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!

IMG_5182

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?

Advertisements

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.

milpic1

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!