Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Playground showdown

Our boys are like chalk and cheese.  They clash a lot!  I know this is pretty common in siblings.  I remember 'clicking' better with different siblings at different times, but being one of six, if one was annoying me I had four others to go hang out with.  With just the two of them, our boys don't have that luxury - it's either get along or play with yourself (not in THAT way - get your mind out of the gutter!). 

Despite their near constant squabbling, we get glimpses every now and again of the bond that lays beneath the pestering and teasing.  Like when we ask who they want to invite to their birthdays and they say each other right near the top of the list.  

Today something a little sad happened after school, but it brought me so much joy.  

We live right next to a park that has two other cauldersacks that join onto it.  Often different neighbours kids are there playing with one another.  Some we know, some not so much.  

This afternoon some kids came knocking at our door asking if Tony and Carter were allowed to come play.  Before I could say "yes", they were already out the door.

About twenty minutes later they were back.  Tony came in the door first and I asked if they had fun.  He seemed angry and said;

"No!  Because some of those kids are stupid idiots!"

I pressed him to find out why he was so angry and he burst into tears and said;

"Some of them were being mean to Carter.  They had his ball and he was asking for it back but they just kept passing it to each other."

He was really sobbing and it made me both sad and happy at the same time to see how much he cares about his little brother.  

Some of the other kids were being kind and standing up for Carter, but Tony said they still wouldn't give the ball back so after trying verbally to get them to do the right thing, he went and gave one of the bullies a shove.  One of the older bullies told Tony if he shoved the boy again he would get Tony back twice as hard.  Tony admitted he was scared but stepped forward to hold his ground and show he wasn't backing down and they soon went home.  

Tony is rather timid socially and doesn't like confrontation so even though I don't condone violence, I was happy to let this slide and even mentally cheered.  

When it comes to siblings, those bonds are strong.  They have to be to withstand how stretched they are on a day-to-day basis with what we put each other through.  As much as we tease and torment our siblings, when anyone else even tries to do the same, there is no doubt where our loyalties lie.  Just try me. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Nothing to hide

I want to be clear - I adore my children.  I adore them so much my heart hurts when I am away from them for a night.  I enjoy the freedom of being able to get done what I need to when they aren't there, but I really miss them the minute I see them drive away.  It's an annoying paradox of parenting - wanting/needing a break but missing your children like mad as soon as they are gone.

So just to set the record straight, I love my boys more than chocolate.  In fact, I love most kids.  I am a kid person.  

But I will also be honestt with you.  

Sometimes, kids can be annoying.  

Sometimes, I don't want to play their games because they bore me.

Sometimes, I don't want to share my chocolate with them because with children nothing is really yours alone; except the dishes, no one ever tried to take them from you.  
But they know when I sneak chocolate, they smell it on my breath like bloodhounds.  Sometimes I lie and tell then it's something else, but they know....they definitely know. 

Sometimes, I find myself yelling at my children to "STOP YELLING!"  Even as the words escape my mouth I realise how ludacris it is, but it's too late, I am already past the point of reason. But don't you dare try and tell me of my ludacrisy (a real word?) - or you may just have my wrath turned on you.  Your best bet is to just shove food in my mouth and retreat to a safe distance.  

Sometimes, I just make my kids noodles for dinner because I don't feel like working hard making a meal that I will have CONVINCE/FORCE/BRIBE my children to eat.  Some battles aren't worth my energy. 

Sometimes, I let my children stay up simply because I can't muster the energy to tuck them in (by stay up, I mean 8:30pm instead of 7 pm).  I know they will be tired and cranky the next day but I will deal with that then. 

Somedays, I send my boys to school with Fairybread for lunch and tell then to keep their sandwiches shut so others don't see they are virtually eating sugar on bread.  It's rare, but it happens. 

But most days I lie in bed thankful that despite my tired brain and aching muscles from a busy day, I get to be Mum again tomorrow.  Unless they want to play "guess the wrestling theme song" game again, then I might lock myself in the bathroom for half an hour to get away - I guess you can call it "being Dad".

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It's just so cheesy

On Monday, I went to Aldi to grab a handful of items.  My handful had a few heavy items so I needed a trolley. I have one of those Aldi trolley coins on my key ring as I often don't have a dollar coin on me.  

When I went to put my little coin in, I saw the trolley I was getting already had one of the coins in the slot.  I took the trolley and completed my shopping.  At the register I told the attendant that I had found someone else's coin in a trolley.  She said I could just keep it as they get lots left in and if anyone asks for a forgotten one they already have a big collection they can give them one from.  

I know it's nothing huge, but it was one of those little blessings that put a smile on your face.  

After taking the groceries to the car, I went to return the trolley.  When I got there, there was an older gentleman who kindly asked did I have a dollar coin as he didn't have any but needed a trolley.  I told him I didn't have a coin, but I had a spare trolley coin that he could keep if he wanted.  He was very kind and appreciative of such a small gesture.

As I walked back to the car I couldn't help thinking with a cheesy chuckle:

"The Lord giveth....and The Lord taketh away."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Boys and bras

I want to tell you about a rather...ahem....delicate interest of our young Carter.  He is very interested in...my bra.  If he catches a glimpse of one lying around, it will inevitably disappear and be relocated - courtesy of Carter. 

It's not a fascination with what's contained INSIDE said bra (and in my case it's not much anyway), it's the actual bra itself. 

I have asked him about his interest in bras and with a shrug of his shoulders he states matter of factly;

"I just love them!"

When we are out, he publicly asks me what colour my bra is.  

He will also publicly ask to see my bra (I don't know why he bothers - the answer is ALWAYS no).

When he busts into our room while I am getting changed and I shoo him away, he often reminds me;

"Don't forget your bra Mum!"

Granted, the last example does serve a purpose as there are occasions where I do forget, but I think Carter isn't aiming to remind me - it's more a reflection of his fascination.  

Right as I type this, I have called Carter in and asked him why he likes bras so much - purely to gain insight into his crazy little mind.  His answer;

"Cos they're my favourite in the whole world."

Good heavens!  Are we in for a world of trouble or what!!!

Secrets and lies.....well, without the lies

I have been keeping a secret.  For a few years now.  It felt easier to just keep it quiet so I don't have to deal with it, and for the most part I HAVE kept it quiet.  But my secret reveals itself from time to time and what began as a secret that only Anthony knew about has expanded to a few more people, and as of late even more.  

I don't like to talk about it or tell people because I am sick of dealing with things like this.  I want to get on with life and already my back makes that difficult.  I want to be as 'normal' as possible and not have extra things to worry about.  I don't want my health to define me more than it already does.

But for a while now, I have been having seizures.  I didn't know they were seizures at first because they aren't the convulsion type (grand mal seizures).  At first, I actually thought I might be going crazy and having panic attacks, even though I wasn't feeling panicked at the time.  

It starts with a weirdly intense de javu feeling followed by an overwhelming sense of dread in the pit if my stomach.  For a few minutes after this, I feel like I'm trapped in my own head terrified.  I can't tell you what is going on around me during this time.  I'm conscious, but in my own world and kind of shut down.  It feels like I'm slipping away and it's scary.  Then as I come out of it, I'm very sweaty and often have a throbbing headache and nausea for a while after.  It makes my muscles and entire body so tired I feel like I could sleep for days.

The de javu is usually my warning so I can sit down or stop what I am doing.  I felt that as long as I had this warning, it was fairly safe.  

A few months ago, I was preparing a lesson.  I had one of my seizures and couldn't remember any of the lesson I had prepared.  Aside from being annoying, it wasn't too big of a deal.  But then a couple of weeks after that, I came to at about 10:30am on a Sunday morning very confused.  I had no idea what day or month it was.  I had no memory of that morning or the entire day before.  Anthony said I had a seizure in the shower but took longer to come around so he walked me to our bed.  I now remember most of the day prior, but still none of the morning before coming to at 10:30am - it is still as if those 4 hours never happened, like I went to bed the night before and woke at 10:30am the next morning.

For a long time Anthony has been telling me I need to see a doctor about it, but I can be very stubborn and didn't want to.  I promised him that if it progressed at all, I would make an appointment though.  I know it probably wasn't very fair to not let him tell anyone something that was worrying him, but I wasn't ready to deal with it yet.

I know I have buried my head in the sand long enough and need to be sensible so I saw my GP and had to get an EEG and MRI done.  This week I saw a Neurologist who suspects Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, but isn't 100% certain yet without specific tests related to the Temporal Lobe.  He said it's progressed to a point I am having a high number of seizures now so it needs to be addressed.  Nothing too dramatic hopefully, just extra doctors to see and medications to take I imagine.

So there you have it - no more secrets.  I know I hold my cards close to my chest, but my blog is where I say things how I really feel, perhaps things I wouldn't tell people in a casual conversation that we have when I see you. This is my journal though, my only journal, so it's all here.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Social Hibernation

I have been MIA lately it would seem.  Actually, I think I would better describe it as some sort of social hibernation.  I'm not certain this term explains it well, but I know its something I do from time to time - I just sort of 'check out' of certain aspects my life for a little bit.

I sometimes feel guilty that during this time I'm probably not the greatest friend to have as you wont see much of me, but at the same time I'm not sorry for my decision as it is necessary for me.  One of the main reasons I am temporarily absent from the life of my friends at times, is I am trying to take care of myself so I can be the wife and mother I want and need to be.  It has taken me years to get to the point where I understand that for me, this means that sometimes I really need to quieten my life down so I have opportunities for adequate rest and to be able to spend real quality time with my family that I desire so much.  They are my people and they deserve the best of me; not the cranky, short-tempered me that appears when I stretch myself too thin and end up exhausted and in more pain than I know how to handle.  

Part of the joy that comes with age is greater self awareness and assurance.  I am better aware of what I am capable of and know that sometimes, its not much.  I fight against it, but I'm slowly realizing that for me, much of my happiness comes from not feeling overwhelmed and over-scheduled.  I know many people who handle a busy schedule really well, and others who even enjoy being super busy, but I am not one of those people.  I LOVE seeing a day without any doctors appointments or therapies.  I relish knowing I will have dinner finished before the boys all finish school and work so we can spend time together without me shooing people out from under my feet in the kitchen.  I love being able to climb into bed at 8:30pm at night and not be so sore that it will take me hours to get to sleep.

I am incredibly boring in this way, but keeping my life simple brings me immense joy.

I'm not always socially present simply because my body doesn't always let me and sometimes the choice is between being a good friend or a good mother - and for me, that decision makes itself very easily.  This doesn't reflect the love I have for my friends, rather how I can't be "me" without being "Mum" to my boys - they are so intertwined I can't be one without the other.

So to all of you out in the online world who have seen little of me lately, please know you still have my heart, you have not been replaced, I'm not seeing other friends, and it's totally not you - it's me.  I have a dud body that demands my attention, two little men who are my highest priorities, and a best friend/husband who I never get sick of being around, but I am still here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A big old 21st to remember

My youngest sister turned 21 today.  That's a rather big milestone in life.  For most it means a big drunken party, but for Rachael it will be celebrated differently.  She is currently 2 weeks from finishing serving an 18 month mission for our church.  

Whilst thinking of her throughout the day, it made me reflect on my own 21st birthday.  Mine too was rather different from a traditional 21st party.

I got pregnant at 20. I wasn't drunk when it happened, seeing as I had never had as much as a sip of alcohol. It wasn't a one-night-stand gone wrong.  I was a Uni student with virtually no money to my name, but it was completely intentional. 

I had gotten married less than two months earlier to my sweetheart, Anthony, and after that long five weeks, we decided we were sick of the joy and spontaneity that comes with being newlyweds - we needed a baby. Everyone knows nothing brings a couple closer than sleep deprivation, crying, and vomit. 
And that was just my pregnancy.

Being young and stupid, we couldn't contain our excitement when that second line appeared on the pregnancy test and we called our families straight away. I know the 'done' thing is to wait until after the twelve week mark when the risk of miscarriage is greatly lessened, but we didn't really consider that as something that would happen to us (see - stupid) so we announced it immediately. I gloated that I had no morning sickness and felt great. 

Then at the six week mark, what was  up until then a beautiful, developing baby inside my belly, turned into an alien trying to destroy me via my up-chuck reflex. I was vomiting multiple times a day and just wanted to sleep constantly.   

I could only stand the smell of mandarins, oranges, and carrots.  I vividly recall going to do a weekly grocery shop and walking past the Deli aisle in the supermarket holding an orange up to my nose so I wouldn't vomit.  I left the shop with what was supposed to be seven days worth of food - six kilos of oranges, two kilos of mandarins, two kilos of carrots, lemonade, and juice ice blocks.

Society frowns upon men who leave their pregnant wives within three months of marriage so it was shortly after this point we made an important purchase - an X-Box.  Seeing as I was going to bed at 7pm each night it seemed only fair Anthony had some company. 

Whilst pregnant, I celebrated a milestone; I turned twenty-one. Like most twenty-one year olds, I too celebrated my coming into adulthood with my head in a toilet bowl. It wasn't senseless amount of alcohol that inflicted my vomiting though - it was my first born child. 

Anthony was fairly useless when it came to morning sickness and I would find myself yelling for him to;

"Go away! You aren't helping me if you vomit in my hair while you are supposed to be holding it back!"

I praise him for his efforts, but he has a ridiculously weak stomach when it comes to the sound and smell of vomit.  Probably not a good sign when you are months from expecting a baby and cleaning all manor of bodily fluids become a part of everyday life. 

It was around this point in time that it hit me how different my life was from many of my peers.  I was still a full-time Uni student, I still worked part time in a supermarket, but I was a wife and mother. My child was yet to take it's first real breath, but I was a mother nonetheless. These were the things I had hoped for when people asked me the big question;

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

My answer was always;

"I think I want to be a teacher, but most of all I want to be a wife and a mother."

So here I was - just turned twenty-one and what I had hoped for had already fallen in my lap.  I guess there isn't a better 21st present than that right :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

More than happiness

I have had a few different opportunities over the last couple of days to think about what the future holds for my boys.  I have read articles and posts about the state of the world, and about raising children.  In conversations with other mothers who have children with additional needs, I often express how even though there may be lots of uncertainly in what the future holds, all I truly want is my boys to be happy.  I think I have even written that in a past blog post just a few months ago.

I have changed my tune though.  

So, to my maniac boys....

My dear Tony and Carter,
In case I am struck by lightning suddenly or fall into a man hole and am never seen again, I want to put some words to you on paper (virtual paper - obviously). 
I know I have told you often that we parent the way we do because we just want you to be happy.  You don't always like our decisions, but we make them believing they will truly bring you joy in the long run.  I tell you all I want at the end of the day is you to be happy.

I would like to change this.  

Above all else, I want you to be kind boys.  And ultimately kind men. 

I know that around you people are praised for being good leaders, for obtaining great wealth, for reaching prestige and fame, for being amazingly intelligent, and the list goes on. 

These aren't bad things.  They aren't even bad things to strive for.  Good leaders do a great deal of good.  They can set a fine example for others to follow.   

Great wealth sometimes only comes after hard work.  Money is not an evil thing.  In fact having additional means can allow you to bless the lives of others through looking for opportunities to help those in need.  There have been times in my life where people have given some of their means to us at particular times and I will never forget the love I felt for these people for their selflessness.

 Prestige and fame may come for negative reasons, but they can also come for positive reasons.

  Intelligence is a wonderful thing, particularly when we measure it as more than how well one performs on an exam. There are many ways to be intelligent and I hope you desire to learn as much as you can in as many areas as you can.

I don't want to imply that I would be unhappy if these things came to you in your lives. 

Make no mistake though, if these things are not part of your future, I will still be ridiculously proud of you if I see you to have become kind men. 

Look for opportunities to show kindness to those around you.  I know that kindness is already a part of you, but please don't allow that soft, gentle side to be replaced by a thick skin that seeks to "look after number one".  Putting what you want above others all the time will not bring you great joy. It won't create lasting memories.  It won't help you build satisfying relationships.  Think of others.  Build them up.  If you have a kind thought about someone - tell them.  If it's not kind - consider holding your tongue until you can express it in a better way. 

If you see someone who is alone or on the outter, include them.  It's a horrible feeling being left out-whether intentional or not.  Perhaps one of the kindest thing a young person can do for another is to help them feel like they belong.  There will always be enough room for a new friend if you make it.

I have heard the term "too kind" being used for people who may get taken advantage of.  I don't think you can actually be TOO kind.  So as well as being kind to others, I want you to be kind to yourselves.  You deserve good things that come when you work for them.  You should have fun and laughter with those you love.  You will sometimes have to put your needs first to be able to support yourself and your loved ones.  This is not selfish.  This is knowing that sometimes you need to take care of yourself to again be in a position to give to others.  

Be a kind husband.   Look to your Dad and Grandfathers.  There is no doubt they love their wives.  They lift them up.  They tell them they are beautiful.  They show gratitude to them.  Not a day has gone past in a decade of marriage that your Dad hasn't thanked me for making his lunch or dinner for him.  It may seem small, but knowing I am appreciated has made it a pleasure to do these tasks daily for him.  A frequent kind word of gratitude and appreciation has turned what could be a chore into a pleasure.  Learn the power of kind words in your marriages. 

Ultimately, I do want you to be happy.  It's only natural for mothers to want their children to find happiness.  However, above all else I want you to be kind because I truly believe that if you are kind, you will likely be happy.  Not fleeting happiness, but the kind of contentment where you know you are living a life that you can feel good about and one that helps others feel good too. 

The world has enough who are wealthy, famous, or powerful.  It will never have enough who are kind.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Weird things I have eaten

About two weeks ago, I reached a milestone in my life. I ate my first snail.  It will likely also be my last.  I'm not even slightly adventurous with my eating habits so before eating said snail, I had already decided that mollusks aren't my kind of delicacy. 

A kind friend of mine took me to a French restuarant for a post-birthday celebration.   She bravely ordered snails as an entree. Once they arrived, I watches her try one with admiration.  She then turned of me and said that now that I am 30, I need to be able to say I have tried a snail.  Without a moments hesitation I shook my head, but there was still a snail on a fork in front of my face. 

My friend tried to convince me by saying;

"Just try it!  Just don't look at it.  Close your eyes if you have to. Open your mouth and look away, whatever you do, do not look at it!"

Anything that you have to close your eyes to eat doesn't sound like my kind of food.  But sometimes those big moments in life present themselves and we reach a fork in the road. We can travel down the path that feels safe and familiar but leaves little room for growth, or we can go down .........argh, what am I talking about - I ATE A SNAIL!!!

It wasn't particularly awful, just kind of what I would expect a snail to taste like. Less slimy though.  I didn't hate it, but I won't be eating many more in the future, mainly because snails seem kind of cute to me.  I always feel so awful when I accidentally step on one. 

This experience led me to make an unusual list in the 'Notes' app on my phone.  I have added items here and there as they come to my memory.  The list is;

"Weird Stuff I Have Eaten."

I shall now share my list with you (and delete it from my 'Notes' as it is a bit of an odd thing to do).

Weird Stuff I Have Eaten

1. A snail.  Let's call this my 'Birthday Snail'.

2.  Baby vomit.  I was playing with one of our boys when they were young and was lying on our bed 'flying' them over my head and as I was talking and laughing, vomit straight into my mouth.  It was a direct hit and resulted in my own vomiting.

3. Raw egg.   I tend to drink from cups that aren't mine.  If I'm thirsty and I see a glass, even a half full glass, I will drink it.  When I was younger, I saw what I thought was orange juice, only to find it was raw egg.

4.  Clay juice.  You would think I would have learned my lesson from the raw egg experience, but I did not.  As kids, we would sometimes go to the Speedway with our Dad.  My younger siblings would collect the chunks of clay that would fly over the guard rails as the cars sped around the corners and would roll them into balls.  For some bizarre reason, one of these clay balls ended up in a cup of water in the fridge.  Which I once again drank.

5.  Bark.  I cannot tell you how many times I have picked up what I thought was a bit of dropped chocolate off the floor and realised I was eating bark....or dirt....or who knows what else.  Why am I eating food off the floor??

6.  Sand.  This one has always appealed to me, but it turned into a real craving both times I was pregnant. I just wanted to eat sand.  I don't think it was the taste, more the texture.  I even filled a bottle with sand when we went to the beach, you know - just in case.

7.  A cockroach.  When I was a teenager, I awoke one night because I felt something in my mouth.  I freaked out and spat out whatever was in there and turned in the light to discover a large, disgusting, cockroach.  I'm pretty good with spiders and bugs, but cockroaches still gross me out. 

8.  A chunk of my big toe.  I had a friend sleeping over when I was in Year 3 and I covered the bathroom floor with water and soap to 'ice skate'.  I somehow managed to slice a chunk off the side of my big toe on the edge of the shower.  I know it was deep because it didn't bleed straight away, it just went all white, then the blood came.  It also barely hurt in the beginning.  
I thought it would be funny to gross out my friend by putting the chunk of toe on my tongue and chasing her.  She was indeed disgusted, but in my laughter, I accidentally swallowed it.

And this concludes my list.  For now anyway, there will no doubt be updates if I continue my reckless eating habits. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Man hunting

After Anthony and I went on our first date - there was obviously a second. The fact that I am writing this story for all to read tells you it must have a happy ending.  I certainly wouldn't be telling this story if after our first date I heard wedding bells, but Anthony was repulsed by me. I am far too proud. Plus I'm so irresistible that of course there was a second date. 

Those early days are a bit of a blur but I can tell you they consisted of Anthony and I not leaving each other's side too often. So much so that there was in intervention of sorts held.

After my last blog post, it was brought to my attention that one evening whilst Anthony was at my house (of course), some of his siblings arranged a meeting to ask his parents to tell him he had hardly been home long after 2 years away and that he was spending very little time with them.  

Now, I must be less valued amongst my siblings as no one staged any meetings because they missed me. 

Clearly Anthony and I were together a lot from the get go.  I can't tell you exactly when, but after a couple of dates (and it may literally have been two - I can't remember aside from the fact it wasn't our first date), we went for a walk one evening. As I have mentioned in the past, I'm not very gutsy in making a move, but I also had no intention of waiting long to test out our chemistry in the...umm...lip vincinity, if you know what I mean. 

Whilst we were out walking around a nearby park where some sporting teams were training, Anthony grabbed my hand. That same night we were talking whilst at a playground and I remember thinking;

"Hurry up and kiss me!"

Call me impatient if you will, but good kissing chemistry mattered to me. I'm sure good kissing COULD be a 'practice makes perfect' sort of thing and that an awkward first kiss isn't the end of the world - but I needed to know if he had the goods in the kissing department. Yes, yes, I'm fickle that way.

I won't go into too much detail...except to say I planned on kissing those lips a lot more.

Anthony and I got engaged 5 months after our first date - I would have said 'yes' earlier.  I know by some peoples standards that is considered fast. Perhaps for some even too fast to know enough about someone to commit to a life together. But I said 'yes' anyway. 

If I am being honest, I would agree in some ways - perhaps you can't know enough about a person in 5 months to know whether or not there is a happily ever after in your future. Marriage is a risk - I have seen enough marriages end to know this much.  Some of those couples were together for many years before getting hitched, others engaged after only a few weeks, but I knew enough to know that I felt very lucky to be the one Anthony proposed to and confident that we had what it took to make a life together.

I had seen his love for his family and wanted that same love for myself and my future children.  I knew he would put my best interests ahead of his own as he would already carry my handbag around for me without my ever asking and I didn't know many guys who would risk the mockery that comes with carrying your girlfriends handbag for her. I knew he loved his sport and yelled at the TV and clapped loud and fast during intense moments in a game, but I could live with that.  I knew we were both home bodies who loved being at home and that if we spent a lifetime on the couch watching movies eating cheeseburgers and ice cream together, we would be happy.  I knew our taste in music and tv shows differed a lot, but we had time to find new shows and new music we could like together - or if all else failed we owned ear phones.  

 I knew that above all, I was loved - in the kind of way that you feel is enough for a lifetime. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Meeting Mr. Right

I was drawn to Anthony the first time I laid eyes on him. Seriously. The absolute first time I saw him, he caught my eye . 

This made me feel somewhat guilty as I had a boyfriend at the time and it doesn't make you a very good girlfriend if you are attracted to what is no more than a stranger when you have a boyfriend.  Very bad, bad girlfriend! 

But I couldn't help it - I liked what I saw. 

I'm not one to do the chasing when it came to boys, but I'm also not one to play it cool either. Like, at all. Zero cool here. 

Anthony returned home to Sydney on Valentine's Day 2004. I moved to Sydney from Adelaide just two weeks earlier.  I remembered hearing it announced that there was going to be a welcome home breakfast for some guy at his house and the directions said to look out for the basketball hoop in the driveway. I had no idea who this guy was so figured it would be weird if I went and that my presence there welcoming him home would mean.....well, nothing.  So I didn't go. 

Had I actually gone, this would have been our first meeting. 

Fast forward two weeks and Anthony was speaking at our church. I saw him and decided then and there I was mighty interested in getting to know him. I had no plans on how to do this, but I was in the same room as him so that was a good start.

That night there was a young adult get together at a house near by. I went and was secretly hoping Anthony would be there. To my delight, both Anthony and his brother Drew came. I don't want to sound too stalker-esque, but I can tell you everything Anthony was wearing that night. Red Dickies t-shirt, cut off jean shorts, and black Havianas. Yeah, that is pretty creepy isn't it!

I know I am coming off as a massive desperado here, but I still hadn't said a single word to Anthony at this point. My description of the story thus far sounds like I was already writing wedding guest lists.  

We exchanged a few pleasantries that night but nothing earth shattering. The next day I came home from Uni to the news we were going to 'The Bush's' along with another new to the area family to play some games and get to know one another better. 

My Nana was visiting from Adelaide at the time. When Anthony's mum asked our family to organise a game to play that evening, Nana had some great suggestions. First she suggested 'Truth or Dare', and then she thought 'Spin the Bottle' might be a good idea.  It could have been fun, but the risk of having to kiss a stranger or my own brothers were deterrent enough for me so I squashed that idea quickly. 

Again, the psycho in me can tell you Anthony's outfit that night - light blue shirt, jeans, and black shoes with little brown stripes (I wasn't a fan of these shoes but he made it pretty easy to look past).  Anthony told a story that night and I remember him asking me a question that I had to make up some vague answer to as I wasn't really listening properly, just staring at him while he spoke. The more I was around him, the more I wanted to be around him. 

A few weeks passed and my boyfriend at the time came to visit. While he was here, there was a young adult meeting on at our church. I had to go a bit early for another meeting, but once my meeting was over, I sat with my boyfriend waiting for the main meeting to start. I realised here that I was watching the door hoping to see Anthony walk through it. When he did, I got up and ditched my boyfriend to go say 'hi'. I don't think I even told him where I was going! 

It was pretty clear to me that my heart was leading me elsewhere. I did feel guilty, but felt it would be foolish to ignore how I felt. 

Three days after my boyfriend left back to Adelaide to prepare for a trip overseas, Anthony and I went on a date the first time. We spent the whole night talking and I think when I walked through the front door in the early hours of the morning, I could of told you there was a strong possibility I could marry Anthony. 

He was smart, funny, and of course he wasn't too hard on the eye either. We shared common beliefs and values and I thought he would make a fantastic role model for my future sons to follow.  

Now just how to get my claws into him and convince him he couldn't bear to live a day without me. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Call me Granny

I am about to hit a milestone in my life. In less than a week I turn the big 3-0!

It's not an achievement by any means on my part as I didn't actually do anything other than stay alive, but I do feel like it's one of those 'something birthdays'. Some birthdays are 'something birthdays' (such as 16, 18, 21, 40), and some are 'nothing birthdays' (like 23 and 27). I know it's ridiculous but that's my logic.

I'm not too worried about turning 30, aside from the fact I remember my Mum being 30 so whatever shortfalls I have I can no longer  console myself with the thought;

"Oh the boys are young and won't remember much of this age anyway."

They WILL remember. 

Already I see that 30 seems like a great age to be turning. It feels like around now I am really settled within myself. I am really comfortable with who I am and my interests, beliefs, decisions, relationships, and opinions. I am completely aware that I have shortcomings, but know that it's not the end of the world and as long as I am constantly trying to improve that the world won't come to an end because I made a mistake.

I know who I am as a wife. I know how much I treasure my marriage and recognise it as a true source of happiness and stability in my world. I also know my marriage is strong, but constantly evolving as is necessary in life.  We have faced hard things during the past decade, but I know where my strengths lie in our relationship, and where I rely on Anthony to help where I struggle. 

I am at the stage where I know what a REAL fairytale relationship is. There is no ball gowns, princes, or Fairy Godmothers.  For me it's more like dressing gowns, tickle fights, and fairy bread.  But I realise how blessed I am. I have a relationship that is wonderfully real. Real fairytale relationships have people who work hard to treat the other better than they treat anyone else because they want them to know they are treasured. There is two people who both know they are loved by the other every single day. They know they are loved even on the days they are harder to love. 

I know who I am as a Mother. I place this role as the most important work I will do, yet at the same time I need to be honest and say somedays my most important work is also the most tiring, frustrating, and difficult. At this stage I am learning that my role has changed and I am already having to tread the fine line of when to step in and when to step back. My instinct is still to grab the jug from Carter's hands when I see him pour a drink, but he reminds me he can do it himself so I step back and watch (with a cloth in hand all ready). 

We are getting some of the curlier questions from our boys now. Questions that make me realise how fast time is going as it feels too soon. I'm just glad they want to ask their dear old Mum and Dad still, as when my 40th rolls around, we will have an 18 year old and a 16 year old and I doubt my opinion will be sought quite so often.

I am much more comfortable with my views, beliefs, and opinions now.  Even just a few years back, I was much more reserved in expressing my opinions, but now see them to be worthy of expressing in a respectful manner and at an appropriate time. They aren't always right I'm sure, but come from thoughtful consideration and are a reflection of my experiences in the world. 

I'm also more comfortable to agree to disagree as I know it doesn't have to change my relationship with that person. Everyone's views are a result of personal experience and cannot be expected to align perfectly. How many wonderful perspectives would we miss out on if that was our expectation? 

I think the main difference I see from turning 20 to turning 30 is that I am more accepting of myself, and of the surprises life throws at me. I still stress at the unexpected, but at the same time I feel a quiet inner peace that tells me that no matter what curveballs have been thrown our way, we are still here and happy and stronger than ever.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

It's soapbox time!

I'm not really one to get into politics, but the 2014 Budget seems to have the country in a bit of a tizz and I have some opinions if my own. I won't share them with you in detail as I hope to have people actually continue to read my blog, but there is one subject that is pretty touchy for me. 

It is the price tag Australia puts on stay-at-home Mothers. 

We have been told that Mothers need an 'incentive' to return to workforce. Apparently that incentive is money.

I am all for an honest days work for an honest days pay etc etc, but there is great value to what a stay-at-home mother brings to the community. They do not literally stay home baking muffins and watching Dr. Phil all day.  Who would watch Dr. Phil when Ellen is on?

Stay-at-home mothers can be found running play groups, volunteering in the school canteen, helping struggling children with one-on-one reading that is impossible for classroom teachers to provide with their hectic schedules, care for the children of working friends/family, and most importantly - they care for their own children. This frees up spots in childcare centres for those who need them. 

I in no way have an issue with any mother who does work and I don't believe they love or care for their child to a lesser standard than a stay-at-home mother. Their choice to work is their choice to make and need not be justified to anyone.  I'm completely aware the guilt trip works both ways. Working mothers absolutely get the rough end if the stick too at times.

But it seems that our government views working mothers as contributing to society and stay-at-home mothers not so much. 

Decades ago, there was the expectation that mothers would stay home with their children. Women fought for the right to enter the workforce without judgement. I respect this.

But why now do I have to fight to defend my choice to stay home with my children? It doesn't need to be one way or the other. Both can be viewed with equal respect and appreciation. Both can be understood to be important. Each can be lifted to a place that our society can value without pushing the other down. 

I am an educated woman. I studied full time while my children were young so I could support my family if *heaven forbid* our family required it, but more so that my family deserves the best of me. I still desire to continue learning. Motherhood hasn't taken that from me. But when Anthony and I decided to have children, we also both wanted me to be home with them while they were young (not just their pre-schooling years).  

I knew what I was doing. I knew the decision I was making in wanting to be a stay-at-home mother and it doesn't diminish my intelligence at all. The intricacies of running a household can be as demanding as any full- time job. It somedays provides the luxuries of a long lunch and freedom, and other days leaves little time to eat at all. Somedays the work is fulfilling and fun, such as volunteering in my boys school classes, but can be mundane and unnoticed, such as the hour and a half spent cleaning window tracks with cotton buds. 

My desire is not that everyone make a big song and dance for stay-at-home mothers, just that they are seen to be important and valued by the country we live in.

It's a choice we made, and we have paid the price financially by not having a second income, but it's a choice I would make time and time again because I know its important. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Just in time for the lies

It was only a matter of  time  until something like this happened.

Today I had the privilege of spending time in Carter's classroom. Somedays I help with home readers, but I stayed back a bit longer today to help with an art activity. 

Carter has a fantastic teacher who has more patience in her little toe than I have all together.  More than anything I appreciate her sincere care for my little man.

I love watching Carter in action. He is the Art Helper this week.  As you can imagine, he takes his jobs VERY seriously.  At one point in the morning, some children at his table needed help finding the next blank page to glue in their work. Carter then told me HE needed help too. 

I showed them the same thing I'm sure their teacher has shown them many a time. We started at the front and flipped through til we found a blank page. I used Carter's book as the example and made a point of commenting on the great work I could see as I flipped through. 

There were several drawing with captions that Carter had obviously narrated to his teacher to write for him. 

One described him at the park. 

Another one showed a train.

But the one that caught my eye was the picture with the caption under it;

"This is a picture of my Daddy smoking."

I asked him if he had told his teacher that Daddy smokes.  He smiled proudly and said;


Friday, April 11, 2014

Just here for the food

The older our boys are getting, the more I see them developing into their own person. They have more developed senses of humour, interests, passions, fears, and schedules. 

When they were a few years younger, they were demanding in the sense that they constantly wanted something of me as their mother. Whether it be my arms to carry them, my eyes to watch them, my ears to listen to them, my voice to sing or read to them, my hand to hold theirs, or to literally just be there to have them sit ON me.

There were countless times I felt truly blessed.

Other times I felt truly smothered. 

They didn't have much of a schedule of their own other than what we had planned for 'us' that day. They came along for the ride in whatever I had to do.

Now they have schedules that are as important as ours as parents. They have school, activities, assignments, and friendships that all require us to work their schedules into the family schedule. I often find myself getting books from the library on certain topics, buying particular craft materials, or attending school activities whilst the boys are at school. I spend more time away from them now,  but still spend the same amount of time doing things FOR the boys even when they are elsewhere. 

Tony's current interests are pokemon and Minecraft. Carter's are weddings, rugby, and police. Carter has also taken a bit of an interest in Pokemon - but I think it's just because his older brother likes it so it's cool. 

Yesterday morning, Carter was asking me a Pokemon related question. I have limited Pokemon knowledge and proved not very useful. As I walked down the hallway, I heard Tony tell Carter;

"Carter, if you have any questions about Pokemon, you should ask me because I know all about that stuff. Mum doesn't know Pokemon, she just does the cooking and stuff."

So now we know why I am here and what my children see my 'interests' as - the cooking and stuff! 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Mr Bones opens up....with surgery

Mr Bones had his appendix out a few days ago. Both Anthony and I still have ours in tact so we haven't experienced appendicitis ourselves, but I have had three siblings with it. I probably didn't pay very close attention though as...well, that's what Mum was for. 

Now I am 'Mum' though, and the buck stops here when it comes to your child.  

That's what's so scary about being a parent, your child is sick - it's your responsibility to help them get well.
Your child makes a mess, you have to make sure it gets cleaned one way or another.  Your child hurts another child, you feel guilty. The buck stops with you.

Wednesday afternoon I picked the boys up from school. Tony said his stomach pain began as he walked from his classroom to meet me. I kid you not - straight away I had the thought;

"I wonder of it's his appendix?"

I then talked myself out of it as it seemed like I was being over-dramatic when many other more simple reasons could explain the vagueness of 'a sore tummy' in a child.

He had no fever, no vomiting, and no re-bound tenderness. That was about the extent of my appendicitis knowledge so when we got home, I just told Tony to lie down. 

He felt a bit better later and came to to the park. He played a bit but didn't want to join in the running races. 

By dinner, Tony wasn't super hungry but had his dinner. He started feeling nauseated and in pain about half an hour later. Bed time rolled around and he couldn't sleep as the pain was worse. Still no fever though. 

I brought Tony into our bed and called Anthony (who was out) to let him know Tony had tummy pain and that there was a chance we would have to go to hospital. An hour later, Anthony and I were looking at each other asking ;

"What do you think?"

"I don't know, what do you think?"

"Should we take him to hospital? Do you think it's his appendix?"

"The pain seems like it, but he has no fever. He does feel sick though..."

In the end we decided that instead of trying to diagnose him ourselves (with the assistance of Dr. Google), we should just take him to hospital to be sure.  He was still off his food and had pain on the right side of his abdomen when we pressed on the left so we thought it was enough of an indication to get him checked out. 

So 9:45pm, off we went. Tony didn't have to wait long at all as he was vomiting in the waiting room (I strongly recommend this to speed up the waiting process - miss the vomit bag and aim for the floor if necessary).

I must say here, that it is hard for us to gage the level of pain when it comes to Tony. If he gets a paper cut, you would think he has severed his entire finger off. 

However, I knew he must have been in a lot of discomfort when I asked him if he wanted a chocolate from my bag and he said "no"!

The surgeon said he suspected appendicitis and to put him on a drip and keen him nil-by-mouth and admitted him to the childrens ward for review in a few hours time. 

There were no tears when the cannula went in - I underestimated Mr Bones! He soon curled up and went to sleep. 

Come morning, he was feeling better. Still sore, but not writhing around - just more when you touched his stomach. He still didn't want to eat though and although improved, just wasn't 100%.

I was expecting to be discharged as the older boy in our room also had suspected appendicitis and was moaning in pain, much worse in comparison to Tony. 

When the surgeon came to review them both, the other boy got sent for an ultra- sound and said they will wait and see, and Tony was scheduled for surgery in 2 hours time! 

He was so brave and the surgeon said he was very tough as he didn't cry earlier that morning when examined despite his appendix looking pretty nasty when he took it out. 

Another hospital trip to add to the Bush Chronicles - this time Tony's turn. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Stubborn as a race horse

I have a stubborn spirit. 

I know some who know me may not know this about me. Some may even find it hard to believe and think I am just being self critical. But it's 100% true - Anthony can testify to this. 

I'm not saying it's always a negative thing either. Sometime this stubbornness works to my favour in helping me to not settle when I believe something is of true importance.

But there are other times when I am left with the nagging feeling that I need to apologise. Usually to my sweetheart. 

He always accepts it though. He has to, I make his lunches and dinners. 

There is something heavenly about knowing he is the one person who has seen all my 'ugly' sides over the last decade, but still calls he me beautiful every single day.

I think my stubbornness is part of my nature. I don't think I inherited it - I just came this way.

Perhaps that is why I have faced what feels like some difficult trials early in life; because my stubborn spirit needed such challenges to grow.

But how thankful I am for a stubborn spirit to carry me through these trials. 

And even more so, I am grateful to this man who loves me when I wear pyjamas in the middle of the afternoon with my hair unbrushed and I am completely unshowered. And he still tells me I'm beautiful. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Eye of the storm

We are now a few weeks into the term. The last few weeks have been BIG ones for us. For anyone who reads my blog, I don't think I need to explain why. 

Tony loves his new class and teachers (he has 2 teachers who team teach). He is working hard but tells me that his teachers make school work fun and he has a smile on his face whenever he talks about them. 

We had a small concern about how he would cope without his best friend in his class. The two of them are peas in a pod and often can be found huddled together chatting away about who-knows-what. I remember having friends like that. The kind where you are truly in your own little world together. 

They have been in the same class the last 2 years but are not this year. They have coped remarkably well though and find each other before school, after school, at lunch, and even call each other after school. They are proof that any friendship worth keeping, you will put in the effort. 

I have no doubt that Tony has great success in his future. He is very capable, but more than that, he is a kind and thoughtful boy who want to do the right thing.

Our concerns for Carter starting school were much larger.  With his Global Developmental Delay, any major adjustment is difficult. It takes him much longer to learn new routines and to retain new information. He is easily frustrated and his fine motor skills are a huge challenge, which makes school tasks very difficult. 

He has an amazing memory for people, music, and places though. He is so funny and has a genuine love and concern for people. He is so gentle and drawn to animals and small children. He often comes out with things that remind me how intelligent he is. There is nothing fake about Carter, he can't help but be who he is. 

And he is pretty amazing. 

He is loving school and has been so blessed with an amazing teacher who truly sees him for who he is, not just his challenges.  She too has commented to me that he gives answers to questions that are beyond his years. The struggle isn't his intelligence, it's in learning new skills and retaining them once learnt, as well as his attention span. There have been hiccups along the way, but I can see Carter is adjusting to school life. I know it's still early days, but I have confidence with lots of hard work, he will succeed.

The last few weeks have made me see my children differently though. I have watched Tony playing with friends in the early morning play time and admired his ability to make friends so easily. I love that he would be a friend to anyone who seeks his company.  He has great math skills, thankfully, as math was definitely not my strong suit. He has also developed an interest in drawing, which he didn't really care for in the past.  I have witnessed a creative side that I didn't know was there.

I see Carter differently too. I sometimes feel inadequate to help him in the ways he needs.  I want to help him overcome his challenges. But the last few weeks I have focused more on enjoying my time with him rather than trying to 'fix' him.

Fixing him is not my job. My job is to hold his hand and lead him when he needs it, and to let him lead me when he knows the way.  Sometimes the path he takes me down is much better than where I would have ended up.  I realise now that it is my privilege to raise a son who has tough challenges in his path. He teaches me how to face my own challenges. By laughing, dancing, and playing. 

He is only young, but he has already learnt to find joy in the journey. 

It has been a very different month for me. One that was probably necessary, but also one I am grateful for. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

A little bit of love

Yesterday being Valentines Day, it only seems appropriate that I base this post on something soppy and lovey-dovey.

I have 3 Valentines. 

My first - Anthony - wasn't here most of Valentines Day. He had been on a Year 7 camp the past few days. I purposely kept the days he was away extra quiet so it wouldn't be a big strain on me.  Even though he was only gone less that 72 hours, I really missed him.  I am very aware that we live in a world that finds difficulty in sustaining long term love and particularly marriage. This is why I feel so blessed to have no doubts in how I feel about my husband. Although I wasn't looking forward to his being gone, it reminded me of how much I love him and his presence in our home. Every time I saw my phone ringing with his name across the screen, it made my heart jump the same way it did a decade ago when we were dating. The five minute conversations here and there were the highlight of my past 3 days. 

My second Valentine is Tony. Tony is sometimes described as 'shy' by many who know him. He can be, but he is also willing to put himself out there at times in ways that I would be too scared to.  He asked me on Thursday night if he could make a Valentines card for a girl in his class. I would have thought he would be way too embarrassed to even consider doing this. But he sat and coloured a heart shaped card and wrote a message inside and stuck it to a packet of lollies. 

As he packed it into his bag the next morning, I was secretly hoping he wouldn't be teased as I know some 8 year old boys still aren't too keen on girls.

At school pick up I couldn't wait to hear how he went. As soon as I saw Tony I quietly asked him if he gave his card. He shrugged his shoulders and said the little girl was away. After psyching himself up, she wasn't even there! He then said he will just keep it in his bag and give it to her Monday.  My boy has guts!

My littlest Valentine treats everyday like Valentines Day. Carter is BIG on love. He very proudly presented us with the Valentines Day card he made addressed to his 'family' and stick it on our fridge. 

Earlier that week, there was an 'event' I must share with you. At school drop off, the yard around the Kindergarten classrooms are packed with parents. When the bell rings, the children all line up at their class door and we say our farewells before leaving the school gates to enjoy 6 hours of freedom. 

After Carter had gone in, I turned to leave and heard his little voice calling out to me. I turned to see him running towards me. He said;

"Wait Mum, I didn't give you a kiss yet!"

Whilst this was completely untrue as I had just kissed him goodbye less that 2 minutes ago, I obliged as who doesn't want more kisses from such a cutie?

I got a little more than I bargained for. In full view of the hoards of Kindergarten parents, teachers, and children, Carter threw his arms around my neck a planted one on me! I'm not talking a good old peck, I'm talking a wet mushy kiss with his head moving from side to side and his eyes wide open just centimetres from mine. The exact same kind of kiss I caught him practicing on his bedroom mirror last week. I literally had to pry his hands from around my neck and wipe his saliva from my face.

So I am now going to be known as THAT mother. The one who had her Kindergarten son pash her in the school yard!

Happy Valentines Day!!!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The day of reckoning

It's here! 

We have talked about this day non-stop for months now.....and it's arrived. 

My baby starts his first day of Big School today. Mr Tarts is all set and ready, but I don't know if I am. 

If you asked me six months ago, I would have told you I was looking forward to our big baby starting school. Some days it couldn't come fast enough. 

But here we are and I am nervous, but more sad. I'm losing my little buddy.  Who will I dress up in my wedding dress and do fake weddings with? Who will drive me crazy in the supermarket asking for lollipops? Who will ask me about the colour of my bra in the choc-a-block doctors waiting room?

We have been through this before with Tony, but having a 2 year old at home still made me feel better about it all. Now I feel a little lost. 

Mothers of older children always tell young mothers who are pulling their hair out with little ones to 'treasure' these moments as they won't last forever. I thought these women had developed early onset dementia (likely delayed onset) as a result of years of watching childrens programs and living with toddlers on no sleep. 

Turns out I am an idiot! 

Today, I wish I could wind the clock back a bit. If I knew how I would feel today, I would smack myself in the head and tell myself that there is truth to those words; 

"Treasure these moments, before you know it they will be gone."

I guess from the hours of 8:55am til 2:55pm, I won't be the main woman in Carter's life anymore. He has a lovely teacher, but I will miss being the Sandy to his Danny, the Gabriella to his Troy, the Catwoman to his Batman. 

Point Clare Public School is getting a good one! In fact in my opinion, they have two of the best. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sneaky sneaky boy

Anthony and I realised just a couple of months ago that Tony's days as a 'Santa Believer ' are numbered now that he is eight. He was in a Year 2/3 class this past year, and being in a class with older children, we knew that come Christmas, the discussion of Santa would likely come up amongst his classmates. We sadly realised this Christmas could be the last before he 'knows'.

I feel that as soon as he asks outright, we should tell him from now on, but until that happens, my lips are sealed and I'm a happy woman. 

There hasn't been too many expressions of doubt from Tony and I thought we were in the clear as December approached. Tony's class even wrote and posted letters to Santa (for those who wanted to).  Tony asked me for a stamp to take to school so I knew he had written one. 

A couple of days later, I got a message from a friend who works at Tony's school and whose son is Tony's best friend.  She thankfully gets the inside scoop and gave me the heads up about some rather important information regarding Tony's letter to Santa. 

Tony had asked Santa to ring a bell when he comes on Christmaa Eve to let him know he was real.  His plan was to not tell his Mum and Dad, so that he could use this to test Santa's validity by whether or not there was a bell rung or not. 

Sneaky sneaky boy!!  

Thanks to the heads up we received, we were able to make a plan to keep the magic alive at least another year. 

Come Christmas morning, the boys awoke and we all gathered together to open our gifts.  Tony did not mention not hearing a bell at all. 

One of his last gifts was small and we eagerly watched him unwrap a red bell and a letter from Santa. The letter explained that Santa didn't want to wake him at night when he came, so instead he wanted to give him a bell to hang on his door to remind Tony of him. 

Tony was so thrilled and then told us that he and an older boy were debating the existance of Santa and when Tony said he believed in Santa, the boy asked him to prove it. Tony came up with this bell plan to put it all to the test and said he couldn't wait to tell his class mate what had happened. 

I know the time will come soon where the truth will be discovered, it's all part of growing up. But until then, I love that my children have such belief in human goodness. They accept that someone would make toys for children they have no relation to and spend every day of every year working to bring joy to others with no request for anything in return.  Acceptance of such a concept in the world we live in is magical in itself. 

I know our Santa days are numbered for Tony, but at least for now, there is a bell hanging on Tony's door :)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Just a little bit precious

I am not a very good swimmer. I CAN swim. I am certainly capable of saving myself if I needed to, but I'm just not very good at swimming. I think this is in part due to my dislike of swimming. It's just such a hassle! All the getting changed, sunscreen and sand, chlorine and ear plugs, and trying to peel off wet clothes, then put on dry clothes inconspicuously whilst still a bit wet (it's like trying to get dressed after being covered in glue). 

I don't think I'm a particularly girly-girl, but when it comes to swimming, I get a bit precious. I MUST wash my hair after swimming. It doesn't matter where I am or who is around, I need to properly wash my hair after swimming. I'm not talking a good rinse with clean water; I'm talking shampoo, conditioner, and a comb. I'm not even embarrassed to admit that when we go to the beach, I stand at the outdoor shower (where people have a quick rinse or wash off their boards) and I wash my hair and leave with a big puddle of suds behind me. 

I just hate the feeling of sand or chlorine in my hair. Or on my skin for that matter. I also must bring moisturiser with me to apply immediately post-swim. 

See - precious. 

It seems somewhat cruel that it has been recommended much of my life to swim. For my back, to strengthen my core muscle, to build leg muscle, blah blah blah. And swim I have! But very reluctantly. In more recent days, my swimming advice has continued, but I am mainly restricted to walking in the water as there is less twisting motion. This pleases me greatly as there is less hair-wetting opportunity. I have still, however, not taken to the water as much as probably should. 

I'm not really big on New Years. I LOVE Christmas, but New Years doesn't mean all that much to me. Seeing so many Facebook friends comment on their reflections of 2013 did cause me to do a little reflecting of my own though. Like most years, there was joy, pain, growth, sadness, and fun. 

Some moments this past year remind me of treading water. Just kind of keeping my head above water, but not really going anywhere. Treading water is necessary sometimes. It can be a life-saver. Some moments of 2013, I absolutely needed to just stop and tread water so I could catch my breath and stop from going under. 

Other times I was just treading water because it was easier, or I lacked the motivation to really swim. 

I learnt a really valuable lesson early in 2013 that I have mentioned previously (sorry for all who have read it already).  I was in a sullen state post-surgery in February and feeling pretty sorry for myself. Mainly over having to go through surgeries more than I would like. I was just treading water I guess. But late one night in hospital, after a brief-but-tough physio session, I suddenly realised I had so much control over my situation and I could make the decision to endure the trial as best I could.  I was desperate to get through the recovery phase and needed to really swim and push myself in the direction I wanted to be.  

This lesson has been a standout moment of 2013 for me in my own personal growth.  I have learnt that when I find myself in a position that is undesirable to me, instead of just treading water and staying there, I can muster all my strength and swim with all my might to calmer waters. 

Of course there were times later in the year where I got lax in life and at times realised I was just doing Doggy-Paddle and likely just going round in circles instead of focusing on my goal.  This is what New Years brings I guess. A chance to re-focus on our goals. Yes, it can be done anytime really, but our attention is particularly drawn to our goals as January 1st draws near. 

My 'goal' this year, is to swim more and tread water less....and definitely not drown:)