these days, and yet when he spoke, which wasn’t often, there was a self-assuredness that could not be mistaken or ignored.

Gnarth played with the chocolate dust encrusted froth of the cuppucino he’d brought from home, swirling it this way and that as he observed the couple of young redactyls sitting at a table near the door. The red one swayed precariously backward in his chair as laughter erupted from his wide slitty mouth, ‘Mine is so paralysed with the fear of ruining her work that she is finding one thousand and three other things to do in favour of sitting down and editing the manuscript – an unorthodox approach, I admit, but very effective!’

‘I would never have considered that tact, that’s for sure, Reth! You’re an inspiration to us all!’ his small, yellow companion said hesitantly raising his hand in an unnoticed motion to high-five the red one. A moment later the yellow hand dropped and then swooped up to brush away imagined wisps of hair from his tuberous nose.

Reth sat upright in his chair, ‘She’s a curly one, this one. Happy to keeping hacking away at her story, hoping to make it perfect, but then she got those letters telling her that it is practically publishable as is. For a moment, I thought she would to do the recommended tweaks and send it off. I had to think quickly, so I told her that a few small edits would probably be great, but what if she overdid it?’

‘Reverse psychology, a stroke of brilliance!’ the yellow one shrieked pointing a shaky slender finger at the roof.

‘I think so, Seebal. It’s a matter of taking the bull by the horns, showing them who’s boss! If you let a writer believe in their work, then there’d be publishable manuscripts everywhere, we’d be drowning in publications! What kind of world would that be?’ Reth threw his arms up in mock distress then slumped back satisfied with his performance. Seebal’s eye were round with the horror of the image Reth had just produced.

Gnarth’s attention was suddenly drawn to the unusual sight of a redactyl hobbling at speed on spindly legs towards the cafe. The brown one burst into the room gasping and clinging to the doorway to steady himself. Droplets of sweat the size of Gnarth’s coffee cup wobbled like mounds of jelly on his temples. The brown one scooped away at the droplets and flung them at the floor where they slid and rebounded off the skirting board before trembling to a stop.  A passing human waiter slipped on the small mounds and growled, ‘Petri, I told you to clean this gunk off the floor! No wonder no one ever comes to this cafe, the state of this floor is disgusting!’

Gnarth coughed a small laughed, if only the humans knew just how popular this cafe was.

‘He’s reading the book!’ The brown redactyl said as he gingerly lowered himself into the closest chair at the table with the others.

‘No!’ said Seebal

‘Yes!’ said the brown one and clasping the top of his head in his hands.

‘I told you to get rid of the book, Nyalt. That book is always trouble.’ Reth attempted to imperceptibly raise his brows in Gnarth’s direction. Gnarth pretended not to see.

‘I know, I know, but he bought it and then didn’t look at it at all for three years. I honestly didn’t think he’d ever look at it, and then who knew he’d actually take any notice of what of what that Lucke woman wrote! He’s such a perfectionist, I thought for sure he’d still believe in the benefits of one last tweak before submission. Trapping him in the editing cycle has worked a treat until now!’

Gnarth recoiled a little as Nyalt started blubbering. There was nothing quite as repulsive as a redactyl succumbing to his fear of failure. Usually, Gnarth would leave it, let the redactyl figure it out, but Reth ignorantly using him as an example had grated just enough that Gnarth now made his way through the sprawling tables to the one near the door.

'The fact that your writer now knows you exist is an opportunity, not a failure.’ Gnarth said in a low, clear voice.

The others looked at him with gaping slits, Gnarth wasn’t sure if it was because they were confused by what he meant, or simply surprised he’d spoken at all, ‘I know you all think I’m a broken redactyl, that I’ve been tamed by my writer, but you’re looking at it all the wrong way-‘

‘Wrong way? There is only one way to look at it, senescent one. They write. We stop them from thinking more of themselves than they are. We are enemies.’ Reth’s word slithered from his slit cold and wet.

‘I choose to work in partnership with my writer. He acknowledges my existence and listens to me–‘

‘And he is published!’ Seebal squeaked, he long fingers stretched out from his palms as far as they could go.

‘Helping a decent writer get published is not a bad thing. It’s stopping the talented ones and letting the persistent ones with no imagination get through that is bad.’ Gnarth felt he’d said enough. He left the three redactyls to their melodrama and stepped out into the warmth of the street. Like so many redactyls, these three would continue to fight their daily battles with writers, all the time ignoring the war only a few wise souls even acknowledged.

© Sif Dal

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I had a mini-breakdown this morning - aka, beware getting lost on the net...

I have been on a HUGE learning curve over the past couple of days.

This may seem a little "late", and certainly that is how I felt this morning, but after many years of studying creative writing the best way I know how (through haphazard academic plodding), I recently decided that if I want to get my novel published - and you know I do! - I probably need to raise my profile a little on the internet and, you know, build a bit of a following (yes, I do feel like a complete arse even typing these words, but you've gotta be brave and bold, right?).

I finally started doing a bit of research about the Australian writing scene - why don't they teach this stuff at Uni? I also finally started actually reading the various writing newsletters I'm subscribed to and checking out the websites they constantly refer their readers to.


There are so many opportunities to get involved.

I know nothing and I'm not worthy!

Hence the mini-nervous breakdown.

As well as this, I've been trundling along with my little blog here for the past six and a bit years. This blog contains all sorts of posts. Posts about parenting, posts about writing, posts about social issues I've felt the need to share my opinions on. It also contains a lot of very personal, "letting it all hang out" and "look at me unleashing my inner toddler and throwing myself on the floor with flailing arms and legs" kind of posts. I want people to read this blog, I want people to notice this blog, and I want people to keep coming back because one day I'll have a book I'll want people to read and recommend to their friends (yes, I'm hoping it'll be that good!). I'm not very good at holding back, or being an enigma. I'm sure I could attract more flies with honey, but who wants to attract flies??? (that saying has always confused me)

I digress.

So, after a couple of days of hopping from one page to another via links, I woke up this morning feeling horribly inadequate and small, and extremely confused about what to focus my efforts on "lest I miss the opportunity of my life". I pushed my toddler away when he wanted a hug and I yelled at my husband because he left me with the toddler while he did the dishes (that bastard!).

Thankfully, both my toddler and my husband know me well and waited for me to have a little (maybe not so little) cry and then go eat chips on the lawn at Deakin and soak in some sunshine instead of the backlit glare of my computer screen and come back almost normal (I need a nanna nap after all of that).

The internet is like an endless market with stalls and spruikers trying to sell you all their "most awesome" goods. Everything looks so good, and you'll often be told that "This is your LAST opportunity to take advantage of this AMAZING DEAL" or "Don't be left behind, this is the IT thing/place to have/be". You might start to worry that you're behind the times or that that opportunity will never come again, and maybe it won't, but another opportunity is always around the next corner, uh, at the next stall...

I have to remember that!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Suffering from Redactaphobia...

I have to admit I'm writing this blog post purely for procrastination purposes...

I need to edit my manuscript and my exegesis. Like many graduating research students, my work needs one final tweak (at the request of the examiners) to make it the very best it can be - without actually editing content too much.

As well as this, I've been informed a publisher is taking submissions for unsolicited manuscript in a category my manuscript would slip nicely into. Before I'm ready to submit it, I need to make a few small changes to emphasise certain aspects and polish it so it looks all shiny and tasty.

I'm afraid of starting. Not because my manuscript is so precious to me I can't stand to change a single word, but because I'm afraid of changing the wrong words. What if I accidentally make it less appealing? What if I fail to see what is working and delete the magic bits? What if I add something to a scene and slow down the pace too much, or make it awkward? Like a painter who adds a final brush stroke and realises it has completely changed the balance of the painting - not for the better!

I've never been shy of editing before. I tend to approach my writing quite critically and am very open to constructive criticism and willing to make changes. I think it's just that this time, I've gotten some lovely comments about the story, and I want to hang onto what is working for those commentators for dear life. I'm afraid of losing the praise I've managed to receive from people whose opinion is generally well respected.

I have some very good advice to follow, so I'm planning on following that advice as closely as possible to be on the safe side.

I guess, in the end, it'll come down to the personal likes and dislikes of whomever is given the odious task of sifting through the manuscripts. Maybe I'll be lucky and that person will love the manuscript because of the edits I'll do this week?  If not, it's simply a matter of "back to the drawing board", right?

I need a coffee and some chocolate...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Introducing Friday Fiction!

Showers always fill me with inspiration!

I was in the shower before, thinking about editing my novel again, which led to thoughts of how I always seem to struggle to make time for writing, and then it came to me!

I'm going to start a "Friday Fiction" regular link-up on my blog!

I'm pretty sure, I've heard the term "Friday Fiction" somewhere before, so my apologies for not being terribly original. It's just kind of catchy, and Friday is the end of the working week, which means I can work towards something each week - I'm planning on writing a 500-750 word piece each week. It also happens to be five days from now, so a bit more convenient than "Monday Mutterings" or "Wednesday Words" considering I now have to produce something in time!

Starting this coming Friday (March 5th), I am going to publish a short-short story on my blog each week!

And you can join in - because I know so many of you are itching to exercise your writing muscles! I'll set up a linky so you can link to your very own Friday Fiction blog post, and we can all share some creative writing love and inspiration! Feel free to write in either prose or poetry form, but please don't simply link to whatever you blogged that day because I want this to be about creative fiction! 

Don't forget! See you Friday!

(eeek, what have I committed myself to now???)

Things that have made me smile recently...

Here are some of the things that have made me smile this week.

The beautiful rich textures of velvet and brocade clothing...

Silver jewelry with meaning behind it - these four hearts represents my four children...

A gorgeous full moon, and capturing it without a tripod and long shutter speed!

A trip to the city with my second son...

Sunny, warm Autumns days after a mild Summer...

What has made you smile recently? Tell us by linking to your blog below!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Going on a Moon Hunt!

After dinner tonight we took the boys for a walk to see if we could spy the biggest full moon in almost two decades! Up at the corner of their school we finally found her rising up beyond the smog on the horizon!

I decided I really wanted my telephoto lens, so we raced home and I was able to get the following shots - she's so very beautiful, our Luna!

I was quite pleased with this last shot considering I don't have a tripod, so can't take any decent long shutter shots...

Biggest Full Moon in Almost Two Decades!

Happening tonight!

The Autumn equinox officially took place yesterday, but we'll be celebrating it in a couple of days time, and at the same time we'll be experiencing the full moon at it's closest position to the earth tonight, so she'll be bigger than ever!

The Moon was at her fullest about two hours ago, so she's actually already begun her wane, but this won't be enough to ruin the effect of tonights show (assuming we have a clear night for sky gazing!!!).

I'll be doing another loo paper ritual tonight - New Year's Eve's ritual really got things moving in the right direction, but this blockage is a doozie and I can tell another hefty push is necessary to clear out all the old debris that is providing obstacles in our path.

So, if you haven't read about the loo paper ritual (sounds delightful doesn't it?), it goes like this...

Get a roll of loo paper and a pen - preparing a ball point because it'll roll over the paper without dragging or snagging.

On the roll, write a list of all the stuff you DON'T want in your life any more.

It's nice to do this in a quiet space, maybe with some candles and essence oils steaming, just to be calm and relaxed seeing as this is a ritual of letting go.

Once you're list is complete meditate on each point of the list and picture the item listed melting away or fading away.

Then (my favourite part), flush the list down the loo!

I also like to burn some sage and do a general cleansing, just to cleanse the air of the house afterwards.

Let's let go of the rubbish in our lives!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Things I know...

Joining in Things I Know! at Yay for home!

  • To be a mum of four is the essence of Sink or Swim. If you don't run your home like a well oiled machine, everything grinds to a halt and you find yourself awash in UNorganised chaos!
  • Just when you think you can't possibly bare anymore, another thing will rain on you and you'll realise you're still standing.
  • Knowing your rent and your utilities are up to date goes a long way to soothing the pain of all the wants you feel you're missing out on.
  • A good belly laugh with a friend is the best kind of entertainment on a tight budget.
  • Even though I lived to regret splurging when I kidded myself we had a little extra money... I LOVE Holy Clothing clothes! I received an order I put in 10 days ago today and it's all so lovely and so flattering and not all that expensive, really...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How do households manage without a computer nowadays?

This is NOT our study!
We used to have two computers in this house. Actually, let me restate that; we used to have one computer and a boat anchor in this house. Then the boat anchor up and died on us, so now we have one computer. I consider us to be quite fortunate to have this one computer, I know many families don't have any computer. This makes me wonder how they manage, though.

For the final quarter of last year I put a ban on our children using my computer because their father's computer had died as a result of a deadly virus collected online, and I was in the final throws of finishing my thesis (I'd already had one PC and one laptop die during the course of the degree and was quite paranoid about this one solitary remaining computer) and couldn't risk losing all my data and my only workhorse.

Since getting my results, I have allowed them back on my computer for homework research and to do Mathletics. There have been some disgruntled grumblings from at least one of their teachers over the lack of their Mathletics participation last year, and their lack of access to a computer for projects sent home overnight as well, and this has me wondering how families with children in formal schooling cope without a computer.

Dave also, on a daily basis, needs access to the computer to check for job vacancies, send off job applications and to check his email in case he is asked to come in for an interview.

It seems this society very much expects every family to have a computer and internet connection.

Erik came home yesterday and told me the school is setting up a social network for the students to access homework, chat to each other about schoolwork and submit schoolwork (we haven't heard anything from the school itself and Erik sometimes gets the wrong end of the stick, so we'll see to what extent this is all true). I understand how this might inspire children to do homework, and how this can mean children don't have to miss out on homework if they are away - I'm sure they'll love that - but really, I don't want my children online that much.

As it is, Erik seems to need to be on Mathletics every day. Luey and Bryn also have Mathletics accounts and when I looked at Bryn's there was five sets of tasks, ending in a test for each set, which seems to be organised in such a way as to do one set per school day (possibly I'm misunderstanding this, it may not be strictly required, simply encouraged).

What do families who don't have computers or internet access do?

If so much homework is being done on a computer, what happens to "on paper" practice? I noticed when Erik was doing division and multiplication of large sets of numbers, he was trying to do it in his head because Mathletics doesn't allow for "working it out" within their program. This was counterproductive to Erik building maths self-esteem because he was forcing himself to guess the totals - and often guessing them incorrectly. Yet the site doesn't encourage children to work the sums out on paper and then enter the totals online.

Writing up assignments on the computer and printing them out does not exercise handwriting - and we still have a great need for legible writing in society today (unless your an MD, of course).

If I allowed the children on the computer each day to do one set of Mathletics each, they'd each be online for up to 45 minutes (this is how long it took Bryn to work through one set today). With research for other projects, or typing up projects, I can see the entire after-school-until-bedtime period being about fighting over our only computer.

Are we supposed to have several computers in the house? Is that what other people do? Between Dave looking for work and sending of applications (which seems to take him hours) and the boys needing to so much online homework, I'm really not getting much time to settle into any kind of writing. I can't see how other families without a computer or internet access manage in this day and age?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Money isn't everything...

Ever notice how it's the people with money who say this? Or the people with options, in any case.

I've been told by people that they were "in some ways" happier when they had less money. I've been told I'm "lucky" not to have a mortgage hanging over my head. I've been told my children are lucky because they get to see their parents all the time (hey, I totally agree that parental presence is a huge boon to children, not saying it isn't).

Apparently, Dave and I have it great! We don't realise just how fortunate we are that he doesn't have to be at work until late at night, and we don't have to stress about having two incomes to meet the house and car loans.

What gets up my nose is that when people are busy telling my how lucky (and obviously ungrateful) I am to be a renter with no job, they refuse to acknowledge how they could be as lucky as me! How they actually have the CHOICE.

Hey, if you don't think your kids are seeing their parents enough, if you feel the pressure of the mortgage and the car loan is too stressful, if you wish you could spend all day with your children like Dave and I do, it's really easy! Just sell your house, and your car (or cars), get yourself fired so you're eligible for unemployment benefits or the parenting pension and family assistance! You can do it! Honestly, it's within reach for you, too!

We, on the other hand, don't have choices. We can't choose to go to work tomorrow, get a mortgage and car loan and not see our kids for most of every weekday.

You see, it doesn't look quite so "lucky" when you're living the only choice you have.

We're not living like this because it's a lifestyle choice.

I used to say that money isn't everything. I didn't have a lot of money back when I was saying that, and Dave was only working part time at the time, but I had more money than I do now. I had enough.

I had enough money that we could afford to do some of the things for our children that they saw their friends doing or receiving.

I had enough money to occasionally intersperse the needs with the wants (without having to have an anxiety attack before, during and after).

I had enough to feel that not having everything wasn't a big deal.

People who claim cutting back isn't that bad and is something everyone should at least consider doing are people who can afford to cut back.

People who believe they were happier when they had less are people who probably have more than they need.

We have no debt and I'm very grateful for that. We also have no disposable income and that is a bad way to be because that's when I struggle the most to remain debt free out of sheer desperation for some sense of levity. I just want to relieve the pressure and do something spontaneous (spontaneous is very, very bad when you can't quite afford the basics).

Dave received another rejection letter this afternoon, for an unskilled position. He didn't even get an interview. Money may not be everything, but I don't want everything, I just want a break from this financial pressure. Honestly, I wish I had the options of the people who tell me I'm so lucky when I have no other options.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A most important question...

What colour should the cover of my thesis be?

I received an email today addressing the matter of getting my thesis printed and hardcover bound before the graduation. I had completely forgotten I had to do this. It seems I need to have at least four copies printed, five if I want one (and you know I do!).

I have no idea how much this is going to cost. Too much, I suspect, considering our significant lack of ongoing funds. Oh well. It'll be nice to have it in print.

I can't seem to find any pricing anywhere but that's okay because I managed to distract myself with a question of utmost importance. Namely, which colour to have the thesis bound in.

Traditionally, theses are bound in sober, academic colours like navy or dark green or maroon, but you already know I'm not going to go there, don't you?

So, help me choose - which of the following colours are *Me*?

Bright Red
Dark Red
Oxford Red
Pink Diamond

What's your vote?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Traversing the Void...

I have a real sense of floating in a vacuum at the moment.

I usually have some goal I'm working towards and that I have control over and can see daily progress on. For the past 14 years it's been:

  • Finish my undergraduate degree; a Bachelor of Arts in Communications (1997)
  • Finish my post graduate diploma in Vocational Education and Training (1998)
  • Have Erik and work on my Master of Education (1999)
  • Work on my Master of Education (2000)
  • Have Luey (2001)
  • Resume working on my Master of Education and complete it (2002)
  • Move to Bendigo, and then to Upwey (2003)
  • Move back to Box Hill (finally) and try to get pregnant (2004)
  • Have Bryn (2005)
  • Lose 32kg (2006)
  • Start a Master of Arts (Creative Writing) and research gender swaying and convince Dave to try for #4 (2007)
  • Have Ari and work on Master of Arts (Creative Writing) (2008)
  • Work on Master of Arts (Creative Writing) (2009) --> This was also the year I had my gall bladder out, Dave was made redundant, Dave's dad died, my Nanna had a stroke, Jayne and I went on a road trip to the homebirthing rally in Canberra, and I had an operation to straighten my left eye.
  • Work on Master of Arts (Creative Writing) and simultaneously do a full time, 6 months Certificate III in Children's Services, move house, finish Master of Arts in mad rush before Christmas (2010)

That brings me to now. No more babies on the horizon and no degrees for the next few months anyway. So, I'm floating in a vacuum, and pumping my arms and legs in a vain attempt to "get somewhere" or "achieve something".

Dave says, "Savour the moment."

I wish I could but without a goal, or a focus for my energies, I feel a bit distressed.

It's all the uncertainty that is distressing. Will Dave ever be given the opportunity to work again? Will we have to move again later this year? Will I manage to secure a scholarship next year. Will I publish my book any time in the foreseeable future? 

I don't actually want to take on anything right now - I know I should appreciate this lull in activity - however, I feel like days are drifting by without any purpose and that, very possibly, I'm wasting time.

Wasting time as in, letting time get away from me that could be used more fruitfully, to better ends, if I could just find a path to follow and establish some sort of organisation in my day.

Things I believe I need to do:
  • Read novels
  • Read about writing
  • Write
  • Find an agent for, or gain a decent letter for my manuscript before submitting it to publishers
  • Determine what I want to do for my PhD topic
  • Research what is required to apply to do a PhD
  • Research what is required to apply for a scholarship for the PhD
Okay, so it's not that I don't know what I need to do. I guess it's just organising myself I'm having a problem with... Why is that? Maybe I'm suffering burnout? Ha!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Things that have made me smile recently...

I've decided to start a regular link in - here it is!

The weather has been gorgeous the past couple a days!  It's been a tad humid, but other than that it's been so lovely!  I know a few of my friends are not fans of warm weather and they should rest assured this weather won't last, but in the meantime, for the rest of us it's a delightful change!!!  When it is cold I only ever want to hyperbenate, but when it's warm and sunny I find myself filled with enthusiasm for life and a need to expend energy - isn't this the way with most creatures?

A number of things have filled me with joy lately and I thought I'd share a few of those with you all!

As I've mentioned before, I'll be shaving my head next month - and I'm raising money for Cancer Research, you can click on the banner there over to your right and donate if you wish. I've mentioned it a couple of times already this week but so far haven't been able to inspire anyone to donate. I'm not holding out much hope now that there has been an earthquake over in Japan and people will be wanting to donate their good will there, but if anyone could see their way to donate to Cancer Research, I - and many others - would be extremely grateful!

Oops, where was I?  Oh yeah, so I'm shaving off my hair next month, but my frizzy damaged ends were really getting to me, so I had a look at a few vids on You Tube and figured out how to cut myself a bob, and I'm very happy with the results!!! In this photo you can see the fringe still needed a little trim up on the left hand side (of this photo, my right), and I did that after I took the photo.  I also needed to get to some straggly bits here and there but in the end it looked FANTASTIC! It was so easy too!

Ari is in the process of dropping his final nap. All my children have done this at different ages.  Erik didn't drop his day nap until he was well over four! Even now (aged 11.5, he'll occasionally have a nap during the day on the weekend). Luey didn't actually have day naps until he was three, and then had them for about one and half years, but now not at all. Bryn was three and a half when stopped napping during the day, and hasn't napped since, unless he is sick. So, Ari is two and a third years and for the past couple of months he's been going without day naps for two or three days in a row and then crashing out suddenly during the day. Here is a picture of one such crash! Dave and I were chatting and Ari had climbed onto my lap and laid his head on my shoulder, so I knew he was sleepy, but he couldn't get comfortable. I set him down next to Dave on the couch and we continued talking then went out to the kitchen to look at something - Ari would normally just follow us out - and when we came back he was like this...

Oh, see that spot on his foot, it's not dirt, it's suntan! His sandals have a peep hole in the top of them and so he's tanned in just this one spot on each foot - it looks like stigmata!

Yesterday was a busy day! Dave and I had plans to go out on a dinner date (our first alone in 16 months) but before that I was taking delivery of this GORGEOUS cabinet for the kitchen! I have always wanted one of these! It fits perfectly in this space in the kitchen too, as if custom built! I am so very happy with it, and so glad Sue needed it out of her house because she is renovating her kitchen. Thank you Sue!

I wanted to point out that what I love most about this cabinet is the simple design and the warm colour of the wood. While I love intricate designs on my clothing and jewelry, when it comes to furnishings, I prefer simplicity and practicality, but I do like my furniture to feel warm and welcoming. This cabinet fulfills all those preferences!

Getting this cabinet meant that I could make good use of the Ikea Ivar shelves that had been standing in that spot in the kitchen. We recently retired our hall cabinet (it was collected by some folks from our nature strip just before the last hard rubbish collection - recycling hard at work), and since then the boys had been storing their school bags on their bedroom floors (ALL OVER their bedroom floors to be precise). So, I was casting about for a suitable storage solution near the front door (because that's where they'd most prefer to dump their bags the moment they get home, but also because it means we can access their bags at night after they are in bed - a very important point!). This is what our hallway looked like since the old cabinet retired and before the Ivar shelves moved in... Oh, this it in it's tidy state - which I was struggling to maintain.

Here it is afterwards...

And from the other side. A basket for hats on the top shelf - Dave's "man-bag" has a spot next to the basket. Erik and Luey's bags on the next shelf down. Bryn's (and later Ari's) bags on the third shelf down, and then two shelves for shoes (something we haven't had near the front door in this house until now).

I'm very happy with this solution!

So, things that made me smile recently?

  1. Learning how to cut a bob on my own hair (and saving at least $35 in the process)...
  2. The cuteness of my youngest...
  3. Living the dream of having my own wooden cabinet and hutch! (beautiful and practical!)
  4. Finding a storage solution for the entrance clutter!
Join me in remembering all the good stuff and sharing the smiles!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Things I know...

I'm joining in 'Things I know' at Yay for Home.
  • Going out to dinner is never just about re-connecting with your partner - it is also about making sure the toilet, the bathroom, the kitchen, the lounge room and the bedrooms are all spotless so the babysitter doesn't feel compelled to call in a Hoarders rescue team...
  • No matter how much you love and accept your body, when the sleeves of your OOAK handsewn vintage replica coat start to feel too tight, you'll find yourself vowing not to gain any more weight to actively attempt to lose a few kilos...
  • A dinner time that ends with the entire family in fits of laughter is always the best kind...
  • Even if your husband - who you've nagged and bitched at for 13 years to get his licence - fails his first attempt at a driving test, you'll be so proud of him for attempting it!
  • If you have two children who are a handful and then a third who is easy, you're destined to have a fourth like the first two just to remind you that you can't control, or even moderately influence, their personality...
  • Getting a Distinction on your Masters Thesis ROCKS!
Come and join in the fun!

Good Job!