Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Mind of a Toddler...

Is an interesting place to go sight-seeing. Just recently, we've noticed that Ari is becoming quite destructive and disruptive around the house. This is never a fun thing for a parent to become aware of, but we believe it is a child's nature to be inquisitive and social, and so we reflected on why he might be frustrated and realised he has not been getting enough outside time.

Outside time is very important for toddlers. Their brains are developing at a rate of knots, and "outside" provides almost endless variety of stimulation, observation and learning opportunities - everything toddlers are wired to seek out! Have you ever noticed that children don't seem as noisy outside or as irritatingly active? Trust me, they're being as noisy, if not noisier than they would be inside, and they're being at least as active, it's just that outside their "energy bubble" doesn't seem to crash into yours quite so much. There is more space, and the breeze carries away the noise! Your average toddler burns up as much energy in 3 hours as you do in a week! So, to expect a toddler to play quietly indoors for hours or days on end will almost always end in tears - both for the toddler and the average adult. Realising our mistake, I decided I'd better start getting into the habit of getting Ari out of the house each day to release some of that extraordinary energy - to keep us both sane (and the house somewhat intact). Luckily for me (because I'm a bit agoraphobic and I'm no fan of winter), today was not only a gorgeous, sunny, relatively warm day, but a friend of mine was going to be working near the local park today, so I could stop by and say hello - it's always nice to have something to look forward to when leaving the house, I find As soon as Ari spotted the park he broke into a run - glee bursting from every pore!

Ari is not really a swing-kind-of-kid. He likes to get one, swing back and forth a few times, and then get off again. Why? I'm not sure. Maybe he suffers motion sickness, maybe he find swings boring, only time will tell.

He does LOVE climbing though - this has been part of our issue with him at home. He climbs EVERYTHING; bookshelves, chairs, benches - right now, as I type, he's climbing on my shoulders! Ari seems to be left handed. All our other boys are right handed, but the Grumpy Old Man and both his parents are left handed, so we've been waiting and watching for one of our children to be a molly-dooker. Ari might be the one! Climbing up the right side of this climbing frame was really difficult for him...

But when he moved to the left side of the frame, there was no problem at all. He was able to grab the frame with his left hand to steady himself, and step up with right foot. So, left handed and right footed? Well, that would make him just like his dad!

Ari has NO fear of heights - this is in NO WAY like his dad!

Not a big fan of swings, but boy does this boy love a good slide! The higher and steeper, the better!

On the way home he found a stick. What is it about boys and sticks?

Ari has been quite obsessed with numbers of late, and walking past all those letter boxes was a great source of interest to him - every number had to be decifered and discussed... The last little bit of our walk is on a slight uphill gradient, and I noticed him lagging behind. Every few steps I found myself encouraging him, "Come on, Ari, we're nearly home now!" I ask him if he was feeling tired, and he said he was. I took a few more steps and realised he wasn't following me, so I turned to see what he had stopped to look at...

This is what I saw. Toddler child "resting" on the footpath, idly scraping it with his stick. He was tired. So he stopped and laid down, because when you're tired you lay down. Toddlers live in the moment - and they do it with ounce of their being!

The Serious Business of Choosing a Footy Team...

I have lived in Victoria for 14 years (in November), but I'm not from here. One way you can tell I'm not from here is that I don't barrack for any AFL team. According to many Victorians, that alone should be enough to have me booted out of the state! Many Victorians take their footy very seriously!

I was introduced to footy through the Grumpy Old Man and his parents. His dad was a Richmond supporter, his mum is a die hard Carlton supporter. Dave is also a Carlton supporter - though, to call him die hard would be an overstatement, he is a quiet, bemused observer...

When Erik was born, there was quite a bit of talk about which team he would support. My MIL was keen for him to be Carlton supporter, while my mum (not a native Victorian either, but a keen football fan all the same) kept threatening to knit Erik a Footscray scarf - both she has my step-dad are Bulldogs supporters...

Sadly for everyone, Erik decided at around the age of 8, that he would be a Hawthorn supporter like most of his friends at school!

Lukas - who we've called Blue since he was very little - would SURELY be a Blues (Carlton) supporter, thought MIL, but much to FIL's delight, Luey announced, at the age of 6, that he was most definitely a Tigers (Richmond) supporter...

Last year, Bryn was wavering a bit on his choice, and for a while the Grumpy Old Man held out hope that Bryn might finally back him up as a Blues supporter. However, when Bryn started school and became best friends with a Hawthorn supporter in his class, that hope went out the window...

So, now, those in the know will be looking at the photo above and seeing Erik in a Hawkes scarf, Luey in a Tigers scarf and Bryn in a Bulldogs scarf, and they'll be wondering why Bryn isn't wearing a Hawkes scarf like Erik...

The explanation goes that today is Footy Day at school, and last night we realised Bryn still didn't have a scarf, so Erik volunteered to go buy him one at the shopping centre. When Erik came home he brought with him a Footscray scarf because there were only two team scarfs available. Footscray and North Melbourne - so he chose Footscray (I don't know why, he just did).

Bryn wasn't overly impressed, but I tried to jolly him along by saying he could tell his class that he was wearing the Doggies scarf on behalf of Grandpa Lester and Amma Yja...

As I was doing this Ari was trying to tug the scarf from around Bryn's neck and making quite a commotion, so I asked Bryn to let Ari try the scarf on. Ari was SO excited! He wrapped himself in the scarf and grinned with sparkling eyes, so I jokingly said, "Is Footscray your team, Ari?" His enthusiastic reply was "MY TEAM!!!"

So, today Bryn is telling his class he is just "borrowing" his little brothers scarf... We really need to get these boys some jersies for next year, though!

Ah, poor Dave!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Managing school demands...

If you're reading this in hopes I will be offering sage advice on the topic, I'm afraid you've been tragically mislead by the title...

No, unfortunately, I am not one of those parents of many children who manages everything very well - if you want someone like that, then keep reading and I'll point you in the right direction in a minute (if I give it away now, you'll stop reading my blog post and shoot on over to the other person's and then I won't get the advice or comisserations I'm seeking)!

Some mornings I simply can't get out of the school gate fast enough. After seeing Bryn off to his class I race to the gate and down the street to our house at the end of the road because tears are imminent and I don't want to sink to the footpath in a blubbering mess lest I embarrass my children more than they already have to endure.

You see, I'm completely overwhelmed by the demands that eminate from those buildings at the far end of our street. There are:

  • forms
  • fees
  • uniform orders
  • free dress days with gold coin donations (usually theme, requiring planning and - uh - organisation)
  • cake stalls
  • morning teas
  • fundraisers (including trivia nights, mothers and father day breakfasts, individual class fundraisers for other charities and for their class or the school as a whole)
  • tissue boxes and disinfectant packs to donate to classrooms (three boxes to each room - and no we haven't yet)
  • craft supplies (recycled containers from home)
  • working bees
  • in school parades and performances
  • homework
  • PE videos to watch and report back on
  • forms
  • teacher's day presents
  • farewell parties for leaving children
  • birthday favours for our own children to share with classmates
  • partnership meetings
  • special needs meetings
  • class rep meetings
  • school fair meetings
  • class helper schedules
  • school camps
  • did I mention forms???
  • AND MORE...
And all of these are times three - I'm not including regular stuff like making lunches and making sure they wear clean, untorn uniforms because I totally expected to have to be on top of that stuff...

We have three children at school now - but that is not at all uncommon (in this area). Neither Dave or I are working at the moment. Our children don't do extra-curricula activities, so why can't we manage to keep on top of this like every other family seems to?

We don't lose forms as such - we have a draw they go into... all of them... all the time... But most of the time we just don't manage to get those forms back in time, or we can't afford all the excursions, activities, supplies for everything the kids are doing.

This week alone we've spent $30 on "Cooking homework" for Erik (which was optional, by the way, but EVERYONE else did it, so he felt pressure to do it as well - evidently all my talking to him about not letting others pressure him isn't getting through) and "Junior Masterchef" for Luey - which was also supposed to be optional but well, when every other child in the class is doing it, and your child is the only one who WON'T be getting to eat with the others EVERY day for FIVE WEEKS, it's really hard to be the one opting out, and then there was the "Apple Chip" fundraiser one of the teachers was running for the Children's Hospital... Luckily, this week Bryn didn't have anything more than "You have to email the PE teacher so he can email back the PE videos for you to watch and report back on", which actually applied to all the children anyway...

Last week it was partnership meeting forms. We organised Bryn's, decided not to do Erik's (which has not been met favourably by the teacher), and were told Luey's would be next term because his teacher is away recovering from surgery. Then yesterday Luey tells us it will be this week anyway - who knows who will be supervising Luey presenting work from his portfolio (and don't even get me started on the fact that this so-called "partnership meeting" requires us NOT to participate except to watch Luey's presentation with approving smiles on our faces). So, this morning we rushed the form off asking for a meeting for tomorrow... I'll be surprised if we get one (which doesn't bother me, it's just the jumping through hoops that bothers me).

Do other parents stress about all these demands? We never hear about it. Do other parents just get on with it?

What about parents with jobs - how do they manage?
What about families where the children have multiple extra-curricula activities each week - how do they manage?
Single parents, even those who share custody equally (one week here, one week there kind of arrangement) - how on EARTH do they manage???

Where am I going wrong. Why am I so strung out about this? The expectations of the school seem so high, and I seem so inadquate. Questioning these processes seems unacceptable - to the school, anyway. I'm supposed to WANT to do all this stuff. I'm supposed to be happy to surrender every spare moment I have to "supporting the school community". This is not a two way deal though. There seems to be little understanding that we have four children to manage, not just one, and we live on two Government pensions, not a combined income of 70K plus.

The expectation remains that we should be able to cope. So, why do I rush from the school some morning on the brink of stress induced tears?

Most of 4 month's worth of forms and notices to participate.

How do you manage?

PS - I promised you that other organised mother of many... Check out this blog Planning with Kids - maybe I should take my own advice...

Questioning a life of questioning...

My mum and dad are both very intelligent people. Not only do they have higher than average IQ, but they are smart, too. Both my parents question EVERYTHING. Sometimes this causes people to view them as obstinant troublemakers (yes, they do mum and dad, you both know it, and to some extent I think you both basque in the warm glow you receive from that knowledge). Neither of my parents take ANYTHING on face value alone.

So, it's probably not very surprising that both my brother and I are questioners. We question everything. We question what we see and hear, and what we don't see and hear. We question the world around us, each other, our parents, and even ourselves.

What is real?

What is worthwhile?

What and who can be trusted?

Why do people do/say/think the things they do?

How, where, what, when, why and who...

Sometimes I question all this questioning though (of course I do, that is what makes me me - all this suspicion!).

Certainly, it seems to me that often my inability to just accept things, events, people, practice, or theories on face value puts me at odds with the world around me. Often I ask what other people consider to be stupid, argumentative, pointless questions. Questions for which EVERYONE already knows the answers and for which I must be labled a bit fruity or difficult (questioning the long term effectiveness and safety of vaccines springs to mind, right about now).

I know my questioning the validity of Feminism as a seperate -Ism to Humanism has set many teeth on edge.

Tonight, I yet again questioned the practices within the education microcosm that is my sons' school - I'm a big questioner of formal education, but even still, I have my children in the school system because I question the wisdom of quarantining children from society because society is deemed sick, when societal norms inform humans' sense of belonging as social creatures so inextricably (and particularly in the light of my children wanting to go to school).

I can't join a side and just be happy to accept the wisdom of that side. I am compelled to question everyone and everything, putting me at odds with everyone and everything at some point. Sometimes I think I'd be happier if I could just stop questioning. Other people who accept (and quite possibly they are correct in doing so, quite possibly - in all my questioning - I'm not seeing the forest for the trees), often seem secure in the knowledge that everything is fine the way it is. They often see no gain in opening cans of worms when the worms are doing no harm whatsoever in their dark, tightly sealed can. They seem to live lives free from anxiety and distrust.

Then again, how could I be happy not being me?

Well, anyway, thanks mum and dad...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Importance of Teaching Children Grace, Appreciation and Gratitude.

Most of us have had that cringe-worthy experience of having one of our children be less than gracious when receiving a present. Once, my five year old told the gift giver, "I've already got one of these", before tossing the present aside and picking up the next one in the stack. Yes, that was a proud parenting moment for me... For the most part, it's cringe-worthy, but understandable in young children who are still learning empathy and manners, but yesterday I had this happen to me with my soon-to-be twelve year old, and it wasn't at all understandable, and in fact, I was deeply hurt by the experience.

My two oldest boys are born ten days apart (for those of you who have always heard they were born 11 days apart, I need to explain that apparently I can't count)...

More often than not this means we have to buy both lots of birthday presents out of the same pay fortnight. We had to do that this year, and this year both the boys were in need of new bikes. We've scrimped as much as we could to afford a couple of low end bikes, and on Thursday Jayne was kind enough to drive me to the local shopping centre to pick out and bring home two bikes.

The boys had decided they preferred small rimmed bikes for doing tricks on. We'd looked online and seen the sort of bike I'd probably be picking up. When I got to the shop, there were three bikes to choose from. Two were exactly the sort of bikes we'd looked at online, but were manufactured by two different companies, one charging more than the other (and outside of my tight budget). The third bike was WAY cool, with a really modern body, but it didn't have the stand bars on the wheels for doing some tricks - whereas the other two did. Because each bike only came in one colour, I had to buy two different bikes, or face the tricky situation of both boys having identical bikes (and if one got scratched or something neither of them would claim it as their bike, don't you know).

I decided the bike that was in my price range and was like what we had seen on the computer also had a lower seating range and would better suit Luey because he's short and has only just loearned to ride a bike properly. At the same time I was thinking the other bike with the really cool body would be something a 12 year old, aesthetically oriented, child would really appreciate.

Skip forward to yesterday. Luey gets his bike and is rapt!
Luey's bike, a Huffy Revenge: source

A little while later I asked Erik to go intot he bed to get a change of clothes for Ari - totally forgetting that his bike is in there, still in it's box. Erik comes out minutes later and says to me.

"Mum, I just saw a picture of my bike on the box in the bedroom, and you got the wrong one!" The tone of his voice was petulant - full of "you stuffed up".

Erik's bike, a Huffy Aggro: source

That tone has been quite prevalent in his voice lately. I've been irritated by it, and at the same time slightly amused by it, because it's so very "adolescent". But yesterday afternoon it felt more like a stab to my heart! Of course, being me, my first reaction was to get angry, and to say, "Well, I'll take it back then, but don't think I'll be replacing it, it's what there was to choose from, and what we can afford, and if you don't like it, then fine, you don't have to have it!" (uh, yeah, maturity is not my strength, either).

Then a wave of overwhelming hurt washed over me, and I knew I was going to burst into tears, so I sent him away. Luckily, Dave was taking the boys to the park. After they left I had a bit of a cry, and then I started to think about what had happened, and what I was afraid of.

Mostly I was afraid that Erik wasn't able to appreciate that his Dad and I had done the best we could. That he couldn't appreciate that he has so much. That he didn't have the ability to be gracious, and to understand that we meant well.

In the light of having seen all the suffering that was exposed on the "Go Back to Where You Came From" doco, I want my children to appreciate how much they have. No, they don't have as much as their peers at school - we live in a very well off area, and we are comparatively poor (but not at all POOR), but they have so much all the same. I want them to be appreciative of what they do have. I want them to have gratitude.

I don't want my children to FAKE gratitude though, I don't want them to say "Wow, what a great present, I really wanted this!" when that isn't how they feel. So I thought about it some more. I came up with this - and I learned something about gratitude as well...

The old saying, "It's the thought that counts", well, I had thought I knew what that meant, but at the same time I know I've been been disappointed when someone gave me something that wasn't my taste or what I'd been hoping for... So, I did understand what Erik was feeling. I still felt incredibly sad though. I felt sad because he hadn't even given our present a chance, and I had put a lot of thought into it. I knew it wasn't what he wanted, but I wasn't able to give him what he wanted. I still wanted to give him something to show him I was celebrating his special day, and I thought he might try to meet me half way and look for the positives in my gift. He hadn't.

When he came home, we talked. I told him when you thank someone for a gift, you're not thanking them for the THING, you are thanking them for caring enough to get the thing for you - whatever it is. Whether it is expensive, or cheap, brand new or second hand, your preference or something different. They made some sort of effort. They cared enough to do something for you and THAT is what you thank them for. You thank them for making some sort of effort, even if it misses the mark, even if it shows they don't really "get" you, even if you could have done som much better (in your estimation) to get them something they would love.

Grace is something I don't often hear referred to. Grace is about having good will, having mercy, offering clemency and pardoning people. It is unconditional love. Loving someone without provision. Grace goes hand in hand with compassion.

It requires empathy, and empathy takes a long time to develop wholly, it starts around the age of six, and continues to develop into adulthood (it is an abstract concept so while small children can mimick empathy when it is modelled for them, they often don't understand the concept until later, and then it developes in layers, beginning with people who are most like us and who we can relate to and slowly growing to encompass people who are very different from us, for which it's a stretch for us to relate to. Many adults never reach this final stage).

Grace is something I want my children to be aware of and to practice.

We'd already been talking about Gratitude and Appreciation in the wake of their school reports coming in on Friday.

The boys had GREAT reports, apparently they are all shining lights in their classrooms and liked by both teachers and students. That said, a couple of the boys still find it hard to stay focused and to not let themselves be distracted or to distract others. For one of the boys this is age related and just something he needs to be aware of. For the other boy, the expectation is higher and he needs to exert more effort in self-regulation - there is also the issue of prioritising tasks and getting homework in on time for the older boy.

So, again we were talking about how lucky the boys are to live in a country were not only is education provided by the Government, but because we don't live under the imminent threat of violence, they can safely attend school. We talked about how the children in the refugee camps dreamt of becoming teachers, doctors and astronauts but had no hope of it because there was no school, and it wasn't even safe for them to leave their house.

We talked about how if those children could go to school, they would not waste time, they would listen, they would do their homework, they might also think it's boring because they're also children, but they would APPRECIATE the opportunity and would show their GRATITUDE by making the very most of that opportunity.

Part of the reason I want my children to learn Grace, Appreciation and Gratitude is because I want them to be happy. While they feel hard done by, deprived, envious and short changed, they will never be happy. The grass will always be greener, life will always be boring...  I have, personally, wasted too much time in my life engulfed by these horrible feelings and they don't encourage, motivate or positively serve me in any way. My children have amazing opportunities laid on, and their lives can be magical provided they harness the skills of Grace, Appreciation and Gratitude. As a parent, those can be some of the greatest gifts I can give them - and those gifts are FREE!

After our talk, Erik seemed to understand better why it is important to practice Grace, to be Appreciate and to have Gratitude. He is a very bright child who shows a lot of empathy and compassion at times, and he is still learning, so I have a lot of hope that he will take in what we discussed and use it in future to inform his choices. Meanwhile, I have to be aware of modelling those same skills myself, so he can see them in action in other people!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Little Boy Blue...

Lukas James Thomas; born June 25, 2001 at exactly 10am, after just 30 minutes of labour.

  • Tenacious!
  • Funny
  • Friendly
  • A quiet achiever
  • Artistic
  • Musical
  • Bookworm
  • Energetic
  • Insightful
  • Charismatic
  • Just
Luey Blue is our little star. You can always find him in a crowd - he's right there in the middle! People are simply drawn to him. He loves a good joke, a funny story, a lark! At the same time, he has a dark and serious side to him. He takes justice VERY seriously, both for himself and for others. He reads voraciously. He has a sense of dedication and responsibility beyond his years, and never seeks adulation for his personal achievements. On the other hand, he's a born performer and entertainer and loves an audience to play to, to delight and make laugh! He is our enigma, both fierce and delicate, funny and serious, the performer AND the behind the scene man!

And now he's a whole decade old!

Happy 10th Birthday, Blue!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Uninformed versus Ignorant....

Last week I was called ignorant when I voiced an opinion the other person didn't agree with. From the other persons perspective, I lacked information and therefore the correct insight to make a judgement. What that other person actually meant to say was that my opinion was uninformed. So, I informed myself.

An ignorant opinion is one based on having clear information that contradicts one's opinion and persisting to hold the opinion anyway by ignoring the information you have...

For the past couple of nights I've been watching "Go Back to Where You Came From" on SBS.  It is a documentary about six Australians with strong views on immigration issues in Australia (particularly entry of illegal immigrant via boats - also known as "boat people"), and their journey backtracking the process by which immigrants and refugees arrive in Australia. Five of the participants firmly believe immigrants should not be trying to settle in Australia - some only feel this way about boat people, others feel this way about all immigrants. One participant believes Australia could probably take more refugees and immigrants that it does.

Various opinions have been voiced during the first two episode (the third episode airs tonight), including, "I don't like Africans", "When I saw the boat crash on the rocks, I thought, serves you right", and "It's irresponsible to put your children and yourself in danger by hopping in a leaking boat".

During the first two episodes of the three parter, we've seen the participants live with legal and illegal immigrants, and hear their story. The participants have visited asylum seekers in detention and heard about people who are on their third and final appeal and who can only see suicide as an option if they are turned down this time. They stayed with families in Malaysia (a stop over for many asylum seekers on their way to Australia) and particpated in a raid to capture illegal immigrants and jail them (including women and children - Malaysia isn't a signitary to the UN refugee convention, so they can pretty do what they like to detainees).

With experience, a few tunes have changed. One particpant who started out viewing boat people as criminals now says in the same situation as the asylum seekers he's seen, he would put his family in a boat. It took getting to know a few asylum seekers in person, putting names and faces to the faceless people on the boats on the news every week, for a few of the people to begin to understand the plight of asylum seekers. These people went from being uninformed to informed and that changed their opinion.

Image: source
One partcipant, despite have experienced all the same stuff, and seen all the same stuff as the other participants, still holds strong to her opinion. She detaches herself from asylum seekers and says she wasn't brought up like them so living in their situation is not easy for her - as if it is for them, as if somehow they don't deserve the same consideration and respect she demands. In the face of women and children being chased in the night and herded into cage like trucks, she defiantly says, "This is great, we should be doing this in Australia".

She determinedly ignores the evidence of desperation before her eyes. This is ignorance.

I think there is a third category, one I've never heard mention of. I call it Ignorantly-uninformed. If anything, this is the most populated category on just about any topic you care to think about... or rather, DON'T care to think about. This is when people actively choose not to become informed because they know once they are informed, they probably won't be able to hold their opinion without becoming Ignorant of the facts. This is the, "Look, I don't mind either way because it doesn't really affect me, I'm not against [asylum seekers], I just don't want hear about [their children suffering] and so on, it's too depressing/frustrating/upsetting".

These people are easy to spot. When you talk about rights or plights, they kind of glaze over, change the topic, or slowly walk away...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Changing family dynamics...

Just now, Blue and Buddha went outside to play, and Viking asked if he could take the Little Lama out as well. Both the Grumpy Old Man and I agreed that Little Lama is still just a little bit too little to go out into the wilds that are our very large and very overgrown suburban back yard without our direct supervision (there's rusty old chicken wires and spidey hidey-holes everywhere, thanks to previous occupants enthusiasm for self-reliance).

This exchange led me to think about how our back yard is really too big for the Grumpy Old Man and I to manage (we're definitely NOT green thumbs) and how next time, we'll probably look for a property with smaller yards, because the boys prefer to go to the park anyway.

The problem with this, of course, is that we have several large outdoor play equipment items, including two large trampolines and a cubby house, that we'd need to get rid off. I thought this out loud, and Viking was quite concerned, "Mum, it'd be fine to get rid of the cubby and one of the tramps, but don't get rid of both of them because I still jump on them!" I explained I had found a company that makes great trampolines which douhle as cubby houses, and once the Grumpy Old Man was working again, we could always replace the old trampolines for the Little Lama (yes, I know, hyper-consumption).

I said he still has several years of childhood left, and just as I said that I realised the dynamic in the house has really changed this year. Viking, Blue and Buddha all go to school, and to me they are now "the big boys", while Little Lama is most definately the baby, the small child... There is actually a bigger age gap (4 years and 1 month) between Blue and Buddha than between Buddha and Little Lama (that gap is 3 years and 2 months), but now it feels like Buddha is closer in age to Viking and Blue than to Little Lama.

In the next year or so, I'll be letting Viking and Blue take Buddha to the park with them, but Little Lama will be a stuck-at-home for some years to come.

These days, Viking and Blue participate in this family like slightly junior adults. They cook, they clean, they run errands independently. Our interactions with them are more and more as independent members of the house, community and society. We talk more about abstract ideas and philosophy and as consultants on life matters, than as directors of action. Even with Buddha, conversations are turning from "Now you need to do X" and more towards, "What did you think about Y?'...

Image: source
Now, the Little Lama is really feels like the only small child, the only one in need of close supervision, the one we all mentor

This change crept up on me so quietly that this morning I've found myself marveling about what feels like a sudden shift of energies in this house. I like this new current. It feels more like we're part of a team, less like the Grumpy Old Man and I are hearding cats.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Silly Singalong...

Image: source
We love to sing in this house. Mostly we like to sing songs we've made up. We usually make up our own tunes, but occasionally we borrow a tune and rewrite the lyrics to suit ourselves (this may or may not breech copyright, but I think we're safe until we go public - and we wouldn't be that safe going public anyway, one well aimed shot with an overripe tomato could do serious damage, I imagine...).

Today the Little Lama was a very, very sad little boy. He had been quite content when he was destroying the loungeroom this morning, and also when he was de-shelving all of the Grumpy Old Man's books this afternoon, and especially when he was running amok in the school yard at pick-up time, tripping up mums, and riling up dogs at the front gate, but after we arrived home and he realised we weren't going to play outside in the icy rain, he pretty much lost the plot and became the very saddest Little Lama you've ever seen.

To cheer him up, I started singing. This is what I sang... (to the tune of Old McDonald Had a Farm)

Old McDaddy had a house, e, i, e, i, o.
and in that house he had a Lama, e, i, e, i, o.
with a Wah wah, here, and a snot snot there,
here a wah, there some snot, everywhere a wah-snot.
Old McDaddy had a house, e, i, e, i, o.

Old McDaddy had a house, e, i, e, i, o.
and in that house he had a Buddha, e, i, e, i, o.
with a "I don't like this food, I don't like that food,
I don't like any food, now bring me some HOT CHIPS!
Old McDaddy had a house, e, i, e, i, o.

Old McDaddy had a house, e, i, e, i, o.
and in that house he had a Blue-y, e, i, e, i, o.
with a farty, farty here, and a farty, farty there,
here a fart, there a fart, everywhere a fart, fart.
Old McDaddy had a house, e, i, e, i, o.

Old McDaddy had a house, e, i, e, i, o.
and in that house he had a Viking, e, i, e, i, o.
with a whinge, whinge, here and a moan, moan there,
here a whinge, there a moan, everywhere a whinge-moan,
Old McDaddy had a house, e, i, e, i, o!

(now, I'll give you one guess which verse was requested over and over again - peeeee-eww!)

In very little time at all, we had our giggly Little Lama back. Singing always works miracles around here!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Parenting Compromises...

Image: source
I'm an idealist (not as idealistic as I used to be, admittedly, but still fairly idealistic). I'm opinionated (who isn't, honestly, I know there are people - not at all like me - who are pretty much able to keep their opinions to themselves, but I have an opinion about them, too...).

When it comes to parenting my idealism and opinions go into overdrive. I'm learning to be a bit more relaxed - a bit - but mostly it just feels like I'm compromising.

Here are some of the things I've compromised on, and why...

Homeschooling - I planned, from the very beginning, to home school. Erik was only a few months old when this decision was firmly set in my mind (and I convinced the Grumpy Old Man as well). It was hard for us, I will admit that. We didn't have a car, and that meant getting to homeschooling groups (which for some reason are always held on the outer reaches of Melbourne) was always a trek. By the time we had three children, and it was taking us all day to get to the group, spend a couple of hours there and then travel home, it was feeling like very hard work for very little gain, if I'm brutally honest.

The boys weren't able to establish lasting friendships because everyone in the group was spread hither and yon on Melbourne's outskirts where public transport is always dodgy... Due to this isolation, Erik eventually begged us (yes, literally, imagine a 7.5 year old child - who is not particularly articulate at the best of times - approaching us seriously and saying he's thought about it, because he knows we'd prefer him not to go school, and he wants to give school a try because he wants to make friends and he feels he needs to see kids more often than once a week to be able to make friends with them) to let him go to school.

Letting Erik - and Luey (because he does everything Erik does, don't you know) go to school felt like a massive compromise. It was a compromise because the Grumpy Old Man and I do not have faith in the education system or those people overseeing it - not public, not private, not even independent - but because we do have faith in our child to tell us what he needs, or at least what is not working for him in the moment. In that sense - listening to our child's expressed needs - we did maintain one ideal.

I've been lucky, in that I haven't had to compromise on too much else regarding parenting ideals, until recently, that is...

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Pocket Money - the Grumpy Old Man and I have not been in the habit of paying pocket money. Many of my friends pay their children pocket money, and that works for them. I have been more inclined to buy my children what they need when they need and not give them money to just fritter away. This is partially because we have to make every dollar count in this house, and partly because I would feel like an ATM doling out money every other week "just because". Many of my friend exchange pocket money for chores. I've been completely opposed to this policy in our household because I want our home to be view by our children as a co-operative community, not a place where "the boss outsources work for money".

Just recently however, we've had a situation where Erik wanted to buy a $84 Lego person I feel is overpriced, and if I paid for it, he might undervalue it, lose it, barter it, or cannibalise it for parts. He really wants it though. I really want him to value it - because even though it's material worth is incredibly small, it's retail worth is disproportionately high, but he won't feel that if I simply give it to him. So, I've compromised on the "chores for pocket money" issue and agreed that if he does the dishes every night, he will get a dollar. The catch is that if he doesn't willingly do the dishes, I can obligate him to do the dishes and NOT pay him (this is to get around the whole, "Well, I don't want that toy anymore so I don't have to contribute because you're not paying me")... Because Erik has a job, so does Luey. They can only have one job at a time though, and still need to contribute to other housework they'd normally do without demanding remuneration

Games Consoles - We've never had a games console in this house in 12 years of having children. We were never going to have one. All our friends have them for their kids - that works for them. My kids have occasionally played computer games on my PC - this has usually led to days and days on end of whining about getting back on the computer. While on the computer, they often squabble about who has had the most time to play and so on. Basically, nothing about how our children interact with computer games has ever encouraged us to want to invest in any kind of games console for our children.
Image: source

Soon I'm intending on buying each of the bigger boys (Erik, Luey and Buddha) an iPod touch. I'm getting these so the boys will have something to occupy them when they are in the family car and the Grumpy Old Man is driving. I'm desperately hoping having one each of these thingy-majigs will subdue them into silent awe (either listening to music, listening to stories, watching movies or playing games), so the Grumpy Old Man doesn't get distracted while driving.

I can't tell you how much I worry that I'll regret this latest compromise. Yes, the older two will be 12 and 10 when they get consoles, but Buddha will only be almost 6. He'll grow up taking games consoles for granted. I'm uncomfortable with that idea - just as I was uncomfortable with Erik going to school. However, I'm more uncomfortable with the idea of the boys mucking around in the back of the car, or squabbling, and the Grumpy Old Man becoming distracted and us all ending up dead...

So, the compromise wins.

What parenting compromises have you made, and have any made you squirm?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Trials and Tribulations Tuesday...

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Yesterday was a wild and wacky day in our household.

It's started off mundane enough. Boys off to school, the Grumpy Old Man and I pottering around, doing dishes (him), tweeting (me), coffee drinking (both of us).

Then I went to look up something on Google and got an error message. I refreshed and the same message popped up. I asked the Grumpy Old Man if he'd been having any trouble on his browser, and he confirmed he had. We figured it was probably just a fault on the line and got on with writing out a shopping list and trundling off to the supermarket with the Little Lama in tow.

Back from shopping a couple of hours later, and the computer was still not making any meaningful connection with the net, so I called Telstra.

After a lot of "If you want waffles with icecream, press 1" and giving anonymous operators my name, date of birth, and bra size, I was finally put in touch with a technician. She said the line was clear, and as my modem appeared to be working just fine, she thought the problem might lie with my wireless adapter. She told me to uninstall it and re-install it, and if I was still having a problem I should call back.

I uninstall the Dlink adapter, but soon realised I couldn't find the driver disk to reinstall it. No matter, Dave's computer had been AWOL for a few weeks, so I took the NetGear wireless adapter from his computer (that Telstra had given us when they set up our wireless network), loaded the drivers for it from disk, and tried to make the adapter talk to the NetGear modem (also from Telstra).

It told me the modem needed to be switched on.

The modem was switched on.

Basically, the adapter couldn't find the signal from the modem. So, I rebooted the modem, but still no go.

I called Telstra again. Many, many minutes later, I got through to another technician, recalled the story so far, and the new technician had me open a few windows, and read stuff to him. He then concluded that although I had asked the Dlink software to "completely uninstall". there must still be a folder somewhere on my C drive that needed to be deleted because the NetGear adapter wasn't installing properly because it still detected the Dlink adapter software on the computer - still following me? Yeah, I was confused by now, too.

He said, "Ring Dlink, and get them to tell you where the folder on your computer is, so you can delete it".

I called Dlink, after a wait, they took my details and told me a technician would call me back.

By now, I'd been actively trying to sort this situation out for nearly three hours.

I waited for a call back, 5pm ticked around, and I was still waiting.

Then I heard a loud thumped and high pitched scream come from Bryn's room.

Dave and I rushed in there, and he was lying crumpled on the floor screaming that his arm hurt.

We managed to figure out that he had fallen from the low chest of draws he'd been perching on and landed awkwardly on his arm. His face was sickly shade of grey and he was sobbing and hyperventilating. He said he wanted to lie down and was distraught about his arm really hurting.

I checked by couldn't see any evidence of injury, other than his loud complaints. I decided it was best to get it checked out nonetheless and bundled him up and ordered a cab.

We pulled up outside the hospital and his sobbing had subsided and then he says, "It's all better now, look!" and he twists his arm and open and closes his hand - something he was absolutely sure he couldn't do at home.   I walk him into the ED even so, but once in there I realise we'll be triaged as very low priority and would be there for hours, and now he seems fine, so I call another taxi and we go home.

And this is where I'll mention that there was a body lying on a stretcher, covered completely by a sheet, but not secured by belts and NOT being supervised by anyone OUTSIDE the Emergency Department doors. I carefully guided Buddha around it, with commenting to him what it was and praying he wouldn't ask!

Back home. No one had called back from Dlink. I call them again and this time get a technician on the line. The technician has me check a few windows and folders, and declares all traces of the previous Dlink adapters software to be gone. He suggests I call the company who produce'd the second adapter I'm trying to install and see if they can fix the problem with their product (and he did sound just ever so slightly smug about it, too).

So, I call NetGear. I have to register the product I'm asking about so answer about a gazillion questions about myself, my whereabouts and what colour my undies are. Finally, the technician tells me that because Telstra provided me with the modem and the adapter, I actually have to ask them to sort this problem out. Gee, thanks...

So, I suck up a lung full of air and call Telstra for the third time. Explain my situation for the fifth time, and we come to a stale-mate. The technician can't see how she can possibly help me because I can't connect my computer directly to my modem to test the viability of the modem (the whole reason I have WIRELESS is because I can't connect my computer to the modem because Telstra couldn't put a line in our study, argh!). I suggest - through clenched teeth - that perhaps if they send someone out to us THAT person could check the modem with their laptop???

Oh, okay, yeah, sure, they can do that, so long as I understand that I will have to pay for the visit if the visiting technician concludes the problem was at my end and not Telstra's (hmmm, their modem, their adapter, I was willing to take my chances).

By now it was 7.30pm, I'd been chasing a solution for this problem since 2.30pm. I'd called three different companies, including three calls to Telstra, all while also taking my child to the hospital with a suspected fractured wrist.

But the tale doesn't end there...

Between 7.30 and 9pm, Buddha woke multiple times, crying about his pained arm. Eventually, he was begging to go back to the hospital, and saying he'd said his arm was fine before because he was scared of going to hospital, but now he wanted the doctors to fix his arm because it hurt so much.

Another cab was called. We were triaged by about 9.30pm. Then we waited. At about 11.30pm Buddha was seen (earlier than they told us, yay!). The young doctor there said he didn't think it was broken, but it was VERY uncommon for children Buddha's age (almost 6) to get sprains or strains, so he wanted to x-ray it all the same. Finally an x-ray was done. They did three but weren't happy with them because Buddha's bones weren't aligned the way they expected them to be (they thought he was probably tilting his arm ever so slightly but the x-ray was magnifying the effect).

We waited a while longer and then the doctor came to see us and say - while grimacing madly - that he didn't think there was a fracture. He could see a shadowy line, but again, in children Buddha's age, that could be the growth plate at the end of his bone. He said he'd get a second opinion today and call back if they thought the shadowy line was actually a fracture (no call so far, so thinking it wasn't).

We got home just after 1am.

Today the Telstra technician turned up. Opened a couple of windows, typed in my keypass and the adapter started working beautifully.

I asked him if I couldn't have been asked to do this over the phone myself yesterday - he scratched his head and said I should have been asked just that, he couldn't imagine why I wasn't and then he left...

What a weird day yesterday was!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Let's Talk about Suicide...

Image: source
I've been meaning to post this blog for over a week now, been waiting for a good time. There never seems to be a good time to talk about suicide, though, does there...

I was on stand-by with SBS to translate a video from Icelandic to English for them for an episode of Insight, a couple of weeks ago - in the end it turned out the video wasn't about suicide and they couldn't use it. Still, I tuned into that week's episode of Insight (the final for this season), and listen to the discussion on suicide and suicide prevention. More specifically the discussion was about whether or not it was a good idea to speak publicly about suicide. The concern being that many believe talking about suicide might glamourise it, might encourage others to do it.

I'm going to suggest that speaking about suicide is not only good, but essential.

One thing that came up was that a person doesn't need to be acutely depressed to become suicidal. One woman who had attempted suicide only a few weeks earlier said.

JENNY BROCKIE: Yvette, were you ringing the bell do you think? YVETTE AMBROSETTI-TOVEY: Yeah, I thought that I was ringing the bell. At the same time, like I said, I don't think it's been discussed, you know literally I've always said I would never, ever try to take my life and it was a span of ten minutes of absolute, I was tired of dealing with my depression anxiety 24/7 and it was literally in that ten minutes that I made a really silly decision. And that's what amazed me, it was so quick. Like I didn't even realise that I was going to take my own life. JENNY BROCKIE:  What would have helped though at that time? What would have helped you? YVETTE AMBROSETTI-TOVEY: Do you know, the next day, because the family got together and we found like Suicide Line and Mind Support and thing like that that I never knew existed prior to that. You know, that actually helped because even the next day and the next few days that I was feeling really low and everyone had to go to work and carry on with their lives, I rang up the suicide line and discussed these feelings before it got really severe to the point that I was on that day. So --

The transcript of the episode can be found here.

This rings true for me. I have thought about suicide many times. I have known many people who have attempted suicide, and a few who have succeeded in their attempts. I know for me, when it comes up, it's sudden, out of the blue - usually in the dark of night, and just as suddenly, a little while later, the feeling is gone and I'm left feeling relieved and embarrassed. I also realised, watching this discussion, that I don't know where to go to reach out. Which is why I thought I'd share some resources here. 

What I want is for people to FIND the resources - even if you're not depressed, even if you believe you would NEVER consider suicide. Find them if you have children, particularly children over 7 or 8. Know how to get the resources. If you have older children, SHOW them what the numbers are, and what the websites look like, so they are familiar and form a visual imprint in their minds. 

Talking about suicide doesn't make people suicidal.

My eldest - who is almost twelve has recently asked me about depression and suicide. Of course, as a mum, my very first reaction was WHAT? Why is my child even thinking about these topics??? Sadly, there is a very good chance he'll eventually know someone who has committed suicide amongst his peers. It is that common.

So, let's talk about it. 

Here are some Australian Suicide Prevention Resources.

The Suicide Line - 1300 651 251 (This is an Australian phone number, if you live overseas, you will need to Google for your country's numbers).

Life Line - 13 11 14

Suicide Callback Service - 1300 659 467

Kids Helpline - 1800 55 1800

Reach Out - Reach Out is a website that provides forums and fact sheets and other resources on various issues from mental illness, to self harm, anorexia and so on.

PLEASE familiarise yourself with these resources so that if, one day, you or someone you know, is in crisis you WILL know where to turn for support.

On a final note, I want to say, that people who have at some time thought about suicide, are not always thinking about suicide. Every person is different. Some people are chronically depressed. Other have brief, acute bouts of depression. Others are dealing will terminal illness or chronic pain. There is no one size fits all. Some, feel they are fine right up until the moment they suddenly just can't take it any more, but that moment can pass, too.

Admitting to having considered suicide is tough. I have worried that people might think they can't talk to me because they might "set me off", or that I'm suffering an ongoing mental illness. Neither of these feel true to me. The reason I even mention my own thoughts of suicide is to show they can occur to anyone and to show I understand what it is to reach that dark place, to grapple with the pain that is so intense life no longer seems worth fighting for - this is not a pity party for me. I also want to show that that time can pass, and life can be good on the other side of it. 

If you have come here because you are considering suicide. Please speak to someone first, someone anonymous, who will listen.

~ feel free to share this post on Facebook and Twitter, I want to spread the word about resources ~

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness and Paying It Forward...

I have written many times about the Universe providing - I'm constantly aware of being provided for - now I want to talk about being a conduit for the Universe's provision of others... I'm spring boarding this post from Jayne at Random Ramblings of An Unhinged Mind's blog post about Random Acts of Kindness and the Internet.

This week I've been very blessed by other people's Random Acts of Kindness and Paying It Forwards.

Wednesday really sucked (did you read my blog post, didn't even come close to how crappy I felt), and for the first half of the day I hid in bed because I just didn't want to face the world and my frustration over so many things. I was at once convinced that I should become a Buddhist and that I could never succeed at becoming a Buddhist because I can't grasp living in the moment - I always live in the future, I always live in a place of desire and longing...

Then I got on Twitter - as you do - and read about the NuffNang Blogopolis Conference coming up at the end of next month. I realised two things immediately; with only a total of 150 tickets on sale, it would sell out in no time (at the time of writing this all the tickets are indeed sold out - only 96 hours after it was announced!) AND I had NO MONEY - not even to borrow from Peter to pay Paul - for another fortnight.

It felt so unfair!

I hadn't been able to go to the first Aussie Bloggers Conference in Sydney back in March, and now there was a Con right here in Melbourne that I could get to if only I had $100... As I said, a real low point. Then Jayne sms'd me and asked if I was going, and I dumped all my frustration about not being able to go on her, and she sms'd back that someone had given her $100 to help her out recently and that person wanted her to pay that money forward, so she was going to buy me a ticket - I just need to pay it forward in turn!

Okay, so you might be thinking - who cares about a blogging conference anyway? Probably only bloggers. I'm a blogger. I also want to be a competent, connected blogger so that one day I might be able to use my skill and contacts to earn an income and support my family better. Blogging is usually done in isolation - as in you sit at home and blog - so conferences are great ways to meet people and maybe even make new friends in person! So, to me, this was a big deal!

Then yesterday my favourite clothing company, Holy Clothing, posted some new release items on their Facebook page! I saw an amazing dress and I wanted it the way a child would want a lollipop. Impulsively, I posted a link to the dress on Facebook, and asked (in jest) if any of my friends wanted to buy it for me. I really was only joking about someone else buying it for me. Asking someone to buy me a dress seems terribly frivolous and would not be something I would do in all seriousness, honestly (It's important to me you know this about me! Can you tell?).

To my shock, a friend contacted me and said she wanted to buy it for me! At first I was quite horrified - partly because I wanted to jump at the offer (those dresses sell out so quickly) and partly because I was embarrassed over wanting to take up the offer. My friend said I should consider it an early birthday present - which actually really made it much, much easier for me to accept.

I was so moved by these Random Acts of Kindness this week! It makes want to be sure to do this for other people as well. These acts were both very generous in a financial sense - and I've been very fortunate in that way in the past, as well, each act is filed away in my mind, I don't forget these acts - BUT even inexpensive acts of kindness, such as the neighbour who brought us her overflow of hot cross buns and Easter eggs recently, or the young guy on the coach who let Erik and Luey play on his iPad for an hour or so during a 10 hour trip, or the women who told us our children were beautifully well behaved, those acts of kindness make such an enormous difference to us - often to a degree the other person will probably never be aware of.

That's the brilliant thing about both the concept of Randoms Acts of Kindness and Paying It Forward, you don't have to have an excess to make it happen, all you need is the will to do it...

I thought I'd share couple of resources... Feel free to add your own in comments!

29 ways to perform random acts of kindness in the every day.
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation

Image: source

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Things lust...

Do you know that feeling when you see something GORGEOUS that you really believe you must have? I do. I'm feeling it right now, for this dress...

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At the moment, I have a panicky feeling in the pit of my stomach because I have no money to buy this beautiful, versatile dress (the top skirt of the dress buttons up on the shoulder to create a shawl effect - pure genius - I love clever clothing!). I'm sure, if it is popular and sells out fast, it will be re-released, but I WANT it and I WANT it NOW!

Other things I lust after include...

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An iPad 2 with a blue cover - the cover connects to the iPad with magnets and the segments can be folded back on themselves to create two kinds of stands for the iPad. I know iPad 3 will be out in no time, but the iPad 2 has the beveled edge I like the feel of with my iPhone 3GS (I think the iPhone 4 is blocky to hold).

Last night I was introduced to Fluevog boots... This morning I was shown these...

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I can't even express my feelings for these boots... Also theses...

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And just one more, for summer...

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Oh, oh, oh! So many pretty things!

This is how we think these days, isn't it. I want. And we're encouraged at every turn. Yet, our lives won't actually be better for having these things - I think... I think this because I have wanted things in the past, and then when I get them, I love them - I'm always so happy when I get something I've lusted after for a long time, and my appreciation for the object often lasts the lifetime of the object as well (like my Bugaboo Bee pram, which I adore), but few things actually make my life *better* (though the Bee actually has made a huge difference to the quality of my life in that it make it so easy for me to out and about with the smallest Bird). And the Well of Lust is ever rejuvenating. I find I never reach the end of the list of things I lust after. There is always something else...

Because I'm a believe in conspiracy theories I often wonder if we - the lucky people at the top of the world's wealth pile - aren't being sedated by all this lust for things. While we're distracted lusting after STUFF, are we insulating ourselves from the reality that most other people in the world not only have no access to the things we want, but they have no access to the things we take for granted - food, water, shelter, education.

I feel so torn - as if there is rope tied to each of my wrists and those lengths of rope are being pulled in opposite directions... Is that another conspiracy?

Maybe the Hindus - some of them - have it right? Maybe feeling guilt over privilege is a waste of time and energy because we all have paths to walk, and we all walk all the paths at some point.

Things to think about...

PS. I still WANT that dress!

Friday, June 10, 2011

This is a blog, not an advertising company...

This article in The Age about PR companies needing to be more savvy when trying to get bloggers to advertise for them is just the springboard I've been looking for for a post on advertising and sales in the blogosphere...

I've been blogging for five and a half years. I certainly don't have the longest standing blog, not by a long shot, but I've been around for longer than most I know. In all that time I've blogged about a number of 'things'; personal 'things' and public arena 'things'. I've blogged because I love to write, and I kind of think my opinions on 'things' are enlightened (mock me, you may, but Nostradamus and I share a birthday and I don't think that's coincidental! You'll see, my pretties, you'll see!)...

Seriously though, when I got into blogging I absolutely was just doing it for myself. In the intervening years the concept of 'the blogosphere' has really taken off, and many entrepreneurial types (of which I'm not one) have turned blogging into quite a money spinner - and more power to them! Professional blogging has become a, well, a profession - a legitimate as any other web-based profession. Blog Cons abound, and bloggers are flocking to them! It's a new world full of possibilities, and I think it's wonderful!

Lately though, I've noticed that a lot of bloggers are becoming advertising adjuncts, and I think it's quite off-putting. The article I've linked to above describes the jarring sensation of reading a blog that used to be a personal account of life as the blogger saw it, and suddenly has become an interactive billboard for some PR Companies'R'Us.

I do understand that bloggers want and need to make a living from what they love - blogging - but when will readers start to feel that blogs have become replacements for television and newspaper advertising (which is more and more failing to achieve it's goal because viewers and readers are tuning out)? Self-promotion without quality content (a term I'm using losely, but by which I mean honest, heartfelt content) is like those little trophies they hand out to kids at the end of the footy season - plastic and tacky.

More importantly, how can bloggers retain their integrity and still manage to promote their blog and possibly even make a living from it? You know, without becoming cheap and cheesy?

I know I don't want to promote any products I don't actually LOVE - though there are many products I DO love! I want the content of my blog to reflect me, my thoughts and personality, and not the thoughts and personality of a PR company (coz, let's face it, they may be charming, but you wouldn't bring them home to mother)...

I don't want my readers to feel they are being pitched a promotion every other time they enter my space on the interwebs because I want them to come back and I want them feel this is a place away from the constant assault of the world and it's capitalist, consumerist NOISE.

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I also want to read blogs without having to wonder if I'm being sold a line. I don't want to read adfomercials or infomercials, though if a blogger genuinely loves a product or event or service they use or have found, I'm more than happy to hear about it... Sharing of insights is one of blogging's greatest assets - there just needs to be a strong sense of personal value. Blogs that seem only to exist as a vehicle for PR companies will eventually alienate their readership, I fear. So, PR companies need to be savvy, and so do bloggers!

Denmark's Newest Princess!

Overnight - on June 9th, 2011, Denmark time - my cousin Inga and her partner Lars welcomed a brand new little princess into the world!!!  Isn't she just DIVINE??? - and smiling already!!! Of course, I think she looks just like my Ari and therefore is GORGEOUS!!! For a young woman who was never, never, NEVER going to have children (despite having met my lovely boys; Erik and Lukas - go figure!), Inga looks quite besotted with her new daughter! So, I'm sending all my love from across the globe and hoping one day we'll get to meet in person!!!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Defracted Television...

Defracted Television

It's not reverse racism...

Painting: source
Today my husband related a story from his week to me. He had been out and on his way home needed an asthma pump (the man needs a preventer, he uses that pump so often, but do you think he'll listen to me???).

So, he went into one of our local chemists. We don't go into this chemist often because we've encountered what seems like subtle racisim (being ignored at the counter, being made to wait 20 minutes for service then being told we'll have to wait another 20 minutes, so we might as well go and doing something else in the mean time - while others around us are being served - and they happen to be the same race as the chemist staff) from the staff.

On this occasion, my husband was the only person at the counter. There were no staff at the counter, only the chemist herself at the back putting together prescriptions, so my husband stood and waited for about four minutes, and no one came to serve him. Then a couple came into the chemist who appeared to be the same race as the chemist and she comes from behind her partition, looks at my husband and says, "You'll just have to wait a few minutes." before turning to this other couple to serve them.

My husband responds, "Really? You haven't even asked me what I want yet, and I was here before these people." This made the chemist do a bit of a double take, and then she finally asked him what he wanted and served him.

Keeping in mind that he went into the chemist because he was short of breath (though not gasping for breath), and keeping in mind she had no idea what he was asking for - she couldn't simply assume he was after a prescription to be filled - what would you call this behaviour?

My husband called it "reverse racism". He did this because he is Caucasian and the chemist was not.

Me, I call it racism.

Just plain racism.

Racism is not only the domain of Caucasians. Any race can be racist.

Just as a person doesn't need to be wealthy to be a snob. There is snobbery, and that's it. There is not such thing as 'reverse snobbery'.

Prejudice is a two-way street, and both ways are still prejudice.

No one is any more entitled to, or excused from, prejudice.

There can't be a situation where it is 'understandable' that someone is treated differently because they appear to belong to a particular race or class or sex or religion.

The only way to 'reverse' prejudice is to not allow for it at all.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

When you want to join the toddler in his tantrum...

There comes a time when it is consider uncouth to chuck a tantrum because things aren't going your way.

That time probably passed three or so decades ago for me.

Is it really so bad to feel like life is unfair, and that it is unfair that other people seem to get their way with very little effort or obstacle?

Is it really that awesome to bear trials and tribulations with dignity and patience, knowing your turn will come one day?

Not ripping the contents from my kitchen cupboards and smashing it all on the floor is almost tearing me apart right now.

I want to rage and scream and throw things.

I want to pout and stamp my foot and yell 'It's NOT FAIR' with clenched fists shaking at the sky.

I want to push and shove and beat the world into submission.

I can really relate to my two year old today - and yesterday, and last month, and last year even.

I want to holler ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! and WHAT ABOUT ME?

I want to cry and whimper, "I'm a good person, I watch out for others, I work hard and don't sit around waiting for anyone to hand me anything on any kind of platter.'

I want to feel sorry for myself without having to 'Suck it up, Buttercup'.

I want all that 'inevitable change' to HAPPEN ALREADY!

I want to stop feeling angry and resentful and disappointed and full of despise.

That is all.