Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Misunderstood Child - by Kathy Winters

Love this poem. With help (and fantastic teachers), this child grows into a thinker, a doer and a generous person with a deep heart.

The Misunderstood Child

I am the child that looks healthy and fine.
I was born with ten fingers and toes.
But something is different, somewhere in my mind.
And what it is, nobody knows.
I am the child who struggles in school.
Though they say I'm perfectly smart.
They tell me I'm lazy - can learn if I try -
But I don't seem to know where to start.
I am the child that won't wear the clothes
Which hurt me or bother my feet.
I dread sudden noises, can't handle most smells,
And tastes - there are few foods I'll eat.

I am the child that can't catch the ball
And runs with an awkward gait.
I am the one chosen last on the team
And cringe as I stand there and wait.
I am the child with whom no one will play -
The one that gets bullied and teased.
I try to fit in and I want to be liked,
But nothing I do seems to please.
I am the child that tantrums and freaks
Over things that seem petty and trite.
You'll never know how I panic inside,
When I'm lost in my anger and fright.
I am the child that fidgets and squirms
Though I'm told to sit still and be good
Do you think that I choose to be out of control?
Do you think that I would if I could?
I am the child with the broken heart
Though I act like I really don't care.
Perhaps there is a reason God made me this way -
Some message he sent me to share.
For I am the child that needs to be loved
and accepted and valued too.
I am the child that is misunderstood,
I am different - but look just like you.

Kathy Winters

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I caved... Aussie Animal Cards

When Woollies announced their swap card promotion a few weeks back, I barely registered it. How could I possibly get involved? I mean, I shop at Coles!

When I realised the promo ran over school holidays, I pushed it even further back in my mind. No peer pressure, the kids wouldn't even notice it was on. But then...

A trip to another town where we were forced to visit a Woolworths combined with late nights up watching 'holiday viewing' (lots of Woolworths ads), card mania kind of crept into my house.

We started with twelve cards piled under the TV.

Then, Miss Piggy asked her grandparents to collect cards for her. After a few generous donations from workmates (who heard we were collecting), she had quite a collection of cards. Enough for a good sized rubber band, but I didn't think it warranted an album. After all, she was just going to be disappointed by all the empty spaces.

Then hubby switched to Woollies for the twice weekly pick up of milk and fruit. Apparently if you are a thirty-something dad with a small pig-tailed girl in tow, you are entitled to more than the stipulated 1 set per $20 spent.

Suddenly we had HUNDREDS of cards. And when I counted the cards out, we were actually close to having the complete set.

Time to cave. Yes, we ARE a Woolworths Collect-a-card family. Yes, we need a few to complete the set. But... I wanted Miss Piggy to play a role in completing the set - I didn't want to be the one sorting and ordering for the tenth time after the Small Boy had knocked the pile over again inspected the cards in non-chronological order.

So this afternoon, I made her a deal. If she completed the table below, I would help her to ring her aunties and friends and see if they could complete the set. It was great for her because she got to:

1. Dial numbers on the telephone
2. Practise having an actual, meaningful conversation via phone (as opposed to rabbiting on about ballet and Taylor Swift as she normally does)
3. Practise writing her numbers (she is year 1 and still sometimes reverses the digits)
4. Realise that projects take time and effort to finish.

Good news - we made it! We tracked down all the missing numbers and (once the postman delivers a few envelopes) will have the complete set.

If anyone wants a copy of the sheet we used, here it is.

It was a great reference for Miss Piggy to use when brokering her trades. She's going to take it to school tomorrow to see if she can help her friends to complete their sets too.

Linking up with Maxabella's Weekend Rewind

Facing your fears

I've always fancied being part of the chorus for a show. I love to dance and while I wouldn't say I sing well, I sing well enough to have been part of a high school choir many moons ago. It's not so much that I want to be on the stage with people staring at me, because that is, quite frankly, the stuff of my nightmares. It's more that I've wanted to feel that camaraderie that I imagine happens between the members of cast. I know - sad loser stuff... and probably too much Smash (the TV show).


A couple of months ago, we lost our dear old Ellie. Ellie (Elspeth) was an almost 17 year old Louchen. She was loyal, friendly, gentle, grey woolly mess and we loved her like a child. She slept on my feet every night, she sat beside me through illness and sadness - I can hardly remember being without her. Her name was among our kids' first words, she slept beside their bassinettes and followed their first steps with gentle motherly concern.

So when she left us, I was a complete and utter mess. (Ten weeks later, I'm still a bit of a mess - still looking for her in the morning, forgetting she's gone. Had to change my curtains in the front hall because it made me too sad to see them still instead of rustling with her delight at my arrival home)

Anyway, that particular week I was a real can't-go-to-work, can't-stop-crying, can't-sleep kind of mess. Such a mess, in fact, that I was convinced to audition for a local show. My sister-in-law talked me into it, "just to get you out of the house - c'mon, it'll be fun!" I went along with her imagining (as did she) that we'd just be asked to learn a dance and perform it as part of a small group. Again, probably too much Smash.

When we got there, we realised we were a little bit out of our depth. Not only did we have to do a dance, but we had to do it alone, on a stage, under a spotlight while singing. The other people had been to rehearsals. I had not. And... I felt stupid when I stopped to think about it - I was auditioning for the CHORUS, of course they wanted to hear me sing. Aloud. Alone. In public. Something other than the national anthem.

I considered walking straight out. I joked that we could go to McCafe for cappuccinos and just tell our families that we auditioned... I think I had SIL almost in agreement... but then I thought about what I would tell my daughter if she was in the same situation and feeling doubt.

Who cares if they hear you sing? Who cares that you're gonna stuff it up? Who cares that it's you, all alone in the spotlight, singing and dancing for strangers? When will you ever get this opportunity again? Just do your best, pat yourself on the back for your bravery and walk away with your head held high.

So I did. It was terrifying. It was terrible. It was just what I needed to feel a little bit alive.

Last Friday night I went to see the show - it was absolutely amazing. I enjoyed it and I enjoyed the feeling of having dodged a bullet. What if I had got in?! I would have looked ridiculous in the chorus, and my voice would certainly not have complemented the rest of the cast. I was so glad not to have been the liability on that stage on Friday night! But I was proud of myself for taking the plunge.

So that's something I can cross off my list: Audition for a stage show. Hmm... what shall I do next?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Christmas shopping ideas

I both love and loathe Christmas shopping. I love the presents that are easy to buy - the ones that seem to jump off the shelf in your direction screaming, "This is so (insert friend/relatives name here)!" It's the other half of the gifts that get me down - the ones you seem to spend the weeks up to Christmas stressing over. They also seem to be the more expensive gifts and I'm usually not quite what the recipient had in mind.

Each year, my shopping list seems to get longer - with the birth of new nieces and nephews and the introduction of special people I want to thank. I like to space the buying throughout the year if possible, lessen the Christmas 'crunch'.

Yes... it IS all extremely colour co-ordinated! Two colours per year, that's our rule!
If you think that's a bit weird, you should see my clothes line!
This year, I'm being proactive. I bought all the gifts that screamed at me from the shelf. Specialty board games, concert DVDs, cute clothing for my nieces, toys and funny books.  Then I bought a bunch of other gifts that would be cool 'just in case' gifts - a sort of one-size-fits-most for gifts:

* Recipe book
* Gum ball machine (although the kids found this and have declared it a family appliance)
* A reasonable chick-lit (Jane Green or something equally crowd-pleasing)
* Pretty glassware
* Long handled ice-cream spoons in a bigger box (waiting for me to add sprinkles, crushed nuts and two bottles of flavoured topping)
* Pretty brooch
* Assorted jewelry

Then I made a list of things I could buy 'last-minute' if necessary

* Movie vouchers
* iTunes voucher
* Restaurant voucher
* Bowling voucher
* Coffee voucher

And a list of experiences to somehow gift-wrap

* Trip to the driving range with one bucket of golf-balls
* An afternoon of kite flying (along with a kite)
* An afternoon chatting on the beach (complete with bottle of wine and a voucher for a kilo of prawns) - I'll admit, this is probably a gift to myself as well as my friend!

I wish I could cook confidently enough to offer a Mexican feast as a gift. Or if I was better with contact maybe offer to cover one kids' books!

Anyone have any ideas to add to the list?

I'm seriously hoping to avoid the Christmas panic this December. Now I've just got to work out who gets what... and where I've hidden all the gifts!

Linking up with Essentially Jess - IBOT. Trying to make it a habit. Apologies for the 'nothing' sort of post!!! Will start thinking about next Tuesday's post right away!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Monkey madness - link to free pattern

My cousins are expecting within days of one another and I wanted to send something handmade for their little bundles of joy.

I found a pattern for 'Molly Monkey' by mmmcrafts several years ago and have been waiting for an appropriate time to give it a burl. Larissa has been so generous as to offer the pattern for free/donation.

I love this pattern. Having made lots of other softies, I love how easy this one is to turn inside out. I altered it a little bit to make the ears bigger and the faces easier to complete. I tried to make gender neutral versions as I'm not sure what 'colour' these new babies will be.

As a kid, my favourite toy was a monkey puppet my Dad bought me so this seemed like a nice gift to pass on.

And here they are - not quite finished, but almost ready to take their long voyage over to Europe to be with their new little owners :)

Queen for a day

Today I was a lady of leisure.

Yesterday I made tonight's meal so that today I could just do the things *I* wanted to do... like play with my sewing machine, watch a movie that nobody else wanted to watch, sit in my pajamas all day and drink lots of coffee.

It was great!

The kids were a little bit confused but quickly got on-board when I explained the situation. One day to have a holiday from being a 'mum'**... they thought it was reasonable.

They made their own lunch (it was cereal but it could have been worse). They even hung out the laundry and unstacked the dishwasher WITHOUT COMPLAINING. Miss Piggy brought me a gong (a saucepan and an egg beater) so that I could summon her for random cups of water or biscuits.

It was great! Don't know why I hadn't thought of it before!

** No housework, no taking of random requests, no cooking or cleaning, no chauffer duty... Kisses were still on-tap ;)

Linking up with Maxabella's Weekend Rewind

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Are we just showing off?

As a small child, I thought my Dad was the smartest person alive. This despite the fact he never finished school, lasted only days at some sort of tertiary facility (not even sure what it was, just remember sitting in the car while Daddy went to 'school') and readily told us that the only way he passed his last exams at school (equivalent year ten) was by scamming notes off my mother.

When he was feeling 'well', he was a font of useful information. And I when I say information, I mean detailed information. His answers would usually always start with, "Well get me a pencil and a piece of paper!" He never waved us off with an, "I don't know," - if he wasn't sure, he would take us to the library to look up answers to our questions. He was someone who started impossible projects, who taught himself to do so many new things (even if his backyard mechanics usually ended up with him putting a paper bag full of unknown parts in the boot, with the promise to work out where they went 'later').

Here we are in happy times, circa 1986. I'm the one chasing my sister with a spud gun!

My Dad was the one who taught me the importance of proportion and perspective. "Draw what you see, Sam!" was the catch-phrase of the time. And I tried my best. I would have done almost anything to make him proud, despite the fact what I really wanted to do was get out of the hot sun, away from the too-hard-to-draw gum tree and play with my Barbie.

Until I hit double figures, I also thought my Dad was the world's greatest driver - probably due to the fact he used to tell us what a great driver he was all the time. Looking back, I'm quite sure he wasn't the most fabulous driver - he didn't believe in seatbelts (lots of our cars didn't even have them), he thought nothing of a lot of drinks before driving us home from the pub. He smoked heavily while he drove - almost as though the whole driving thing was a bit of a yawn, really. Yet, he continued to spruik his driving prowess.

While for a lot of years after his death, I tried very hard not to think about him at all, lately I've been thinking about why it was so important for my Dad to have us believe he was a great driver when clearly he was not.

Yesterday, when I took a wrong turn and ended up 40ish kilometres up the wrong highway it all became a little bit clearer. After my initial swear-fest, a short bout of crying (I was tired, I was running out of petrol and my iPhone didn't know where we were) I started my positive self-talk. Although it wasn't self-talk at all...

In my rearview, I had seen Small Boy's bottom lip trembling as he saw his mother looking stressed and frightened. I started telling him, "It's OK. Mummy's a good driver! I've been lost before but I always find my way." I'm not sure what else I said, but before I knew it, the Mr Z and Miss Piggy were chiming in with, "Yeah, Mummy is a great driver. She always gets us where we need to go, even when the road is new and we don't have a map!"

All this smiling and 'showing off' was serving a purpose. Consoling three very tired little people who were hundreds of kilometres from home.

Is that what my father had been doing all those years ago? Masking his own anxieties with positive talk? Were we just hearing the positive side of all that inner-talk he had going on?

Having worked with kids for so many years, I'm always amazed at the faith little people have in their parents. As we grow, we begin recognise their flaws and become bewildered by their 'weird' behaviours. And I wonder... as we get older and have our own kids, do we start to understand them? Are our thirties a cathartic period of forgiveness?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Party Shoes

I've just gotten in from a visit from my younger sister. She lives about 2.5 hours north of here - although yesterday it took me more than 3 hours due to a new 'upgraded' part of the highway which forced me to miss a turn-off, but let's not mention that now*.

I left my new party shoes with my sister. I almost physically winced as I handed them over - they were sooo pretty. Shiny black satin with a pretty bow at the front, a cute buckle around the back and sky high heels below. I've worn them once. So why was I giving them away?

Long ago I used to wear ridiculous shoes. Platform sneakers, Doc Martens, three inch heels and what I called my "Minnie Mousers" - a patent leather platform heel which was so heavy I once blackened both my big toenails during a seven hour dancing marathon.

For several years I have lamented the dust covering my 'party shoes' as I have carried toddlers and nappy bags and done the 'mum-thing' around town in my jeans and black tees.

This year, for my birthday (given that my youngest was now three and perfectly capable of tottering around under his own steam) I bought myself a pair of new party shoes.

 These shoes are available from ASOS
I'm too lazy to photograph my own shoes, so I found this picture!

Excitedly, I teamed the black satin heels with the bow with a short-ish teal dress and some dangly earrings and set off to our local Chinese restaurant with the family. "You look fancy," whispered Miss Piggy as we got out of the car. I felt fancy... almost.

The problem was that I'd forgotten how to walk in heels. Or maybe it was that my middle section was decidedly 'heavier' and it was harder to totter around. Or maybe I'd been looking back at high-heeled memories through rose-coloured glasses (most likely the latter - my friends like to remind me of several well-timed tumbles down the staircase at the Mary Street nightclub in the nineties).

I was exceptionally wobbly and didn't feel in the slightest bit glamorous.

To cut it short, I felt like a teal-coloured, baby giraffe.

Younger me would have snapped these up - also available from ASOS

No more sky high heels for me! I wish my younger sister luck with my fancy black heels. I hope she loves them :)


*The kids are already telling everyone about how we took a detour around a whole mountain. A whole mountain!

Linking up with IBOT at Essentially Jess :)  

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