Sunday, 3 May 2015

Dealing with death

Flying between Kathmandu and Pokhara in March
The news in our city for the past week or so has been nothing but death and despair.

After our wonderful trip to Nepal, Nugget and I and the rest of our family have been attentively watching the aftermath of the devastating earthquake on April 25. 7.8 on the Rikter scale. 1500, 3000, 6600 people dead and many more injured. The death toll rises daily. And the after-shocks continue. People are unsafe, have no clean water and limited food supplies. Their beautiful country has become a pile of rubble and ancient temples and protected buildings have been lost. And the monsoon approaches. RIP lovely Nepali people and visitors.

Two Australians were executed on April 29 in Indonesia for the part they played in the Bali Nine incident. They were not innocent men but they had their lives senselessly taken from them. We heard graphic details as the media counted down their final hours. The children asked why a government was allowed to shoot a person and we scooted around the topic of capital punishment. It made no sense to them. It makes no sense to me. Two more deaths to add to the weeks tally. RIP Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

In Baltimore, Freddy Gray, a 25 year old black man, died in police custody on April 19 from injuries sustained while being transported in a police vehicle. A completely unnecessary death. Riots ensued with several police injured and many protestors arrested. Six police officers have now been charged for the crime that they committed. RIP Freddy Gray.

With all this in the news, the children have been asking many questions about death. Dew Drop has been particularly sensitive and concerns himself daily with the question "Am I going to die today".

We take opportunities where we can to teach our children about the world around them and the cycle of life. It has been hard to side-step the tough questions this week. Here's to a brighter week next week.

How have your children coped with all the death in the media this week?

Monday, 20 April 2015

Namaste Nepal

I flew over the Himalaya when I was returning from Germany in 1992. I saw the sun rise over that vast mountain range and it was a sight I have never forgotten. I've always wanted to experience it from the ground.

Nugget and I fulfilled the dream last month. We took ourselves to trek in the Annapurna Ranges in Nepal, with our friends Kate and Jack #mumandsondonepal*.

Spending two weeks in Nepal was absolutely amazing. Amazing. It is a beautiful country, full of contrasts. The cities are chaotic, and noisy; the country side steep, angular and crafted. We had spectacular weather for the most part and enjoyed six days walking along the trails, through villages, tea houses, as well as forests, across rivers and in open spaces. We shared the trails with other trekkers along with the Nepali people, buffalos, donkeys, cows, goats, chickens, dogs and birdlife.

Here is a smattering of snaps that I took along the way...
Sunrise over Kathmandu
Buddhartha Stupa, Kathmandu

Trekking in the Annapurna foothills - Annapurna South

Walking towards Landruk

Another view of Annapurna South

Crossing a river on a rickety swing bridge


Rhododendron forest near Tadapani

On approach to Ghandruk

Leaving Ghandruk

Sunset in the Chitwan NP

Rhino spotting in the Chitwan

While we had so much fun and there are so many little stories to tell, two experiences will stay with me forever in my heart. The first was watching the sun rise over the Annapurna range from Dhampus on a chilly morning; and then walking through the ancient Rhododendron forest near Tadapani taking in the scent of the wild flowers (including rhododendron, daphne, and magnolias) and complexity of the thousand year old eco-system. Both experiences touched my soul.

Finding 1:1 time with any one of my children has always been a challenge for me, but this two week quarantined time together with Nugget was a real connector for us. It highlighted everything I have always hoped was true; we are doing okay as parents. This kid is fun, intelligent, warm and, surprisingly, determined. He is alright. We are alright.

I am so grateful for the time we had in Nepal. It was the most centering experience I have had in a long time and reminded me to look around. Be mindful. Trust in nature. Trust in myself.

* That is not an actual thing by the way but it should be. It should be.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Ten years of parenting

I saw this thing on Facebook the other day: "Getting your baby to sleep in 40 seconds". That'd be right I thought. After all my years of trying to get non-sleepers to sleep, they have now discovered the 'solution'.

I don't normally click through those links anymore. I am past the baby years, but I was curious, so I had a look. I was more than a little excited to read from the comments that it doesn't actually work. That may sound be mean but if you could only have seen the amount of bum-pat-101 that I endured, you'd be mean too.

The fact that people tried the miracle sleep technique is indicative of the fact that not much has changed in the past 10 years since I started having babies. Babies still suck and they still don't come with a manual. Parents would do just about anything to get their children to sleep. In fact, they'd do just about anything for their children full stop.

My eldest baby is about to be 10. He's dealing with the double-digit thing*; I'm dealing with the fact that for the past 10 years I have been a Mum. I still don't know much about this parenting gig. Every day we fudge our way through, hoping that we are heading in the right direction.

I do know that I am glad that we ended up having kids, even if we didn't really plan them, when we did. Those four people are the best four people we could have hoped to make.

I know that you can't really plan your family, you just get what you get. This was my mantra during the twin pregnancy.

I know that you know you're done when you're done and you don't feel done before then. I am 100% done.

I know that you're own kids are not like Other People's Kids. OPKs are far less tolerable in my experience.

I know that you can feel like you can't go on, that you have nothing to give but they still feel loved, included and part of your world. It may be the fact that children are little narcissists and don't notice the needs of those around them, or it could be that you are better at putting your kids' needs before your own, either way, they feel the love.

I can't remember what it was like before four little people started calling me Mum. It feels like the longest decade of my life, but also the shortest. I can't wait to see how they grow and change over the next decade. If it is anything like the last 10 years, I am not equipped to imagine but we are in for a roller coaster ride. The best roller coaster I ever went on.

What have your learnt on your parenting journey?

* He tells me he won't add another number until he is 100 years old. And that is 90 years away. And it is really boring having to wait that long for another digit!

Monday, 29 December 2014

Growing up

Image from here
The school holidays are well and truly upon us. We have had a deliberately quiet couple of weeks; some much needed down time for all. Late nights and late mornings. Messing up and tidying the house several times a day. Numerous Lego constructions, craft projects and backyard cricket matches.

I have been on a rampage of sorts too. I've thrown several bags of stuff out of the house (to make way for the Christmas influx) and de-cluttered all the paper hot-spots. All to the sound of wrestling matches and bickering from 'bored' children.

Most days have involved an activity out of the house; mainly swimming. Today I took the kids to the new pool. All four of them. All on my own. I am largely unscathed by the experience too.

I swam with them for much of the time and had my turn on the water slide*. But as I supervised them poolside with a book in my hand, I realised something. They have actually learnt to swim (even the ones I thought never would). They have also learnt to look out for each other and to play together and to have oodles of fun together. It is just fabulous.

There were times when I actually wondered when I would see the light at the end of the tunnel. Today I realised that there is not only a light but I have made it through the tunnel. The other side looks pretty damned peachy.

* I was the only adult on the slide. The kids couldn't understand why I only had one turn when it was so-much-fun. I felt like a slow-learner.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Dear John

One minute it was April and then it was December! The year has flown. Don't you think!? 

I have barely blogged this year and I feel so sad that all the tiny little memories from the year have slipped by unrecorded. I want to write it all down but already I have forgotten. The little stories. The funny one-liners. The things that let you see the trees in the forest.

So here are a few of the bigger things. They will make no sense to anyone but me, but they will be there. A forever reminder of the year that was...
Back to work full time.
Brown became purple, white became red.
The bed that rolled. And rolled and rolled.
The plans were finalised, the green light was given.
Happy 10 in Blackheath.
A wildly endured 50 and reunion with my long lost friend, asthma.
Al's baby launched into the world.
The astronaut, 60s rocker, little red vest and bossy ballerina.
Two critical thinkers, an English champ and a little boy lost.
52 of your closest friends for a disco celebration.
A cricket tragic was born.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Tipping the balance

Image from here
I went back to work full time in February. You might note this correlates with a complete dirth of blog posts. The balance has definitely tipped with the "work" in work/life balance taking the lion's share. There's something about having somewhere to be five days a week that cuts into your 'me' time.

My return to work full-time has had an unplanned consequence. I've entered another 'I don't know how you do it' stage which, quite honestly pisses me off. 

It is usually one of two types who try to turn me into a super-woman.

Exhibit A: Those who are lead equally ludicrous lives who want to engage in a 'busy off' and 
Exhibit B: Those who are barely coping with their extra commitment to look after a friend's bird for three weeks because it cuts into their routine.

Any way you look at it, it is tiresome and unnecessary.

Monday, 28 April 2014

The story of Chip

Nugget has always been called Nugget. All the nicknames I use on the blog are real. My poor children are actually called Doo Dah, Dew Drop, The Minx and Nugget in real life too.

When he was a little fella, Nugget was a very chubby bubby. He ate like a champion and did absolutely nothing to expend the energy. He had roll upon roll in that delightful way that babies do.

We called him the human speed hump as he parped around contemplating the world and his place in it. He was early to talk and late to walk and his Nuggety goodness clung to this thighs while he sat on his nappy-clad butt and whooped.

Nowadays Nugget is a far cry from being a chubby bub. He has just turned nine and is a string bean. Tall and thin in a boney way. He doesn't eat much, unless it is fried. If it is fried, he'll have a whole plateful. Needless to say, he doesn't eat a plateful all that often.

He asked me the other day, as he slid into his brother's size seven jeans, why he is called Nugget. "Is it because I love eating Nuggets?" he asked.

I told him he'd been Nugget well before he'd ever fallen in love with a nugget. I explained about his chunky baby goodness. After a bit he said, "You know Mum. I don't think I should be called Nugget anymore. I think I should be called Chip".

Meet Chip. Formerly Nugget. Aged 9. Loves reading, karate, Cubs and playing the trombone. Wants to be an author when he grows up (so he told his class in his recent Topic Talk). Pictured here with Uncle B while fishing at Husky. If you look carefully you might just spot the brim that he caught.

Sunday, 27 April 2014


The Geege awoke in the middle of the night and crashed and banged down the dark hallway, in a hurry. I awoke to him crying out "It's got Fluffy! Fluffy's dead". I raced towards the scene of the crime to see a pile of blood stained feathers.

"What was it?" I asked, standing completely still with my hand over my month. Immediately traumatised. Immediately wondering how we would break the news to Doo Dah. "Where are the others?"

"A massive feral cat. Third generation at least", the Geege responded without the slightest hint of a joke. "It got them all."

We went about cleaning up the backyard. There were feathers and parts of birds everywhere. It made me a little sick and very, very sad. Our poor chickens had met their death. It was brutal.

"Oh God! What are we going to tell the kids?" but before a plan could be generated, we heard a noise. The Geege turned on his heel, a look of pure determination in his eye. "It's still here!" he said. He turned a whiter shade of Bear Grylls before my eyes and set off in the direction of the noise.

But it wasn't the predator, it was its prey. Fluffy. The slightly nutty leghorn. She had somehow survived the jaws of her killer.

She was always skittish. She now has a full-blown mental health condition. She is tetchy. Anxious. We frightened her near to death trying to catch her to protect her from the return of the cat. She spent a few days in our laundry, laying beautiful eggs like clockwork. Each egg brought a tear to my eye.

Our dear neighbours have now kindly taken her into their flock. A crazy chicken can't live alone. So now she has a new gang to peck her and steal her food. She feels right at home.

RIP Shadow and Rainbow. And long live Fluffy.
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