Friday, June 1, 2012

It's not you... It's me. I've moved my blog

Well, hey there! If you're receiving this via your RSS feed... you have an old link! It's time to change!

Sunny Side Up is no longer on this old Blogger address and in due time, I will be removing these blog posts altogether.

But never fear!

I am still blogging the usual over at - but the thing is, if you are subscribed to the old feed, you won't be seeing any new posts.

So please head on over to Sunny Side Up's new home and re-follow (by clicking on the RSS link in the top right corner of the page, or click Follow pop-up at bottom right of every page).

Alternatively, go to your referred reader and ensure you have as the link to receive the correct feed for my future posts.

I do hope you join me for the continuing ride of my life....  If you do come across, please send me a cheerio via a comment! I fear over 3/4 of you, my regulars, are actually reading via your readers. I'm sorry to make you work, but it's really only a couple of moments of your time.

Looking forward to sharing more with you soon.

x Kirrily

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

This is definitely not one of those times...

...where it would help to sing about "our favourite things."

This is one time when we must be very, very qwiet.....  Mostly because I am pacing impatiently. I am like an expectant parent. Anybody got any cigars? Gretel? Anybody?

The end is nigh, friends.

I have flicked the switch. My dear, faithful Blogspot will become no more in a matter of hours. For some, it may be less. For others it could be a day or more.

Right now, I'm just waiting. In that awful between-time.... I feel rather like a von Trapp holding my breath and silently waiting out Rolf's search of the cemetery. I can't breathe out yet. Not until I see the site up in its new spot on the new server.

In the meantime, can someone please hold my hand, bring me a very warm cup of strong tea and tell me I haven't made a most awfully huge mistake?

I do hope you find me.... nothing should change for the majority of you, if you have in your bookmarks, feeds, blogrolls, etc.

If you feel like you're missing me, please drop in to my Facebook page - I will always keep you up to date there if this all goes horribly wrong and the blog ends up completely down. Or find me on Twitter, of course, where I will continue to post bits of unnecessary and boring information in 140 characters or less.

Please come and join me at the new space, I am so excited about where it has the potential to head and I hope to hear from many more of you on the subject of your experience of your ancestors'/families' stories.

And thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you to every person who's ever read, commented, argued, gained at any time on this here blogspot. I'm the one who's most deeply honoured.

Watch this space....

Link currently inactive... sorry 'bout that!

So, I guess there's nothing for it but to bid you .... bid Blogger *sniff* *getting emotional now*....

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch....

This post has a point. A really important one. It's not lost on me that if I have come to the point of putting a disclaimer at the top because it's a really, really long wordy post, I ought to just shorten it instead of... writing more words in a pre-cursory warning-request note.

But then that wouldn't be me. I am Wordy. Kirrily Wordy Whatman. Deal.  And please read to the end, at least, of this post. It does have an important point. Not all about me this time....

When I was in Year 12, my best-best-best-of-the-best-bestie and I took Psychology together. Our teacher was the inimitable (well... that's not quite true, I used to do a cracking impersonation of her back in the day) Mrs McPherson. She would try and be all hip to the kids' jive and believe she was grabbing our attention. How did she do this? By attempting a good ol' bit of stereotypical reverse psychology - ironic, really.

If there was too much chatter amongst ourselves, she tried to regain our focus with a loudly interjected, "Meanwhile, back at the ranch...." from her position at the front of the classroom. She got our attention alright. We would smirk in her direction at the attempt as all lofty teens do. But damnit. It worked. Because it always stopped us in our tracks. Made us listen to what she had to say next, even if we were laughing at her only moments before.

I think about that teacher now and realise that the Mrs McPherson's of the world are the ones who stick their necks out to make change. Whether that change is on a world scale, or closer to home, or hey.... in a classroom of teenagers who just need to pull their heads in for two minutes so their teacher can hand out the course homework before the blessed bell goes.

So, without further ado, I want to direct you, dear reader, to focus your attention "back at the ranch" please.

Today, I have spent the most frustrating hours trying to make my new Wordpress site go live. Without complete control at the server side, at best this has been a stop-start affair. I am very keen to get it going, for several reasons.

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. At the recent Digital Parents conference (DPCON12) I committed myself to a long-held personal project. The stirrings of this began about twelve months ago, when I decided "I really need to make this happen."

And then I did that thing I do so well. I procrastinated the crap out of that idea and talked myself into all the reasons why it was a stupid dream.

But that all changed the moment Brenda Gaddi told me that for services rendered (ie. stacking piles of freebies into swag bags), I could slip my card in to the mix - effectively reaching approximately two hundred conference delegates and sponsor representatives. I gulped down hard on my nerves and dived in head-first. As each bag was handed out, my heart flipped. What were they going to do with that card? Bin it? Bother reading it first? Hand it on to someone who might want it? Store it away for future reference???

Here's the card they received:

2. It seems Sunny Side Up has received a few nominations for the latest big-deal Aussie Best Blogs competition. This is probably a good juncture to introduce you to the button I might plug a couple of times between now and May 9th (there are two streams to this competition if I understand correctly - the People's Choice vote and a panel-judged award).
People's Choice Award

You only get one chance to vote but can give the voting love to more than one blog. SO.... Look, it'd be great if you could use your voting power to check the box next to my little ol' blog title while you're in there. But I'm not expecting any great movement. Over 1,000 blogs have entered this year. I'm gasping in a sea of spectacular writing.

However, there is nothing that can take away the feeling of honour at receiving the recognition of nominations in the first place.

As an aside, I have never loved the word "multiple" more than when Rose from Sydney Writers' Centre used it to encourage me not to let a dicky website glitch turn me off completing the process. What's not to love about that, as a writer?!

Now.... this is where we come to the big stumbling block.

3. Deciding to ride the wave of this encouragement to make my blog the best it can possibly be, I worded Steve up and began to take the plunge into the world of WordPress.

Never before have I been so serious to move across. I have even bought the hosting this time. I have big plans. The biggest being, a dedicated stream to the stories of the babies in our families' past who never made it. There are SO MANY stories out there, layered by generations now. Women who still grieve, believing they have no right, no place to bring up their lost little loves.

Oh how I yearn to give them a place to have a mainstream voice.

WordPress is my go-to for that. I have it all set up. The pages are created! The categories are good to go. The import of this blog's posts is complete. It is all ready to be seen. But..... the server my new hosting is stored on has gone down over this weekend. Cue a slow-motion long-winded "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!" escaping from me as I lunge forward at my computer.

Still no new WordPress version of Sunny Side Up. Will it affect the voting? Meh. It's out of my hands now and in the laps of the Internet Gods.

Never choosing to see obstacles in life as mere coincidences, this is where you guys come in. It's obvious to me that this is appropriate biding time. These stories, the ones buried by years of life, they are not easily extracted from the depths of minds and hearts. The soul searching and contemplation about whether or not the sharing of their family's (or baby/ies') story is a process that I realise will take some time.

In my contact with the few over-60's parents so far who have come forward from these older generations, the very idea that anyone would want to hear about their experience has been a surprise to these mothers whose children did not live. Just pause for a moment and contemplate that.... If you had a child about whom you were so pressed to tell someone, anyone, but you couldn't because you weren't allowed to for decades.... Sad doesn't begin to cover it.

While I'm stuck in this Blogger-WordPress-hosting hell, will you spread the word out there with me? That I am working hard to create the space for their stories to be told, shared, responded to in a supportive and uplifting online environment? That they can be shared anonymously if they wish?

I am starting to see that if it's just me on my own working one-on-one with those I contact - or who find the conference card and respond to me - this will be a very slow project. One I am prepared to stay with. But if any of you carry a similar passion to hear in the words of those women (and men) who have gone before us, I urge you to help me spread the word that they can submit their stories to Sunny Side Up - before these stories are lost back to the earth too, like my grandmother and so many others' grandmothers who have now passed on, leaving their younger generation relatives desperate to hear in their own words their feelings of the grief of losing their children.

It makes a difference. Believe me. It makes such a huge difference to hear it in the words of our forebears before it's too late. It causes me such distress to know that there are so many who think nobody cares or wants to listen because it happened so long ago.

If you can help, I am willing to post out some of the cards, anywhere in the world. Feel free to share this post, or retell in your own words and direct people to email or contact me via my blog, Twitter or Facebook. Everyone is different - I am happy to work in any way they are comfortable: interview style, written short story (maximum 1,000 words or spread over more than one post, etc., if it is longer), whatever they need.

If they have a compulsion from inside them, these mothers and fathers, then they deserve the space to say it.

So here it is. 
An open invitation to all older generation pregnancy, infertility, infant loss survivors: please feel free and safe to come forward.

Now, I have a ranch to get back to..... She's requesting dinner.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

This guy deserves a medal

All of the why’s and damnations would come later. For now, I was witnessing my husband holding his baby for the last time. I stared at him intently as I sat next to him. His entire face was wet and swollen with tears and emotion. The quiet, gentle, geeky teenager who became the funny, gorgeous man I married, now looking like a broken little boy.
“I just thought if I could get her outside and let her feel the sun, she would be alright,” he looked at me imploringly, almost as if by saying it and meaning it hard enough it might change things and allow her to come back. “If I could just hold her, outside, out of here…” 
from "Into The Bliss: Having & Holding Ellanor", by K.A. Whatman

It's Steve's 40th today.

This means he has devoted half of his life to me, and to our two daughters. He's amazing.

He is gentle, mild, extremely funny and intelligent. And he allowed me to convince him to cut off his mullet and stop wearing the moccassins in public.

Thank. God.

Trawling through photos that his parents gave me last week, I found a photo of us with Ella I have never seen before. My breath caught in my throat.

Two weeks old, only two weeks left unbeknownst to us

As I was going through our own collection to look for all the shots Steve had been in, I found photos I've seen before - of him, being him... being goofy, being an uncle, grinning widely with our siblings' children - and this time, I checked the dates. It struck me how often we had photos taken of us, smiling and involved, so soon after Ellanor's passing.

It seems life really does go on, regardless of whether you're in pain. It's ludicrous how soon the gap is expected to close over.

And this man has made damn sure that as much as he could, our nieces' and nephews' experience of us was as seamless as he could make it. Even during our trials.

For instance, this was taken on Boxing Day - what should have been our first with Ella.

Yes, he is really one in a million. To me and to the family who love him.

I made him this. Look out for the chicken feet slippers that he "HAD to have"....:

Monday, April 9, 2012

This week's To Do list in no particular order

Right.... don't mind me while I just make a little list here for myself, mmkay?

• Celebrate Steve's 40th on Thursday! (As in, actually remember to say something to mark the momentous occasions because, y'know, I could very well forget given my over-worked brain's track record of late)

• Finish this ruddy slideshow of Steve from the moment he was born to the moment he declared trackies and moccassins appropriate attire.

• Lose the 2kg that has somehow crept back on in this past month. I blame all the chocolate of late.

• Make jelly cups for the party on Saturday.

• Finish the blog migration from Blogger to Wordpress.

• Try to stay out of the foetal position while I iron out any bugs and wonder what the HELL I was thinking when I made such a bold move as moving my beloved blog from Blogger to Wordpress.

• Find out how to transfer my feedburner from the old blogger address to my new domain.

• Ask myself if I need another easter egg. Really. The answer will be yes.

• Pray that my plan to make a tetris cake for Steve's party actually works as good as I imagine it might.

• Resist the urge to slap him if he so much as suggests it's not spatially accurate if I do too many of the same piece colour (it's a Tetris thing, you'll get it if you know it)

• Sleep some? Clean some? Remember to feed the fish?

• Remind myself that simply looking pretty is not the same as working well. If it doesn't work, there's no point it looking like this:

What it MIGHT actually look like if I play my css/html cards right....

Most importantly, please oh please come looking for me if my blog suddenly falls off the face of the Blogosphere. Promise me you'll come tap on my shoulder on Twitter or Facebook or something? Still not convinced but here goes, gang!

I'm switching over to Wordpress (hopefully) by this Friday!  Gulp!

(p.s. I have some questions to ask you when you get there - most pressing right now for me is that I won't see all your faces and avitars any more over there in comments on WP! I'm not impressed about that at ALL, I need to see your pictures! It's all going to be topsy-turvy Grey-Man Land!)

And just lastly....

Steve's turning 40!!! My little (incredibly tall) Lenny!  I've been with him since he was 20..... how is this possible? Mercy, me.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday, bloody Sunday

Easter Sunday and my waking thought today is, "That carpark was so familiar to me and now I don't visit it any more."

The hospital carpark. The one I knew like the back of my hand. The timing required to find a park in the rare as hens' teeth undercover spaces. The best tree shade in the vast lot. Where the ring road went and how it's better to cut through between buildings if you have a careful driver in front because it means they will go all the way around and you'll make it to the gate before they do. The distance to the entrances. All of them - the one to the lift and then the undercover breezeway, the one that most visitors use, the entries that are less commonly used except for the serious visitors - the long term ones like you.

I woke up gradually, after startling somewhat that this thought - out of any number I could have had - was the one my brain chose to lay out before me as dawn crept into our bedroom. What purpose could that thought have? Why have it if not to change a perspective, find some kernel in it that is useful to me (or better yet, someone else)? Do I have all the ingredients to make pancakes for breakfast this morning? Did any mice get the Easter eggs that were carelessly dropped by a less than stealthy Easter bunny last night as he hopped clumsily from the LGBB's bedroom and out the front door?

Thoughts are mercifully funny like that. They can change on a whim and distract you from yourself.

~ • ~

After my dog Pepper was cremated in February, her body was returned to us in the most exquisite carved heavy wooden box. Nailed shut. Tamper-proof. Amazing. So respectfully and tastefully done. These were animal lovers, they understood what it means to lose a beloved faithful pet. I could just tell. It was a stark and sobering contrast to what we were confronted by at the end of 2004.

See, when Steve finally plucked up the courage to collect Ellanor from the funeral parlour after almost ten months had passed - we just couldn't, could not face the scenario.... would you race down there do you think? I don't know, I still don't know what I would do and I've already done it! - he returned home with her ashes. In a plastic cannister.

A plastic cannister. Not unlike the kind you'd store your spaghetti in.

It was up to us, the parents, to transfer the contents of that unnatural vessel into a new place. Something we had to go out and choose and create for ourselves. A job I would neither recommend nor ever wish to do again. But on the other hand, an ultimately cathartic one.

We laid our daughter's remains to rest exactly one year to the day after she was born.

I've been awake for an hour now. And the longer I'm awake, surrounded by dusted bunny feet that I am just itching to vacuum off my otherwise clean floors, the more horrified I am becoming that a funeral parlour - just any old one, who KNOWS who they are? - were entrusted with the body of my firstborn child and returned her to me in a plastic container with a screw-top lid. Thanks for coming, so sad she couldn't make it. And yet, our dog is given the respect she deserves; someone who knows the profound importance of a long-time companion and gets that you want their remains treated with care and compassion made sure that they were.

It's harsh and it's hard. If it's hard to read, you can guarantee it's pretty difficult to reconcile with as the parent. These are the things that aren't considered. But sometimes it's just the little details that would make all the difference. You know?

That right there. That is why society has to collectively pull its socks up. Understand that these babies are people. Important. Equal to those of us who live. Sure, we've come a long way since the days of whisking a stillborn child from its mother and not allowing her to see him or her. But have we really done all we can?

This may be a privileged world we westerners live in, but it is the corner of the world we live in. If we can walk in to a shop and buy pretty much anything we desire, then we should also reserve the right to have our deceased loved ones - no matter what their size or age - treated with dignity and respect.

My daughter came home in a temporary jar. That's what my thoughts are stuck on today.

~ • ~

Please oh please, sweet mercy, let Lolly wake up soon.


I need to escape.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Quieted into prayerful hope

It was 8 o'clock last night when I sat down to write my personal highlights post from the Digital Parents Conference. I thought I might just check out one or two (or eight.... or maybe ten) other posts from some favourite bloggers of mine before I got started.

And that was my first mistake.

At 8:15pm, the LGBB wandered up for last hugs (she's all out of sorts, part first school-holiday-funk, part daylight savings over-tired emotional confusion). I tried to discretely wipe away my flowing tears. She came over to me from hugging her Dad and looked into my eyes before she held me tight. She was all soft and warm from the comfort of her cosy bed and pretty nightie. We didn't let go of each other for at least a minute. The whole time, I was offering up grateful thanks to the unseen Master of Ceremonies, that my child would never know starvation - beyond what she deems as "starving of deaf" when her tummy is so hungry it growls - and that we had the capacity and the facilities around us to provide safety, comfort and nourishment.

You see, one of those blogs visited was Edenland. If you didn't know already, Eden and two other mum bloggers (Kim from South Korea and Stephy from Germany) have travelled to Niger in Africa with World Vision. There is a food crisis so severe there that people have been working hard for months to slow the effect. But we all know how these things go. There is malnutrition. There is displacement. There is famine. There is death.

Lolly broke away from me and checked my eyes again. I smiled wanly at her but the kid wasn't buying it. My thoughts were too loud for her not to hear something. She does that sometimes. Cheeky minx. "Oh Mummy, you need a tissue. I'll get you one." I watched as she climbed up onto the desk behind me and reached past the iPad, beside the iMac, over the two hard drives that store our movies and photos, and grabbed a tissue. She handed it to me with an endearing smile and then followed her father back to bed. Thank God. I didn't want to have to explain my way out of my tears. Not tonight.

When we first received the sponsor child information for Miriam in Peru, I cried similar tears. This child with the wild hair, hard face and aged eyes was my hope in 2005. Hope that babies and children do live in this world. Not just live. Thrive. Off the back of losing my own child in privileged circumstances, Miriam brought me so much joy - she was alive! Our money and basic luxuries may not have saved our own child, for no amount would, but it seemed almost too easy to give if money was virtually all that stood in the way of Miriam's village receiving basic services that would help everyone.

Survival is a basic right, certainly a natural instinct, but it does not befall everyone in this world. Losing a child is a reality for a woman sitting in a hospital NICU just as much as it is for one sitting exhausted under a tree giving the only shade in a dry, foodless wasteland. And I feel guilty. So, so, so guilty with my lot. That I would even call it a "lot".

So, I can't quite yet muster up that DPCON12 post I was hoping to bash out on these weary keys - did you know, I've typed so much on this lappy that I have worn through my second keyboard? And yes, they can be replaced! Who knew??

Perhaps the wrap-up post will come a week out from the day. It feels right to let it sit a while longer. And wrong to force it if my energy and attention are elsewhere for the moment. And right now, they are with the beautiful mothers who took my breath away and made the tears fall faster and harder.

From Eden's latest post.

To keep up to date, you can follow the hashtag #edeninNiger on Twitter.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Writing tighter: Notes from #DPCON12

Watch for a personal wrap-up from me in the coming days, but for now my weary limbs and grey matter can only manage to string together some notes from a memorable break-out session I attended during the Digital Parents Conference that was held on 30th March in Melbourne. I hope they are of good use to you, dear reader.

There is much I want to say about DPCon12. Alas, I am on schedule to clean up the house in time for the LGBB's friend who is coming for a sleep-over soon. I have also been commissioned to make them some kiddy-version fortune tellers like those we discovered inside our Hallmark packs (how cool is that little purple box? Thank you, Hallmark, you hit the mark in our house!).

I had the pleasure and good fortune of sitting in on the writing workshop run by Sydney Writer's Centre founder, Valerie Khoo. And boy, was it good. Ninety minutes flashed past feeling like we had been there for barely half an hour, such was the engaging content. Thank God for the iPad because the excellent tips and points to note were coming fast.

Here is a little grab-bag of a few writing tips I was particularly taken by:

Know your reader
See them, get a clear picture of who is reading. Then, the way you structure your writing and the topics you choose will more naturally occur.

Create a reader profile.
If your reader 'picture' is not clear, then build your ideal person.
Demographics (narrow down to a niche age group, gender, life stage):
Where do they live?
Income level?
Education level?
How extensive is the readers' understanding of your topic?

Remember to write"to" someone. 
This way, your writing will be so much tighter.

Plan sometimes. 
Structure your writing before you even begin. Observe the difference it makes to your writing.
- Challenge yourself by doing this occasionally instead of writing and then editing.

Just because it happened doesn't mean it has to be written.
Particularly pertinent to chronological writing.

Identify your most used word.
Be aware of it, remove it.
- Try writing posts without using "I" at all sometimes.

Read your work out loud.
If it sounds funny or ends flat, rewrite/edit.

Show, don't tell!
You don't have to leave your punch line until last.
- A solid ending can circle back to the starting punch.

Can you make it tighter?
What can you cut?

Your blog is like your business card.
If you want to get paid to write, does your blog make it clear that you're a freelance writer? Identify yourself clearly.

If you want to get paid to write, write in the voice of the publication.
Analyse your target publication:
- How often does it come out? (writing a seasonal story, for eg., may have to be submitted 3-4 months out).
- Look at distribution area.
- Contributors vs staff writers? Are the majority of contributors staff writers? (If they are, there's less likelihood they use pieces submitted by freelance writers) If the names on the Contents page are different to those on the articles, there is a better chance your work will be considered.
- Target audience (demographics).
- Topics and themes.
- Length (word count), tone and style of articles.

Pitch a clear story idea
- Include name of relevant editor, call yourself a freelance writer, tell them what the story idea is about and what the article will include.

End strong! 
Make them read to the end every time.

There was more. So much more! But these were my stand-outs. Did you go to this session? Do you have any more to add?

And on that note, I have some books to read with my Lolly Gobble Bliss Bomb. She's been waiting for me to come back. Time to go be a Mumma for the rest of the afternoon.

You can connect with Valerie on Twitter - @ValerieKhoo - or visit her website.
Also visit Sydney Writer's Centre on Facebook, and Twitter: @SydneyWriters.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A realisation on Conference Eve: She's for keeps!

I'm up before the sparrows and it would feel like groundhog day, except.... there are boxes in my house and Steve's not going to work today and he'll be driving the LGBB to school and I have a bag packed and ready at the front door.

Today is no ordinary day at all! Today is Conference Eve! In my home city! And I am mightily excited about it. There are so many great posts out there in our Digital Parents community about it, I would really just be copying theirs if I did one. So, instead...

I am off for a long, vigorous run with Jazz in a moment. Just waiting for it to get a tad lighter - neither of us are really that keen on being in the dark, literally and figuratively speaking - and I will have a head full of To-Do's that I must remember to execute over the next 48 hours as part of my role in the planning team.

I woke at 5:20am today. My first thought was Lolly. I won't see her until Saturday night. For some reason, I miss her keenly already.

Yesterday morning, she stopped me from walking her to her classroom when we got to school. I was both impressed and taken aback. She's so quietly self-assured, this untainted girl. I am so pleased about that. Of course, it makes me feel somewhat redundant but... so what? This is what is supposed to happen. I guess it's just the first time that smarts the most, that's all.

To think that five years ago I was not buying baby clothes much beyond her current size. It was a crazy mindset I got myself into, not wanting to be left with an over-abundance of gorgeous clothing meant for her if I lost this baby too. After all, that had been my experience the time before her. It was a somewhat mechanical, certainly self-protective, thought process that I didn't really articulate at the time but acknowledged it as the reason behind my not going crazy at the till. Lucky Steve. At least I saved us lots of money.

So when my automatic first thoughts as I woke to this new day were "the end of first term and she's already ditched me, I'm so impressed! I guess this won't stop, this maturing will just keep going and going," it didn't surprise me much that I was somehow shocked by the realisation.

She's for keeps, this one. The fact still sneaks up and surprises me every so often.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

What's that swag in your bag? #DPCON12 is this Friday!

We're cooking with gas and ready to head to the Sebel on Friday!

In one of my roles as a member of Team Awesome (hey, if we get to give ourselves a name we're gonna make it a good one!), the planning team for our upcoming Digital Parents conference, I was entrusted with accepting delivery of the many goodies and delights that await our delegates via their swag bags. "Sure!" I said. "Send 'em my way, I'll take care of it!"

Since January, we have been receiving courier deliveries regularly. Boxes and boxes from participating companies have been safely stacked four deep, as many across and right up to the ceiling in our spare room. Lucky we completed that house extension otherwise we seriously would have run out of room about a month ago!

Two weekends ago, Steve and the LGBB kindly helped me begin unpacking these boxes. We opened them excitedly and found inside....... more boxes! A real life "nested dolls" bit o' fun. Fun, fun, fun. Cardboard Explosion barely begins to cover it for a description of what then ensued.

This was our couch, barely an hour in....

By Sunday night (of the Grand Prix weekend), I was working hard at not having a panic attack complete with hyperventilating episode. I never realised I was such an orderly beast. Neat freak, some might call it. WHO KNEW??

The two hundred swag bags having been mostly finished this past week, I was then horrified when two things happened in the house. As if they were just waiting for the bags to be made vulnerable. And here *deep breath in* are my two confessions:

1. Someone may get an extra surprise in their swag bag. A mouse!
A dirty great not-so-stealthy mouse came sauntering through our bedroom at 3am.
I awoke with that hair-raising sense that something hairy and scary was in the room - something beyond my dearly betrothed, I mean, who lay blissfully unaware and asleep beside me - and my first thought was to turn the light on, at which point said rodent alighted from my bedside table (oh yeah.... it was there *SHUDDER*), and go and get the cat.
I went and got the cat - our brave hunter, who is usually so good with bringing kill back to the doorstep whenever she pleases - but apparently she enjoys her sleep more than a good old pat and serving of mouse on a platter. I had to shut the door to the bedroom to make her stay in, encouraging her to sniff around the corners of the room where I'd seen the mouse do its best Hamburglar-tip-toeing impression back from whence it came. She looked at me, bemused, and gave a maow that wasn't so much a meow as it was a yawn. Fine. Perfect.
I took the useless lump back to her bed.
So it was left to me to sit up in bed with the light on, unable to get back to sleep. And all I could think was, "Great. What if it climbs into a swag bag down the hallway and decides not to come out and we pack him up and take him in to the Sebel? Sure, it'd make for someone's awesome vlog fodder but I don't want to be known as The Mouse House Blogger. The internet is forever. Noooo! Arooooooo!" (that was an impression of me howling to my ceiling that "the bloody cat" didn't do her job keeping mice away and she's obviously been fooling us these past two years.... She is officially the feline equivalent of the woman who used to work in my old workplace who seemed to be doing such a good job.... Until she resigned and left and they found a pile, months' worth, of important paperwork in her bottom drawer that she'd never actioned but should have and it left the company in a bit of a quandry - so that's it, then: our entire house is effectively Tabitha's bottom drawer.)

2. Someone may get an extra, extra surprise in their swag bag. A slimey dog ball!
I have had the swag bags under lock and key the past few days, diligently fending off mice and other bits of bother. Except, this one time, I came back from the kitchen with a cuppa to find Jazz had discovered them. She's been carrying her ball around in her mouth permanently, she even sleeps with the ruddy thing in her mouth - it's like her dummy - and she was trying to sniff in one. When I saw her she had the ball in her mouth. When I told her off for gingerly quality inspecting the bags with her nose, she didn't have the ball any more.
She has three "inside balls". To date, only one has surfaced. Two are missing. I hope not in the swag bags.
Dear God, please don't let any of my fellow Digital Parents blogging friends find an inside ball dropped inside their swag bag. And.... just a note from Jazz: if they do, could they kindly return it post haste.

*breathing out* It feels good to confess.


On Friday night, the kind and energetic Naomi (of Under The Yardarm fame) brought her own swag - in a brown paper bag - and knuckled down to help us add in the final few deliveries.

They are now all packed into these neat stackable plastic crates from Eco Move (awesome initiative, so much better than cardboard boxes! NO MORE CARDBOARD BOXES! EVER! I never want to see another one as long as I live) where neither mouse nor dog nose can potentially meddle with them.

The LGBB has been an enthusiastic helper this past month, it should be noted. She worked so hard and fast it was almost difficult to keep up with her! She was promoted from simply opening product boxes to make them ready, to carrying filled bags into the waiting plastic transport boxes on Friday night.

Last night, she made posters for the boxes containing the door prizes:

Bloggers will come in droves!
Winner will be so happy s/he'll.... go to a skate park....

Note: If you win the door prize - any of them - I'll be your new best friend? Ohhhhh they are good. Let's just say, a courier had to step inside the house to drop off a delivery on Friday morning - the day after the Lindt boxes arrived - and he said he could smell the chocolate in the house.

NOW do you feel my pain?!?

Once a photobomber, always a photobomber...
As Laney put it, "so she's THAT kind of chocolate Lab??"
This is comedy Gold, people!

See you Friday! Unless you're not coming and then I guess.... I won't.

As you were *anti-climactic cough*

Friday, March 23, 2012

The beauty of death: Putting things in perspective

There has been trouble a-brewin' around here lately. But I am relieved to say, I think I've nipped it in the bud. This time, at least. I thought I'd share what happened, on the off-chance that it may be just what you need to read. Camaraderie and all that! So here's what happened, in brief:

I got caught up hook, line and sinker recently in an ongoing battle of wills that has begun between the LGBB and a friend. This friend and Lolly have history. They have shared the early learning classroom for the past two years. As last year's unsavoury history repeated itself between these two girls, this year the LGBB found herself with no other familiars with whom she could stand up to the friend. It took all my willpower not to barge in and speak directly to the other child myself. Quite a simple "Stop doing that and listen to my child" would have sufficed........

Of course it wouldn't have!  I know this is for Lolly to work out.

With the beginning of school, we were thrust into no less than seventeen new "tribes", if you will, each with their own intricate cultures and patterns - some of them affected (and effected) by countless ancestral lines. Each child in the class room with the LGBB is coming from a different (home/family) tribe. The teacher represents yet another one - the school tribe. This is an unavoidable and necessary part of belonging to civilization. I know this. I just wasn't prepared for the quick and obvious impact it would have on not just my child but those around her, familiar and unfamiliar.

I got caught up in my child's grief and confusion over her friend's actions towards her this past fortnight. Her panic. Her sense of indignation and justified pride and hurt at being belittled and told what to do (and what not to do) by a kid who was obviously flexing her muscles in this new and exciting thing called "School". After all, these children are now beginning off-shoots of their own tribes. It starts now.

By Wednesday this week, I had heard these goings on for nigh on two weeks. That's a long time in the life of a five year-old. It certainly felt like the now brief moments I see my daughter were being saturated with the latest her friend had done to her. So much so that I began to question out loud if that was really a "friend" at all? "Perhaps, just for the time being, you might say she is not being a good friend, Lolly," I reasoned with her. There have been some pretty disappointing actions from this friend - ones that you'd be forgiven for assuming were designed to push my kid to the brink of her loyalty.... just to see if she'd keep running after the "friend". She did keep running after her. Without the confidence to go it alone and find her own friends, she has so far stuck with her one familiar who has called the shots and even, on one unforgettable (unforgivable, for me, for the time being) day recently, wouldn't go with Lolly to the toilet - Lol mistakenly thought her "toilet buddy" was required for play times too (where you don't go alone to the toilet and must always go with your buddy). She frantically searched for her buddy and when not found, she asked this friend to go with her instead, but apparently the girl was too busy and told her "No" - so Lol wet herself. She was in fits telling me. And I was gutted thinking of my child disgracing herself with nobody to confide in. Perhaps irrationally, I directed my anger towards her little friend.

As an adult, I can see plainly this girl is no friend. She has found in my LGBB a most loyal and firm friend - she is lucky. But my child will not be her pawn, I vowed to myself after hearing this story that I'd make it my mission to show Lolly the light!

I always try to separate behaviour from the person. I begin by reiterating so-and-so has a good heart, but sometimes they might do silly things or say things that hurt others. I believe it's important. It then leaves room for Lolly to decide whether the displayed behaviour is something she wants to tolerate or not.... but hopefully the fact remains that regardless what she decides, she has a sense that every person has a good heart. No matter what they do.

Call me naive. I just don't see it any other way. Someone can do their worst towards me - oh, and they sure have! - but I can see that goodness flickering away in them, regardless. I think it has kept me quite sane and bitter-free all these years. Thank heavens. Because I'd make a shockingly bitter enemy.

But I digress.

I stepped out of the physicality of it all on Wednesday. Realising I had become far too enmeshed in my child's story, I energetically handed her back the reins. There is a meditation in one of my work books that flashed into my mind - The Ladder Of Letting Go - and I went to it and read the text. And plainly, I could see that I had let my boundaries blur. From here, I let go my tightening grip on behalf of my child's experiences. The containment of my energy and the ensuing detachment that brings will enable me to involve myself only insofar as gentle guidance and a safe place for her to bounce thoughts off. I had to also acknowledge the residual feelings of being that six year-old feeling lost and alone - both at school and at home - and not reflect any of those onto my diplomatic, self-assured, compassionate youngster.

This is it. This is the moment where, wide awake, she can be greatly influenced by my actions - and insecurities. As much as I can, I need to remain detached (not aloof, there is a difference) from the LGBB's experiences. My constance here will see her in good stead. I know this. Practicing it is sometimes harder! But it's my aim, nonetheless.

Adding to my resolve is the perspective I was reminded of when four days ago, a lone gunman fired on innocent school children and a teacher. It made me stop still. Take a really decent, long look at what I was doing with this situation with Lolly and her friend. Those parents sent their children to school, never to return home. I wondered what classroom antics the children might have been involved in, what tiffs with their siblings had been unresolved that morning as they went off. A situation that has seemed insurmountable, certainly for my child, for the past two weeks suddenly evaporated for me (not for her, of course).

I was able to let go my grip quite instantly. From there, while simultaneously sending compassionate thoughts out to the French community of Toulouse as they struggle to resolve their losses and shattered existence, my thoughts turned once more - as with so many things - to our Ellanor. Tune in to the memory of what it was like to be released from all my conditioning, social, family/"tribal" and otherwise stifling and rigid. A terrifying yet ultimately freeing feeling. One where I realised that I had only my own Self to truly rely on and keep me free from these external tricky factors.

It might not be Lolly's lot to learn these things. And it might be. It's not for me to know. That is her business. This is her life. But one thing's for sure, I give the deepest thanks for the privilege of watching her unfold it.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The photo-bomber strikes again!

Okay, these made me laugh. This is the kind of comedy relief I have always appreciated in my life. At the best of times, but most of all.... at the worst of times. It reminds me that without laughter and humour, I am not truly living a balanced life.

Here's what happened:

I got the camera out after calling and making the euthanasia appointment with the vets. They were due in a couple of hours. I hardly left Pepper's side that morning and just lay with her.

Our dear dog, Jazz - not to be outdone (as it is with all little sisters, no?) and being true to photo-bombing form - muscled in on the very last photos I was taking of Pepper just before the vets arrived at home.

She couldn't help herself. Take this photo below, for example:

All very innocent, very cute. Right? Hmmmm. Let me now put it into context for you:

Lucky she is a funny, cute little shit or I would have been right upset.

Thanks for the comedy relief, Jazz, you narc!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday Session: My first!

I think this is my first ever link-up with the gentle Thea and her long-running Sunday Session music linky. Which is a crime, really, on my part - someone like me, whose life would be very bleak indeed without music, should be posting a meaningful song a week on this blog. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm just a lazy-bones about blogging on weekends, that's really all it is. Sorry, Thea!

So, here goes!

The song I just HAD to hear all morning (and now I've been suitably satiated after hearing it several times now and also using to create a Genius mix song-fest that I will enjoy for the next SEVEN HOURS whaaaat!) is the simply beautiful.....

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, folks.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Change and growth together

Hello and welcome to post #1199! Add that to the 500 posts I published on my old blog and.... my goodness, you'd think I'd have ironed out the bumps by now, wouldn't you? But no. That's just the kinda fly-by-the-seat-o'-my-pants, unstructured writer I am. It's a curse, not a skill.

I thought I would use this post to make a couple of announcements.

1.  I am seriously investigating - those other times were just dalliances, forays into what was involved (read: all too hard to change platforms and for no real gain) - moving to a self-hosted Wordpress blog. *GAG-FACE* I KNOW! It's just that I have direction now, I have things I want to do, ways to make this a more useful place rather than me just spewing forth my words. That, and, they have the most amazing plug-ins and ways to make your blog look pretty that I can no longer pretend it doesn't make my designer/visual-eye's heart flutter to think of the possibilities....

This will be a very positive step forward, I think, for my blog's direction. But I want to give you ample time to fling yourself at my feet and weep "NOOOOO! Not Wordpress, no!" if you must. Are you pleased with this move? Or does it strike fear in the heart? Essentially, nothing should change - however, any of you out there reading this in a Blogger-connected reader (I really should be more knowledgeable about all this, but meh) who are concerned you'll lose track of me, please wave your hand at me and make yourself (and your concerns) known and I'll try and find a way to appease you too!

2.  I am very excited to be working on a project in conjunction with Sands Victoria which involves the use of my blog space. It will take a little while yet, but there's something in the works and it makes my heart feel full. In the meantime, here is my first call-out to any readers who have a parent (mum or dad) who has lost a newborn or suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth and who would like to share their story here (can be anonymous).  Contact me via email (details are in my profile or feel free to drop me a line on my Facebook page). Spread the word too! I believe stories are meant to be shared and love to hear about people, their interesting lives, how they survived, how they thrived... in any number of circumstances.

I, for one, would have dearly loved to learn first-hand from the older generation how they stepped through the loss of their baby. So if you know anyone who might like to add their voice, please do invite them to contact me.  I will be making a proper stand-alone post about it soon, but here's a precursory, toe-dipping call-out!

3.  Things are heating up heading towards the Digital Parents Conference. It's all systems GO here and we are receiving, surely, more boxes than a matchstick factory. They contain the incredible amount of swag on offer from companies who are all too happy to throw freebies at bloggers - there are 200 delegates, to be exact, and I am getting up close and personal with each of their swag bags as Steve and I are filling them.... in the sort of methodological, "boy" way you can imagine. I went my own way for a while there, just piffing stuff in - "The bag's huuuuge, there's plenty of room", said I, but Steve was right; proper stacking made for even more much-needed room, so you'll know if you get one of the bags I packed because it'll look like someone just took a rampage through a garage sale, dumping stuff in a cotton bag. Hmmm. Sorry 'bout that.

Anyway, big thanks already to Naomi for flat-packing a stack almost as high as my ceiling with me this week. Go and check out her pretty new blog look. She's fixed the stupid hacks now! It no longer takes you to websites that shall remain nameless....... (don't ya hate it when meddlesome computer geeks crack your firewall?)

And to finish off, a post from me this past month wouldn't be complete without mentioning.... Pepper. See what I did here? It's a brief little photo gallery, come and see me (and her) in our glossy-coated youth - we both had shinier manes back in the day. Sigh. Ah, Pep  :-) I know somewhere she's still smiling her teddy-dog smile.

Humour me, folks. That is all. And have a lovely weekend!  Chat next week.

"Love" - by Nancy Adams, from the movie "Robin Hood" (1973)

p.s. Did you spy Jazz as a pup??!?! Awwwwwwww!  And I should've warned you about the IVF needle shot, sorry...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

You know the moments?

When you look outside at the cloudless sky and the sun hasn't even risen yet? And you can still see a star or two? And the freshness, the newness, the potential of the dawn threatens to burst out of your chest because you feel just so compelled to move towards it and get out amongst it?

When your existence - not your life (subtle difference there) - feels so full you actually appreciate the air you breathe and the clear dawn sky above you? And even though the invasion of work and family duty pressures await you, this time is yours to free-think as you will. And so you make it good-thoughts thinking time because you've grown to realise how much healthier you feel for it?

When you look around your dishevelled messy cesspit of a lived-in home and marvel at what you have created? And you're not actually referring to said dishevelled mess, but the piece of land that is yours to plant and nurture at will, with its quirky house, sturdy roof, painted walls, furniture that means something to you, happy toddler-drawn pictures, birthday invitations on the fridge, knick-knacks that hold great sentimental value because of where you bought them or who gave them to you?

When you glance over at your dog because she is is whining in her sleep and you see with great affection for her that has actually fallen asleep with her ball in her mouth? And you spend a moment pondering how happy and simple a dog's life is but instead of envying or begrudging her you soak it up a little and take a lesson from it this time? And in that moment, you see how far you've come in your own motherhood (and related obstacles) journey, that you are no longer envious... of a dog?

When you are shown your own strength in such an obvious illustration because you single-handedly took a piece of earth
from this...

... to this? 

And you feel like you really nurtured yourself there because it was something you wanted to do so you just.... did it? And you stand back and give thanks that you are not only able-bodied enough to grab that pick and work over the hard, heavy, bogged clay soil, but that you were clear in seeing through the vision in the first place, that spurred you on to completion? How good is it to complete something you set out to start? Something you did "just because" you knew how much joy it would bring to your weepy heart?

Yeh. All those right now. And more. I'm loving and appreciating all of them.

What moments are filling you up right now?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Girl Meets Dog(s): The very first introduction

As with all things regarding Pepper - who might very easily have been a "dangerous dog" due to her breed/instinctive nature - we were very careful and methodical with her introduction to our new arrival.

I have mentioned previously the irony of my sometimes one and only saviour in a years-long strive for children being not the most ideal choice for family pet where young children might be concerned. It didn't mean we were ever going to give her away - give up on her - when our only surviving child finally came along. In fact, it meant we could finally complete our family (in a strange mixed-species kind of way).

I am having a really difficult night of it. Could be the end of an emotional week. Could be the fact that Steve inadvertently slipped that he was going to go and "feed the dogs"..... before looking at me with a pained, apologetic look. But I lost it. I was sitting on the LGBB's bed at the time and just let go the tears.

I miss her still. Dreadfully. The more old (young, prime) photos and video footage I see, the more I yearn. It is right this way, though. She lived a very long, full life. She was a dog to top all dogs - no, not yours! of course - and no matter if we rescued another fifty dogs, we will never find another Pepper.

How freaking lucky was I, to find her? I will appreciate that girl for the rest of my days.

Here she is, being introduced to our daughter (aged about four months, is my guess) for the first time. Note how she is all about me, regardless of the new "thing" that she knew was taking all our time and attention away. Loyal, always loyal, to her masters. Putting herself at the end of the line, where any well-serving, dutiful dog should go.

And then there's Jazz. Gorgeous in her own way, but so happy-go-lucky that it kind of makes me want to slap it out of her some days. It always did. Where Pepper had the weight of the world - the weight of my reality, really - on her shoulders, Jazz had only the buoyant promise of New Life on hers. Like the yin-yang of life itself. I do so love and cherish them both. But my heart will forever be with Pepper. She was like a saviour to me.

Today, I don't mind saying..... I am really, really feeling her absence and feel misunderstood by everyone. She always "got" me (mostly 'cause she couldn't talk and stuff up! Don't you love how dogs do that for you? Just give and never take? Sweet relief)

Charities - what do you do when they come to you?

Not that the poor, unsuspecting young man at my front door knew any of it, but I had had a crappy kind of day. The sort of first-world crappy that doesn't win me any bleeding heart medals but they were my focus in the moment. The sort that didn't put me in the most ideal frame of mind to humour an uninvited stranger.

So when I was attending to - ahem - the other kind of (monthly) visitor that isn't exactly the most welcome because of its uncanny knack of turning up at unpleasant, unplanned times (one week early this time and paaaainful.... SURPRISE!), I did not expect to have to handle any other unwanted surprise guests.

But sure enough, I heard a rap at the front door at the worst possible moment. Followed closely by "MUUUUUUM, someone's heeeeere" from the LGBB.

I got to the door as quickly as I could - no way is a door-to-door .... what are telemarketers who go door-to-door actually called? (be nice) .... seller going to go anywhere if they know someone is home! - and I was greeted by a very cocky young man standing with his hand placed high on my door jamb. Not a euphemism, thanks for wondering. It was not the most endearing pose, put it that way, and while it may work on a Saturday at the nightclub it's not the best stance to have when you're trying to talk to home owners about the plight of the Ugandan people.

Furthermore, aren't they supposed to wear some sort of badge identifying who they work for? Well... there was none of that. In fact, there was no introduction of any kind. The young man simply launched into a spiel that, while well rehearsed and certainly speaking of dismal circumstances for an entire race, was unsolicited, seemed to be going nowhere and left no gap in it for me to explain as I stood there as patiently as I could that he had not even wished me a happy International Women's Day yet, despite the fact that:

• I was harbouring worse stomach cramps than he'd likely ever have in his entire life
• I had sprinted out of the hairdressers so fast earlier that afternoon, when I realised they had overshot their timing of how long it would take, and now had a half-cut head of hair that would not be corrected until next Tuesday!!! (anyone got a hat they can loan me? Urgh)
• I had been so upset about being, therefore, almost half an hour late to collect my daughter from school that I was still, now an hour later, feeling the after-effects of the sudden adrenaline fight-flight rush
• I now had about 2.3396 seconds to get myself and my kid out the door - her in her swimming cozzie - in time for her class because I had been so late picking her up
• I hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast (it was 5pm)
• It was 5pm! What was he doing here at such a busy time of day!?
• perhaps most alarmingly, there was no chocolate or marshmallows in the house to reverse the effects of the first five points.

Now, I realise their job is to pluck at the heart strings to try and raise funds for whatever cause they are pushing. I will not deny that if I let it, my heart would bleed dry for my fellow man - anywhere in the world, whatever the dire circumstances - but the thing is, how does a person fronting up to my door or calling on the phone know how many (and what) charities are my choice to donate to?

Truth is, while I live a very comfortable life, I am far from a position where I can willingly donate to every single cause that presents itself. I just can't. Factor in the apparently endless stream of school fundraising (that begins in kindergarten!) that we have to pick and choose and tactfully negotiate our way around so we appear to be giving "enough" as a family without giving blindly to everything - I mean, come ON! $6.50 for 6 hot cross buns???? I LOVE hot cross buns but there is a line that has to be drawn! - and you've got one heck of a funds-bleed that threatens to push us into overdraft very soon.

I cannot deny my flush-faced frustration at this kid who was on my doorstep. The sheer arrogance of him - as if his fancy French-accented demeanour was supposed to make me stand there as a captive audience even after I told him not once but twice that I was late to get out the door - made me want to slam the door in his face. But he was talking about clean drinking water. Death and destruction. Women and children. War.

I tried to cut him short with, "Do you want money?" and he said no, he had not asked me for money (I assumed the unspoken "yet" was implied). I asked him if he could leave me the information and he said by law he wasn't allowed to - whaaaat???! - and then proceeded to continue with his torrent.

This kind of apparently endless one-sided regurgitation of recited information makes me seethe. I admit it. It has long since brought me to the decision that I will no longer donate more than a couple of gold coins to anyone who is coming around door-knocking. And if they're on the phone, I bid them good luck and a good day but firmly hang up the phone. Some of our hard earned, scarce money does go to charities but they are ones of our choosing - those causes we are passionate about, everyone has their preferences - and we cannot give to all. Nor should we be expected to give just because they send someone directly to our door.

So.... how do you succesfully remove a person off your front porch? Hanging up on the phone is one thing, but they're wise to that tactic (obviously). I find it the height of invading my space when it's a physical person I'm then forced to be firm with in order to remove them from my property.

What do you do with door-to-door donation seeking types? The ones who have a spiel longer than your arm and don't want to get to the point - you giving money - no matter if you try and round them up to get to that part so you can just work out the money bit already??

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Hey (hey) You (you) I could be your girlfriend

I lay in bed, my heart feeling like it wanted to burst out of my chest. I was so happy. But this was beyond happy. This was something I'd never felt before and I wasn't in any frame of mind to articulate the feeling.

The book closed and was placed on my bedside table. I got a kiss on the forehead and was tucked in a bit tighter. I squirmed. "Mum..." I wanted to tell her. I told her I had something to tell her. Oh, I couldn't possibly tell her! So she said goodnight and left my room.

A short while later, I called out to her again. She came in. Sat on my bed. Waited while I agonised and thrashed about a bit. Oh why couldn't she just guess?! That would be so much easier than having to say it out loud! She left again, a bit more annoyed this time.

Moments passed. I plucked up the nerve and called out to Dad. He came in. Sat on my bed. "I.... I.... I have to tell you something," I stammered. So he sat. He waited. He sat. He waited some more. He told me he was going now. What? Nooooo! He left.

This dance went on with both of my parents until Dad gruffly told me it was the last time he was going to come in, "yes, Mum too", and I had to stop this silly nonsense and get to sleep. Great. This just made what I had to divulge even harder! So I gulped down my nerves and blurted it out.


Phew. There. I had said it. That's all I had wanted to tell them. Now to break it to Lucas.....

Lucas was my first real-life, there-he-is-over-there-not-imaginary-not-on-a-poster, boyfriend. He was in Grade 1. I was in Prep. My recollection of him is that he had the lanky-limbness of Mr Bean crossed with the face of Harry Potter (before he grew older and hotter). Awkwarrrd!

Yes... this is pretty much how I remember Lucas,
without the tie.
(Image sources: here and here)

I would follow poor lanky Lucas around the playground every play lunch, every lunch time... every time I could find him. And I have this memory of him looking behind him, annoyed and alarmed as he went in ever-complicated routes around play equipment, school buildings, outdoor log seating configurations in a vain attempt to lose me. It never worked.

In hindsight, perhaps I should have voiced my intentions (to make him my boyfriend... I wasn't sure what came after that, only that that was the label I had to place on the person who was making my heart very light and fluffy), because I think Lucas thought I was quite certifiable.

I was working at the computer at about 9pm last night when Lolly came up (for the umpteenth time, which is rather unlike her). I had advised her in a previous excuse to be up that she really needed to let her brain "go to sleep and rest for the night now", something she is well used to me saying - sometimes, I swear I can see the cogs working overtime in that big solid head of hers - so I was a bit surprised to see her again.

A fleeting thought crossed my mind as I caught her sneaking up the hall out the corner of my eye. "I wonder if she wants to tell me she has a boyfriend." The little 6 year-old part of myself reminded me how nervous I had been to tell my mum and dad. It's all I had time to ponder as the LGBB was by my side now.

She squirmed and then bowed her head into me and said softly, "Umm... I have a boyfriend. But I don't think he knows." I gave her a gentle hug, in commiseration (after all, I had to tell her father that I was his girlfriend - he was so blind - and, thankfully, the feelings were reciprocated because here we are, 19 or so years later) and in encouragement. I had only reminded her that afternoon on the way home that even if she is told to keep a secret and not tell anyone something, she can always come to Mum or Dad - especially if it is something she feels an adult needs to know.

Her confidence building, Lolly announced, "I might actually play with him tomorrow."

And with that, she was back off to bed.

Awwwwwwww. My blossoming little girl. Poor confused Jacob doesn't know what awaits.... Poor bugger.

Only problem I see so far is, I now have a child who is stropping about the house because she doesn't have the "right" components of her uniform ready to wear to school this morning. Man oh man. It's going to be a looooooong thirteen years, isn't it?


Do you remember your first "boyfriend"/"girlfriend"/puppy-love crush?

Disclaimer: Ok, so the kid's name is not Jacob, in an attempt to protect the innocent and clueless I've changed it.

Post title from the song "Girlfriend" by Avril Lavigne

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

And then just like that, I remembered...

We were standing in the kitchen on the weekend, doing dishes, cleaning up after dinner. The LGBB was tucked up in bed reading to herself. I was feeling somewhat "normal" again after the cloud of sadness had lifted. There hadn't felt like much to laugh about in the past week.

Music was playing - an iTunes genius mix, the starting song had been a Carol King number - and we were getting about our respective chores.

Then a Carpenters song came on. One I have heard probably literally a million times in my life. My mother was an enormous Carpenters fan. She passed on the passion to me and they are always a band I have respected and admired.

But in a single statement, that song changed forever for me last Saturday night.

"Why do birds.... sudd-en-ly app-eeeear
Every time....
You are neeeeeear"
...Karen sang questioningly. She's been baffled by that riddle for nigh on forty years now, poor love.

I never heard the rest, for I had overheard Steve say next to me, playing the role of some misunderstood misfit (who I immediately pictured in my mind wandering in a wooded park somewhere) as he said, "Oh, that'd be because of my birdseed hat."

The image changed to a lone figure.... walking around with not a nacho hat but a similarly ridiculous giant  sculpted birdseed bell on his noggin. Not unlike the bells you see in bird cages, slightly more Mexican sombrero looking.

I didn't come up for air for about ten minutes. In fact, I laughed so damn hard that I began to cry from the pain of the laughs in my throat.

And then just like that, I remembered...

This is why I love him.

This is why I saw him even all the way back in 1993 as "good people", the right stuff for me, and held on.

This is why he heals me.

This is why I married him.....

He is one funny, funny understated bugger.

The Wedding Bell
(sorry, I had to... that one was for Dad)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

If it wasn't for the nights

Okay, while you read this, you've gotta do something for me. It might go against every grain of sensibility in you. But... will you make an exception? And play the following clip?

The short of it is, this is just about my most favourite ABBA song. It's one of their best. I could listen to it every day and not get sick of it. But then... I was a MASSIVE fan back in the day!

Go on... hit play... if you're not tapping some part of your body or trying to sing the chorus by the end, well.... it's lost on you (and let's never speak of my adoration of ABBA again, in that case):

The long of it is, at the moment it's kinda bloody true! See, I'm going really well - I haven't cried for Pepper in days now, it's been a week and a bit since I helped her go to sleep on our kitchen floor.

Thing is, though, even though I saw that big ol' needle going in and held her head on my hands and reassured her to her death, I have been haunted by dreams that the drug didn't work and that she is actually still alive.

Three times now I have dreamed very real dreams where I have to decide whether to call the vets and tell them it didn't work or just shrug and say, "Well... we tried, Pep, looks like you're here until you really want to go."

They are absolute torture! Last night, during the dream, I actually told myself she was really dead. The needle had actually worked. I hope it signals the end of them. I don't know what it means, I haven't analysed them and I'm not asking or expecting you to, gentle reader. But man! I am nearly at the point of putting my fists on my hips and asking the wise Universe.... What gives?!

"If It Wasn't For The Nights"

I got appointments, work I have to do
Keeping me so busy all the day through
They're the things that keep me from thinking of you
Ohhh baby, I miss you so, I know I'm never gonna make it
Oh, I'm so restless, I don't care what I say
And I lose my temper ten times a day
Still it's even worse when the night's on its way
It's bad, oh, so bad

Somehow I'd be doing alright if it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could make it)
I'd have courage left to fight if it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could take it)
How I fear the time when shadows start to fall
Sitting here alone and staring at the wall
Even I could see a light if it wasn't for the nights
(Even I could see a light I think that I could make it)
Somehow I'd be doing alright if it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could take it)

No one to turn to, you know how it is
I was not prepared for something like this
Now I see them clearly, the things that I miss
Ohhh baby, I feel so bad, I know I'm never gonna make it
I got my business to help me through the day
People I must write to, bills I must pay
But everything's so different when night's on its way
It's bad, oh, so bad

Somehow I'd be doing alright if it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could make it)
I'd have courage left to fight if it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could take it)
How I fear the time when shadows start to fall
Sitting here alone and staring at the wall
Even I could see a light if it wasn't for the nights
(Even I could see a light I think that I could make it)
Guess my future would look bright if it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could make it)

If it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could take it)
if it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could make it)

Even I could see a light if it wasn't for the nights
(Even I could see a light I think that I could make it)
Guess my future would look bright if it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could take it)

If it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could make it)
If it wasn't for the nights
(If it wasn't for the nights I think that I could take it)

Even I could see a light if it wasn't for the nights
(Even I could see a light I think that I could make it)
Guess my future would look bright if it wasn't for the nights

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