Tuesday, January 31, 2012

10 Things Tuesday: 10 Reasons They Couldn't Get To Sleep!

'Mum, I need to wee!'
'Dad, I need a glass of water!'

We've all heard them all before, the numerous excuses older children come up with to prolong the process of getting off to sleep.

After a number of glasses of water being needed, I bought the boys a drink bottle each to take to bed. I also policed their toileting before bed.

We've always parented to sleep, but even so, the amount of antics can get unbearable at times. I thought I'd share my 10 favourite less common excuses the boys have come up with as reasons they absotively posilutely cannot get to sleep!

1. From Bryn: I just need to know if you're going to make me a Ben10 birthday cake for my next birthday (in 8 months time).

2. From Erik: I'm too hot, I can't feel any breeze from my fan (which is standing literally 20cm away from my bed and directed straight onto me at gail force blast).

3. From Each boy at one time or another: It's not night time yet (at 8pm during day light saving - I have cursed day light saving more times than I care to recount).

4. From Luey: Bryn keeps answering me whenever I ask him a question - he's keeping me awake!

5. From Erik: I can't sleep in a room with two other people (having slept in a cabin with six other people at school camp just the week before).

6. From Bryn: But I need to check if the tooth fairy has taken my tooth yet (it's still in his mouth...).

7. From Erik: Mum, I just thought you might want me to kill some mobs for you so you can get some bone meal to grow grass on Minecraft (two hours after I sent him to bed).

8. From Luey: Erik farted, and then Bryn farted and now I can't breathe in there anymore.

9. From Erik: Luey farted, too, it was his idea in the first place!

10. From Luey: My fingers keep getting stuck in my knotty hair! (when I told him I was going to give him a reverse mohawk, he rolled his eyes at me and said, 'No! I'll just brush it!').

What out of the ordinary reasons has your child given for not being able to go to sleep yet?

Monday, January 30, 2012

So, you think you want kids - lots of kids: let me tell you about yesterday...

If you're not one of my regular readers, you may have found this post by Googling 'large families', or 'I want a baby' or something like that - believe me I would have Googled those things twelve years ago if I'd had Google, too.

Back in the day I spent more time than I was ever prepared to admit daydreaming about having a baby, or two, or twelve. I always wanted a big family. I come from a big family. Sure there was only mum and dad and my brother and I, but as a child I often lived with extended family and it often felt like I have a half a dozen siblings... It was grand!

So, here you are, you may already have one or two children yourself and be considering one or two more - or even something more than that. You already know about sleepless nights in the early years. You already know about the might toddler tantrum, not to mention poo-s'plosions. You're already somewhat of a veteran when it comes to babies and toddlers and you feel confident that once you get through 'the hardest years', it'll all be good...

Let me tell you about yesterday.

Yesterday was a fairly average day in our house, if fact, the Grumpy Old Man and I even said that to each other last night, 'Just another day at home with the kids.' and then we laughed and watched yet another rerun of 'Roseanne' and sighed in satisfaction knowing that it wasn't just us...

Yesterday, besides the normal squabbling and discarding of toys and sundry all over the floor (as if we have **magical cleaning fairies** who pop in at random to tidy stuff up), we also had one child going to a birthday party up the street.

Evidence that our cleaning fairies are also on holidays...

He set off on his own at about 11.15am and at about 11.40 the GOM did a follow-up call to make sure he got there in one piece - which he did. All good.

The ten and six year olds played on the Wii, but the batteries in the hand set ran down, so it got packed up. Then they played on their iPods until they needed recharging. After that they drew and read books. Things were running quite smoothly - as seems to happen when even just one child is taken out of the equation.

Well, relatively smoothly - when I told the 10 year old, 'No', to putting on a DVD, he went all pouty and carried on about how he never gets to do anything fun and it wasn't fair because Erik was at a party and he and Bryn had nothing to do™. I reminded him he was going to a party on Thursday and had already been to one a couple of weeks ago, not to mention a couple of play dates including one just the day before... Tantrums don't end when a child turns three or four, or ten, it seems.

The three year old was pottering around, amusing himself. He had lunch with the other two, then played with his trains.

I crocheted (Are you bored with all my crocheting, yet? Well, strap yourself in for the long haul because I'm still totally hooked!). The GOM was busy rendering a photo in photoshop, making it look like a painting, to what end, I'm still not sure.

And then we heard a scream.

Luey - the ten year old - followed the sound to the bathroom and then we heard 'Oh no!' Now considering the three year old threw himself through a glass pane on Christmas Eve, we immediately imagined the worst.

Ari started to make his way out to the lounge room and we expected to see blood streaming from somewhere. Instead we saw his face slathered in whitish goop. He was rubbing it into his eyes and this was causing the screaming.

We raced him off to the bathroom where we found a great puddle of shampoo on the floor. The shampoo bottle was up on the vanity. It's a pump variety and it seems he'd taken it from the shower, pumped it all over the floor - managed not to slip over in it, which is a minor miracle - and then decided he wanted to see the stuff coming out of the pump, so had put it on the vanity which is at head height for him, and proceeded to pump shampoo directly into his eyes.

There was so much shampoo on him that we imagine he must have pumped the bottle a couple of times before the pain registered. The GOM quickly turned on the shower and stripped down. Ari was just in a nappy, so I took it off him - and discovered a huge poo he'd been working on while in the bathroom as well (on the bright, yay for being in the bathroom doing poos - maybe's he getting the idea? I live in hope!).

We each grabbed a flannel and while the GOM washed Ari's rear, I took to his face and hands trying to get the shampoo off as quickly as possibly. I got soaked from the waist up as I leaned into the shower. Ari screamed. The GOM and I tried to soothe him while also forging ahead with cleaning him as quickly as possible. Ten minutes later, he was in the lounge room wrapped in a towel, still sobbing. Poor mite.

His eyes remained puffy and red for the rest of the day even though I'm sure we got every trace of shampoo out.

Puffy, red eyes hours later - and you can still see the faint
scar from the glass pane incident on Christmas Eve...
After dressing again, the GOM cooked dinner. The three year old sobbed himself to sleep on the couch with the boys and I all trying to comfort him. I transferred him to our bed and then the boys and I cleaned up the day's debris. Ari only had a short power nap and was up again in no time.

Crashed out - nose pushed up against the arm
of the couch, so cute. Poor bubba!
Erik came home from the party. He'd had a fabulous time, and was still munching on the contents of a lolly bag. I told him to put it away because he'd spoil his dinner, but he was adamant he'd be fine and the lollies were basically finish already, anyway. He regaled us with tales of all the things he did, ate and drank at the party.

At dinner, he couldn't finish - yes, the foresight of twelve year olds isn't as good as they think it is. The boys had an early night after squabbling over who had to go to bed when. The GOM took Ari to bed and I watched some television and crocheted some more. I kept thinking I could hear someone in the hallway because didn't bother to get up. When the GOM emerged from putting Ari to bed an hour later (he often dozes off with Ari). I mentioned thinking I was hearing something in the hall, so he went to investigate.

He found Erik asleep in the hall, which at first he thought was because it was so warm in the house and the hall was slightly cooler, but when he escorted the lad back to his room, the GOM stepped in a big pool of vomit. YUCK!

It seems the twelve year old had eaten and, more particularly, drunk enough sugar that eventually his body couldn't take it any more.

Seriously? SERIOUSLY??? I mean, he's twelve! It's not like he's seven anymore (he did the same thing at a party then, as well) At no point did the child think, 'Hmm, I don't feel so well, I should maybe lay off...' We had had soft drink with dinner - a special treat - and he'd had two glasses and I'd stopped him having a third - that was only an hour before he threw up.

So, yesterday was about vomit, shampoo and poo. The thing is, it seems every day is about something. It just doesn't end. Our kids sleep soundly at night, we're almost done with all the baby stuff (once Master Three decides to use the toilet), I'm even about to sell the bugaboo bee [interested? let me know], but the excitement never stops.

The more kids you have, the more excitement there is. One week last year I was up at the GP with one child on a  Tuesday after a school yard accident, and back up on the Thursday with another child. The following week it was the third school age child's turn (the school nurse was beside herself with my accident prone boys). Then there was the Christmas Eve debacle with three year old slicing his forehead open on a glass pane - he literally tripped over his own feet. I haven't even mentioned the two fingers in the door that happened in early January - on two separate occasions over the span of a week.

Last year we also had two trips to the ER with a suspected broken ankle on the twelve year old and a suspect broken wrist on the six year old.

No, it doesn't end with baby hood. The toddler years aren't necessarily the 'hard yards'. It just keeps on going - I suspect until the GOM and I shuffle off this mortal coil and no longer are responsible for the lads.

Of course, you know I wouldn't give the lads up for the world! No amount of poo or vomit or suspected broken bones would have me trade them in for lifetime of peace and quiet.

I just thought I'd let you know what you might be in for if you are determined to go down the path of parenthood. Don't let anyone fool you into thinking you just have to make it through the sleepless nights. I suspect the sleepless nights serve the purpose of toughening you up so you can cope with what lies beyond!

Good luck to you!

Let me leave you with an image from last night - no I
didn't photograph the vomit (you could never get me
within fifty feet of vomit voluntarily), so here's the crocheting
that I used to distract me from thoughts of all the excitement we'd been

Friday, January 27, 2012

Things I know: About Blessings...

Joining with Kellie from The Good, The Bad & The Unnecessary for Things I Know!

This week I want to write about blessings. I guess I'm writing about blessings because I'm feeling very blessed right now, but also because I've learned a few things about blessings recently that I wanted to share with you all...

  • Blessings can be given and received. If given, they need to be given with no strings attached from a place of love, otherwise they don't really qualify as blessings. When they are received, they also need to be received with no strings attached from a place of love, because in doing this the blessee also blesses the blesser - and that's just good etiquette!
  • Blessings may seem like a wish fulfilment in that they mostly happen when there is a need. In the past we've been blessed with things like a working fridge just when our fridge died, and the serendipitous nature of the blessing could (and was) perceived as a manifestation of a wish or metaphysical request to the universe. Possibly it was an answer to a prayer of sorts (keeping in mind that prayer is meditation and not always projected at a specific god-like entity), I won't dispute that, what I do dispute is the concept that blessings are basically inventory deposits... A blessing doesn't just happen because you wish very hard. You cannot 'make' a blessing happen - that defeats the point of a blessing. Blessings even happen to those who others might deem undeserving of them. Blessings don't happen because a person is good, or because a person has a powerful mind and can make the universe bend at will. Blessings, by their very nature cannot be forced or earned but received from someone who gives freely from a place of non-contingent love.
  • No one has the market cornered on receiving blessings. While it may seem that some people live an enchanted life and are continuously blessed, this is merely an illusion.  Blessings must be perceived, some people are often blessed but are unable to perceive those blessings. Perceiving blessings comes with practice. Once you begin to perceive blessings, they will seem to come thick and fast - this sudden increase is also an illusion - they were always there in great numbers, you just couldn't see them before. Perceiving blessings does not increase their number, it simply increases how often you notice them!
  • Sometimes blessings can only be recognised in hindsight which is why every turn in the road is a potential blessing in the making. Sometimes people act in ways which would seem to be the opposite of bestowing a blessing on another person (sometimes they even do this on purpose) and yet, the action becomes a blessing in hindsight. We do not control how we bless other people, sometimes when we intend to do the opposite of blessing someone we end up creating a blessing against our will. We can choose to be open to blessing others from a place of love - in which case we also bless ourselves - or we can choose to hurt others and take the chance of blessing them anyway, but not blessing ourselves in the process because we work from a place of fear and loathing.
  • I love that in Icelandic the farewell greeting is the abbreviated 'Bless'. To say goodbye, people say, 'Bless' which is short for 'God bless you.' Even if you are not religious, it is a lovely way to leave someone, bestowing a blessing on them and wishing them well until you see them again. I'm going to start using that word a lot more from now on.
What do you know today?

    Thursday, January 26, 2012

    Thankful Thursday: School Holiday Edition...

    This past week I've been feeling a bit better. I haven't been to see a GP yet, so can't put it down to anti-depressants. I'll probably still need to do that because those heavy clouds pass over regularly, but at least they're passing over and not hanging there endlessly blocking the sun. There has been sun in the landscape of my mind this week and first and foremost I'm thankful for that...  Here is what else I'm thankful for at the moment...

    School Holidays: So often, in the past, I've dreaded the school holidays. For our family, they usually spell a time of isolation. School is out and so we don't see other families, and our kids usually don't see much, if anything of their friends. This summer has been different. We went to friends for New Year's Eve, and we've also had several playdates with our boys' friends this summer. Through the miracle of technology the boys have stayed in contact with classmates online as well.

    Technology has featured prominently this summer and while I readily accept I've previously viewed children and technology with a jaundiced eye, this summer I've had to eat humble pie while calculating the benefits versus the drawbacks. For us, this summer, the benefits of technologies has far outweighed the drawbacks.

    Friends: I've been fortunate enough to catch up with a few friends this summer. Hours spent with like-minded people just hanging out, chatting, and watching the kids play has kept me sane!

    Getting physical: I was also fortunate enough to be able to help a friend in the process of moving. Carrying furniture and boxes from here to there, washing walls and windows, simply working hard and being tired at the end of it really helped. It stopped me from dwelling on my own concerns and I was able to measure real progress at the end of the day. I said this last week, but I'll say it again - being useful to someone gave me a sense of belonging and self-esteem which has been lacking for a while.

    Family: Having my parents come and stay for a few days actually 'felt' like a holiday to me! It was so lovely to have them here and to fill the dinner table each night and have that sense of extended family. I wish we could do it far more often, but I'm very thankful for being able to do it all!

    Crocheting: I finally finished my afghan!

    It look FABULOUS if I say so myself - and I don't mind saying so myself at all. I'm so pleased with it! I'm so happy with myself for finishing it, too! I find creating something immensely satisfying. In case you're concerned that I may have spent a lot of money on yarn, let me assure you, I didn't, This blanket cost about $10 in very cheap acrylic yarn from Big W. Some might turned their nose up at cheap acrylic but it suits my purposes extremely well because I just want to create and as it will be used in a high traffic area, it is bound to get spilt on and dragged about by the children. If I'd crocheted this out of organic bamboo or a silk blend, it would be too precious for me to enjoy using. So, it's cheap and cheerful and I gained all the joy of creating it over the past month as well! I've already begun on my next project!

    Minecraft Biosphere Mod: Yes, truly, I'm thankful for a games mod. It has brought a new perspective to a game my son and I have been enjoying together - as well as new challenges in lateral thinking and new rewards! And... It's pretty... Each sphere has its own biome; forest, desert, swamp, mushrooms, even nether! Between the biomes are 'moons' and these mini spheres contain rare minerals (lapis lazuli and diamond). Knowing exactly where to mine for diamonds is fabulous. The challenge is to get to the moons without falling into space and dying - which we're overcoming because we're a brilliant team! We have over 30 diamonds now, woot!

    Overcoming fears: Just recently - like magic - my six year old has started sampling foods he'd previously not even liked to look at or smell. We're into our fifth year of living with and battling his food phobias. When he was very little he ate most things as long as they weren't the consistency of mashed banana (you know, slippery and mushy at the same time). but by the age of two he'd started to refuse foods. By the time he was three he was living off vegemite sandwiches, Weetbix and plain meats. He didn't like sauces, bakes, any kind of vegetable and would only eat apples. We've tried everything over the years from ignoring the situation and letting him just eat what he would, to attempting to bribe him, to giving him one option and letting him go hungry if he refused it (which ended in him vomiting every time).

    Suddenly a week or so ago he said he'd try some Chilli con Carne and he did, and he decided it wasn't that bad. Then another night he tried a bit of salad, then he tried some Chicken Tonight. Suddenly, he's decided to try foods and tells us most things are actually nicer than he thought they would be.

    I don't know what happened, I don't know what magic occurred, I just know I'm immensely thankful for this recent change and I really, really hope it lasts!

    Online writing communities and opportunities: Recently I've had many opportunities to connect with other writers online. It's been amazing! There are so many talented writers out there, and I feel inspired whenever I read what they are working on. As a writer, I can't work in isolation. I mean, I need a fair amount of isolation to write, but I also need a lot of sharing and hearing of ideas with other creators to feed my inspiration. The internet has made connecting with other writers so much easier and I'm so thankful that so many other writers are willing to share their work. I may not write in the same style as most everyone else, but from their ideas and their words I find my own creative worlds opening up. It's just beautiful! I've done more creative writing off my own bat in the past six months than ever before!

    And finally... In a bitter sweet kind of a way, because we really have had a great summer holiday this year... I'm thankful that school starts again next week. While I'll miss just lazing about the house and getting up whenever and eating whenever and so on, I feel my brain space is at full capacity at the moment. I'm looking forward to the security routine offers. I'm looking forward to predictability. I'm looking forward to the relative silence of only having one child in the house for several hours every day. I'm looking forward to meeting the new mums in my youngest's class. I'm looking forward to catching up with some of the mums I met last year, and maybe getting to know them better. I'm even looking forward to getting into the process of registering the eldest for high school next year (Eeeeeeeep!)...

    Linking up with Kate Says Stuff for Thankful Thursday!

    What are you thankful for at the moment?

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    It's Blog Hop Time!

    Joining the blog hop devised by Lillie McFerrin, Angie Richmond, Angela Goff and Daniel Swensen...

    Here's the deal:
    Write a piece of flash fiction, poem, or song (300 words or less) using the photo above as your inspiration. Post it on your blog anytime between now and when the linky closes. Every eligible entry will qualify for a chance to win one of the prizes listed below. The linky will close January 30th. Lillie, Angela, Daniel, and I will then read, debate, and decide on five winners for the following:

    1st: Fifty page critique by Lillie McFerrin
    2nd: Twenty-Five page critique by Angie Richmond
    3rd: Fifteen page critique by Angela Goff
    4th: Ten page critique by Daniel Swensen
    5th: A copy of Steven King’s On Writing 

    Copy and paste the linky code below with your entry. Spread the word! We look forward to reading your take on this amazing photo! 

    [for some reason it won't let me put the code in here for the linky, but if you follow one of the links above you'll find it :)]

    Photo by Luis Beltran
    Twilight Forest

    'Your mum has no life.'
    'Yeah, I know. I think she believes she's somehow bonding with us, though...'

    The way my golden haired boy said bonding, you might have been forgiven for thinking he was sucking on a lemon at the time. He wasn't, of course. Rather, he was tasting something far less palatable - embarrassment.

    For my part, I didn't completely disagree with him. I knew I'd been drawn into a vortex of Minecraft. At the time, I didn't know quite how consumed in I'd become, though.

    I lay in the jagged, pixelated grass, looking up at the sky with it's right-angled clouds. In the distance I heard the bellowing of cows. They sounded real. I dared not look for them in case they were the variety with jolly red toadstools sprouting out of their backs. Mooshrooms. Finding one had enthralled me for the better part of a weekend some weeks earlier. Now they scared me.

    Everything scared me.

    The trees here were extremely tall, taller than the giant mushrooms. And there were dragons, or so I'd been told, though I hadn't encountered one yet. Perhaps that was because the game had been set to peaceful when it happened.

    Downloading mods was always tricky. I'd had to uninstall and reinstall the game several times. I could never have known that when a player downloaded the Twilight Forest mod, the mod also downloaded the player. Never in a million years.

    I heard the rustling of sheep nearby. Maybe I'd gather some flowers and dye them red. I had to find something to do while the boys worked on getting me out of here. I just hoped they wouldn't loose interest in the game and move onto something else. I needed to find The End. Instinctively I knew this was my only hope. To get back to my old life, the one I had before Minecraft threatened to suck the life out of me.

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    10 Things Tuesday: 10 Things Toilet Learning...

    I made a commitment before Christmas to review Kleenex's Flushable Kids Wipes - when I was offered the opportunity to do the review I was feeling rather jazzed and optimistic that Ari (just turned three at the end of October) would soon be using the toilet like the big boys...

    Yes, well, here we are in January, and time has been ticking by and I haven't done my review yet because Sir Poops-a-lot steadfastly refuses to eliminate without the security of his portable poop-catching paraphernalia (a.k.a a nappy - or for you Americans (and my 10 year old), a diaper).

    Honestly, I've tried everything, I really have. He's had copious nappy free time in conjunction with lots of fluids, a [clean, empty] potty planted in the middle of our living area (much to the Grumpy Old Man's disgust), lots of talks about where wee and poo come from (much to every one of the boys' delight), promises of rewards; stars, stickers, lollies, trips to the park...  Not a single drop outside the confines of his nappy...

    So, the wipes weren't getting much use, as you can imagine...

    Then one day while we had house guests, we realised to our horror that we were on the last few metres of our very last roll of toilet paper. So, guess what I discovered? Yep, you got it - the 'flushable kids wipes' are great for mature botties as well! But, let's not dwell on that image, too long...

    Here's 10 Things I Know About Toilet Learning...

    1. Some people call it toilet training, I prefer to call it toilet learning... Pot-ay-tos, pot-ah-tos, right? I find calling it learning reminds me that the child will have their own 'learning style', that they are active participants in the process and that they aren't - despite what my FIL told me years ago - just like puppies who can be  trained from six weeks of age (or an equivalent arbitrary human age).

    2. They say boys take longer to learn. I like to believe this is true - mostly because it takes some of the 'incompentant parent' pressure off me. Truth is, I'm sure for every 3.5 year old boy still in nappies, there is a 3.5 year old girl and for every 18 month old girl using the toilet, there is an 18 month old boy using the toilet, as well.

    3. Parents who's child is on the cusp of learning to use the toilet can talk about it for hours - literally hours - sometimes that talking involves tears of frustrations, too... These same parents are always on the lookout for effective tips and tricks so if you have some to share, or looking for new tips and tricks yourself, why not check out the Kleenex Mums site - they have a Facebook page and everything!

    4. When your child is still in nappies and is older than every other child you know still in nappies, it can feel like your child may never learn. Rest assured, they will... eventually.

    5. Some children do better if all other options are taken away. So far, all three of my children who use toilets now, eventually learned to do so when I set a 'no more nappies' date and stuck to it - they all learned to use the toilet the very first day (they were all four years old - I know!).

    6. Night time toilet learning can take much longer than day time toilet learning and that is okay. One of my children (for his sake, I won't say which one) was still in night nappies for two years beyond learning to use the toilet during the day.

    7. Sometimes even after they have learned to use the toilet you might wish they were still in nappies because some children just can't seem to master wiping and 'skid marks' are so so gross - not to mention smelly. (I have to say this is probably the main reason I would be inclined to buy flushable wipes for one of my kidlets - again, name withheld for his privacy).

    8. After my first two took so long to toilet learn, I decided I'd put my third in cloth nappies because I'd heard that makes a huge difference - you know cause cloth isn't as absorbent so the child can really feel when they're wet... Yeah, not for my child, it didn't.

    9. I tried elimination communication for a while with my fourth and I wish there had been flushable wipes then - maybe I would have stuck with it!

    10. If my fourth child learns to use the toilet at the same age my third did - he was the youngest to leave nappies behind - then I'll have concluded a 13 year, 3 month continuous stint of nappy changing. I will have changed about 25 000 nappies, give or take (let's say each change takes three minutes on averages, that's 1250 hours spent changing nappies!)... I am so very ready for this last little boy to master the art of using a toilet!

    So, we did eventually use the Kleenex Flushable Kids Wipes and here's what I found out about them...

    • The dispenser is very handy. It releases one towelette at a time so they're less likely to be wasted. If however, the child manages to somehow pull a towelette out in such a way as to not leave the tip of the following towelette exposed, it might be very hard for them to get the next one - so some supervision is still necessary, even with a six year old.
    • The towelettes are scented. They're kind of fruity smelling which I like, but that might not be for everyone.
    • Each sheet is approximately twice the length of a sheet of toilet paper, which means good coverage while preventing the child from 'emptying the roll' with each loo visit.
    • The wipes are nice and thick and don't tear in the process of wiping - always a bonus!
    • My six year old loves them! 
    • Even the novelty of flushable wipes couldn't convince my three year old to actually eliminate over a cavity (potty or toilet), though he didn't might pulling wipes from the dispenser - that was awesome fun!
    Kleenex have made it possible for me to offer my readers a giveaway - yay, free stuff, who doesn't love free stuff? If you would like a chance to win the following;

    TWO dispenser tubs 
    FOUR refill packs
    A very cute plush puppy

    Then leave a comment below telling me what you will do with all the extra time you'll have once your child no longer requires nappy changes!

    Don't forget to check out the other ways you can get extra entries!

    Entries close 7th of February (because I like short sharp giveaways - I'm kind of impatient like that) and the winner will be announced on Wednesday the 8th of February. Australian entries only. Kleenex will be mailing the package to the winner.

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    Five Sentence Fiction - Radiance...

    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: RADIANCE

    I had never seen anything like it. The girl I'd all but stumbled over in the field sat opposite me on a rock, telling my about her homeland. The dusk sky was glowing red and purple behind her, but compared to her face it seemed dull like a dusty old painting in the attic. Her face, in contrast, was glowing, literally glowing with what seemed to be starlit silvery rays from her skin. Was she even human?

    Sometimes inspiration comes from a single word, in a moment when you aren't thinking about writing at all...

    Things I know: Random things from this week...

    Unfortunately, due to an accident, Kelly at The Good, The Bad & The Unnecessary is not able to host Things I Know this week - but she'll be back next week, so don't forget to join in then!

    As I had a few things I know this week, I thought I'd do a post anyway :).

    I know...

    1.  The school holiday's seem to be moving very quickly this year. I think there are two reasons for that. The first is this house is busting at the seams with technology (well, more than ever before, anyway) and I haven't been putting many limits on them, so the kids are constantly occupied (and for the most part actually getting along and having fun together!). I have random 'tech free' days when I feel they haven't gotten enough vitamin D and I throw those in here and there - those days do move more slowly, I'll admit. The second reason is that this year there have been playmates with friends and staying in contact with friends over the net, so the kids haven't been as isolated as in previous years - which makes everyone happier.

    2.  As I was helping a friend move a wardrobe to her old house's nature strip yesterday, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude to her for letting me help her move. This may seem odd because most people will agree that moving sucks. Cleaning sucks, too. It's a lot less sucky when it's not you who is actually moving because at the end of the day you can go back to your home where you know where everything is and you don't have to pick your way around boxes, and you don't have to worry about getting windows cleaned and the oven cleaned before handing keys in... However, my sense of gratitude was overwhelming none-the-less because she was allowing me to be of use to her. I have had friendships in the past where I'm constantly the receiver of help and simply not allowed to be helpful. One friendship in particular was like that. The other person was constantly 'rescuing' me, being my 'saviour', but whenever she was facing challenges and I asked her how I could help, she just wouldn't let me. She'd take assistance for plenty of other people, but not me. I could never repay her for helping me, and I could never be in a position of usefulness to her. Even to the point that she once blogged that she felt I'd abandoned her as a friend (which I hadn't at that stage, though later I did because it was just all too hard) and after all she'd done for me... So, yesterday I felt enormous gratitude to my friend for being allowed to be useful to her; to be a friend and not a charity project. Allowing other people to help you is sometimes a gift of self-respect that you can give them - what a wonderful gift!

    3.  Related to the last point... I know I have aching muscles I'd forgotten I had! And, I know I had no problem getting to sleep last night. I know both these things have made me very happy this morning (evidently, I'm a bit masochistic - really though, being physically active is very good for the soul!).

    4.  Thanks to a generous hand-me down of uniforms, my boys will have logo shirts and even long sleeved polos (for the first time) this year and this is very serendipitous for us!

    5.  Dishes don't wash themselves - no matter how hard you wish they would...

    6.  When someone else's child says I'm an 'Epic Mum', it makes my day (oh, yeah, I'm that shallow)!

    7.  The Grumpy Old Man just got back from a GP appointment for a change in pigmentation on his face and has a referral to a dermatologist. The GP said he didn't necessarily think it was anything sinister and suspects it will go away in the next three weeks, but as the wait for the dermatologist appointment is likely to be about six weeks, it's better to be safe than sorry... The funny thing is the dermatologist is the same one we've seen for our eldest's psoriasis as well as for my own a few years ago... He's almost a family friend, and we're probably more excited about meeting him again than worried about any possible melanoma.

    8.  I have to go grocery shopping - man, I hate grocery shopping. I especially hate grocery shopping during the holidays when a) I have to take my kids and b) everyone else in the supermarket will have their kids in tow as well... But we've got to eat and a big shop once a fortnight is much more cost effective that shopping every day...

    9.  I was inexplicably overjoyed last night when I heard that the original Yellow Wiggle (Greg) is rejoining The Wiggles! Go Greg!!! I might even allow Ari to watch The Wiggles now, hahaha!

    10. There are so many things I want to do; write, read, study, crochet... but I'm so, so tired all the time at the moment. Insomnia is kicking my butt and I need to get it under control - somehow.

    11. I'm loving all this medium warm weather we're having in Melbourne at the moment, I want summer to go on for ever and ever!

    What do you know?

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    Wanted: A truckload of writing mojo...

    They say happy people don't make great artists. Some of the greatest painters, writers and actors of all time suffered from great anxiety and depression and this underpinned their best creative efforts...

    Oh woe is me!

    I should be writing something spectacular right about now if this was true for me.

    Instead I seem to have drawn a blank.

    I received a tweet the other day asking if I was still participating in 'Carpe Verba'. I said I was, I'm just have some difficulties at the moment. This is true. My mind is a wasteland for creativity.

    I was thinking I might pick up one of my notebooks and have a go at handwriting again. Maybe a bit of actual hand writing might stimulate those parts of the brain that seemed to going something like this...

    Okay, let's get an idea moving. Just something little - a flash fiction... About something I know, maybe... A woman blogging, a curious comment, a follow-up by email, a mystery, investigation, a hostage situation...

    I have this idea in my head for a story. It's not actually a flash fiction, or even a short story. It is something longer. But I can't grasp it. I reach out and the threads break when my fingertips brush them.

    My characters can't talk, their throats are dry and they choke on their words. They're unsure of their footing when they walk and they hesitate and stumble if I try to push them along.

    They look pale and thin, too, like they need a good feed. They're not supposed to be pale and thin - I can't jot those characteristics down as part of their description - it's more that my mind isn't feeding them enough to round them out.

    So I abandon that story line and try for something else, but everything else is just grasping at straws.

    There is always Svava's story. It's all wrong now though. It doesn't match up with Lily's story at all - which is a problem because the characters are very much connected and very entrenched. I have considered relocating the story to separate it from Lily's story altogether, but the characters like where they are right now and are fighting me on this. I don't have the strength or will to go into battle with them. It's their story, what right do I have to change it on them?

    Lily is pestering me too, 'You promised you'd get my story professionally edit - a year ago.' She's kind of pissed, poor sweet girl. She's been through enough. She's been trying to be heard for 16 years now. I don't have the heart to tell her that I think, maybe, I've failed her and that no amount of editing is going to impress an agent enough, let alone a publisher.

    Meanwhile, my Minecraft queendom is looking kind of fabulous, if I say so myself. Erik and I have been working on it together a lot lately. He's had quite a few late nights fighting zombies and skeletons for me so I can get their mob drops (I like to play on peaceful, I'm not fan of the adrenalin rush that happens when some creature tries to kill my character - who happens to be the 11th Doctor at the moment).

    My blanket is really coming along, as well...

    Just got to finish that last row and do the edging.

    Maybe my writing mojo will resurface when the kids go to school... If you see it though, tell it to get its butt home to me - I miss it. I'd offer a reward if I had anything of value to offer.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    10 Things Tuesday: 10 Things I Know About Agoraphobia...

    I'm supposed to be doing a review and a little giveaway. I've even gotten as far with that post as to set up a rafflecopter thingy for it. It's coming, I promise, but today I want to talk about something that is weighing heavily on my mind. Agoraphobia.

    I suffer with agoraphobia and it is mostly related to my low vision. I didn't have it when I was younger. It developed as I grew older and realised how much I can't see in comparison to other people, how often I get in people's way because I don't have much in the way of peripheral vision, and how impossible it is for other people to even realise I have low vision because I have not readily visible markers of vision impairment.

    I hate going out on my own unless I have a specific purpose and know the place I'm going to well. If I know the place well but don't have a specific purpose for traveling to that place, I still hate going out. If I have a purpose for going out, especially if I've very motivated to going to a place (to be with people I really enjoy the company of, for example) I can overcome most of the anxiety to achieve my goal, but I still have a fair amount of anxiety.

    I could make myself more visually recognisable as a person with low vision by using a cane (not one you tap the ground with, but one you hold in front of you to indicate to others that you have low vision), or a monocular (which looks like a little telescope held up to one eye). While this has it's benefits, the drawback is that of bringing lots of attention to myself - which, despite how I dress, I'm not excited at the prospect of. I might as well wear a big, flashing, sign emblazoned with 'I have a disability, I'm vulnerable, mug me!'

    Sure, that's an irrational thought - who said agoraphobia is rational?

    So, here are 10 things I know about agoraphobia...

    ~1. Agoraphobia can develop at any time, it is not something a person is born with, though people who are more anxious by nature might be more prone to it.

    ~2. Not everyone with anxiety suffers from agoraphobia.

    ~3. There is safety in numbers; as long as the numbers are people you know and trust.

    ~4. The best antidote for agoraphobia is to get out of the house regularly.

    ~5. Agoraphobia and cabin fever are not mutually exclusive - agoraphobes often really want to get out because the four walls can feel like a prison, but wanting to get out of the house does not cure one of agoraphobia.

    ~6. Agoraphobia can lead to depression and depression feeds agoraphobia, creating a vicious cycle. Agoraphobia can also prevent a person with depression from seeking appropriate help.

    ~7. An agoraphobe in a good phase may not seem agoraphobic at all - this is mostly the magic of smoke and mirrors created by lots of social outings in the company of some form of security blanket (for me, that is my husband, my kids sometimes and one great friend).

    ~8. Agoraphobes can lose friends because those friends just don't understand why the agoraphobe is so reluctant to go visit them (especially when that agoraphobe is reliant on public transport, which can cause panic attacks).

    ~9. When an agoraphobe wakes up ready to hurl at the thought of having to go out, even with their security blanket or invites people over then spends the hours before their arrival regretting that decision, it's time to get help (in fact, that time is well overdue).

    ~10. It can be harder to spot an agoraphobe than most people think. We don't all jump at the sight of our own shadows. We're not all retiring wall flowers. When we feel safe, we can be quite confident in public - we may even enjoy public speaking (I'm not kidding). We don't usually announce our agoraphobia to people - even people like a lot.

    Saturday, January 14, 2012

    Saturday night reflections...

    8.02pm on Saturday night, the second eldest is just going to bed (yet another new night time routine has emerged in response to some difficulties getting four to go to sleep somewhat peacefully in one room. This will not comfort those struggling to get babies and toddler to bed, 12.5 years into this parenting caper, we're constantly tinkering at the edges of settling kids for the night. The current incarnation is that Ari and Bryn go to bed at 7pm; Ari in our room with the Grumpy Old Man laying with him and Bryn on his own in the boys' room. Then Luey goes to bed at 8pm, and Erik at 9pm. I wasn't going to let the older two have those later time slots until they turned 11 and 13 but 30 minutes between Bryn and Luey meant that Bryn would hold out until Luey got into the room and then they'd play funnybuggers until Erik came in a 8.30pm and we'd be lucky if we weren't still telling them to 'settle down and go. to. sleep!' at 9-9.30pm. With a staggering of an hour between each child, they seem to all drop off by the time the next one is in the room - and we transfer Ari once Erik is asleep.

    But that's not what I was going to write about, actually - got a bit sidetracked there, didn't I?

    I've been struggling with the knowledge that I have to get myself to a doctor and onto anti-depressants again. It's been at least 7 years since I was on them last, and I'm really, really pleased with that run. Lately though, I've known this bout of depression isn't just going to blow over. I've been waiting for things to 'get better', for things to 'go our way' again, for the 'run of back luck' to stop and I've held fast to the idea that then I'd feel a lot better.

    I'm on the verge of tears constantly, which is rather ridiculous, and now I've slipped into that state of hopelessness where I'm just convinced nothing will ever get any better and there is no use trying to make any effort to do anything because it'll all come to nought in the end.

    Congnitively, I can rationalise that that is a load of horse nuggets but emotionally I can't budge the great big lump of blah in front of me that keeps telling me it would be best to go to bed for a while and check back in a few months to see if anything has changed without me.

    I've come to the realisation that on Monday I have to call Centerlink and ask them what they can do to help this disabled person to get a job. I know some of you might be thinking, 'Eureka! Finally, she has woken up to herself and is ready to get of her fat, lazy arse and do something productive.'

    To those of you thinking that - here's a big, fat, lazy birdie for you...

    You see, I'm not as stupid or lazy as some of you might think (oh, I'm not talking about my friends who read this blog, I'm talking about the people who like to cast stones from the comfort of their glass houses - oh, yeah, that's right, I haven't forgotten all your lovely words of encouragement, don't you feel honoured?).

    The prospect of seeking work scares me numb, it really does. I'm not afraid of hard work - I welcome it. If someone offered me a real job cleaning public toilets right now, I'd take it.

    What has me feeling sick about getting back out there into the job hunting game is my past experiences. You see, on several occasions in the past I've been unfairly dismissed because the employer was concerned my low vision might lead to me 'making mistakes' - the fact that I hadn't, to that point, actually made any mistakes, seemed completely irrelevant.

    On a couple of those occasions, the employer conveniently realised I might 'make mistakes' just around about the same time the government subsidy for my position was about to run out. On one occasion the employer happily took the government's money, but didn't actually pay me any wage at all (Oh, didn't you realise tax payers can budge of the government as well? Now you do). He kept saying there was a hold up with some papers and he'd pay me 'by the end of the week' until six weeks later (because I'd really wanted to believe he was telling the truth), I finally walked out and called the taxation office myself.

    Being that vulnerable scares me. Being rejected because of my so-called disability scares me. Acknowledging that I even have a disability scares me because people tend to react as if I spawned from another planet and may be contagious... Beside, I don't feel disabled.

    However, with no other prospects on the horizon and facing the beginning of the school year unable to pay for the book packs, let alone any excursions or incursion (of which our school seems to have far too many), I'm going to have to suck up all my depressive and anxious thoughts and just get out there and do what needs to be done.

    I have to believe that even though only 15% of employment seekers with my disability actually find job, I'm going to be part of that 15% (despite the fact that everything we've done to date to get my fully able bodied husband any work has failed).

    Maybe this is what the universe has been trying to get me to do all along and as soon as I act, everything will fall into place and be wonderful again?

    Oops, better go, my optimism is showing...

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    The important difference between options and opportunities...

    They say the X-Generation (my generation) can also be called the 'Options Generation'. They like to have options and they like to consider their options...

    I had a discussion this afternoon with one of my children after a slight altercation over an outing to Nanna's with dad.  You see, this child likes to have options (and he's obviously not an X-Gen).  He is the kind of child who will ask, 'Can I go to the park?' and then when you tell him he can, he'll immediately turn around and say, 'Do I have to go to the park?'

    'He's the kind of child who, given $25 for Christmas by Nanna will tell you he knows exactly what he's going to get with it, and then proceed to wander blank-eyed around the shop, scratching his head and mumbling, 'Just five more minute - I can't decide.'

    He just LOVES options...

    Today he optioned himself out of a good thing and that is what led to the altercation.

    His dad said to him, 'You're coming with me to Nanna's today.' and he immediately said he didn't want to go.  A few minutes later when his dad asked him if he was sure he didn't want to go, he repeated that he didn't want to go.  So, then his dad told another boy, 'Okay, then you're coming with me...'

    Within about two minutes the first boy was trying to convince the second boy to let him go instead.  We intervened and said, 'No, you told us twice you didn't want to go, so now your brother is going.'  Tears ensued.

    He'd missed his opportunity while fighting to have options...

    In fact, he often missed opportunities while considering options.

    You see, the important difference between opportunities and options is that opportunities tend to pass, and it is the accumulation of opportunities which gives you options.

    You cannot have options unless you have multiple opportunities, but opportunities must be seized before they slip away - as opportunities tend to do after a undetermined amount of time.

    So, this afternoon we talked about the importance of quickly assessing opportunities and options in order the grasp great opportunities when they present themselves.  We talked about the importance of balancing 'considering your options' with 'seizing your opportunities'...

    I realised I was probably trying to teaching him to avoid the mistakes his father and I have made in the past.

    Perhaps Baby Boomers (the Grumpy Old Man's generation) and Y-Gens (this child's generation) are also 'options oriented'?  Perhaps we're all always looking out for greener grass?  Are you an options seeker or an seizer?


    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    Why I won't let my 12 year old on Facebook...

    We've been having a lot of debates in this household recently stemming from my eldest's participation on a Minecraft server which is hosted by one of his friends - and now his father and I have just about had enough.

    Six months ago none of my children had any kind of technology. Then I bought them iPods amongst other things, so they could have something in common with their peers.

    It really is unavoidable - the technological creep.

    I've long been part of many circles of parents who resist 'plugging the child into technology' for various reasons, and I've sympathised with their views. As a Communications student many years ago I read a lot of research that suggested technologies stimulate the mind while pacifying the body, resulting in overstimulated adrenal systems. I've read recent research which suggests that exposure to violent video games physically changes neural pathways resulting in an inability to focus in other environments. Of course, none of this research is conclusive (very little research of any kind is conclusive, in any field).

    So, I hadn't plugged my children in for those reasons.

    Earlier last year I created Facebook accounts in the names of each of my children - including the, then, two year old. I did this for my own Facebook gaming purposes. I have since lived to regret this decision in some ways, but the accounts remain as I vacillate over whether or not to acquiesce to the pressure of my 12 and 10 year olds to be allowed to use their accounts because all their friends are beginning to have active accounts on Facebook.

    As of this morning, though, the decision is still to hold off on that particular initation and it is all comes down to having observed my eldest's interactions via email with his friends on a friend's Minecraft server.

    You see, my son has an email account he has access too, but all his emails are forwarded to my inbox as well so that I can observe the interactions. I do this mainly because my son's social skills are still in the making and I want to see how they develop as he encounters new situations. I feel this is my responsibility as his parent - apprenticing him for adulthood. He knows I see his emails and this is part of the conditions under which he has an email account in the first place.

    Sadly, over the past couple of months of him being on his friend's Minecraft server, I have only read a handful of emails that weren't in some way aggressive; both on his part and on the part of the other children on the server.

    We had thought participating in this server would be an exercise in camaraderie, whereby the boys would all work together to build a world in Minecraft. Instead it seems to have been one big 'grief-fest'. My son has not been innocent in all of this. I observed as he participated in blowing up the other players houses and stealing their tools and materials. I've warned him this kind of behaviour might seem fun at first but would eventually lead to hard feelings. He didn't take on my advice and learned 'the hard way' when his friends no longer trusted him and refused to help him when he got caught in a glitch in the program and was effectively 'jailed' in a no-mans land.

    The thing is, he had actually apologised and changed his way some time earlier, but a grudge was held - understandably.

    I stepped in (I know, I know, many of you will say that was the wrong thing to do, but I do believe in second chances and my son has only just found a group of friends after many social difficulties). I went into bat for him with the boys and he was saved from his glitch prison.


    However, it hasn't only been my son 'griefing the server' as they call it, the others have also attacked him and one another. In fact, every email seems to be full of, 'Who bombed my house?' and 'Who stole my stuff?' and 'I'm going to ban whoever it was' as well as it a lot of 'It wasn't me!' and 'It couldn't have been him because...'

    I have not witnessed much in the way of camaraderie, I have to say.  All this lack of non-verbal cues seems to be causing these children to be antagonistic and defensive all at once. As I said, my child is not innocent in this matter. I just don't think he's learning any positive social skills through this exercise.

    So, now there is the added pressure of Facebook. All the other boys have active Facebook accounts now, except my child, and he is pushing to 'join them'.

    The thing with Facebook is, while I can and do have access to his page and messages, monitoring the interactions would be ten times more complicated due to the various modes of communication including chat (which I now believe can be monitored through private messages, where it couldn't be before), but quite frankly, if all the interactions via email are negative - how is Facebook going to be any better?

    If anything it will be worse.

    Already - with an inactive account - my child has several friends requests from children who are friends or relatives of his friends. Children who are not part of our school community. Children I will never meet - children he will probably never meet. If he is has negative interactions with his friends via Minecraft or email, only his friends see those interactions. On Facebook, everyone he is linked to - including people he has never met and only know him through his reputation on Facebook - will see.

    Is he ready to deal with those situations? I don't think he is.

    Moreover, what if he participates in the slamming of someone else? Are they ready to deal with that? Does he understand how he can negatively impact on other people via the internet? I really don't think he does.

    When so many adults fail to connect with the concept of another human being on the receiving end of cyber debates, how can a socially innocent 12 year old manage it?

    Okay, so the argument might be that he has to learn some time. He's never going to learn without experiencing it, right?  But surely, if he doesn't experience it for another year or so, he'll be that much more mature just from other life experiences, right?

    As of right now, my decision is to wait. I may change my mind tomorrow, or next week, or next month. For that to happen, I think I would first have to see more positive interactions via email. I'd need to see that the internet is not only a vehicle for aggression in his peer group, but all for support and cohesion, respect and friendship - at least in equal measure with the negativity, but preferably outweighing it considerably. I'd need to see more maturity from all the children, including my child.

    ...even if it may hurt me...

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    10 Things Tuesday: 10 Things I've Learned About Getting A Driver's Licence

    The very first thing I want to say is that I've been quite overwhelmed to see my readers checking in every day over the past week of my absence. My hit rate hasn't dropped at all and I REALLY appreciate all your enthusiasm and interest, so THANK YOU for being so patient with me!

    On the 14th of November last year, the Grumpy Old Man made his fifth attempt at passing his manual driver's licence, but as on previous occasions, despite driving perfectly well in lessons and practices for months on end, he stalled the car and failed the test. We'd mooted the idea of him just switching to an automatic car, but his driving instructor (who we'd known for 2.75 years) didn't have an automatic vehicle, so couldn't teach him in one, or offer one for the test. We approached mother-in-law about trading in the manual car we are supposed to get (because she doesn't drive, it was FIL's car) for an automatic, but she baulked at the idea. 

    We felt quite desperate because we were certain if he could just do the test in an automatic, he'd pass. Having a licence underpins any efforts he makes to get a job as he can really only work through agencies at this point and they require applicants to have a licence.

    In early December it looked as if he'd have to redo the test in a manual despite our best efforts. On a bright note, he was also offered one night's work to start in the new year. Then my parents decided they would drive their automatic over the week before his sixth test and help him prepare for it. I was SO excited! 2012 was really looking up! Dave had one shift of work which would provide him with experience to get more work and we were confident he'd pass the automatic test.

    Then two days before Christmas the one shift of work fell through because the family didn't need a carer as much as they had when they offered the GOM a shift.

    Still and all, I was excited about my parents coming over and the GOM getting his licence.

    The arrived last Wednesday (which is why my blog has been so quiet). The GOM drove and drove and learned the dimension of the Holden - which is as long and as wide as a people mover. He went for the test yesterday and did brilliantly well. All the same he failed. The reason for his failure is disputed - even by his instructor. The tester asked him to move the left hand lane when safe, and the GOM did all his checks and indicated and then felt the car behind him on his left was still a bit too close, so waited 7 seconds or so before moving over. The tester felt this constituted 'creating a dangerous driving situation' and felt into the category of 'critical error' and failed him. That was the GOM's one and only 'error' and it comes down to a matter of opinion in the end because there is not rule for how long an indicator can be on before a driver moves. Still, he was failed.

    To say I'm frustrated would be an understatement. The GOM can drive and he drives really well, he did everything right, he was being a safe driver and still we sit here with no licence.

    We have already booked his next test and my parents have graciously offered to drive over again next month to do it. We're hoping to move it forward because waiting seven and a bit weeks is intolerable, but we'll see what happens.

    I really feel as if we struggle and struggle to do the right thing, to get out of our situation, but every attempt we make is stomped all over by other people and we have not way to prevent that. We are so reliant on other people being reasonable and we seem to be running into one unreasonable person after another, and they are all in positions of power in our lives.

    What else can we do but keep going. Just keep swimming as Dori says in 'Finding Nemo'. I tried not to have hopes and expectations for 2012 but I find myself already terribly disappointed and disillusioned and we're only 10 days into the year...

    I have to try to be more positive and upbeat - there is nothing worse than reading an endless stream of whinging, I know. I had really hoped to post about our victory over the licence monster and that was part of why I didn't post all week, I wanted to write something fun and exciting and super duper positive. So sorry to disappoint.

    I have learned a lot about getting a licence through this process though, so thought I'd share a few things in case anyone else was interested in hearing - here goes!

    1.  It's easier to get a licence when you're young and feel relatively invincible.  The older you get, the more conscious you are of every thing that can go wrong, however improbable.

    2.  Fifteen hours of practicing over a four day period is far more effective for learning than fifteen hours over fifteen weeks.

    3.  While getting a manual licence first up may seem like a good idea because you can then drive manual and automatic from the get-go, if you get an automatic licence then you can actually drive a manual car after the three year probationary period anyway...

    4.  Employing a driving instructor can be a good idea, but you might actually find it much easier to learn from your FIL in the end...

    5.  From word of mouth - If you manage to stall an automatic in a driving test, you'll probably be too shaken to even care afterwards (because it'd mean having narrowly avoided a collision).

    6.  Just because you fail the first test you do, doesn't mean you're guaranteed to pass the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th or even 6th attempt... One woman in China finally got her licence after 300 attempts.

    7.  Sometimes you can drive and drive well, and still not pass the test because tests are not at all like everyday driving.

    8.  The term 'when safe' can be very ambiguous and your own concept of cautious driving may even be interpreted by one tester as endangering other drivers, and interpreted by other testers as safe driving. A lot of the test parameters are a matter of personal interpretation and not covered in any driving texts.

    9.  A seven week waiting list between tests is beyond ridiculous, frustrating, expensive, disheartening and downright stupid!

    10. Three years of instruction, over $5000 in driving lessons, almost $1000 in test costs, almost a year of tests every 7-8 weeks and all the hopes and anxiety that goes with that, and yet we've booked again and are hoping '7th time lucky' will be the charm... That there is persistence, optimism and perhaps a dash of desperation...

    Tuesday, January 03, 2012

    10 Things Tuesday: 10 'happier' for so far in 2012

    If I can bang out ten things in the next 35 minutes and get this post posted, then technically I didn't miss my 10 Things Tuesday blog post, right?

    I was going to post 10 Points of Shopping Centre Ettiquette That Really Should Be Taught in School... but then I thought I might want to kick of the year with something a little more upbeat and positive... Even though we're only three days into this new year, I think I can find ten things that have made me happy this year already!

    #1 In the very first hour of the new year it would have to be dancing in the front yard of a friend's house under fairy lights in a makeshift outdoors lounge room - I wish I'd take any kind of camera with me, they had it set up so beautifully under the trees with lamps and fairy lights and a leather couch and loud music! It was so much fun! As a good omen for the coming year (that's precisely how I choose to view this extraordinary event) we had a visit from a ring tail possum on the electrical wire above us. The picture below is terribly blurry, but you get the idea... This little cutie sat perched up above our party watching everyone for a good ten minutes while we all gawked at it and made clumsy attempts at capturing it's image on mobile phones (not mine, I had this photo mms'd to me)... It was all quite amazing and wonderful, really!

    #2 Still in the first hour of the new year, walking the 15 minutes it took to get home with my little family, all smiling and together - finding constellations in the clear night sky!

    #3 Deciding to join a couple of challenges to awaken my creativity with a photography and writing.

    #4 Oh, writing! Writing 1100 words of my novel - yes, the same part for probably the fifteenth time, yet it was fresh and new to me. Meeting my old friends Thomas and Lily, and Svava again. Moving around in their world as if visiting a familiar holiday destination. Seeing the inside of their house again and noticing new nic-nacs I hadn't noticed on previous visits. I love this part of being a writer, all the travelling I get to do!

    #5 Remember my story about being psychic and knowing I had to cut the grass before something bad happened - and then not getting to cut the grass and something bad happening... Well, I'd noticed I have a way for foreseeing bad things happening, but felt I was powerless to change them... Okay, well, that is changing! When the boys got their Wii for Christmas and I went to install it, I realised I didn't have enough sockets on the surge buffered power board behind the television. I knew I needed a bigger power board. Usually, I'd let my impulse to please the kids run away with me and plan to buy the new power board, but think I'll just let them play using a regular power board, just today, just until I get to the shops. This time I heeded my premonition about a power surge and got the bigger power board before plugging in the Wii. Well, within twenty four hours we had the biggest power surge we've ever had - we actually heard something explode down the road! The fridge looked like it might have died (it hadn't). I was so happy one of my premonitions paid off!

    #6 When the fridge came back on after the massive power surge. At first it seemed like it was dead but about half an hour after reconnecting it, it sprang back into whirring life, yay!

    #7 Finding a cheap nail polish that doesn't chip the first day I put it on - or the second, or the third!

    #8 Ari sleeping in his bed every night, last night he even settled in his bed for the first time with me just sitting on the edge of the bed next to him. This has all sorts of added benefits which have made me smile recently (draw your own conclusions)...

    #9 Sitting on the back porch for hours chatting with my brother as the cool change slowly moved in and sky clouded over and the humidity dropped several percentage points!

    #10 Getting this post in before midnight, and thereby scraping in for Tuesday and meeting yet another commitment (if only by the skin of my teeth!). You will also see that I've posted todays 'photo a day in January' photo on the page up there. I haven't written five hundred words for today but I'll catch up tomorrow and as the songs goes, 'Two outta three ain't bad!'

    What has made you happy already this year?

    Monday, January 02, 2012

    Getting back on the writing pony...

    Day two of this year and I've added the next photo for the January Photo Challenge (check out the pages under my header up there)... So, that's still going (oh, yes, I am totally surprised as well!).

    Considering that minor success, I'm feeling a bit brave. I may be confusing bravery with stupidity - I often get those two mixed up - time will tell.  I've seen a few of my writerly friends talking about joining up with a 2012 writing challenge to write 500 words a day for this entire year. Okay, so considering doing anything for more than a couple of days in a row is a major challenge in itself for me, I'm probably biting off more than I can chew, but hey, this year is about taking every day as it comes and not having any expectations - and that would also include not expecting to fail, right?

    So, I followed a link over to Cara Michaels' blog Defiantly Literate and read about her challenge to 'carpe verba' (seize the word for those playing along at home) and commit to writing 500 words a day. Not just any 500 words - I don't think tweets count (one could argue tweets never count anywhere for anything...) - but 500 words of writing which goes toward a writing goal. Blog posts are line balls in as much as if your goal is to blog prolifically then you might get away with counting those posts, but really it should be something other than blog posts. I won't be counting blog posts.

    I've decided to start afresh on the novel I tried to write for NaNoWriMo. I only got to about 5000 words on that project, but even in the few weeks since putting it away, I've had new thoughts on how I'd like it to feel and a fresh start is the best way to achieve my new goals for that project.

    If I do manage to write 500 words a day, that final word count for the year would 183 000 words which far exceeds the word count I need for Shifter, so obviously I'll be working on other stuff as well. I'm hoping to form a habit of writing (other than blogging) every day. If I can form that single habit, then 2012 will have been a roaring success for me!

    I've discovered a great little gadget called a word meter here and plan to use it a lot this year to track various projects (as you can already see in the right hand column).

    So, now I have photography, crochet and writing projects going and 2012 is looking to be a very creative year!

    Good Job!