Friday, December 14, 2012

If it works, it works

I have had a recurring thought this past week.

In my everyday dealings with my little family, I sometimes get short or snappy. It may be that I am feeling stretched with a busy schedule, tired and sore, or just the demands of being a mother, but sometimes I get snappy, and I know it.

This past week, I have had the thought;

"How would I interact with my family if I knew I wasn't going to live much longer? If my time was limited, would I treat them differently?"

The honest answer, is YES.

I know it sounds almost morbid to have these thoughts, but it's not that I actually believe I may die soon, more that I know that nothing brings greater perspective on life... than death.

If I knew my time with my family was limited, I would want that time to be full of kindness and warmth. That is how I would want my family to remember their time with me. I wouldn't be concerned with getting out the door on time and whether or not the boys had mis-matched socks on. I would take the time to watch ABC2 on the couch and to have water fights with the hose.

But before death, there is life, and that means sometimes we have to watch the clock or heaven forbid; wear matching shoes. Having my weird little thoughts pop into my head helps me to treat my family the way they deserve. It's a little sad, but it works. I am finding it easier to be patient.

Because more than them having good memories of their time with me, I want their present with me, their day to day with me, to be filled with warmth.

Friday, November 30, 2012

'Back' to the grind.....get it?

I have been somewhat absent from my blog as of late. I write it as a record of my thoughts, feelings, and the goings on of my life, but as of late, I didn't want to write my thoughts and feelings. I couldn't put my finger on why. It just didn't seem to come like it normally does.

I am booked for more spinal surgery. Come February 2013 I am going under the knife yet again. I need to get some hardware removed and replaced and some new bits added on to stabilize the broken area. This surgery will go from the middle of my back to my pelvis and whilst not being as large as my previous operations, it is still not something I look forward to nonetheless.

I feel like the topic of my back dominates a lot of my conversations and my life and I myself get sick of hearing and thinking about it, but as much as I would like to stop thinking about it, it keeps rearing its ugly head again and again.

In thinking about why I haven't yet written my thoughts and feelings on this upcoming event, I realized it was because I was confused in my feelings.
I hate the idea of more surgery. But I also have something inside me telling me it will all be ok.

I believe part of why we face challenges in life is to experience all facets of mortality, but also to grow as a person.

I learnt and grew a lot with my first spinal fusion. I wasn't keen on a second and more extensive surgery, but the challenged changed me somehow - I'm hoping it was for the better :)

The thing I wonder though, is why is this same challenge before me again? I see how the past experiences were tough and I grew because of it, but I wonder why the same thing over and over again? Have I missed something? Did I not learn what I was supposed to?

When I think about this, I get a real sense of peace that although not easy, it will be ok. I have felt this before. This feeling obviously didn't mean that my back will be completely fine, as I have required more surgery down the track. It also hasn't meant that I won't have to deal with pain, as it is constant still.

But Anthony said something a while ago that comes to my mind now. This is not something I will be able to overcome in this life. It seems my back will always be an issue. The challenge isn't overcoming, it will be enduring.

So perhaps it's not that I 'missed' anything the last two times, it just that this is something to endure. This is the hand I was dealt and although it's tough, there are many other 'hands' I could not cope with. So I will take it and endure it well- with a little help of course :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Young on the inside

"Remember when getting high meant swinging on the playground? When protection meant a helmet? When the worst thing you could get from boys were cooties? Dads shoulders were the highest place on earth and Mum was your hero? Your worst enemies were your siblings? Race issues were about who ran the fastest? War was only a card game? The only drug you knew was cough medicine? The only thing that hurt you were skinned knees? And goodbyes only meant for tomorrow? And we couldn't wait to grow up." (not sure of the author of this)

Nine years ago, my parents, siblings, and I moved from Adelaide to Sydney. All eight of us.

About eleven months later I got married and moved up to the Central Coast of NSW.

A few years later my sister Jade got married and moved out also. Within a couple of years, my older brother Andrew, younger brother Phil, and younger sister Alyce were all married and leaving the nest.

Shortly after Mum, Dad, and baby (well, the baby to us) sister Rach moved to NZ for Dad's work. Of course we missed them being close by but there was still the five of us still living within an hour of each other.

Two years on and we are now scattered. Alyce and I still live on the Central Coast with our little families. Andrew and Jade are both in Queensland with their own little families. Phil and his wife are in the US, and Mum, Dad, and Rach are still in NZ. It's amazing how fast things change. It's amazing how you suddenly realize you have grown up. I don't know if being a grown up is all it's cracked up to be though. Things get complicated when you become an adult. You get to make all the decisions but they aren't all easy and if you make a bad one; the buck stops with you.

Earlier this week I came home from five days in Brisbane with my older brother Andrew and younger sister Jade and their families. Despite having more distance between us than we ever have in our lives, we are close. I genuinely enjoy their company and feel like I am with friends.  We are parents ourselves now and much has changed in our lives, but it was such a joy to be with them.

But one of the things I like best, is that being with my siblings, I don't feel grown up. We talk about the silly things we used to do as children and the trouble we caused. We call each other by the silly nicknames from decades ago. We discuss how we used to tease one another and the tricks we played on one another.   We are all still eager to remind each other of embarrassing experiences of the past.  We are happy to simply "hang out".

I am thrilled to be back with my three boys and have missed them every minute I was gone, but it's also nice knowing that distance hasn't changed a thing between my siblings and I.  Thanks Jade, Matt, Andrew, and Alex for having me xxx

Monday, November 5, 2012

Little Miss...or Mister?

Last Friday I took Carter to an appointment. We had about 45 minutes til it was school pick up time and it seemed hardly worth going home so instead we went to Medicare. Carter waited patiently and when I checked my watch I realized he had eaten his early lunch nearly 3 hours ago and was probably hungry.

We were close to a shopping complex and I knew there would at least be a McDonalds there so we headed over to find some food.

I have only been to this particular shopping centre a handful of times but we easily found the food court. Before we even thought of sitting, I demanded a toilet stop because Carter seems to time his bladder almost bursting right when we sit down to eat.

I spotted the toilet sign and we headed down the hallway. I saw the 'Parents Room' was occupied so I thought it best Carter just came into the 'Ladies' with me.

I pushed the door open and was overwhelmed by a horrible smell. I hadn't used these toilets before but they were obviously not cleaned very well....or very often.

Wanting to get out asap, I led Carter over to the cubicles to find there was only one cubicle. Feeling rather confused, I turned around spotted the urinal.

Even though I checked the door sign, I somehow still managed to wander into the 'Men's' toilet. We hurried out and passed a very confused man on our way out who stopped in the doorway, did a complete 180 and came back out to check the sign on the door.

Being a horrible Mummy, I put on my serious tone and said to Carter;

"Now Carter, you can't just go running into the toilets, you have to wait for Mummy or you will go into the wrong one."

That's what children are for right?  To throw under the bus to save you own pride.  Sorry son! But I think you owed me one anyway...or many.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Big three O!

My darling husband turned 30 this week. I have known him for nearly 9 years now and been married to him for almost 8 of those years. He is my best friend by a million miles.

Anthony caught my eye from literally the first time I set eyes on him. From VERY early in our relationship, I had a feeling it was going to last a long time - forever. I felt this way because when I imagined my life in the future, I imagined being at home cooking dinner and playing with my children and when I pictured my husband coming through the door at the end of the day, I pictured Anthony being that person. He has been that person and so much more.

Anthony doesn't like a fuss. Seeing as turning 30 is a big deal, it couldn't pass without some celebration, so we planned a casual dinner with family and we had Microwave Jenny come and join us. They sing some of Anthony's (and mine) favourite music and we were thrilled when they squeezed us into their busy schedule. If you haven't heard their music, I STRONGLY suggest you look them up immediately.

Carter dug up a guitar from somewhere and took it upon himself to play backing (not even remotely close to in tune though).

And of course we ate....and we ate....and we ate.  A couple of days later and we are still eating leftovers with more still to go.

So to my darling Anthony, HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY!!!  Ten years til the next big one!!



Monday, October 22, 2012

Mixed emotions

Friday was a day of mixed emotions for me.

One side of our family (Anthony's side) have eagerly been anticipating the return of Anthony's sister, Paige. She has been serving a mission for our church in the US. Aside from about twenty minutes of Skype time total, our only contact with her has been through letters and email.

Anthony has served a mission and understands how wonderful it is, but for those back home, the countdown to their return begins the day they board the plane. This time he was on the waiting end. I could see the excitement building and how thrilled he was to have his sister return home.

We woke up 4:30 AM Friday morning and arrived at the airport by 6am. We secured a spot at the front of the arrival gate armed with a variety of banners and signs. There were nine flights arriving at the same time and it took almost an hour before Paige came through.

Tony and Carter were first to run to greet her. I wondered how well Carter would remember Paige seeing as he was young when she left, but his reaction made me realize he remembered her just fine. It was so nice to see everyones reunion with Paige, but what I loved most seeing was Paige's reunion with her Dad. He waited back til last and after everyone else had greeted her, she tearfully hugged her Dad in the type of embrace that speaks a thousand words.

She was truly missed and whilst everyone was proud of her for her decision to serve a mission, there was such joy in having her home.

On the same day, the other side of our family was experiencing a much different day. My own sister, Jade and her husband Matt welcomed a son into their family two weeks ago. Leo is their first son, and little brother to a very excited big sister, Pacey.

Leo didn't come into this world alone though. He shared his little space inside Jade with a sibling.

In April we all received the exciting news twins were on the way. As the months passed, we also learnt that one of the twins had some features that caused concern and the future was uncertain.

Unfortunately a while later in the pregnancy, there was no longer a heartbeat for the little twin. The doctors thought it best to keep the little one in for the sake of little Leo and so they stayed together til arrival time.

Friday was the day Jade and Matt had the burial for their little baby. They have been so strong and I am so proud of my little sister for the way she has handled everything.

Friday was a day of mixed feelings for me. But I was happy that Paige's homecoming fell on the same day. It made me think of my little niece or nephew who too would have had a joyous home coming awaiting them on the other side. With the beliefs I have, I know there would be family waiting with arms outstretched. I know with certainty there would have been a loving Heavenly Father waiting to welcome His child back home. There is sadness for Jade and Matt who would have loved the opportunity to keep their little baby here with them, but the separation is temporary, and it's a great comfort to know their child is in good hands til that time, perhaps the best hands.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The cheese that broken the camels back

It is a little late to be blogging, but I haven't posted anything for a little while and I have things to be thankful for.  Firstly, I am thankful I have my first nephew!  My sister Jade and her husband Matt welcomed their first son, Leo Buddy Krok, a week ago today.  He is absolutely adorable.  It has been a far from easy pregnancy for them and  I have such admiration for my little sister for the way she has handled it all.

What kind of Aunty would I be without putting up a photo!


Secondly, I have my Mum here for a few days to visit.  Always grateful for that!

And lastly in some good and not so good news...

One of the first days of the school holidays, we had a lazy home day. I LOVE pyjama days like this and having all four of us home lazing around is my idea of the perfect day. Until about 2pm when the boys start to get a bit of cabin fever. Anthony kindly got the boys dressed and they headed out of the house for a while. They hadn't been gone more than ten minutes and I did a little tidying up; you know, putting away the odd toy here and there.

As I gathered up some stray pieces of grated cheese on the floor, I felt and heard a disgusting "snap".

My heart sunk and I had a sickening feeling that I had broken some of the metal in my back.

The initial pain wore off rather quickly and I thought perhaps all was ok, but as I started to move around to test for pain, I could hear a creaking and grinding like an old door hinge.
From then on, I was pretty sure I had broken some piece of the hardware.

I arranged some x-rays and they confirmed my inkling and there was indeed a broken titanium rod staring back at me.

My surgeon was away til the end of the school holidays so I had to wait to see him for a couple of weeks but that was alright. I felt everything would be alright in the end.

This isn't the first time I had broken my rods. Four years ago I found out I broke my rods in four places due to my spine not fusing properly like we had hoped. This meant re-doing the entire surgery and fixing up the additional damage.

I knew that if the bone hadn't fused AGAIN, it was definitely another surgery. If the fusion 'appeared' solid (appeared as you can't really tell for certain without opening you up to see), it could just be a smaller surgery, or possibly more of a wait-and-see approach.

Today I saw my surgeon. On the way there, I felt good. My "gut instinct" has become my most proven method for determining a potentially difficult situation in the past and is pretty much always right.

Us religious folk call it "the Spirit" or "the Holy Ghost" guiding us, others may call it "intuition" or just "gut instinct". Whatever your belief, I am thankful I have such guidance. I trust in this feeling.

From the scans I have had done, my fusion appears to be fairly solid. There is certainly a break just above my pelvis and likely a broken screw and the adjacent rod is likely to break as a result, but it is fixable through a smaller surgery. My surgeon asked for some time to formulate the best way to do this as apparently I am a bit of a difficult case - I just like to be unique :)

So whilst it is possible I may be soon heading into the operating theatre sooner than I would like, I am thankful it won't be as big as my previous two surgeries and that it can be sorted. I am thankful.

I know its kind of gross but here is my lumbar spine xrays (if you are good at reading x-rays you can spot the break on the right hand rod).


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Goodbye my friend

Tonight there were a few tears in our house. Tony had to "retire" a very dear friend of his - Cena Bear.

About three and a half years ago, just prior to when I had surgery, I knew my boys ( then almost 1 and 3) were going to need to spend a great deal of time away from me. To help them cope with this, I took them both to Build-a-Bear to 'make' a bear of their own. Tony chose a little white bear and dressed him in boxer shorts, a gardening apron, and thongs. There were about a hundred different outfits ranging from cheerleaders and fireman to sporting outfits and tuxedos, BUT underwear and an apron was what seemed right to Tony.

When it came to providing a name on the birth certificate, 2 year old Tony suggested "Mummy", then "Daddy", and then "Cena Bear" which was good enough for me.

Cena Bear has rarely left Tonys side, particularly at bed time. He has been washed many times, re-sewn over and over, brushed, and redressed. He wears a Santa outfit all year round. He has been to hospital with Tony and always travels on overnight trips with him. He is Tony's buddy.

Last week as I was switching off all the lights for the night at 11pm, Tony was stirring. Thinking I must have woken him, I went and checked on him and found he had thrown up everywhere and by the looks of it he had fallen back asleep IN IT!

Unfortunately Cena Bear did not come out it unscathed. I tried my best to clean him and wash him, but I could tell it might be time for him to "retire".

So today while we were out I saw some Teddy bears and I asked Tony if he wanted to pick one. After choosing a bear with a green blanket, he was all excited and I suggested to him that perhaps we 'retire' Cena Bear and this could be his new Teddy bear.

He immediately looked at me with little tears in his eyes and said;

"I don't want to 'retire' Cena Bear, I love him."

I explained to him that if he doesn't get to 'rest' from his Bear-ly duties, he is going to fall apart and I won't be able to fix him.

So tonight as bed time rolled around, I told Tony its time to take Cena Bear to meet Big Ted (Anthonys Teddy bear from when he was little). We said Big Ted had been retired for a VERY long time and had been waiting for a friend.
This took some of the sting out of it all, but as we put them in the storage box together, Tony's face crumpled and it brought tears to my eyes. I could suddenly remember how much I loved my Teddy bears and how real they were to me. I of course knew they weren't real bears or anything, but they were real friends in my eyes and I couldn't stand the idea of one of them spending the night on the floor. I realized for Tony, he is packing away a friend and replacing him with another. It was genuinely heart breaking to watch

I heard Tony introducing his new bear, Mayfield, to his new room. The instructions were very detailed;

"This is our bed. You will sleep near the wall so you don't fall under the rail. Don't touch the light bulb, it's hot. You don't need to be scared of that picture on the wall - that's just the Wiggles. Oh, and we are vey lucky, there are no daddy-long-legs up here. You will just love it!"

I'm sure Mayfield will be very happy here.


Monday, September 17, 2012

You speak my language?

I know I am stating the obvious, but being a parent changes you. You go from feeling like your life is semi under control to feeling like you are living in an insane asylum. No one sleeps, there is lots of screaming, people are naked, there is more food on the walls/floor/furniture than in any ones mouths, and you can't understand a word anyone is saying.

I used to believe the saying that some things go without saying.

I used to believe some things should never be said at all.

That was then. This is now.

Every day as a parent, I find myself saying things I never imagined coming from my mouth. I KNOW I'm not alone in this.

1. "Do I smell poo or a bum burp? PLEASE say bum burp!"

2. "Let me smell your finger."

3. "Spit it out and bring it to me, I will eat it."

4. "I know it hurts but I'm not going to kiss your bum."

5. "All the blocks are the EXACT same-stop fighting over the same one!"

6. "Stop strangling your brother and tell him you love him!"

7. (yelling as loud as I can) "How many times do I have to tell you to stop yelling!!"

8. "If you don't eat your bowl of ice-cream, you're in big trouble!"

9. "Pull your undies up BEFORE your pants."

10. Hop in the bath and I will bring your dinner to you."

11. "Do I hear laughing? If you are laughing I won't be happy!"

12. "I am going to the toilet! Can't I have one second to myself?"

13. Stop picking your nose, we are having dinner soon."

14. "One person on the toilet at a time."

15. "PLEASE tell me that's chocolate on the wall!"

16. "That is not food, spit it out.....ah forget it!"

17. "I am not a tissue/rubbish bin/slave!"

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Great Grandma indeed

My husband, Anthony, works at a high school. I think he has a gift with teenagers and works very well with them. Some of the kids he works with have been dealt a pretty rough hand in their short lives. Their home lives are unpleasant and unstable. I don't know these kids myself, but I feel for them and it always saddens me to think of what their future holds with the lives they have.

I actually try not to think about it too much because it makes me really sad, but I know that despite their circumstances, their futures are not yet written. Who and what they become is influenced by their parents and environment, but it is in no way the deciding factor. The deciding factor is the individual themselves.

I know this because I have been fortunate enough to have known many people in my life who have overcome tough circumstance and become wonderful people. One is my Grandma.

My Grandma had a tough life from the get go. Her mother left her and her sisters at a very young age to be raised by relatives. She was often moved around from one relative to the next and never really shown love and security like a child should. She became timid and nervous because she was always worried about putting a foot out of line and being moved again.

At the young age of 14, after what would have been a very tough childhood, she left school and moved out by herself and worked full-time at a factory. I find this so hard to fathom. At the age of 14 I was probably still spending all my pocket money on Hubba Bubba.

Years later, she met my Grandpa (who lost his mother at a very young age) and they were just perfect for each other. Both were so loving and gave the other the devotion they deserved.

My Grandma didn't know the type of home that a child needs to develop with confidence and hope. I have no doubt there wasn't much kindness and affection given to her. But despite this, she is a gentle, kind, affectionate woman. There is never any doubt in my mind how my Grandma feels about me, she showed me all the time.

We loved going to Grandma and Grandpa's house because when we got there there was a table with all our favourite foods all laid out for us. I think they got a brief kiss and hug 'hello' before we set up camp at the table and didn't leave til we were bursting. Then we would flop on the couch to watch "Inspector Gadget", "The Boy Who Could Fly", "Milo and Otis", "Project X", or "The Wizard of Oz". Grandma only see's the best in others and she never has a bad word to say about anyone else. She just has a reverence about her that I love.

Now that I am an adult, I can see that there was a choice that my Grandma made. She could become a certain way BECAUSE of her circumstance, and this would have not been ideal, but been understandable. But instead she decided to become a certain way IN SPITE of her circumstance - to become better. I love this. I love that the situation she was subject to did not define who she became.

Sometimes we are in bad circumstances because of our own poor choices, but other times they are thrust upon us. I don't think its entirely possible to come out of such a circumstance unchanged. We have to change to get through it. But what is undecided is how it changes us.

My Grandma is an amazing Grandma and a beautiful woman, but more than that she is an example of a quiet strength to not let circumstance define you, but to hope for and become something better. Love you Grandma xxxx










Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A little like Batman

We went to see "The Dark Knight Rises" recently. I LOVE Christian Bale. Perhaps even more than Anthony (jokes my darling). During the trailers, they showed a preview for Superman-Man of Steel. As our movie began, I noticed for the first time one contrast between Superman and Batman I never really noticed before. I pretty much just lumped them all into the "Superhero" category, but with different outfits.

What I noticed was Superman is naturally strong. He is inhumanly strong. He was born to be a Superhero.

Batman is completely human. He isn't exceptionally strong. He gets wounded like the rest of us, and several scenes in the movie show his scarred body. He wasn't born a Superhero, he has to work hard at it and has a whole host of crazy gadgets and vehicles to assist his work.

It was the scars I noticed most. They really showed the vulnerability of Batman. I didn't find them ugly though, they are evidence of his work as a hero.

I have scars too - we all do. I have them on my back, neck, shoulder, abdomen, knuckles, foot, and ribs. I used to find the big scar down my back a little ugly. I don't wear overly revealing clothes anyway, but I was happy that they weren't on show.

I can honestly say that I have no shame in my scars now though. They are definitely not evidence of a hero's life (unless eating chocolate on the couch at night is considered heroic), but they are evidence that I have lived a full life. A life full of a variety of different experiences - the way life is intended to be.

My scars are proof I have experienced pain through injury and sickness. They are proof I have experienced joy through the c-sections I had to give birth to our sons. I have scars that make me grateful for modern medicine and the blessing it is in my life. I have scars that remind me of being too impulsive and perhaps acting before thinking. I have scars that remind me of my faith in prayer to overcome disease and illness.

I have other scars too, some that cannot be seen. Different experiences in my life have caused small scars in me I think, not visible scars, but they are there all the same. These scars we generally hold dear to our hearts. These scars are reminders of difficulties we have all experienced and overcome.

My scars are proof that I have lived, and they are not ugly to me at all.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Do me a favor

I decided on Monday morning that I wanted to invest more time into being a better parent to our boys. I had no intention of reading any reference books, attending any seminars, or reading any parenting magazines (mainly because that takes effort). My only plan was to spend time with them doing activities they enjoy.

Carter has been attending Yarran (an AMAZING early intervention preschool for anyone unfamiliar with it) and they have a big focus on playing with your child to help their development. Seems so obvious, but the one thing I really don't do very well is to let them lead and guide the play. Too often I have a plan on what activity we will do and what we will get out of it rather than just playing for fun and seeing where it goes. Sometimes my attitude is to just 'do my time' with play so I can get back to my own 'to-do' list.

Monday I had Carter at home with me. There was weekend washing to do, bathroom to clean, and dinner to cook.
I chucked the washing on, put dinner in the oven and asked Carter what he felt like doing. He grabbed his scooter and announced we were going for a walk to the skate park. The skate park is a 5 minute walk, but took us about 15. We were the only ones there, but I got to watch my little fellow on his scooter. He is really confident and coordinated on his scooter, which is a stark contrast to his coordination when walking (from the amount of bruises he gets from falling over or walking into things it's a surprise we haven't been reported to DOCS).

We then went for a walk and headed home. In the afternoon we played baseball and did some drawing. I felt a little sad when I realized how much he loved my attention. Im happy he enjoys being with me, but sad because so often he bounces over to me with a ball in his hands asking me to come outside and play, but I tell him I am busy.

And I am busy, but I know if I really wanted to I could find ten minutes to play outside with my little buddy.

That same evening, I wanted to teach Tony how to play Phase 10. He is a bright spark and even though he is younger than the recommended age, I thought he would enjoy it and thrive on the challenge.

How right I was. In fact, he actually beat me his first game, and I wasn't even going easy on him!
It is a delight to watch his brain ticking over as he takes everything in.

Almost exactly 24 hours later, Tony appeared in front of me with Phase 10 in his hands and a hopeful look in his eyes. How could I resist?

I know I'm not a terrible parent or anything, but I am a little disappointed in myself that I sometimes forget that I actually 'enjoy' my children's company. That at times, dropping what I am doing and having some fun with them can feel like work. Don't get me wrong, they are work sometimes, they can be the hardest work of my day. But they are always the best part of day as well.

So....after two days of trying to devote more of me to my sons, how was I repaid?

Tony was awake for the majority of last night with a bad ear infection. Sleepless child equals sleepless parents. Carter had preschool at Yarran this morning and when I returned to pick him up, I was asked;

"Are congratulations in order?"

Obviously bewildered I responded with a befuddled look. I was then informed that Carter had announced to his new Yarran preschool teachers that his Mummy and Daddy were getting married and then given them all a celebratory hi-5. I had to tell them we have been married nearly 8 years now.

And....the icing on the cake - going to pick up Anthony from work and taking a 'busting' Carter to the staff room toilets only to have him blast the taps when he washed his hands and water splash ALL OVER the crotch of my pants! It seriously looked like I had wet my pants!

I am more than happy to have the favor go unreturned next time.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

And the first shall be last

I had a thought the other day about how common marriage is.

When you think about it, it's pretty amazing the number of people who get married. I know the divorce rate is rather high and it's higher than it was decades ago, but it's still pretty amazing that so many people still get hitched.

The sheer fact that there are so many people who have just happened to find someone they like enough to voluntarily commit to spending EVERY single day with them, sharing half of everything they have, combine their DNA to create little people who will suck the sleep and money from them (among the other joys of parenting) - well the odds of that happening as often as it does is incredible!

I don't think our marriage is the same as it was 7 and a half years ago. There aren't many 'firsts' anymore. We have bought our first car. Gone on our first holiday. Had our first child. Had our first fight. Had our first Christmas. And the list goes on and on.

Things change.

Actually I think it would be concerning if our marriage hadn't changed. It would mean we hadn't grown. We hadn't evolved. We hadn't learnt.

If you asked me seven years ago what I thought made a marriage 'work', I would have said it was good communication, making time for each other, compromise, and a whole lot of love.

Now my answer has changed. It has grown with time and experience.
What I think makes our marriage work is knowing that above all else, we matter most to each other. I know that when I am at the end of my rope at the end of a long day, Anthony will did a little deeper and find the patience to get the boys to bed before I snap. I know that when Anthony is exhausted, I will muster the extra energy to tidy up and get things done. We put each other first when it matters most, but also in the little things. I know I matter to Anthony. I know I am loved.

There are very few firsts left in our marriage, but I don't miss the excitement of that 'new' feeling.  I love the security and closeness that we have now.  I love that in some ways we know each other as well as we  know ourselves.

I doubt I was the first to ever nag Anthony, but I certainly plan on being the last.  He is stuck with me now.   SUCKER!


Thursday, August 2, 2012

On second thought....

Why is it that when you are out and you spot someone you recognize but don't know overly well, you don't say "hi"? I'm sure everyone is familiar with this kind of scenario.

At the shops, spot someone you met once/used to work with/went to school with/met at so-and-so's wedding and your first instinct is to go and say "hi".

But then that little voice chimes in telling you;

"Na, don't go over, they won't remember you and you will just feel stupid."

So you walk on, avoiding any eye contact, and continue on to the food court to get a Cheeseburger with added mayo (don't knock it til you've tried it).

It took me a while, but logic tells me that if I recognize them, wouldn't it be likely they recognize me?

Unless they are a 90 year old woman, or have been in a memory altering car accident since our last meeting, it's very possible I will say hi, re-introduce myself and will get a;

"Oh hi! How have you been?"

I see a pattern in my life though. So many thoughts pop into my mind that seem like good ideas, but then a second thought follows that makes that first thought seem silly and I end up scrapping it all together.

"Maybe I should give 'insert name' a call......actually she is always really busy and I wouldn't want to bother her."

"It seemed like 'insert name' was a little upset today, I should see if she's alright......but I don't want to interfere in case she doesn't want to talk about it."

"I should try and put my 'insert skill/talent' to use and try a new venture....but I don't want to make a fool of myself and mess it up and fail."

Generally speaking, my first instincts are good ideas. They are positive things. It's ALWAYS that second thought that follows straight away that talks me out of it.

Sadly, it sometimes gets to the point that it becomes my instinct to talk myself out of good things. A new suggestion, a new idea, a new venture, and my first instinct will be to provide a hundred reasons why I can't do it.

Logic tells me it isn't risking failure, embarrassment, or bothering a friend that's stupid. It's talking myself out of something good for no good reason that's stupid. It's missing out on helping someone else, or doing something enjoyable, or that will better my own life, that makes no sense.

So, as a starting point, from now on I will make a better effort to make eye-contact and say 'hi'' to those people I recognize at the shop. Worse case scenario - I will get a blank look, get all embarrassed and flushed, and skulk off and get two Cheeseburgers instead of one.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bringing a little bit of bogan to Kariong

We have been in our new house about six weeks now. I feel pretty settled here now and am enjoying not walking up nearly a hundred stairs to get from our car to the front door. I enjoy not having to take the "cold" items up first when I buy groceries, just in case I need a big rest break after making it up and can't be bothered going back for the rest. Anthony LOVES not having to carry two sleeping boys at once (Carter in his arms and Tony barely hanging on to his back) when we get home late at night so he doesn't have to make two trips. Let's just say we are in no way taking getting out of our parked car and walking ten meters to our front door for granted.

Another perk is we now have a yard. An actual front and back yard with grass. I know it sounds sad that it is a source of excitement for us, but previously our boys only had a veranda out the front, and a small paved strip out the back. The veranda didn't seem overly solid, and the paved area was overgrown because we were too scared to go out there and trim it back (actually Anthony was too scared - I was just too lazy). This meant we took a lot of trips to the park.

Well, aside from having actual grass we can call our own, we are virtually next door to a park. As in if you cross our neighbours driveway, you are at the park.

Our boys love the park and a few days after we moved in, Mr. Tarts and I were out the front. I was putting something in the shed and he was playing with a footy. I went inside to turn the oven off and came back to an empty yard. I called out to Carter and heard nothing. I went around the side gate to the back but found nothing. Then it clicked!

I walked down the driveway and out the front gate and headed for the park. When I arrived there I spotted Carter standing on the square-shaped bench with his arm outstretched. As I got closer I realized he was doing a rather loud performance of "Grease Lightning", complete with jacket being swung and thrown. Fortunately a stern chat has meant no more solo excursions to the park.

On Friday I took Carter to the park while the sun was shining. Once we got there I sat on the bench and realized I should have brought a book. I ended up laying down and enjoying the sun on my face. I'm not how sure how long I was out, but I ended up falling asleep - on the park bench.

The only reason I woke up was because I heard a splashing sound nearby. I squinted to look in the direction of the sound to find Carter next to the bench with his pants around his ankles doing a very public wee!

Kariong should be thrilled we have moved it - we are all class!




Monday, July 23, 2012

Our version of scripture reading

Last night, before the boys went to bed, we read them a Scripture story. We read about Nephi going to get the plates from King Laban. They have heard the story before, but we hadn't read it together for a while.

Anthony did the actual reading of the scriptures - complete with voices (his Lehi voice sounded like either an old woman or Dobby).

Its amazing to watch such young children so enthralled listening to a story in scripture-language that is sometimes difficult for adults to understand.

Tony loves a good story and was listening eagerly. When it came to the point where the four brothers drew lots to see who would go in to see King Laban, we showed the boys what it meant to draw lots. I got the short matchstick! Even though he knew we were just pretending, Tony's sweet nature didn't want me to lose and as soon as he saw the little matchstick in my hand he said;

"Here Mum, take mine - we can swap."

Nice to know if I ever have to confront a wicked King, Tony will step in for me.

We read about how Laman lost and had to go but was chased out. We read how they went back with all their gold and silver to trade with King Laban, but that he took all their riches and tried to have them all killed.

We read how they were told to go back a third time. With eyebrows raised we asked the boys;

"Oh no! They have to go back AGAIN! What do you think will happen this time?"

Carter jumped up from the couch and stood in front of Anthony with his hand raised for a 'hi-five' and said;

"They're going to kick butt!"

Not quite scripture language....but accurate all the same.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Our hero

Anthony and I had a little....incident...late last night. We went to bed later than usual (not a good idea considering it was the first day back at school today). I took my pain killer before bed but my normal dose didn't seem to do the trick so I decided to take another, but needed to put something in my stomach first as dinner was hours earlier.

I made myself a hot Milo and climbed into bed to drink it and watch a DVD. Before I could even take the first sip, I managed to tip nearly half of it all over our quilt and myself. After sending Anthony to get a tea towel and getting myself and our bed cleaned up, I finished my drink.

I HATE going to sleep without brushing my teeth. No matter how late, or how tired I am, I will always drag myself to the bathroom to brush my teeth.
So, before getting too sleepy I got up to brush my teeth. As I went to open our bedroom door, I turned the handled but couldn't open the door. I tried turning the other direction, but still nothing. In a slightly more panicked fashion, I turned left, right, then left again and tugged but the door wouldn't budge. Our bedroom door has no lock on it but it was somehow broken.

It was as if the handle was disconnected to the inside mechanism and my turning was doing nothing at all.

Being somewhat dramatic, I turned back to Anthony and informed him;

"WE'RE TRAPPED!! No joke, we are stuck in here and can't get out! I won't be able to brush my teeth!"

Anthony got up to inspect our predicament and asked if I had anything to try and pry it open.

I can be a bit of a slob sometimes and rather than putting things away properly I just shove them in the closest draw. Its a bit of an "out of sight, out if mind" mentality.
I dug around and found some of my old Driver's Licenses and a bobby pin.

In our best MacGyver effort, we poked and prodded at the door. To be honest I don't think either of us had any idea what we were doing. For all I know we could have been jamming it more.

We conceded defeat pretty quickly and resorted to yelling out to Tony to try and wake him to come let us out. We knocked on the door and called out but Tony is a very deep sleeper and wasn't going to be waking up any time soon.

We considered climbing out our window but that was pointless as we still had no way of getting in the house with everything locked up for the night.

As a last resort we thought we would try Carter. Carter wakes up earlier than all of us and I am always cautious of waking him before I need to because once he is up, he will stay awake. In desperation, we lay on the floor and called out the gap under the door to Carter.

There was no response and we almost had to resign to the fact we were well and truly trapped til one of the boys woke up in the morning.

Then...we heard a sound. It was Carter! Our yelling had caused him to stir. We called out again to him to come to our room and open the door. His half-asleep response was;

"Shhh, be quiet, I'm busy!!"

After having a giggle we called to him again and finally we heard the patter of little feet coming to the rescue. We watched the door handle turn and I was thrilled to see Carters sleepy little face. After a hero's welcome, we tucked him back into bed and taped the door jam so we couldn't get stuck again before we get a new door handle.

Give MacGyver a straw and a paperclip and he could have made a gun and shot his way out of handcuffs.

The two of us couldn't even get a door, without a lock, open!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mr. Sandman

I love sleep. Somedays I would be content to just stay in bed all day if I could. However, as much as I love sleep, it doesn't always come easy for me.

At the end of the day, my body longs to lie in bed and rest. I can feel it in every muscle of my body. But my back aches as I try and settle in and it makes it hard to doze off sometimes.

So I either stay up and watch tv or I lie in bed...and I think.

I know this is a pretty common thing to do - to lie in bed and think. I've noticed recently that the thoughts I have before I fall asleep are never trivial. They have nothing to do with what I watched on tv, what I ate for dinner, or whether the growing mountain of laundry will get folded come morning.

Instead, My thoughts tend to revolve around what's important to me. I think of my family - both near and far. I think about my boys and the things they did that made me laugh that day. I think of how I shouldn't have raised my voice so quickly when they weren't listening to me. I think about Anthony's snoring next to me and that no matter how loud it may get, I won't mind, because nothing compares to the peace of falling asleep next to the person you can't bear to be without.

Perhaps the thoughts I have before I drift off, are the most real thoughts I have of the day.

I know that when old age comes, and my days left on this earth are numbered, my thoughts won't be that I wished I had more money, or spent more time chasing a career. I won't wish I drove a nicer car or had a bigger house. There is no doubt in my mind that all I will be thinking about is my family and loved ones. The things that matter most.

I love sleep. But I love the clarity that comes whilst trying to get to dreamland even more.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Black, white, and a little bit of purple

I recorded "The Colour Purple" today. I remember watching it with my Mum years ago and even though I couldn't remember it, I knew I enjoyed it.

Tonight Tony sat with me on the couch as I watched it once again. He asked my why the people with white skin were being "bossy" to the people with brown skin.

I was tempted to brush it off with a line about it being a movie, but instead decided to tell him the truth. That a while ago, some people said that people with brown skin weren't the same as people with white skin and that they were treated badly.

The look on Tony's face could only be described as perplexed.  I could see that he honestly couldn't even fathom the colour of someone's skin being a reason to treat them any differently.

He thought about it and said;

"But that's stupid.  People with brown skin and people with white skin are all the same because they are all people."

Many things Tony says and does makes me proud as his mother, this one made me beam.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Underbelly

I am the second oldest of six children. My older brother Andrew is sixteen months older than me and was my best friend as little children. He was always busy and I was quite content to just sit and watch him zoom about around me.

Andrew had a tendency to repeat things he heard from others. I remember Mum telling me when they moved to a new area, they went to the park and Andrew overheard some kids swearing. The following Sunday they attended church in their new area for the first time and sat near the back. Andrew stood up on the seat and yelled out his newly learnt swear word as loud as he could.

It must have been reasons such as this why my parents made the decision to come up with a little nickname for a certain part of the male anatomy. I know this is very common and the little names people come up with really amuse me.

My parents decided "belly" would be safe - I don't even know how they came up with it. We referred to our stomach as our "tummy" anyway so there were no issues with confusion there.

This little nickname worked well until Christmas a few years on. Once we were all old enough to understand the actual words, imagine our shock when we were read "TWas the Night Before Christmas". For those less familiar with this poem, the line that furrowed my eyebrows is;

"The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round BELLY,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!"

Even though I still liked Santa and I certainly liked the presents, I have to admit, this poem did change my view of him a little.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Jo Ostrich Bush

I don't really like to watch the news. I have no objection with being up to date with current events in the world, I just don't like seeing some of the horrific things shown. Natural disasters and accidents are nothing to be taken lightly, but it's the cruel and nasty things some people CHOOSE to put another person through that made up my mind to just not watch.  I know, I know, I am burying my head in the sand.

I have heard a lot of people, particularly those with children, commenting on the state of the world and their fears for their children having to grow up in such a society. Sometimes I do too. But my confidence in my fellow men is restored on a regular basis. There is a lot of negative in our world, but I KNOW our world is also full of good people. People who have shown us so much kindness.

Last week at the shop, Carter was sitting on one of those $2 horse carousal rides (I remember these being 20 cents!). An older lady came and started chatting to Carter and kindly put $2 into the ride to start it going. I opened my purse to give her $2, but she quickly declined and said it simply made her happy to see Carter happy.

With strangers like this in the world, I don't worry too much. The people I know make me worry even less.

Last weekend, we moved house. Without any exaggeration, moving house is my worst task! Ever. In the world. I HATE it!

I love once you have settled into the new house with everything set up nicely and all the clutter and junk thrown out. It's very refreshing.

But it's so much work and effort to get to that point! All the sorting, and packing, and transporting, and the never ending cleaning. My muscles ache even thinking about it. Clearly I am a weakling and my aversion to any kind of physical labour also doesn't align well with the task of moving house.

Nevertheless, we moved last weekend, but we did not do it alone. I have been so touched by the offers of help we have received. From boxes given to us, transportation help, to assistance with packing and cleaning, to child minding, and help with actually moving boxes, we have felt so blessed to know such kind, generous people.

I know our world can be a scary place with some not-so-nice people out there. But nearly every day I get to experience kindness and positivity. So when 6 pm rolls around, I don't turn on the news. Perhaps it's burying my head in the sand, but I just want to think of the world filled with good, because that's what I get to see every day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Green thumb



I decided to try my hand at a little weeding in our garden (actually jungle) yesterday.  We are moving house  next weekend and want to leave our yard tidier than it currently is.  For those who haven't seen our front yard, its insane.  We are on a slope and we don't have grass, just weeds and shoots and what I think is the odd plant or two.
I was going to do some on Monday but then I realised that we own absolutely no gardening tools whatsoever so I postponed til yesterday instead.
I headed outside armed with some sheers, a weed fork thing, and a weird mini rake thing that I liked the look of and even if it wasn't for raking leaves, it certainly did the trick just fine.  It's wasn't until I was all ready for action that I realised there were several things working against me.

1. I don't have the faintest idea about gardening.
2. I can't tell the difference between weeds and plants.
3. I can't bend my back so it makes bending down on a slope very hard.
4. I have a ten second attention span for activities I have zero interest in.

I decided to start simple and pull a few weeks and loose bark from around a rather sturdy looking little palm tree looking plant. As I was pulling the dead bark off the base, I must have pulled a little hard because I pulled the ENTIRE plant out of the ground.  As I stood with this tree, roots and soil dangling in my hand, I must have looked like a guilty child who knew they had done something wrong.  So I checked around me and threw it down the little cliff next to our house where no one would  find it.

I gave up on that part of the yard and moved on to a different section near our stairs.  Our stairs are rather deadly at the moment as these weird vines have grown out from the garden and if you aren't careful, your feet can get caught in them as you go up/down the steps.  I grabbed a bunch of these vines that were beginning to take over their part of the yard and tugged.  As I tugged, more and more of them lifted up from under the dirt.  They were springing up from everywhere and I was having to move back further and further away to keep pulling on them......until they all snapped suddenly sending me stumbling backwards flat onto my butt.

Feeling a little embarrassed, I started pruning some overgrown branches.  With each snip, I kept feeling what I was sure was baby spiders flying around my head.  I waved my arms over my head each time to get rid of them to find nothing was there.  It took me a good few repetitions of my  'dance move' to realise it was just tiny tiny little leaves flying off the branches.

By this point I looked both sides of me to see if any neighbours were watching as I must have been making quite the fool of myself.  According to my watch, barely any time had passed.   I stood back to assess my handiwork to realise it didn't look any different at all.

So I threw down my tools and went inside for some brussel sprouts and a block of chocolate. Not together of course.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Not lost

I remember being young and whilst at the shop being desperate to get to the toy aisle. The toy aisle is the ONLY aisle that matters when you are young. Except for the lolly aisle, but thankfully those kind shop people are clearly in the business of making the shopping trip easier for kids as there is always a selection of lollies/gum/chocolate right by the registers. This makes it much easier as kids can save their whining for the toy aisle knowing they will eventually HAVE to pass some sort of sugar when they leave.
Once we made it to the toy section, there was a need to play with absolutely every toy you could as you may not get your hands on it again any time soon. I loved the Polly Pockets, My Little Pony, Doctor Dreadful Kits, ANY kind of slime, Trolls, and of course Itty Bitty Bins (how a bin became a popular toy is beyond me!).
I remember being so engrossed and hearing Mum say it was time to leave to finish our shopping but deciding that one minute longer wouldn't hurt - I will just catch up!

Being a child often means you have no concept of how long a minute actually is, and I can quite clearly recall the feeling of running to catch up and finding I had no idea which direction my Mum and siblings went. That sudden feeling of realisation that you were lost was horrible!

Tony has many little fears, and being lost is one of them. If we say we are leaving, he hurries and comes with us straight away. I think I have only lost Tony once in KMart and by lost I mean he was the aisle beside me and didn't know I had moved on. I'm sure those four seconds were some of the worst of his life ;o)

I lose Carter regularly....or perhaps more accurately he loses me regularly! I will suddenly turn around and he is gone. For a rather portly little fellow he is surprisingly fast.

This happened a little while back when my Mum was over visiting. Carter wandered off in Tuggerah shopping centre and I went after him. Mum was with Tony and when Mum realised Carter and I were gone, she asked Tony if he had seen me. Tony knew exactly where I was. He showed Mum where I went and told her;

"I always know where Mum is".

Poor boy probably has to with me always running off after our little runner :o) Whenever we finally have searched the shop and find young Carter, a sense of relief rushes in.

The thing is, when I tell him we were worried, he gives a blank face and asks why. Having to state the obvious and tell we were worried because he was lost and we couldn't find him, he will tell me;

"I'm not lost Mum, I am going for a walk".

Although at the time, this always seems a little insane to me, I can see the logic now. Carter isn't lost - he knows exactly where he is going. But from my perspective, he is lost and doesn't even know it.

I know people like this, and sometimes I am one probably even one of them. I may think I have it all under control and am heading in a good direction, but maybe there are others looking at me thinking;

"She is lost and doesn't even know it".


Friday, May 11, 2012

Mothers Day

Being a Mother is the most bitter-sweet experience I have had in life. Every stage of being a parent has had it's pros and it's cons. Right from the get-go, there is the rush of excitement when you learn you have a little person joining your family, but along with such joyful news comes exhaustion and morning sickness (if you didn't get morning sickness - I hate you).

As the weeks and months pass, there is fun in watching your growing belly and those first movements, and there is the frustration at not fitting into your clothes and those crazy hormones!

Needless to say childbirth is one of the most joyous moments in life, but it takes tremendous work and pain to get there. But once your baby is here and you lock your eyes on theirs, there is no question as to whether or not they were worth such pain. There is no doubt you would endure such pain again to protect your child.

My days with a newborn felt like we were in a bubble. Just my little family and me. Although all sweet and fluffy, that bubble has something missing - sleep.

As the months pass, crawling and walking come and bring new excitement and awe, as well as the continual chasing and following.

With each stage though, I have been the centre of my children's universe. Each accomplishment of theirs they wanted to share with me. When they were hurt or sick, a cuddle from Mummy makes it better. It was impossible to go to sleep without being tucked in by Mummy. I was wanted and needed physically and emotionally all day every day.

Now my babies are 6 and 4. When Tony became more independent, I had Carter as a baby who still relied on me so heavily so the independence was welcomed. Carter is really enjoying doing things by himself. When he goes to the toilet, it is my instinct to help him with his pants, but he quickly shuts the door after himself and tells me;

"Mummy, I need my space".

As of late, this has progressed. When Carter wants to demonstrate his independence, he says to me;

"No Mum, I don't need you."

I have to admit this hit me a little hard. I know part of my job as a parent is to help my children grow into independent people, but I thought I had more time til I heard this phrase.

I'm not too cut though, because I know that even as an adult I still need my Mum - it's just not in the same way. I don't need her to wake me up, wash my hair, cut my food, or drive me around. But I still need her. I need her advice whether it's trivial or important. I need to call her when I am happy or have good news or just to share a silly joke I have heard. Hearing her voice when I'm having a bad day perks me up instantly. She lives further away now, but it's ok, phone contact does the job just fine.

Age has not taken away my need of my Mum, so I hope my boys will still be needing me in 20 years time. I hope they will need me in the way I need my Mum, still as a parent, but also as a friend.


My boys have made being a Mother a joy and I am so proud to have them call me Mum.

I am equally proud to be the daughter of my Mum - Happy Mother's Day Mum from your favorite daughter ;o)

And of course my lovely mother-in-law - Happy Mother's Day from your favorite daughter-in-law (I had the first grandchildren so I HAVE to ALWAYS be the favourite) xxx

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

You're the one that I want


I have always loved the movie Grease.  My siblings and I played the record (giant black CD looking thing for the younger generation) over and over and over.  Even as a younger girl, I always had a bit of a thing for John Travolta.  Anthony didn't want to be Danny, he preferred Kenickie.

But come on......



No competition right?

Carter agrees with me.  He just recently started telling me he is "Danny".  Sometimes I am "Sandy".  
I busted him standing on our kitchen bench a few weeks back with his pyjama top open like a jacket and he was singing and dancing "Grease Lightning", complete with his jacket spinning on his arm and being thrown across the kitchen.  If only I had caught him on camera!

Today he wanted to watch some songs from Grease on YouTube.  I love watching his face while he watches - he is so absorbed in it.  I put on "You're the One that I Want" and tried to film him without him realising.  I LOVE watching his face when the transformed Sandy comes on screen....just before I am busted with the camera.  

Such a boy!!




Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Drama drama drama

I have heard this saying many times;

"Life with children is never dull."

Whilst pregnant, people would tell me this, but it was generally coupled with advice to make the most of my sleep now as I apparently wasn't going to be getting much later.  Although I'm sure it is all well-meaning, putting fear and dread into a soon-to-be-mother didn't seem all that kind to me.  That baby was coming, and I was going to be learning the sleep thing soon enough, just let me be blissfully ignorant til then!

It's true though, life is never dull with children, but it isn't always the way I expected.  Nothing is boring with children.   It's wonderful!  Every single day, without fail, my children say or do something that cracks me up and  their quirky little sense of humour makes me adore them all over again.

Children make the simplest, most mundane tasks, such a the school run, an absolute joy.

Yesterday as we drove home after picking up Tony from school, us adults were discussing the unnecessary drama that we sometimes bring into our lives and how irritating it can be.

Tony is a man of MANY questions and jumped in with;

"Hey Mum, what's drama?"

To which I replied;

"Umm..it's really silly, like when people make a big fuss over something and make it so much more difficult than it needs to be. It can be very annoying."

Poor Tony looked horrified and gasped and said;

"Oh no! Next week we have to go into Mr. Booth's class at school and guess what we have to do....DRAMA!"


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Park zoo

My boys LOVE the park - like most kids. We don't have a backyard so they are especially excited when we tell them we are heading down to the park. We are lucky there are about 6 to choose from within 5km from our house.....but I prefer the playgrounds WITHOUT swings as Carter will spend the entire time we are there sitting on the swing asking;

"PLEASE push me Mum! I'm serious, I promise!"

He is very serious these days, I'm just not so sure what about.

It's always a mixed bag of kids at the park. Some play alone, some play with the other kids there, some play well with others, and some.....not so much.

But more interesting than the variety of kids is the variety of 'park parents'.
Sometimes watching the parents is just as entertaining as watching the children.

There is the 'hovering parent' who follows their child (generally an only child) around the park, ensuring they are always within reach, often calling out:

"Wait for Mummy, wait for Mummy, don't run, watch out for the puddle, don't get dirt on your hands!"

The hovering parent is ridiculously over-prepared for a simple park trip with both jackets and an umbrella AND sunscreen and hats. If you manage to peek inside their bag, there will be enough food and water for 3 days, half their child's wardrobe, a first aid kit, every emergency contact, pepper spray, and a couple of flares.

There is the "invisible parent" who may as well not even be there. The park is their baby sitter while they read/chat on the phone/send emails/ stare blankly into space wondering how they got there. You can easily spot this parent by process of elimination. Whenever a child is calling out to their parent and every other parent is looking around for the owner of that child - simply look for the only adult who seems as though they don't hear that child and you have found your match!

There is the "adult child parent" who I particularly enjoy observing. This parent can be spotted trying to squeeze themselves through the tunnel slide whilst calling out:

"Isn't this fun! Come on - race me again, maybe you will finally win one!"

And of course there is the "social butterfly parent" who is at the park under the disguise of taking their child out for some fun but is really there for a social catch up. Once they are in the middle of some serious heavy gossip, an invisible impenetrable field suddenly appears blocking out all sound.
Children of "social butterfly parents" can be found hanging from the flying fox, mid way along the bar, calling for help for large periods of time.

Then there is the best parent of all. The one who had brought their children to play for the sole reason they are driving her completely nuts and she is going to go insane if they don't get out from under her feet THIS INSTANT. Once there they can be heard calling out:

"Hurry up and have fun!"

I'm serious, I promise.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Talk about emotional rollercoaster

This afternoon I was lying down having a little rest and I could here the sounds of my boys laughing together.  I started thinking about how much I enjoy the boys being at this stage as I CAN go and have a lie down (although it is often interrupted) whilst the boys play.  When I think back to when they were babies and toddlers, I needed to be in close range of them almost all of the time (unless they were asleep - precious precious sleep time). They still like to hover around me but are not as physically dependent upon me.  It made me really appreciate the growth and progress they have both made.

Fast forward a few hours and I was sitting on the couch all teary missing having a newborn baby!  

I was watching a show where the mother just had baby number three and was comparing her new baby in size to her other two.  I started to feel the same way and all of a sudden I was hit with pangs of sadness that my "baby" is a four year old!  I know I am totally stating the obvious, but it REALLY DOES go too fast.  

Those nine pregnant months that seem to go forever while you wait with anticipation to meet the little person you have already grown to love.  Then suddenly the day of delivery arrives and those nine months seem as though they raced by and life as you know it is changed forever.  Your entire reason for being is changed.  Your priorities change dramatically as you no longer live for yourself as you have someone who is completely dependent upon you.  You get to experience joy and love like never before.  It used to amaze me how much time I could spend just staring at my babies - it was a face that I had only set eyes on a matter of weeks ago, but one that I felt as though I had known it for a lifetime.  Of course being a parent to a baby is demanding too (but each stage doesn't seem to last very long).  Your whole schedule revolves around this little person for a while and some days you are lucky if you get a shower before 3pm. Sleepless nights can make this time feel like it drags, but sleep comes, and with it the bitter-sweet knowledge that your little one is becoming a little more independent and can be away from you for slightly longer than before.  

If I am to be honest, I do not miss the sleepless nights.  In fact, having Carter wake with a bad dream is a rude shock to me and I struggle to walk him back to bed.  But what I do miss is waking in the night to feed my beautiful baby and to see their little face light up simply with eye-contact.  Once my eyes locked onto theirs and my voice reached their ears, all was right in their world again.

After the program was over, I couldn't help but go into Tony and Carter's rooms and whisper to them that I loved them in the hope my voiced reached them in their dreams and made their worlds right.

Friday, April 13, 2012

So...I was thinking

I call Anthony "darling", among other things. I also call him "pork pie, bub, doofus, sweetheart, butt head" and if he is really in trouble "Anthony Joel".

If I have had a bad day, he is greeted with a rather mono-tone;

"Hey darling".

If it has been a good day, it's a much chipper;

"Hello there my darling."

But of all the "darlings" my Anthony hears, there is one that I know brings a sense of terror when he hears it. I know because when I say it, he slowly swivels around in his chair like Dr. Claw on Inspector Gadget. The phrase that brings such fear is;

"Hey darling.....I was thinking...."

I don't think it's necessarily bad news he is expecting, it's more the huge range of possibility that could follow on from that phrase.

Whether it's;

"....we should get rid of the sports channel"

Or

"....I think I want to start *insert weird obsession for the month*"

Or

"....you should do all the washing and folding now seeing as you seem to have no idea where the dirty clothes basket is!"

Or perhaps even;

"....you should get those concert tickets, you deserve it."

It's the sheer possibility that I believe ignites fear in my dear darling.
I could change this and be kind and approach such a situation differently, but I like keeping Anthony on his toes.

Sorry Pork Pie!! (I have no idea where I came up with this one??)



Monday, April 2, 2012

Road rules

I have never angrily beeped my horn at anyone in my life. Seriously - NEVER. If someone cuts me off, I will throw my hands up. If I am in a hurry and the person in front is driving 20kph below the limit, I will verbally give them a piece of my mind.....but only from the safety of my own car ten meters behind. When waiting at the lights, if the person in front doesn't see the light has changed to green, I will YELL at them "COME ON!!!" but only because I know they can't hear a thing.  They when they politely wave in apology, I smile and give them a friendly wave back knowing they are none the wiser.

I'm not sure why I don't beep at other drivers who may annoy or frustrate me, but I hold back.  I let my frustrations bubble, but only to the point the other driver is completely unaffected.

I was thinking about why I am able to do this......yet if Anthony leaves a sock in the middle of the lounge room floor, he will certainly be hearing about it.  If the boys are whining and complaining, I will get cranky back instead of rolling my eyes and thinking cranky thoughts but offering them my "friendly wave" instead.

Why when friends ask how I am doing do I say;

"I'm good, a little tired, but good".

But as soon as Anthony comes through the door I collapse on the couch telling him how horribly tired and sore I am and that if I don't get to lie down NOW they will all be looking for a new slave (yep..I have a tendency to exaggerate at times).

I hate to admit it, but as much as my family often gets the best of me.....there are A LOT of times they get the worst of me also.  These times I don't mind my tongue when if it were an acquaintance (or even a stranger), I certainly would have.  I know I could justify this as being honest or comfortable....but there really isn't any reason why I can't be honest and comfortable as well as being kind and patient and let things slide now and again like I do as a driver.  My best people deserve the best of me.

If only I had a little sound proof box I could walk around in.  Then when I felt the frustrations coming, I could simply wind up my windows, yell all I like, and then continue on with everyone none the wiser.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Then the rain came tumbling down

It always seems that life is going well and things are just as you would like them, then a bomb drops that disrupts it all. Suddenly everything you have worked hard to get just right is up in the air.

I have had this experience a few times.

Each time I had such an experience, I ended up on my knees praying, mainly because I didn't know what else to do.

Just prior to Christmas 2010, I had a blood test for exhaustion. It was some of the worst fatigue I had ever experienced (and I'm a mother, we are a tired people regardless). I felt the way you feel the day before the flu. All my muscles ached constantly. I eventually dragged myself to the GP and she gave me a blood test.

That evening we went to a friends for dinner. We arrived home about 9pm and almost straight away our neighbors rushed over. Apparently a Doctor from our local hospital had been trying to call me and luckily one of the hospital staff recognized our address and figured out she knew our neighbors and called them. She was on the phone when we pulled in. I went over and they said my potassium levels were critically low and that I needed to go straight to the Emergency Room.

I went and was put on a drip (IV potassium is a horrendous thing to have pumped into you - it HURTS like crazy!!). They ran all sorts of tests and found a grape size lump in the side of my neck. I was admitted as it would take several days to get my potassium levels up high enough.

After the potassium levels were sorted, they were concerned about the lump. I had scans done and countless blood tests, but in the end they did a fine needle biopsy to check for cancer cells.

Later that afternoon, the specialist came into my room and sat on the edge of my bed (not a good sign). She asked if my husband was around or if I wanted to wait for him to come in for my results (bad sign #2). I said that's fine, I'm ok to hear them myself. Then she put her hand on mine (alarm bells ringing now).

I was told my biopsy showed abnormal cells that were consistent with lymphoma. They planned on removing the entire lymph node first thing the next morning.

Obviously it wasn't good news. So I just prayed to feel peace. And I did. It was almost as though I couldn't even force myself to worry. I was just completely at ease and knew that regardless of the outcome, all would be ok. Seems stupid considering the news I had just received.

I had my lymph nodes removed and was left with a nice scar along the crease of my neck (to add to my collection). We had to wait to receive the results and was told I could go home and be with my family.



On Christmas Eve, I went to the specialist for my results. He had them faxed over while we were in the waiting room and as we sat across his desk, he read them while we waited. With obvious surprise, he said;

"Wow! I was really expecting to be making Oncologist appointments for you and booking further surgeries... but according to this, your lymph node was benign."

Regardless of the impending change ahead, I am so thankful I can be blessed with peace. The feeling that regardless of the outcome, everything will be alright is all I really need.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Outlaw

I know throughout my blog I often mention my family. I talk about Anthony and my two boys. I also refer to my family when I talk about my parents and my siblings. But I wanted to devote this blog to the family I acquired......my in-laws.

When I chose to marry Anthony, I like to think that I also chose his family too. Coming from a big family, it was important to me that the person I married was close to their family too. When our relationship was getting serious and I was considering whether Anthony was a person I could see a future with, I also considered his family. I considered them as potential parents and siblings in law. I considered them as potential grandparents and aunties and uncles to my future children.

I like to think that as much as I chose Anthony, I also chose them. They, on the other hand, didn't get much say in the matter when it came to me (although I hope they were happy with Anthony's choice).

Anthony's Dad, Tony, is Anthony twenty years down the track. I see photos of him at the age Anthony is now, and minus the moustache and mop of curls, they are nearly identical. I used to go to Anthony's little brother Shem's rugby games some weekends and was always amused watching Anthony and his Dad pace up and down the side lines. They walked the EXACT same way, hands behind their backs, pacing slowly.
My father-in-law places his family as his highest priority and there is no mistaking that. Everything else in life comes second. Our two boys are the first grandchildren and boy have they been spoilt by Papi. I love to see the way they light up his face when we go down for a visit.

Anthony's Mum, Amor has raised eight children - a feat I didn't fully appreciate until being a mother myself. She has devoted so much of herself to her family and she still does. Whenever we have a dinner for someones birthday, she is always the last one to sit down to eat because she is making sure everyone else has their food and everything is all laid out.
One quality I really admire in her is that she puts her heart into her work. Whether it be decorating the house during the holiday season, or paid employment, she doesn't do anything half-hearted. If you want to know ANYTHING about Costco, she is the lady to go to. She also hooks us up with not-so-little surprises from Cosco now and again so we get to sample the produce without making the trip there.

The eldest of all eight children is Gene. I never had the privilege of meeting him as he passed away, but I feel as though I have with how often he is talked about and remembered. Any eldest brother would be lucky to be spoken of so fondly.

I don't need to tell you about Anthony, I think I have covered him :)

Drew is third in line. You know how in some cultures the tradition is if a husband dies, the brother marries the widow? Well if that happened to Anthony, I think Drew and I would have the most silent marriage in history. We trade "hello's" and "goodbye's" and not a lot else. But, I know there is much more to Drew than that. I know he has a quick sense of humour and is a deep thinker who holds his cards close. I hope he knows that in my books, I think he's a really good guy.

I think Llaine is the Bush I relate to the most - she might not agree but this is my blog so tough! I think if I went to high school with Llaine, I would have wanted to hang out with her. I like her taste in movies and books and her sarcastic sense of humour. She too is a deep thinker and I think she likes to really suss people out before opening up, but you couldn't find a more loyal friend once you are in. I'm pretty sure she took a while to warm up to me (don't deny it Llaine!), but hopefully eight years down the track she has taken a liking to me. Either that or she has just accepted she is stuck with me ;o)

Paige is on a mission for our church. She is an open book with her emotions and is a friend to anyone who would seek her company. She wears her heart on her sleeve a little, but to me, that is one of her most endearing qualities. If I were to describe her in one word, it would be "warm".

Kellen always surprises me. Whatever he puts his mind to, he does. He makes a plan, then he makes it happen. He has a lot if determination. He is quiet in the way he goes about it, but he keeps at something til he achieves it. I think there is great success in his future because he is willing to put in the work and put himself out there. Plus...he made a cameo in "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" so he has to be cool.

Teylor has always been older than her years since I have known her. She is one of the most confident people I know. I'm sure she has her insecurities like everyone else, but she doesn't let them stop her from being who she is. She just has a spark, I don't know how else to explain it.

Shem is what I think Anthony would have been like eleven years younger. He is a real boys boy, but I like that he is happy to show some emotion too. I have been able to watch Shem grow up since we moved to NSW and he has grown into a stand-up young man. He knows who he is and won't be easily swayed.

I know there are many in-law jokes and horror stories, but I think I chose pretty well. So sucked in guys....you're stuck with me!






Monday, March 12, 2012

Not just man's best friend

We had many pets growing up.  I clearly remember my parents saying;

"After this one, no more pets."

I am quite sure this was because of how difficult it was to say goodbye to them.  But like magic, one would appear again.  One Saturday, my Dad went to the local hardware store, Mitre 10.  I think he was building a pergola at the time and needed some supplies.  He came home with a cat.

The poor little fella was wandering around the car park badly sunburnt (who knew cats could get sunburnt??) and obviously lost or abandoned.  Apparently the staff had called around to see if there had been a cat reported missing and he still hadn't been claimed.  Lucky for them my Dad happened to come at that time and when they offered him a lost cat, he couldn't resist.

We acquired the  pets of people who moved and couldn't bring their pet with them. We had injured birds that we found and looked after and they never seemed to leave.

My own personal history with pets is not so good.  My first was a cat. I was very young.  One day my poor Dad backed over him in the driveway.  With the brutal honestly of a child, I reminded him regularly;

"Hey Dad, remember when you ran over my cat?"

I'm pretty sure he will still remember.

We all went through a guinea pig stage in our house.  I got a big black guinea pig called Suzuki.  The vet told us she had a medical condition that meant if she got pregnant, she would die.  Needless to say we made sure the other guinea pig we bought was a girl.  She belonged to my sister, Jade, and she named her Laura.

Not too long after, I went to Suzuki's hutch to find she had died.  Turned out Laura was a male and was later renamed Chocolate.  I suspect he wasn't the least bit remorseful.

Years later Jade and I went to the pet shop one school holidays and we set our sights on pet rats.  They were great fun, aside from the weekly cage cleaning.  Jade's was a little grey rat called Theo, and I chose a little black and white rat called Patches.  Patches began gaining weight rapidly.  After checking (and rechecking) that he was indeed a male, I found out the cause for kilo's (or grams more accurately in a rat's case) piling on.
As I was feeding them one day, I watched them eat.  Theo would grab some food, run off to the corner and sit and eat until he had run out, and he would then  run back to the middle for another piece .  This would continue until the food was all gone.
Patches, however, had a different strategy come meal time.  He would run to the middle, grab some food and take it back to his corner.  He would then run back to the middle and grab another piece and take it back.  After all the food was gone from the centre, he would go to his corner and devour his stash.

I believe it was his love of food, combined with his dislike of his running wheel, that ultimately led to his demise.  He was a guts.

Thirteen years ago, we got a new puppy.  He was a beautiful Golden Lab that we named Astro.  He was an EXTREMELY playful puppy, but grew into a very loyal, gentle dog.  He would let us dress him up and carry him all around the place.  When we would come home from school, Mum had often made cakes or muffins that were sitting on the bench.  As we all filed in the door, we would grab one on the way to our rooms, and Astro would be sneakily at the end of the line waiting for the right moment to jump up and grab one for himself. When we moved over to Sydney from Adelaide, we had to leave a cat behind.  There was no question as to whether or not we would bring Astro.

Once I got married and moved out, I obviously saw much less of him. When my parents moved to NZ, my younger sister and her husband took him in and he has been there ever since.  He was much older  by then and no where near the playful puppy he once was, but I know that whenever I went to visit, no matter how old and slow he was, he recognised my voice still and made the effort to get up and give me a wag of his tail.

Like many Labradors, Astro developed severe arthritis in his legs and hips.  He also had tumours growing on his head and legs.  His quality of life had gone down hill greatly and after consulting with the vet, they said the kindest thing would be to let him go peacefully.

Although sad, I am glad he is at peace.  He deserves it.




Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Parenting 101

Yesterday was a good day.

I get to speak to a lot of parents who, like me, have young children. I get the feeling that generally speaking, there isn't a great deal of 'success' felt by parents of these little people. Yesterday I realized that, for me, this is no reflection of my children, it is dependent upon a whole range of
factors.

If I get everything on my "to-do" list done for the day, I feel good. If marking off all the items on that list meant I dragged my son all over the coast and snapped at him while I did it, it just wasn't worth it. I feel like I failed.

Parenting is hard to measure. In fact, perhaps it is immeasurable. There are no boxes to check off that let you know your child is complete.

I have worked full-time as a teacher for a little while. During this time, I have had days that I was just plodding along, and others where I felt like a success. I completed everything I had hoped, I saw enjoyment on the faces of the children I taught. They were engaged and interested. The measuring stick was so clear to me of when I was teaching with success and when I was not.

The measuring stick for me as a mother is not as clear. Does a successful parent have well behaved children? Do they wake up cheery and go to bed happy? Do they have clean houses and nutritious meals? Do they go to the park and have regular family outings?

From the outside, if I saw a mother who ticked those boxes, I would initially think they must be doing a pretty good job as a parent. But if I measure myself this way, there will be many days I feel like a good parent, and even more that I won't.

I have decided to change my focus and feel successful in the little things. The things that bring me joy. Yesterday, I felt successful as a parent.

Carter and I survived the shops without any tantrums or scolding. He enjoyed the trip, and as a result I did too. I didn't even need to use bribery!

Tony got his homework and reading done quickly after school and had plenty of time to relax.

Tony and Carter played trains together and drew pictures for each other without needing any prompting from us.

We played a game of charades together and there was no meltdowns.

Dinner was made, served and eaten early and without any fuss.

Both boys were read stories and tucked into bed happy.

I dropped Carter off at preschool and he waved happily and blew kisses as I left.

They are not remarkable achievements, but when I look at them all I feel like yesterday was a success.