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The sad child

When I left Cappers at school this morning she was crying her sweet little heart out. She didn't know why.

Inside I was crying even harder. I had a job to go to this morning and I couldn't stay to be with her. I walked her down to the assembly line, told her I would wait right over there until after assembly and then watch as she went to class.

"Everything is going to be okay, sweetheart," I said. "The day has only just begun."

Leaving a sad child is the hardest thing. Not having the time to sit them down and get to the bottom of what's troubling them. Life can be so overwhelming for little people (and for big!), it feels a bit like abandonment to walk away. Leaving them struggling on their own like that.

I told her teacher that she was suddenly sad, that she had been okay until the bell rang. When I left her she was holding hands with her teacher being lead off to class, her face stricken. My darling Cappers, I thought. She's not a big hand-holder, she must really be feeling low.

And off I walked, a little bit teary myself. Lost and adrift. I waited for a phone call all day, but none have come.

I'm off to collect her now. When we get home, I will sit her down and try to talk to her about this morning. Hopefully she will look at me like I'm a little bit crazy. I can't even remember this morning, she will say incredulously, give me a hug and skip off to play.


How do you support your sad child?

[Image by David Urbanke]


52 Weeks of Grateful: Bedtime

My Kidspot Village Voices Grateful prompt this week is 'Bedtime' and I confess I find it such an irresistible topic that I'm going to write about it here as well.

As you know, when you go through the big life-change that is Having Babies, many friendships are put to the test. My abiding friendship with Bedtime has been one of those tested. We used to be best buddies, Bedtime and I, but these days we don't seem to have anything in common. I still love her, I really do, but I can't seem to find the time for her any more and she just doesn't understand that I've got other priorities. Besides, these new friends I'm hanging out with, they don't like her very much at all and as much as I love Bedtime, I kinda love my new friends more. Me and Bedtime these days, well, it's... awkward.

Despite that, this week I'm grateful for...

236. Bedtime - one day my new friends will love you as much as I do and we'll get back together. I promise.

237. Time out - for both me and my 'new friends'.

238. Remembering - this was the first year that we didn't see an Anzac Day parade. We all missed that chance for reflection, although I think the important thing to remember is that the fight for freedom goes on every single day. Then, now and into the future. Maybe one day we will really be free.

Yep, I've got (even) more to say about the divine Bedtime over at my new Kidspot Village Voices home. I'd love to see you there. I even get to reply to your cherished comments. Exciting!

Do join our beautiful Grateful community by adding your post to the list below (please add a link back to our list here or at Kidspot Village Voices). Stop by and visit as many of the links as you can - it's a lovely way to spend some time. Happy week to you! x

[Image by Lissy ElleLaricchia]


Conflicted inside the box

I think my 'nasty streak' (as my Mum always calls it, hi Mum!) has been let out to play a bit too much this week. A lot of bagging has been going on. 

bagged Pickle's Mum when all she was trying to do was be nice. I bagged engagement photos when all people are trying to do is make something special to celebrate their love. I even boasted  about calico bags.

And that's just the bits I've written down on my blog.

I know we are all just a bundle of contrasts and complications, but sometimes I just want the nasty streak to go away. It would make life a little bit less interesting, but a whole lot more sweet. I want to be kind and thoughtful and considered in everything I do, not just some things.

It reminds me of all the contradictions that compete inside me every day. Some are big, some are little, but all are a source of great conflict. Sometimes I am paralysed by indecision because half of me wants something about as badly as the other half wants something else.

Outdoorsy / Homebody
Wordly / Naive
Social / Anti-social
Ecclectic / Minimalist
Creative / Rational
Neutral / Bohemian
Extrovert / Introvert

It means that often people have a perception of me that is only a little bit of me, not the whole me. My whole life I have been 'surprising' people. But the only real surprise is that I manage to get anything done at all.

Is this just what personality is?
Do you feel this way?

[Image by Jenni Penni]


Well hello there Miss Sew and Sew

I've been having a lovely time preparing a few decos for Maxi's upcoming farm party. 

There are loads of cutesy farm party ideas around the blogiverse, but my boy is turning eight, not two. I'm going for more of an organic theme.

The simplest of bunting. I couldn't see myself having much use for hessian bunting after the gig, so I put as small amount of effort into it as possible. I poked holes in two corners of the gingham with the tip of my scissors and strung some jute through. Did the same with the hessian, only I didn't even need to poke holes.

Bunting done.*

I used florists' 'stretchy' paper (it probably has a name) to make the leaf garlands. A friend had made something similar for me years ago and I tried to replicate it but add my own twist. I used the same jute, cut back-to-back leaf shapes in the stretchy paper, tied it onto the jute. It's very pretty and after the party I think I'll string it up above the bed along with the wicker heart.

Garland done.

This is the bit I'm excited about. I've never sewed anything except bunting (straight line, no biggie) since my mandatory eighties high school pillowcase. I even had to get my friend to help me make the monsters. So making 23 little calico bags for the party lolly bags is a big deal for me. 23! All made by me! LOML told me they "look like they're supposed to". Can't ask for more than that.

I couldn't follow the tutorial I chose and wound myself up in knots (literally). It's obviously just me as there are a plenty of 'thank you for the easy to follow tutorial' in the comments section. For shame. Not to worry, I was freaking out a bit and then I just thought 'it's a bloody bag for lollies, forcryingoutloud. Just put it together'. So I did.

Can you even read my writing? You might like to go back to the 'easy to follow' tutorial that I couldn't follow...

Next I need to design all the little paper sign-y bits that will tie the party together. Better get a move on!

Have you been working on something creative lately?

* Can we just talk for a minute about that horrendous white stormwater pipe that the plumber stuck in my garden a few weeks ago. I'm going to cover it with mulch, but seriously, he couldn't bury it a couple of centimetres? It's all I can see...


Not a post about a farm

Maxi selected a visit to 'the farm' as one of his 'Happy Ticket' good behaviour rewards.* We love the farm, had a great day out and his little friend Pickle** got to come along as part of the reward.

Despite appearances, this is not a post about the farm.

This is a post about the fact that I told Pickle's mum that I'd pack a picnic for all of us but when I went to pick Pickle*** up, his mum handed over a shopping bag full to the brim with 'snacks'. A 20 pack of those assorted chips you can get, a 10 pack of Tiny Teddies, a 6 pack of apple and blackcurrant juice and a 20 pack of Freddos.

Seriously. There was me, Cappers, Maxi and Pickle. And 56 individually wrapped snack foods.

I explained that I had packed plenty of food for the day and tried to give the bag back, but she wasn't having a bar of it.**** She said it was a 'thank you gift' for taking Pickle. What could I say to that? So, off we trotted***** to the farm with enough food for a party of 20 and absolutely no idea what just happened there.

I now have 52 individually wrapped snack foods (we caved and each ate a Freddo) in my pantry that we absolutely don't need. But what do you do with them?

Is this usual behaviour?
Did Pickle's Mum go overboard with the 'thank you's?
Would you buy junk food for another family?
Just wondering...

* I'll do a post on our lovely little reward system shortly.
** Not his real name. Hopefully that was obvious.
*** Pick pickle - now I wish I'd chosen a different name for him.
**** No pun intended.
***** See above.


Wondering about: engagements

A handful of things I'm wondering about engagements...

Thing 1: When did engagements get to be as big as the wedding?

Thing 2: When did the engagement photoshoot become an essential component of a romance?


Thing 3: And exactly when was it decided that the engaged couple should don vintage style clothing, pack a wicker hamper and make eyes (or lose their eyes) at each other in a field?


OMG, how did those two posey boofs get in here?

Because 'in my day' (yes, I'm going there), the boys would not have been up for this gig at all. Not at all.

We would have had buckleys of getting them into the required clothes, let alone the necessary pose. And, is it my imagination, or do the men in these shots generally look a little... awkward? No wonder most of the heads are cut off...

[Source] - and I urge you to click through to see these two in their swimmers. Oh, yes they did!

What did you do for your engagement?

I've temporarily put on hold our 'Dear Agony Aunts' idea. Lots of reasons. Emotional wreckage due to email overload with lots of dilemmas out there being one. Stay tuned.

[Main photo from here]


52 Weeks of Grateful: Fresh starts

Have you seen Grateful's new home at Village Voices? I just love it. It's less cluttered and more like my blog. I feel very comfy there and hope you all will too. The conversations are fun and it's making me think that I need a new commenting system here on Maxabella loves... Hmmm... any suggestions?

Now, the Wordpress platform that Village Voices uses doesn't show our linky list, but it does support it, so you can click through and link up from there if you prefer. The Grateful post and list will go live on Village Voices on Fridays at 10am. So, a new day and time. I'll still be doing my own post here at 9pm on Fridays and I hope you'll join me each week for some grateful loving.

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

233. Fresh starts - I've enjoyed being Grateful with Kidspot so far this year and Village Voices is hopefully going to take it to a whole new level.

234. Feedback - The shit hit the proverbial for a couple of our blogging buddies this week. Regardless of what you thought of 'the article' and 'the aftermath', I think we can agree that one of the great things about blogging is the instant feedback. I actually encourage all kinds of feedback - positive, negative or even the 'mehs'. Rather than the 'vote with your feet' mentality, I'd rather hear what people really think. It's important to hear it, I think it gives proper perspective.

235. Verbosity - Tagging on with this and further to point 233 above*, I'd be grateful for your feedback and suggestions on how we can grow this little community of ours. What do we need to do to make it even better?

Yep, we're positively glowing with beige over at Kidspot this week... 
and, er, discussing the merits of Hogs Bristle. Come say 'hi'!

Do join our beautiful Grateful community by adding your post to the list below (please add a link back to our list here or at Kidspot). Stop by and visit as many of the links as you can - it's a lovely way to spend some time. Happy week to you! x

* You can imagine how appalling my Uni essays were!

[Image via Flickr. The grammar in this picture is doing my head in.]


Weaving love hearts

I cut back the wandering wisteria vines a couple of weeks ago and then I thought, "Look at all those long strips of vine. I know, I'll weave a love heart for the chicken coop." As you do.

So I got busy stripping the leaves and then even busier weaving the vines together to make a rather lopsided heart. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

It's gigantic.

I like it so much I think I'll keep it for myself. I'll hang it above my bed when we change bedrooms (yes, the room change I reported was happening 'in about a month' last July has still not actually happened). The chickens can have something else!

What creative stuff are you working on right now?


Self-induced Annoying Things (SAT)

Some days life just seems to be exclusively made up of self-induced annoying things (SAT). Little annoyances that happen day in, day out that are actually all your own fault and entirely avoidable. It's like you want SAT in your life for reasons perplexing and inexplicable.

To whit.

Every time I walk past my laundry door the hem of my shirt catches on the door handle. The shirt stretches for a second and then sproings (it's the only word that adequately describes it) me to a halt. I can't tell you how annoying this is, but even though I've promised myself that I'll change the door handle to a knob any day now, I've been sproinging to a halt for four years now and there is no end in sight.

It's raining and we have to exit through the garage because when it rains even just a little bit, the gutters overflow so much that using the front steps is like ducking under a waterfall. A quick de-clutter with a broom would clean those gutters right out, but alas it seems I prefer believing that my front steps are set in a Bounty bar commercial if Bounty bar commercials were set in the pouring rain.

The freezer drawer has come off its hingey thing and I cannot seem to bring myself to fix it. It would take about a minute, but instead I would prefer to wrestle wildly with the drawer every time I open the freezer which is more often than you would expect.

Ditto the dryer. It's been off the wall for about a year now and takes up all available laundry space but I am bafflingly unmotivated to fix it. I would prefer to fall over it every time I enter the laundry which is also more often than you would expect and please do remember that falling over the dryer happens right after the door sproinging incident. Doing the laundry is risky at my place.

All of the above, all my own fault.

You might think that writing this all down now would have me thinking 'that's it, I'm going to go and fix these four things that give me grief every day (three on sunny days)', but you would be wrong. Instead I am thinking, 'hmmmm, Bounty bar' and eyeing off the leftover Easter chocolate. Some people will never learn.

What little annoyances are you entirely responsible for at your place?

Edit: 1.5.2012 - I added this post as the April Post of the Month. Hello if you're visiting from Felicity's!

[Image found here]


Wood chop missed

We hit up the Royal Easter Show yesterday. It was exactly the same as last year - daisy dukes (now with added Vans sneakers!), fairy floss and... no wood chopping.

No wood chopping.

Wood chopping finished on Sunday and we were there Monday. I can't even begin to describe my disappointment when we bounded over to the Wood chop Stadium and it was empty of both wood and the men that chop it. I am not at all embarrassed to admit that I actually had tears my eyes and was very grateful when LOML bought me a Bertie Beetle bag to try to make up for it.

Bertie Beetle is good, but he's not a patch on my axemen.

Wood chop and I go way back. My dad used to take us to stand-alone events down the south coast. You know you're hardcore when the chopping isn't even attached to an agricultural show. This was back in the day when Big Dave Foster was in his prime and a man his size had somewhere to go. A bunch of burly blokes, a ridiculous amount of hard wood and shiny axes kept in worn leather-with-gaffer-tape-detailing cases.

At yesterday's Show, I missed sitting in the sun listening to the calm, crackling voice announce the next event; both voice and words from another time with an accent all their own. The rhythm of the axe beats a steady tune that the axemen waltz to - one side of the wood and turn, the other side of the wood and done.

The heat of the sun makes me woozy, but the fairness of the handicap system and the championing of the underdog makes me positively delirious. We clap home the last place getters and stand and cheer when the little lads get in and have a go. Grandfather to father, father to son, son to us. Under the spell of the toughest of men fighting it out to stand gentle in victory and steady in defeat.

Standing block, tree felling, underhand, double buck. White pants baggy and smeared with god knows what, but the singlet is neatly tucked and the hand that shakes his opponents is clean and honest. Big, calloused hands that can fell a tree with eight sharp blows. Respectful, timeless, quiet.

Yes, I missed the wood chop yesterday for it's a place and a time I don't get the chance to visit often enough. Life at the pace of a heart beat with more beating heart than anything else I know.

Do you like the wood chop?
What other activities give you that sense of timelessness and connection?

[Image by Michael Janik]


The tortoise and the conveyor belt

My worst nightmare is a slow check-out chick. There is this one lady at the supermarket I shop at that I avoid at all costs. I don't know how she manages to be three times slower on the scanner than any other checkout chick, but my god the woman is a tortoise.

Every now and then I get her. They'll get me by doing a sudden staff change when I'm next in line in the queue. So, there I am, lined up to get in with the super-fast scanner guy (there is this one guy who scans your stuff so quickly you would swear he was part of the conveyor belt) and all of a sudden, I'm staring at the tortoise.

"Hey, where did Conveyor Belt guy go?" I protest.

"He's on a break," says Tortoise. "He left really quickly."

So, there's the slow scan, but there's also a lot of bag shuffling going on with her. She's one of those operators who uses a two bag system. As soon as you see the Two Bag System being utilised for packing, you should abandon that checkout immediately. They hum and har about which bag the item should go into.

"Well, I put the eggs and the cereal in that bag and then the bag of spinach in the other bag so where is the milk going to go? Wait a minute, if I take the spinach out of here and put it in with the eggs and the cereal then I can start a new bag with the milk. Right, yes, I'll do that but then what can go in with the soft spinach and the eggs? So if I..."

By this stage I've read an entire Better Homes and Gardens and I'm well into the New Idea.

Then there's the issue of sections. See, in the scenario above I would have leapt across the conveyor belt and snatched that spinach right back. See, I've neatly lined up my groceries in sections on the belt so all she has to do is scan in sections, pack in sections so I can unpack in sections and we can all get on with our lives. What does she think she's doing, mixing up the 'vege' with the 'dairy/egg' section? Next thing you know she'll have 'items other than food' going in with the 'condiments slash baking slash other pantry stores' items. My god, what is her problem? Doesn't she wonder why the conveyor belt is so darn organised? Lady, if I wanted my ice cream packed in with my toilet cleaner, I wouldn't have spent the last ten minutes creating a five centimetre gap on the conveyor belt between them. See the gap? See it? The gap means it's a bag change. How hard can it be?

But the worst thing is... oh I can hardly write it... the worst things is when you do the whole EFTPOS thing and there is a pause and they say "do you have Flybuys/ A woolies card / any other stupid loyalty card initiative that is really just a front for finding out as much shit as they possibly can about you so that next time you shop you buy twenty items you don't need rather than the ten you usually buy?' Well, do you?

If I had a card, I would have used the card. I don't need you to remind me every single time I shop that I'm in Coolies and Coolies have a card. Why is the card part of the whole EFTPOS thing anyway? You can't do a simple shop and get away without hearing about the store card.

Interestingly enough, in the 20 years since loyalty programs were introduced to Australia (twenty, really), I have been asked approximately 486,961 times if I have a card yet not a single time have I been shown how to get one (should I wish, which I don't, but just in case)... you have to wonder who dreamed up that genius marketing program.

"Hey, I know, let's ask if they have FlyTrys every time they purchase!"

"Oh, that's good! Better yet, let's make it compulsory for every staff member of Coolies to ask if they have one! It'll be like saying hello and goodbye, only better. Do you have a FlyTrys card? And they'll say 'yes' or they'll say 'no'... won't make a difference either way."

"Yes, but let's really piss people off by never revealing what a FlyTrys card does or even where you can get one."

"Done! It'll be the biggest laugh in the history of marketing. I'm laughing already it's that good."

Love their work. They are slowly killing me every time I shop. Really, really, really slowly killing me, section by bleeding section.

What's your pet peeve at the supermarket checkout?

 [Image of shopper with dead eyes found on weheartit. Please let me know if it's yours as in addition to crediting your work, I would like to swap stories about what supermarkets do to your brain.]


A very hot bath

Maxi has taken to having a 'very hot bath'. By this he means it's hotter than the standard lukewarm dip that he's had for his whole life up until the last week, when 'very hot baths' have become the thing. Who knew that one day the bath water would get warmer?

The good thing about this new obsession is that I can get him into the bath lickety-split. 'Maxi!' I call. "Bath's ready!"

"But Mum I'm just..."

"Honey, if you leave it any longer it won't be a very hot bath any more."

He practically dives in, he's that keen. It's a miracle.

The very hot bath has reminded me of the ridiculous number of 'whens' we parents have to ponder. It starts with when to wean (or probably even before that, but let's start there) and then it goes from there. When to try solids, when to toilet train, when to move to the big bed, when to cry for help, when to start school, when to make the bath water warmer. When.

When, when, when, when, when. The whirl of whens.

How on earth does a baby actually end up a person? All the whens must stack up on top of each other and whoosh, suddenly that baby is deciding the whens for someone else. The whirl of whens and life.

Anyway, just wondering... are you a bath or a shower person? Shower for me, baths for the kids. I don't like baths. Bit boring.  Do your kids have a bath every day? Mine do, but apparently that's not necessary.

And do the whens of life whirl around in your head as well?

Along with every blog you've ever visited, I'm nominated in the Sydney Writers' Centres 'People's Choice' bloggy thingy. It would be really fab to win a SWC writing course so please vote for me if you like me - plead, plead,  love ya, love ya, grovel, right that's done. 


52 Weeks of Grateful: Simple

 Here I sit at Pops' computer, taping away on an unfamiliar keyboard. It's a little bit like wearing someone else's shoes. Comfortable enough, but somehow so wrong.

The strangest thing is to be here writing my blog in a different spot on a different computer and to realise that my blog exists in a different place for each of you reading. That I am there in your living room or study or studio (A studio! You lucky, lucky duck!), but the perception of me is changed by the environment you greet me in. More so by the fact that you are reading me, not hearing or seeing me. I am me, but I have your voice.

Ah, these thoughts are way too big for the holidays.

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

230. Simple thoughts - Until I got started on the 'my blog, your voice' ridiculousness (which, of course, I will revisit at some point because ridiculous is a way of life for me), I was having very simple thoughts all week. What park will we go to today? What's for breakfast? What's for lunch? What's for dinner? What can I do next to fill the time? That was about it. And it's really lovely here in Simple Thoughts World.

231. Boredom - I've not really been bored, per say, but sometimes doing things to fill the time might look a little like boredom. I'm grateful for such indulgence.

232. Potential - I have been here-ing and there-ing about a bit of work coming up. Many opportunities I've been offered have slunk away with their tail between their legs, but maybe something will get up eventually. It all has potential and I am grateful for the varying views of what my world could soon look like.

Don't forget me at Kidspot where I am pondering the importance of being needed. Also a thought that was too big for the holidays, but I thought it anyway and I really like the post.

Do join our beautiful Grateful community by adding your post to the list below (please add a link back to our list here or at Kidspot). Stop by and visit as many of the links as you can - it's a lovely way to spend some time. Happy week to you! x

[Image: Source Unknown. But what we know for sure is that that is not my Dad's computer. No sirree.]


Kidspotting while on holidays

I'm on holidays... I am.

But I posted at Kidspot tonight and I would love you to visit me over there.

To be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness.
Mary Stuart

Happy days to you. Back soon.

[Image by Simply Hue]


52 Weeks of Grateful: Slow

Glorious weather and two school holiday weeks shining ahead. Two school holiday weeks that have not involved mild panic - what to do with the schooless children?

Nope, just me, the kids, a week down the coast and guest appearances by a working husbie.

Could a pig in mud be any happier?

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

227. The slow life - Got the chickens in, I'm distributing seeds, I borrowed these three wonderful books from the library this week. Says it all really.

228. Cousins - my Tsunamis have a very easy, familiar relationship with their six cousins and we can't wait to spend a bit of quality time with them.

229. Sausages - did I tell you we had 19 adults and 27 children here for dinner last Saturday night?

Come over and see me at Kidspot where I'm celebrating technology in general and, of course, the internet in particular. Where were you when you first saw the internet in action?

Join our Grateful community by adding your post to the list below (please add a link back to our list here or at Kidspot). Then visit some of the other lovely link-ups - it's a beautiful way to spend a little time. Oh, and it would be lovely if everyone visited a few of the 'late arrivals'  to the list each week... it's sad to be late and not get any love, don't you think?

[Photo by Tim Coulson]


Yeehaw, it's a farm party invitation

Enjoy the invitations: you can see Max's awesome farm party here.

Farm party invitationGiddy up, folks, we're having ourselves a farm party.

The invites went out at school this morning. Maxi was very anxious about their delivery as it's the first time I've said 'no way, do you think I'm completely insane?' when he wanted to invite every kid in his class. He has invited 11 kids in his class (and combined with assorted cousins and other friends, that's still 25 kids invited to the party because yes, I am in actual fact insane). (Hopefully only half can make it.)

Farm party invitation

The main cause of the worry was about what he'd say to the kids who weren't invited. "You tell them that you aren't allowed to invite everyone and maybe next year," I said crisply.

"What if they cry, Mum?" He replied.

"You tell them you'll give them something to really cry about if they don't stop being little whiners," I said.

"Okay, Mum," he said, relieved that he had a strategy.

Not really. In the end I had no answer to the crying thing, so we enlisted the help of his teacher to safely, and subtly, deliver to the chosen few.

Farm party invitation

I am most excited about the fact that there are four girls on the list. Last year he told me he would rather be run over by a car than invite a girl to his party. He's growing up, my boy.

I so enjoyed making these little seedy farm invitations. I'm looking forward to seeing carrots growing across our suburb come winter. Won't the parents love me!? Oh, and yes, I have indeed designed a logo for my son's eighth birthday party... I probably need to find another job when you think about it. Too much?

What do you think of a 'farm' theme?
I am most excited!

You can see the actual party here.


Family life is loud, man

The number one reason why I am a parent wearing cranky pants is that I can't stand excessive noise.

I wish I was one of those people that can be in the middle of chaos and be calm and peaceful. Like those photos of a couple kissing serenely in the middle of a war zone. I am not that couple.

My husband is loud, my children are loud, our wooden floors are loud. I swear my darling family exist to make sound for no apparent reason whatsoever. Just because they can. Each singing their own made up song, lost in a noisy little world all of their own. They live by the motto 'why whisper when you can blare?' It is like living in a particularly noisy zoo.

The loudest of all are my in-laws. They are Italian and older so things are very loud indeed. The television (which must be on at all times, much like the eternal flame that lights the shrine in the lounge room) is turned up to maximum volume and sits directly behind the kitchen table. We all come together around that kitchen table every Thursday night for a delicious Italian meal and a chat about the week that was. Yes, it sounds utterly charming and it is... about as charming as a fight scene out of Home and Away which just happens to be screeching in the background while nine people plus extras shout over the top of it and each other and repeat everything at least eight times due to the fact that my in-laws are Italian and older and we are competing with the entire cast of Home and Away for their attention.

Ah, family life.

I've spent the past almost-eight years as a parent trying to figure out how to turn the volume down so I can take off the cranky pants. When I go around to the homes of sensible friends who have one child and a no-television policy (except on Mondays at 8pm when the very calm and serene Australian Story is on), I become almost catatonic with the gentleness of it all. I don't want to move a muscle, lest I accidentally pop the silence. Especially if they have carpet. The combination of one child and carpeted floors is enough to make me feel like a much nicer person immediately.

I don't have the answer to how to make a house full of three kids, four chickens, a television, a Sonos surround-sound stereo system, a Wii, a laptop, an iPad, two iPhones, three iPods, a ringing telephone, an Italian husband and wooden floors be as zen as a one child, carpeted abode, but I'm working on it. Until the day I die (deaf and hoarse and probably still wearing my crankies), I will be working on it.

How well do you tolerate the noise of life?

[Image via weheartit - please let me know if it's yours. Even Tineye returned zero results on this one.]


A parent of the whole world

Elisa wrote a beautiful post for Grateful this week. As I read it, a memory sparked in me that was so powerful that I had to pause to catch my breath.

It is 2004 and Maxi is seven weeks and two days old. My whole body is feeling raw and tender with sleep deprivation and birth complications and the business of parenting a baby that cries and cries and cries and then smiles like a firework has burst into the night sky.

I was dozing on the couch, my baby nestled at the breast. We had been there for more than an hour; he was a very slow feeder, it's true. I was lulled by those breastfeeding hormones; dizzy with gentleness.

Something on the news about an under-age driver killed going 140km in a 60 zone. I sleepily thought of his parents and the anguish they must be feeling. The appalling, screeching, screaming anguish. And then suddenly I realised that I knew that anguish, I felt it because it was my painful, heavy anguish too. I felt all-at-once connected to that family in a way that was visceral and real. My heart was there for them, carrying their heart across their unbearable pain.

And ever since, whenever something is happening that sparks emotion in me - good or bad - I feel that connection. It is like I am the parent of the whole wide world. That the fragile world is sheltered by the love I have for my children and the care I pull across them night and day.

I am here and I am feeling and I am in you just as you are in me. We are all the parents of this world and together we keep watch. Together we carry each and every one of us across the pain and into a smile like a firework that has burst into the night sky.

[Image by Brendan Howard]