Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Kinder friends: This is what I'mma gonna do

It's like this:

If you hadn't already gathered from how I post occasionally, I am really respectful of people's personal spaces and try not to assume too much. I'm even more deeply focused on ensuring I have ample time and space to recoup my own energy.

Same goes, at this point in her life, for my daughter.

To say it's been an interesting year, navigating all that comes with being the parent of a child "in the educational system", is putting it mildly. As so many of you would attest, it's a bit of a culture shock (of sorts) going from the world you assume you're setting up for your child and then getting smacked between the eyes with so much politicking and back-stabbing you'd be forgiven for thinking you were part of a multi-billion-dollar corporate conglomerate, not a kindergarten of families with similar-aged children.

But that is secondary, really, to my real heart-ache. The real sting. Here I was, thinking I could avoid - on behalf of my child - these things (in no particular order):

• the sexualised age. Full-stop. Just.... everything. Because we've all been forced to accept: Sex Sells. Apparently. Now, we can avoid all the music, all the commercials (we literally do not have any shows that include ad's in this house and if they do have ad's, we record it and invariably jump past those), but we can't avoid it when she goes to a friend's house, we can't vet what the dance teacher deems appropriate for the term dances, and next year it's all going to change again - the amount of exposure she is going to have from older children just makes me go cold;
• white bread. Please! Why do I feel the need to state my case for grainy bread? And why must it be pointd out, in front of my child and yours, that yours doesn't eat "any of that wholemeal or grain stuff"?
• dairy. Don't get me started (again). And yes, she gets enough calcium from her balanced diet, thankeweverymuch for being concerned and asking. But I'd rather her know that any cow-sourced products give her a sore tum, red cheeks and blocked nasal passages faster than she can say "dairy intolreance" and while she willingly asks for rice milk to avoid said pains, I'm happy to oblige;
• lollies. I know. What was I thinking? Steve used to rib me that I would be the most unpopular parent (more accurately, the LGBB the most unpopular kid in terms of play dates at her house) if I kept feeding her those mung bean biscuits I used to give her in place of rusks as a baby. Meh. What would HE know? *hiding stash*

I could go on. But I won't. It's probably a fairly predictable list after this.

My point is, despite avoiding this music, their accompanying music videos, TV shows where characters talk so shockingly to one another, dairy, white bread, highly sugared snacks...... it's all coming in on me. The weight of The World.

Compounding how it is at the pointy end of the final year before I wave my child off into the open arms of other people's family "cultures", I'm in this really strange ancestral-ties world, viewing things like growing vegetables in our backyard as surely a "do-able thing if my pioneering great-great-great-great grandfather could grow vegies in nothing but rocks and making his garden flourish so he could sell his produce to neighbours to earn enough money to bring the rest of his young family out from England." I don't quite fancy, then, the notion that it's okay to just give my child a diet with all the trimmings her friends have just because "it's their age, let them have fun while they're young."

Despite feeling like I'm losing this control - inevitably, I do understand this! You can't stop progress - I felt a little comfort this week when I realised I had made a decision that I could stand by. It involves who is invited in to our home. I want to preface this by saying, I am all for the LGBB making many and varied friends (she is someone who makes firm friends with people, she is not transient in her choices, but she is also a kid who will give anyone a go as long as they are respectful to her or others - I am fascinated when I have been afforded the opportunity to witness how she responds to children in this regard, my little moral yardstick is still standing by her guns - and I love how she welcomes interlopers in to her tighter-knit group even if the general vibe is an exclusiveness that comes with the age).

So I have decided that I must relax my fears about what is offered her (to eat, to watch and so forth) at friends' houses because I truly cannot cushion her from the world so much that she misses out on these friendship experiences. I have also, in a huge move for me, softened my stance on what treats and food I offer when her friends come here to play. Fairy bread, little cookies, M&M's have been known to be on the "treat only" menu as it happens relatively infrequently. But what I can (and will) be policing is who actually comes to play here.

I've realised that in the scheme of things, what she eats will come and go - err, literally - but how she feels will be what is really conditioning her and her outlook on the world. To that end, there are a few friendships that, at this point in her short childhood life, I can't with clear conscience welcome in to her home. The kids who perhaps have a heavier hand than others, that make the LGBB work hard to be a friend. The ones who expect her to be grateful of their attention. And call all the shots. Heaven forbid, the ones who even front up to me in my own home and tell me how it's going to be. At the age of five, I find this rather frightening (for the future).

That aside, I'm not saying I won't encourage these friendships - I do and I will continue to do so - but I will be tactfully avoiding play dates in our home, my daughter's Safe Place.

What about you? If you are a parent, I'd love to hear from you.
What is your sticking point? What did/do you try to avoid? And what has inevitably had to give?

Monday, September 26, 2011

She's falling, she's failing

Old Lady Pep earlier today during a game of doctors and patients...
She was the kindly old surgery receptionist.

How many near misses can one dog have? I do not know. All I know is, about five years ago I started regretfully preparing for her "last summer", "last winter"...

A few months ago, I was sent into fits of tears over several days as Pep looked to be slipping off the perch. When that happened, I wrote this post and expected it to be over with within the week. But no. I'm quite surprised - followed closely by a kind of anticipatory dread - that I wrote that in July and here we are, over two months later, and I'm still astounded she's here.

Now Pepper has a swollen right foreleg. She doesn't seem to be in any pain. But then, she never did complain. My gosh, the pain this dog has absorbed. All of mine, all of Steve's. She has been a true godsend.

But now she is falling. Falling down stairs to get to the back yard. Stumbling and butting her head into the ground or losing her footing and bashing into the wall opposite the back stairs. I've laid soft matting there so the scrapes aren't so harsh.

I'm getting close, Internet. I can't let her hurt herself and I am monitoring it closely. It's not quite time for me to intervene. But if it becomes apparent, of course I will have her put at peace without a second regret.

Our li'l Princess! How I will weep for her - how I do already - when she finally goes. Those doleful eyes. And you know what, she still leans in to me for cuddles. She hasn't done that for quite some time but she's begun again these past few days. I would assume it's her giving me last comforts and goodbyes.

But with this old battleax.... I just don't know any more!

Whaaat? Can you speak up, deary?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Lightning Post (Fast as!)

It's like this.... super-quick one to cap off the week (because mine is ending early HUZZAH!):

• Tomorrow I am going away for a bit of a weekend by myself. Gassssp! I am delirious about it. Deliriously happy, that is. A couple of posts back, I mentioned an ancestor who moved out to Australia (and whose daughter from his first marriage I am descended from - although she didn't make the trip out with him but her granddaughter did, thereby becoming my great-grandmother.... making him my four-times great-grandfather.... got that?). Anyway, I start the weekend off with a study class for Dawn Pink (a colour I haven't properly looked at yet but that I hold dear to my heart because of my affinity with two of its related supporting totems, the mookite stone and the Koala). Then I am going to explore the area very locally to where I am going. Who knew that after all these years, a branch of our family ancestry would be within five minutes of the place where I have done much of my recuperative healing and recovery of my soul??? It is not lost on me. Not lost at all. In fact, I find it quite humbling and profound, considering the vastness of this great country - what a great many "coincidences" had to happen in order for me to come to this place.

•  Tabitha brought in a dead bird for me today. When I saw her out of the corner of my eye being all furtive and shaking that obnoxious Hello Kitty-shaped bell more than usual, I glanced over and realised she had a beautiful wattle bird. They have been nesting near my clothes line, the mother gives me warning clicks and calls her babies whenever I go out there. I swear, if it is either that mother or one of her children, the cat will be lucky to escape with her life. Little shit. As if a can a day isn't enough (she eats them, don't be convinced she does it just for the thrill of the hunt), no wonder she is looking very full around the gills lately. The fauna here is delectable :(

•  Speaking of fauna, a whopping great possum met with his/her (but judging by the enormity of it, I'll assume he) untimely fate when attempting to cross the powerline out in the street a couple of nights back. It's been so windy here, even the grandest of tightrope walkers couldn't have navigated it safely. He hung there by his neck for two days until this afternoon, he was mercifully taken down by the electric company after I put a call in yesterday. Not a day too soon, either, for I had awful visions of him falling from the wire - he was teetering and swaying in this horrid wind that keeps whipping up. RIP little buddy. That's two little wildlife families who've lost one of their own in as many days. Bit sobering, really.

And in the most exciting news of my week (which will either prove to be a slow or a good week, depending on how you see it once I tell you):

•  I've lost 3cm just off my waist (didn't measure anything else for fear of jinxing) in ONE week doing the Michelle Bridges 12wbt! Normally I don't plug anything on here, as regular readers would gather, but seriously.... if this program has me out daily at 6am and seeking where to add in more exercise and build the foundations for some serious life changes, giving me results I can see already with another 11 weeks to go, then it deserves a shout-out I should think!

Right. That's me, off then.

Enjoy your weekend and travel safely. Stay out of the way of fat cats and dropping possums.... Thanks for sticking around, hovering, passing through, whatever it is that brought you here!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Faery kisses (repost)

(originally posted Jan. 24, 2008 - but too gorgeous to let disappear in the annals of time on this blog)

Lolly got a fairy dress from one of her aunties for Christmas and flounced around on Christmas Day feeling very "pitty".

There's nothing like aunties to bring out the highest accolade the LGBB can give: the tight-lipped, wide-mouthed moonface smile, coupled with a forehead to forehead "kiss". She goes all doe-eyed and soft when she's truly feeling the lurve. It's very sweet to witness.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality. 
Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see.
- the incomparable Queen

I am watching my blog stat's dwindle a long, slow decline these days. I see conversations on Twitter and I just can't join in. Farcebook is fast becoming a ball and chain. It all feels heavy, the weight of this new social-media responsibility to reply to this, comment on that.

I see you all and I love what you're all doing. But I feel somewhat like the Bubble Boy lately. Can't quite put my finger on it. But one thing I can say is, for once in my life, it's not depression driving the outside-looking-in feeling. Huzzah!

There is a strong urge to purge at the moment. Many are doing it via getting their feelings out in blog form. And readers/followers of me will know I am nooooo stranger to that. What I am doing now, though, seems to be rather more tangible than the written word. But at the moment, my focus is not on writing. Right now, I am having to resist throwing out everything we own. I appear to be downsizing everything - what is the old adage, you have to let go of the old to let the new in?

Lately, I am feeling an apparently insatiable need to get physical. I am literally immersing myself in the physical world around me. Lightening my load as I do it. Engaging in this "real life", there is not much room for blog hopping and countless lost minutes on Twitter (which is my other... "real life"...).

In no particular order:
• I'm gardening like it's going out of fashion. Wait. It IS going out of fashion in some suburbs, I'm sure of it. Thirty local indigenous plants have gone into our backyard in the past fortnight with much more to come - look out for a post soon entitled.... "My Native Flora Brings All The Birds To The Yard", subtitled: - and their nectar is better than yours. No seriously, I could teach you but I'd have to charge.
• Life has given us lemons. Lots and lots of lemons. They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Looking at my tree and contemplating that... well, that'd amount to a buzztonne of lemonade. Seriously, I'm literally picking so many lemons off our tree that I could keep every fish and chip shop in Melbourne in the little wedges for the next 12 months.
• I'm exercising daily (something I keep falling out of the habit of but this time I have to stick to it and properly bed it in because I NEED to feel fit again, I miss it after six years of lethargy)
• I find myself feeling the need to quiet my mind and prepare for next year. Hear me out! This is a big transition the LGBB and I are going through at the moment - she is off to school and I am heading into the world of..... glorious free time. Five days a week. I have heard people laugh at me (yes, AT me) when I say I won't know what to do with myself, jokingly, and they say I'll be bored before the first term is up. Ahhh, don't think so. Someone hold me to that, won't you? Will one of my blog readers still be reading then, I wonder? Steve? Wanna hold that baton til about April next year? I think you're the only one left reading, soooo whaddaya say.... cheque's in the mail, by the way.... [lone cricket chirping]

All of this means that my focus is on those (and that) around me in my physical world. My work and my study takes me out enough as it is, without the cyber-unseen world to do it as well. I am grounding myself at the moment and it feels good. Reaching out and wading in the immediate things I can see and feel and manifest - like a garden or helping out a neighbour or fellow preschool family - is what is enriching me right now. 

I have noticed for some time that this blogosphere (now spread so far that it affects and is effected by the Twitterverse and good old Farcebook) takes care of itself, whether you're here or not. Movements like RUOK day are great. But what about tomorrow? The in-your-face-ness about constantly having to be online to be remembered online is something I am still coming to terms with and working out how I truly feel about it. Everybody does it, it seems... but does that make it okay, healthy even, in the longer term?  It seems the only way to do be read/remembered/discovered in the first place is to constantly stay in touch, although it's a heck of a lot of clawing your way to the outside of the growing pile of online users and, as much as I adore this community and my blog, it just gets very... what's the word? Tiring? Neglectful of the physical world around us?

Do YOU know what I mean? Do you even agree? I may possibly have managed to offend my last few readers (ok, I'm being drastic, it's not all that bad... 100-something hits a day but still.... that's way less than what it was a minute ago, but more than it was 3 minutes ago, such is the nature of the Internets). But surely I'm not the only one thinking it's all a bit much. Truth is, I feel inadequate daily for not having the gumption to consistently do the same level of pimping and online exposure as I see the majority of my "peers" doing. Just. Can't. Keep. Up. And getting to the point where I'm unsure if I even want to try.

I'm exhausted with pimping myself, basically! So I'm going to be primping my garden instead for the next while. 

If you need me, that's where you'll find me. Now if you'll just excuse me while I let myself out and make a soothing cuppa, I've got some lightening to attend to.

Wherever you are and through whatever medium you're creating your own reality, don't forget to get out there amongst the mundane right in front of you. You might surprise yourself and enjoy it!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What are your ancestors saying?

Do you ever wonder where you've come from? Where you truly get those traits of yours? Your street smarts, your opinions on certain events in the world, your outlook on various things? If not, this post probably won't interest you in the slightest. But if you have, you might feel something begin to stir for you. Just maybe...

I tend to hedge my bets and trust that I'm a little bit nature-made and a little bit nurture-inspired. There. I think that's a nicer, milder way of saying what the title of this book is getting at (brilliant book by Oliver James, by the way, have you read it? It's worth a look).

I have been pondering these past few days just exactly why I get so drawn to particular names on my family tree and then, in turn, what it is I am learning or gaining from getting to know them so long after they lived and died on this Earth. The clues and the lessons they've learned in their lifetimes must surely affect me, even if ever so slightly, because their descendants raised my descendants.... Follow me?

At present, I feel like half of me is lurching back into mid-1800's Australia. One of my descendants arrived here in the late 1850's to carve out a life for his third family before they followed him a little under two years later.

His name was Spencer and he was in his late 50's when he sailed out here (a trip that took over three months and sounded absolutely ghastly from his letters). It was a bold move all round, I think, for someone of his age to come out and work in the new colony. This fact alone made me wonder why they decided to do that - risk not just his life but separate himself from his wife and two little children (they were 1 and 3 and, thankfully, survived the trip with their mother and grandfather). What made them leave England?

Turns out, they were impoverished there. But their union was also not looked upon favourably by anyone much, it would seem....

The only thing I knew of Spencer prior to reading the letters he sent home was that he was the ancestor who settled about two hours' drive of my current location. I had no desire to know any more about him after finding that out early last year. His relationship to me seemed so loosely connected, so irrelevant, that I had no desire to get to know anything about him. Some thirty pages of reading later - pages that have been carefully typed from the originals and saved in Word - and I have my own sense of Spencer now.

Spencer had three 'wives' - I use inverted commas because it's not clear that he even actually married the last woman, Annette (the one who came to Australia bringing their two small children and one of his from a previous marriage to be with him) - and it would appear Annette was neither well received by his family nor made her parents happy at all that she shacked up with a man over twenty years her senior. In fact, she was only a year or two older than Spencer's eldest child from his first marriage.

At first glance of the family tree, the two-dimensional names and birth/death dates were all that I had to build up an opinion of this man and his apparently colourful life. When I realised his first wife was still alive when he married his second, and he hooked up with his third (Annette) the same year his second wife passed away, I was ready to dismiss him as a player.

This is the first thing that I have been reminded of. My first lesson to remember. And it's a timely one (it's always timely). How often do we judge quickly and assume so much on initial meeting of someone? We use visual cues, hear what they are saying and perhaps their body language and - especially if this is consistent each time we see that person - we have an image fairly instantly in our minds about this person. It's the same for me when I scour my extensive family tree. I am being taught, through this process, to suspend all judgement, detach from what I have been told (the family scuttlebutt - so skilfully worked and remastered through the generations, isn't it?) and let that ancestor speak to me themselves.

There are other things come at me, so fast and still forming in my mind that I cannot quite convey them in words just yet. But I hope to with time.

What a thrill and a deeply humbling experience I am finding it, each time one name above any other jumps out at me. Last year, my great-grandmother on my father's side did this "to" me. I wrote about it at the time, on my private blog, but I may just have to dust that post off and republish it here, for her story is equally fascinating (and deeply affected me).

It is apparent from various references to things going on at home that Spencer and Annette were in  favour with the very few. He risked the seas on a cargo ship to come here, where her brother had come some time earlier. On arrival, her brother (Robert) rejected Spencer, whom he had never met. From what I read, rumour and scandal and defamation was alive and kicking in the 1800's!

Interestingly perhaps only to me, I am surprised (pleasantly, of course) by the strong pull I feel towards females down the line - the link I have with the following ancestor, for instance, is at first glance quite tenuous; I'll write it out: Spencer had 14 children (five with each of his first wives and four with Annette). His second-born daughter, Leonora Elizabeth, who was 41 when her father died here in Australia, had a child who bore my great-grandmother. Six of Spencer's children were dead at the time of his death. Very sadly, he learned of the death of one of these children, James, after he came out here and wrote home about it. I feel a tug at my heart having this link in common with Spencer too. It makes the man far more three-dimensional, reading how he felt via his words as they spilled onto the paper from his own hand.

In his 66 years, Spencer was a Reverend, a teacher, he even panned for gold here and grew vegetables on a small plot in the early months of 1858 in order to save as fast as he could for his family's passage out from England. It sounded a deeply lonely and wretched time. Hearing his desperation turn to acceptance and restoring his faith was profound to me.

Spencer basically worked hard his whole life to support his families. I am so glad the discovery of this relative of mine has not been marred by any generational handing-down of harsh opinions. I daresay my great-grandmother, Alice Leonora Mary, who was Spencer's great-granddaughter (her grandmother was his second-born daughter, Leonora, and who she was named after), knew nothing much about Spencer. Perhaps it was one chapter of the family's history that they preferred to leave closed, such was the perceived scandal of the time (one did not divorce so easily, if at all, especially if one was a minister!).

All this makes me wonder so much:  Just what do we think we are doing here? What difference do we think we're making? Will layers upon layers of family pack me down so tightly that nobody in another 150 years will have a clue - let alone a care - who I was? I wonder...

Do you honour your family back through the generations in any way? Have you made your own connections with anybody, despite (or perhaps because of) the family lore that's been passed on to you about them? I'd be so interested to hear from you if you want to share your stories. I will be doing more posts and sharing more from actual letters (not much, though - I have a deep sense of respect.... I daresay my ancestors wouldn't ever expect their loving words would be shared potentially worldwide, so..... without asking them, y'know....) in future posts. Ask me if you want to know anything!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I'm not a Complaints desk!

I don't know what it is, but this morning I have woken up with a very sore head. Family Beware kind of sore head. Figure-of-speech kind of sore head. You don't need pain in your head to have a foul mood like the one I have stepped into today.

Seems as fitting a time as any to tell you all the things I DON'T like about my job. They're not unknown to many of you, but I think sometimes I just want to gag on the sweetness-and-light of it all and it helps me (don't know about you) to let off steam every now and then. Usually this is done in the privacy of my own head, certainly my own house, or to a trusted girlfriend who's finding herself at a similar point of despair. But rarely do I see it spoken or written about publicly beyond a mild gnashing of teeth. As if we're all fooling ourselves. Perhaps it's better that way, kind of like the conspiracy theory that the oxygen masks that drop down from planes in a state of emergency are not pumping oxygen into passengers at all but mind-calming gas that stops anyone from panicking. Maybe it's better for all of us if one of us doesn't stand up and start muttering over and over (like the hysterical woman in Flying High), "I've gotta get out of here, I've gotta get out of here!"

Kids: Don't hit. It's not nice.

SO! At risk of making any of you want to line up to smack me out of it, my list of gripes, in no particular order and by no means exhaustive, is as follows:

• I am (apparently) a Help Desk - with the amount of questions I get asked, you would think I am sitting in a shopping centre at one of those Information booths. But no. I am mother of one, wife of one, although I'd surely be forgiven for thinking I had 29 children and 14 husbands, the amount of questions and help I get dragged into. Sun up to sun down, the weekends are strewn with opportunities for them to ask me. It must be just easier than coming up with a solution themselves. From the five year-old, I can kind of understand the need for most of them. But the 39 year-old? Hmmmmmm... a little more dubious.

• I am (apparently) the Pied bloody Piper - come one, come all, to any room or outdoor area of the garden! Wherever I be, including the toilet, I will have at least one (if not all) set of feet or paws follow me. Wherever I go, guaranteed. So much so that I have been long since accustomed to turning a slow circle and checking behind me before I change direction. Jazz (the dog) considers my toileting her special one-on-one alone time with me. She is your typical middle child (and I say that as a self-confessed middle child), quite capable of attracting more than enough attention but still angling for more. The LGBB assumes and asserts much as she moves about the house behind me. As I live and breathe, the cat is trying to walk ACROSS me. Why?! I ask you. The last to come into the family, the cat gets by largely on Cuteness Factor and is always under someone's feet but gets away with being a pest by doing a few cutesy paw-moves.

• What I say (apparently) goes - with the Help Desk position comes a great deal of (unwanted) power. Not only am I asked all the questions and checked with on ev-er-y-thinnnnng, but I have to come up with the answers! And if I try and cop out by saying I don't know, I'm asked again, in a different way.

• I'm the Chore Divvy-er - it's long since been held in this house that, as I am apparently the only one who sees anything that needs doing, if I want something done all I need to do is ask.... That works fine until days like today when I explode in a fit of fury and "THAT THING HAS BEEN LYING THERE ALL WEEK! How is it that we can all step over/around/through it but I'm the mug who has to either remove/clean/pick it up or ask one of you to do it?" As long as I live, I shall never ever accept any logic levelled at me for that one. That is just bone idle laziness that causes that phenomenon.

• I'm the meal planning, lunch making, clothes washing, hair brushing, house cleaning master of the house. I can deal with all that. It does come with the territory and it must be accepted... if not liked, 100% of the time.

But what I cannot abide by is that I am also the Complaints handling desk! Now, some of you out there will have a Complaints desk queued a mile long, depending on number of siblings in the house. But one or twenty.... there is one thing that just irks me no end and that is whiney complaining. From the husband as well.

Do you have a list - like a ready-reckoner - up on the inside of the pantry door or somewhere else where nobody ever goes (like the broom cupboard or the ironing board... no wait, it wouldn't work being taped up on that because I don't go there either) that can give me some cheat's answers so that I don't have to think for my family? I'm asking for mercy here.

And if you do.... can I use it?


Over It Today Already.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Princess dogs

I was going to show you photos from my morning walk today. But I've run out of time to do anything meaningful.

So instead, please indulge me (or yourself) as I show you the moment this past week where our dear LGBB decided to play princesses with the two obliging doggies.

The Two Posing Show Ponies 

Best. Kid-dog. Everrr.
Jazz poses like that forever if it means getting a photo taken

Not to be outdone, our old dog looks rather whimsical in pink. Don't you think?
Sweet 18 and never been....
Dear Pepper, she barely stood for this one

I'm joining in Maxabella's Grateful For this weekend... hosted today by the ever-lovely Kymmie from A Day In The Life. But a warning to the dieting: there are scrumptious food photos on her post!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Joined at the head

There are not many opportunities for me lately to feel a connection with the LGBB. We're (and when I say "we're" I mean "she's") going through a bit of a stage that's lasted a couple of months now. I think it must be one of those necessary rip-off-the-bandaid kind of stages, where she's growing away from us as she prepares for her New Life and entity at school next year.

I'm getting myself used to it.

But today I was afforded a little glimpse into the bond we have again and I reminded myself to remember to cherish the moments. To not make it so difficult for my daughter - starting right now - to find me wherever I may be and connect with me. If I lose sight of giving her that, then I have lost sight of everything meaningful in life. It's not going to happen. Not on my watch, it's not.

"Mum," the LGBB called to me from her backseat pozzy on the way home from swimming today.
"I have a dream a lot of times and it's about me. In space," she says with a bit of a chuckle.
"Oh, really? That's interesting. And what're you doing in space?" I ask.
"I'm just floating around out there."
"Ah," I say. "I used to have dreams like that when I was younger. I felt like I was in a space tunnel, going really fast."
"THAT'S LIKE MY DREAM!" she says, incredulous.

If I know nothing else about her, I know that my child has lashings of the sorts of insights and occurrences that I used to have. The memory of my abilities has taken decades to return, now that I am not afraid of them. There will be plenty of people in her life who will not only doubt her, they will downright tell her she's wrong. It is they who are wrong, actually - certainly, incorrectly placed - to tell her so. I've spoken here before over the past several years about not only the very strange (but ultimately cool, unexplained) things Lol comes out with. Most recently, she told me (as a 3 year-old) about arguing with a man who came into her room and told her this was his house and asked us to leave. She stood her ground, apparently, and told him this was HER house. Later that week, the neighbour advised me that the elderly gent who had sold us this house two years prior had passed away two weeks before.

Once you live with these sorts of oddities, they're not so odd any more. To say they are odd is to say my child is odd. And she's not! She's magnificent. It is not my job as her mother to be one of her doubters. Guidance and a way to help her accept herself and make sense of what she sees and senses, that is my main task. I don't encourage, I don't sway. And I don't tell her she's fibbing. Besides, she's too moral to lie. This kid may have the face of a poker player but when it comes to rule-breaking, you can be sure she'll give her own game away faster than she can try to cover up what she's done.

So the rest of our car trip is spent with her excitedly telling me what else she knows, now that she's discovered she and I share a "dream" (about space tunnels and really really fast stars zooming past, as if one were travelling somewhere else at the speed of light). And what else she knows is this:

"Mum, you and me, I think we share something."
"Uh-huh," I'm saying it non-committally, as non-committally as I would if I were replying to a request for TV and an icypole when we get home with a "we'll see" and a nonchalant glance out the window as if I couldn't care less either way. But my interest is piqued at this point.
"Our heads. I've seen our heads and there's an arrow going from my head to yours!" she states, sounding relieved to have articulated it, as if she's known with some authority that this is what she sees.
"How cool." I say.

And the conversation ends.

May she continue to amaze me, and may I have the strength and the courage to bend with the winds and opinions of the wider world.

My little thinker:
Putting our heads together (I see no arrows here...)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It's the vlogs about nothing that make them really....

...rather annoying to have to watch.  In this vein, here's one for your viewing pleasure and pain.

What you are about to witness is the result of me, uncharacteristically impulsively, grabbing the video camera and just winging it because I wanted to show you something I couldn't describe in words. One take, no second chances. Certainly no thought about putting any makeup on or even, oh I don't know, brushing my hair?? Pfft, I said to myself when I played it back and realised I hadn't done a damn thing to my appearance. Looking presentable is for the weak. Or at least, the considerate. A-hem. For the record, though, I was NOT wearing trackpants. Or a puffer vest, it should be duly noted.

Let's see if you learn anything new today in this here vlog that has only (note: ONLY) seen the light of day because of some peer pressure support. Unless I am mistaken, you can expect some more super vlogs in support of the "vlog for the sake of vlogging" cause from (in no particular order) Lucy, Sarah, Amelia and Naomi with notable cheerleading from Kelly (who needs some love this week, go say hi and spare a hug xx) The other Sarah gets a leave pass for being poorly, poor chick, with the flu... ah, no "possibilities" today... Get well soon!

Have I piqued your interest yet? Well then, prepare to be undazzled! Unimpressed! Unlikely to ever watch one of my vlogs ever again!  Behold!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Every year the same

"We're pregnant! Due in September, she's six weeks along already," my brother saw fit to tell me and Steve when Ella was about a week old.

It was lovely news. Just wonderful for my brother and dear sister in-law. I felt a familiar pang but brushed it off - I didn't have to feel that envy now! We finally had a baby of our very own after four failed attempts.

Of course, little did we all know but three weeks later there would be tragedy beyond any measure in our family when our own daughter, Ellanor, died suddenly before ever making it home.

Now, of course, each year on this day in September our focus is on our beautiful, sweet niece as she celebrates her birthday. She is a classic of a kid, sharp as a tack, quick-witted, cheeky, all those things that make her deliciously unique. She will also forever remind me of the age our daughter would have been turning - seven this year - and it is this connection that both tugs at my heart and brings a wide smile to my face at the same time. The cousin she would have loved who lived and died before she herself drew breath.

How do we possibly instill in these boisterous, life-full children the bittersweetness of their very existence? We don't. Of course, we don't. But I, Ella's mother, can hold that thought. Perhaps when my nieces are adults, with or without babes of their own, they might want to learn more. For now, the presence of Ellanor's name in our family, her pictures on our walls, her name on our lips occasionally, are enough sign-posts for them to be used to the very tricky concept of the death of a cousin. So young, before they met. One day, if it's ordained, I will be so happy and proud (of my nieces and of my daughter) to have that chat with them.

We are reminded in ever more subtle ways of our lost baby daughter, Steve and I, on days like these where it would be considered unnecessary or impolite or otherwise self-focused of us to mention what the day means to us.

Instead, I mention it here, where my family may look but is not likely to. Where it might strike a cord of familiarity in those who are my peers - other bereaved parents, at varying points (weeks, months, years) in their own journey of life without one of their precious children. Where it is more useful a moment shared, both for me and perhaps just one reader going through something similar.

So, whomever you are, I tip my cap at you in solidarity and just want to say, I get it. Get me?


Sunday, September 4, 2011


In the busy-ness of Fathers Day, I completely forgot to alert those privy to a new post over at the other private place... dust off the URL for that one, folks!

Getting to know my great-grandfather

I have been given a great swag of files and documents from one of my older cousins recently. This morning, while Steve and the LGBB are out at a movie for Fathers Day, I am sitting in my new den soaking up a brief half hour on my own. And, y'know, just doing nothing out of the ordinary.

I'm reading through the private letters from my great-grandfather Edward Leslie to his wife, Alice Leonora, while he was stationed in France during WWI.

I am riveted. This is the man who was the baptist minister, preaching about things ahead of his time to fundamental religious types whom he had shifting uneasily in their pews. The more I read about him the more I really dig the guy! And to "hear" his voice, in his own words (he even used the term "slacker" to describe himself in wartime France, 1917, because he was writing to his wife instead of whatever it was he was supposed to be doing in his hut!) after all these years and all the family stories is just priceless to me.


Who would be interested in me doing a series of posts on my family history? On my private blog, a long while back now, I began the story of my father's mother and how it intertwined with my life (my conception journey, to be accurate). This is different. This journey through my mother's side is enabling a softness and a fondness to come over me, towards her, the further I get to know my forebears down her family line.

I want to weave a bit of my learning in there... But I'm not sure if it'd get boring for anyone outside of my family.

So... Hands up here who's a genealogy/family history nut and, if you are, would hearing about another's family history be in any way helpful to you? Do you think?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Pardon me, waitress?

When I originally posted this in Sept. 2008, I was too subtle. Several readers expressed concern and almost went as far as saying I really ought to report the below café to some sort of government health body...

I'm glad for the opportunity to dust it off again, by way of Multiple Mum's weekend rewind (whaaat? She went and took the Rewind off her sis? WHERE HAVE I BEEN and when did this happen???), which this weekend is asking that we link up to a post sharing parenting advice.

I'm going to offer that you can never lose your sense of humour. Ever. If you can help it. It will help carry you through. On the day of the post in question, I had been so far having a shit of a week (I can still remember it three years on, give you any indication?). And the ability to sit in the moment and just be waited on by our young daughter brought not only squeals of delight from her but peals of mucho-required laughter from me.

Don't lose your sense of humour.

If you feel it all caving in on you, give over to the stress and pressure and..... stop. Hand on heart, remembering these two (seemingly simple) things are what saw me through the first three years.

Got a bit of 'advice'? Link up! Here's my contribution:

We tried a new café yesterday. When we turned up it looked inviting enough. We were welcomed warmly and took a seat each.
Then, things started to get a bit weird.
The waitress seemed confused when I asked for a capuccino. She took my order gleefully enough, but instead of waiting for my money, she simply smiled widely, turned and walked over to the cash register where she proceeded to take out a $5, bringing it back to pay me and calling it "A hunret. And fifty. Dollez". I was confused, to say the least.
Then Steve gave her his order too and the waitress busied herself by turning circles, seemingly to steady her excited self, before heading back to the cash register and retrieving more money for him.
But then, things got a whole lot weirder.
We looked over, while we waited on the comfy chairs, and to our surprise we saw the waitress obviously straining. She made no effort to disguise that she was very noticeably filling her ... pinafore ... with the exception of turning her face away. But we could see, with the lifting of the strands of hair over her face, that she was exerting quite some effort and breathing through it as she *hushed tones* pushed one out.
Steve leaned over to me and quietly instructed me from the corner of his mouth, "Just don't order a hot chocolate, for God's sake." I think it was this point that I finally fell off my chair, unable to regain any composure.
Despite all this, the place was a treat. Absolutely quaint. I highly recommend the brownies.

Oh, waitress?
Butter wouldn't melt in her mouth...

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