Friday, March 30, 2012

Oooh! A Signed Copy of My Book! (Giveaway)

A while ago, I had the great honour of being selected from a large group of flash fiction writers to participate in a charity publication. The book; 'Lost Children: A Charity Anthology', is being sold in paperback format at Amazon, Smashwords and the Book depository, and as an e-book in so many other places I can't really be bothered to list them all (if you want to know go here!).

The proceeds of the sales go to two childrens charities; PROTECT, a US based charity, and Children 1st, a Scottish charity.

I was extremely grateful for this opportunity, not only because I had my story published, but because I feel so passionately about the need for children's needs to be recognised, acknowledged and met! For many years I've worked with children and parents to try and promote emotional responsiveness to children's needs. Often the greatest harm done to children is when their emotional and psychological needs for security and recognition are not met. Simply keeping a child alive is not enough, and that is what I wrote about for my contribution to this anthology.

My story, 'The Pretty Girl' is one of thirty pieces of flash fiction in this anthology. The brief we were given for our stories was to write about child suffering without any explicit references to violence against children. This book is about the dark side of childhood - something many people don't want to think about - a topic which desperately needs global recognition and action to end!

Did I mention I was the only Australian writer to be included in this book??? Well, now I have! That is partly why I'm giving away a signed copy of the book - I need to know someone else in Australia has a copy of it, you know besides my mum and my husband!

So, I've bought a copy for one of my readers! I paid retail for it, so the charities would get something from the sale of this copy, too.

If you want a chance to win this signed copy leave a comment telling me what you would do for Australia's children if you were in a position of power!

The winner will be drawn at random because I think everything we do, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, to protect and support children we come into contact with makes a world of difference to every child's life!

I'm giving the book away on the Grumpy Old Man's birthday because, well, just because! I detest drawn out competitions and his birthday popped into my head, so there you have it!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hold my hand...

Please remember, while elves around
the globe are often described as miniature
people with pointy ears, in Iceland, they
can easily blend with the population!
Today I've revisited the email I received a year ago on applying to do a doctorate at Deakin University. Unfortunately, the passage of a year hasn't magically made applying easier. I still feel a lot of anxiety at writing out this rather short proposal (500-750 words).

The angst arises mostly from the reaction I received when I verbally described the novel I would be proposing to write and the lecturer I spoke to baulked at the idea of me writing a 'fantasy novel'.

Of course, the issue is that this isn't a fantasy novel, but rather a contemporary folklore novel about Icelandic elves in an Australian setting. The fact that Icelanders, well most of them, don't discount the existence of elves and therefore elves form part of urban legend in Iceland doesn't translate well into the Australian context where elves are more or less considered fictional.

So, basically, I want to discuss the transplanting of another culture's folklore tradition into the Australian context. Before I can write up the proposal, I have to research what others have written about this and that is where I falter. I still don't know where to start!

Do I start by finding other literary sources of contemporary folklore? Do I attempt to define contemporary folklore (the discussion of the definition of folklore itself is quite vast as far as I understand and all the references I've found so far are 50 years old!)? Do I try to find other examples of cultural traditions being transplanted into the Australian context, or even into other contexts outside of Australia?

And what sort of supervisor would I need for this kind of research? Someone who specialises in folklore? Someone who specialises in immigrant assimilation of traditions? Someone who specialises in Norse mythology?

I really need some sort of guidance or someone to hold my hand!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012



I have it!

I know, I know, it's supposed to only carry on the Y chromosome, but I just don't know how else to describe this thing... It's a sort of scratchy through thing, and a slightly headachy thing, but what makes it definitely manflu is the symptom of being rendered utterly useless!

I have things to do, damn it!

I have a house that seriously needs sorting! Oh yes, it looked neat enough on the photos from yesterday, but that was all just smoke and mirrors and completely avoiding photographing most of the kitchen, the kids rooms, the bathroom, the laundry... Argh, the laundry!

And I have a fridge to wash out and photograph and list on Gumtree, and a washing machine, too... And the weeds growing in the cracks of the patio out back are now up to my armpit - or rather they would be if they hadn't collapsed under the weight of their own legginess (legginess is totally a word!)...

But the thought doing anything makes me want to cry because I have this slightly sore throat and this slightly hurty head and I think I might have a temperature... Well, it felt like I did when I put my hand up to my forehead after scraping ice out of the freezer just before...

Now if only I had a pair of testicles of my own so I could carry them off to bed, because we all know that manflu necessitates the greatest coddling of the old ball sack - isn't that right? Isn't that why men choof off to bed at the first sign of a scratchy throat and a headache???

Counting down the hours - because I'm sure it's only a matter of hours now - until the symptom of uselessness passes along with this annoying scratchy throat and hurty head. At least I hope it's only hours because the house won't clean itself (already tested that theory and almost had to call in the SES to rescue me from under the detritus that accumulated after only 24 hours!) and sadly the fridge and washer won't sell themselves either...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Home, even sweeter home!

Well, hi there!

Not as many visitors to the blog today after all the commotion yesterday - I totally get that, of course, the drama of a possible fifth baby does whip people into a refreshing frenzy!

Jacob wasn't the only new arrival to our house yesterday - though he was absolutely the cutest!

We were also in receipt of a lot of new - to us - furniture!

As I've mentioned before, my parents have sold their house and are downsizing and so needed to get rid of everything! They had a couple of garage sales and did really well on both, but they also saw the opportunity to help us out in a BIG way by letting us have a considerable amount of their furniture - which meant we could sell a lot of our own furniture and sort out some finances! We cannot adequately express our gratitude!

I was over the moon at their extremely generous and helpful offer, not only because it has allowed us to breathe just a little, but also because my parents have the BEST taste and I have often admired their furniture choices!

So, I thought I'd share photos of our new set up!

I just ADORE this cabinet and hutch! Turns out I had the perfect cloth and basin to stand on it too! This photo was taken before I put the shelves in it. When I did that I noticed mum had crocheted a fringe for edge of each shelf! Love, love, love this idea!

Notice the headlight window design? It's a tulip...

Can you see what is cut out of the back of each of the dining chairs? That's right, a tulip! It's this kind of attention to detail that I really love about my parents choices! My step-dad made the dining room table - it weights a TON! It also matches the coffee table he built for us when Erik was a baby!

I have a sleigh bed, a sleigh bed!!! Oh, and bedside tables - we've never had proper bedside tables before, with actual drawers and everything. A couple of weeks ago we got rid of the two folding tables we bought at the Reject Shop back in 1998 to use as beside tables...

The bookshelf with doors mean the Grumpy Old Man's precious books (and possibly cds/dvds later this week) will finally be safe from Ari's curious little hands! At the end of the bed the entertainment unit is now a charging station and a stand for the mini-stereo! Finally a place to play and listen to music (where little fingers can't get at the knobs and wreck the sound system) - only took 8 years!

Looky, looky, looky! An upside down fridge which can actually store food for a growing family of six! When we transferred the food from the other fridge/freezer, this one still looked empty!

I have very high hopes for this 8kg washing machine! It's going to be big enough to get us ahead on the washing and it's going to be so much more economical to run, too!

We have our own grandfather clock! It chimes and everything! Mum kept worrying that the chiming would bother us, but we love it!

Having this furniture here has helped Jacob settle in as well, I think. We've inherited a number of cushion mum embroidered and he want to snuggle up to those.

Also, not pictured is a rocking chair and a hall table (which you can see part of in the background of the grandfather clock picture). There are picnics and bits of pottery and wall hangings... And the old photo albums jam packed with embarrassing photos from way back when.

So, right now I'm feel very blessed and somewhat overwhelmed as well! I feel like I finally have the sort of house I've been trying to work towards for years!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Boy or girl, can you tell?

Is this a boy or a girl? What do you think???

Well, I can tell you for certain it's a boy!!! That's what I do, afterall... BOYS!!!

So, meet our newest BOY! His name is Jacob!

No, not the one...

This one!

My apologies for the dark photo, it's getting on and we're all exhausted from a big, big day of moving furniture - more about THAT tomorrow! There'll definitely be many Jakey pics from here on in! I had to laugh when it finally dawned on me I'd gone and gotten yet another boy - I'm doomed to be girl-less!

Jakey was my parents dog, he's six years old and completely adorable! Unfortunatly they can't have him in their new home, so we gladly took him on! We were always going to get a dog one day but we didn't expect to get one so soon. In case you're wondering, the ultrasound depicted above is of Ari... Yes, I'm very cheeky, but if you seriously believed I might have a fifth baby, then you don't understand the depths of my contentment with four! Absolutely no more human babies for me!

Bless, bless Sif xxx

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Having trouble seeing beyond tomorrow...

Tomorrow is going to be a day. Huge, in fact. It's been looming on the horizon for a little while now, and I've lost track of the rest of my life because of it. No, it's not the Grumpy Old Man's next driving test - we're a few weeks off from that still. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow. Today I just need to get this disembodied feeling off my chest. I don't know why I do this, this hyperfocusing on a single day which becomes so big to me it almost blocks out the sun. The funny thing is, I think other people would just go, 'Relax, it's really not that big a deal. People do this all the time.' And they'd be right - just this past week I've seen three very similar announcements. It's no biggie. I'm just excited because it's unexpected and because it feels like a lot of responsibility, and maybe just a little because I think people might judge me irresponsible. Or maybe I'm just projecting my own fears because I know this situation isn't 100% ideal. Still, I know we've made the right decision, and I have high hopes it will work out beautifully. I'm optimistic like that. Still, I feel disembodied. Disconnected from my life. I feel like I'm floating away from the things that only a few short months ago were my purpose in life. I haven't participated in any writing exercises in ages. I just feel too flimsy, like I couldn't bear the weight of writing a story. I fear sitting down and starting and feeling compelled to walk away from an unfinished piece because my head is all over the place. I feel disjointed. The synapses can't maintain a connection for very long these days. I can play bejewelled and I can crochet because some pocket of my mind does these things on automatic, but when I attempt any kind of critical thought my head spins and my mind chucks a tanty and storms out. Maybe I have a candida overload and need some probiotics? I keep thinking after tomorrow I'll feel better, more contained. After tomorrow life can 'get back to normal'. But there is a nagging feeling it won't. That possibly I've gotten myself stuck in a place where my mind can't reconnect with my body and I'm forever rendered completely useless in the pursuit of those things which used to drive me; writing and studying... Maybe I'll just be a mum from now on. Nothing wrong with that, if that's your joy. It isn't my joy - I like it, I adore my kids, but it isn't enough for me - it doesn't fill the gnawing hole in my gut that only feels sated when I'm writing and/or studying. I want this feeling to go away, but I suspect it won't until I can see past tomorrow...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

10 Things Tuesday: 10 reasons I shouldn't have put those office chairs on the hard rubbish three weeks ago...

1. The Grumpy Old Man said he didn't think it was a good idea at the time, and now he won't stop reminding me he said that...

2. My parents were going to deliver new office chairs to us within a couple of weeks, and we were going to use dining chairs in the meantime, but then the sale of their house fell through and I forgot to figure in needing to sell our dining chairs (to make way for the dining suite we're inheriting, leaving nothing for us to sit on...

3. It rained an hour after I put the chairs out - which was half an hour before my parents rang to tell us the sale of the house had fallen through. Sodden chairs couldn't be hauled back into the house...

4. Broken office chairs are always better than no chairs at all.

5. The 12 year old keeps hauling a kitchen stool into the study to use instead, encouraging poor posture (his) and much stubbing of toes (mine) at night.

6. It irks me that my kids can see my computer screen from the heady heights of that stool, but I really can't so I have to blog from my iPad.

7. Blogging from my iPad is kinda impeding my blogging enthusiasm, which is partly why this post is so late today, and partly why I still haven't completed the interactive post from last Tuesday...

8. Because the GOM 'told me so' and seems even more inconvenienced by the lack of seating than me, I feel compelled to offer him the bigger office chair when they arrive, even though I really want it for myself...

9. I miss my iMac!

10. It makes me even more impatient for the new office chairs, if that is even possible!

Bless, bless Sif xxx

Friday, March 16, 2012

Things I Know: About Anticipation...

It's late in the day and I've been debating posting because I still haven't finished this blog post project from earlier in the week (so there's still time to make a suggestion or three!)... But there are things I know and things I want to write about and well, I can't resist the urge to write... 

This week I've been living with a lot of anticipation, and so I've come to know a few things about it. Here's what I know about anticipation...
  • Anticipation is delicious! It can be all-consuming and warm and fill you with tingly joy! Just delicious!!!
  • Anticipation is also a double edged sword. While it is delicious, it's very deliciousness has these side effects that are a bit painful. For one thing, it makes everything else seem dull and boring and mundane in comparison. It causes you to wish time away. It also has the magical side effect of slowing the passage of time to an ab. so. lute. crawl... Oh my goodness, minutes last hours and hours last days and let's not even go to that place where days seem to last years!
  • Anticipation gives you super powers! Suddenly everything is possible. Those things that used to frighten you will now be mere hurdles to clamber over in the euphoric state that anticipation releases.
  • Anticipation spells trouble for an insomniac because it won't allow an overactive mind to settle - there are all the lists of things that have to be prepared and all the lists of things that might go wrong... All the lists that come with anticipation... And of course, there's the whole days becoming years, and nights are always longer...
Yep, I've been living with anticipation. Specific events I'm anticipating (that I can't talk about yet, but an announcement is coming) and then the low hum of a change of fortunes that I'm sensing which is playing away in the background. The tingling anticipation of good around the corner. I can't quite see it yet, but it's as if I can smell it and it smells like freshly baked muffins. It smells so good and I'm so full of anticipation that I can barely keep a straight thought in my mind at the moment...

That's what I know about anticipation!

What do you know?

Linking up with Things I Know over at Singular Insanity.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tips for buying second hand a.k.a I hate selling stuff...

Well, we're in the very fortunate position to be getting a few new (to us) pieces of furniture in the wake of my parents downsizing their life. To make way for the new, we're selling some of our old stuff.


The first thing I'll say is Ebay intimidates me (all those fee structures are bloody confusing!) and if it didn't intimidate me as much as it does, maybe I wouldn't hate selling stuff as much as I do.

So, I'm using Gumtree. Gumtree is simple and easy to use, and mostly free (though I have paid $2.99 to have my stuff listed as urgent because we need the stuff gone in the next 10 days).

Anyhoo... I've used Gumtree once before - a few years ago - to sell a pram. That's when I discovered that some people who buy through Gumtree believe in haggling. I know some people really enjoy haggling. I don't, so I try to price the things I'm selling at a very reasonable price; below market value.

This one woman said she wanted the pram and arranged to pick it up, when she got to my house she told me she didn't have all the money and would I take $40 less than the price listed. I said I couldn't do that. She then asked about some of the extras I had listed and asked if I would include them for free in the prams price. I said I couldn't afford to do that but in the end she got them at a reduced price (turned out she not only had the money for the pram, but quite a bit more besides)...

It left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth.

Anyway, so I'm back selling more stuff. This week it's a dining suite and a king sized bed (sans mattress, though they can have the mattress for free if they like, but it's stained)... The first enquiry hinted at me delivering it - sorry can't do that. He was going to talk to his wife anyway and get back to me. He hasn't, that's fine. The second enquiry called at 8.40pm last night and wanted to come around straight away to look. I said that unfortunately the bed was occupied by my son at that time, but they were welcome to come around today or tonight. So, they arranged to come and look at the bed at 2pm today and I arranged to be home at 2pm. It's now past 3.30pm and no one has turned up and no call to cancel the viewing. Fine. The third enquiry immediately asked if they could have the bed for $300 (it's selling for $450 and I didn't put 'negotiable' on the listing). I said I couldn't sell it for that price. She immediately came back with $400 (which I might consider if no one else wants it).

Yep, people have to ask. I totally get that. I have listed it at a very reasonable price (it has four large drawers on runners underneath, so it's like a bed and a chest of drawers in one!)... People are poor. I so totally get that too (Do they need a king bed then? Maybe it's co-sleeping family like ours?)...

So, tips for buying secondhand...

- Know the value of what you are buying, so you know when you're already getting a bargain before you ask for another 1/3 off the price.

- Assume you have to collect the item yourself unless otherwise stated.

- Don't arrange to view an item and then not show up and not cancel the viewing... The seller has a life, too.

- Do wait a few days before asking for a discount - because by then the seller will have been messed around by other interested parties enough to be desperate to just get rid of the item for less!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

10 Things Tuesday: 10 Characterisations...

I want to do something different today and I need YOUR HELP! I really hope this works because I'm hoping it will get my writing mojo flowing again...

I was tweavesdropping on a conversation on Twitter last night about unusual names for children and about the issue of judging other people's name choices for their children and how people sometimes feel hurt by other people's judgement of the names they've chosen for their children...

It got me thinking about how many people think certain names lead to certain kinds of personalities. You've probably read it or thought it yourself... A boy named Billy Ray will never grow up to be Attorney General and a girl name Pixiebelle will never be Surgeon General, that sort of thing.

So, I thought I'd get my readers - that'd be YOU - to throw out a few names; they can be very common or totally 'out there' it's up to you, and I will write a characterisation based on the name...

I'll characterise the first ten names - preferably from ten different commenters - and I'll prioritise comments on this blog over those on Facebook or Twitter (so future readers can see people leaving the name suggestions). You can give me more than one name if you like and if I don't get 10 different names from 10 different people across social media platforms I'll consider second and third options from commenters...

Go on, jump right in there!


Monday, March 12, 2012

Here's what's new with me this month...

I've decided the time is right to recommit to eating vegetarian. Ultimately, one day, when I'm ready - and no, it's not as simple as 'just doing it' for me (and it was never that simple for most people I know who did it) I aim to eat a completely animal free diet. One day. For now, I'm a vegetarian.

I've decided this is easy, so so easy, and that is why there is no reason to wait any longer, to prevaricate and um and ah...

In the end it was the realisation I don't actually like the taste and texture of meat, that I try hard not to think about what I'm eating when I eat meat that occurred to me. When I realised this, I realised how silly I'd been trying to 'not care' for the last little while.

The truth is, I do care.

There were always many meats I wouldn't touch with a barge pole; pork, lamb, veal, most seafood...

I was really beginning to feel unwell (not so much physically - though I did feel clogged up a bit - more emotionally or spiritually) whenever I ate beef...

Receently, I started turning off at the thought of eating chicken as well.

I just can't eat these foods any more and feel good about it. This has been a twenty year journey with many phases (omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, fruitarian, raw foodist - I'm done them all for at least a couple of months each), so no snap decisions here...

So, there you go. You might think I'm a drama queen or that I'm childish. Maybe I am.

I don't eat a lot of eggs or dairy products as it is, but am still clinging to milk in my hot drinks - it's not that I like milk - I actually don't like milk either, I just don't like coffee or tea without it, and I really like coffee and tea... I don't like soy milk or rice milk... I might give almond milk a try, we'll see how it goes.

For now, I'll get on with eating a vegetarian diet. I'll commit to that because it's easy and I'm all over easy.

Did you ever feel there was a change you wanted or needed to make but for a long time it felt too hard, until one day it didn't feel hard anymore?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Respect Yourself a.k.a Don't Be An Arsehole!

I think the phenomenon has existed through the entirety of human history, however, the advent of the internet and the ability to reach a great many people without ever having to reveal your true identity has just made this phenomenon blow out of all proportion...

The phenomenon I speak of is sometimes referred to as a 'troll', but the more I encounter or witness this behaviour, the more I'm inclined to feel the term 'arsehole' is far more appropriate. You see, trolls can be cute. Trolls can even grant wishes. Troll are a much maligned creature...

An arsehole is what it is. It spews shite and smells just as sweet. Generally speaking it's ugly and people most having an overwhelming urge to wash with a scrubbing brush any time they come in contact with one.

So, yep, your average interfering, judgemental internet busy-body is pretty much an arsehole spewing shite, in my experience.

People who do this have no self-respect. Why put yourself through typing out a comment for the sole aim of ripping into someone; very often someone who has already stated that they are feeling miserable.

So, you're smarter than they are, and you have contempt for how they run their lives. Whoopy doo for you. You're not smart enough to understand the basics of making friends and influencing people... You want to help someone change their choices or their attitude, don't start by attacking them.

Being an arsehole only achieves having the vast majority of people think your full of shit and you stink and they desperately need to wash after coming in contact with you.

Nobody cares for your opinion, it's a simple fact. Your words are lost on people.

In Iceland we having belief that people are born with a certain number of words, and when they've used them up, they die. Do you really want to waste your words convincing people you're an arsehole?

Stop it.

For your own sake. Love yourself enough to think before expressing your every thought and judgement. Most of us judge other people, the difference between most of us and you is that we have enough self-respect to not go ahead and present ourselves as arseholes.

Have I written the word ARSEHOLE enough for you, now?


Don't be one.

I'm sure you have great qualities. I'm sure under all that fear you live with that other people are getting more than you (more sympathy, more help, more attention), there is a lovely person struggling to be recognised. Give that person a chance. Respect yourself.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Very Exciting Secret Squirrel Stuff...

You know, I've been doing stuff, but I can't tell you what I've been doing.

Some of the stuff I can't tell you because I'm just not sure what I've been doing. Stuff like calling the gas company out to fix a gas leak outside our property (on the nature strip), and stuff like calling the Family Assistance Office to see if my kids conscientious objector forms are on file... But I can't think what else. Just stuff, mundane stuff that comes along with living and running a household and being a parent.

Then there is other stuff, exciting stuff, stuff that isn't happening this week or next week, but that I can't talk about because it's all secret squirrel kind of stuff, but it's so, so surprising and exciting to me (not so much to the Grumpy Old Man, he's not excited - more just going with the flow because resistance doesn't change reality, but the boys are, or at least I think they would be if they knew)... But, but, but, as much as I want to tell you all about the Big Excitement™ I have to wait until the time is right...

I can tell you it's not about anyone getting a job - nothing could make me contain that kind of excitement. Obviously, it's also not about the Grumpy Old Man getting a licence, though I fully expect to be writing about that excitement soon enough.

Yes, yes, I know I'm being irritatingly cryptic - I just had to tell people I have cause to be excited about stuff, even though I can't talk about it yet.

Meanwhile, I'm in that stupid place mentally where I'm totally preoccupied by stuff I can't talk about and so I feel like I have nothing to talk about. My preoccupation (hyper focusing is something people with ADHD are very good at) is also getting in the way of all the other stuff I was doing before I knew about The Excitement™.

I haven't gotten much further on my crocheted blanket. Truth be told, I went with a very repetitive pattern and I'm bored, so bored with it already and I have 4/5s to go. I will finish it. I've decided to view it as a challenge, as a way to practice some commitment. But it's very hard, I tell you... White, lavender, purple, black, white, lavender, purple, black, and very occasionally, white, red, maroon, black - but not often enough to make it really interesting... My next project will have to be all sorts of mixed up colours to re-inspire me!

Also, writing... What writing??? I haven't written a word of fiction in weeks! I keep looking at the various prompt blogs, but I feel totally disconnected from my writing right now. Too preoccupied with stuff. Boring stuff and very exciting secret squirrel stuff!

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Important information for Conscientious Objectors of Vaccines receiving Family Tax Benefit A...

Hi guys,

Today's blog post is just a quick FYI for parents who receive Family Tax Benefit A and are not having their children vaccinated.

As you probably already know, the supplement which used to be eligible for all recipients of Family Tax Benefit A is now being included in an immunisation incentive scheme. That means you, the parent, have to ensure that your child is either fully vaccinated according to the schedule, or that you have lodged a conscientious objector form.

This blog post is not a discussion of the validity of such hoops to jump through (Family Tax Benefit A has never previously been link, in any way to the child's immunisation status, there used to be a perfectly good immunisation payment for this purpose, but I guess the stakes weren't high enough for the Government)...

What I want to make sure non-vaccinators know is that your Conscientious Objector form has an EXPIRY DATE. Please don't assume that because you lodged it yonks ago, you're covered. I rang the Family Assistance Office today to double check my children's status and discovered that Lukas' had lapsed some time ago, Brynjar's will lapse on his next (7th) birthday, and Ari's will lapse on his seventh birthday in 2015, as well.

Interestingly enough, Erik is on the register as 'fully immunised' although he had his last vaccinations when he was 18 months old, and did not have any boosters after that time. I think the GP who signed his CO form for kindergarten probably just told Medicare he was fully immunised because otherwise their medical centre would not receive its 100% compliance status and the resulting financial bonus... Or perhaps I'm just very jaded...

So, anyway, double check your status if you are expecting the supplement bonus and haven't fully vaccinated your child, make sure your Conscientious Objector Form hasn't expired.

Please circulate this information to anyone you believe it might be relevant to.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

I'm going to talk money, so if you're sensitive, look away now...

Money is hard work, isn't it?


It didn't use to be. We used to be okay with money. The Grumpy Old Man used to earn about 35K a year and together with my disability support pension (blind) and family assistance, we made ends meet and more. Our combined income was about 55K. Rent was cheaper back then (three years ago we were only paying $350 a week in rent), and electricity, gas, phone and water were about 144% cheaper as well (yeah, I'm only talking about 3-4 years ago).

These days our combined income is 45K, our rent is $390 per week, and our utilities are more than twice what they were.

I wrote last year about how much we were struggling and how much we were relying on MIL for financial assistance - MIL is an age pensioner herself. Some of my readers thought I was a self-pitying leech of an older woman. This did make me sit up and reassess how we manage our money, the things we thought we couldn't live without, and I made some adjustments.

So far this year we haven't asked MIL for a cent. This has meant the boys missed out on an excursion in the first month of school, and they didn't go to the big school camp this week. I've sold the pram to make sure we could cover the water and phone bill this month (had to pay for a new modem because the old one died and internet access is actually not a luxury but a necessity when your are job hunting).

I've budgeted and budgeted the same money over and over again all year because well, when you don't have much of it, and one child suddenly needs new shoes, and the school sends home yet another excursion/incursion notice unexpectedly, you're constantly having to shuffle money around to make ends meet.

Last week Erik brought home a notice that he has been selected, along with 19 other students out of his 5/6 grade level to attend a special seminar with a local artist. This was a special honour and no doubt he was selected because of his promising artistic ability. The excursion was to cost $37 and we had a week to pay it. We had absolutely no money to fund this excursion and I was heartbroken because I really want to encourage Erik's artistic pursuit because, well, he's very good!

I posted about our dilemma on Facebook and shortly an online acquaintance contacted me and said that she'd just gotten a job that day and she wanted to 'pay it forward' - her good fortune that is. She would pay for Erik's excursion. What an extraordinary kindness! One day, I will pay it forward myself.

But yeah, not even having $37 dollars is hard.

Yesterday, I was up at the school picking up my boys. This week Erik and Luey are helping out in junior school classes instead of going on camp. There is one other child not going on camp - apparently he would rather have an iPad, so is saving for that instead.

Some of the other parents asked me why the boys weren't at camp, I said we couldn't afford $900 right after Christmas (that's $450 per child), it just wouldn't fit in our budget. One mum asked if we couldn't have paid it off in instalments leading up to the camp. I said we couldn't even afford instalment payments (I mean, really, if we could afford those, we would have saved for the trip, right?).

There was this look of utter confusion on the faces of the other mums. It was as if they simply could not comprehend that we didn't even have $900 on a credit card or in a savings account somewhere that we could have tapped into. That is the area we live in. That is why our school gets away with charging as much and as often as it does for incursions and excursion and donations from the parents at the school.

For some people money isn't quite as hard work.

Today I learned about 'effective tax', and it cleared some stuff up for me that had confused me for a while. I often hear people talk about how they're being taxed 37c in the dollar, and I think, like many people do, that means they're being taxed at a rate of 37%. So, they earn 140K a year and only take home 88K a year (which is about 43K a year more than us, LOL). but then I found this chart about effective tax and realised they're actually take home about 100K (so 55K more than us) because their effective tax is about 30%. Many families in our area fit right into this income bracket. Of course they're going to wonder why we struggle to find $22 for a sport excursion with a week's notice or $900 for a camp with two and half months notice.

I know you're all going think, oh yes, but they're paying huge mortgages and they don't get to see each other much because they're at work all the time, and so on and so forth...

Well, this is probably true. At the same time, they take a week or two out of their busy lives to go to Fiji or Thailand - or so it seems, based on every day conversation at the school gate. They go on dinner dates together away from the kids. And if offered the opportunity to swap places with us they absolutely unequivocally would not.

That is the litmus test, really. I've heard the argument that the GOM and I are very lucky and our kids are very lucky because we get to spend so much time together and others would love to go back to simpler times like that, but you see...  They actually have a choice. They could sell their houses and their cars and quit their jobs and choose our life, er, 'style' - and they wouldn't, because it's bloody hard work with no holidays overseas or freedom to paint your walls oranges - if you're so inclined - to make it worthwhile.

We don't have a choice.

And having all this time together when you have no money to go anywhere together, when your children miss out on things like school camps and even regular excursions, when you live with the daily stress of seeing your husband apply for job after job and not even be offered an interview, or (worse, I dare say) get a job then have the offer rescinded on two separate occasions - well, I have to believe anyone who envies our 'freedom' is just plain nuts!

Money is hard work.

But I don't want to end this post on a sour note, because really, I'm okay at the moment with our situation. We haven't asked MIL for any money all year and we've managed, so that is making me feel better.

We had to reschedule the Grumpy Old Man's driving test back from April to May because his new instructor (who said he could have done the test yesterday and been fine because he's such a great driver, woot!) will be away at the time of the original test date. Setting the date back means setting back the likelihood of the GOM being able to get work because he doesn't drive, which is very frustrating... Setting back the time when money won't be as much hard work...

As I say though, I'm okay with that.

I recently heard (on a movie trailer) a quote, which I looked up and found was attributed to a playwright named Carolyn Myers...

"Everything will be okay in the end, if it's not okay, it's not the end."

So, money is hard work, and that's no okay, but it's not the end.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

10 Things Tuesday: 10 ways to deal with anger that don't involve alcohol and a bullet...

This post is inspired by a friend's tweet which reminded me that I've tried many ways to relieve anger that didn't involve my first preference of just socking someone in the chops...

Yes, I've had a lot of anger in my life. It's hard, you know, when people around you can't see the brilliance of your insights or aren't as motivated to act as you are. All sorts of things make me angry:

  • the rubbish from the kids uniform pockets being deposited on a shelf in the laundry when you cannot leave the laundry without passing the rubbish bin, grrrr!
  • victimhood - you know the people who go out of their way to be victims so they can feel bad when it all reality their lives are pretty spectacular compared to so many other people!
  • inaction when action is desperately needed - sitting on rail tracks watching a train bear down on you and praying God will just stop the train, yeah that!
  • Tony Abbott

So, I've tried many things to relieve my own symptoms of anger, here are some more and less effective methods...

  1. Taking a hot, hot, hot shower - somehow it cools my temper. It's been shown that a lot of electronic devices emit positive ions which can cause people to feel stressed because of their frenetic energy. We live in a world surrounded by this frenetic energy and so it's not at all surprising a lot of people feel a lot of anxiety, stress and anger in their daily lives. The solution is to balance the positive ions with negative ions, which come from moving water and moving air, amongst other things. At the end of a stressful day, a shower can be very cleansing and relaxing, as can walking in the rain or standing in a gusty wind...
  2. Screaming into a pillow, though you might feel like a tool the first dozen times you do this, it actually does work... The pillow is essential, you don't want to frighten your kids or neighbours, okay!
  3. Laughing... What makes you laugh? Seek it out and feel those relaxing hormones drizzle into your brain... You Tube is quite good if you look up comedy acts. I like Billy Connelly, but someone else might work for you...
  4. Singing. It is said you can't sing and stay mad. Okay, possibly if you're singing along to some thrash metal, you might be able to stay mad, but anything remotely melodious should work. Just don't sing those sad songs because sadness is a close cousin of anger and you don't need that when you're angry.
  5. Get out into natural. This is the same principal as getting under a shower, but without risking getting depressed when you realise you need to clean the bathroom - again! Pick your favourite spot - for me it's by the water - crashing waves always soothe my troubled mind. I would list this one first except that it can be very inconvenient to just wander off to a hillside or the beach when you're in the middle of the witching hour and the kids are going spare and someone on the net or the television or even in your face is making you stabby! Got to keep it real, so nature comes in at number five.
  6. Get physical! Go for a walk, if you can't do that turn on some loud music and dance. Wash a floor - okay, okay, not everyone's thing, but you get my drift right. Release the tension in your muscles and who doesn't feel better in a clean space, right? 
  7. Go look in the mirror and do facial stretches. Loosening facial muscles is directly linked with releasing feel good hormones in the brain, also, you'll look like a complete eedjit and that may cause you to laugh which is point number 3...
  8. Write it out. I did this for years. Every night I would write out all the stuff on my mind, all the things that made me angry for the most part - I have over 30 volumes of vitriol! Handwriting is more physical that typing, so use a pen and an actual book or some paper. If you don't want to keep all your angry thoughts, burn them afterwards... Gazing into a fire can be very relaxing, pyromaniacs swear by it...
  9. Meditate, practice the art of letting go. I say this, but I'm completely hopeless at doing this myself. Still, it might work for you and it's worth a try at least...
  10. If you really have to punch something, then punch something - a cushion, a punching bag, a mattress. It might actually be just what you need...

Monday, March 05, 2012

A response to the article; "Why I don't want my daughter to be just like me."

This morning a link to this article popped up in my Twitter stream. I can relate to almost all of the article. I can certainly relate to the symptoms, the report cards, the anxiety and the depression.

What I can't relate to - anymore - is the sentiment of not wanting my child to be like me. I say anymore because I worried about my child for a while there. I got all depressed and morose about the fact that he had so much difficulty communicating his thoughts and maintaining friendships - all parents want their children to be able to make friends and prosper socially, right?

Then I realised two things...

My life didn't suck because of my ADHD symptoms...


My child will never be an identical copy of me...

I looked at my life, my achievements, particularly in the light of my own coming of self-awareness (being diagnosed and having counselling and therapy to help me work with my symptoms) and I realised I was in an amazing position to help my child, to teach him all the things my parents had been at a lost to teach me (though, I have to give my mum credit for realising early that methods and routines were in my best interest even though she didn't have a diagnosis to work with)...

Also, my child's childhood was already quite different from my own childhood. For one thing, I was determined to keep him in one school (once he argued for his right to go to school to make friends - he was already more aware of his needs than I was at age 7) to give him the best chance to make and maintain friendships.

I was able to advocate for his others needs - to argue that it was perfectly normal for him to fidget as much as he did in class, and giving him something to do, some sort of responsibility would make him less distracting to the other children...

I already knew that just because he wasn't academically brilliant at age 10, didn't mean he wouldn't ever be (I had very average marks right through primary school and high school but did quite well after my first couple of years at Uni - I was a late bloomer, not an idiot). I also recognised his artistic talents early on...

I knew I had had a fairly good life despite having a memory like a sieve for everyday things, and the inability to forget other stuff. Despite having to work very hard to maintain any kind of focus. Despite never being able to meditate no matter how much other people would tell me it's just about stilling your mind (ha!)...  I've completed three degrees (even though I failed year 10 at high school and had to go TAFE and start uni as a mature age student). I've raised four children (the job isn't done yet, and I haven't done it alone, but I've held my own in the co-parenting stakes). I've participated in my community, both local and web based. I've even learned to make friends (and find the kind of people who can deal with my weirdness).


I also have come to realise that he is not me, he is his own person. Yes, we are very similar in how we interact with the world, but he isn't my clone, his life isn't a clone of my life. He is learning skills and self-awareness far younger than I did and I think that will equip him well for dealing with life. He already has a group of friends - something I didn't manage to have until I was 30! Having friends isn't a breeze for him by any stretch of the imagination, but he's leagues ahead of where I was at the same age because he understands his challenges better and knows he has to work harder...

I wouldn't wish him any differently and if being him means struggling with anxiety (and he does) and struggling with depression (which I don't think he has yet, but he might in the future), then so be it. We'll work it out together because I *get* him and he *gets* me.

I adore my other children, in many ways they're much 'easier' in all their normalness. I appreciate that my other similar aged son does his homework off his own volition and has a veritable army of friends and has enough self-confidence for all of us.

I appreciate that my younger boy is so calm in his body and even in his temperament and while he is sensitive, he doesn't worry about things far beyond what might be expected for his age - his concerns are normal six year old concerns - he doesn't want to know if a solar flare will kill us all in our sleep, if you know what I mean.

I appreciate that my youngest is robust and barrels into any group announcing, 'I'm the Doctor!' and just assumes everyone will love him to pieces (and invariably they do)...

My other boys are fantastic in their own ways, too, but I would never wish my eldest was like them because then he wouldn't be him, and I see great things in his future which I absolutely believe stem from the fact that he is so wired and so sensitive and so enthusiastic. He is just so and I wouldn't have him any other way!

I hope the mother who wrote the article will one day come to the same conclusions I came to, because, well, it alleviates a lot of that great sense of having passed on a horrible legacy, of being having somehow crippled the child's chances in life. Children so often outdo their parents own achievements. I hope one day this mum will be free from blaming herself for her child's low points - our children will have low points no matter what handicaps we pass on to them - even the normal ones.

It is so much better to focus on all the great stuff we pass onto our children, to rewrite the labels, reframe them in a positive light. It's better for us, and for them.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Things I Know: Right Now...

It looks like Things I Know has a new home over a Singular Insanity - yay for that! I find the things I know meme is a very good way to sum up my current erratic thoughts into one post when none of them are quite bold enough to have a post all of their own...

There's a new button, too!

If you want to join in, just click the button!

Here's what I know right now...
  • As much as I love salty things and creamy things I shouldn't eat them together (read biccies and dip) because they give me the most awful reflux! I definitely should not eat them several days running...
  • Just because your first child screams the shopping centre down when he has his hair cut up to school age, doesn't mean all your children will do the same. Some of them may even enjoy having their hair cut... And some need a little bribing.
  • Finally figuring out how to (do what everyone else seems to know already and) download movies and television shows from the internet is totally and utterly awesome! Especially if you haven't managed to get to a cinema more than a couple of times in the past three years. And most especially when, pre-kids, you averaged about 100 movies at the cinema every year (it was one of my favour pastimes). This can also lead to much eating of aforementioned reflux inducing salty and creamy foods)...
  • Knowing what to download when you've stopped keeping up to date with all the awesomeness at the cinema can be very difficult!
  • When you live with ADHD you tend to hyper focus or not focus, there is no real middle ground. This means that in January you might crochet a big blanket and three cushions, but in February you'll falter less than a fifth of the way into the next big blanket and it will seem to glare at you in a way yarn only can from the corner of the living room.
  • Houses can be put on the market and sell within a week...
  • House sales can also fall through overnight...
  • Selling you very last pram can feel very freeing! And yet, once you know it's leaving the house, you may still feel just a little bit sad about it...
  • Contemplating undertaking a PhD can be intimidating, and then you go and read other people's theses and realises you can totally do it, if you can just find some time...
  • I could sleep for a week and I don't have a newborn or a sleep resistant toddler...
  • Minecraft 1.2 was released today and now my computer is a three way battleground between my two older boys and myself... 
  • I. Must. Find. An. Ocelot... First!!!

What do you know?

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Thankful Thursday: A Reflection from 2017

First of all, this week, I'm thankful for the Thankful Thursday prompt Kate has suggested because it allows me to be positive and feel lighthearted where I usually struggle with seeing the silver lining of the present.

Today I'm going to put myself in my own moccasins brightly coloured patchwork suede mary-janes from 2017 and see all the things I'm thankful for then...

As I look around our home filled with many things made by family members young, old and gone, I'm filled with a warm sense of satisfaction. I laugh when I think of how much I worried about us ever having our own place, in the end it was obviously inevitable.

Just as it was inevitable that Dave would get his licence... 

I look at the clock on the wall - Bryn and Ari will be coming home from school soon, the same school the boys have always gone to, we've been there for 11 years now, and are well entrenched in the community.

Bryn is in his final year of primary school and looking forward to high school and joining Erik and Luey there. He is still my heart, my beautiful doe-eyed boy. He's found his own level amongst the boys now and holds his own very well when it comes to brotherly rivalry!

Ari is in grade two and pretty much owns junior school; he is such a lively character. He reminds me so much of Luey at the same age; feisty and very popular amongst his peers. He can't wait for grade three when he can compete in the sports day, he loves to run, just like Erik.

I hear the car pull into the driveway and see the Grumpy Old Man come to the front door - thank goodness he finally went for the knee surgery! He's feeling and looking so much better these days. Generally speaking, he's happier in many ways with a lot of the burdens of the past lifted from his shoulders. I used to worry about him a lot but these days he actually has a bit of a spring in his step.

I think it comes from having finally found work that not only pays him a decent wage but where his talents are well appreciated. It came out of left field, but now it all makes sense! Now we know why he didn't get work for so long, we were looking in the wrong place, we just needed to think laterally. Now he uses all the skills he developed over that time, he contributes to his community and is well respected and sought after. He gets to use his love of design as well as his great compassion. He is inspired and wakes up raring to go every day, it's wonderful to see!

Later that night, after dinner, the GOM and Ari are discussing the latest season of Doctor Who (who knew it would still be going!). Luey is playing his guitar in the rumpus room - it was so great to be able to afford those lessons, finally. We gave him a chance to do tennis as well, but guitar won out in the end.

Erik is helping me load the dishwasher, I have to admit I do take the dishwasher for granted these days though I never thought I would. Erik is growing into such a delightful young man. We did eventually get him assessed and got him the assistance he needed and since then he's gone from strength to strength. I can hardly believe he'll be going to Uni soon having fast tracked through TAFE. I shouldn't have been surprised that he wants to get into gaming design rather than architecture, though...

As for me, I've just finished my PhD, my supervisor is quickly becoming a good friend and I've learned more than I ever imagined. I have some work tutoring and have been offered the opportunity to lecture next trimester. I'm nervous but only because I'm so excited to finally be doing the things I used to dream of doing. My anthology of short stories is being printed next month, the website is almost ready to go and it's all looking fabulous. I always knew the key was to get involved with the local writing community and meet people. How funny that I was so nervous about doing that, they're all so lovely - human, but lovely all the same!

All in all, life is good! It all came together and once it did it happened the only way it could and it all made sense.

With the dishwasher purring away in the kitchen, Erik goes to video chat with his girlfriend. I go into the living room, it's so lovely to have space for everyone these days. As I flop down on the couch, the dog hops up and curls up next to me, I look over at the cat cubby stand and the cats give our pup a withering look, I laugh because I've often thought they view our little dog the same way Garfield views Odie...

The GOM comes in and strokes the cats - he won't admit it still, but he loves having them around...

I am thankful for our life and all that brought us to this point!

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