Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The end of the line

I think this little blog has reached its conclusion.

I started it to show myself that my time at home was indeed personally productive. That in between nappies and feeds and nights where there were far too many people in my bed I actually could find some time for myself. That I could learn and grow. That at the end I would have something to look back on - an accomplishment.

And you know what?

I have. That accomplishment is first and foremost my beautiful, healthy children. They have lovely manners, wide smiles and kind hearts. They make me prouder than I ever thought was possible.

This little blog pales in comparison to the true product of these last five years. A loving family. A woman who has learned to be less selfish, more patient, less harried, more loving, less anxious and more forgiving.

So. I guess this is goodbye! I hope that my next five years will see me continuing my personal growth in other ways. First and foremost I want to be more present in my family life. I want to find time to savour the joy that these childhood days bring.

I'll keep writing. I'll keep up my personal journals. I'll continue to write and tell stories for my children. I'll keep writing love letters to my children, squirreled away in the box on my dresser.

And I'll keep trying to be a better mum. Always a procrastinator, I'll try to put some of my plans into action.

Thank you to everyone who has posted, followed or otherwise encouraged me. I'll look back at this little blog and smile. I hope one day my kids might look at it and know how hard I tried to make these difficult years work for us all.

Thank you for listening!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Do you let your kids read their report cards?

I am a thinker... no doubt about it. I think, I over think, I read, I analyse...

And I end up with some weird habits. Like this and this... and this. Well, you might call them weird. I call them exceptionally well-planned projects.

The biggest one I've been called out on recently is the fact my children have never seen their report cards. With Mr Z in his fourth year of formal schooling and Miss Piggy in her third, we've received 12 report cards in total.

Each time we receive one, I don't rush to open it in front of the kids. As a former over-achiever that takes some willpower, let me tell you! When everyone is busy and settled I open them and take a peek. Then usually over dinner, I tell each of the kids what their teacher said about them (general comments only). This has always been enough for them.

The reason I don't feel the need to share their 'levels of achievement' with them are simple. Kids know what they're good at/not good at. They don't need a report to tell them that. Our kids sit in on parent-teacher interviews (school policy) so they've already been given a chance to identify areas for improvement and reasons to celebrate (we alternate reports with interviews, term and term about).

We regularly check in with our kids about what's 'tricky' at school and what they think they do well. When we get time we talk about homework tasks, offer help if it's needed. We encourage tenacity and working towards their goals.

And... the big one. I don't want them to think I care mostly about grades. Because I don't. I want my kids to be hard working and happy. I want them to be resilient. That's it. Anything else is a bonus. 

What about you? Do your kids care about their report cards? Do you?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Harvest your own broccoli seeds

We are loving our garden. It's a lot of trial and error, lots of googling random questions.

Here are some things we learned about broccoli (the hard way).

1. It's easy to grow! Just plant it and water regularly!
2. Once you cut the main head of broccoli, don't rip out the whole plant - you can eat the shoots which are reasonably prolific. Great for stir fries!

3. If you don't pick broccoli fast enough, it will start to flower

4. If you are going to let it flower, so that you can harvest the seeds, be sure to let a shoot flower, not a whole head - otherwise you will end up with thousands of seeds!
5. Once you let a plant flower, it seems to stop producing shoots... So pick your broccoli before it's too late.
6. Once the flowers have dried and fallen, pods will appear. Over MANY weeks, these will mature. Here are some that are on their way

7. Apparently broccoli seed shoots are delicious in salads... Will have to try that out!
8. Yes, broccoli grows OK in a sub-tropical environment (in Winter at least)

Hope this helps someone else! Not much broccoli out there to be googled... And the YouTube vids are soooo long and boring, thought this might save someone some time ;)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Theme songs

I tend to always have a theme song.

For a while it was this song. Right now it is this one:

Love this song. It's been a bit of a tough week, this song really cheers me up at the moment.

Am I the only one (besides Ally McBeal) who insists on having a theme song? For the record, I thought of it first, Ally ;)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

For my father

I had a little cry yesterday. And again today when I woke up.

Sixteen years ago, I had a conversation with someone I loved. The last one we would ever have.

I was tired of playing the grown up. I was tired of helping him put himself back together. I asked him to step up and SHOW me he loved me. I asked him to be my father, once and for all.

I thought it would help. I thought it might be the one thing that could. I thought maybe his love for his children would be enough for him to change. I thought love could be enough.

It wasn't. One day, shortly after that, he opened his arms to the heavens, felt the wind in his face and left us. Forever.

He thought the world would be a better place without him in it. He just couldn't remember how all the pieces fit back together and he was tired of trying. He didn't want to ask us to help him any more.

For a very long time, all I could feel was anger. All I could let myself remember were the hard, sad times. The unkind words. The grief of a childhood lost to the darkness of depression. I had to convince myself that the world WAS a better place without him in it so that I could go on.

But it wasn't, and it isn't.

I didn't get to walk down the aisle on the arm of my father. I didn't get to watch his face as he held my babies. I don't get to hug him at Christmas time, or share a tim tam with him or ring him when I'm excited. I'll never know all the stories of his childhood.

I'll never stop feeling ripped off.

Only recently, I've started to remember the happy times. The giggles and the laughter. The times that I enjoyed such dizzying heights of fun and happiness. I had some pretty interesting experiences with my dad, as a kid. And I finally realise that those are worth remembering. As much as the darkness defined my childhood, the bright times did too. That's what life is like with a manic depressive.

And so, yesterday when I heard the news about Robin Williams, I remembered the man who made people laugh. The man who made some pretty spectacular mistakes but managed to laugh about them. A man who taught people to take it on the chin and march on.

To have battled the dark monster for so long takes bravery and spirit. I hope his children remember that. I hope they cherish the mayhem and the brightness he brought them.

I hope they can forgive.

Take it from someone who has lived this pain. It is ALWAYS worth putting the pieces back together. As battered and as wonky as you may feel, the world is always a better place with you in it. Somewhere, somebody is relying on you. You are their sun... or their moon... or a twinkling star in the fabric of their life. You are valued. You are worth it.

March on.

source: pinterest


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Finding your tribe...

Years ago, we used to socialize regularly with our 'tribe'. So much fun was had, alcohol consumed and kilometres covered as we searched for our next adventure.

Then bit by bit, our group started to drift apart as we embarked upon new adventures in pairs - mortgages, renovations... and kids.

Which was why it was so special that, for my birthday this year, we reformed our happy tribe and took a trip to the beach.

We rented a nice beach house while the others stayed in apartments nearby. We took our kids, of course (there's no way that we'd be able to simultaneously arrange that many babysitters) and just had a grand time relaxing in the winter sunshine.

We took frozen gourmet food (we may be frugal with time and money these days, but we still like to eat well), many bottles of wine and high spirits to the beach. And as the sun set on my 35th year, we sat and watched the colours change in the sky while the kids buried each other in sand and took pictures of us.

Mr Z took this one - isn't it a beauty?

Feeling very blessed.

When was the last time you got your tribe together? Do you still have a tribe? Or have bottles and nappies and debt scattered it on the winds of time?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Building memories... being silly

I went to the beach dressed as a pirate. As in last Sunday. As a full grown woman.

I got some very odd looks, but I had a very good reason for doing it.

Miss Piggy had said to me, "mum, can we go to the beach dressed as pirates and look for treasure and dig a big pirate ship and.. and..?"

How could I say no? After all they are only little such a short time and there'll be a time (probably soon) when they stop asking me to do silly things like that. Mr Z already said he didn't want to play, he looked at us a bit awkwardly but came along without too much fuss. He's only nine. 

And they really remember these 'fun' times you share... right? So looking like an idiot was totally worth it to see her smile.

Here I am - in full piratey glory: 

Yes, I did need to take a rest in the boat! We carved it from wet sand and that sucker was big!

When was the last time you acted ridiculously to get a smile from your kids?


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I want my children to know failure

I want my children to know failure.

Not because I want to *see* them fail (because, let's face it, for a loving parent that stuff STINGS) but because I want them to feel it. Really feel it.

There's heaps of stuff out there about how unless  you know failure, you never truly appreciate success... can't have the highs without the lows... how much more you learn from failing. But that's not it at all for me.

I want my kids to know failure so they know forgiveness. So they can be comforted. So they can learn resilience.
We have the rule in our house that it's OK to cry. I often say, "You can cry for
** minutes, but then you have to stop and do/say something good."
Now they are bigger (and their worries are bigger) sometimes I say, "You can mope and feel sad all day today,
but tomorrow you have to put it behind you. What will we do tomorrow?"

I want them to know that *I'm* ok with their failings. I don't need them to be perfect, and I don't expect their lives to be perfect either. That just because I hold myself to exceptionally high standards, it doesn't mean that I can't forgive my own, or anyone else's, shortcomings.

I want them to fail at the little things and know they can come home to Mum and let her know how they're feeling. If they can do that a few times (or over and over), perhaps when it's the big failings they will feel safe and comforted doing the same thing.

Because I want them to know that there is never a problem too big to end my love for them.

I want them to know that not all things can be mended but that time has a way of making the pain smaller.

I want them to know, in themselves, that no matter how bad things seem, there's always an opportunity to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.

So while I'll sigh when they lose, groan when they are outmatched, wince when their feelings are hurt, I'll let them feel that pain, that loss, that sorrow. Let them grieve the lost friend, vent their frustrations over someone who was mean to them, mourn the loss of something broken that can't be fixed.

I won't go in and sort it out and make it 'all better' for them. I'll share their disappointment and sadness, then I'll teach them (if possible) how to make it better for themselves. And then how to let go and move on. Remind them to look around for the joy that is always just around the corner.

I truly believe this will make them grow stronger as people, fill them with empathy for others and resilience... so that if one day if I'm not there for them to bring their problems to, I'll be part of that little voice inside them that cheers them on.

What about you... are you a fixer? Or are you a meanie mama like me?


If you are having difficulties dusting yourself off, Lifeline is always there to help on 13 11 44

Saturday, July 12, 2014

When your kids don't look like you...

I've often been mistaken for the babysitter. Or adoptive mum. Because my kids do look a little 'different' to the average Aussie kid - because my husband and I are of vastly different genetic heritages. 

I have to say, when I've been asked, "Where did you get him from?" (him, being my eldest), I've chuckled and said, "the hospital - my uterus!" I've always just figured people are curious and making conversation.

My hubby was not always as nonchalant about it and got quite miffed a number of times when people said (in that slow, weird kind of way), "Umm.. he doesn't look much like you, does he?" (he being our youngest, who was blonde and blue-eyed and the polar opposite of my dark hair/skin/eyed hubby).

He would come home steaming, muttering about how dumb people might perceive him to be. I reminded him their comment was directed more towards ME and the possibility of my indisgression! Pfft!

After it happened the first few times, though, he really loved playing with people. When asked, "Is your wife very... fair..?", he often told them no, I was dark like him!

Cue stunned silence. And he laughing like a madman on return to his car. 

People usually aren't trying to be rude - they're just curious. I hope.

In reality, our kids are a really interesting blend of both of us. They all started off blue-eyed and fair haired (like me) and have grown into their own features as they've developed.

The big two's eyes changed (around 5) to a really interesting green colour. We're waiting to see what happens to the Small Boy's eyes... is it too much to hope I might get to keep one little baby-blue like me? After all, J's family is a mixed heritage one, too - with a fair, Dutch grandfather a bit further up the family tree.

Their skin keeps darkening as they grow, too. In the end, I think they'll be somewhere between the two of us. And probably tan really quickly in the Summer (assuming I ever let them out without hats, rash shirts and boardies - I am used to a life of pale, after all).

But to be honest, I don't even really see colour unless I think about it. People are who they are.

And those little round faces, with his nose and my chin are just the beautiful, perfect faces of small people I love.

And when we watch them play, J and I squeeze each other with delight and say, "Can you believe we made them?"


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Random ramblings...


[uh-fish-yuh-nah-doh; Spanish ah-fee-thyaw-nah-thaw, ah-fee-syaw-] 
noun, plural a·fi·cio·na·dos /əˌfɪʃyəˈnɑdoʊz; Spanish ɑˌfiθyɔˈnɑðɔs/ Show Spelled [uh-fish-yuh-nah-dohz;
an ardent devotee; fan, enthusiast.

I used that word in conversation yesterday. Well, I say conversation... actually, it was a text. It wasn't very well punctuated, but... Look how smart I look, using a big word (and spelling it correctly). Did I mention I had been using a dictionary all damned day at work?

I was that kid that my parents and teachers expected to amount to something great. You know - write a thesis and cure something. Or invent a new type of biodegradeable plastic and save the penguins.

Sadly, 'they' were wrong. All of them. I'm a very ordinary, middle-aged primary teacher.

I'm not sure what happened to my brains. Maybe motherhood? Wine? Too many thrill seeking rides in theme parks?

I think about my academic nemesis from school. He was a veritable walking encyclopaedia. I wonder if booze and babies and extreme exhaustion have made him dumb, too?!

I said to J the other day, "I used to be smart". And he smiled sadly and said, "me too, Bylla."

I'm quite sure we used to be smart. And bright. And adventurous.

We should have invented something and made our fortunes. Now we're going to have to rely on our kids to take care of us when we're old. Oh dear.

Best get back to concentrating on being a good parent.

Best tell them it's perfectly OK to be content with being ordinary.

Friday, July 4, 2014

What does your lipstick say about YOU?

J and I took a walk last night. The kids were at their grandparents, so we put on our coats (yes, coats! It's actually COLD here at the moment) and took a walk 'up-town'.

I really enjoyed wearing my coat. It has a pretty interesting story behind it. I was given it by a boozy bartender in London who was concerned about the skinny Aussie lass getting cold while she walked home. Apparently it was one that had been left behind by mistake. I was in no state to argue, so hey-presto... new coat!

Anyway, last night as I reached into the woolly pockets I knew I was bound to make some sort of discovery. My house is full of pocketed time capsules - a legacy of having too many coats and too little time to wear them (I haven't always lived in the tropics). Also of my laziness in regards to emptying my pockets until absolutely necessary.

This pocket was no exception. I found a dummy. I'd say circa 2011. And exhibit A

I'm thinking this lippie is from the 90s. First it has that trendy capless-push-up thing that lasted all of about five minutes on the market. Second it's Australis. Do they even make lipstick any more?

It's not a great colour, but what I was most interested in was the shape.

Back in high school I remember one of the cool girls inspecting all our lipsticks and saying that mine said, "ADVENTURE". I guess, seventeen year old me was about to embark on one hell of an adventure. I was brave. I bounced. I was optimistic and I had more brain cells (but less experience) back then.

"What's the worst that could happen" was my motto. I trusted that things and people were safe and that I would be OK. Oh to be that young and naïve once more!!!

Now exhibit B

What I know about this lipstick. It is one of few remaining after many years spent scraping lipstick from the grout in my bathroom (what is it about tiles that make two year olds want to write all over them in lippie?!), I must have been gifted it because I know I didn't buy it. It's a hideous colour but I wore it out to lunch today because it was the only one I could find (I'd already re-lost the one from last night, typical).

I'm about to look up what it says about me... holding my breath and hoping it doesn't say "SAD LOSER". It probably says "TIRED AND BORING"... I'm pretty sure it isn't creative and hopeful and adventurous...

Google led me here


-You’re enthusiastic
-You don’t like fixed schedules
-You’re opinionated but open-minded
-You’re selective in your choice of friends
-You like to convince others
-You like to be noticed

I guess it's fairly accurate. It kinda sounds like the grown up version of the first lippie which says

-You’re creative
-You’re energetic
-You’re optimistic and enthusiastic
-You chatter a lot
-You like people to notice you
-You’re helpful
-You fall in love easily
-You don’t like to stick to schedules but you really need them

 Perhaps I'm OK with that.

What does your lipstick say about you?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Why I write...

I started this blog as a bit of a sanity saver.

When my 'big two' were babies, I felt so alone. J was working 16 hour days (sometimes more) and I would find myself longing for conversation. Babies are lovely and all, but I was almost climbing the walls most afternoons.

With little number 3, I decided that instead of delving into self-medicating with nutella and trashy mags, I would do something POSITIVE for myself.
I knew that this time, my time at home was limited and I thought having a 'bloggy thing' would give me something tangible to look back on when my year at home was through. My 'Small Boy' was a surprise a gift, and I wanted to be able to celebrate what a gift another year at home was (because I didn't want another soul crushing, nappy and boredom-filled, swirling black-hole of sleepnessness and sugar).

Even if I was just talking to myself (or future-self) I thought it would be nice to have something to say that didn't involve 'baby stuff'.

Here's me drawing at the beach while little Number 3 is asleep in his posh pram.
That was four years ago. I've blogged on and off since then - about being a tired mum, nana crafts  and weird projects that have given me joy (like making a mermaid tail for the pink one).

I make no apologies for my blog. It's not fancy. There are probably typos and mistakes and posts with TMI.

It's a bit like a diary. I just open a page and pour it all out. I consider editing, but then I realise there are probably disasters awaiting me in the kitchen or kids who need bathing or washing to be done. I don't really care if nobody else reads it - in fact hardly anyone I know reads it - my very besties only recently discovered it during the whole chaotic project that was Every Day in May.

So I just put it out there and let it go. Like one of those helium balloons you used to send out as a kid (before you discovered the burst rubber remains were being eaten by turtles and baby seals). A little bubble of joy and hope, let loose on the winds.

With my little blog I've rediscovered my love of writing. Once, long ago, I dreamed of being an author. When I left school, I went to uni to study writing - emerging with a degree in journalism and an enormous debt.

Writing advertorials sort of killed my love of creating on paper, so I retrained as a teacher where I could just enjoy reading and studying books.

Blogging has reignited some of my ambitions to see my name on a book spine one day. I've been hauling out old manuscripts and writing short stories just for fun.

I don't know if I'll manage to make a go of it, but I know I'll have fun trying :)

Thanks for reading!

Dentist... yikes!

I was at the dentist this week, having ANOTHER tooth repaired (ok, I admit it, I'm officially middle-aged) when I thought back to a funny incident. I was trying to take my mind off the pain - I don't do anaesthetic if I can possibly help it. Sets off my anxiety in a big way. The numb feeling you walk out with is the worst part of the dentist for me... worse than pain!

Anyway, a few years ago (and a few fillings ago) - when I was a mother of two - I found myself lying in the dentist chair in my 'mummy uniform' of jeans, sneakers and a black t-shirt, idly listening to the conversation between dentist and assistant.

The dentist was a lovely old man, a bit past retirement age. Always gentle and kind, never charged me a gap and always sent me away with a nice new toothbrush. Things that make sense... now.

I assumed my teeth were in pretty good health. They always had been - despite my penchant for crunching hard things like ice and tic tacs. However, today the dentist was muttering.

"Ohhhh... Someone should tell Samantha's mother to stop feeding her so many sweet foods! Not good... not good at all..." The dental assistant (whose children I'd previously taught), smirked but remained quiet.

I was quite bemused, confused and curious as to what he could possibly mean. What did my mother have to do with it all?

At the end of the clean, when all the cotton wool was out of my mouth (old-school dentist, remember) I hesitantly asked him, "All OK? What did you mean about the sweet foods?"

He started to tell me about sugar and decay etc. But when I asked him, "So, are they bad... for a thirty year old?" he looked at me in horror. And shock.

Then he laughed.

He obviously had never looked at my age on the chart!

When I told him I was the mother of two small people and my back teeth were a bit iffy because of all the chucking I'd done in the morning sickness stage, he told me they were actually in pretty good nick, all things considered.

But I never got another free toothbrush again! haha...

Fast forward a few years and my lovely, gentle, old dentist has retired. But... he's been replaced with what the other mummies refer to as 'THE HOT DENTIST'.

He is also lovely and gentle.

But I still don't like going.

What's the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at the dentist?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bra dramas (of the stick-on kind)

On Saturday night J and I went to a fundraising 'gala'. That's a pretty big deal around here - where the only galas are usually those pink birds you sometimes see in the sky!

The money raised went to prostate cancer research but the actual dinner was to celebrate ten years of Encore Dance School (run by my friend Miss Penny).

Anyway, it was a chance to wear a pretty dress, my favourite clip-in hair piece (what can I say - once a dancer, always a dancer) and step into some fancy shoes and eat in relative luxury at the private room at one of the local sports clubs.

Miss Piggy delighted in helping me get ready and was especially interested in the stick-on bra.

We've had some adventures, my stick-on bra and me.

Obviously Saturday night - catching up with people I hadn't seen in many years.

 Here we are - what's left of the 'original' school. Some of
those girls were tiny when we started!!!
And here is me and J - all swished up!
Which made me think of the first Encore concert and my stick-on bra - when I had breastmilk filling it up and I was worried it would slide down my front and land on the stage with a plop! Thank goodness for stretchy velour costumes. I made it without any wardrobe malfunctions.
And finally - the time I had left the freshly rinsed bra - sticky side up - on the bathroom bench, only to return and find a gecko stuck in it! It took olive oil, warm water and a lot of prayer to free the poor little guy, but I did it. Can't say the same for his wriggly little tail.
Oh the joys of living in sunny Queensland!!!
How long do you reckon it will be before I find Miss Piggy parading around with it stuck to her chest?!
 Do you dance? Do you wish you still did?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bad Mum moment... (oh the shame!)

I had a great weekend celebrating my Small Boy's birthday. I even made a cake that looked like this.

Exactly like this. This is the actual cake. 

Anyway, it was back to school and kindy and work today - except for me who had a day off. Yay me! This particular day off meant that I could do something I've wanted to do for ages - accompany Small Boy to kindy.

So... late last night, after all the lovely birthday festivities, I set about making the obligatory 24 mini-cupcakes.

What can I say? It was late, I was tired and all birthday-ed out.

They looked a bit like little black golfballs, placed in odd-shaped and ill-fitting wrappers (I'd used all the 'good' ones at the party) and covered in drippy white icing. BUT. I did manage to find a new 4 shaped candle, popped them all on a cupcake tree thingy and thought to myself, "Well done you! You didn't even have to go to Woolies in the morning! You made cakes like a real mum!"

I mean, really. If I got to kindy late, the only people who were going to see the sad little cupcakes were going to be four year olds and their lovely, kind teacher. Who all presumably love cake. So who cares.

So you can imagine my horror when half-way through the morning another mum turned up.

"Can you give me a hand, please?" She asked. I went out to her car where she began to load me up with perfectly symmetrical, Peppa Pig adorned, iced miracles. Complete with Peppa Rocket cupcake stand. Beautiful. And set right beside my drippy black and white mess. You know - just in case anyone had missed the comparison.

Well done me, indeed.


I might add, I had imagined re-using the pig figures I made on the kindy cake. Until I left them on the stairs after the party as I was bringing things upstairs to the kitchen... and the dog licked Peppa's ears clean off her head.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Going grey...?

I have a love-hate thing with my hair. Maybe that's because I'm a Leo.

I love the feel of long hair running down my back, but as I detest the feeling of sweat doing the same, I more often that not put it up in a bun or ponytail.

I say put rather than brush because if it's only going in a pony or bun, brushing is not high on my list of morning priorities (extra sleep, facebook and coffee are).

I've tried perming it, layering it, totally butchering it... but I really just like it with a bit of length. I may as well enjoy it while I can ... don't want to turn into one of those freaky old ladies with grey Rapunzel hair!

Because it's happening. The grey. I've been going grey for nearly two decades now. Got my first grey at age 16, quite a few have joined that lonely first now. Even have one in my left eyebrow (how rude)!

But... here's the weird thing... here's me in 2011 (before I hit grey, rock bottom). I can't find any other pics of my in my 'natural' state as I have avoided photos since then unless I've had a recent salon visit.

and here's me this morning. Bad car selfie. How embarrassing.

And I notice I'm looking LESS grey*.

Last year I read about a remedy for premature greying. It had something to do with a build-up around the hair follicle that could be removed by rubbing lemon and coconut oil in. I've been experimenting with a little portion of my head, around the hairline. Dare I say... it appears to be WORKING?

Either that, or they've just given up and fallen out in protest.

Anyway, after comparing headshots this morning, I headed for the salon to show those grey suckers who's boss.

So here I am now.

Wallet is a bit lighter and hair is a bit darker. But I think I like it!

Anyway... about the grey hair thing. Do you think I'm delusional? *Or do I just need my glasses?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Farewell Autumn (and 'every day in May')

I made it! I managed to stick with the Every day in May program and blog every day for 31 days straight! Yay me!

Autumn has been good to me.

I went to an outdoor music festival with my girls.

I'm the sensible one with the buttoned shirt - I had to 
take my hat off so other people could fit in the picture!
Look what being old has done to me!

I reignited my love of playing an instrument (unfortunately, I discovered I still have no talent), took up a new health fad to get excited about (last year it was thermocooking from scratch, this year it's using essential oils to detox and heal) and got into my garden. 

Why not? This was Mothers Day at 
my parents' house.

 We welcomed a new member of our family.

 Meet Charli!

In usual me-style I had an awkward blunder. I got bitten by a yellow spider* (did it hitchhike in on a banana?) and the same night fell down the stairs resulting in a four week exercise hiatus (hello three extra kilos). 

And I'm not even sad that our tropical Autumn didn't yield any crunchy leaves to play in, because...

Small Boy and I are headed off to spend time with family in Wales in September. That's a SECOND Autumn this year - complete with falling leaves! Hooray!


* J was disappointed the bite didn't result in my getting any special powers. He said if I'd become a super hero, I'd probably walk up walls and then fall down. In fact he rather enjoyed the whole ordeal as an opportunity to crack many jokes and laugh maniacally. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

My favourite picture from the news this week (every day in May)

This week has been absolutely mental for me and I haven't had a lot of time to read 'news' (something I usually enjoy doing).

So, I just did a quick scout now to find a picture that grabbed my eye.

It's San Francisco, taken from a helicopter, by photographer Michael Shainblum.

I like the colours, the contrast of the beauty of nature against the beauty of the urban landscape.

I love how it makes you feel tiny and huge all at the same time.

It looks so cool and you can almost feel the icy wind whipping through your hair - it takes me back to my own (ground level) adventures in San Fran.

As Mark Twain Jack London someone once said, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."

What's the coldest you've ever been?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

RAOK (every day in May)

Two acts of kindness toward me as a child have stuck with me into my adult life. They've made me want to pass on the favour with my own acts of kindness.

The first one happened when I was an eight year old. It was in the midst of the recession and for a variety of reasons we were living below the poverty line. I can remember mum having to scratch for money for essentials week after week after week. At the time we were temporarily living in Far North Queensland.

For some reason, in amongst all this scrimping and making ends meet, she decided to treat us with a trip to the local show.

We went after dinner, in the warm Cairns evening. My mum pushing my little brother the entire way in his battered stripy stroller and my sister and I tagging along in our sandals.

We knew better than to expect anything other than a look at the displays and rides but mum surprised us with some toffee popcorn to share. We'd gotten our free cardboard caps courtesy of a real estate man and were feeling really pleased with ourselves, getting ready for the walk home.

Some big kids approached. I can remember being afraid of big kids. Big kids, in my experience, were unkind to girls like me. The girl gestured to we kids and spoke to my mum (who at five foot nothing and in her twenties looked much like a teenager herself). "My boyfriend won me this, do your kids want it?" It was a big, red, bean-filled bear wearing a checkered bow tie.

Well. We were absolutely made up with it and my brother clutched it in his stroller all the way home. How lucky we felt! I can remember we took turns to sleep with it for weeks. I wonder if that girl knew how happy she made us? I hope she had an inkling.

The second act of kindness was more thought out. We had elderly neighbours who lived very simply but who had 'done alright for themselves'.

They had been born in the wake of World War I and had been through the blitz in their young adulthood. He liked to tell me how when they'd met, she'd been so poor she'd lined her shoes with newspaper to keep out the cold and wet. After the Second World War, they'd moved to Australia to raise a family on a farm.

Despite the fact they were now reasonably well-off, old habits die hard. She cut dishcloths from his worn out clothes. He grew vegetables in their yard. She made almost everything from scratch and their house was warm and comfortable.

She used to watch me walk to school every day in my grey fleece jumper. I often felt a chill, we lived in the hills in South Australia where it was often cold and wet.

One day she called me over to show me what she'd made me. A duffle coat she'd cut down from a large winter coat of her husband's. She'd lined the hood with soft, yellow towelling so the wool wouldn't scratch my face. So thoughtful.

She said I looked like I needed it. I really did. It made me feel special and cared for and valued.

It also kept me warm on my walk to school every day and it still hangs in my cupboard, 20 years later. Sometimes I get it out to look at the careful stitching she did especially for me. Even though I now live in tropical Queensland, I can't bear to part with it.

It's inspired me to create with love for people around me. Sometimes it ends disastrously, but it is the thought that counts.

It's also inspired me to do simple deeds, without fuss or fanfare - hoping to repay the kindess that's been shown to me.

I love reading your comments, thanks for stopping by :)