Monday, October 31, 2011

Special Announcement!

I've just heard that the anthology, The Lost Children, which I have a story in HAS JUST LAUNCHED ON SMASHWORDS!!!



Sorry about the yelling, but I am beyond excited to have been chosen to be part of this fabulous cause!

The stories in this anthology are about children and the suffering they experience - but written without overt reference to the suffering (that was the brief). I won't say it's light reading, but it sure is enlightening!

At just $2.99USD, this anthology won't bust your budget, but all proceeds will go to the children's charities PROTECT and Children 1st, so PLEASE forgo a cappucino today and buy this anthology instead!

Please, please share this post with everyone on your Facebook and Twitter accounts and lets raise some much needed funds for children in need!

Purchase at:

Smashwords here!

Amazon here!

It will also be available at Barnes & Noble in the next day or so!

Write on Wednesdays: Turned His Back...

Write On Wednesdays


Write On Wednesdays Exercise 22 Select a piece of music that reflects the mood of writing you'd like to aim for. Press play. Start free writing. Write the first words that come into your head. When the music's over, so is the writing. I'd recommend finding out how long the song is before you start the exercise. You may feel cheated in your writing time if you pick a song by The Ramones. Of course, if you feel like writing a short, punky piece by all means, go for it!


Ah, you're all going to hate me! Another bleak/sad one this week. If it's any consolation, this is not a reflection of my own mental state - I've been running on numb for a week or so now. Rather, I chose my absolute favourite George Michael song (I'm a massive George Michael fan, he truly is a poet - once you get past Wake me up before you go-go! Although Young Guns was actually very clever...).


Listening to this song "Praying for Time' brought back all the recent stories I've seen about the detention camps for 'illegal refugees' (look up oxymoron, you'll find the definition include the term 'illegal refugees')... Also, don't get me started on Alan Joyce and his 70% pay rise versus the 'unreasonable demands of unions which will drive QANTAS into the ground'...


Here's a link to the song if you want to play it on another tab while reading, or maybe read first then go watch the song because the video is the lyrics and the lyrics are quite profound (particularly since they were written 20 years ago)!

Turned His Back


The minister stood surrounded by camera crew with his back to the chain mail fence, the hot sun boring down on his glistening face. He ran an index finger along the inside of his collar in a vain attempt to allow air to circulate beneath it. To Sandra it looked as if he were choking. Another 'inmate' had hung himself this morning.

Sandra shaded her eyes against the bright sun rays and peered beyond the minister to the young teenage boy on the other side of the storm fencing; watching the media throng. She expected to see desperation in his eyes; he had no doubt witnessed the suicide. What she saw instead chilled her bones despite the heat. The boys eyes were blank, completely void of emotion, or rather the stripped and bare ground over which emotion had flowed too fervently.


How, in this 'Lucky Country', could the powers that be not see these people had already suffered too much? How could Australian's turn their back and blame these people for not coping when hope was raped and left bleeding in desert sun this way? As the minister strode back to his air-conditioned car, relieved not to answer more questions, Sandra looked back at the boy, but the boy was gone.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I Heart My Body!

Well, I've been a day late with everything this week, so why not this too! Yesterday over at 'We Heart Life' was 'I Heart My Body 2011' day. Many bloggers from all over the place have posted on their blogs why they love their bodies - in whatever shape they happen to arrive! Many have posted photos of themselves in their undies (and one or two in nothing at all, but with discretion all-the-same!) and I thought, Yeah, I can do that.

Oh my trolls will love this!

You know what, this isn't hard for me at all. By society's current standards I should run and hide in some dark cave or at least get around in tent-like clothing and feel greats amount of shame for my size 20 body that is an exhibition of cellulite and the ravages of pregnancy and childbirth and gallbladder operations... I think society - at least our society - is wrong. I should not feel shame for my body because it isn't a size 8 (or even a size 12)... I am not stupid, or lazy, or out-of-control, or ignorant, or any of the labels that society likes to plaster to images of women who are above a size 12. I am the anti-thesis of all these things!

I can't hate my body. I been there, I bought the tshirt and overall it was a tedious and very sucky trip. My body is an amazing, well oiled machine which has grown and birthed four children! It has nourished them for almost thirteen years (and if you were to separate out all the overlaping pregnancies with breast feeding and tandem breastfeeding it's actually over twenty years)!

It has a brain which works in amazing, intelligent, creative ways.

It has its feeble foibles as well. My eyes could work better and I'd have loved to have a little more accurate vocal chords, but it makes up for those things in other ways.

These legs can walk many, many kilometres in a day and not buckle.

These arms lift a 13 kilo, wriggly weight multiple times a day without a complaint.

This back used to routinely carry a 15 kilo weight for several hours a day and is still working just fine after all these years.

I could go on and on, but I know you're really just here to see my magnificent form, so here it is!

Yes, I'm deliberately headless because you really
don't need to see my bed hair on Sunday...


There it is! Stretch marks from four pregnancies, scars from gallbladder surgery, cellulite from family genes (yes, that is true, most cellulite is, in fact, inherited), adornments of tattoos to mark important events in my life. I love it all because it all refers to things in my life I would never have opted out of. My body is a roadmap of my life and my life has been amazing!

Do you love your body? If not now, can you see a time when you might?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Five Sentence Fiction: Horror...


What it’s all about: Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist. Each week I will post a one word inspiration, then anyone wishing to participate will write a five sentence story based on the inspiration word. The word does not have to appear in your five sentences, just take your inspiration from that word. 

This week’s inspiration word is: HORROR

So, okay, I don't write horror in the sense of throats being torn out, or drug addled teenagers feasting on each others intestines (yes, that was in an episode of CSI many years ago - delightful!)... So, I thought I'd write a different kind of horror...

Horror

With no small amount of self-satisfaction, Samara watched the girls ahead of her ascend the stairs to the catwalk, her moment was finally here and she had fought tooth and nail make it happen.

Nancy was still laid up in ICU and no one could explain how a prawn got into her low fat, no sugar chocolate mousse at the show launch the night before.

Liza's stilletto heel has broken only ten minutes earlier leaving the breathtakingly beautifully brunette with an ankle the size of an orange - that was a close call!

Samara stepped up onto the catwalk and sashayed her way down, did a turn and a cheeky wink at the photographers and then back to the change room in a cloud of elation.

She was met with peels of laughter and told her dress was tucked into her undies - but the designer, Riglio, was not laughing, 'You stupid, bitch! You can't dress yourself? You will never work again! Do you hear? Never!'

Friday, October 28, 2011

Things I Know: About Three Year Old Boys...

I should state up front that my sample is only the three year old boys who have lived in my house... I know, I know, your three year old boy was nothing like this - feel free to add what you know about three year old boys in my comments!


There is always ONE who has to pull a funny face,
isn't there?!

I know as of yesterday I've officially had four three year old boys, and while that doesn't make me an expert, I'm certain it qualifies me as well acquainted with them!


This three year old thinks bow ties are cool!


Three year old boys aren't really that interested in birthday cards - unless they have an old sibling reading the card to them in funny voices.

Erik isn't crying, he's laughing - just thought I'd clarify...

Three year old boys love group hugs!


And one-on-one hugs, too!


Three year old boys like big boxes


Even when their mum forgets to put the autofocus on her camera and is too blind to notice the box is all blurry!


When a three year old boy has a hero, he'll love the merchandise - even if it is a plastic cookie container - especially if it has lights and sounds when you lift the lid or push the button on top!


When a three year old boy has a hero and gets the merchandise for that hero before his major birthday present, it really won't matter how many lights and sounds the main pressie has because all he'll be interested in is the cookie container...


Three year old boys can never have too many Buzz Lightyears (we have been collecting Buzzes for 9 years) - I think we have enough now...

Reminents of tomato sauce on his mouth - just to prove he's
a three year old boy!

Three year old boys do like their heroes! For Erik it was Bob the Builder, for Lukas it was Thomas the Tank Engine, for Bryn it was Ben 10, and for Ari it is most definitely Doctor Who!


Three year old boys like parties, even if they are just with mum and dad and their brothers - and three year old boys like cake! But if they've already had a lunch of Maccas, and then hotdogs for dinner, they may not be able to eat anything beyond the icing on the cake... There is such a thing as too much rubbish food - apparently!


Three year old boys can blow out their own candles (even if they need just a little bit of help from their brothers...)!


Three year old boys love things with wheels, and if those things also have faces, all the better!

Three year old boys think they are very big, but they still love snuggles in bed with mum and dad, and they still dance to the Wiggles on occasion (at least until dad walks into the room and then they might stop because someone is watching them)!

The biggest thing I know about three year old boys is that they are ADORABLE and I love them to pieces!

I'm linking up with Yay for Home for 'Things I Know' and also with Where's My Glow for 'Flog Your Blog Friday'!






FYBF

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy 3rd Birthday Ari Leo!

Ever the lover of technology, Ari can navigate my iPad like a born
geek. Here you see him doing just that at the local University student
lounge.

Born at exactly 9am on Monday the 27th of October, 2008.

Ari was our 'last shot at a girl', and we absolutely gave it the best shot we could. The Grumpy Old Man and I had each our own supplement to take, as well as a particular diet and exercise plan to follow. We even made our 'attempts' on particular days of my cycle, both with and with protection. We did it all!

And when he was born, he had the biggest pair of testicles you've ever seen on a boy child. In fact, he also had three long, red pubes as well, I kid you not. This boy was and remains a testosterone machine!

You don't always get what you ask for, but you always get what you need. Ari has been a bright shining star in the midst of our family. He makes us all smile. He is determined, ambitious, endlessly affectionate and bold as brass. He doesn't walk across a room like any other small child; he strides with arms swinging like a tin soldier.

Ari loves music. Most especially, he loves to be serenaded. Whenever he is upset, the quickest, most effective way to calm him down is to sing to him. His all-time favourite songs remain 'Twinkle, Twinkle, little star' and 'The Rainbow Song' - which he calls the 'The Red Song'.

He is the world's most enthusiastic Doctor Who fan (well, certainly in the preschool category). While other children ask to watch The Wiggles, he demands The Doctor. In fact, he will tell you he is The Doctor. If you ask him what the 'blue box' is, he'll tell you it's the TARDIS. He usually carries some likeness of either The TARDIS or a sonic screwdriver with him anywhere he goes.

Ari is no fan of vegetables. Only recently did his brother Lukas convince him to eat some baby spinach by telling him it was 'apple'. Ari ate the spinach and said he liked it, but only as long as it was called 'apple'.

Ari's language is much clearer than that of his brothers at the same age, but he still has some quirky uses of language which we will no doubt adopt as part of our family tongue (we say neep instead of sleep thanks to Erik, moot instead of milk thanks to Lukas and dipsit instead of biscuit thanks to Bryn). Ari doesn't refer to his clothes as clothes, but calls them 'dress', so when he wanted to put clothes on or take them off he'll say, 'I want my dress on/off'. Perhaps this is his concession to not having been born a girl...

None of my children have ever gone to three year old kinder, but I am seriously considering sending Ari. Being the youngest of four boys in a very loud household, he is used to being as loud and as bold as any one of us. Ari can hold his own in any tussle with his bigger brothers and is often heard telling them, 'You go to bed, Erik!' or 'You go your room, Bryn-ar!' He can be as rough and tumble as he can be affection - on both scores, that would very! And so, I'm wondering if a little time each week with smaller children, where he will have to learn to be more gentle, or even where he won't be the smallest in the room, might not do him any harm, and could possibly do him a lot of good!

Speaking of size... Because he was born weighing only 6lb 1oz (2.7kg) at 41.5 weeks gestation, I have always been a bit preoccupied with his height and weight. My other babies were 10, 9, and 8lb 12oz respectively and so, to me, he was very little. In the first couple of years of his life, he hung around the 10th percentile, but I'm pleased to say that at 92cm tall and 12.7kg, Ari is now around the 25th percentile! In the last couple of months he seems to have really shot up and it is great to see!

So, Happy Third Birthday darling boy! You're our little Swishy. Our one and only Arius Barius Boy. The last three years with you have been sheer joy! You are feisty and sensitive all bundled into a little boy now. We hope you really love being three! Love from Daddy, Mamma, Erit, Luey and Bryn-ar (as you call us) xxxxx

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Write on Wednesdays: I Thought I Saw...

Write On Wednesdays



Write On Wednesdays Exercise 20 - Write the words "I thought I saw" at the top of your page. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Write the first words that come into your head after the prompt. Don't take you pen off the page (or fingers off the keyboard). Stop only when the buzzer rings! Do this exercise over and over if you wish. Write beyond 5 minutes if you like, you can link it up as an extra post.

I thought I saw

'Mama, Mama, come look, she's out in the garden.' Abigail ran into the kitchen clutching her rag-doll 'Becky' to her chest. Her mother glanced back over her shoulder and sighed.

'Honey, I don't want to play this game today, okay? I have to finish these here dishes and then get the roast on for Pappy's visit.'

'But Mama, she came into our garden this time. She offered me an orange and-'

'You didn't take it?' Abigail's mother was quickly taking of her rubber gloves and stretching to see out the kitchen fly-screen door.

'No Mama, you said not to take gifts from strangers. She was very pretty though, and she had a very friendly smile.'

Abigail's mother was at the kitchen door now, peering out, 'Well, I can't see her, Abby.' Abigail heard the annoyance in her mother's voice.

'She was there a moment ago.' Abigail's voice sounded weak with uncertainty.

'Who was there?'

'Pappy!' The girl raced into the arms of her grandfather, 'I saw the white haired lady again.'

'You thought you saw her.' Abigail's mother corrected.

Abigail played with her grandfather's whiskers for a moment, then sigh, 'Okay, I thought I saw her.'

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

10 Reasons to Participate in the National Novel Writing Month with Me!


  • Every person has an interesting tale to tell: even within your own family there will be something weird or wonderful skulking around in the shadows waiting to be dramatised... All the best stories have a grain of truth in them somewhere.
  • Writing is cheaper than therapy. Where else can you create an amalgam of every person who has ever done you wrong, then torture them and lead them to a grizzly death and get away with it? Not that I've ever done that...
  • It gives you something interesting to tell people at parties; 'So, what have you been up to lately?' 'I've been working on a novel...' 'Really?!'
  • Writers are cool. (as are bow-ties, fezzes and Stetsons)
  • It's the best excuse in the world to hop on the computer in every spare moment, and sometimes you just have to check Facebook and Twitter, you know, for research...
  • It's a great way to meet new and interesting people online, a side product of which would be more followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Friend... But also, writers are sexy...
  • You can get out of doing things or going places you don't want to do or go to; 'Sorry, I really can't, I have this deadline and I'm already behind on wordcount...'
  • You never know when someone might see and love your work and offer you a contract!*
  • At the end of the month you'll be able to say, 'I wrote [most of] a novel this year!'
  • You can hang out with me and we can cheer each other on... And writers are seriously sexy and cool!

*offers of contracts are at the discretion of publishers and this blog is in no way suggesting anyone has ever actually been offered a contract while participating in NaNoWriMo.



    Sunday, October 23, 2011

    Jumping at the Write-ing Opportunities...

    The next few weeks are going to be full of win in some rather unexpected ways!

    Web content writing job: After my post on Friday about trolls I received some great advice and pointers for possible work. I checked them out immediately and while most vacancies required qualifications I didn't have, one piqued my interest. It was for a website content manager. I have all the relevant qualifications and experience, except in one area - content management systems. That was okay because in the application job description it spoke of managing and coaching and mentoring the writers for this particular site. Writers! So, I checked out the site and found a link for applying to write content (articles) for the site. Today I submitted my application for a position as a writer. If my application is successful I would be paid to write articles for the site. That would be just perfect for me.

    Anthology: A few weeks ago Gill from InkPaperPen posted a link on her blog to another writing exercise blog call Flash Fiction Friday where participants write flash fictions (stories under 1000 words) on a particular topic of the week.

    I followed the link and saw that week's topic was on titled 'The City of Lost Children'. It was kind of a special week in that a couple of people were offering to donate $5 each for every submission to go to two children's charities ($600 was raised from the exercises in the end). I was inspired to write, but then let time run away with me, so when I finally did submit it, I believed I'd missed the deadline (I was also confused by the time difference between Australia and the east coast of America). I submitted my story anyway, and found out the next day I'd actually just scraped in in time.

    Several weeks later I received a direct message on Twitter asking for my email address because this man wanted to discuss an anthology with me. I have to admit that at first I was a bit wary. I sent him my email, but didn't hear anything more. Almost a week later the same man asked to join my personal Facebook page. I was confused because he hadn't replied to my email, so I checked my email again - this time via the iPad and found he'd emailed me almost as soon as I direct messaged him with my address. The email stated that my story - along with 29 others - had been selected from all the submissions to that exercise to be included in an anthology to raise money for two children's charities (one in the US and one in the UK). It asked if I would be interested in participating and provided specs for submitting the story as well as a contract to sign and a deadline for return.

    Well, you can imagine my excitement! At 1am I started formatting the piece and filling in the contract and by 2am it was all ready and I clicked 'send'. When opportunity knocks, you have to answer the door, and quickly!

    So, now there is a website for the ebook anthology (with my name listed, eep!) and on November 1st the anthology will be published and sales will commence at Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble! Don't bother going back through my blog posts to find the story - I've hidden the post as per the contract I sign.

    All proceeds will go to PROTECT in the US and Children 1st in the UK. Of course, I will be imploring everyone I know to purchase a copy and support this worthy cause, and to let your friends and family know as well! I am so proud to be part of this! I am so grateful to be able to raise money for children's charities with my writing!

    NaNoWriMo: Up at the top right of the blog there you'll notice a new badge. It's for the National Novel Writing Month project which is about to launch it's twelfth session! I heard about this a few years ago but have never participated before (last year I was up to my neck in thesis writing). This year I'd mooted the idea of participating but hadn't committed to it until I received an email asking if I'd like to be part of a group of writers to help promote it through a blog post about our hopes for achievement in undertaking NaNoWriMo and then reflecting on our progress after it finishes at the end of November.

    Basically, the undertaking is to work on a novel manuscript throughout November. It must be a new project (I think - mine will be in any case), and the aim is to write 50 000 words in 30 days. Some people plan for this event all year and write up a plot summary and character outlines in preparation for the 1st of November. Me, I'm a pantser. That is, I'll be writing by the seat of my pants. I know who I'm writing about, and I know bits and pieces of the plot, and I've even given it a title: Shifter. I haven't written a precise though.

    The 50 000 word count doesn't worry me too much because I'm verbose I wrote 40 000 in two weeks in March 2009.

    I think there is some sort of acknowledgement if you reach the goal of writing 50 000 words - so that's quite exciting. For me it'll be about getting this story out of my head and most of it onto a file so that I can a) say I've written something substantial this year and b) have something to work over summer!

    I'm feeling quite nervous about it all, but also inspired. For a long time it has felt like I was some sort of writing fraud, but slowly I'm beginning to pick up pace and live the kind of writing life I always imagined I'd have!

    Saturday, October 22, 2011

    Five Sentence Fiction: Shenanigans...



    I've been meaning to join in Five Sentence Fiction over at Lillie McFerrin Writes since I heard about it a couple of weeks ago, but as per usual I look away for a moment and forget (maybe I have Silences in my life, ooh wobbly-wobbly, timey-wimey!). Anyway, finally I've been able to keep this new bit of fun in my head long enough to accept the challenge! Here is Lillie's blurb about the exercise:


    What it’s all about: Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist. Each week I will post a one word inspiration, then anyone wishing to participate will write a five sentence story based on the inspiration word. The word does not have to appear in your five sentences, just take your inspiration from that word. 


    This week’s inspiration word is: SHENANIGANS


    Shenanigans


    1. I didn't really notice them until the metal-on-metal sound of cutlery being rifled through broke through my concentration and brought my hearing into sharp focus.


    2. 'No, not that one, the big one.' came the hissed whisper from the older boy who was undoubtedly gesturing with exaggerated flailing of his skinny brown arms, as he was wont to do when trying to go unnoticed.


    3. 'It's not here, if you don't believe me, then you try to find it.' the smaller one with the ripe-mango coloured bed-head whispered back, part anxious, part pissed.


    4. 'What are you two up to?' I said in a low and quiet voice.


    5. The shuffle of thong clad feet and the loud banging of the back screen door was accompanied by a squeaky chorus of, 'Nothing!'

    Anyone with children will be familiar with shenanigans, and possibly also very familiar with the scene described above! This was fun! Trying to tell a story in just five sentence really forces you to distill your thought and draw out the essences of your narrative! 

    Why not have a go! Don't forget to link your post up over at Lillie's blog so I can read it, too!

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    Things I know: About Trolls...

    source
    Okay, the title of this post is a little misleading because I don't actually know much about trolls. My mum knows a lot about trolls - she wrote a thesis about them - but me, I'm fairly clueless about them. I have seen a few internet trolls in my times but can't for the life of me figure out what would cause someone to anonymously and without proper knowledge attack another person. I'm tipping there will be a personality disorder coined for this sort of behaviour in the not-to-distant future.

    One thing I know about internet trolls is that you're not supposed to feed them. I've never heard that you can't use them as muses for a new blog post though!

    So, I thought I'd consider some of the accusations lobbed at me in the comments for my post yesterday by one (or possibly two using the same computer). These are the things I know about me as a reflection of what the trolls said about me.

    • I know I have considered getting a paid job. I have trained. I have done some casual paid work. I have applied for permanent part time or full time work. I also know potential employers have baulked as soon as I mentioned I am legally blind. I know I have seriously considered not disclosing my vision impairment in order to get a job, but I also know that if anything went awry on the job and it was discovered that I am legally blind, my vision impairment would be seen as the cause of the issue - even if it was not the cause.
    • I know that I have bought a lot of expensive gadgets this year. I know the computer was absolutely necessary for me as I attempt to earn money because writing is what I do, and hopefully, one day I will be able to teach writing or even sell my writing. I know I need a reliable computer to undertake a PhD. I know I need a large screen so I can read what is on the screen. I know that I need the voice facility on my computer to read longer pieces of research. I know legally blind people need expensive technology even more than fully sighted people - the cost and storage of such equipment is part of the reason so many employers aren't keen to employ people with a vision impairment.
    • I know I can do telemarketing work and receptionist work - in fact I have done both of these in the past. I also know it doesn't matter to employers what I can do. Employers are only interested in what I can't do as a result of my vision impairment. I can't read very quickly. In fact, because I have to be methodical, I do most things more slowly than your average sighted person. It doesn't matter what I can do if an employer isn't willing to give me a chance. 
    • I know I wrote here that I was embarrassed that my husband had changed careers to a job that carries less prestige in our society. I also know that I wrote that as a confession because I knew I should be proud of whatever job he does. I know that since I wrote that I have gotten over my shallow impulse and I know I am very proud that my husband is the caring, humble person that he is who is more than happy to care for the personal needs of the elderly and infirm. I am proud that he puts the needs of his family before his own need for admiration or social status. I know I have changed my perception of my husbands job. I know I had to take a long, hard look at my own issues in that regard and I have grown through making that confession and acknowledging that I am not perfect.
    • I know I have a fat arse. In fact, if I could only describe my arse with one world it would be fat! I know someone else calling my arse fat is just that person stating the obvious because they couldn't think of a more effective way to insult me - and I'm not even insulted by being told I have a fat arse... I love my fat arse!
    • I know I have judged other people on my blog. I think it's a bit of a stretch to say I've judged every other person on my blog though. I know I haven't judged everyone else on my blog. I know I am constantly working on not judging other people. I know I'm a work in progress in that regard. 
    • I know I have never bragged about how much social benefits our family receives. Bragging implies I'm proud of living off Government payments. Pride is not how I'd describe my feelings about living entirely off Government payments. I am thankful we live in a country that provides a safety net for many people who are not able to support themselves - despite their best efforts - like my husband and myself. I know I would much rather we earned out own money which was the point of my post yesterday. I was thankful that the Grumpy Old Man finally had a job! Sadly, that joy didn't last very long.
    • I have absolutely never bragged about 'living off an old lady'. I have mentioned several times that we would not have managed without regular help from the GOM's mother. We try not to ask for help, but inevitably we end up needing her assistance regularly. I am in no way proud of this. I am indescribably grateful that she is willing and able to help us.
    • I am not money hungry. I would like for us to be able to support our own family on our own. That is not the same as being money hungry. I do daydream about buying things I like - last time I checked daydreaming doesn't cost anything or harm anyone.
    • I know there have been times I wasted money. This is absolutely true. There have been times when things were looking very hopeful, and I've thrown caution to the wind (like when I bought the boys their iPods, because my boys have never had any kind of technology before and I thought it would also help keep them quiet in the car when the GOM gets his licence) and the following week something really shitty has happened to dash all hope and I've regretted being so frivolous. File that under 'Nostradamus and I share the same birth, but not the capacity for predicting the future.'
    • We have never not been able to feed the children. There have been many times when I've laid awake wondering how we would feed them. Somehow though, it always works out, for which I am endlessly grateful.
    • I know that although my blog did get a lot of views yesterday, it wasn't the most I'd ever had. Yesterday's stats weren't even the highest for this week, so if the troll was hoping to help me out with stats, sadly that didn't work out. What a shame.
    • I know one thing the troll said really did cause me pause, though. The troll (or trolls) said I whinge a lot. I've been thinking about that. I don't think I whinge all the time, but I think I whinge more than I would like to. So, I will make more effort to be more positive in future because I know I am constantly growing and evolving and I can always be a better me.
    • I know I could never be a troll. When I tell someone what I think of them, I want them to know who I am. This is why I use my own name on forums, on Facebook, on Twitter. I believe strongly in personal integrity - being accountable for my words and actions and taking responsibility for my choices, even if those choices are poor or, at best, questionable.
    Oh, there is one other thing I know about trolls, actually. While trolls are always full of criticism, they never seem to want to put their money where their mouth is. If my trolls were hoping to teach me something about not judging people, or challenge me to get a real job, the least they could have done was model not judging or offer me or my husband a job!

    Oh, and someone told me last night that a troll on your blog is a sign that you've hit the big time. I'd love to believe that was true. Maybe then I could support my family more effectively on my fat arse!


    Linking with Yay for Home! for 'Things I know'.

    What do you know?

    Thursday, October 20, 2011

    Thankful Thursday: Just one thing, but it's a biggie!

    source
    The Grumpy Old Man has a JOB!

    That right, after two and a half years, he is gainfully (we hope) employed.

    This time yesterday we were both completely convinced in wasn't going to happen.

    Honestly, for the past few days I've been in a state of despair. I really have. At first when he was made redundant, I was keen for him to get on with looking for work and he seemed reluctant and I kept saying stuff like, 'The longer you're unemployed, the harder it will be to get work'. I was also concerned that he'd just turned 50 when he lost his job and I wondered how prospective employers might view his age compared to other applicants.

    Even then, though, I also knew he had never had any trouble getting a job. He'd absolutely never been turned down if he was interviewed. So, the things I was saying to the Grumpy Old Man were mostly just to make sure he hurried up and got a job and didn't make me wait too long for my next Ikea trip.

    Then he seemed to be having trouble getting interviews. At first it was annoying, but soon it became a bit concerning. After a few months he did get any interview and I think we both thought - right, this is it then. But it wasn't, he did get a second interview, but was 'pipped at the post'. Several months on, this had happened a couple of more times, and it was still hard for him to even get interviews.

    Earlier this year, coming up to the two year anniversary of his last day of paid work, he went for second round of interviews for a job he'd actually also been interviewed for a whole year earlier but had 'just missed out on'. They even contacted him to ask him if he was still keen for the job. We were certain he'd get this job. He didn't.

    It was after that blow that he considered changing careers. In changing careers from desk top publishing to aged care, not only was he taking a 'prestige' hit, but also a hefty 'potential income' hit. However, we'd heard aged care was desperate for skilled workers and valued people over 40 and men in particular. So, he did a three month course, and then another five weeks of workplace experience.

    At the end of the workplace experience he was offered a job and told to turn up for a health assessment the following Monday - which he did.

    We thought the assessment was somewhat perfunctory; that it just to cover them in future incase of a work cover claim.

    Dave filled in forms regarding his current physical health and to be completely honest and upfront he put down that he had some arthritis in his knees.

    The nurse had him do a bunch of exercises and even commented positively on his flexibility and fitness. We expected a call the next day, but it didn't come.

    Dave called the thursday of that week, but they still hadn't heard back from the human resources department. He called the following week but still nothing. He went into the workplace on the Monday two weeks after the assessment but they still hadn't heard. The Boss lady called the Human Resources department in the city and were told there was 'a question mark over the arthritis in his knees'. The Boss lady said she wouldn't have offered him a job if she didn't think he could do it, but they said they'd be happier if he was assessed more thoroughly. An assessment was set up for last Thursday.

    The second assessment went really well and we were promised a call either the same afternoon or Friday morning. The call didn't come. Dave called them on Friday but they hadn't heard back from the Human Resources department in the city despite sending a query email on Friday morning. We waited for a call on Monday that didn't come. We distracted ourselves with other things on Tuesday. No call. Yesterday I said to the GOM that he really needed to go back into the workplace and make them give him an answer - whatever it was because none of us were sleeping very well.

    Both the GOM and I were certain they'd decided against employing him despite two good assessments. This led to many questions neither of us said aloud. Was it his age? Was he actually facing early retirement? How would we survive when we have been dependant on his mum to supplement our income for the past two years from her savings? Is a man really a man in our society if no one will employ him when he is willing to do anything to earn a living income?

    I was really worried about the GOM's mental health in the event of another rejection. I was really, really worried.

    I don't mind telling you, the loo and I became better acquainted with one another during the time the GOM was of 'getting a final answer' from the Boss lady. And then the phone rang.

    He said he had a shift this coming Friday and another shift next Friday - because shifts had already been allocated for this fortnight - and that he'd been told there was 'plenty of work' coming. Apparently, the workplace had just been 'waiting for the contract to arrive' before calling him in...

    I want to be angry that they didn't call and relieve our stress earlier. I wonder if people have committed suicide when they haven't heard back from employers because they just couldn't bare the rejection anymore or the anxiety of not knowing how they would feed their children if they never got work again?

    Really, I can't go there, it's too bleak.

    Here is an interesting bit of information to consider though...


    75% of people in Australia on NewStart Allowance (unemployment benefit) are over 40 years of age. The Grumpy Old Man was put onto Parenting Pension (partnered) when he was made redundant. At the time he was told it was so he 'didn't have apply for a specific number of jobs each fortnight' - it sounded good because not having to apply for jobs that don't exist in his field (in those numbers) would save frustration. Later we found out that because he was put on the Parenting Pension, he wasn't eligible for assistance from the Government in finding a job until after Ari turned six - even though I was home to care for Ari - at which time he would be 55 years old.

    So, even though he had four children to provide for and wanted to work, and was finding it hard to get work, the Government wasn't compelled to assist him in finding work because they'd conveniently put him on a pension that made it look like he wasn't one of the long term unemployed.

    So, 75% of unemployed on NewStart might be over 40 years of age, but how many more have been shunted onto the Parenting Pension so the numbers look better?

    When is the Government going to do something to address the discrimination against older workers in Australia?

    source

    Today though I'm just very, very, very, very thankful that the Grumpy Old Man finally has a job. We still don't know if it will even provide an income higher than the parenting pension he has been on for the past 933 days, but right now just knowing he can get a job, and he'll have a current job on his resume, gives us such a sense of relief.

    I'm linking up with Kate Says Stuff for Thankful Thursday.

    What are you thankful for this week?

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Write on Wednesdays: Sunshine in a cup...

    Write On Wednesdays


    Write On Wednesdays Exercise 19 - Sunshine in a cup. Write the words of Emily Dickinson: "Bring me sunshine in a cup" at the top of your page. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Write the first words that come into your head after the prompt. Don't take you pen off the page (or fingers off the keyboard). Stop only when the buzzer rings! Do this exercise over and over if you wish. Write beyond 5 minutes if you like, you can link it up as an extra post.

    Fair warning, I'm not in a good place today as I watch my husband being eaten away from the inside by repeated failed attempts to gain employment and a licence. Who is a man in our society who isn't able to get a drivers licence or a job? I see him trying so hard to gain ground and slipping back time and time again despite doing everything in his power to change his circumstances. I've always been a person who believed in the big picture. I've always believed every life event has meaning and ultimately helps us prosper in the long term. Recently my faith has been tested to the very brink of its limits and now I don't know what to believe. Maybe this is it. Surviving and nothing more...

    All the same, I would really appreciate some critical commentary on the writing itself. Any suggestions for modifying some of the cliches I've used would be great because I just couldn't think of a more concise way to summon up these images...

    Bring Me Sunshine in a Cup

    The sun is shining brilliantly in a clear blue sky outside my window. On days like this I'm usually singing my way through the day. I usually feel light and airy and as if I can do anything I set my mind to.

    Today the sun and blue sky and the estimated high of twenty-eight degrees Celsius do not have the power to transport me to the place where life is sunshine in a cup. In fact, today I feel as if I've been sold a lie. I feel like tracking down the snake oil salesman who promised me a life of ease so long as I had a life of Faith and holding his head down in the cup until the last pockets of air escape from his lungs, leaving tiny bubbles of life popping on the surface of the sunshine...

    Faith is the honey in the cup of sunshine. It is sweet and liquid and golden and it has the power to warm a person down to their toenails.

    Lost faith is the charred coals in a fire that has be extinguished by the cold splash of reality at the end of a night of roasting marshmallows and counting stars. Now I'm left with mosquito bites and fear of the dark that envelopes my damp and musty life tent. No cup of sunshine can exist where lost faith lies cold and wet in the shadows of unrealised daydreams.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Home video time again...

    Had the pleasure of videoing the boys in their nature environment this afternoon - dancing before dinner! No they don't do extracurricular activities. They don't play hockey or footy or tennis, but they sure do like to dance!

    Here you can see Bryn showing showing me (up close, so I can see) the dance his junior school class did for the school during an assembly last year (I was at the assembly but couldn't really see what they were do from at the back of the hall). Ari gets his mosh on - his t-shirt says "My Dad Rocks" - just like the Grumpy Old Man used to back in the day (before I met him, and I hope his didn't have Ari's elbow action going on). Erik is captured (unbeknownst to him) busting a move in the kitchen while cooking dinner. Lukas claims not to have danced, but is caught red-footed at the end...

    Enjoy!

    10 Things Tuesday: 10 Things I'm Buying As Soon As I Can Afford To...


    1.    Slim and Lift Aire from Danoz Direct. Yes, really! I have some of these already and no, they don't make me look like a lithe size 10 model - nor do I want to look like one. What they do is support everything and smooth it out, and I really appreciate that. They also stop my thighs rubbing against one another and I really appreciate that. The thing that really surprised me though is that they support my lower back - which I didn't even realise was wanting support. So, yup, I'm buying more of these - and I don't care if you laugh because I feel great when I wear them!

    2.    This top from Oh My Gauze - though maybe not in that colour...


    3.    This vest from Oh My Gauze  - I might even get two of them because I just love having pockets at my disposal!



    4.    An aubergine dinner setting for eight. For the past few years we've had a white, square dinner setting that I absolutely adored when I bought it, but these days a lot of the corners are chipped... Also the plates are very heavy for the boys and we do like them to help set the table and do the dishes and clear the table, so a lighter set of plates would be easier for them... And well, I just like the colour!
    5.    All white bed linen! I'm thinking - because white is so unforgiving and the Grumpy Old Man is, well, a man (who sweats... unlike me, I never sweat, never I tell you. I glow) - I'll need four complete sets of king sheets, plus eight single doona covers because the GOM and I have our own doonas. So, yeah, might be a while before I can make this particular dream come true. I just love the idea of sleeping in a white, fluffy bed!


    6.    A leather corner lounge suite - big enough to seat all of us and easier to keep clean than our faithful old fabric couch (people might feel a bit strange visiting us and not seeing our 10 year old cobalt blue couch - they'll just have to deal). Of course, this one (from Sortino - and don't even consider telling me they're a crap brand or whatever because this is just a pipe dream and we'll buy what we can afford to buy) cost $6000 on sale - hello lottery win!


    7.    While I'm in fantasy land... A sensory deprivation floatation tank. Yup, I'm totally serious. I really want to get one of these for the GOM. He's tried them a couple of times at facilities here in Melbourne, and he says they completely relieve the pain of the arthritis in his knees - something nothing else does! I want to buy one and have it installed in our house for him to use each day as continued use is supposed to create a compound effect of healing. Only $15 000...


    8.    Kia Grand Carnival - This is actually something we're quite likely to buy sooner rather than later (though ours will be pre-loved and older than Bryn), but it's definitely on the list of things I'll buy as soon as I can afford them...


    9.    Okay, for the last two I'm going to cheat and list in terms of 'a single order'... Assorted products from Nordic Store including...

    • a wool blanket (the colours of Iceland's fire and ice landscape)...



    • And a lopapeysa (Icelandic wool jumper or cardigan). And yes, you probably do have to be Icelandic to see the appeal of these jumpers with the scratchy wool and the silver buttons, but to me they're a little bit of home - and I bet I'll be warmer than you in a Melbourne winter in one of these! Icelanders really do know how to do cold weather.


    10.    Assorted Doctor Who products from Think Geek, including...
    I had to put links for all the Doctor Who toys because Think Geek wouldn't let me save their photos to my computer - why did I even think they would?

    So, what will you be buying as soon as you can afford to?

    I was just reminded I was going to link this post up with Diary of a SAHM's I Blog on Tuesdays!



    Sunday, October 16, 2011

    Me and the boys club...

    I wish I could have taken a photo of the Grumpy Old Man and the boys early this afternoon as they stood in the kitchen, mouths slightly agape, eyes filmed in a thin glaze of, 'She's saying something but all I can hear is blah, blah, blah, toilet, blah, blah, blah pigsty...'

    I'm glad, however, that no one was around to take any photos of me as I stood there yelling at the top of my lungs, eyes brimming with frustrated tears (yes, my tears were, in fact, frustrated because I was willing them to stay in my eyes when they wanted to slip-slide along my crows feet and down to my chin).

    Why the hysteria (a man made word for sensible women who just can't bear another second of talking to themselves because the y-chromosonians in their lives have their ears turned off)?

    Because during the long hours of tossing and turning each night, one of the thoughts that rolls around in my head is of me suddenly dying (at this rate it'll be from having spontaneously combusted in a fit of rage) and them having to cope on their own... Let me paint that picture for you.

    Dishes would get washed when there were no clean dishes left. Even then, only two sinks full at most would be washed. One sink full would also be dried and put somewhere in the cupboards, the other would be left to dry in the close vicinity of remaining food encrusted dishes including every single pan and pot that wasn't actually in use.

    School uniforms and shirts and smalls would get washed and dried, but not folded or put away, the night before they were to be used.

    Surfaces would not be wiped down, unless they were about to used that minute.

    The toilet would never get washed - except for the frequent splashing of urine on and around the bowl. Toilet rolls would get changed, but the empty rolls would be collected in the toilet ad infinitum.

    The bathroom would never be washed.

    No toys, clothes, bags, wrappers, books, papers, receipts, catalogues, bus tickets... well, you get the picture, would ever be put away or disposed of.

    The grass would never be mowed.

    Shopping would be done every day, as needed, and meals would consist of whatever to could dumped on a tray and heated in the over before being decorated with tomato sauce art.

    Bills would not be paid because they would not be opened or even sighted because they would be dumped on the nearest available surface to the front door.

    Getting in and out of the front door would become an Olympic challenge once the school bags, shoes, coats, hats, school projects, mail, and bits and pieces collected from hard rubbish were dumped there.

    There would be no birthday presents, Christmas presents, Father's Day presents. No birthday presents for friends parties unless they were bought en route to the party.

    The older boys would not go to high school because the Grumpy Old Man would not have enrolled them.

    The furniture would become filthy and broken and never be replaced.

    See, they stood there gaping because they have absolutely no idea why I need the toilet to be clean and why I need for them to notice when I haven't been cleaning it for much longer than I care to admit here a while and I need them to get a bucket and some hot soapy water and do it themselves without me asking, reminding, nagging, and yelling at the top of my voice.

    The Grumpy Old Man once told that the wife of a mate of his up and left his mate and their two grown boys one day because she claimed she couldn't live in a 'boys club' anymore. I think the Grumpy Old Man thought I would be horrified by this woman's apparent abandonment of her family...

    Dr Phil used to say (when I watched him years ago) that you can't change another person. That is something bothers you, instead of asking the other person to change it, acknowledge that you are the one bothered by it and change it yourself.

    Well, I guess that's great if it's just you and one other person, but when it's you and 4.5 other people who just don't see the state of utter grossness around you - what do you do? Walk away? From your young children? Do it all yourself? Live in the mess that is quickly beginning to resemble a 'Hoarders' nightmare? Or do you yell at the top of your lungs until a least some of it gets done?

    This is NOT my kitchen, but it is how I fear my
    kitchen would become if I didn't yell or do it for them.
    I do that last thing because I can't bear the thought that the boys might grow up thinking that someone else will always do it, or that it's okay to live in squalor. But I have to admit, some days just walking away looks very, very tempting...

    Friday, October 14, 2011

    Oh FFS Friday: Because it's there...

    Haven't blogged in a couple of days, and wasn't feeling very bloggy... Was browsing Twitter and a tweet caught my eye - tweeted by @DearBabyG;

    Oh For Fucks Sake Friday grab the button & link up to join in with the irreverence  

    At the time it was tweeted, I was actually scanning for another tweet, so went ahead and skipped onto the next tweet, but later it occurred to me that FFS Friday really speaks for how I'm feeling right now.

    I'm not in the habit - recently - of swearing on my blog. My mum doesn't like it, and let's face it, I do it plenty enough when I'm away from the computer, I don't need to do it here. But today, I'm really feeling quite fed up. So today, can you all just please see beyond the swearing, please?

    Here are the things that have been pissing me off this week.

    1.   A shared post thingy on Facebook which is supposed to be about supporting the right to gay marriage, but reads thusly...


    I'm a supporter of gay marriage. Marriage is a commitment and everyone should have the right to commit themselves to another person in this way if they want to - it has nothing to do with religion or raising children (though the particular argument that parents need a mother and a father seems to completely overlook those toxic marriages where mothers and fathers abused each other and their children)...

    But this poster is SHITE! First of all, two people committing to one another affects only them. People drinking alcohol, taking drugs, buy porn, owning guns, smoking cigarettes, and depending on your believes about babies, having abortions AFFECTS OTHER PEOPLE. All of those other things can result in the injury or death of another person. They cannot be compared! Comparing them suggests that gay marriage might be harmful to others just like smoking or porn. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot (guns?)... If you're on my Facebook, please, please don't repost this poster - I try and I try, but I can't help myself. It makes me want to post this...


    2.   Yesterday I received a call from the speech pathologist at the boys' school. She was ringing in regard to Bryn's speech assessment.

    The back story is that Bryn (like Erik and Lukas, but no where near as bad as Lukas) has, since he started talking, mispronounced a bunch of sounds. He's said 't' instead of 'c', and 'd' or 'j' instead of 'g', and so on. This is not uncommon in small children, but in recent years - and I believe mostly because of the push for earlier and earlier literacy acquisition (which all too often is based on phonics) - kindergarten and school teachers have been made hyper-aware of children's speech idiosyncrasies. To me it's a lot like putting braces on 9 year olds - you know before their face is all grown in. It's about aesthetics and western obsession with perfection. But all this focus on being perfect has its side effects (like a flattened face due to extractions causing breathing issues).

    As someone whose brother gave up talking completely for two years because he was bilingual and kept speaking the wrong language to the wrong people and being corrected on it, I would rather my boys figure out language for themselves without having their confidence undermined by being told prematurely, 'You're doing it wrong'.

    Still and all the kinder teachers voiced their concerns, and I just said, 'You should have heard his brothers!' I'm sure they thought I was being all too flippant about it all. When Bryn started school, his prep teachers (he has two) asked if we'd had him assessed. We said no and I repeated my 'You should have heard his brothers, he's much clearer than Lukas was at this age!'. They gave me that raised eyebrow look.

    In term two they brought it up again, and one of the teachers, who is also a parent at the school even sidled up to the Grumpy Old Man to voice her concerns (she probably thought he would be more open than me, ha!). Later a letter was sent home. Eventually we concede - under duress - to have him assessed. We refused to give consent for any psychological or other assessment though.

    It has been at least three months since we handed in those forms. After all that pressure, and then it seemed like they'd changed their minds. Evidently not because yesterday I received a call from the speech pathologist. I will meet her next week, but she told me right off the bat that she 'observed nothing of any concern'. I should be relieved, but honestly I'm kind of pissed that we had all that pressure put on us for something we knew from prior experience was not an issue. Even since the beginning of the year Bryn's speech has cleared up a lot.

    3.   The final thing I'm going to mention here - though this doesn't end the list of things that has pissed me off this week, I just feel this post is getting quite leggy already - is regarding the Grumpy Old Man's new job, or rather the one we still don't know for sure if he has.

    The Grumpy Old Man has been out of work for 2.5 years. He is well qualified as a finished artist/graphic designer, with many years experience. He has many great references, but often he has not even gotten interviews for jobs he's applied for. When he has gotten interviews they have usually led to second interviews, but he has been pipped at the post right at the end.

    In May, he took the big decision to change careers, and to take a big pay cut (well, if he was working in the industry he's qualified for, it would be a big pay cut, but seriously considering he's been on a $430 per fortnight parenting pension (partnered) for the past couple of years, anything would be an income improvement now!). He did a course for 10 weeks that gained him a Cert III. Then he found out he needed to do five weeks of work placement (which had originally not been part of the course), so, okay he did that and at the end of that placement he was offered a job - woot!

    Well, not quite woot. That job offer came in a month ago, and he hasn't worked a single day yet. The Monday after the job offer was made he went and did a physical. There were forms to fill in and he was asked about pre-existing conditions, so being the honest person he is, he put down the arthritis he has in his knees. Then he did the physical and the nurse was very happy with his performance.

    We waited for a call from workplace. A week went by, and on the following Monday he called them and they said the results had been passed onto the HR department in the city and they were just waiting to hear back, we should expect a call by Wednesday. The call didn't come. This last Monday the GOM rocked up to the workplace and they called the HR department in the city who finally informed everyone there was a question mark over the arthritis.

    The boss lady who had offered the GOM the job told the HR department that she wouldn't have offered him a job if she didn't think he could do the job. HR wasn't moved. They said they wanted to send out an assessor to do a deeper evaluation of the GOM's knees. That was scheduled for yesterday.

    The Grumpy Old Man went and was assessed and the guy who assessed him was impressed with his flexibility and saw no reason the GOM couldn't do the job. He said he would send his report into HR that afternoon and hopefully the GOM would receive a call to start work by late afternoon or early this morning. It's almost 2pm. No call yet.

    I can't help but feel that the issue isn't his arthritis at all, but rather his birthdate, the 1959 in the birthdate to be precise. He's 52 and over three quarter of Australian's on unemployment benefits are over 40. There is a most definite discrimination against older workers in this country and it STINKS!

    It also stinks that the Grumpy Old Man has four children to support and has changed career, taken a drop in wages and taken on a job most other people wrinkle their nose up at (aged care), and he STILL isn't working. It's October, his course finished in late July, his work placement finished in early September. This sucks. I want that phone call to say, 'Come in and we'll give you your hours.' I want it NOW for fuck's sake!

    Linking up with Dear Baby G for FFS Friday! What do you want to get off you chest today?

    Dear Baby G

    Teenagers and the failing parent...