Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Signs of intelligent life

I cannot tell you how many times a day I answer a 'W' question. You know the kind I'm talking about.

Who? What? When? Where? And of course the most frequent....Why?

In the case of Carter, these questions aren't always asked correctly. For example:

Me: "Who wants noodles for lunch?"
Carter: "Where?"

But for the majority of his questions, he gets them right, and there is always a bunch of questions following whatever answers he is given.

Tony is a "need all the information" kind of guy. You can't just brush him off as he is easily worried and I think having all the knowledge he can possibly get makes him feel more secure.

Needless to say, there is a lot of questioning going on in our house and at times it drives me crazy.

Lately on Facebook, I have seen a few different videos/quotes about how the way we measure academic achievement and how what is taught in school may not always be relevant/useful in a students life.

This actually got me thinking a little about what I think IS of value that I learnt in school. Obviously basic math and English are crucial. I loved to read so I enjoyed English. But I was bad at math. I don't have a mathematical/scientific kind of mind. I recall being taught matrixes in Year 12 math (much of which I wagged to go to Pizza Hut and get free pizza from my brother I must admit). I have not once, in the 12 years since I finished high school ever used a matrix. I know in some professions it may very well be useful, but I knew my abilities and was going to be avoiding any Matrix-using professions like the plague.

Now as a parent, the biggest skill I would like my children to acquire in school is the ability to receive information, and to question that information. To be able to ask the questions that will help them understand WHY that information is of worth to them. To understand that they may be presented with an idea, but to know that there may be other ideas, perhaps even better ideas for them to consider. I want them to WANT more information before accepting something as fact. I don't want "because I said so" to be enough.  I want them to ask why it's of value to learn about a matrix. I want them to ask why certain events in our history as mankind happened and how they were allowed to happen, in a hope their generation doesn't make the same mistakes, perhaps even the mistakes we are still making today. I want them to have an education that's relevant.

The only way I see them finding that is by asking who, what, when, where, and why.

Of course I expect they are not rude about it, but that they have an inquiring mind, in the hopes that by finding meaning in what they are learning, they will desire to master that knowledge.

So as much as it may drive me crazy on a day-to-day basis, today I realized that the constant questioning is my boys making meaning of the information we give them. It's their own way of making it relevant to their life. Even questions like:

"Why can't I wear thongs and tracksuit pants?"

"Why is my boogas sticky?"

"How many minutes til next Saturday?"

"Where did I leave my DS charger yesterday when you told me to put it somewhere safe?"

(I know I'm not the only one who would have to take a calm breath before a answering some of these).

Sunday, April 21, 2013


There is a quote that gets thrown about a lot amongst Mormon circles. I have heard it for as long as I can remember. It doesn't make it any less true though.

"No other success can compensate for failure in the home".

When I was still a teenager (you know, just up until recently *cough cough*), I thought this was referring to the rising divorce rates.

I just realized recently that there is so much more to it.

As long as things within our home are ok, I am ok. I'm not saying I have the perfect family by any stretch of the imagination. There are tantrums and tears on a regular basis - and I don't just mean from Anthony ;o).

We enjoy each others company and there is laughter in our home every single day without fail.

We tell each other we love each other several times a day, usually without even realizing out of habit. I don't think this makes it any less meaningful though, rather I think it means we feel this way all the time so it doesn't seem out of the ordinary to say it.

We fight sometimes. But deep down, even though our children sometimes say they want new parents, I know they love us more than anything. I know because they say they never want to get married because they don't want to leave us. We as parents feel somewhat differently.

We get excited over family outings. We went to a movie together a few days ago to use some movie tickets I got for my birthday. We only do this once or twice a year because of the cost, but I was looking forward to it all day. I got messages from Anthony during the day telling me he was excited too. Tony and Carter told their school and preschool friends about it. Our family date brought me joy, but not as much as knowing how much we were looking forward to spending time together.

I am happiest when we are all home just lazing about together. This is my idea of a perfect way to spend the day.

I think what I consider our 'success' is our stability. We may not know exactly what the future will bring for us, but I know there is an 'us'. We are happy and that is all I need.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Surgeon general

Some days, I feel like a good mother. When I go to sleep at night, I feel like I can honestly say that I tried really hard to be patient and kind and to put my boys first.

Other days I go to sleep resolving to do better. I think of where I went wrong and how I can improve on it.

Truthfully, the latter are the more frequent days.

I believe part of that is my own shortcomings as a human being, but the other part is that there is no training to prepare you for being a parent. To have to learn everything on the spot, and those challenges are constantly changing with each new stage your child enters into.

Having a child is like suddenly finding yourself in a pair of scrubs in an operating theatre with a body in front of you and a scalpel in your hand. You are told the patient is your responsibility now. You know you don't know how to operate and share your concerns at never having done it before. You're told not to worry, just keep them alive and the rest you will figure out as you go along.

The problem is your patient can't tell you where they have pain, why they are on your table, or how to help them.

Until our children can speak and articulate themselves, its often a guessing game. Hence so many of us parents tell our children;

"What do you need? I'm not a mind reader!!"

You want to hear so examples of my not-no-stellar parenting you say? Well you are in luck, there are plenty to choose from.

1. Telling the boys to stop whining and go to sleep only to find myself later cleaning a vomit soaked bed and child. I guess THIS time that sore tummy was legit. I now tell the story if the boy who cried "sore tummy".

2. Bribery for pretty much.....everything. Enough said.

3. Calling the boys into the lounge room on a Saturday afternoon to watch "this great movie" that was on only to have them covering their eyes begging me to put on something else. I guess "Jaws" isn't the movie of choice for 4 and 6 year olds.

4. Dragging Carter onto the Madagascar roller coaster because he is going to "have so much fun!" He ended up screaming the entire ride:

"STOP! I don't like it!!!!"

5. Putting the boys to bed late because I can't be bothered getting up and tucking them in.

6. Putting the boys to be at 6:15pm because I want to go to bed.

7. Numerous fairy bread sandwiches packed for school lunches.

8. Telling the boys there is supermarket security guards who look for children who aren't sitting in the trolley or walking alongside the trolley holding on. Thankfully I was able to "prove" this to my skeptical children when I pointed out the parking ticket ranger. No further questions have been asked.

9. Both our boys got a wrapped up potato for Christmas. We explained that their sometimes poor behavior had turned one of their toys into a potato. They were not impressed.

10. Locking myself in my room to 'fold laundry' (read: watching a DVD for 20 mins in peace).

These are just the first few that came to mind. I mess up A LOT!

You have a life in your hands and no idea what you are doing. But new parents do it everyday. We fumble and mess up, but we keep these little people alive, and on the good days, we feel like we can scrub out and know we have done a good job.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Isn't it funny how you can remember some really obscure, insignificant things.

A long, long time ago....Anthony and I were newlyweds. I worked at Coles and studied full-time and Anthony worked in the city and would commute by train. I would drop him at Woy Woy train station at 6:45am and pick him up about 6:30pm.

The excitement of being a 'wife' meant I found joy from the stupidest things. I felt pride in making my HUSBAND's (you know how newly married girls pronounce that word with a dreamy look in their eyes) lunches each morning. I stood back and admired our neatly set, oversized-for-our-tiny-unit dinner table. I pat my self on the back when I figured out finally how to pay a bill via 20 years old! Cleaning the bathroom was actually kind of fun for about 2 weeks.

One thing I didn't really enjoy was making dinner. I come from an early-dinner family and the idea of waiting til Anthony got home at 6:30pm and cooking dinner together was just unfathomable. Instead I made dinner and had it all ready to eat once we got back from the train station. Everyday I would ponder over what to make and then whip it up and cross my fingers that it would turn out ok. My cooking skills have improved since then and along the way I started to actually enjoy cooking, but it wasn't always this way.

One memorable moment from our early days of marriage is when I bought a BBQ chicken to have for dinner and made up some roast potatoes, carrots, broccoli, corn on the cob, and gravy to go with it. I served it all up and ducked off to grab Anthony from the train station. Once we came home, Anthony expressed his appreciation for dinner and several times throughout the meal commented on how much he enjoyed it.

Once we had finished dinner and were tidying up the kitchen, Anthony was scraping some leftovers into the bin. Suddenly I heard a horrified gasp as he spun around holding the BBQ chicken bag in his hand. As if he had discovered a murder weapon he exclaimed;

"What? You didn't make this! You bought the chicken!"

To which I shrugged my shoulders and said;

"I know. I never said I made it."

Anthony was cracking up laughing by this point and said;

"But I kept complimenting you on the meal and you kept saying 'thankyou'. You made out like you had made it. There was even gravy!"

In my head, I HAD made the meal. Well, all except the chicken. But that's the easy part. All you do is put it in a roasting pan in the oven. The side dishes are what takes up all the time and effort! In my head, I had never pretended to make the chicken. The wrapper was put in the bin because I was finished with it, not to hide the evidence. By the end of the conversation we were both laughing stupidly. But I remember this. I remember it like it was yesterday and it still makes me smile because we are still those same people and we would react the same way all these years later.

And eight years on I still find joy in making Anthony's lunch every day. That is about 2000 lunches. All made with love. I'm just saying.

I am also just saying that Mother's Day is a month away.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The truth must come out

I have a confession to make. I have done something dishonest; something I am not proud of. In my own defence I was driven to a mild case of insanity. If it tell you it involves a mobile phone network does that make it any more justified? Aha! I knew it would!

Lets go back more than 6 years ago. My older brother Andrew was leaving on his mission to Panama for our church. He would be gone for 2 years and still had about a year left on his mobile contract, so I ditched my pre-paid phone and took over the contract. We didn't bother with officially changing the plan into my name, instead we just changed the billing address.

Over a year passed and once the plan was up I had the option of upgrading to a new handset but I needed Andrew to give the ok and sign a form to officially transfer it into my name. The other option was to have him authorise the upgrade and get the new handset sent out to me. Anthony played the voice of Andrew on the phone and we were all set.

Once Andrew arrived home, we went into the actual store to sign transfer papers one day.

Once that second contract was up, i received a letter informing me it was upgrade time again. I called up to give the go-ahead but was told the account holder would need to authorise it. I politely told them that I was the account holder only to be told the account holder was Andrew. Still.

Somehow those papers we had signed disappeared never to be seen again. I was annoyed but arranged with Andrew to pay another visit to the store and get it sorted once and for all. This was a bit over two years ago.

A few weeks ago, my phone started to die. Anthony and I pretty much share the one phone on a plan to cut back on cost and when the buttons on the phone showed signs of giving up the ghost, I started to shop around for a new plan.

Our current provider had a decent deal so I called up to enquire. I said it sounded good and wanted to go ahead but was once again told I needed the account holder, Andrew, to authorise the new contract. After the feeling of déjàvu passed, I explained that I took over my brothers contract YEARS ago and that we had signed transfer forms and that I had been paying the bill on this account for years and years now. All I got back was an empty apology and told that they have no record of either of the signed transfer forms.

I didn't hold back my irritation any more and rather bluntly informed them that Andrew lives interstate and that we have come in twice in the past to sign the forms and that it just wasn't good enough. In the end I was given a phone number for Andrew to call and once he authorised the transfer of account they would give him a PIN number that he was to give to me. Once I called up with the PIN number, the transfer was complete.

I know I could have got Andrew to call up, or even waited for Anthony to get home and call, but I was annoyed and impatient. I came up with a plan of my own.

I have heard my voice on home movies and it sounds deeper than I thought. Perhaps even deep enough to be...Andrew?

I called the number and put on my "guy" voice. As soon as I heard it, I wanted to burst out laughing! I sounded like a drunk bogan with a Mexican accent. I figured I should try and say as little as possible to remain convincing. It didn't work too well though as the man I was dealing with referred to me as "Mam" and when I told him my name was Andrew he said I sounded like a woman. I pretended to be offended. He apologised and preceded with the transfer questions. I made sure I limited my answers to one word where possible - to avoid giving myself away.

But it worked. I got the PIN code and called back as myself and the transfer went through successfully.

I am not proud of how I went about getting the transfer sorted. Not proud at all. But I felt wronged and wanted it sorted for good. Don't worry, I won't be doing it again. Not until I get my "guy" voice down pat anyway.

Friday, April 5, 2013

My shadow

Today was a day at home to rest. Carter was with me. He has been a bit more clingy than normal as of late. He was super clingy 6 weeks ago when I first got out of hospital and I understand that. It died off somewhat though and my little Carter was confident that Mummy was home for good and he was content again. Last weekend I had to go out briefly for a doctors appointment. I waved goodbye to the boys and said I would be back soon. Unfortunately I ended up in hospital for a couple of days. Since I got home, Carter has been clingy again. I think in his mind if I leave the house, there is no guarantee I won't go back to hospital again. He has remedied this by not letting me out of his sight.

Tony gets a bit anxious and asks me questions about my health which lets me know he has his concerns, but he can express himself better and can identify his worries.

Carter, on the other hand, will quiz me on what I am up to if he see's me putting on a pair of socks. He is on high alert!

Today, if I was resting in bed -Carter was there. When I went to the kitchen - Carter was there. When I was about to have a shower - Carter was there. When I searched through my handbag for a pen and my movements caused my keys to jangle - Carter suddenly appeared.

I know children can't always pin point their emotions or why they behave the way they do. While Tony asks a million questions to find out as much information as his worrying mind needs to feel secure, Carter has taken the route of the 2 metre rule. As long as he is within 2 metres of me at all time, everything will be fine!