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31.1.11

What kind of mother?


As Max returns to school and Cappers gets ready for her big first day at Kindergarten tomorrow (!!! oh yes !!!), my thoughts turn to what being an 'older child' mother is all about. Once our babies grow bigger, meeting the physical and developmental needs tends to give way to the more organic, character building stuff.

When I think of my own mother and the way she raised me (along with my Dad, but this is about Mum), I think:

She was wise.
She really listened to me.
She liked trying new things.
She believed in me and she made me believe in me too.
She made me feel loved and secure.
I didn't want to disappoint her.

My mum is, of course, still all these things and so much more. Our relationship has grown up along with me, but the list above is how I remember my childhood with her. One thing I know, she had a special relationship with her four children both as a 'unit' and as individuals. She found the time to forge a unique bond with each of us.

I still have enormous respect for the sheer 'goodness' that has always been in Mum. She always knows what the right thing to do is. Her influence was real and genuine, a huge positive force without being manufactured or contrived. Of course, she had her flaws - this is not a Disney movie after all - and sometimes her flaws were all I could see! But not for long. She was herself and no other.

I have been thinking a lot about how I would like the Tsunamis to remember their own childhood mumma. What would I like them to think and say about me?

My Best Mum descriptors at the moment are:

She was wise
She really listened to me
She was always dreaming up new ideas and new experiences
She made me feel loved and secure.

These descriptors are the foundations for building the kind of mum I try to be. They help me to focus on what is important to me and hopefully my children. I work daily on being this Mum.

Is this something you think about?
How would you like your children to remember their own childhood mum?

[Image via weheartit]

30.1.11

Boy, oh boy



About a month after he started school Maxi-Taxi came home and announced that he had a 'brother from another mother'. Hmmm... I thought, where did he learn that experession? That bro from another ho is certainly the more sophisticated brother.

I have watched their friendship bloom into mutual adoration. They simply cannot get enough of each other and it's a beautiful thing to see. Their conversations (shamelessly spied on by this ho) are simple and direct.

"Do you think Ben 10 is the best fighter ever?"

"Yes. He's the best."

"Do you think there will ever be a better fighter?"

"Maybe when we're bigger we could be better than him."

I cherish these sweet little boy moments because over the course of a year I have also watched their friendship move into 'mandom'. The longer they were at school, the less they held hands, hugged goodbye, leaned into each other and just enjoyed being together. Within a single year they have morphed from sweethearts to wrestling maniacs, who punch each other to express a joyous greeting and lifting up and throwing each other to affectionately say goodbye.

What happens to our boys? Maxi and Jamie have obviously learned how boys handle friendship from the older boys at school, who learned it from the older boys at school, who learned it from the older boys at school. Like a school yard chant that's been doing the rounds since the seventies, there they are: the role models for our boys. Relics from a bygone era, teaching them that feelings are for 'sissies' and you're 'gay' if you show affection.

Little boys are quite possibly the most affectionate and loving creatures in the world. And then they go to school. Of course they are still those loving little boys, but how can we teach them that it's okay to show that love to each other? That true friends are vulnerable and affectionate with each other? That learning how to open up to each other may well be the thing that saves them one day?

Where do we start with that?

28.1.11

This week I'm grateful for... new friends


I've ranged this week from 'nurse' to a 'bugged' Cappers (her words); to 'host' of an Australia Day gala; to 'cleaner' as I prepared for and recovered from said gala (such a lot of vacuuming involved when one hosts a party!); to 'proud mumma' as I watched my Tsunamis take to swimming with a vengeance; to 'stressed out and freaking' wife at a little scare LOML gave me today (nothing to worry about!). It's been grand.

I do also admit to going a bit stir crazy, as I always do when faced with a house, three children and me, just me. Not great at being a stay at home mum. I get better after a few days... I need to find my 'home' groove and dance to that. We get there.

So, this week I have lots to be grateful for, but to narrow it down...

1. New friends - how lovely to find newbies that you have lots in common with and really, really like. It's so great to drag out fave stories for an appreciative new crowd. And beyond fab to get to talk about all the stuff like 'how you met' and 'where did you grow up?'... love it.

2. Older children - at 6 and 5 years old, my two bigger Tsunamis are growing into the 'older child' bracket. The bracket where you're at a party and you don't see them for hours. You practically forget you even have children. Of course, a warm, melting Badoo on the lap on a hot day keeps it real.

3. A cool breeze at day's end - we sweltered on Thursday but then a light rain fell and brought with it a cool stirring. Sheer, welcome relief.



So, what's making you smile today? Grab my I'm grateful for... button from my sidebar if you like, add your I'm Grateful For post below and please add a link back to me in your post. Then pop over to visit other bloggers who are spreading a little sunshine. Happy day to you!





[Cute little gingerbread image by C-L-K]



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Don't forget to pop over to the Fibro's SENSATIONAL giveaway. You can win a 5-week online writing course with the Sydney Writers' Centre! Brilliant stuff! Click on the image below.



27.1.11

Dealing with Difficult People #6: Bullies


For a long time I found it really difficult to stand up for myself around bullies. I was fine asserting myself with most other types of people, but not the irrational, aggressive, in-your-face bully. I felt intimidated, teary and humiliated every single time.

I realised later that I tended to lose my voice and myself around bullies because they are so unfair. It's so hard (and pointless really) to argue with someone who just wants to make you look small so they can feel bigger. I also think that bullying can be quite subtle and pervasive so that you are almost questioning yourself whether it is actually happening.

Bullying for kids is a different field and one I'm not experienced in. But if you are facing bullying of the adult kind, my main strategy has always been to stay well away. But if you really can't avoid them...

1. Stand tall and proud
Make eye contact. Don't flinch. Be solid. Practice deep breathing. Listen to what they have to say, but don't own it. Be a wall with ears.

2. Don't get angry
Distract yourself with a poem, counting, a song. Our huge repertoire of nursery rhymes comes in handy right about now. It's hard to get angry when your head is singing "a'tissue a'tissue we all fall down".

Remember the golden rule with bullies: whatever their problem is, you are not it.

It won't do you any good to try to 'win' a confrontation with a bully. This can be frustrating because it's just not fair to let someone so awful and undeserving be the 'winner'. It's not right, it's not fair, but it's just the way it is.

3. Stand up for yourself
When the time is right, interrupt them in a calm, measured voice. Saying their name again and again in a firm but gentle way tends to get their attention. Say "I don't like the way you're talking to me. I'm happy to have this conversation, but not like this. Maybe you should come back when you've calmed down." Note that you are putting the onus on them here. Walk calmly away. Ignore the insults that they will shout after you.

4. Be honest about how you feel
The temptation is often to keep a bully at bay by being kind to them. When I was younger I used to do this, but although it smoothed the way, it sure didn't make me feel good about myself. These days I tend to be upfront with bullies and also about how I'd prefer to deal with them. This makes me feel better and it also makes me less likely to be bullied by them again. For instance, at work I tell them in no uncertain terms that I find talking with them face to face difficult and would prefer to use email.

5. Let people know
Don't feel ashamed that you're having problems dealing with someone like this. Let other people know so that you are not alone. Most bullies are harmless, but some can turn very ugly, very quickly. It's good to know you have back-up. Be proud of the fact that you have people you can rely on in this way. Bet your best knickers the bully doesn't.

Man, bullies are hard work. 
Do you have to deal with anyone with bullying tendencies? 
Do you have any coping strategies to share?

[Image: I wonder how Suse Bauer from Revoluzzza feels about being part of my Difficult People series? I received permission to use her images, but I don't quite think she knows what she signed up for!]

Australia Day festivities


I've had lots of fun these past few days making pinwheel garlands for the Australia Day party we had yesterday. 

It was great fun! At one point we had about twenty children and assorted adults in the pool, all having crazy, wild fun (the best kind of fun!). An amazing result of a big swim with all their friends yesterday was that Cappers and Maxi decided today that they would ditch the bubbles and the floaties. They both swam and jumped in without them. Hooray! I must get photos of that tomorrow.


Leaping and splashing and cooling off from the hot, hot day. Isn't that what a Summer party is all about?


More on those garlands... I really love them. I wasn't sure how to decorate an Australia Day party without bringing out the 'green and gold' - two colours that I personally despise together. Sorry Australia.



So I photocopied Mexican oilcloth fabrics and used their pretty patterns instead. It looked so fun and festive, draped across the backyard. Not fluttering as I'd imagined, but rather hanging listlessly in the still of the hottest day so far this year. In a nod to 'Australiana' I did put out some yellow flowers in pots. Green and gold, it was in there subtlely!

It was a big party, but I kept things simple with a BBQ and salads (and a lamingtons and pavlova for dessert, of course!). I always seem to go large as there are many people that I love to catch up with and one big party seems easier than lots of smaller ones. 

Do you enjoy entertaining 'en masse'? Or are you better at a smaller affair?

Joining in with Kootoyou's My Creative Space today. Fun!

The best bits are the little bits: part 3



My husband is at church with the three Tsunamis for Christmas mass. The church choir rings out the final notes of 'Silent Night' and a hush descends across the uplifted congregation.

"I want Gaga." A plaintive Badoo booms across the church.

It's true that the little bits make up the best bits of memories! ♥

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Oh, and speaking of Best Bits, be sure to pop over to the Fibro today because there is a SENSATIONAL giveaway going on (which I am sadly ineligible to enter... which is the only reason why I am not worried about spreading the word and decreasing my chances...). You can win a 5 week online writing course with the Sydney Writers' Centre! Brilliant stuff!


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24.1.11

The online persona


Would it surprise you to know that I never wear pink? My new-look blog is very pink, yet even my own sister was surprised to learn that it is actually my favourite colour.

My response: I'm a redhead, of course I don't wear pink!

Inspired by Sarah at Just Me, I've been thinking a little bit about my 'online persona'. Do you ever think about that? Do you ever wonder what some people are 'really like'? I suppose I do wonder because sometimes what goes on behind 'closed doors' in life is often quite different to what is publicly revealed. I think we've all been surprised by people in this way? And I've heard some amazing stories of the lengths some bloggers have gone to to 'be someone else' online... naive old me has been shocked to the core!

Well, I think with me, what you see is what you get. Or at least, what you read...

I am a very aesthetic person so having beautiful surroundings is fundamentally important to me. I have an eye for 'what looks nice', if you will. As a consequence, I'm much, much prettier online than I am in real life. Don't get me wrong, I am not an unattractive gal; but at 182cm tall and, ahem, 'big boned', 'pretty' I am not!

So, I'm sorry, I don't really 'look like' my blog. You know?

But other than that, it's all here. I'm not a downer person in real life and my blog is chipper. I'm not a nasty person with no friends and here I am with lots. I'm not beating my kids into submission and I'm here advocating for time outs and encouragement. I write like I talk - well, at least how I would talk if I had the ability to reconsider everything that came out of my mouth before hitting 'speak'... wouldn't that be nice! But then, I think some people already do that and it's called 'thinking before you speak'. Never my strong point unfortunately!

I'm me, just me. My 'best me' if you like. I think we are all our 'best me' online - the me we are when we're not tired and fed-up and wearing cranky pants - and personally I think blogging has helped me be a better me all the time. How about you?

Do you ever wonder if the people whose blogs you love are 'really like that'? Does it matter if they are 'putting on' a particular image when they blog? Would you like to meet them face to face?


This post was inspired by Sarah at Just Me who posted about the same thing last Friday.

[Image via weheartit - source unknown! Please let me know if this image is yours'!]

23.1.11

Ms Nosybella: I really must do something about that...


Hello Bellas

My sister Al from the Pink Fibro and I were having a laugh the other day about all the little (and not so little) things around the house that need fixing. All the things that have probably needed fixing since we moved into our respective homes but time has passed and these days we just put up with the constant irritation. Women are good like that.

On this occasion, rather than wondering about our own homes, we were commenting on each others'. You see, we'd swapped houses between Chrissy and New Year and because we are no-holds-barred sisters, the conversation was full of things like:

"OMG, what's going on with your kitchen tap?!"

and

"Are pool pumps supposed to be that loud?"

and

"Aside from nearly killing myself on your front steps..."

and

"We couldn't lock the doors upstairs... um, do you ever actually lock the doors upstairs?"

So, here is an abridged list of things that desperately need attention in Maxabellaland:


  • The front steps are crumbling sandstone. Nice if you live in a castle.
  • Yes, it's true, the upstairs doors don't lock. Hello Hamburglar.
  • There are no working door handles. Hello shut out of my own house on more than one occasion yet still we have not fixed the door handles.
  • The seat on the second toilet is loose. Slip sliding awaaaaay.
  • The stove does not work. The oven works well. This is why I'm a baker, not a fighter.

I could go on...

Alongside your 'To Do' list, do you have this kind of 'Things that never get done' list? 

If so, my question today is: 

What are your top three 'Never get done' items?

'Til next time

[Image by Michael Wildsmith/Getty via The Guardian]

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The auction for Lori starts at 9am on Australia Day (26/1). Click here to be a part of it.

21.1.11

This week I'm grateful for... that pool


Hot weather, plants drooping, cicadas rattling. A lull descends.

I'm off work for two weeks. Last week of school holidays, first week back at school. Cappers is soon to be a Kinder Kid! She is champing at the bit to get in there and give this school thing a go. Maxi is schlepping about the place, terrified to go back there because he's been told he will have to 'work' in first grade. Not even 'work hard', just 'work'. The threat of actual effort is enough to send him into his own kind of lull.

But I'm going to enjoy this time with my darling, crazy, needy, loving Tsunamis, oh yes I am!

This week I'm grateful for...

 1. Our pool - I never thought I would come to love that great big water-sucking, algae-growing time-and-money-pit that came with the house. But when I see the Tsunamis leaping joyfully off the edge and swimming for hours like healthy, happy kids should... sheesh, yeah, I love it.

2. Bloggy friends - we meet so many fabulous people on these blogs of ours. It amazes me, then, that there are some people that you just 'click' with and you become firm friends even though you've apparently never met 'in real life'. Sorry, um... this is our 'real' life, isn't it? Or do I have another life somewhere that I'm unaware of? Spooky.

3. Our camera - Imagine not having 10000 images of our children on file!

[Image is of Cappers... look at me, Mum!]


So, what's making you smile today? Grab my I'm grateful for... button from my sidebar if you like, add your I'm Grateful For post below and please add a link back to me in your post. Then pop over to visit other bloggers who are spreading a little sunshine. Happy day to you!

20.1.11

Dealing with Difficult People # 5: Toddlers


I am not one of those mothers who smiles sweetly at the wild-eyed newbies frantically rocking their selfish newborns and shrieks "enjoy the baby stage, just you wait until they're TWO."

No, I'm not one of those. I can't stand those know-it-all mothers who just have to share (but more on them in a later post). Besides, I think newborns are the most difficult creatures known to woman.

But toddlers, ah Toddlers, are a very close second.

Ruthless, cunning; dear god they're accountable to no one. If you've never eyeballed a Toddler on the Verge of a Naughty Breakdown, you've never viewed a true enemy. Once a Toddler has something in their sights, they will stop at nothing, absolutely NOTHING to get it.

Enter the Terrifying Toddler Tantrum. 

Mothers have been broken. Supermarkets have been trashed. Dummies have been lost.

But fear not, I've got their number. Most toddlers will try the major full-blown TTT, but most will hang out the white nappy after a single incident* when they come up against their natural born enemy: The Prepared Mother. Pop these tips in your arsenal and get ready to return fire.

1. Ignore
It's a constant refrain here at the Difficult People Files. Whether the bad behaviour is coming from a smug shop assistant, an Olympic Parent or a juiced-up Mr 2 in aisle five... the strategy is the same: IGNORE THEM. Quietly (but in a voice loud enough to be heard over the screeching... this takes practice) say, "I don't like the way you're behaving, Mr 2. I'm going to head off and you can join me when you're feeling quieter."

Step over the little tyke if you have to (avoid stepping on fingers, but they can generally take some subtle foot-to-the-butt treatment as you go by) and hide yourself nearby. Monitor out of your peripheral vision, only looking at them directly if you are certain they can't see you.

Note that while you are ignoring Mr 2 you will most probably have to ignore the tsk-tsking of general passersby as they judge you for being a cold, heartless mother or wonder what you're doing hiding behind the biscuit display. IGNORE them. If you so much as make eye-contact with one of these Concerned Citizens, Mr 2 will have won.

2. Be patient
They don't show this on Supernanny due to editing, but ignoring takes lots and lots of time.

Just keep waiting and Mr 2 will at some stage work out that you are not around for his grand performance, get even more hysterical, come looking for you, find you behind the biscuits, throw himself at you dramatically and cling like a demented barnacle to your disinterested skirt. Keep ignoring. Resist the urge to kick the hysterical little cling-on off like a used pair of undies. Mentally run through your shopping list. Mentally run through your 'To Do' list. Mentally run through your 'Life Goals'** list. Remind yourself that no child ever died from crying***. Ignore Concerned Citizens.

3. Do the walk
Allow Mr 2 to exhaust himself sobbing. You will need him fairly droopy for this next stage. This is the 'I'm really leaving' stage. You have to walk as if you mean business - with confidence, purpose and vigour. You have to do this while dragging a screaming child along, clinging to the edge of your skirt.

Oh, make sure you always wear a non-elasticised skirt to the supermarket. That should have been Tip 1.

4. Bring out the big guns
By this stage you've been hanging out in aisle five so long that they're rotating the use by dates on the food. Most toddlers will have eased to a dull roar by now, but if you've got one of those stubborn ones, you will need to bring out the big guns.

"Mr 2, if you don't calm down, I am happy to leave you right here. I don't hang out with screaming children."

"Do you want to stay here tonight? Well, calm down please."

Start to walk away again. Repeat the threat of abandonment until tantrum has subsided (don't panic, things are generally faster now they're facing a night hanging out with the store packers).

5. Hug and praise
Once the tantrum has gone and you are left with a red, heaving sludge that used to be Mr 2, get down on the floor with him (he will absolutely be on the floor. Prone.) and say, "That's a nice boy now, I'm so glad we're friends again. Shall we keep going with the shopping?"

The answer to that question, by the way, is "No." Do not keep going with the shopping. Move at lightening speed through the check-out and get the hell home.

Yes, it's taken time, yes it was a long haul. You should feel battle weary, but smiley. Exhausted, but satisfied. For you, my friend, have won the war against the Toddler. Now, you can do anything.

How did / do you handle your own children's tantrums?

* I mean it when I said that they will only ever have one using these tips. Each Tsunamis had exactly one. My only glitch was Cappers - she was never a screamer, she was a leg dropper (you know, suddenly the legs cannot possibly bear weight and the child is stiff as a board). She used to watch you disinterestedly as you walked and walked and walked away and eventually you were faced with having to start walking backwards lest you find yourself crossing roads. Really needy that one...

** If, of course, you are self-absorbed enough to have such a list. I will not judge.

*** This claim is not substantiated. It is possible that one or two healthy, loved children have cried themselves to death at some stage in history. Please do not forward sad children-dying-of-crying stories. I will not read them.

[Image via Revoluzzza's amazing monster fest]

Adopt a Softie

You've seen the 'Pay it Forward' posts, right? Well, instead of sending out something handmade to her top five respondees, Brenda at Mira Narnie has offered to make a softie to donate on your behalf to the Hope Softies drive run by Mon Petit Poppet.

So if you love the idea of the Hope Softies but are HOPELESS at SOFTIES, this is your opportunity to contribute.


Remember, when you're paying it forward, 'handmade' is a very generous word. Made by hand, remember? Bake a slice, make a pet rock, buy some pretty ribbon and tie it in a bow... you don't have to wear clever crafty clogs to be a 'handmade' guru.

Pay it forward.

Oh, and speaking of being really, really nice, do you think if you have a moment, you could pop over to Sugar Coat It and vote for my sister And then there were four in the side bar? She really wants a blog makeover and if she doesn't win Melissa's then I will have to do it... so, pretty please?!

[Softie image is by Revoluzzza - my fave - which may or may not be indicative of what Brenda has in store for your donated softie...]


19.1.11

The day I hired a hubby


Fondly reminiscing about my encounter with Dave the Vaccum last week has reminded me about the time I hired a hubby.

In Sydney there is a company called, you guessed it, Hire a Hubby. The premise it that while your own hubby is abundantly skilled and highly motivated to do all of the maintenance and reno work about the house, he is simply too busy. If he wasn't so darn busy, that new roof would be up, the bathroom tiled and the chicken coop built quick smart. But while he's cursing his busyness, this business is here to help. They have experienced, skilled, qualified 'hubbys' on their books ready and willing to come over and do the work for money. It's like the housewife's equivalent of a prostitute, really.

Anyway, I'm sure Hire a Hubby is a very good, reliable company but I cannot vouch for that. When I 'hired a hubby' I really got one.

I was nine-months pregnant with number two and in crisis reno mode. The Nest needed an updated kitchen quick-smart because no fresh baby of mine was going to grow up thinking that an acceptable kitchen included exposed brick walls, brown tiles and cupboards, green formica benchtops and green plastic flooring. It was enough that Maxi-Taxi had already been exposed to this style desert.

The floor man handled the floors, the renderer man handled the walls, my real and gorgeous hubby LOML and his mate Ric painted every brown cabinet white and Hire a Hubby sent Michael-Call-Me-Mike to get the benchtops and tiling done.

Michael was as big as my own hubby (which is to say, very, very big). He looked very professional with his toolbelt and his measuring tape. He had pencils tucked above both ears. Things were looking good.

He ripped out the old benchtops and tore down the brown tiles as if he found them as offensive as I did. He looked so engrossed that I popped out with Maxi-Taxi for a the rest of the day to get some last minute baby wrap shopping done (you can never have enough wraps).

I excitedly arrived home to view the completed benchtop and tiles and stood aghast in the kitchen doorway, one hand clasped protectively over my belly, the other shielding Maxi's vulnerable toddler eyes.

It was a MESS. The benchtops were fitted, but a large corner section of one bench had obviously been broken off and glued hurriedly back on. The tiling job was the worst tiling job in the history of tilers (and that is a very, very long history indeed). The grouting was smeared like toothpaste and dripped out between the tiles as if they were oozing pus. They were nicely almost dry.

I was speechless. I was massively pregnant. I could have done a better job myself. Maxi could have done a better job himself. But I said nothing.

I paid Michael's bill when it arrived a week later. I said nothing. I went in and gave birth and dear LOML and my sisters fixed what they could and made it all look presentable. Bless that hubby that I didn't even have to hire.

Years and years and years later I am still livid. I have actually moved house and I am still livid. It is embarrassing how livid I still am but for some reason it is like an unscratched itc... gaping wound.

The question is. Am I furious at Michael for passing himself off as a qualified Hubby when clearly he was just a regular hubby? Am I angry at Hire a Hubby for sending me Michael in the first place? Or am I livid at myself because I said nothing?

Yes, you're right. But I will say nothing more.

[Image from here]

18.1.11

Enter the Chinese Mother


Maxi-Taxi decided that it was time he starting riding his bike without training wheels.

I thought: "Hallelujah, Mr Six Year Old. It's a miracle!"

I said: "What a good idea!"

The session, which began with LOML patiently trying to teach him balance, rapidly went from excitement that the training wheels were off, to horror that he had to actually do something in order to stay upright, to "I'm never riding my bike again" defeat. Two times up a straight path without training wheels will do that to a boy.

He storms off across the park and flops onto a picnic table. Face like thunder.

My attempts to softly cajole him off the bench and back on the bike were met with comments such as "It's stupid", "I can't", "It's too hard", "I'm stupid", "You're stupid", "I hate my bike". My approach to this sort of negative talk has always been to say things like"Don't say 'I can't', say 'I'll try'" (and, of course, "We don't use words like stupid"!) and gently, gently (lest I break their fragile self-esteem cocoon) ease the child back to the task at hand. If all attempts to guide them back failed, I tended to give them a pep talk around "Tomorrow is a brand new day and you will feel better about trying again then" and babbling on about all the ways we'll make it fun.

Today, however, I had learned of a new approach.

Enter the Chinese mother.

"Max!" I said sternly. "I won't listen to you talk about yourself that way. It's not true and I won't have it. Now get yourself over here and get on your bike."

"No!"

"Max, I'm not going anywhere. I know you can do this so I'm going to stay right here next to your bike for as long as it takes."

"No!"

"You're not going anywhere either. We're staying here until you get back on the bike. You might not get your balance and ride today, but you're at least going to try. I know you can do this, so I'm prepared to wait."

"No!"

"I'll be right here, Max. I'm happy to sleep under the stars tonight with your bike as a pillow."

Five minutes pass.

"No!"

"I'll be right here, Max. Setting up my tent."

Five minutes pass.

"Grrrrrr...."

"Waiting for you, Max."

"Grrrrrrowwwwl!! OKAY THEN!" A small boy stomps his way across the park and collapses next to the bike. "I'm not getting on."

"It's not okay to give up. I know you can do this if you just keep trying." He gets on.

LOML starts to guide him, he pedals and gets a rhythm going, suddenly I hear the shout, "He's doing it!".

"I'm doing it!"

His face is alive with freedom and achievement as he pushes on for five pedals, six, seven... I go nuts with excitement - he's actually doing it!

He does two more times up and down the straight. LOML holds him and then lets go. Max pushes, he swooshes, he flies. Falls off the second time. Calls it a day. But he's done it, he's actually done it.

Thank you, oh thank you, Chinese Mother.

[Image by Sherry at Corporate America Runaway]

Femimen


I like a well-groomed man as much as the next girl. But erk! Have you noticed that more and more men seem determined to bind themselves up in knots over beauty like women have for centuries? I don't get it.

I don't get why they want to rip out all their pubic hair.


I don't get why they want to stab themself in the eye with a mascara wand.


I don't get why they want to show off their moobs.


I don't get why they are stumbling around in high heels.



What's going on? I am truly baffled by this whole 'manscara' phenomenon! To be honest, it makes me dry wretch a little bit. The femiman is not my kinda man at all and on a more important level... why on earth would you do this stuff to yourself if 1000s of years of social norms weren't making you?

Do you find femimen men hot?

[Header image from here]

16.1.11

I like Chinese mothers



This article in the Wall Street Journal* by Amy Chua is brilliant. It presents a completely different view on parenting, one that to me seems so radical that I am still taking it in. I literally did a double-take at some of her words. There are many ways to parent and I don't think we talk about the different styles enough. I am fascinated when a new way of doing things is opened up to me.


Key quotes from the article include:


What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you're good at it.


To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work...


Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them.


As a parent, one of the worst things you can do for your child's self-esteem is to let them give up.

 The techniques used by Chinese parents are completely different to our Western parenting style, but possibly not so different to the way our own parents were raised.  They make sense. They really do. I liked what Amy had to say, but I wonder how 'success' is actually defined by Chinese parents. It seems they have more of a focus on 'succeeding' in academic and professional life than I have. Certainly the parents appear to strictly define what their child's life will be like and then mold their child to suit this expectation, which I have quite an issue with. But I can also see that there is a strong emphasis on insisting their child be the absolute best they can be and I think that has enormous merit. "They assume strength, not fragility," explains Amy.


I just wonder if LOML and I would ever have the stamina (and the guts!) to parent the Tsunamis 'Chinese-style'. It would take a lot of patience and fortitude. I wonder how differently those Tsunamis of mine would turn out under the Chinese method? Would I be pleased or faintly horrified? 


It makes you wonder about the influence we have as parents and the critical role we play in shaping our children's lives. I think a balance between the Chinese and Western styles would be the ideal. Strict, but gentle. Conform... but in your own way. 


Do you think that sort of balance would even be possible?


* I can assure you that The Wall Street Journal is not a daily read for me. That's why I married a banker! I often get a funny little article sent to me via LOML who has very different reading preferences to me. Always food for thought.

[Image from weheartit- link through is some blocked Russian site so can't trace the origin any further. Sorry!]

14.1.11

This week I'm grateful for... hope


The chips were down this week, no doubt about it. It makes me even more determined to be grateful for the things I have.

This week I'm grateful for...

1. Hope - That spark of light that never gives up, never accepts defeat, never goes out.

Share some hope with a softie if you can...


2. Community - We rally. When things are rough, the human spirit really begins to shine. We work tirelessly into the night to help those around us, we give up a treasure in order to help out with money. We are the reason that we can look at destruction all around us and say 'we are blessed, we are lucky, we are okay'.

3. Love - my beautiful husband who I cried together with at our friend's funeral this week. It was so hard to say goodbye, but with LOML by my side I could do it.


 So, what's making you smile today? Grab my I'm grateful for... button from my sidebar if you like, add your Grateful post below and please add a link back to me in your post. Then pop over to visit other bloggers who are spreading a little sunshine. Happy day to you!


[Image from NestaHome]




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I've linked up a 'January' post at the Fibro today. It's not really a rewind as this is the only January I've ever blogged in, so the post is from last week...


Pay it forward: oh, go on!


I must have bypassed about 10 blogs all paying it forward before I caved. So, I'm in.

MultipleMum is to blame. If you can't pay it forward for your sister, who can you pay it forward for? And because I've been thinking of dear Lulu missing her own sister, here I am.



Well, MultipleMum got it from Cate, who got it from Felicity, who got it from Vic, who got it from MilkyMumma, which must have been ages ago because I can't find her Pay it Forward post. So here the trail begins...

I promise something handmade to the FIRST 5 people who leave a comment here. However, to be eligible, you must repost this message, offering something handmade to 5 other people. The rules are that it must be handmade by you, and it must be sent to your 5 giftees sometime in 2011. Ready, set, GO!

I can't promise anything amazing, but I will try my best to make you something to love.

Join me?

[Image by Kristi]

13.1.11

Dealing with Difficult People #4: Snooty Salespeople



Have you met Dave? He works at a vacuum cleaner shop that shall of course remain... Godfreys.

I don't like Dave. Dave sells a complimentary dose of WTF? along with his fancy vacuum accessories and frankly I'm a lot tired of his superior attitude. I get that pulling the vacuum cleaner up the stairs by the hose led to a broken hose. I understand that that's not the way to treat a vacuum. I understand that you would never be so lazy as to haul it around in such a fashion. I get that while vacuuming is just a mild irritant in my otherwise reasonable week, it is your life and you love it dearly. But does this crime really deserve what appears to be a double life sentence in Customer Penitentiary? Please, just sell me the replacement hose and crawl back into the vacuum from whence you came.

Snooty, superior salespeople. Argh. Usually found lurking around the poorly-lit change rooms of women's fashion stores, but surprisingly common in vacuum cleaner sales as well. They will make you feel about 2 foot tall (and ten feet wide) in seconds if you let them. What to do?

1. Remember your mantra
No, sadly, it's not 'the customer is always right'. That died when someone moved someone else's cheese. Your mantra is 'I have the money'. They have 525 units to move and you have the money. That is all you really need to know.

2. Take your business elsewhere
You've seen the Pretty Woman movie. Oh, are you a fan? I think females are solidly divided into those that thought Pretty Woman was a fairytale to be watched again and again and those that thought it sucked.

But I digress.

If a salesperson makes you feel like a beggar, smile sweetly and walk out the door. In this age of debt-riden consumerism, there are plenty of other places who would be very happy to see you indeed.

3. Be ready with a handy retort
Aside from saying "yeah, well, I'm dressed like this because there aren't a lot of clothing options in jail", you could try one of these.

They say: I don't think we carry clothes in your size.
You respond: That's interesting because I carry clothes in my size every single day. They are really not that heavy. Maybe you should give it a try.

They say: You should get some of this skin primer to smooth out those wrinkles before you put on this foundation.
You respond: Primer? Foundation? What, are we building me a new face? Don't answer that...

Right, well, you get the idea.

4. Call their bluff
Most people who work in retail are lovely, helpful people. But some give off the vibe that they just stopped by for 8 hours on their way to getting a pedi.  They are most likely an Actor / Dancer / Singer / Checkout Chick. If they're totally slacking off to the detriment of your day, it's okay to say "I would like to speak to your manager". When they say "I am the manager", see point 2.

5. Keep perspective
Above all else, remember that it really doesn't matter if the lass who works at the clothes shop thinks you're an unstylish heiffer.  I know when they start using that look it's tempting to start rabbiting on about needing to see your Stylist whom you'll drive to in your Ferrari with your new customised Sharon-Lee eyebrows framing your face beautifully. But it's not necessary. Purchase your goods and leave quietly. At the end of the day, you're a mother /lover / friend / Neurosurgeon and they are that lass who works at the clothes shop.

Don't they just make you want to grrrrrrrrrrr.... Ever had a Snooty Salesperson encounter? Any tips for dealing with these Difficult People? And what are your thoughts on Pretty Woman?


[Image by Revoluzzza, check out her gorgeous stuffed monsters here]

12.1.11

Wind rushes in


I was sitting on my front verandah today (a place where you will often find me). It was madly windy and I usually don't like the wind. Of all the weather, wind is least tolerable.

Reckless, disrupting, tearing, heartless wind.

My children were playing beside me; for once lost in a game and the 'hey mum can I's were either absent or lost to the wind. It was just me and the whipping trees and rushing grasses.

So much sadness around when the new year started so promisingly, I thought. And then the wind blew this thought my way.

Still promising.

Still promising, still hopeful. Still endlessly maybe.

"If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same...
...Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, 
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!"
- Rudyard Kipling 'If'

Never sad for long.

On we trudge, towards a skip. On we skip towards our maybe.

[Image by Kimberley Levick]

11.1.11

My own sorrow


A darling friend of mine passed away last week after a seven year long battle with cancer. Oh yes, she fought the good fight. She was always a strong, graceful woman who dazzled with her elegance and wit until the very end.

The funeral was today. Forgive me my public wallowing, but though her death came as a release of sorts, we are all devastated. This letter that I wrote to her in her last week might reveal a little of why (she won't mind me sharing, she was always so open and generous).

Dear Philippa

It has been too long since I have seen you, but, of course, we have always been this way. It is our way.

I think you know how much you mean to me, how fundamentally important you are for me being me. You came into my life at a time when I desperately needed a mentor, a friend to confide in and trust and guide me. You helped me face up to and understand something that happened to me that had blown my understanding of myself and the world off track. You listened, you loved, you gently guided me back. You did so much to help me grow into the person I am today.

I often close my eyes and see your dignified, elegant self. With eyes so compassionate and warm and knowing that we mere mortals are lost in them. Your presence in my mind is calming and inspiring and delightful.

It is 24-year old me who thanks you from the bottom of my heart for your wisdom, intelligence and bottomless compassion. It is me today who will miss you endlessly when you leave us.

I adore you, as always. For always.
Your everloving friend.

x

[Image via tumblr]

10.1.11

For Lori


Be embraced by the universe, Lori and little Chop and Bump.

Ave et vale Tony.  10.1.2011.

9.1.11

What should we really be afraid of?


As we settle into the January holidays, I seem to be seeing more and more posts from parents who are so protective of their children that they won't even let them play in their own front yard. They seem to want to protect them from… life. I’ve previously written about ‘free-range Tsunamis’, so I think it’s pretty clear that I am not an over-protective, ‘helicopter’ sort of parent. But, I've definitely felt the grip of 'what if?...'

What if I let my child play in the front yard and someone comes by and takes him?
What if I let my child cross the road by herself at the crossing and she gets hit by a car?
What if I let my child ride his bike around the block and he doesn’t come back?
What if I leave my child with a carer and s/he abuses her?

All stomach-plunging events that may or may not happen. I certainly can’t fight the logic of many parents who say “I may be over-protective, but I won’t risk my child’s safety”. However, I’m still not convinced that this is a healthy attitude because I simply do not believe a parent’s only job is to protect their children. Our job is far harder than that. Our job is to teach our children how to protect themselves and to help them develop into well-rounded, confident, content people while they’re at it .

The 'helicopter parent' seems to be a phenomenon of our generation. On the whole we were allowed a lot more freedom as children than we give our own kids. But I know in my heart of hearts, that the world is no more dangerous a place than it was when I was a child. It’s a different sort of place, of course it is. It’s a busier and fussier and larger sort of place. It’s a place full of traffic and people and noise. It’s a place echoed in broadcast so we don’t just know what’s happening in our street but also in a street four countries away. It’s a place of so much information and misinformation that we also know the smallest details about what’s happening in that little street far, far away.

These things are definitely factors that contribute to feeling that our children are more unsafe. But we’ve also become better at seat belts, helmets, soft-surface play, airbags, street crossings, stranger danger, life jackets and car seats. We’re less likely to drive drunk, drive when fatigued or drive when we’re no longer capable. Our childcare workers are background checked, they don’t smoke around our kids, they check on them every 5 minutes when they are asleep to help prevent SIDS and they apply sunscreen every two hours.

Really, we’ve gotten so much better at so many safety issues that what our fears really boil down to are those rare, random events – those stomach plunging, terrifying events - that we foolishly think we can control if we just kept a better watch on our kids. But sadly most abuse, abductions and child murders are committed by family members, not strangers in the big, bad world. A statistical fact that we might want to hide from so we blame 'the unknown'. Yet, if we face up to it, we realise that our best defense is surely setting firm boundaries with our children about what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. Letting them know that they are loved unconditionally. Opening our ears and our hearts when we are listening to the things that they are telling us. Then allowing them the freedom to exercise their own intuition and hone their own self-protective instincts.

We spend our days telling our kids that they are unbelievable human beings with much to offer and our nights telling them that they can slay monsters. But what are we really teaching them? We may think that we keep our worries and stresses away from them, but they are masters of perception and they know, they always know.

Look at the above ‘what if?’ scenarios and ask yourself what your child is thinking.

There are monsters in our front yard waiting to pounce on me.
I’m not capable of looking out for myself.
I can’t be trusted to make decisions.
People want to hurt me.
I need to be fearful.

I don’t know about you, but I think this sort of inner-dialogue is too high a price to pay for ‘safety’. You can’t always be ‘safe’, but you can be confident, assertive and resilient in the face of danger. You can learn amazing skills that help keep you from harm. You can discover and challenge your own personal limitations. You can meet life-changing people that you greet with a friendly smile. You can be open to trying new things, maybe on your own, definitely when you’re ready. You can know that you are the sort of person who can work things out for yourself, formulate a plan, think a new thought, explore a new world. You can be sure that even though challenging things might happen, you are more than capable of rising up to those challenges and conquering your world… with a little help from your loving parents, of course.


Do you think you've found a good balance with your own children? What do you worry about most for your children? Would you like to be less or more protective?

----------------------------------------------------
I rewound this post on 15.1.2011
AMB blog carnival button

Shameful plug time.

I thought I wasn't 'into' these things... but it seems my ego has got the better of me.

So, if you get a moment today, can you please click on the Babble 50 badge, look me up on page 3 (maybe on page 2 if I get lucky today!!) and 'like me'?

Please like me.

7.1.11

This week I'm grateful for... holidays



Holidays. When life eases to a gentle pause. When a quiet moment has meaning. When we allow ourselves the privilege of basking in ourselves. We mosey, we mooch, we maybe. Oh, happiness.


So, this week I'm grateful for...


1. Holidays - of course. Ending too soon as I'm already back at work (but keeping the holiday spirit inside, regardless!).


2. House swaps - we spent a very happy few days in the Pink Fibro last week while Al and her brood came to our place. House swaps with fellow parents are the way to go. There is space, there are toys, there is wipeable furnishings.


3. Leona Edmiston - January sales turn me very shallow very quickly. I snapped up two half-priced Leonas yesterday and I am so in love with myself in them. She really knows how to dress a woman's soft spots.




So, what's making you smile today? Grab my I'm Grateful For... button from my sidebar if you like, add your Grateful post below and please add a link back to me in your post. Then pop over to visit other bloggers who are spreading a little sunshine.  Happy day to you!



[Image via weheartit]

6.1.11

Dealing with Difficult People #3: Negative Nellies


We've tacked Newborns, we've tacked CPs, this week...

You've met Nellie. She's permanently involved in some catastrophe or another but it doesn't matter because the world is going to end tomorrow anyway. She goes on and on and on and on about how awful life is and how thoughtless other people are and how nothing is any good any more. Being with Nellie is like having laser eye surgery - you're awake, you're uncomfortable, you're having your cornea cut open and peeled back.

But there are strategies for dealing with people like Nellie.

1.  Nellie is looking for disagreeable, so agree with her.
It's painful, but it's true. The more you agree with other people the less they talk. Rather than trying to cheer them up (a red rag to Nellie's bull), just agree that it's all so awful. Once you agree, you will soon see that without fuel they have no fire.

2. Distract and divert
Nellie: "Oh, I can't win. The postman is deliberating crumpling up my mail before he puts it in the box..."*

You: "Yes, but it's been beautiful weather for posties, hasn't it?"

Nellie: "He hates me. I can see him next door getting the mail out ready to ball it up..."

You: "Speaking of balls, I had the nicest dessert last night..."

Nellie: "Really, dessert? What did you have?"

It really does work.

3. Surprise and delight
If every time you see Nellie she launches into a diatribe, cut her off at the chase. Bring along a bunch of flowers, a punnet of strawberries, a small notebook for her to jot down her interesting thoughts... Just a little something 'just because'. Thoughtfulness is appreciated by everyone, but particularly by our Negative Nellies.

4. Counter-attack
Nellie: "That Mary is so thoughtless, she never rings me, I always have to ring her."

You: "That's funny, she always calls me."

Nellie: "Why doesn't she ring me then? I knew she didn't like me."

You: "Oh, she really likes you. She said just the other day how nice it is that you always call."

Sock it to 'em.

5. Pollyanna her into silence
If number 1 isn't working, do the opposite. For every negative, express a positive.  Negative Nellies hate Pollyanna so it works a bit like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. You'll soon find she moves onto less negative fare if she suspects that a positive might be coming straight after.

Know any Negative Nellies? Any coping tips to share with us all?

*  I wish this was imaginary but, alas, I have actually suffered through a convo about the mean postman. I need to widen my circle of friends, obviously!

[Image by Suse Bauer - check out her Revoluzza monsters!]
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Please also take some time today to send powerful thoughts of healing to Lori's husband. Godspeed, Tony.