Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Today I am bitter...

This will be a short one, just an update for those of you who care.

The GOM went for his mediation meeting this morning with the company where he'd been doing work placement and where he had been offered a position, but later, after two medicals, the offer had been rescinded. The rescinding of the offer came as a surprise to the manager at the time, who had already arranged two shifts for the GOM.

So, we cried discrimination because he'd passed two medicals and been signed up for shifts and then the offer was rescinded on the grounds of his having put that he had athritis in his knees on his first medical assessment form.

Today he met with the human resource manager, the facility manager who had offered him the job in the first place, two other representatives from the company (I can't remember who) and a mediation officer from the anti-discrimination commission to try and sort this out.

So, the outcome?

The outcome was that the company presented two medical reports saying the GOM was not able to carry out the full range of Personal Care Attendant duties required of him for the position.

They said he had not even been given an offer of a job.

Basically, they chose to lie.

When asked why both the medical examiners would have said to the GOM that he was clear to work; the second one saying this also to the manager in front of the GOM and then write up reports to saying he wasn't clear to work, they said they couldn't comment on that.

When asked why the manager would tell the GOM he had the job after the two medicals were complete and send him to arrange two shifts; one for that week, one for the following week. They disputed this had even occurred.

source


During the meeting the manager who offered the GOM the job did not make eye contact with him.

As conciliation they offered to write the GOM a non-prejudicial reference letter and they offered him a small sum of money. A mutual confidentiality agreement is to be signed by both parties.

So, there you have it.

Anti-discrimination laws aren't worth the paper they are written on when the people in the power positions have no integrity and are more than happy to lie their way out of inconvenient situations.

This is also why I no longer have any faith in so-called 'equal opportunity employers'. Sure it looks good on the advertisement to say that, but in the end if they don't want to employ you, they'll just lie and claim you are incapable of doing the job - even when you have been doing for weeks already without any complaints (when the GOM pointed this out, they actually suggested that no complaints might just be their staff covering for his inadequacies).

Today I am bitter.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

10 Things Tuesday: 10 Things I've Learned From Doing NaNoWriMo This Year...


As I mentioned late last month, I signed up to do the National Novel Writing Month project in November.

Actually, I'm sure it started out as national way back when, but these days it's well and truly international (maybe InNoWriMo just sounds too weird?).

The aim of the project is to get writer's from all around the world to dedicate a solid month to their craft and try and achieve the goal of writing 50 000 words of a novel. It can be an entire novel or part thereof. At the end of the month, writer's submit their writing (scrambled, so no one can steal their idea) for a word count and those who have made it to the 50 000 word mark, or beyond, are hailed as WINNERS! No matter whether the writer meets this goal or not, everyone is encouraged to keep working on the project their started at NaNo.

So, I thought I'd sum up my first experience of NaNo here.

10 Things I've Learned From NaNo.

1.  Participating in NaNo is a fantastic way to meet and get to know other writers.

2.  It is amazing what you can achieve in a 10, 15 or 30 minute word war; a writing sprint to get as many words (in some sort of sensible order) down on the page).

3.  Some writers are methodical and plan their NaNo project months in advance with cue cards and fancy writing programs like Scrivener. Others are what's known as pantsers; they write by the seat of their pants.

4. Being a pantser is thrilling! It's an adrenalin rush that I've been hooked on for years. It is also exhausting as I never quite know where I'm going after the next scene is complete - and when there is a deadline and word count looming, that can be pretty scary, too.

5. Some NaNo participants reach 50 000 words written within twenty four hours. Some write over 300 000 words in those 30 days. Some view NaNo as a personal challenge and try to beat their personal record each year. Some are just relieved and totally stoked if they win (finally!) after years of trying. Some aren't interested in the word count but rather in creating a writing habit every day. Some join in just to chat about writing. Some join to go to the write-ins and possibly meet a hot like-minded writery sort. Nano attracts a huge variety of writers with an equally varying number of reasons for being there.

6. Sometimes, even though you've previously managed to write 40 000 words in nine days, the goal of reaching 50 000 in 30 days might as well be your first attempt at climbing Mount Everest. Sometimes life is just too full, and the writer's head is just too unsettled to get the words to form satisfying little lines on the page.

7.  Next year I'm aiming at being one of those NaNos who had their story all planned out on little cue cards sorted electronically on Scrivener, so that writing will be less about creating the story on the go and more about finding the right words to say what I've already planned.

8.  Even when not actually writing, NaNo is a time when the writer is constantly encouraged to turn their story over in their head. The writer is stimulated and inspired by the work of those around them. So, this month I've discovered the voice of my story and I know where I want to take it. I know where some of the holes in the plot lie (which is always good to know because avoiding falling into a plot hole saves a writer a lot of bumps and scrapes along the way). I'm happier with my novel now than I was a month ago, despite not having even come close to the word count.

9.  Back up! And then double check your back up! There is nothing as disheartening when you haven't managed to keep up with the daily deadline of words, than to find that a portion of the few words you have managed to wring out have disappeared into the ether! So, have a thumb drive, get a Dropbox account, and back that manuscript up - do it every hour if you want, you won't regret it!

10. I love writing more than ever before! I'm more inspired to keep writing, to keep honing the craft, than I've ever been before. I've discovered I have a unique voice in the Australian writing community and there is room for me there, too! I would wholeheartedly encourage anyone who is interested in taking on this challenge to do so next year - it doesn't matter if you don't reach the magical 50 000 words (I won't this year, but I'm going to give another red hot shot next year - with my planned-within-an-inch-of-its-life plot). The winning is in the participating!

Join me in 2012!

I'm linking this post up with Diary of a SAHM for



Monday, November 28, 2011

MY book is now a trade paperback!

The day I first heard the anthology my flash fiction story 'Pretty Little Girl' had been published in was finally released as an ebook, I was - understandably - very excited! At the time, the GOM was heard to say, 'Oh, it's an ebook, I thought it was a real book.' I may have mentioned this in a previous post... I obviously haven't quite gotten over it. Well, the good news is, it is a real book now! Men!

I've been published a few times before, but not really by people who don't know my from Jack. So, to have my short fiction selected from many to be included in this anthology which is raising money for two children's charities (Children 1st and Protect), was very exciting!

I try to do something each year to bring awareness to and to raise money for a worthy cause. For example, earlier this year I shaved my head, for the second time, as part of the World's Greatest Shave campaign to raise funds for cancer research and support for sufferers of cancer and their families. I also participated in the World's Greatest Shave back in 2007 - see here for oh-so-glamourous photos!

Growing up as a Salvation Army officer's child, I have quite a long resume of community involvement, and even though I am no longer a member of The Salvos, I still feel a strong need to have a positive impact on my community (both local and global) through volunteering, raising awareness and raising money where I can.

Children are very important to me - not just my own children, but all children. As the most vulnerable people in our society. Children are completely reliant on others to speak up for them. They don't have a vote, they often don't even have a voice. Many people believe those who cannot articulate their emotions clearly either don't have emotional needs, or forget neglect and abuse quickly. This could not be further from the truth, and advocating for children is something I feel very passionately about.

So, to have my writing finally work to this end has been such an honour.

I really want to encourage my readers (family and friends, as well) to buy a copy of this anthology. Ebook copies are a mere $2.99USD and for those of you who like an actual book to handle, it is now available a Amazon and Createspace for $9.99USD (plus postage and handling). All the link details can be found HERE!

If you're a local and buy a print copy, I'll be more than happy to sign it for you!


PS. Don't forget to let me know if you do buy a copy - I love to get that feedback!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Five Sentence Fiction: Sacrifice


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 prompt word. The word does not have to appear in your five sentences, just use it for direction.

This week’s inspiration word is: SACRIFICE

Sacrifice

1. Peter watched the old man tottering along the road in the deluge; he seemed scanning for a sheltered spot to wait out the down pour.

2. The shaking of wisened hands as they reached for the balistrade of the impossibly steep Colonial building steps brought to mind his mother last summer.

3. The shaking hands hadn't warned him she was prone to mis-stepping and would fall and break her femur.

4. Ninety-three years was a long life, too long to pass out of through a gateway of pain.

5. As he passed the old man, Peter handed over his umbrella, 'Here, you need this more than I do.' he said, smiling.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My Blog's Manifesto...

For today's post I'm being lazy and copying-and-pasting the manifesto I wrote for this blog late yesterday afternoon after a particularly trying few hours corresponding with a disillusioned reader. Let's get real about what this blog is here about, readers, that way we can all live happier, more fulfilled lives.

Yours Sincerely

Sif xx

PS. The manifesto has it's own page on the blog, up there just under the heading so people can always refer back to it.


I think the time has come for me to write this blog's manifesto. This came to me after realising that some of my readers expect me to be better than I am. They expect me to smarter. They expect me to have 20/20 foresight. They expect me to be more positive. They expect me to do more than I do for my family. 

I am not quite sure how these expectations arose. I'm pretty sure I never promised my readers any of the above. Then again, sometimes I forget things.

So, I thought I should write a simple and, hopefully, clear statement of what my philosophy and goals are for this blog. That way, people can decide for themselves if this is the kind of blog they really want to read. I expect to lose some readers, but I think both they and I will be happier for having had the scales peeled from our eyes.

Here goes:

Philosophy: 

The philosophy underpinning this blog is that of learning. Learning through research and learning through experience. I will share what I am learning in my life and through sharing those things, I hope my readers might either learn from my experiences or better still analyse their own experiences and come up with their own conclusions about their own lives which they are very welcome to share with me and other readers through respectful comments.

Goals: 

To always be truthful about my life and experiences. I may not disclose every moment of my life, but whatever I do disclose will be as honest as it can be coming from my single point of view.

To grow and develop through sharing my thoughts and experiences and hearing my readers respectfully communicated thoughts and experiences.

To be a fallible human.

To admit that I am far from perfect.

To be flexible in the light of relevant new information.

To admit when I find I have thought, said or done wrong.

To never offer my life as a prime example of how other people should live their lives because I am prone to making mistakes I only realise down the track and because I acknowledge that my life is never going to be identical to anyone else's life in all the variables which call for the choosing of different solutions.

To be me. 
To be a mum. 
To be a writer. 
To be a person with a vision impairment. 
To be a person with ADHD. 
To be a person who wants to learn, but often stumbles and falters along the way and knows she is not alone in this. 
To be a person who would like to have more compassion and more empathy for other people in their lives as they are, rather than how I wish they were.

Furthermore I promise to:

Wear my heart on my sleeve

Have integrity.

Believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden and all manner of things magical.

Believe in destiny.

Feel sorry for myself on occasion, whether I have a right to or not.

Be utterly ridiculous when the mood takes me.

Be wrong sometimes and not know it (and maybe not even believe it).

Be wildly optimistic.

Rage at injustice.

Adore my children.

Adore my husband.

Complain about my children.

Complain about my husband.

Laugh inappropriately.

Swear once in a while.

Change my mind.

Change it back.

Take chances.

Fall short.

Triumph!

Never make all of my readers happy all of the times.

Sometimes make none of my readers happy.

Ask for advice when I want it.

Try really hard to remain polite (but, please don't push it, I have a Scorpio Moon and a Scorpio Rising and beyond a certain point I cannot be responsible for what comes out of my mouth).

One final point - about comments...

I love comments - especially warm and fuzzy comments. I don't love comments containing unsolicited advice - if I want unsolicited advice I need only call my mum. I don't mind comments which respectfully disagree with me. I am no fan of comments which have the sole purpose of disparaging me or people I care about. 

So, there you have it. 

If any of this doesn't sit well with you, that is totally cool with me. You will find plenty of blogs out there with just the sort of posts you're looking for - go for it, I'm more than happy to share the blogging love!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Write on Wednesdays: The Saddest Thing I Ever Heard...

Write On Wednesdays





Write On Wednesdays Exercise 25 - I heard a song on the radio during the week and I thought the lyrics would make an interesting prompt for WoW. So, write the words "The saddest thing I ever heard" on your page, set your timer for 5 minutes and write the first words that come into your head based on the given prompt.


I will be interested to see where this prompt takes you all!


As soon as I read this week's prompt, I knew what I would write about. I had actually just finished telling the GOM this story. It is a true story, though for the purposes of discretion I will change the character descriptions to conceal identities...

Prompt: The saddest thing I ever heard.

Mavis stood stooped and overwhelmed in the middle of her bedroom as Tracy sorted through her belongings in a vain attempt of culling them before the 'big move' to the aged care facility. The two piles on the floor; one for keeping and one for dispensing with were as disproportionate as they could be while still maintaining two piles. The dispensing with pile contain one solitary item; a broken coat hanger.

Tracey sighed heavily, 'Okay, what about this then?' she said holding up a dusty old navy overcoat from she had retrieved from the back of the wardrobe. 'Surely, you have no use for this any longer. It's many decades out of style - look at these shoulder pads, it must be from the forties. And, look, it's miles to big for you.' Tracy compared the overcoat to Mavis' petite, hunched frame.

'Oh dear, no, I can't get rid of that. That coat is the house.'

'The house?'

'It's my mother's house. Well, all that is left of it.'

Tracy saw the glisten of tears in the corners of Mavis' eyes. Obviously, this coat meant a lot to her, but Tracy didn't want to pry, so she put the coat back into the wardrobe reluctantly and reached for a faded floral dress.

'Before I was born and my parents were newly weds, my mother saw an opportunity to buy a house and land package that would appreciate in value over the years and set our family up for a secure future. The problem was that mother and father didn't have the money. So, mother suggested to my father that he ask his parents for a loan. He refused. My mother was not a person who was easily put of good deals, so she went to my grandmother herself. My grandmother turned her down and told my father what she had asked for. My father gave my mother a sound thrashing for going behind his back and embarrassing him.'

Tracy quietly moved to sit on the edge of the bed while Mavis continued with her story.

'Many years later my mother was in an accident and received compensation for her injuries. She wanted to buy a house with the money, but my father was nervous about such a large commitment. He wavered on signing the contract until eventually the house was sold to another interested party. So, mum took some of the money and went on a holiday with a friend to the north coast. While away, my father decided her holiday destination would be a great place for them to make a fresh start and so he packed up all our belonging and called her and said he'd given notice on our house.

'Determined not to see the newly acquired nest egg petered away, mother hurriedly found and bought a house in the town she was holidaying in and when my father arrived with our things, they moved into the house.'

Mavis stopped talking at this point and wandered over the window on the far side of the room. Tracy wondered if Mavis had decided against finishing the story. She held her breath not wanting to disturb the old woman's thoughts in case she changed the subject. Mavis stared out the window in silence for many long moments.

'The following summer my father went to war and never came back.' Mavis' voice was barely a whisper. 'My mother could not afford to keep the house, but no one else could afford to buy it either. It fell into disrepair and stood empty while we went to live with aunty Livvy. At the end of the war the town council bought the house from my mother for redevelopment, but the money they gave her was only enough to clear a few debts and...' Mavis went over to the wardrobe and pulled out the long navy coat with the oversized shoulder pads and faded buttons. She laid it on the bed. 'I was turning sixteen that year and all my friends had beautiful coats. I cried because we never seemed to have money for all the lovely things my friends had. On my sixteenth birthday my mother presented me with this coat. She had bought it on sale with the last of the money from the house.'

Tracy stroked the sleeve of the coat that was this woman's mother's house and let the tears flow freely.

The Psychology Behind Blaming the Victim...

On Wednesdays I usually write a fiction piece for the WoW group, and today will be no different, but first I really wanted to write this blog post as this is something that has been playing on my mind this morning since receiving yet another judging commentary to a blog post.

First of all, I'd like to say the word, 'victim' does not sit well with me. I tend to think victimhood is a state of mind which can be overcome even after experiencing the worst atrocities, and I have seen and read many accounts of people being horribly tortured and refusing to view themselves as victims, all the same. For the purpose of this post though, the concept of victim, is that of a person who has experienced an unenviable outcome which is mostly or wholly not of their planning or intention.

Have you ever had a conversation with a four year old which went something like this.

'Honey, you can't run off at the shops like that! What if you got lost or someone tried to take you home with them and we couldn't find you?'

'I'd karate chop them in the head until they were dead!'

A four year old will always have an answer for how a bad thing could never happen to them, don't they? No matter what scenario you pose for them, they will counter it with their super-human strength and ability to outwit several people who are bigger and more world wise than themselves. Come to think of it ten year olds do this, too.

A day or so ago, I read this article about a woman who found herself homeless. She never thought it would happen to her. She thought homeless people were homeless because they made bad choices and/or suffered addiction.

She was a bit like the four year old whose plan was to overwhelm their grown assailant with a karate chop.

Recently, I have found myself trying to describe the difficult position my husband and I find ourselves in at the moment, and while the vast majority of people have been sympathetic and supportive - people who know us and speak with us frequently, either in person or on social media. There have been people who have made sport of extrapolating our entire personalities and traits from the few words they find written on this blog.

These people who have oversimplified our situation and criticised our poor choices have upset me a fair bit. Then this morning, when it happened again, I had an epiphany... This is all 'blaming the victim', and the psychology behind blaming the victim is fear.

There are two base emotions in life. Love and fear. From these base emotions emerge a variety of other emotions. From love you have compassion, support, contentment and optimism. From fear you have despising, contempt, judgement and a strong sense of 'that would never happen to me!'

Yep, the psychology of blaming the victim is based in the fear of not having control. If you can blame the victim, if you can say, 'That person is an idiot who made stupid choices.' Then you can reassure yourself that the same situation will never happen to you, because you are wiser, you are more diligent, you are more resourceful, you are smarter, you are stronger, you are better than that.

People who blame the victim don't like to acknowledge that sometimes other people around the victim act unpredictably and outrageously. They do things like offer the victim a job because the victim has already proven they can do the job and then rescind the offer because the victim is honest and reports an underlying condition that does not affect their ability to work.

People do things like not taking no for an answer.

People do things like take money from the Government to employ a person with a disability, then after the person has worked for them for a month, refuse to pay them their due wage until forced to do so by the Australia Taxation Office six months later.

Lots of people are reasonable and work within loosely defined social norms. These people are predictable and as good as their word. Unfortunately, not all people are like this. Sometimes the only thing you can blame the victim for is not having an omnipotent ability for predicting outrageous behaviour.

If it makes you feel safer, blame the victim. Just know, it can happen to you, too.

source

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

10 Things Tuesday: 10 Things That Are Really Pissing Me Off Right Now!


I didn't do a 10 Things link-up last week, anyone miss me? I could so easily fall into the trap of just letting it slide, this is my way... I start all enthusiastic and then I peter out. Might be an ADHD thing, might just be a Sif thing - or maybe those things are the same thing. The depths of my soul are all black and gungey like those horrid tar filled lungs on anti-smoking ad campaigns. Every time I open my mouth I cough up a huge sticky black piece of self-pity laidened crap. I have my moments of joy, they're just struggling to be noticed at the moment, poor wee things. So, in the absence of any kind of wonderful inspiration, I present to you a list of 10 things that are really pissing me off right now. Enjoy!

#1 ~ Judging a person on knowing one thing about them. Not all people who are in possession of Minecraft suffer an absence of 'a life' (even sadder that this judgement came out of the mouth of a nine year old - judgement starts so early these days). The same goes for blogging, keeping a clean house, being a parent, and so much more! No interest or passtime is incompatible with 'having a life'. Even people who spend a lot of energy assessing other people's possession of 'a life' probably also have 'a life' - probably.

#2 ~ If someone mentions that they have a problem, but they don't proceed to ask you how they might solve their problem, chances are you aren't doing them any favours by trying to solve their problem for them no matter how well meant your advice is. Chances are - if it is a long standing problem, there isn't a solution they haven't considered or attempted themselves already. Chances are, if they reject all you suggestions it is not because they don't want to solve their problem but because they've already considered your suggestions, weighed them up carefully and found they wouldn't improve their unique situation. Chances are they just wanted someone to listen and sympathise. Don't offer unsolicited advice, it puts all sorts of pressure on the person you think you're helping.

#3 ~ People who claim to have the greater interest of everyone at heart, when actually patronising those around them and blatantly protecting their own interests while pretending their shit smells like roses. The Emperor has no clothes!

#4 ~ Kids will be kids and forwarding all email correspondence in my children's email accounts to my inbox will mean occassionally reading stuff which rubs me the wrong way but 'Dear smart-arse friend of my child, the correct response to being sent an email Christmas card is not sarcasm, it is 'Thank You!' I know your mum would agree.'

#5 ~ While it is easier to be surrounded by people for whom life is all sunshine and lollipops, this is not realistic. Sometimes people's lives suck and everything inside their head is ugly and twitching with dark loathsomeness. Sometimes people live with this darkness on a daily basis and battling to keep the clouds from crashing above their heads takes every ounce of their energy and there isn't anything left for looking for silver linings or finding joy in small blessings. Sometimes just not falling apart is the blessing. Don't blame these people for the suck-factor of their lives, they don't need you pious self-congratulation. These people can't just 'get over it'. These people aren't likely to feel a lot better overnight. What often helps though is when other people get that. When the 'Perpetual Sad Sack' is allowed to get things out of their head and off their chest - which often helps the darkness disappate as well. No, it's not comfortable watching and listening to someone suffer - suffering of the mind is hardest because it is so intangible - but attempting to stifle such a person is cruel and heartless and only prolongs suffering. The suffering is not pretty, but it is real.

#6 ~ People with no experience who are experts.

#7 ~ Being psychic, but only seeing how things can get much worse without action, and being powerless to act.

#8 ~ Turning forty without a party - it's not going to happen, it can't be justified and I just want to throw a huge tanty about it... Man, it's so happening when I turn fifty!

#9 ~ My own inability to make myself write for NaNoWriMo. I've been so distracted and overwhelmed by the relentlessness of life that I find myself constantly bargaining, 'When we've finished with the school fair/getting the grass cut as per the infringement notice/sorting an automatic car for the GOM to pass his test in/dealing with the anti-discrimination commission, then I'll be able to focus on writing.' Gah, it's just not happening - though I have been working on plot elements and structure at least. I'm conceding defeat on the word count, though. There is always next year. Though it galls me.

#10 ~ The lack of chocolate and sweet wine in this house*.

Linking up with Diary of a SAHM for I Blog on Tuesday.



* This blogger is not too proud to accept donations of chocolate and sweet wine... Anyone?

Monday, November 21, 2011

On Finding Meaning and Understanding 'Saving for a Rainy Day'...

As I've mentioned before, I'm the kind of person who believes there is a bigger picture and that all our life events fit into that bigger picture in some way that makes sense and is ultimately to our own benefit.

Bad stuff happens but I tend to believe it always happens for a reason; to teach us something or lead us down a particular path that will ultimately benefit us in some way. Often we can't see the silver lining until we have the opportunity to step back and reflect on the events of the past.

So, we've had a rough few years. At first I thought it was just one year, then one stretched into two and soon it'll be three years. Each month has offered new challenges from illness and operations to moving house to unemployment, to death of a close family member and so on and so forth.

Steadily, things have become more and more dire until this point in time, where one notice to vacate will see us homeless. We had a fright late last week when a middle-aged man and his young companion (daughter or girlfriend) parked in our driveway to nowhere and the man got out and basically inspected our property. The man and his daughter were Chinese. Our landlords are Chinese, but we know they live in Sydney. So, we figure either they were sent by the owners to make sure we had cut the grass back as promised (council deadline being today), or they were checking the property perhaps to buy it or move in.

You see, this happened to us at our last place. One day we looked out our front window to see a young man and an elderly couple standing just inside our front gate and looking at our rented property. About a month later we received a letter to vacate and when we did vacate the elderly couple (parents of the owners) moved in.

So, we're one letter away from homelessness. And why are we one letter away from homelessness? Well, because we have no savings whatsoever. We have no job (when you have four children you need a job to secure a rental property in an owner's market). The GOM has been working hard for months to secure a job but obstacle after obstacle has been thrown in his way.

BUT HERE IS THE DISCOVERY I HAVE MADE OVERNIGHT!

Have you ever had that conversation where you scoffed at your parents trying to tell you to learn to save for a rainy day? If you haven't you're wiser than me (or you're lying, but I'll leave you with your conscience on that score).

I haven't had that conversation recently but between ten and twenty years ago, it would crop up every so often and go something like,

'You know, I never did understand what they were on about 'saving for a rainy day'...'


'Oh, me either, what's the point of having money just sitting in the bank and putting off enjoying it until you're too old and dried out to make the most of it?'


'Totally! And if I need to buy a washing machine in a hurry or the car breaks down, I can always just get a credit card to cover the emergency and then pay it off later.'


'Exactly!'

Yep, I had the conversation with countless friends.

Of course, this was before I had kids and before my husband hit that age where people feel they can discriminate simply because his was born in the 50s. That was before the rental market became so tight. That was before banks woke up to themselves and stopped offering credit cards and personal loans to people who couldn't afford to repay them.

Also, that was before I realised that 'A Rainy Day' is not, in fact, a single day. Don't laugh, but when I thought of a rainy day, I thought of a one off emergency event. I never considered that it could be one drama after another and that that could go on for several YEARS in one run!

Right now the GOM needs a job. The job offer he had in September was rescinded for no apparent reason and we're fighting it through the anti-discrimination commission but the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly. We haven't even had a conciliation meeting yet. We doubt very much he'll be offered the job again, which means we either let it go or pursue it through VCAT. We'll probably do the latter on principle, however, that will not pay the bills in the meantime and the GOM really needs to work.

His other avenue of work is through an agency, for which he needs to be able to drive because he'll be sent to different facilities here and there throughout the eastern and south-eastern suburbs. He has been having trouble passing his driving tests because he stalls the car during the test. He never stalls it outside the test so we're thinking it's nerves. He's had hypnotherapy but that didn't seem to help at all.

So, we've been thinking for his next test he should do it in an automatic. The problem with that is his instructor doesn't have an automatic. He could get a different instructor but the last time he did that, the new instructor was completely unprofessional and rude to him. So, he's not keen to go that route again. So, we have to buy a car. A cheap hatchback (which won't fit all of us but is a stopgap for passing the test and getting a job - we can trade it in for a people mover once we're eligible for finance) is the go. To buy a cheap automatic we need at least $3000.

Ah, yes, this is where I finally gained some wisdom. We had $3000 earlier this year. I spent it. At the time I thought the GOM would have a job in just a couple of weeks. I thought he'd pass his next test. I thought I needed a reliable computer more than we needed savings in the bank. I thought the boys deserved an iPod and I deserved an iPad - after all, I had waited 18 months while most people I knew bought one, well everyone who actually wanted one anyway.

Yes, I've been pretty good with money. I always budget our rent and bills before food and fun, but I have also lived under the presumption that I had a right to have fun right now. I had a right to buy stuff I wanted whenever I perceived there to be 'extra money'. Even through the hard times of the last nearly three years, I haven't clued in that I needed to be a lot more careful with our finances.

'Saving for a Rainy Day' means saving for that time when everything goes wrong, not just once, not just for one day, but for weeks, months and even years on end. It means being aware that one day you won't be footloose and fancy free and one day you won't be able to just 'put in a little more effort' and make things go your way financially. One day, everything you touch may turn to shit and that is when having a little something put away will save you from the stress of anticipating homelessness with four children.

source
So - get to it, people! Don't be an idiot like me! Put away whatever you can. Even if it's just $10 a week (that's $520 a year). Put it in an account where you need two signatures to get it out - if you don't have a partner, recruit a trusted family member or friend. Just do it. Go without a little right now, so that you don't have to go without a lot down the track. If the rainy day never happens to you, excellent! Pass it on to your kids, or skim off the top and treat yourself to something, but always leave at least 3/4s of the nest egg in tact and only skim once a year! You won't regret it. I promise you. And yes, I am going to do this now, too. If I can do it - so can you!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Thrilled Three Year Old...

Yesterday I hinted that it's been a bit of a trying week with our youngest. It's been a while since I had a three year old quite like him - about seven years to be exact...

It's easy, when your child's behaviours take a fairly sudden turn for the 'worse' - aka they start driving you insane in one manner or another - to think this is something that is going to last and become part of their ingrained personality.

I often hear parents saying, 'It's like someone kidnapped my beautiful child and replaced him with a little terror'. In Iceland we even have folklore surrounding this concept, whereby elves like to exchange their own children for human children who they find more attractive in looks and personality, so when a human child no longer seems like themselves it can be put down to them being a changeling.

There are, of course, other explanations. More scientific explanations - explanations which can provide us with a sense of hope as well as a little reassurance that the little 'invader' isn't here to stay, just so long as you ride out the waves with him or her.

While doing my Master of Education, where I specialised in Early Childhood Development, I learned a few tidbits about the development of the human brain, which at the time did help me with my then three year old boy, Erik, and two years later with his brother. Erik and Luey at the ages of 5 and 3 were a force unto themselves. They were into everything, they fought and squabbled, but at the same time where best buddies and conspirators. Some days I thought I was truly going insane with their antics. I just couldn't keep up. I'd just finish cleaning the toothpaste from the bathroom sink, floor and walls to come out and find they'd poured maple syrup all over my new couch! It was full on. Luckily, it was a phase, it didn't last, by the time Erik was seven and Luey was five some calm had been restored to the house.

Bryn, though definitely trying at the age of three and four, was not even a quarter the work of his big brothers. Not only was there just one of him, but he coped with all the changes three year olds go through quite well. So, I guess I forgot...

Ari has always been feisty. Generally speaking, his personality is more like Luey's than anyone else in the family. He is very smiley, very affectionate and also very self-confident with a moderate streak of aggression running down his backbone. This is a lot like Luey in many ways. The way he is more like Erik is in his frenetic energy levels. Erik was a timid, sensitive child with a propensity to hyperactivity. Erik never instigated any form of aggression towards others - though on occasion, he did join in aggression instigated by other children. Erik was - and remains - an enthusiastic follower.

Ari also has exhibited a quality Bryn has always had in spades. That is, the ability to be reasoned with, and to forestall gratification under reasonable conditions. Erik and Luey were both much more impulsive.

Erik, Luey and Bryn were all relatively easy going two year olds. I used to be quite smug about how 'my boys' didn't do 'the terrible twos'... Ari changed that pattern. So, I thought, well okay, if he's doing the two year old thing, maybe he won't do the three and four year old thing? I was wrong. Oh, how wrong I was!

In the past few weeks - since just before turning three - Ari seems to have lost the ability to be reasoned with, and gained a lot truckload of impulsivity. His energy levels, which were already at 'high' and now tipped over into 'off the scale'. Most difficult for me though is that glint in his eye which screams,'What can I get into next?' He is suddenly full of mischief - just like his big, big brothers and I'm ashamed to admit this has completely taken me by surprise (I should know better by now, right?).

My behaviour hasn't been stellar either. I guess I've panicked. I've been having flashbacks to the terror years with the older two. I may have a bit of Post Traumatic Stress about it all. I have yelled a lot, and I have even smacked him a couple of times. This is not good and not the kind of parent I want to be.

So, then last night after I acknowledged to myself that I'm not enamoured by this changeling behaviour, I started to think about what I know about three year olds...

I recall learning that the brain of a newborn is a little like a house where the rooms have lights with dimmer switches. When the infant is born, some of the lights are switched on, but set to very dim and immediately start to brighten - these are the parts of the brain engaged in developing attachment and language, for example. Some don't actually switch on until later, like social cognisance which flickers on towards the end of the third year (so, lead up the child's third birthday). The part of the brain that puts together letters and sounds and visual cues often goes on at about the age of six, which is why many children can recognise individual letters and sounds by the age of four, but struggle in that first year of school to put those letters and sounds together into more complex systems (words), and then suddenly seem to 'get it' in grade one (of course, some children do this a little earlier, and some a little later, it's a continuum but the majority do it around the age of six).

So, what is going on for a three year old?


  • Language development hits its peak! All those words they know and have stored inside their brain spring forth in more and more complex sentences. With this comes power and respect - because humans are kind of lame like that and we have a tendency to believe those who can express their feelings actually have feelings, while those who can't don't. Oooh, aaah, I'm being controversial! So, yep, talking goes ballistic. Listening? Not so much. Once they realise the power of their words, they want to wield that power as often as possible, hence the constant stream of consciousness which spews from the holes just above their chins (this phase lasts about 3-4 years in my experience, so buckle your seat belts parents, it can be a bumpy, ear bleed inducing ride, at times).
  • The social part of their brain lights up like a zealous Christmas light display at the end of November. They suddenly realise other people are there to interact with not just along side of. And that's what they want to do. Play with me, talk to me, be my climbing frame, don't make me go to sleep and miss out of practicing all my newfound social power! Some of this explosion also may incur casualties along the way, especially if your child has a tendency to take, even mild, rejection badly. This is when a child is most likely to hit, push, kick and bite other people who are pissing them off. That is because the empathy room of their brain house is still pretty dimly lit - and won't really brighten up until around the age of 6 or 7 (and won't hit full brightness until the late teens - sometimes not even until the late twenties), just so you know. So, it's social interaction at your own risk with a three year old. Of course, those of us who are much older (aka the parents) have the task of role-modeling appropriate behaviour. So, if the child doesn't like that you don't want to be their climbing frame and decides to headbutt you in the face for it (this happened to me this week), the appropriate response is, 'Ow, that hurt! It's not okay to hurt me, let's go do something that is okay, like stomp our feet and say GRRRRR because I can see you're angry' - the inappropriate response would be to impulsively smack the child and say, 'How do you like being hurt?! NOT NICE, is it?' (yes, that was me - not my proudest parenting moment).
  • Three year old boys experience the second highest testosterone surge of their lives (second only to puberty), and unfortunately it comes at time when their ability to project the consequences of their actions is still pretty much non-existent. Testosterone is a great hormone, it gives men (and woman) a lot of energy and get up and go and 'can do' attitude. It has the ability to make people feel like they can conquer the world. Problem is, three year olds don't have a helluva lot of empathy, and so they tend not to be benevolent dictators, but more the beserker variety - well at least the ones who have a moderate streak of aggression to begin with (aka future leaders and makers and shakers, and my son Ari).
So, there you have the trifecta of three year old boys - a perfect storm, if you will, in the right conditions.

What I need to remember is that this child is still the same child he was six months ago. He is just experiencing a storm within his body as the world opens up to him and he has energy to burn to explore it all. He needs lots of stimulation. Lots of fresh air and running around in the elements. Lots of love and understanding and willingness on our part (his family) to acknowledge that this too shall pass with time, but in the meantime we need to keep his amazing spirit alive and well because when he comes out of this storm, he'll need all that affection and reason and energy to get on with the rest of his life.

Ari is simply THRILLED to be alive right now!

Two more years...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Vote for me, vote for me - shameless self-promotion!

I've been a bit quiet here this week, I know. I've been trying to do that thing our mums always tell us to do, you know the one, 'If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all'.

I've actually sat here at the 'new post' box and written and deleted about 13 posts this week - they all end up bitter and twisted and just more grist for the troll mill.

La la la, happiness and sunshine - right?

Anyway, hopped on Facebook before and saw a friend had joined in a bit of blog promotion campaign for mummy bloggers. I don't blog about nappies or cleaning products or how to tame toddlers (not a good subject this week if I'm only going to say nice things...), but I do have kids and I do blog a bit about them - some months more than others... So, I thought I'd give it a go, too. Can't hurt right?

So, if you're thusly inclined, please feel free to follow this link and go vote for my little blog - I'll love you forever, and it'll definitely be the best thing that has happened to me this week!

Life isn't all bad (see, now I'm attempting to sound more positive so you'll like me more, right?).

The GOM and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary last Monday. That was also the anniversary of our first date fifteen years ago. Monday was a tad stressful because the GOM did his fifth driving test and failed it again, but I must say he was a trooper about it and that just makes me love him even more! We've booked the next test but this time we're aiming for him doing it in an automatic because he basically fails due to stalling the car - something he only ever does in test situations. We still cracked a bottle of Moscato and toasted our 15 years together.

I'm really happy that all my big boys have a their own groups of friends. For one of the boys this comes very easily. For another it's been a long term struggle, but this year he is really thriving and is part of a great group of friends, which just makes my heart swell! The third boy had a couple of lovely friends at kinder but none moved up to preps with him - despite this, he seems to be very popular amongst his classmates, which is great to see! I always found it hard to make friends as a child, partly due to my - er, bossy - personality, and partly because we moved a lot (9 schools in 11 years), so seeing my boys all making firm friendships just eases my soul.

We found a fantastic gardener. This guy has fantastic equipment for tackling our difficult yard and he has a wonderful work ethic and he doesn't charge the earth or act as if we've asked him to manicure the MCG with nail clippers!

So, life isn't all frustration and blah (not mentioning demon toddler, or sloth populated anti-discrimination commission, or people who can't see forests for trees - not mentioning them at all!).

So, cool - go vote for this blog and who knows where the sun might rise from tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Review: The Burn by Annie Oldham...

This month I'm taking part in 'Adopt An Indie' over at Bookbags and Catnaps. I adopted The Burn by Annie Oldham and posted an email interview with Oldham a few days ago. Today, I'll review The Burn and share a couple of very brief thoughts on the dilemma of independent publishing.

The Blurb:

The Burn is full of nuclear fallout, roving gangs, anarchy, unreliable plumbing. That’s what Terra’s father tells her. She has lived her whole life in comfort in a colony at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. She hates it. And she would pay any price to leave. But when Terra finally escapes the colony, she finds out her father is right. She finds a group of survivors that quickly become friends, and every day with them is a race for survival. But then she witnesses and commits unspeakable acts, and she must decide where her loyalty lies: with the colony she despises or The Burn, where every day is filled with nightmares.

The Review:

Aimed at the Young Adult market, this book is an adventure with some self-discovery thrown in along the way. Themes of identity and belonging are explored as protagonist Terra, a 16 year old girl, leaves the boring safety of her post-apocolyptic underwater home and escapes to The Burn; the remnants of Earth after World War III.

Up on The Burn, Terra falls in love, learns to shoot a gun, and discovers what makes her unique, but also worthwhile as a member of society.

The Burn is what is known as 'a clean read', containing no sex or swearing. Violence is relatively tame and infrequent.

I chose this independently published book for review because it is very close to the sort of stuff I personally write and I was keen to see how it came across is a small press/self-published ebook format. Having mostly heard negative comments about self-publishing I really wanted this book to be an outstanding example of the legitimacy of self-publishing. I wanted it to be perfect.

It was not perfect.

The story is supposed to take place 100 years after the advent of World War III where much devastation occurred, but the freshness of the War lingers heavy in the air and it feels as if it has only been 20 years or so rather than entire century. I also found several copy editing oversights (One of the great difficulties of editing one's own work, as I've learned from experience. Fresh eyes should never be undervalued), A few passages felt stilted or rushed.

As I was reading, I worried about how I would go reviewing this book and recommending it with these issues cropping up. Of course, I've read many mass produced novels with copy editing errors and writing that made me cringe. Watchers of The First Tuesday Book Club on ABC will know that even classic novels and best sellers come under critical review, but in modern times, no book comes under greater scrutiny and expectation than an independently published book.

I shouldn't have worried.

Despite the problems mentioned above, I really enjoyed reading The Burn. Annie Oldham has a true talent for story telling and the ebb and flow of this narrative was enough to keep it moving at an engaging pace.

I most enjoyed the dialogue - which is the part of a story which must work for me to remain engaged - and Oldham's skill at writing dialogue shines in this book.

A couple of descriptive passages (for example, Terra experiencing soil and the warmth of the sun on her skin for the first time) were particularly well written and stand out for me now that I've finished reading the book.

Would I read more of Annie Oldham's work? Yes, I would! I've already bought and started reading her other novel, Dragon Sister. At the end of the day, engagement is what a reader wants from a novel and The Burn is very engaging!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Things I Know: 11.11.11

Today, with it's 11.11.11 date, is supposed to be a day of unity and manifestation. It's a day on which our thoughts are supposed to materialise at the speed of light in the power of raised energies and raised consciousness. Today is also the full moon, an undoubtedly powerful event for our little globe in the heavens. To celebrate this auspicious event, I thought it would be absolutely appropriate to meditate on those things I know, the certainties which are manifest, even as I write them. Here is what I know today!

  • I know I'm a numbers nerd and have been looking forward to the 11.11.11 for a long, long time. It has been high in my consciousness and speaking to me for months!
  • I know the very first tattoo I ever got was the Nepalese numeral one, which looks a bit like a question mark, but which I got because it represents unity of all things and refers to my firm belief that everything is connected. Unity of all things!
  • I know I am strong. I am resourceful. I am ultimately optimistic and so even when I'm feeling very, very low I know it's only temporary.
  • I know my family is always provided for. This is proven time and again, whenever a curveball comes our way, it is always caught. I know that in the future I will look back on my almost 40 year old self and wonder why I ever doubted that we would be just fine, just as I look back at my 25 year old self and wonder how she ever doubted she would meet and marry a wonderful man and have many wonderful children - and much sooner than she ever imagined.
  • I know we will own our own home.
  • I know the Grumpy Old Man will get his licence and we'll have that people mover I keep daydreaming about.
  • I know I am committed to our family staying close knit and being present for one another, and because I am committed to this happening, it will happen.
  • I know my boys will grow up to be fine men who are compassionate and brave and intelligent.
  • I know my writing will continue to develop and improve and will take me places even I can't imagine - it already has! I know my novels will be published and read widely one day.
  • I know one day I will be Dr Sif Dal. I know I will totally put Dr on every form I ever fill in thereafter!
  • I know I will have a home that is clean and bright and full of plants and pets one day!


      I know writing this list has filled my heart with sunshine as bright as the rays streaming down into my back yard outside my study window. I know I will remember to know these things in future, whenever the clouds threaten. I will evaporate the clouds with the knowledge of these wonderful happenings in my life!

      What do you know?

      Linking up with Yay for Home! for Things I know! Also linking with Where's My Glow for Flog Yo Blog Friday!

      Thursday, November 10, 2011

      Interview with Author Annie Oldham...

      This month I took up the opportunity to participate in a project called 'Adopt An Indie'. The concept behind this project is for bloggers to read and review an independently published book and, by doing so, raise public awareness of the writing talent 'out there' who have decided to publish their books themselves or through micropublishing and small press efforts rather than wait to picked up by a major publisher.

      Independently published books currently carry a stigma. I asked the question on my Facebook page several months ago what people thought of self-published or independently published book, and would people read them. Most seemed to agree that a lot of self-published books or small press books were less likely to be of the same quality as books published through publishing conglomerates.

      As a writer I know I have considered self-publishing. I have considered doing this because the large publishing companies are constantly inundated with manuscripts of varying skills and talent, that they don't like to take risks and would rather publish rubbish lower quality writing by a celebrity author (who has probably been ghost written) than take a chance on a skilled and talented writer without no celebrity status.

      I once said to the GOM that if I walked down the middle of Swanston Street in an Icelandic costume, stripping off one item of clothing every few metres and this was put on the 6 o'clock news, I'd be more likely to get my novel published than if I spent months with editors and then submitted it to every viable publisher in this country... Don't worry, I'm not planning to strip for the 6 o'clock news any time soon.

      So, when the opportunity came along to read and review an independently published novel - and to promote indie books - I jumped at it. I will post my review of Annie Oldham's 'The Burn' on the weekend. 

      Today I'd like to share with you an interview I did with Annie via email. This is just a tiny glimpse into the world of independent publishing and an author who inhabits that world - I found it very inspiring and interesting to read, I hope you will as well!



      1) How did you come to the decision to publish your book independently? 


      I write only clean reads--no swearing, no sex, and no graphic violence. I wanted absolute control over that aspect of my writing. I've had parents tell me how glad they are that I write clean books, especially parents of kids that have advanced reading levels and can't read higher level books because of the content. That's the main reason I chose to be self-published. After doing research, I also decided to be self-published because of the ownership of my novels versus being traditionally published. I will never go out of print!

      2) Describe the process of preparing your manuscript. Was it independently edited, did you use the services of a self-publishing company?

      I graduated with a degree in English with an emphasis in writing and editing. I then worked for six years as an editor and writer at a children's software company. So I've had lots of practice editing! I have several readers who give me feedback about plot and characters, and then I do all the editing myself.

      3) How have you approached to problem of distribution?

      That's the big problem! By publishing through Smashwords, I reach many major eretailers such as Kobo, Sony, B&N, ibookstore, etc. I also publish through Amazon for both ebook and paperback. The big problem is paperback distribution to brick and mortar stores. But I'm not entirely sure that's going to be such a problem as the ebook revolution continues to grow. Borders has already closed, and the shelf space in other stores is going to be limited. I think as the future of books continues to unfold, we'll find that physical books don't have the domination they once had. They'll always be around, but they won't be the focus of the industry as they once were.

      4) Which is more important to you; commercial (sales of unit) or artistic success (did the story achieve for you what you set out for it to achieve as a piece of writing) or have you successfully married both aspects?

      Initially, the artistic success is the biggest thrill when I release a book. I finished it, I love it, I love the cover, and I love the sense of accomplishment I have when it's finally out there for everyone to read. But I'd be lying if I said I really didn't care about royalties! Once it's out there, I do like to see how the book is doing. Because that's a measure of how the readers respond to it, and authors always have to remember their readers.

      5) Describe any potential pitfalls you have become aware of through independently publishing your novel.

      The biggest drawback to indie publishing is the work spent away from writing. You have to take care of editing, cover art, and figuring out how to get people to notice your book. I spend more time marketing my books than I do writing. Though I think the promotional gap in indie vs. traditional is shrinking as more traditional publishers have less money to spend on promo.

      6) Describe any pleasant surprises along the way.

      I love how simple it is! I had no idea it would be so easy. I just uploaded files to the sites I decided to use, and it was done.

      7) What would you say to book lovers who are wary of Indie books?

      I'm careful of any kind of book, traditionally published or indie published. Just as with any book before I buy, I read the back blurb. If that's well written and intriguing, I'll read a page or two. You can find great books in either publishing method, just like you can find stinkers in either one. More and more authors, even traditionally published ones, are going the indie route. It's unfortunate there's a stereotype there, but it does exist because of authors who haven't been careful with their work and given it the proper care it needs. But I think as indie publishing settles down, that stereotype will fade away as more and more authors see indie publishing as an alternative to traditional publishing, and not just a way to say something.

      Wednesday, November 09, 2011

      Write on Wednesdays: We Are Learning To Make Fire...

      Write On Wednesdays


      Write On Wednesdays Exercise 23 - Write the words of Margaret Atwood at the top of your page "We are learning to make fire". Set your timer to 5 minutes. Write the first words that come into your head after the prompt. Stop when the buzzer rings.


      I had no intention of participating in this week's WoW. I have to be completely honest and admit I haven't read any of last week's submissions yet because I've been completely self-involved. I do have plans to read and comment on them though - I just have a lot of catching up to do. So, I wasn't going to write this week because I feel like I don't deserve to submit something else until I've at least commented on last week's submissions by others. Feel free to skip reading and commenting on this one from me - I'm mostly writing because I'm supposed to be reading right now, and I'm supposed to be writing for NaNoWriMo but I've been playing Sims Social on Facebook instead and have run out of energy there. Yes, I'm using WoW to procrastinate - I am pure evil!

      Okay, so here goes...

      "We are learning to make fire"

      'We're doing what now?' Thomas' face was a Picasso of puzzlement.
      'Obviously, I don't mean literally. What I mean is we're breaking new ground and learning new skills which will help us survive.'
      'Survive...' Thomas turned the world over in his head. Survival wasn't how he'd imagined describing the relationship with his life partner. Then again, he hadn't imagined spending the rest of his life with someone who wasn't even human.
      'Steady on, it's not that serious.' Svava put a cool, soft hand on his. He swore her hands had healing properties. Her touch always soothed and calmed, was that a Hidden thing? 'This baby will part of both of us. She won't be the first in all of history, but she will be the first in Australia. The first in the history of Australian born Hidden.'
      'Do you know we're having a girl?' Was that something Hidden knew, too?
      'I don't know for sure, just call it intuition.' Svava smiled and rolled her eyes playfully.
      'Okay, so this fire, will we be able to control it or should we call the SES?'
      'Let's play it by ear, and take it one spark at a time, okay?' 
      Thomas took a deep breath, he'd never considered himself to be any kind of pioneer, he knew nothing about starting fires. Excitement and trepidation coursed through his veins trying to outrun each other. They were going to have a baby, the human and the Hidden. They were breaking ground - and breaking laws. His stomach surged.


      Tuesday, November 08, 2011

      10 Things Tuesday: 10 Micro Blog Posts...

      Life has been a little bit crazy lately. I have a mass of things I want to blog about but can't extend any of my thoughts to full length blog posts. So, today I'm giving you 10 blog posts for the price of one - and it'll totally be QUANTITY rather than quality.

      Also, it's 10.30am, I have a friend coming in an hour and I only just remembered it's Tuesday and that I usually do a 10 Things Post on Tuesdays... Did I mention it's been a bit crazy around here lately? (an now it's 3pm and I'm just doing a quick copy edit before posting, gah!)

      #1 ~ I got a new tattoo!


      Isn't it lovely? It's a lotus flower which represents growth and transformation, strength and individuality, and the two curly cues represent eternity. So, it's all about the constant cycle of growing and transforming and becoming stronger and more self-aware. I got it as an answer to the butterfly on the back of my right shoulder, which is Erik's tattoo about transformation. Erik was a little sad that the other boys' tattoos were all constantly visible and his was always partially hidden, so now he has one that is also very visible (on my left inner forearm near the inner elbow).

      #2 ~ Men are not evil, shallow people. Just sayin'. I know a lot of women who have been badly treated by men and who believe most men are out to dominate them. I really believe in the equality of the sexes, which also means I believe women can be just as horrible as men, just as willing to dominate and manipulate, just as thoughtless and just as heartless. I also believe that, like women, there are men who are none of these things, who given half a chance, will show they are not perfect (also just like women) but are willing to look deeper than your dress size and treat you (a woman) as their equal. Yes, they will say or do stupid stuff, but once we acknowledge that everyone does that, that no one is perfect, it becomes a give and take, not just give, give, give or take, take, take. Men are not the enemy.

      #3 ~ I hate that if I move my mouse a certain way, or swipe it a certain way it zooms in on the page I'm looking at and that I can't figure out how not to make it zoom in - because I have it a very large setting already and seeing just part of a word, all pixelated doesn't actually help me. 

      #4 ~ School fairs rock! This year's school fair was really weird though. We weren't as cohesive as a family as we have been in previous years. We seemed to touch base but then each go in our separate directions a lot. The GOM left early this year because Ari was tired and cranky and so he took Bryn with him, and left the other two to hang with their friends while I worked on a stall. It was all a bit, I dunno, out of sync and different. I kind of hope we get our old feeling back next year as that'll be Erik's last year there. Or maybe this is just part of the natural cycle of transition?

      #5 ~ Got some news last week that my parents might be moving closer to mum's work temporarily (like for a few years) and it has unnerved me. I guess with everything being so unstable for us at the moment, not picturing my parents in their forever home just adds to that feeling of instability. Yes, I'm being a complete baby about it, I know. Too much change, too much change...

      #6 ~ We're still in limbo regarding the GOM's work situation. Limbo is our norm. I don't have any hope left now of this working out in our favour. He sent in his complaint two weeks ago tomorrow. He was told the day after that we'd hear back from the commission within five working days. When we hadn't heard anything last Thursday he called them and found out we hadn't been assigned a conciliator yet but that should happen this week. The workplace doesn't know we've put in a complaint until we get a conciliator. By the time they hear about, they'll have employed someone else. He's not looking for another job because the outcome we've sought is him getting the job he was promised. Limbo.

      #7 ~ I'm psychic! I have to tell you that that is totally confirmed now, go ahead and laugh (yes, see I knew you were going to laugh, see???). Yesterday morning I woke and tried to do some reading for this review I have to do by the end of this week. I couldn't concentrate, I was very restless, I felt as if I had to do something. I needed to find the hedge shears and cut the long, long grass on the nature strips and the front yard. I asked the GOM to get them out of the garage for me but he said he'd taken them back to his mum's. At this point I had a small panic attack. I said we absolutely couldn't leave the grass the way it was. The GOM definitely thought I was losing the plot because while I'd mentioned it before I hadn't been too stressed about it until yesterday morning, when fixing it suddenly became imperative.

      Anyway, I managed to calm down - at least outwardly - and actually needed to go have a nap because I felt exhausted. A couple of hours later the GOM woke me because he needed to take a shower and needed me to watch Ari. I got up and while he was in the shower there was a knock at the door. The guy standing there said he was from the local council and was handing out infringement notices for unkempt yards leading up to the fire season. He said we had two weeks to clear our yards and nature strip or the owners would be fine. He left. Cue second, much bigger panic attack complete with hyperventilation. He'd said the council usually pays about $2000 to have yards like ours cleared forcibly if the occupants won't or can't do it themselves. Gah! I don't need to tell you we don't have that sort of money. We've gotten two quotes so far this morning though, for $250 and $160 to do the job... We've had many generous offers of help as well. I had a third panic attack in the middle of the night, but am feeling relatively calm today... Yes, crazy, both me and the life we're leading at the moment. Wanna see our grass collection - it's rather extensive, here are just some shots... It was last cut in March this year.





      #8 ~ I'm still only 3000 words into my NaNoWriMo novel. At this rate I'll be lucky to clock 12000 for the month, let alone 50000. I've just got to get this novel review out of the way, and the gardening, and the panic attacks, and I'll be right - or is that write?

      #9 ~ I want to tell the powers that be - whatever is running this shindig - to bite me. I could say more but you don't want to read it. One day I'll go back to my 'the world is a lovely place and it's all about having a good attitude' lala reality; at the moment that seems to a long way off. In the meantime 'bite me'.

      #10 ~ Deep down inside, there is this little kernel that won't go away. A tiny little seed which sits there in the dark, tightly wound in on itself in defence of the great angry blackness that pollutes the rest of my being right now. This tiny little golden seed is waiting, dormant, trying not to bring attention to itself except that it is there and it has a slightly warm glowing aura that I can feel. This seed is what is left of the great positive energy which use to surround me as I strode confidently through life. It's sitting there like the pea under the princess' 100 mattresses making its tiny presence known. Some days I can feel the blackness wanting to move in and crush the tiny seed and I feel helpless to protect it, but it seems to have its own ability to do that anyway. I'm looking forward to the day when the seed starts to unfurl again and push through the blackness until it breaks out into a nurturing light - a lot like the lotus blossom I had tattooed onto my arm on Sunday. The blossom reminds me that little seeds have amazing resilience and can wait until the conditions are right to bloom and there is a little seed of pure happiness inside me waiting...

      Also linking up with Diary of a SAHM for I Blog on Tuesday!

      Teenagers and the failing parent...