Tuesday, 13 December 2016

The Big Unknown

It's all over social media at the moment. Parents talking and showing photos of the milestones that happen with their children at this time of the year. Photos of their graduations, their farewell dinners, their parties, Christmas trees and celebration preparations.

I have been terrible at capturing any of these moments this time. Usually I am all over that stuff but this year it's so damn hectic that mostly I'm watching 1/2 beside myself and 1/2 just soaking it in.

But this time of year does deserve a bit of reflection if only for one thing, Jack is finishing primary school.

These last few weeks have been all about this process, dinners, assemblies, big days out and extra catch ups with friends. Our world more than normal is about trying to make sure whatever Jack needs to say goodbye he has.

Tonight as the annual 'bring all the crap from school home and let your parents deal with it' started, there was one thing that he brought home that made me swell with pride. A certificate of appreciation from his teachers with the things they loved about that student this year.

'Certificate of appreciation for Jack:
For your beautiful artworks, for consistently thinking outside the square and for being mature, kind and thoughtful.'

It's made me realize that my job of capturing these moments isn't nearly as important as him capturing these moments. Maybe those photos if I had taken them would help jog his memory but actually those moments and all of the stuff he does is what he has captured to make him him. And that is going to last a lot longer than any photo.

Saying that, a photo of him playing this bubbles is something even I couldn't miss.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

To Sleep Perchance to Dream.

This is my little girl. She is 14 and today her dad and I planned the day she is going to die.

We have been on this rollercoaster with both of my dogs health being under a huge amount of question. And today was D-Day.

It started with Oscar.

We found out that my old man has bum cancer. It's a particular type of bum cancer that apparently neither the vet or oncologist have actually ever seen (although it has been documented). We had one of the tumors removed surgically but the results of the biopsy came back as malignant, aggressive and more than likely, to have spread. There are options but they are not great options and we decided today to let it be and watch and wait for signs. Making sure he never gets to a point where he is in pain.

Little girl has a fissure. A hole between her mouth and her sinuses. To fix it she would need all of her teeth out and massive palate surgery. They also suspect (as I have for a few years) that she has either had a stroke or a brain tumor. This causes her to have issues eating and because of these and the fissure combined she has what we call 'super sneezes' where her food and water go into a cavity and she sneezes it out. She can sneeze as often as every 30 minutes when she is awake. She is uncomfortable and she is past the place where fixing it is an option.

So today as we sat in the vets we talked about what the next few months will look like for Oscar. How to monitor his progression and what our options are.

For little girl, it was clearer. She is in pain. She is tired. And she deserves better.

So she will be on some meds for a bit so she can start feeling a bit more herself. We will treat her like the princess she is. And then, in just on two weeks, the vet will come home and we will smother her in kisses for the last time as she goes to sleep.

I do not really know how to process all of this. After 16/14 years of being a dog owner, by Christmas it looks like I won't be.

But let's be honest, I was never really a dog owner because they own me as much as I own them. They are my family, my fur babies, my first babies. And I will cry buckets and be proud they got to call me their mumma and try my best to do the best I can for them in spite of how hard it's all going to be.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Dress for Success

This morning I got dressed in a rush.

I had to take the boys to school then go to the shops to do some bits and get home in time so as to not feel like I'd spent my whole day off doing chores.

These are not times that you have to 'think' about your outfit, I just grabbed my favorites and rushed to the car.

The entrance to the shops has a long mirrored travellator and as I was fussing trying to get my head phones untangled, which by the way is the only way to survive the shops, I caught a glimpse of myself.

- Boy jeans with the cuffs rolled up.
- Biker type boots
- Beanie
- Small men's T-shirt
- Long slouchy cardigan

I must admit I looked at myself for longer than normal as I tried to figure outwhen, exactly, did these clothes become my favourites.

I have done the mad rush to drop the kids off and then go to the shops about 100 times in my life and as I've looked at myself in the travellator mirrors, now that I think of it, I have seen a lot of different looking women.

I started to think about a conversation Jack and I had had a year or so ago where he asked me about the way I dressed. He brought to my attention that I had changed from floaty skirts and hair in buns, to what he called 'derby' style with tights and leg warmers. And now this; which Hamish recently called Urban (I have no idea where he got that from, but in the same conversation he also asked me if I was 'actually' going out in those shorts, and didn't I think they were maybe a little too short)

But Jack is right (Hamish may also be a teeny bit right but my response was, who are you? Your father or mine) my style has changed multiple times over the last 10 years. And seeing as I'm not a fashion forward person how and why does this keep happening?

The epiphany came to me this afternoon.

I almost never buy my clothes from the shops.

Today's outfit was

- Boy jeans with the cuff rolled up (given to me by a friend)
- Biker type boots (found secondhand)
- Beanie (given to me as a gift)
- Small men's T-shirt (found secondhand)
- Long slouchy cardigan (given to me by a friend)

And when I think of it, realistically my style hasn't changed at all. It's exactly the same as it's always been. My style is pretty much just Clean Hobo .....

So it's not my style that's changing its the random items in my wardrobe that change and I just work with what I'm given.

It has made me wonder .... Is it just me who defines their style by random clothes that happen to find their way into their stash? Or is this just something I've never thought of before? And everyone's style in one way or another could be considered clean hobo.

But mostly it's made me thankful. I have no idea about shopping, I have no idea what suits me. To the degree that if you gave me $1000 and said go and revamp your wardrobe I'd sit there and look at the money and wonder who I could give it to to go and get me clothes. So I'm so happy that I'm the kind of girl that has the kind of friends (you know who you are) that actually DO revamp their wardrobe and think of me before they chuck their hand-me-downs to vinnies.

Almost feel like I now need to cut to that song 'Thrift Shop'.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Better than a Letter

A few months ago while looking at high schools this guy decided he wanted to try and get into a selective part of a high school that focuses on art and design. He is actually in area to get into this school but this streamed part was what he said he wanted. His dad and I talked a lot with him about it. We were nervous, he isn't the most dedicated of students and to get in he had to write an application, produce a portfolio and have an interview with a panel. But we saw and heard his passion for it knowing all of this and so we said 'alright, you want to go for it, we will give you what you feel you need to get in'.

Cut to weeks of paint, plaster, wire and pastels, talking about ideas for his works and how he felt about the interview. Hours of sitting quietly in the house while he worked, music requests, homework be damned while he ruined clothes and sat drawing, painting, cutting until I had to force him to take a break. Trip after trip to bunnings, places for paper, places for anything he felt he needed to do the next thing.

I was already so proud of his dedication. He would sit for hours and hours while he played with ideas. Scrapped them and starting again. And I knew that whether he got in or not this was an amazing journey I got to watch him on.

Occasionally he would loose motivation. And I would talk to him about how if this was something he really wanted he needed to find ways of working through those times, but also letting him know that is he felt he had changed his mind it was ok.

I didn't want to lead his journey. This needed to be his want, not ours. And every time he pulled something together and started working again.

Today we received a letter. And on the top line it said:


And my heart melted for him ...

He did this, he worked and worked and he did this thing all by himself. And it's amazing.

Tonight as we went to bed I gushed at him about how proud I was at exactly that. How his hard work had given him something he really wanted and what an amazing lesson that is.

And he said 'you helped'
'I didn't do any of it for you'
'No but you helped me stay motivated, and you were my inspiration, you knew I could do it so I knew I could as well'

And that ... Well that is better than any any congratulations letter.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Who's the Man?

I am an extremely lucky woman. I am raising two hilarious, confident, aware and brave boys.

I'd love to take all of the credit for them. But I can't. I can't even take 1/2. Because of course even though their dad is absolutely as responsible for how wonderful they are as I am, we are only part of it. The thing we have probably done best, is pick the village that is around these kids.

They are surrounded by hilarious, confident, aware, brave people. People that inspire them, people that show them how being yourself is one of the best things you can hope to achieve.

And they soak it up ... It's fantastic to watch.

But something occurred to me this week. The vast majority of these amazing people are women.

Now I believe as much as the next woman that strong women role models in a boy's life are absolutely vital. And I can see that with what they are learning from the women in their lives they will become amazing men.

But men they will be, and they also need strong, independent, hilarious, confident, aware, brave men to learn from. And the older they get the more this will be something they need.

Their affinity with women became a topic of conversation when we were talking about Mother's Day. Hamish asked if they should get Andrews partner a Mother's Day present. He said that she wasn't his mum but she was like a 'kinda' mum and he was thinking it would be nice to get her a Mother's Day gift to celebrate who she is in their lives. I of course said if it feels like something he wants to do he should absolutely get her a Mother's Day present.

He then moved on and asked if I was planning on falling in love again. I answered honestly and said that at the moment I was very happy just loving them but yes one day in the future it would be nice to fall in love again.

He then said somethings that made me pause.

'Well mum when you fall in love can you make sure it's with a woman, I think I'd feel funny if it was a man'

Now a few months ago I had a similar conversation with his brother. Hamish wasn't around for it so this is either something they have talked about between themselves, which is doubtful or it's just one hell of a coincidence.

Jacks reasoning was that he likes being the man of the house and he can't imagine having another man in his home with me. Hamish's reasoning was that women are nicer and he likes having more than one mum figure but can't imagine another dad figure.

My reasoning for both of these conversations is that they don't have a heck of a lot of men around them. They have had so many women figures in their lives that are regular and loving but really only one man figure that does the same.

It's a funny thing being a woman raised by strong women and one strong feminist man, trying to figure out how to give these boys who will one day be men the male role models they need. I guess this is where things like Kung Fu, male teachers and friends fathers come in. Maybe instead of always asking my female friends to be the ones that hang out with the kids I should start seeing if some of my male friends want to do some child minding.

I'm sure that even if they were raised 100% by women they will still work out to be amazing men. But I can't help but think that in the same way as I try to make sure they have balance in other aspects of their development, maybe finding some better balance in this would be a great way of giving them a well rounded perception of not only men, but of the kind of men they want to be.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Baby Bear v Big Bear

I noticed the other week that most during my night time cuddles with Jack most of the time he has adopted a new position. I am no longer the one with my arms around him and his head on my chest. He now slides his arm under my neck and my head winds up on his chest.

When I noticed this role reversal a surge went through me. I wanted to reposition us so the we were the 'right' way round. I am the mother after all and shouldn't I be curling him up in my arms, not the other way around. But I left it because as I thought about it, this was something that had been going on for a while and I had only just noticed. It seemed silly to think about, as cuddles are cuddles and as long as we chatted and giggled nighttime cuddles should be able to be anything.

Tonight as we had our nighttime cuddles Jack could get comfortable and I asked him "well do you want to be the big bear or the baby bear" he very quickly replied "the baby bear" so we readjusted ourselves so I was cuddling him versus the other way round but after a few minutes he readjusted himself to be cuddling me again.

I looked up and him and smiled and said "So you do want to be the big bear?" and he replied "not yet mum, not yet"

Monday, 15 February 2016

Sometimes You Can't Take it Back.

Last week a friend of mine reminded me of a story. The story of my most embarrassing moment ever.

I mean we all have one of those right? Those moments where everything just fell into place in such a way that 20, 40, 100 years later you still cringe a little to think of it.

Here is mine:

I can't exactly tell you why or how but as part of the first year of my degree at university we had a lecture listening to Brett Whiteleys wife talk about him as an artist and his life,
just a short time after he had died.

Now I have to tell you I didn't go to university to study art. I was doing a Bachelor of Arts degree but focusing on gender studies. So how I found myself at this lecture I couldn't tell you.

But there I sat at the back of this massive amphitheater tired and bored and not at all being where I wanted to be. In fact if memory serves me right my boyfriend at the time was waiting outside in my car waiting to pick me up.

So I sat and listened to what the other 400-500 people in the theater probably found incredibly inspirational and inspiring. But I was day dreaming ... looking around ... Not really listening. And then in the wall behind my head ........ I saw a hole.

It was just a little hole. But it didn't look like an accidental hole. And I stared at it wondering what it could be. At first I though maybe it was connected to the lights so I waved my hand in front of it, but no.

So I sat there with my head rested back on the headrest of my chair looking at that hole and for some reason reached up and put my finger in it.

There was nothing in the hole. Not a bolt or a latch, it was just a hole that for some reason was above my head and skinnier than had thought as my finger got a little stuck ....

And then

I was in a spot light

Because while I was thinking about the hole above my head, I had missed that Brett Whiteleys widow had just asked "Does anyone have any questions?"

So the spotlight had seen me, with my arm stretched above my head and all the four to five hundred people (some of which had been crying during the emotional lecture) turned and looked at me as she said "yes, you in the back"

I froze for a second and then, because I couldn't think of what else to say said ...

"Oh, ummm no I've just got my finger stuck in this hole"

I can't tell you exactly what happened next. I know my friends next to me definitely started giggling uncontrollably, but trying to do it quietly. The spotlight definitely turned off me. All I remember with complete clarity is how I felt like I wished I could melt into the chair and ooze my way out of the theatre.

But that's it ... My most embarrassing moment ever. Funny how often I think about it. I guess it's part of what makes me me. And if I learnt anything from it it's just, make sure your head is in the same place as your body or else.

What's yours?

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Be More Adventurous (but read the signs)

You know what, life is hard. The daily motion of just getting out of bed and dealing with the day in such a way that you make it back to bed with most of your faculties and without killing anyone is sometimes what makes a day a success.

Ok ok I know that sounds a bit overdramatic but I sort of mean it.

So in retaliation I have a tendency to think jeez I have a day where I can do almost anything I want and so seeing that life is hard I shall take this opportunity to chill the hell out. I'll sit and read my book, watch some crap on tv, I'll do a few chores (and then feel exhausted because I did a bit too much) and generally spend those days where I am free to do anything, doing very little at all.

And you know what, sometimes that is totally ok. And sometimes it really isn't. I am by nature quite lackadaisical, always have been and I mother in quite a lackadaisical manner. For the most part this has worked extremely well. But when it is taken too far it also means we don't 'DO' things. We chill, we love, we laugh, but we often get to the end of time off and wonder what the hell did we do.

To combat this I've been trying to be more adventurous. Sometime an adventure is just taking the boys out of the house when they are obviously are going to bicker and whinge. Sometimes it's doing more than one thing in a day. And sometimes it's far more that that.

I decided this school holidays to spend some of our time doing things we wouldn't usually do. And seeing it's summer a lot of that is around going swimming.

We live about a 20 minute drive from some gorgeous beaches but I have a strong dislike for the beach (the many reasons behind which are a post all of its own). I put this down to the fact that I grew up in a rural environment. My idea of a lovely day swimming has to do with rivers. Clear water, birds chirping, the occasional eel, rocks and shade and that peaceful feeling I can only get from being in the bush.

I decided to take the kids for a drive to a waterhole I had heard about. From the blurb on the internet it was a 45 minute drive from Sydney and the an easy 20 minute walk through the bush to the spot. It sounded and looked from the photos like the perfect spot to be adventurous.

We grabbed all the water and food for the day, our swimmers, sunscreen a book and a friend for the boys and headed off.

The drive was easy, if you can call 45 minutes of eye spy easy. We arrived and parked and I realized that although the internet had told me to park at the train station, the directions from there to the actual track, let alone the pools were somewhat lacking. I found one of the guys working at the train station and asked if he could direct me to .. he promptly cut me off and told me to walk to the other side of the station down a road, past the shops and the path started there, expect an hour or so walk.

In hindsight I probably should have thought two thing: a. He obviously gets asked this all the time so is this going to be the serene place I was thinking and b. Was that hour from the station?

We found the beginning of the track 15 minutes from the recommend parking spot (FYI if I had have driven an extra 10 minutes we could have parked right next to it) and started our walk. It was so pretty, birds were chirping, the boys were laughing the grass was beautiful and green and everything was flat and calm. And then we found the real beginning of the track. Apparently that first bit was just another bit you have to walk to get to the actual beginning. And there it was, the Sign.

The pools were from here an apparent 2km walk that was rated as hard.

My poor little lackadaisical brain went into pure denial .. They are only saying that for old people, cause who else but old people actually like bush walking. So a hard walk that is meant to take over an hour must be old people rated but three kids and a semi fit mother ... easy walk for 20 minutes surely ... I'm an idiot.

15 minutes into the walk and we were already sweating. It was rocky, like jump from here to here, don't fall in the mud, up down up down rocky. At 40 minutes we met some people coming back up and heard them say they had been walking for over 1/2 an hour ... Must be a different path my lackadaisical brain thought. About 10 minutes after that we started going down a very rocky steep decent ... And my lackadaisical brain started thinking, we are going to have to walk back up this.

Another 15 minutes and we heard water and everyone pepped up. We burst through the bush to our serene waterhole to find that at least 100 other people had also made the trek down.

I stood there for a second ... Trying to take I the scene. Then we found a rock, stripped to our swimmers and jumped into the coldest water I have been in for quite a long time.

Now I could stop the story there, and it would all sound horrendous. But actually once we got used to it the water was amazing. The kids ran and jumped and slid on slippery rocks for over three hours. We had a brilliant time. The crowd wasn't quite what I expected, but then what is an adventure without a few unexpected things.

As the sun started to make its way down we decided it was time to leave so that we would be home well before dark.

And then the hard stuff really started. If we had thought the walk down was tough. The walk up after hours of swimming was incredibly tough going. Of course it was doable, it was just so very tiring. Both of my boys did a fair bit of 'OMG I'm going to die'. The lovely other child didn't dare but occasionally gave me this look that told me if I had have been his mum he might have also mentioned he wasn't sure the pools were worth the walk.

By the time we got back to the car all of us were totally spent.

We silently drove for about 15 minutes before I dared ask ... So was it worth it? and to my surprise they all said absolutely.

So another adventure is done. And yes if you ask me it was worth it. Maybe the swimming hole full of people wasn't worth the crazy walk. But the effort of doing the thing was worth the reward of feeling like we had done something a bit special and had a day that of all the days during the holidays we would all remember.

All in all I think we might all think that this adventure was totally worth it.

PS. Once I got home I looked at the internet again and yes I had misread. That whole 20 minute easy walk was the explanation of the walk from the car park to the beginning of the track. The pools however 1.5 hours hard walking .... Next time I go on an adventure I'm going to make sure I actually read the blurb properly.
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