Friday, September 30, 2011

Mission Statement...

I've been a bit hit and miss on the blog in the last couple of weeks. There is a shift in the air. I'm restless. This is par for the course when you have ADHD, but there is more to it than that I think.

Dave is about to start a new job - just as soon as we get a call back from his future employer, that is, but we have been assured it is coming. That is going to mean more financial security for us. Probably not a huge change in financial security, but then again, we don't need a huge change - we've never needed much, just not to have to ask his mother for money every month...

It's been almost a year since I finished my Masters degree. I haven't done anything more with the manuscript that degree yielded. I still want to get it professionally read before submitting it anywhere else. It's not that I've lost interest in that manuscript, it's more that the struggles over the past few years have clogged up my brain spaced and made it harder than usual for me to focus on anything. As time has passed I've searched for solutions to our problems with a much more frenetic, disorganised energy. Really just clutching at straws. It's caused so much confusion and anxiety in recent weeks - did we make the right choices, where do we go from here if we didn't, and so on.

Related to this has been my plan to apply to do a PhD at a local university. I've felt very blocked when it came to this particular goal. The proposal itself is only 750 words, but it asks the questions, 'How is your topic unique?' and 'What does your topic add to the field of research?' Big questions for a such a small proposal. It feels like I have to done all my research before even starting my research degree!

I have done some very preliminary research to answer these questions but haven't learned much. I said to mum today, 'Either no one has ever researched this topic or I'm not looking in the right places.' She suggested it is most likely the latter (and considering much of her own research is in a related field, I'm taking that to mean she's probably come across research in the general area I'm considering).

The truth is, I'm all at sea. My lack of confidence stems from knowing, deep down, that I haven't done enough research and that one or two queries from potential supervisors would quickly reveal my fraud. I need to build other people's faith in my ability to research and to build authority on my topic of choice. I can't afford to reveal myself as clueless even before I get started. There's plenty of time for that later...

So, that brings me to another truth. I need to actually do some real work now. At this stage in the process, I'm about a year away from being really ready to submit a proposal. I'm kicking myself for wasting so much time this year, but I wasn't in the right frame of mind. As Maslow's hierarchy dictates, I needed to feel safe; I needed to know I had food and shelter, and that my children had food and shelter, and that's really only becoming a firm certainty in light of Dave new job (once we get that phone call, of course).

 Close friends will get a laugh from reading between
these lines and realising why I'm suddenly all about
self-actualisation!

Only then can I put energy into more cerebral pursuits - self betterment...

So, now I find myself reconsidering my current priorities. I've been getting into the blogosphere quite strongly in the past couple of months, and have met some really lovely people, and discovered some very strong hearts and minds out there. It's been amazing! It has also been very time consuming and sadly if I'm going to give this PhD project the energy it needs, I'm going to have cut back on participating in link-ups, in particular.

There is one link up I feel I need to keep up with - because it is very closely related to my work and it has really help me reconnect with my first love; writing - that is the Write on Wednesdays link-up. I didn't participate this week because my head is very foggy right now, but I've been thinking about it all week, nevertheless!

Other link-ups I'm going to have to participate in as time allows.

I know in blogging circles it's very much a case a of 'out of sight, out of mind', and that is completely understandable because there are just so many amazing blogs out there. Only very few, extremely talented bloggers would be widely missed if they stopped blogging several times a week.

I won't stop blogging, but I guess what I blog about might change a fair bit because I'm about to submerge myself in a world of fiction and research and - oh, that terrible, terrible genre - fantasy (I really must look up the meaning of 'slipstream' it might give me some more credibility)...

My apologies in advance if I start to bore you guys.

As always, I love, love, love interacting with my readers; these past couple of months of comments have been just awesome - I'm more addicted than ever to talking to the people who stop by and read this blog. You guys inspire me no end!

I'm going to try and commit three solid days a week to reading a research and two to writing. My mission is to become the researcher and writer I need to be to gain entrance into a PhD degree and to get my novel published. Blogging will happen in and around these goals.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thankful Thursday: the things I can't talk about edition...

Linking up with Diary of a SAHM for this week's Thankful Thursday.

I'm feeling a bit blah today. It's school holidays - which I always find challenging because I like to think and thinking (for me, anyway) requires a certain level of quietude which is hard to come by in a small house with four restless boys. Also, in true Melbourne fashion, we've had some torrential rains this week (i know the weather gods are spiteful bastards but during the school holidays? Really?)...

Nevertheless, good stuff has been happening and I thought I should probably acknowledge them. Mind you, some of them I can't actually talk about because a) they're of a sensitive (read way too much information variety, nudge, nudge, wink, wink - or not made public yet) nature or b) I don't want to jinx the situation...

Needless to say, there have been some very positive changes in my life this week, changes that put the last 2, 3, and almost 4 years into the "Let's not dwell on it, anymore." past...

Things I can talk about...

  • Meeting up with people from Twitter on Friday night and on Monday - it's always lovely to put faces to Twitter handles, even when those faces are nothing like how I'd pictured them!
  • Sims 3 - Yes, I disappear down the rabbit hole that is Sims 3 for a day and a half. I finally figured out how to woohoo, and was terribly disappointed. I freaked my eldest out by being bi-sexual and have a husband, boyfriend and a girl (my 12 year old is much more consetvative than even he realises and thought I should not be so promiscuous...). As with most obsessions, I'm now bored with this life and have broken up with Jill and Bernie (who slapped me!) and have settled down with Luke, but for the life of me, I can't figure out how to have a baby... Gee, it's much easier in real life, hey?
  • Birthday parties and sleepovers - Erik and Luey's social life is so much busier than mine ever was at their age. They both seem to have a group of friends each that they get along well with. This is something I do worry about a lot because I've struggled to make and maintain friendships all my life. So, to see the boys learning these skills at an early age is very reassuring to me!
  • I really am thankful for the school holidays, actually. Not only does it give me and excuse to be a bit slack about my blog and other committments (yes, I see others are not letting holidays be their excuse, bully for them, hey?), but it gives me a chance to catch up with the boys in a meaningful way...



What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

10 Things Tuesday: 10 Epic Fails


I've been Epic Failing all over the place recently, I thought I tell everyone how - maybe after reading this you'll feel great about your own performace!

1. Blogging: I joined Seven Cherubs 'Cherish Your Cherubs Project', but then failed to write my children love notes for week six, so didn't post last week. I thought I'd post a double post this week (I did put some love notes in Lukas' suitcase for camp - he never mentioned getting them), but then I didn't post yesterday either. I also joined in 'Me and YOU Monday' at The Mother Experiment two weeks ago, thinking I would work on my relationship with my kids by sending them love notes (and thus doing two memes at once because I really liked both of them), but of course, I totally dropped the ball that week, so no update last week for 'Me and YOU Monday'... This week I will finally update today (having promised I would do this last night, you know, while it was still MONDAY, but dropping the ball again. My update is this... I did send notes to Lukas, but not the other boys. I've tried to be more aware of being more affectionate overall, but basically, I've struggled more than succeeded.

In other blogging failurees. I've dropped the ball on most memes, I'm posting late in the day rather than first thing. I'm not getting around to all the other posts (or even most of them) in link-ups or blog-hops I've participated in - which really irks me because I do feel I need to get around to every one, but when there are 50+ blogs to visit, it's overwhelming. I'm not keeping up with my blog buddies either. Yes, it's truly Blogging Epic Fail City around here!

2. Housekeeping: I'm struggling to keep this house from drowning in detritus at the moment. Some days I reckon if I auditioned for Hoarders, they jump for joy! I really want a clean, tidy house, I do, it's just such a Sisyphean task... It's totally demoralising.

3. Lodging my PhD proposal. Actually even just drafting the bloody thing! It's 750 words, but it might as well be 750 000. They seem to want me to have already done all research I plan to do for the doctorate itself - and then distill all that research into 750 words... Really, why does this overwhelm me? It should be a cinch, right?

4. Being a class rep at the boys' school. Honestly, I don't know why I offered to help out, I'm really hopeless at summoning up the motivation to do it properly. To go up to the school and socialise with the other parents or attending meetings, organise fair stall clothing collection, and to remember everything, oh the remembering - i keep forgetting to remember...

5. Being consistently loving, generous and patient with my children. I can manage moments of loving, generous and patient, but these are broken up by moments of screaming banshee trollmama... My poor children will probably grow up with hair-trigger anxious ticks...

6. Not caring about what people think of me. Sadly, I do care. I say I don't care. Sometimes I really don't, but I can't maintain the indifference...

7. Related to the last point - Letting go. Once I feel strongly about something, I find it hard to let go. Anger ove past hurts can flare up when I least expect it, but also, when I like something or someone, I tend to obsess - I want more, my hunger isn't satisfied by having - it just seems to grow exponentially... I really want to be easy-going, why is it so hard for me?

8. Still related to point 6.- Caring enough. While I obsess about some things, when I do let go, I do it with the same level of intensity as not letting go... Despite sometimes feeling it might be in everyone's best interest that I continue to care, to stay open and involved, to do for the sake of others, if not for myself... When I let go, it is completely and I just can't manage to care enough to go back and pick up old threads...

9. Not being lazy: I consider myself a doer. I don't like to just talk about doing stuff, I like to get it done. So it seems somewhat incongruous that when I do things I am so attracted to shortcuts and 'easy way's. I want to DO, but then I want to do things the quickest, least taxxing way possible. I have been Epic Fail at not being lazy for as long as I can remember... I am actually writing this blog post on my iPad in bed at 5pm on a Tuesday - THAT is how lazy I am...

10. Cooking: when Dave started his work experience, I swore I would start cooking dinner so he didn't have to do that as well as work. I did okay for the first week - since then either the boys have cooked, or Dave has... I wish cooking filled me with the joy and inspiration my friends speak of as their faces radiate with some celestial glow cooking gives them, but no, I detest cooking... I can cook (this assertion is derived from the observation that no one has died at the dinner table while eating substances I've cooked), I just don't enjoy cooking.


Tattoo Tuesday: My Son's Sun

Linking up with Tattoomummy for Tattoo Tuesday

What: A stylised sun

Where: On my left upper arm

Who: My brother

Why: This tattoo is for my second son. I had originally wanted a star, but couldn't find one I liked even after extensive searches for several months. This sun is closest to what I was looking for, and so, I've justified it in my mind as 'suns are stars, too...' I wanted a star for Lukas for several reasons...

When I was pregnant with Lukas I kept seeing (in my mind's eye) a child whose hair formed a bright halo around their head. I wanted a name for this child that reflect that brightness but nothing I came across seemed to fit. We eventually named him Lukas by process of elimination from a list of names that would work in Icelandic and that the Grumpy Old Man could live with - later I discovered that Lukas means 'Bringer of Light'. When he was born, his hair was the colour of spun gold - he is our only redhead. *cue Twilight Zone music*

Lukas was our first child to cosleep from the start. As he grew he decided he was most comfortable sleeping on his back or stomach with his arms and legs outstretched starfish style. We called him our little starfish (and we slept clinging to the edges of our bed while he took up a good metre in the middle with his starfish antics)...

As well as this, Lukas is a born performer. he loves to be in the limelight. Loves dancing and performing as part of a group (not so much on his own, though).

So, in many ways he's our little star - and our son - and a sun is a star...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

10 Things You'd Hate About Me...

I was tagged by Tattoomummy to post ten things you'd hate about me - hold onto your hats people, I'm not going to hold back and this might get hairy...


  1. I don't trust people who love my writing. That's right, I have to fight the urge to think that a) you're just blowing hot air up my skirt so you look nice or b) you have no clue what good writing is and your opinion can't be trusted... (I do fight this urge, and try to believe those people, but my instinct is to think they're confounded idiots)
  2. I love cheese and jam sandwiches, and cheese and jam on toast. To me it's a bit like poor man's cheesecake. I just love salty and sweet things together!
  3. I yell at my kids - a lot. I think Roseanne Connor was a great mother role-model because she loved her children passionately, both when she was proud of them and when they drove her up the wall. I have recently been catching up on the nine seasons of Roseanne and pissing myself laughing at how similarly we parent - it warms the cockles of my heart. I apologise in advance if your children need counselling after a visit to my house...
  4. I'm a copycat. If you have something I like - clothing, hairstyle, technology, I will try to get it, too. If I really like your style, you take the risk of turning up to the same event as me and finding me wearing your clothes; like a fatter, dumpier version of you! I'll strut around like it was my idea, too! Single, white female - that's me (except the single part, and I'm not partial to blood splatter so I won't try to kill you).
  5. I like little boxes. It really frustrates me when people put two mutually exclusive terms together just because they can't make up their mind. I will argue till I'm blue in the face that you cannot be an atheist pagan. Atheists aren't spiritual, pagans are - by definition. If you can't make up your mind what you are - then invent a new term or risk having to listen to me go on and on and on about it like a dog with a bone - because you're wrong, no really you are wrong, with a capital W... I like little boxes, I like things to stay within their definitions, I hate that language mutates, I like the stability of maths. I like little boxes. Are we clear?
  6. I have suffered gender-disappointment (which I think is wrongly labelled - see my last point about little boxes - it should be "sex-disappointment" because gender is how one identifies sexually, not what organs one has). Yes, I was deeply disappointed when my second, third and fourth were boys, it was worst with my second and fourth, though by the time I had my fourth child, I did think of course. I was very, very upset that I would never have a daughter. I love my boys to bits and wouldn't give any of them up for a girl. The girl is a dream, not a real person. She is a projection. Nevertheless, my heart aches that I will never get to find out how correct or incorrect my projection was. I'll never share a mother-daughter relationship, which I believe is quite different from a mother-son relationship. I don't want more children now, so even if I could be guaranteed a girl, I wouldn't have another (I don't think - I do have moments of weakness very occasionally where I throw caution to the wind in my mind). I think people who don't get gender-disappointment are just missing the ability to empathise beyond their own experience.
  7. People who go on and on about their children's achievements and their children's intelligence and their children's aesthetic attractiveness give me the shits. Everyone thinks their own children are prime examples of human perfection - that's kind of a given. If that is almost all you ever talk about, it just makes you look a bit amazingly narcissistic. Being proud of your child is one thing. Making their achievements your main conversation starter in social contexts causes the bile to rise into my throat and diminishes my opinion of you. I would apologise but it's true and not likely to change. Also, you should know - my children are exceedingly intelligent, talented and attractive, I'm not just saying that, it's a fact...
  8. I orgasm every single time I have sex. Yes, I do. I always have. It's easy. It's a gift. Stop cringing mum.
  9. I don't believe feminism is necessary. I believe the power is within every woman and every man to be equally powerful. The power is in the mind. The body may suffer, but no one can touch the mind without permission. Yes, I believe this. This is why I am called "The Feminist Hater" by some who lack their own confidence. Oppression is a choice as it is something that happens in the heart and mind of people. Buddhists who have achieved a high level of enlightenment get this. So, just consider me enlightened, okay.
  10. I'm having trouble thinking of a tenth thing people would hate about me, because well, I happen to think I'm amazingly wonderful. I know some people don't get that, but seriously, I have to wonder what is wrong with them because I'm loyal, I'm very, very intelligent, I'm incredibly sensual, I'm very accepting of people (because I'm always questioning my own prejudices), I'm easy to talk to. Pretty much, who wouldn't want me as a friend? Sorry, I can only think of nine things you'd hate about me, so if that annoys you, I just don't care.
I love bright colours... But that won't
make you hate me...

Bugger, now I'm supposed to tag someones... I hate this bit because I don't feel like I can impose on people, but okay...



Friday, September 23, 2011

Things I Know From This Week...

  • Photoshop Elements does everything I need from Photoshop, and when Kellie from The Good, the Bad and The Unnecessary sent me her unused Mac version of Photoshop Elements 9, she made my day! What a generous spirit!
  • Just when I'm beginning to think I've found a way to live with and keep my ADHD under control, I'm told I'd taken a key to open a storeroom at the school this morning so people could drop of clothes for school fair clothes stall and then I didn't show up at the pre-arranged time. I feel like such an idiot after the long phone conversation I had about this yesterday afternoon...
  • The house is a lot quieter when even just one child is away on camp for a couple of days. Three children seems like nothing compared to four - I know I also felt this way about two children when I had three...
  • Melbourne weather puts me on a rollercoaster ride of emotional highs and lows... I really wouldn't get bored if every day was sunny, 25 degrees and slightly breezy. No, I wouldn't!
  • The Grumpy Old Man has been offered a job after two years, five months, and three weeks of unemployment. We don't know what his wage will be or how many hours he will have, but just the fact he's been offered a job is AMAZING! It has done his confidence no end of good. We've been tentatively assured full time, or very near full time, work. We may even be able to start saving instead of living hand to mouth and being partially support by mother-in-law!
  • Blogging from my iPad in my comfy chair in the loungeroom rocks!
  • I seem to be struggling to blog, and to read and comment on everyone else's bloghop and linkup posts in a timely fashion this week, sorry!
  • I keep coming back to add more things I know...

Linking up with Yay For Home for Things I know!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Write on Wednedays: a day late and little long...







Write On Wednesdays


Write On Wednesdays Exercise 15 - Give yourself some time to notice the people around you. The people who may cross your path each day. The lady in front of you at the supermarket, the man who helps the school kids cross the road, a neighbour, a waitress in a cafe, a librarian, anyone at all. Choose one person, someone you don't know, and this person will become the basis of the week's writing exercise. Describe this person as you see them, describe their surroundings. Then imagine a problem, create conflict for this person. Describe the conflict. Describe how your character deals with the problem. The conflict might resolve itself, it might not. It is up to you. Perhaps, the lady in the supermarket has forgotten her wallet. Does she bursts into tears? Maybe the librarian finds a lost child. The aim is to show how your character responds to conflict and in the process, reveal something about that character. Tell us their story.

Let's aim for around 200 words, keeping with the theme of the last few weeks (to make each word count). Hopefully those of you who are writing ongoing stories will find a way to weave this exercise into your work.

Tartan clutch

Edward gingerly lowered himself onto the bus stop bench. The sun was on his face, but the icy Spring wind was threatening his kidneys, as Marla would have put it. 


They say noses and ears grow with age. Luckily Edwards nose had always been on the petite size, however, his school chums would have collapsed in fits of laughter at the foot of their zimmerframes had they lived long enough to see his ears now. Big Ears had nothing on Edward as he sat clutching the oversized tartan pencil case to his chest. His enormous wrinkly ears soaking in the sun's rays on either side of his weathered face.


The Tam o'Shanter on his head was in a tartan to match the pencil case clutch - his family tartan - he wore it with it's cheery little pom-pom atop with pride. He'd lived in Australia for 65 years, but deep down he was still a Scotty a heart.


Scotland; the home of his childhood. He hadn't been there in all these years, but now he was on his way to the Flight Centre office to pick up his air tickets. He couldn't say what awaited him back in Edinburgh, but there was nothing left for him here. Since Marla passed he longed for family. They had never had children. Marla didn't like children. Marla didn't like a great many things, including the idea of travelling overseas. Edward didn't mind too much though, he would have given up anything to be with her - he had given up a lot.


Now though, he needed his first home, the comfort of his birth place. Edward clutched his savings to his chest in the oversized tartan pencil case and sucked in a lung full of cold spring air - it was as if the weather were giving him a hint of home as confirmation that this was the right thing to do now.


Sorry guys, this is a little long and a little late... I chose an old man I saw at the bus stop yesterday, he seemed like a likely character...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

10 Things Tuesday: 10 More Confessions...

Well, I enjoyed letting it all hang out last week so much I've decided to do it again - you can thank all those people who encouraged me last week...


  1. I wrote this list about three hours ago, and then my computer decided to have a Tuesday morning hissy fit and freeze up, forcing me to 'force quit' and reboot which, of course, deleted the post... I can't actually remember the 10 points I wrote three hours ago, but I promise you they were hilarious! No really, they were...
  2. Being truthful with children is paramount. Call a vagina a vagina for crying out loud! On Sunday Bryn lost his first tooth and yesterday the tooth fairy left him $1 for it. Now, Bryn was completely happy with $1 but I was not. The tooth fairy always leave $5 for the first tooth, $5, not $1. $1 is for subsequent teeth, except molars, it's always $2 for molars, and quite frankly I don't want to hear about economic downturns because the Aussie dollar is doing alright, still. As well as this, Bryn lost his second tooth yesterday (I think he's planning on losing the other 18 by Sunday next; it's all part of his September budget) and the bloody tooth fairy didn't drop by for the tooth or leave any money or anything. So, okay, maybe the tooth fairy was a bit confused by two teeth in two days, but this just isn't good enough. So, this morning I ranted and promised to write a very stern letter to the tooth fairy and make sure Bryn gets the $5 the tooth fairy owes him. The tooth fairy needs a lesson in honesty, don't try to rip off six year olds - raising their mother's ire is not a good retirement plan!
  3. Even though I get up at 6.30am to get my kids ready for school, I actually spend the first half hour making and drinking coffee and checking Twitter. Then I spend the next hour or so blogging. I make my 12 year old make his brothers' breakfasts. This morning, I was blogging away (the lost post, remember) and it was only because my computer froze that I remembered to go and get dressed. at 8.15am I realised I'd promised to be up at the school by 8.30am to collect clothing from parents for the school fair. At that moment, I also realised that Ari wasn't dressed and Bryn's school lunch hadn't been made. So, I made the 12 year old make his brother's school lunch, and the 10 year old dress the toddler while I, um, went and put on mascara... Yeah, I'm all about priorities. Payback is a bitch though. Got to school, in the rain and freezing cold and no one showed up, you know, because it was pissing down and freezing cold... But my mascara looked awesome.
  4. The most perfect, magical, irreplaceable moment of my entire life is not the moment I met any of my babies. It's not from my wedding day or the day I met my husband. It happened just over 23 years ago. I'd been to a youth concert and hadn't managed to get a seat with my friends. I ended up sitting next to some guy I didn't know. He started a conversation with me on a notepad. I thought he was cute as we wrote back and forth about nothing I can remember. When the concerted ended he went off with his friends and I started looking for my brother who I was supposed to meet afterwards. I was swept along with the crowd out the doors of the concert venue. Just as I passed through the foyer a hand grasped my hand in the crowd. I couldn't even see who it was and thought for a moment it was my brother... It was the guy. As we reached the outside of the venue, he put his hands around my waist and we just stood holding each other for about 20 minutes. Not saying anything, just looking into each others eyes, oblivious to the people around us. It remember it all with complete clarity. Then a car pulled up alongside us, his brother wanted him to leave. The guy said he'd find me at the youth rally the next day. I didn't even know his name. Our relationship only lasted a few short months - burned intensely until it burned itself out - we could never have worked out, but the memory of that one perfect moment always makes me smile. It was so intense, so pure, so idyllic. Moments like that come once in a lifetime. They are a reminder that perfection exists. It's rare, delicate as a snowflake and just as fleeting. Because they are perfect, these moments only bring joy. They cannot be compared to the rest of life and should not be, they should be accepted for what they are - magic. I find that I love my husband more because I had that magic moment. Even though we did not share that moment, we have something else, an abiding love that does not need perfection to survive because it's more robust and enduring, not idyllic and therefore not reliant on perfection.
  5. I'm planning on going to the Problogger Event in October and a) I can't really afford the ticket and b) I have no idea what I'm going to do with Ari seeing as it's on a Friday and the Grumpy Old Man will probably be working. Oh, did I mention I haven't told him I'm doing this?
  6. Ari found a rubber ball in Big W yesterday. It was just lying there on the floor in the line leading to the check outs. I told him it wasn't his a couple of times and to put it down. He kept picking it up and bouncing it. It has a Mambo print on it, so I know it came from Big W - was probably attached to a tshirt or something... He wasn't going to put down... No one seemed to own it. He's still got it... Oh, gods, I'm one of those mums who shoplifts by letting her child hang onto a loose toy they found in a shop... Thank goodness I don't believe in hell...
  7. Yes, it's true. I'm a heathen. Yes, this is a confession. In case any of you were wondering... I really am - a heathen. Well, actually I'm a pagan. Actually, I'm a post-dualist pagan. I may lose a lot of my readers by confessing this, but then there is that thing about being honest... Well, you know, besides Big W rubber balls and letters to the tooth fairy... Except, I do believe in fairies. That is, I don't not believe in fairies. Confused yet? Hello? Anyone there, or have you all run away screaming? No, still a few of you hanging around? Alright then, let's keep this train rolling...
  8. The grass in our front yard is knee high again. It needs a cut again. The front yard doesn't worry me as much as the waist high grass in the back yard though. I resent paying good money to keep grass looking neat. When I have my own house I'm totally asphalting the front and back yard.
  9. I've lost a few kilos in the past few weeks from stress (losing weight from stress is new to me) and I'm not too happy about it because I spent a shedload on an entire new wardrobe of clothing from HolyClothing and if I keep losing weight at this rate, all my lovely clothes will look like sacks in about three weeks time. Yes, I'm a size 20-22 and I don't want to lose weight (did I mention I'm a heathen?).
  10. If I'd had $400 yesterday, I would have totally bought a pet shop puppy and brought it home even though I know puppies in pet shops are farmed under horrendous conditions, even though we rent and four kids and dog is the perfect recipe for rental application rejection, even though I know full well the GOM is very much against the idea of a dog, ever. I would have brought that little white, tan and brown Maltese x Shih tzu puppy home and called it Gizmo, and it would have been my Gizmo... Close call, in hindsight I'm grateful I didn't have $400...
It looked a lot like this one...
I'm also linking with Diary of a SAHM for I Blog On Tuesday


Monday, September 19, 2011

Wondering what the hell happened to my blog..?

Yeah, me too!

I've lost my blojo. It's easy to figure out why, of course. I've been blogging fairly solidly for the past couple of months. It's not that I don't have anything I could blog about - just this morning I've dropped the ball on the Cherish Your Cherubs Project over at Seven Cherubs (I'm thinking if doubling up next week because I actually didn't do my homework this week - bad, bad, blogger!)... In fact, there is always something to blog about.

It's just that I've lost a bit of the get-up-and-blog that I've been experiencing of late. I'm having a bit of a blogistential crisis, you might say.

My stats for the past two days make pathetic look like a healthy specimen, but you know what, I'm still here! Apparently, a barely existent blogpulse doesn't actually make me disappear as I was beginning to suspect it might.

Last night I was low. I was very, very low. I was all 'why is this happening to me' and 'why can't something just go right for once'... The problem with pity parties is they are usually under-attended. You go to all sorts of lengths to make them attractive; finger foods, balloons and strobe lights and it's still usually just a party of one... What a waste of energy, eh?

So, today I did what any woman in our society would do when chocolate really isn't an option and life doesn't seem worth living...

I went shopping... What did I buy? I knew you'd want to know, so here we go...

I went to my favourite jewellery store - Diva - and got these...


And these...


As you can tell, I'm in a bit of a black mood. It'll pass, but while it's here, might as well indulge it. I tend to be attracted all things brightly coloured, so a bit of black once is a while is probably very grounding for me! I'm very attracted to feathers at the moment, and lo and behold Diva has proclaimed feathers *in* this season. How very serendipitous!

While I was already out spending money we don't really have (I arranged an advanced payment from Centrelink - judge me if you will), I thought I'd better get Ari a couple of things. He desperately needed some new shirts and sandals - he may be growing slowly but he's growing nonetheless.

We did get him a cheap pair of thongs from Big W last week - out of desperation - but I loathe and detest thongs (sorry, it's true, I just don't like the look, especially if they're those rubbery variety). Also the offensive footwear had Buzz Lightyear on them, and I really, really don't like branded footwear (clothing yes, footwear no, that's just how I roll). So, I really wanted to get him a pair of sandals. Polos from Big W and sandals from Target (yeah, no Seed or other exclusive labels in this house)...


He's looks pretty spunky, if I say so myself...


Yes, that's right, I changed him at the bus bay so I could take photos there and then - that's the kind of mother and blogger I am.

There's a blog post in here somewhere about the numbing of consumerism and how we use shopping to sedate our over-stimulated nerves and placate our insatiable sense of entitlement, but I'll leave that for another day - right now I'm going to go have a caffeine ladened hot beverage and bask in the afterglow of a morning spent getting a consumer hit!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mirrored Conversation...

Hello you.

Hello.

How are you doing today?

Well, you know, you feel the dragging in our heart, don't you?

Yes, yes I do. I thought it would pass by now.

Yep, so did I - maybe this is for real?

Yeah, you shouldn't have acknowledged it. Acknowledging stuff just makes it all the more real.

I kind of thought I would call its bluff. Sometimes pre-empting something evokes Murphy's Law.

Yessss, well that didn't quite work out as planned, did it?

No, but you chiding me isn't going to help, so shut up, okay?

Fine.

Fine.

Okay, but what are we going to do?

Do? I don't want to do anything. Can't we just wait. Maybe if the Grumpy Old Man gets a proper job offer next week, maybe we'll feel better?

And if he doesn't?

I don't want to think about that. I can't think about that. Last week didn't work out as I'd hoped it would and it was a kick in the guts.

Next time...

Yeah, next time. Always next time, and then maybe next time, too...

You can't think like that.

I dunno, maybe thinking like that is better, maybe if we let go of the need for it to happen next time, maybe if we just concentrate on it happening so long as we persist, maybe that is better. That way we put less pressure on us for individual attempts. Looking at the big picture might work better.

It might...

I just want things to change.

We've been wanting that for a long time now. I think that's why it's finally catching up with us.

What cruel irony is this, then? Just when the hard times look set to come to an end we started the emotional downward spiral.

You're being a bit melodramatic, don't you think? Life isn't that bad.

It feels that bad. I feel like I'm suffocating. Seriously. I feel like some great monster has its great fiery claw around my heart and is squeezing the life out of me. I can't even cry now.

Get a grip, will you? The sun is shining outside. The cold of winter is behind us. The Grumpy Old Man is very likely going to have a paid job by the end of next week. And eventually if you keep trying the other will happen too. It will. Persistence always pays off. Always. Once it's happened, you'll wonder why you got so hung up on it because you'll know you've always known it will happen eventually. Once you make your mind up, you always make it happen. That's your superpower.

Yes, but it's not just up to me. What if he changes his mind?

He won't. He's committed now. He's much better with commitment than you are.

Yeah, you're right.

You know I am. Now go and eat something, you're not eating enough these days and that's not good.

Okay, see you tomorrow. We have to do something about those bags under our eyes.

Oh, shut up.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Things I know: About persistence...


Today I'm not posting about what I was hoping to be posting about and I can't think about it too deeply because I'll just implode. So, I'm going to post about what I know about persistence.


  1. Children have persistence in spades and we can learn a lot from them. When they want something, they won't let anything stand in their way. They'll ask, they'll ask sweetly, they'll say "Pretty please with a cherry on top and a side serve of ice-cream", they will cry, they will pout, they will scream blue bloody murder - more times than not, they eventually get what they want through sheer persistence... 
  2. Being persistent isn't a cake walk, it isn't fun, it isn't easy, and it isn't particularly inspiring in and of itself. It is what it is. It's not being willing to give up.
  3. Being persistent can take a very, very, very long time. It can take all your energy, it can suck you dry. Persistence doesn't have a time limit.
  4. Persistence is free and available to everyone. Persistence doesn't require any special talent or gifts. It can be a gift in and of itself but anyone can access it, so it's a free gift.
  5. Persistence eventually and ALWAYS pays for itself. One way or another, persistence pays for itself through achievement or through kudos. Persistence always wins.
Right now, persistence feels like the only thing we have going for us, but at the same time it's the light at the end of our tunnel!

Linking up with Yay for Home for Things I know...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Homework and being able to relate...

source
Oddly enough, I find myself being thankful for homework this week.

I have forever been critical of homework. I feel it puts undue pressure on children to keep doing school work even after spending six and a half hours a day, five days a week at school - doing school work. It also puts pressure on already harried parents to supervise, enforce and - for many parents - all but do the homework themselves. A lot of homework these days includes activities and procedures parents are not familiar with, as well.

When my boys started school, I had the attitude that homework was just rubbish and they didn't need to do. I was constantly hearing from their teachers about the boys lack of completing 'reading charts', and it annoyed me because my husband and I read to the boys all the time - we just didn't read readers. We talked to them about letters and sounds and reading all the time, we just didn't fill in the forms. I felt that I could fill in the form even without the boys reading at all, and who would know.

I didn't want to be the person who coaxed and cajoled my tired children into doing even more school work after a full day of school work, and besides I had a baby to care for as well and dinner to make and various other things to be doing...

Later, I decided that since the boys chose to go to school (it was really their choice, and they didn't go until they chose to go - which for Erik was 7.5 years of age), then they also chose all that went with school - including homework.

I started to take on a role I'd previously eschewed. I became the person who asked if they had homework, and then encouraged them to do it because it was part of the 'give and take' of choosing to go to school.

This year, with Erik and Lukas in grades 5 and 4 respectively, homework has taken on a new meaning. On the one hand I have a child who 'just does it'. He gets his homework done in a timely fashion. When I have to sign off on it, I check it and it's neat and orderly and pretty much what I would expect for this child's level of education and ability. This child received an award recently for always handing his homework in promptly and doing it with care. With this child, homework is a non-issue.

On the other hand, I have a child who consistently hands in homework late. This child has multiple panic attacks each week because he has spent his afternoon and evening after school playing or watching television or [this week] playing on his iPod. When, after bedtime, his brother gets back up and quietly does his homework (which I know about but ignore), this child plays with Lego or draws.

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A few days ago, he brought me his correspondence book from the teacher. I had repeatedly asked him if he had homework (I do it every day) and he had told me he'd done his grid homework, but as it turned out according the messages in the correspondence book, there was other homework he hadn't done that he knew he had to do.

I asked him to show me his homework, and he showed me a poster debating reasons for or against charging money for necessities as water and food. As an example of an argument against charging for water he'd written things like 'for vegetation' and 'because the sea creatures would die without it'. At that point the homework had to be handed in that morning, so I signed off on it knowing he had not understood the exercise - my heart sank for him.

Last night, after dinner (having said all afternoon that he had no homework to do), he said he 'just had to do a couple of calculations for some maths homework'. I asked to see it and discovered the exercise had required him to buy food from the school canteen for 30 people with a budget of $400; he had to provide snacks, a meal, a dessert and drinks.

He had ad hoc written down various quantities of food and calculated their cost. For example, 22 pizzas, 17 bottles of water, 45 mini muffins - trying to chip away at the $400 until he'd spent it all. He had three kinds of drinks, three kinds of snacks, and not enough meals for everyone.

I said to him we needed to sit down together and redo the homework, and this time we needed to start from the beginning by identifying the objectives of the task. As we talked he decided he needed to first and foremost feed 30 people four 'serves'. I suggested to him that to keep everything fair, everyone should have the same food, so he would need to buy 30 of each item.

We organised a list of 30 meals, 30 snacks, 30 desserts and 30 drinks. We found we still had plenty of money left, so we added a salad to each meal and a fruit salad to each snack. He decided he wanted the people to have a choice between jellycups or ice-cream for dessert, so we halved the number of jellycups we'd put down and added in 15 ice creams (which cost the same). Only when he was happy with the lists, did we then move on to laying it out on his project sheet, writing it out and decorating it.

Some might suggest I did his homework for him, but he made all the decisions, he worked out all the costs, he wrote and decorated it all. He did the homework, all I did was provide a method.

I am thankful he has homework because it provides me with an opportunity to identify the areas he might be struggling with at school and to support his teacher by giving the child some one-on-one assistance to learn skills which will help him organise his thinking.

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I am also thankful that I recognise how he thinks. I am more and more certain he has ADHD because I recognise his challenges as the same challenges I had at school. For him, he intuits a big picture, but he can't describe it clearly because he only sees small parts of it at any one time. He can intuit an outcome, but not describe the process by which he reaches or reached the outcome - mostly because that process is not organised, it just kind of springs out of nowhere at him all disjointed and out of order.

I believe my mum has ADHD, and perhaps her dad had it, too. Mum intuited that as I child I needed to be taught methods for organising my thinking. I distinctly remember her teaching me methods for doing all sorts of things and I continue to use those methods today, so I am thankful to her for that (even though at the time I thought she was painful, true story!).

I am thankful for the opportunity to do this in turn for my child, who like me, struggles to find a straightforward approach to homework and other activities, who is intuitively brilliant but struggles to make his thinking clear to others - I know how he feels and I'm more than happy to support him in developing knew skills to build his self-esteem, even if it is through homework exercises!

I am linking with Kate Says Stuff for Thankful Thursday.

Write on Wednesdays, exercise 14: The Might, might rewrite...

Write On Wednesdays



Write on Wednesday Exercise 14 - The Mighty Mighty Rewrite...
Zanni: I did a workshop with literary author Mj Hyland, who teachers Masters in Creative Writing at Manchester University. She asked us to choose our favourite book, take the first paragraph and then write our own content into the paragraph, keeping the structure, tone, language etc. It's really helpful!
No time limit. Let's keep up the focus on making each word count. Ready? Set? Write!

The reason I'm posting this on Thursday is that I only read the exercise on Tuesday night, and it completely stumped me. I couldn't think of my favourite book. I have a tendency to read books but then not keep them - so while I remember many, many hours of being completely taken away with a book, I can't remember titles or authors and I don't keep many books.

I've bent the rule and gone with the first paragraph of a short story I read earlier this year which has haunted me. I couldn't tell you the name of the story or name of the author (I know my favourite short story of all time is by Roald Dahl, but I can't tell you want it is and I've never been able to find it since reading it over two decades ago!). I had to wait for the boy to wake up this morning to retrieve the book which held the paragraph I'm going to work with - and to find out the name of the story and the author!

'Grey Sky Morning' by Jack Cassidy, from the The Sleepers Almanac No.6


We got a letter today. It came from the north. Across vast expanses of frozen wilderness from a place that, to most people, will only ever be myth. How did it come? I can only imagine, because my father always said that when he was up there, there was no way to write to us. But this letter got to us all the same.


My version


My brother always said when he finally got away, we would never see or hear from him again. He would dissolve into a world where people were shadows and memories and he would be free. Yet, this morning a message arrived from the world of memories and shadow, I am not sure how it found me, but there it was, an email from a shadow who had seen our brother-memory.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Storyboards from yesterday...

Joining in with My Little Drummer Boys and Faith Hope & a whole lotta Love.

Meeting the Grumpy Old Man on the way home
from school... Ari insisted on taking Roary Bear for
school pick-up...

Technology time - Luey is multi-tasking; hatch-sitting
Erik's monster egg while Erik runs an errand to the
corner shop for mum and dad.

Erik cooked dinner for us - Spagetti Bolognese.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tattoo Tuesday: Bryn's Tattoo...

Linking up with Tattoomummy for Tattoo Tuesday!


What: An Om symbol inside a stylised heart.

Where: On my left breast.

Who: All my tattoos are done by my brother in my home.

Why: I have a tattoo for each of the boys, and this one is for Bryn (#3 of 4). I chose an Om, not because I'm buddhist, but because from babyhood we've called Bryn "Buddha" due to his placid personality and how when he was a baby he was very, very chubby! The heart is because, of all my children, Bryn is my heart (the others are other parts of me, don't worry!). He is also be in the sign of Leo, and so Lion-hearted always springs to mind. Leo's are ruled by the sun, also representing love.

As you can see, this tattoo is badly faded and a bit wonky. This is not a reflection of my brother's workmanship in any way but more a reflection of the place the tattoo is situated. The skin on my breasts is (not surprisingly) quite different to other - tougher - parts of my body like my arms, shoulders and back. He actually retouched this tattoo a few months after doing it and the colour just fell right out again anyway. It gives it a bit of a stone worn look though, which I like, and I like that it is wonky and not perfect - I like imperfection, it's very me.

This tattoo is always visible to me, and often peeks out of my tops, and I just love it!

10 Things Tuesday: 10 Confessions...

Bless me readers for I have sinned, it has been... a bloody long time since my last confession...
  1. My boys are sitting in the lounge room playing Angry Birds on their iPod Touches and talking and helping each other out and not arguing and not chasing about the house and I love it. I also loved it when they disappeared into their rooms for two hours yesterday afternoon and there was no squabbling over toys, seats on the lounge, television channels, or who's turn it was to set the table. I get why other parents love their kids devices.
  2. When I found out yesterday afternoon that my twelve year old had not had his iPod for "just that morning" a few weeks ago, but had, in fact, had it for four consecutive days and had taken it to school. When I found this out because I downloaded a video of him and his friends at school. I laughed - out loud. And a tiny piece of me enjoyed that he'd tripped himself up with video evidence...
  3. I have a great capacity for ignoring a filthy kitchen and my toddler glued to my iPad for hours on end, and justifying sitting at the computer tweeting and blogging as my "day job". Yes, I do. I don't even believe myself, but I do it anyway.
  4. I keep talking about applying to do a PhD, but besides twenty minutes of Googling Icelandic literary history and one afternoon of wandering around Deakin campus, I haven't done anything about it and September is ticking on.
  5. I am embarrassed by the Grumpy Old Man's change in career. Yes, it's true. I would much prefer to tell people he's a Grapho than tell them he's an Aged Care Worker. Even though being one of those amazing people who are willing and even enjoy tending to the needs of the aged and infirm is a most worthy and admirable career - I know there is more prestige in Graphic Design and I was always just a little bit proud of being married to a Grapho. I secretly wish he would make an effort to look for Grapho work. I should burn forever in a 1950s hell.
  6. I have no motivation to make this crappy old rental into a beautiful home. I feel like a painter who has been asked to paint a masterpiece on used toilet paper. I'm shallow like that, too.
  7. I had a panic attack the other night when I heard that the two properties next to Mother-in-law's house are on the market to be sold as one lot. MIL thinks it's great because it will mean pipes being laid to within metres of her property and her finally being able to get rid of the septic tank without having to spend 40K! All I can think is, no one is going to want to buy in the shadow of a three story apartment building or buy next to a building site and so her house value is bound to drop. If she sells now, she'll probably only be able to afford a decent unit with savings left over to live off, but that means not getting out of the rental market for us. Yes, that's right, I want to piggy-back of my MIL selling her property and with a three storey building being optioned next door, I can see that plan going down the gurgler, and I care!
  8. If I won the lotto, I would buy a house, and furnish it and go on a holiday and get a big car - all before even thinking about donating anything to charity. This is true. This pretty much guarantees I'll never win the lotto.
  9. I can't stand Australian television. I don't get the love for all those Aussie shows; Packed to the Rafters, Winners and Losers, Underbelly... I'd rather have bamboo shoved under my fingernails than watch Australian content...
  10. I wrote this list because I'm feeling very uninspired about my 10 Things Tuesday list and I'm in two minds about ditching it altogether, but I find it very hard to let go - which is probably also why I have a tendency to stalk every person who has ever been a friend or more. Even if I was the reason for the end of the relationship - I mostly just feel misunderstood and abandoned. I can't let go. I hate this compulsion to hold on to people and ideas, it feels weak, but there you have it!
I'm linking this post up with Diary of a SAHM for 'I blog on Tuesdays'

Monday, September 12, 2011

Let not the Praise be faint...

I'm joining in with Seven Cherubs for the fourth week of Cherish Your Cherubs. This week's theme is praising your cherubs, for previous week check out these link; one, two, three.

This week we were asked to be mindful of letting our children know how much we appreciate them through praise. I have to admit, I didn't do very well, certainly not as well as I would like. I could spend time lamenting about being stressed and depressed, but really those are just excuses.

In this post I want to focus on an area in which each boy has really excellent himself - positively - this week.

Bryn:

Bryn started school this year and that brought a lot more personal responsibility into his life. At school he answers to different authorities than at home and he has to be mindful of a different set of rules. He has taken all of this in his stride.

However, he has really struggled with one area. No matter how much we remind him, and question him at the end of the day. No matter the consequences or rewards, Bryn cannot seem to bring all his school bag items home each day.

We've done several jacket and hat searches, one or two take home folder searches, but most challenging has been the almost daily forgotten lunchbox or snack container from his cooler bag. A couple of these items have been broken in rough play (throwing them at force from the top balcony of the his building to "see how they bounce"), but we manage to impress on him how thoughtless such vandalism of his personal item was. Mostly though, and especially with snack boxes (tupperware cups with lids), they simply disappear, never to be seen again.

I don't even want to tally up how much tupperware he's left behind at school this year. Suffice it to say, my collection is beginning to look sparse and that is saying something! He's gone without snack on a couple of occasions to try and impress upon him how serious this situation is (we're not allowed to send food to school in none recyclable packaging).

This last week, I'm pleased to say that EVERY DAY Bryn remembered to bring home his lunch box, snack box and drink bottle. For this he has received a lot of praise!


Ari:

Ari is turning three at the end of next month. He is growing and developing more understanding and self-restraint every day. Only three months ago, I couldn't let him out of the pram for fear he would run straight out onto the nearest road. He point blank refused to hold my hand when out walking. He would scream and yank on my arm like a wild beast and generally make attempting to walk with him anywhere a misery. I briefly contemplated just making him sit in the pram until he was four and a half as I had done with his big brother Lukas - who also resisted any sort of restrictions on his personal boundaries when not constrained by the pram, I gave up on this idea though because Ari has a very loud voice when he gets frustrated. I decided to attempt reason. Reason had worked very well with Bryn, and while Ari is a different personality for the most part, he has shown signs of responding positively to reason. 

So, I implemented a "hand or pram" policy. He was welcome to get out of the pram as long as he held my hand or held the pram. He wasn't able do it with the other three boys around, but I found on his own, he was much more focused. So, I gave him a few opportunities while the boys were at school. We went to the shopping centre a few times. We also walked home from school in the mornings with him walking beside the pram, and the same at pick up with him walking up to the school next to the pram, and home again next to the pram unless he started mucking around because the boys were there - then I promptly strapped him back into the pram.

This week he's shown me he can walk holding mine or one of the boys' hands without yanking at our arms, or dropping like a dead weight. He offers to hold hands with us now rather than going in the pram. I can take him to the shopping centre and even if I can't hold his hand because my arms are full with shopping, he now stays close to me.

This is a brilliant development and I'm looking forward to selling the pram soon!

Lukas:

Luey has been helping out doing the dishes. He's been doing the dishes for a while now - a few months. He also cooks dinner sometimes and does other tasks around the house, but the really positive change I've noticed lately is that he is now doing these things without whining or trying to get out of doing them.

When Luey was little he hated cleaning up. It was so hard to get him to help put his toys away. He would drag his feet. He would tell us it was too hard. He would claim to be tired or to have a headache or that it wasn't his mess (there is a policy in this house that it doesn't matter who's mess it is, we all pitch in and help). Many, many times we would need to sit with him and tell him every. single. item to pick up and where to put it.

Recently, all the resistance has disappeared. Now if he is asked to do something, he just does it. He doesn't whine or moan or take forever. He gets on with it, gets it done, and does it well! We really appreciate this change in attitude, it makes it so much easier for everyone when everyone just gets on with the job of helping.


Erik:

Erik has always been very helpful when it came to household jobs. He is very willing to please in that way. Many years ago, the Grumpy Old Man (in an attempt to positively engage Luey, who was going through a particularly sucky period of "the world and everyone in it hates me" after Bryn's birth) took Luey under his wing and started teaching him to cook. To begin with, Erik wasn't interested and the GOM didn't make any attempt to pique his interest because two people in the kitchen was enough to concentrate on. Over time though, as Luey began to cook more and more meals almost completely on his own, Erik began to show an interest as well.

It took a little petitioning on my part to get the GOM to apprentice Erik because he was already very comfortable with Luey's learning style and Erik is quite a different kettle of fish, but eventually the GOM saw that it would be beneficial for Erik to have some one-on-one time with Dad in the kitchen and so the apprenticeship of Erik began. That was a few months ago.

This week Erik made the. most. delicious. Chilli Con Carne all on his own. He set the table and everything. It was just lovely! He was also so proud of himself, which was great to see. I wish I'd had the presence of mind to photograph it... Next time!

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Last week was a tough week. There were many stressors and I wasn't as good at praising the boys as I had hoped to be, but doing this exercise made me think (long and hard) about the things I've really appreciated about my four this week, and I've needed to do that to reconnect with what I love about being a mum to these four boys. So, thank you Naomi for affording me this opportunity this week!

I have also just been reminded that I really want to participate in the great "me and YOU Monday" link up over at The Mother Experiment. The Cherish your cherubs project has brought into sharp focus for me how I really want to appreciate my children more - maybe that will cause me to worry and stress about them a little less - because I feel that a lot of parenting energy going into being a police woman for their offending behaviour, rather than the cheer leader for this wonderful behaviours. So, for me and YOU Monday, I want to work on being more openly appreciative of them, to them. Please check out me and YOU Monday over at The Mother Experiment if you have a personal goal you want support working on as well (and of course, you have the added gift of being able to support other reaching their goals as well)!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What has changed... 9/11/2001 - 9/11/2011

I lay in bed and fed Lukas, he was 11 weeks and 1 day old. The past few weeks had been like hell on earth for me. 

Just a month earlier the Grumpy Old Man had come home from work one afternoon to find Erik strapped into a highchair sobbing quietly, Lukas laying in his bassinet screaming loudly, and me hiding in the foetal position at the far end of the couch - out of a line of sight to either of my distraught children.

The Grumpy Old Man had let Erik out of the highchair and given him something to eat, and hugged him. He'd picked Lukas up out of the bassinet and put him in the Babybjorn where Lukas had promptly crashed into an exhausted sleep.  The the Grumpy Old Man made me go have a shower and a cup of tea. 

We'd talked and with a lot of crying on my part and a lot of quiet persistence on his part we'd decided to talk to a friend and work colleague of his who had been hospitalised for postpartum psychosis nearly three years earlier. She put us onto PANDA who sent us to our local doctor, who told me I needed to stop co-sleeping (which was bullshit, because I knew there was something wrong with Lukas, not our sleeping situation) but had also referred us to a paediatrician who put Lukas on Zantac and gave us a script for Losec "just in case". 

I had started taking Zoloft but hadn't started seeing a psych yet. The Zantac was helping but we were still in the middle of colic at night (on top of the reflux) and I was on a very restricted diet and taking ludicrous amounts of fish oil, flaxseed oil and other supplements.

So, as I lay there on the morning of September 11th, 2001, I was in a depressive, emotionally and physically exhausted stupor. I could hear Erik and the Grumpy Old Man in the lounge room next door but I could sense that things weren't as they usually were on any other weekday morning.

The Grumpy Old Man came into the bedroom - which was the dining room converted into a bedroom - and looked at me without saying anything for a moment.

'We'll get up in a minute,' I said as Lukas dropped off my breast - he would never stay on unless I supported his head just so. Milk dribbled from his mouth and he rooted around for the missing nipple.

'Before you come out, I've got to tell you something, and I don't want you to freak out, okay?' said the Grumpy Old Man.

'Well, that's really not a good thing to say if you don't want me to freak out.' I said. I sat up and scooped Lukas into my arms, he tense little body reflexively arched away, causing me to grip him closer. He wriggled and started to cry. I felt almost immune to his cries still, though he had started smiling very occasionally a couple of weeks earlier and that had softened the tough shell I'd built around me as protection from the continuous crying.

The Grumpy Old Man reached for Lukas and I more than willingly handed him over.

Lukas at birth 11 weeks earlier.
'Listen, before you go out there, I have to tell you something.'

'What is it, I need to pee.'

'Okay, but don't turn the t.v. on yet.'

'Yeah, sure, whatever.'

I went to the loo and came back. Erik was playing with Duplo on the louge room floor, he looked up when I came in and sat on the lounge. 

'No Widdoos?' he said. I looked at the Grumpy Old Man, who took a deep breath.

Erik in June 2001
'Okay, so when I got up this morning, Erik had already turned on the t.v. but he wasn't watching AusFit [an early morning aerobics show he seemed to find completely fascinating and would watch in preference to cartoons], he was watching what looked like some war movie. So I changed the channel, but it was the same thing on every channel; the same footage over and over again of what looks like a bomb blast or something in the middle east. Something has happened and I'm not really sure what it is, but I don't want you to freak out.'

'Okay, let me see.'

'No, I don't want Erik to see any more of it, so I thought I'd go make the him some breakfast in the kitchen and you could see it then. If you're okay with that?'

I didn't know if I was okay with that, but I had to know what was going on, so I shooed him and the boys into the kitchen and I flicked on the t.v.

The first thing I saw - and it's as clear as if I just watched it now - was people running along a street, but the street was enveloped in a thick brown cloud of dust and there were bits of paper floating about. It looked like a dust storm, only people were talking about a blast of some kind. It looked like the middle-east, but the people running with hand-held cameras where speaking in American accents. The footages went on for a few minutes without any explanation, and finally it cut back to a news desk in a studio in the US, or the UK, but not in Australia.

There was talk about some office building collapsing, which didn't make any sense to me, and then more footage. It felt like an age before there was mention of location or cause, but before Erik finished breakfast and I had to turn the t.v. off again, I did manage to figure out that a couple of planes had crashed into office buildings in New York City and the buildings had later collapsed and thousands of people were dead.

For the next week, we didn't turn the t.v. on during the day, but at night while we walked and rocked the screaming, colicky Lukas, we watch compulsively repeated footage of planes crashing into the Twin Towers to the point where I just couldn't watch it any more - to this day, I have to look away when that footage is played, I don't need the footage to see every moment of those crashes.

In a blur of post partum depression, screaming reflux baby and global mourning and rage I found myself wondering what kind of idiot I was to bring two children into this world of horrors and suffering. Ten years ago, I couldn't see that there would ever be a time where I would feel safe again.

Ten years passed. There were other attacks, there were wars, dictators were toppled and eventually, earlier this year US forces finally enacted revenge on the man who has been held, almost solely, responsible for the attacks on the US on this day in 2001.

Is the world free of terrorism? Is it a safer, better place to birth and raise children?

Many things have changed under the guise of fighting terrorism. Many human rights have been revoked and many innocent bystanders have sacrificed a lot for the fears and anger of those affected by the terrorist attacks. One religion - Islam - has been blamed and hated for a decade in many parts of the world.

In July a young man in Norway (a home country of mine for some years) attacked his own people for taking in refugees who also happen to be Muslims. The result of this is that terrorism is no longer viewed as only an Islamic threat, as it has been by so many over the years. Now anyone can be a terrorist, even a white, middle class, conservative Christian.

Do I feel safer than I did ten years ago, do I feel my children are safer? 

No.

Do I feel less safe than I did ten years ago, are my children less safe?

No.

What has changed for me in the past ten years is that I am less naive than I was when I first had my children. Back then war and terrorism was something that happened in the olden days, or in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America; places where people were dictated to and really severely oppressed. Now I know war happens anywhere people have been driven insane by fear and anger and a need for revenge.

Now I also know that you can't live in constant fear or anger because you will be eaten up by it. You will become what you fear. You will become the monsters you fear.

My wish for my children is that they understand this earlier than I did and without the circumstances in which I had to lose my naiveté. I wish for them more wisdom. I wish for them an understanding that they are powerful in their lives through how they choose to interact with others and that there is far more power in love and compassion than in fear and anger and hatred.

Ten years on, we're still here, there are more of us now, and the world has not come to an end - neither has the warring. The only changes that have occurred are within individuals who choose to embrace that change.

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Grateful for those things that challenge me.

Well, after yesterday's watershed, I thought I'd better take some time today to reflect on those things that challenge me and find ways to be grateful for them.

Challenges are, essentially, opportunities for gratitude. It's easy to be grateful for all the good that crosses my path in life, and acknowledging those good things is very good. The more positives you acknowledge in your life, the more positively you are bound to view your life.
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There are always challenges though and the trick is to try and view those challenges in a positive light, as well, so they don't continuously draw your eye from the other positive stuff in your life and cause you to only notice the things that make life a trial.

Having a melancholy temperament as I do, it doesn't come naturally to me to view challenges as positive - it is something I need to work at and remind myself of over time. So, here goes:

Being legally blind, living with ADHD, hypoglycaemia, anxiety, depression and agoraphobia. All these things feed off each other, but at the same time, they spur me on. I am fortunate enough to be aware of these conditions and have been taught many ways to counteract them (some I implement daily, such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, and some I'm far too lax about, such as a consistent, healthy eating habit). All are a reason for me to prove myself capable. All are a reason to not be a victim (though sometimes those self-pitying thoughts creep in - I try to stay on top of them and be aware of them and counteract them).

These conditions force me not to be complacent. They force me to take action, to plan ahead, to monitor myself and to be aware.

Not being able to drive, and having no choice about that. I'm not a person who takes not having a choice in my stride. I'm the kind of person who believes there is always a choice. Sadly the choice is not always to do or not do. Sometimes it's how I choose to deal with not having the choice the to do or not do. Throughout most of my childhood and adolescence I looked forward to finding a partner who would have a car and solve my problem, of not being able to get a licence, for me.

As it turned out, I married someone who didn't have a licence. Not because he couldn't get one but because he chose not to have one. Many years ago before we had children, this wasn't a problem. It was nice to have someone else who could relate to a complete reliance on public transport.

Then the kids came along and slowly but surely public transport reliance became more and more of a burden. As the years passed I became more and more unhappy that my partner of choice chose not to get a licence. This caused a lot of arguments. For the past two and half years he's been taking lessons in order to get a licence, but so far he hasn't got one yet. This gets me down, it really does, there is so much we don't do because we don't have our own transport that can cut across much of the time-consuming public transport routes.

On the other hand, there is a sort of self-assurance that comes from being able to navigate the complex network of public transport in our city. Our children all know how public transport works and if any of them suddenly found themselves stranded, I'm very confident they would be able to navigate their way home (I'm not including Ari in this scenario, but certainly Erik, Lukas and even Bryn).

We don't take having a car for granted. We don't believe you can't live without a car, as most of society does. We know you can live without a car because we do it. We know that means sacrificing convenience, but we have learned to live without this particular convenience, and I believe that builds character (hey, I'm looking for the good in this situation, okay).

Having to rely on public transport teaches us to plan ahead, to be compassionate about a variety of people in society because we have to get up close and personal with them, to not feel entitled to our own private transport, to become lateral thinkers and innovators (you try going on a picnic across town with four children and everything a picnic requires in such a way that you can carry it all yourself and fit on public transport without losing anything or any one). Being reliant on public transport is character building because it is a challenge!

Living on a low income. Compared to most of the world's population our household income puts us in the top 3% of global income. We are financially better off than 97% of the world population. In our own country, we're in the lowest third of the income brackets, and having four children puts us lower still (dividing $45K between six people means less per person that between 3 or 4 people). According to calculations I read about early this year or late last year, we are indeed among the poor in our society. Financially we struggle to make ends meet, and if it were not for the Grumpy Old Man's mother, we would not make ends meet at all, and might even be homeless (we pay rent and bills first, and food last, and every second fortnight she buys our food).

Just recently I spent our tax money on some luxuries and these were important in that they hold hope for a better future, but some of them were frivolous and even just stupid and I regret not being more forward thinking. At the time I spent the money, I believed we would soon be financially stable, and I threw caution to the wind more so than I usually do. Things didn't turn out the way I had believed and hoped they would, and now I feel a lot of shame and responsibility over our current situation.

That said, you live and you learn, and being financially challenged I have learned a lot! I have learned not to take anything for granted. I have learned I don't need a lot of the things I used to think I needed. I've learned that I can survive - with a little help - on very little income, it's not necessarily fun, but it can be done. I also know it is temporary and that we are lucky because it isn't a life sentence for us, it is just a difficult period we must get through.

So, I am grateful to the various challenges in my life because they make me stop and think about what is really important to me and to assess my own contribution to my happiness through the choices I make about how to perceive my life. I am grateful that I have enough support from family and friends to know we can get through this and that life won't always be this difficult. I am grateful for the times that haven't felt this hard because they are the warm little lights that remind me to keep my chin up and keep moving forward.

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I am grateful I recognise there is choice, not always the choice to do or not do, but always the choice to perceive something as negative or positive.

I choose to perceive the positive and I choose to keep reminding myself to perceive the positive when I start to slide into the quicksand that is negative thinking.

I'm linking up with A Day in the Life of Us for I'm Grateful For...

Teenagers and the failing parent...