On bullying, swear words, beautiful music, kids and honey badgers (Part I)

That’s some kind of heading, huh? It all started whilst I was pondering stuff in the shower and thought I’d better get some of this stuff written down. So here’s my shower brain dump, people! Read on if you will.

It was in the shower that I was listening to a song that’s been on high rotation round these parts over the past few months. Caught in the Crowd, by Brisbane’s ahmaaazing Kate Miller-Heidke is a song which should be played in every school once kids hit the upper years of primary and into secondary.  It’s the poignant tale of a girl who, bound up in the cruel and cool layers of high school hierarchy, fails to assist a boy who is a victim of bullying, then regrets it in later life. It’s also a beautiful song in its own right; this lady is opera trained and has the voice of an angel!  Listen here.

I have three gorgeous kids who attend a beautiful school with a very sound model on bullying.  But that’s not enough.  We parents need to be continually making more time to create kids who have empathy along with that overused but necessary word, resilience.  Let’s face it though, if we all had more empathy by golly it’d lighten the load, no?  I’m an educator and I’d have this song in my classroom as a study piece for sure.  As a parent I’m doing my darnedest to keep that conversation going. I have the strongest need to teach my kids to respect and admire everyone’s differences and to sometimes bat for the underdog.  There are so many children out there who don’t ever seem to have lost their egocentric natures, which are to be expected during toddlerhood. This morphs and creates a myriad of other issues as they grow. This is so sad for both themselves and those around them.  I’m not naïve and know it’ll get trickier as my brood gets older, but I’m prepared and armed!!! Hope this doesn’t sound preachy; heck, I’m not perfect nor are those around me; who is?  These are just my observations as a teacher and a mother, and I just want to give out another little tool which might prompt a discussion between parents and kids.

So as soon as I was captured by the beauty of this song and its powerful message it was promptly downloaded and played to my kiddies (11,9 and 7…..I don’t think you can ever be too young for such messages).  They adore the music and it has created amazing discussion in our house.  There’s always music playing at our house, and when on high rotation that stuff sinks in! My eldest was tested the other day when she received a friend request from one of the less popular boys in her year level. I was proud of her response. I was grateful that we had this song as a reference point, too!

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Just keep on doing this, kids. You’ll be alright.

As I write this, gorgeous blogger Ruth of Gourmet Girlfriend comes to mind.  She and her husband have a wonderful parenting philosophy, and together they’re raising five beautiful sons on a cocktail of love, brilliant food, tunes, hard work and fun.  There are days I’d like to live there too. If you’ve not already done so, go visit her. You’ll come out all the richer for it!

* I discovered Kate Miller-Heidke through Janine of Shambolic Living.  She’s a lovely, great humoured mum of two teenage girls, and the story of how she managed to get them to the Kate M-H concert is really a post worth reading!!

It was a veery long shower….and we don’t have mains water round these parts. It’s either rainwater or it has to be trucked in. So I may be in trouble if the hubs reads this. There’s so much more that I’m going to have to turn my shower brain dump into a Part II; then we can get stuck into the honey badgers, I can’t wait!! Stay tuned…….

 

Have you ever used music as a tool?

How are you travelling with discussions with your offspring?

On Husbands and Vacuuming

Disclaimer: I have a wonderful husband.  He is a magnificent provider and family man.  He is the handiest man on the planet and if he ever disappeared off the face of the earth I’d rather burn my eyes out with hot pokers than pair up with a non-handy man.  Or any other man, really (but for, maybe, Jon Snow); this man is too good.  Except for one little matter……

Jon Snow. Say no more. Image sourced from www.gameofthrones.wikia.com

Jon Snow. Say no more.
Image sourced from
http://www.gameofthrones.wikia.com

I’m not a fan of housework…..who is, really?  We have a dear old house set in the middle of picturesque paddocks in the lovely mallee district.  Set just metres from our humble abode is a large dam, surrounded by agapanthus plants, banksia roses and lanky gum trees which house possum families, herons, kookaburras and other assorted wildlife.  Idyllic.  In summer time, this dam also becomes a meeting ground for millions of miniscule flying insects.  They find the warm glow of the lights of our house irresistible.  They slip neatly through the screen doors with incredible ease. They die in the most convenient of places.  Around all internal doorways in droves, on the kitchen benchtop; wherever they darn well feel like it, really.

In summer time, the big black spiders which hide away for the rest of the year decide to show themselves around the cornices in the least used rooms, spinning their decidedly sticky webs – the equivalent of fortified castles, impossible to remove without a fuss.

In summer time, the hot mallee wind stirs up the dusty paddock topsoil and carries it for miles.  That mallee dirt loves coming in for a cuppa and a chat.  It graces the floors and window sills, reminding us always of where we live.

In summer time, the dog and the cat (yes, we’re soft, they are inside dwellers) get hot and decide that their fur coats need to be reduced by half.  With an air of don’t care and great nonchalance they roll around in every perceivable corner of the house, eliminating these coats.  I’m sure they only shed their black hair on the white furnishings and vice versa, so immensely talented are they.

Yes. I'm talking about you.

Yes. I’m talking about you.

In summer time, the kids are home.  School holiday grime. Need I say more?

By now, I can picture your thoughts.  “This woman is a saint to put up with all this!”….or “She is slightly unhinged”. Finally, “Boy, she must have a great vacuum cleaner!”

Here are the answers to the above:

A. Yes, she is most definitely a saint! Naturally.

B. Yes. I’ve always been unhinged. I prefer it that way, it’s how I roll.

C. NO! I have the crappest vacuum cleaner that ever existed.

Several years ago, things weren’t so dire.  We had a cat ‘n’ dog style vacuum which did an adequate job, along with my pride and joy, a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner which daily saved my bacon. He (yes, we personified him!) sadly had a major health scare when we renovated the house and his battery was allowed to go flat for several months.  He has never been the same since.  Mind you, he had a hard life and was pretty shagged prior to this.  Anyone trying to keep our place clean is bound to suffer some form of mental health issue.  Poor little blighter, we only call on him occasionally as he is most certainly semi-retired.

So, the cat ‘n’ dog vac eventually exploded, and the $69 Aldi vacuum was purchased as a quick fix whilst I perused the vacuum ranges on offer.  Trouble is, that Aldi vac did a bloody good job for quite a while there.  The quick fix vacuum turned into the regular vacuum.  Only complaint being, it made a deafening sound, really requiring industrial earmuffs when in operation.  Several years down the track and the darn thing is still going strong.  The helpful, handy hubs has made sure of that. Only there are a few more minor quirks and issues. This, my friends, is what a regular day vacuuming looks like for me.

My nemesis. I swear, looking at it here, it has a little smirking face. Like a chipmunk.

My nemesis. I swear, looking at it here, it has a little smirking face. Like a chipmunk.

1. Wrestle machine out of cupboard and insert hose.  Straighten out the end bit that has been silver gaffa-taped together where said hose is disintegrating. She’ll be right.

2. Plug in. Place industrial strength earmuffs firmly over ears, gently tucking in pearl earrings. All glam like. Push that ON button, hear the engines revving, and with fingers crossed do a quick test run over the carpet. Bugger. Switch machine off.

3. Take the barrel out to the backyard compost heap and empty contents. Extract missing Lego pieces and hair clips from  pile of matted dust, spiders and daughter’s blonde hair. Leave that for the birds to come and find for nesting purposes.

Yeah, gross. Help yourselves, birds.

Yeah, gross. Help yourselves, birds.

4. Journey on to the 40 foot shed. This whole vacuuming adventure is starting to feel like a progressive dinner with none of the perks. Just a few stray chooks and the hound for company. And no food. Hound departs at this point as he knows there’s to be more noise. Turn on the industrial sized air pressure cleaner. Wish that you hadn’t left ear muffs inside.

5.Blast the living daylights out of the filter and the barrel. You don’t want to end up back in here again if you don’t do the job well. Get covered in dust particles in a mad rendition of Frosty the Snowman. Only you end up grey.  The new look won’t be wasted; it’s a hot day, therefore that crap will stick until you decide to shower and wash your grey tresses brown again. Remember to also focus on eyebrows.

6. Drag the whole ensemble back inside and try again. If you’re lucky, really lucky, you’ll complete your mission in under two hours.

The End.

P.S. The top of the pipe has just snatched it. Hubs has fixed it again. I’m off to the electrical shop. Today.

Is your hubby handy?

Have you any vacuum recommendations?

Is anybody out there as crazy as me?

Girl of the Year – in our household, anyway

Almost twelve years ago our household was gifted with a beautiful, blue eyed fair princess.  Our guinea pig child, the first one to pave the way for two more.  Actually that’s a bit inaccurate; we practised on the hound for quite some years.  Almost twelve years ago we had no idea how that time would fly by.  We looked at parents of slightly older children (a whole 5 or 6 years old!!!) and thought how big those kids seemed (and how haggard much older those parents looked – eek), and couldn’t for a moment imagine that we’d be there sooner rather than later.  All of that stuff was forever away.  I blinked.  That little fair princess still has eyes which are a brilliant blue in some lights, fading to a lovely soft grey in others.  She still has milky white skin.  The baldy look has been (thankfully) replaced with the thickest mane of blonde hair.  She’d rather not be called a princess. Oops.

That blonde mane fresh out of its Bali braids earlier in the year.

That blonde mane fresh out of its Bali braids earlier in the year.

She is smart, funny, quirky and strong.  She is sensitive, empathetic and wise.  She has enviable ethics and a sense of social justice possibly beyond her years. She has overcome some big health obstacles and continues to triumph.  She is in her final few weeks of primary school.

Cue helpless inner wailing.  I now look at those parents of school leavers and know that it’s just another blink away.  That’s scary on so many different levels.  But you know what?  I’ve also decided that the kids are pretty perfect at any stage of their growth.  I’m just the privileged one to help them share their journey.  They’ll always be there, just continually morphing into someone bigger and better (I hope!!! No, I know.).  Still wailing on the inner though.

So in a few weeks’ time I’m going to clutch the hub’s arm and walk into that church with sunnies firmly planted and tissues in hand, to witness her graduate and to watch her dance that poignant dance that the Year 6 kids do each year.  God knows I’ve teared up each year for everyone else’s kids, heaven help me.

Wish me luck.  She won’t need it.  She’s just fine as she is.  A perfect specimen.  Our special girl.

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PS Writing now as won’t need another excuse for more soppiness when the time comes.  Send me good luck vibes, people! And virtual wine.

There are some truly awesome people out there

Over the past few years the family and I have faced some major autoimmune health challenges…..more depth another time.  During this time, however, we have swung from expecting the specialists and GP’s to give us the magic cure, to nurturing ourselves more and relying on the pharmacy less.  We’ve never been unhealthy eaters, and I’ve always done my level best to cook from scratch, but with the aid of all the usual culprits from the supermarket.   For the last couple of years we have been listening to our bodies more, and adjusting the food we consume accordingly.  I’ve researched the heck out of nutrition (giving the Heart Foundation guidelines the wide berth they deserve; again, there’s another blog post in that!) and studied gut health, along with sourcing fantastic resources from this marvellous thing we call the internet….including some wonderful bloggers.

Cue Rohan Anderson and Kate Berry.  A very cute couple and dynamic duo who live their passions and walk the talk.  Over the past couple of years I’ve read on with admiration as Rohan grew his blog, Whole Larder Love, as well as his garden, the lifeblood that sustains him and his little family (without the help of any giant supermarket or unethical, processed product).  Rohan’s blog became a book…..same name as blog……and he’s been travelling the world imparting his knowledge and wisdom, conducting workshops in his local area (beautiful Daylesford in country Victoria), tirelessly transporting veggie boxes to share with Melburnians….the list goes on!!

Rohan Anderson's book shares his food philosophy and beautiful recipes.  A feast for the eyes and material for the grey matter to ponder.

Rohan Anderson’s book shares his food philosophy and beautiful recipes. A feast for the eyes and material for the grey matter to ponder.

Meanwhile, Kate (who’s also a kickass photographer) has been Rohan’s biggest supporter and in her own right has established a gorgeous blog, Lunchlady.  In its infancy it was a platform to share wholesome, simple recipes to make their way into children’s lunchboxes, instead of the revolting crap that unfortunately the majority seem to exist on. (I know, I’ve been a teacher, and now I observe with dismay the stuff (it can’t be called food) my children’s friends take to school each day.  Gah, there’s another blog post!! Get off your soapbox, Sarah!!  Anyhoo, Kate’s blog is now evolving into a bigger and if possible, better platform, with a host of cool people sharing all manner of nice and informative stuff about, well, family life, really, and how to make it a nice one!

Now that I’ve given you the lowdown, I want to let you know about this couple’s latest initiative….they really never stop!  The Nursery Project is a labour of love.  They are in the midst of sourcing a parcel of land upon which to build a facility for like-minded individuals to come together, share and learn.  They are focussed on creating “a place where people can get their hands dirty, breathe in some fresh air, talk, sit around a campfire and leave with a new lust for life”.  They will demonstrate “all the skills for growing, raising, curing, preserving, hunting, foraging and cooking real food”.  Wow.  Wouldn’t we all be the better for spaces like this.  It’s heartening to see communities embracing Farmer’s Markets and becoming more aware of the food they put in their mouths.  Spaces such as this are a natural progression aimed at getting people to connect; with each other, with their own selves and nurturing their bodies, and, most importantly, their natural world, which is too often left behind as we go about our daily lives in ever spiralling little circles.

All of this can’t happen without help, and naturally it’s of the financial nature to get this beautiful idea off the ground.  These guys, who as I said earlier, truly walk the talk, need founding partners to help them out!  They’re not millionaires, nor are they going to be as this is a real labour of love.  We’re not millionaires in this household either, but we’ve given what we can….and if enough people contribute, well, little money can grow, can’t it??!  The other way we can assist is by spreading the word, and that’s why I’m here telling you all about it……because great ideas deserve to be shared.

It’s people like these who we need more of in this world.  Just a handful of them balance up all the cruddy things that go on out there.  Actually, I’m an optimist….they actually outweigh all the cruddy stuff and make our world beautiful.

Go on, click on the links……..you’ll leave feeling better!

*especially if you’re Jamie Oliver….they’d love your help!

On hot days and nudie runs

So at the risk of making myself sound like the class clown of Blog land, and of the ‘Raduates Class of October 2014 of Blog With Pip, I’m going to help you guys get to know me a bit more.  Tongue is planted firmly in cheek always, people….. These snippets, however, are true to form and not very embellished at all, I’m sad to say.

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We have a pretty idyllic life, often interrupted by the crazy hound.

Let’s set the scene, here.  We live in the country, and I’m oh so glad that we do.  We have 16 beautiful acres of paddocks, cows and bird life.  I grew up and was educated in Adelaide before making my way with the hubs (about 20 years ago, when he was my hot boyfriend) in pursuit of the country life. We revel in our space and the freedom of neighbours being far enough away that we aren’t hindered or obliged to keep the noise down etc.  Now, there are some days when we still reckon we’re pretty hot, but the day in question wasn’t one of them; not in that sense of the word, anyway.  I was actually red in the face, quite unattractive and sweaty after picking up my little man from Kindergarten one putridly hot November afternoon.  Arriving home at our sanctuary, I flicked on the air conditioner, gave a cursory glance to the laden kitchen bench and the dishes that had been left earlier in the day…..it had been a particularly trying morning; judge me if you will…..and made the very easy decision to have a little sit down on the sofa with the local rag whilst the house cooled down. In a blink I whipped off the pants I had been wearing (who needs them!) and plunged into the comfort of the favourite recliner like a half skinned rabbit, devoid of much covering.

When you live where we do, it’s very rare to get people clamouring at your front door.  Even if somebody does arrive, we have ample warning, for our driveway is a good 400m long dirt road, and you can hear them coming from a mile away….long enough to have a quick stickybeak and attire oneself appropriately.  I had even shut the driveway gate this day, as I didn’t want the ninja pet ducks to go swimming in the adjacent channel, which they treat as their local pool when allowed.  I know you know where I’m heading with this, and it doesn’t end well.

There I was, telly on, pre-schooler happily engaged in ABC Kids after his tiring hot day, and me flicking through the paper, not a care in the world. Until I had the absolute living daylights scared out of me by the sound of the large glass sliding door in our open plan kitchen opening, and a man’s booming voice greeting me cheerily!  Just metres away from me was our neighbour, who agists part of our land.  He has NEVER come to that door before (and never will again, I know!).

The sofa has its back facing the door in question, and it was to an extent my saving grace.

“I’ve got something to show you!”, he said eagerly.

“I’ll bet it’s nothing like what I might be about to have to show you!” was my immediate thought!

I tried to do my level best to seem interested as my mind raced to figure out how to get myself out of this one.  A look of puzzlement descended over his face as I failed to get up off the couch, rather flailing around and attempting to do a casual lean over the top of it.  That failed.  There was nothing for it.

“Um Kevin……I’VE GOT NO PANTS ON!!!”

Well.  That poor man.  I’ve never seen such a double take!  He disappeared out onto our deck, his face hotter than a jalapeno.  I made a run for it, got those pants on and went to see what he had to show me.  (It was, in fact, pretty exciting….a huge dead brown snake which he’d managed to wrap up in a round hay bale in our paddock whilst baling….pre-schooler boy was fascinated).  No matter how I tried to make light of it, poor old Kevin couldn’t see past the embarrassment of it all, so I’ve had to leave it at that.

Just imagine the digs I get now from the family whenever we think Kevin might be at the door.  It’s ok if it’s his dad, Kevin Snr; he has cataracts.

You know what? I still do the same thing to this day.  I just keep some form of coverings at my fingertips!

Am I alone in this?  ‘Fess up, friends!

* I really couldn’t think of any good images to put with this particular post…..so just think about hay bales, ok?

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Go Get ’em, Tiger!

Life’s short, huh! A profound statement, I know. As I get older and inevitably gain some of that wisdom everyone’s always rabbiting on about, I’m finally taking those life dreams and slotting a few into place. I’ve got my work cut out for me, people! But you know what? This past year, little by little, I am starting to see some payoffs.

Without question, the biggest and best thing I’ve ever achieved and have complete happiness in is my little family. I can quite honestly say that I’m ever so content. If I never did anything else, then that’d be ok. Except for the niggling voices in my head. The ones that say I could do so much more. Darn those voices! They also whisper to me that I need to keep inspiring my offspring, and demonstrating through my actions that to have a meaningful existence they need to both pursue their passions and to be wonderful, decent human beings with compassion and empathy in spades.

Growing up, I was always encouraged to do my best. Just like kids were in most of the nice surrounding, leafy green suburbs. The times were conservative (God, I’m starting to sound like a fossil!), and the parents of our generation generally had a job for life. It was all about security. So, for the likes of a pretty smart kid like me, careers advice was all about something well paying and respectable. When it was determined that perhaps Veterinary Science wasn’t going to be my forte; I was a wordsmith, not a scientist…then university entry hopes were steered more to the arts/law category. Aspirations towards journalism were frowned upon (too competitive, never safe) and arty farty crafty stuff too (you can do better than that with your brain). Despite great marks, I chose to start with an Arts degree, which then morphed into a nice safe teaching degree. It has served me well over the years….I do have a genuine love of children and have a passion for their wellbeing.

Trouble is, I’ve still been left searching for that perfect fit. The one I think many people never find. That’s not going to be me! After a loooong break in scheduling to raise those aforementioned brilliant offspring, I’m starting to fraternise with people who inspire me. People who have similar interests and ambitions. I’m pushing my slightly introverted self to make new friends. Hopefully they’ll glean something out of me, too! Those all famous and rather clichéd quotes about surrounding oneself with (fill in the blank!) have taken hold of me.

After ruminating upon the shape of all this for far too long, I’ve gone down the “Just Do It” path. Sometimes one just has to jump in and hold one’s breath. Much of this has been about finding the headspace to launch myself into this new blogging world and into some other little ventures. Already I cant believe how a few little doors are opening!

As for those kiddie winks of mine, how lucky are they that their future options are so broad, and that they can more openly pursue whatever will fill their hearts? I’m not saying that it’ll be at all easy…..but it will be accepted. I know, a lot of people don’t necessarily agree about pursuing passion as a career option; that a perfectly nice job which brings home the bacon will suffice. That’s ok! I recognise that circumstances don’t always allow. This is just the slant I wish to take! As long as someone has a passion somewhere, anywhere, that’s great! I’ve an aspiring author and a wannabe illustrator and one who until just recently wanted to be a dog when he grew up. Go for it, kiddos!! And feel free to change your amazing minds time after time.

It’s been so very lovely to watch my enthusiastic support team as they observe their mother teetering on the edge of her ambitions. They are genuinely excited with my progress and have the utmost belief in my success. What more motivation does one need?

Have you grabbed a passion and run with it lately?
Would you like to be a dog in your next career move? Must confess, our hound has it pretty good!

Growing up is hard to do…….specially if you’re me

IMG_4345Have you ever wondered if you should be more grown up? I do on an almost daily basis. That is, just long enough to then hide behind a doorway and pop out to scare the unsuspecting eleven year old, before snaffling her for a hug. Or to give an award winning rendition of “What Does the Fox Say?” over the breakfast table to my long suffering offspring. They pretend they don’t love it, but I’m oh, so sure they do. How could they not??

I still ring my parents most April Fool’s Days. It might be just to let them know as a courtesy that the road they’re to be travelling that day has experienced a natural phenomenon, whereby thousands of kangaroos have congregated and that the local council has had to divert the traffic…..

Turns out the hubs isn’t much better. He’ll glide past the house windows on his prized John Deere mower, making ridiculous faces for all onlookers to admire. He’ll even occasionally do this whilst standing up and facing backwards. Twas a shame he didn’t see the corner of the house jump out at him on one occasion. Naturally that incident became gold to us and it haunts him to this day.

When the eleven year old concussed herself and ended up in a Bali hospital earlier in the year, we were all momentarily petrified. Within a couple of days, by which time we had been much relieved to find out that her injuries were of a temporary nature, we had all coined a catchphrase which now plagues her. “I was in the pool?” chimes out at her whenever she is the slightest bit forgetful about any small thing.

I ponder what our family code would look like to an outsider, if they were ever a fly on our walls. They might well be…..we have so many of the bloody things where we live; it’s probably a downright invasion, come to think of it. Anyway, what I was grasping at was that my little tribe has such a language that even just a look or slight movement can convey peals of laughter (or an eye roll, depending on the recipient). Its always in the name of harmony and good fun, and most always at home. It’s a therapy and a balm to us all in stressful times. To the outside world, we’re a nice normal family. I think.

So should I grow up? Not today. Nor tomorrow. I don’t think I’m at all capable. For I adore that our family have the ability to laugh together. I adore that we all love being in each others’ company. There’s no one else in the world I’d rather hang out with than with them. And it’s a complete bonus if I can keep on being silly and absurd in the meantime. Heaven help the people who are landed with me in the retirement village, though.

Have you grown up yet?