Tuesday, 31 July 2012

July - the month that was

I shouldn't say this about my birthday month, but July sucked.  Big time.  It felt like the entire month was spent looking after sick people, or being one of those sick people.  The month began with Polynesian Princess being struck down with gastro, closely followed by Little Warrior taking his first ambulance ride to hospital with severe asthma.  And for the past two weeks we have all been sick with the flu.

By some miracle, I managed to have a birthday this month and wasn't actually sick on the day.  Truly a miracle.

Even now, sitting here and blogging after a week's hiatus, I am feeling quite blah.  August will be better.  I'm sure of it.

But through it all, I continued to take photos and participate in the Photo a Day Challenge.  Thirty-one days.  Thirty-one photos. The list for August can be found here.  

See you all in August!


Monday, 23 July 2012

Mirror, Mirror

So today’s Photo a Day challenge word is “Mirror”.  And I chose the photo above of me and the Polynesian Princess.  Let me explain.

Growing up I never thought I would have kids.  Ever.  I had my reasons, all of them supremely personal and some to do with feeling insecure and lacking confidence in successfully raising another human being.  Like everybody, I’m not perfect and I tended to focus on my shortcomings.

But have kids we did, and the day came when the hospital let us take this precious bundle home to raise, love and nurture.  Eeek!!

The first couple of years passed in a blur and she was (mostly) a delight.  Such a gorgeous, happy baby who was so good that we figured, what the hell, let’s do this again!

The ‘mirroring’ probably started happening around the time she was two (possibly even a little earlier).  She was at daycare one day, bossing some of the little kids around.  She pointed her finger in their faces whilst issuing directives in a stern tone.  I sat, wondering where she got that behaviour from, when I saw her throw sand at someone.  I called out to her, pointed my finger in her face and sternly said “we don’t throw sand, that’s not nice”.  And Boom!  There it was.  She was me.  And I didn’t like it.

Three years later, the ‘mirroring’ is at times hilariously funny and embarrassingly uncomfortable.  Recently, she started frantically tidying up the living room and declaring “we need to clean up all of this CRAP!” and I winced.  Not only am I passing on my language, but I’m also passing on my OCD of tidying up.

It’s one thing knowing what you don’t like about yourself.  It’s another thing having it mirrored back to you, and knowing that this is what your children see.  The part of you that you wish you could bury or change, is the part that seems to stand out to them!

It’s not all bad though.  She does tend to copy a lot of my good points, and those are the times when I think good things about myself.   But even when I hear or see the bad ‘mirroring’, I try to cut myself a break.  We're all just doing the best we can, and if bossing people around and a slight OCD is as bad as it's going to get, then I think I'm doing okay.


Saturday, 21 July 2012

Me and my girl

A few weeks ago, the Polynesian Princess and I found ourselves with a whole day to ourselves.  Little Warrior was in daycare, The Architect was at work and it was just the two of us.   I couldn’t remember the last time that had happened.  A Mummy-daughter day!

So I thought it would be nice to do something special.   We took the bus into the city and headed to Room with Roses in Brisbane Arcade.  It was a very cold morning in the mall and the wind felt like it was blowing through us as we headed up towards the arcade.  Polynesian Princess kept pointing to various little coffee nooks as we were walking saying “can’t we just go there?”, but no.  I was on a mission.  I knew where I wanted us to go and I was determined to at least try.  I had no idea whether we needed a booking, or if the place was still open.

As a younger adult, I remember wandering through Brisbane Arcade and knowing with utmost certainty that I couldn’t afford a button from Anthony Leigh Dower, let alone some lead from the Pen Shoppe.  But sitting atop all these glamorous stores was a little cafĂ© that I had always wanted to go to.  I never went though, and I think it was because I assumed it would be too expensive for little ol’ me.  Better for me to head downstairs to the KFC that used to sit underneath all these gorgeous shops, safe in the knowledge that I could afford a meal down there.

But this day, I was determined to go to this cafe.  And go we did.   It was still there, we didn’t need a reservation and it was everything that I had imagined it to be.  Serene, peaceful and warm.  We had tea, a mini-cino and one raspberry scone.  The scone was $9.95 and even though I thought that was expensive for a scone, I was determined to have the whole Mummy-daughter experience.  But the scone was huge, almost a brick!  And it was delicious – just delicious.  The Polynesian Princess just adored it.  There was roses on every table and she thought this was divine.  Being the “all things tea lover” that I am, I adored the silver teapot and strainer.

The Polynesian Princess wanted to play “guess who I am” while we waited for our scones.  Her clues were “it’s beautiful, it’s loving, and it looks after me”.  When she pointed at me and said “you Mummy!”, the whole Mummy daughter morning was complete.

I want this to be a tradition for us.  I want us to have more Mummy and daughter time, and some of these times will involve this Room with Roses.
Just me and my girl, and a room with roses.

Monday, 16 July 2012

How do you know you're getting old?

Tomorrow is my birthday and I will be 39.  A good friend took me to lunch today as an early celebration to mark the special day.  When I said I would be 39 he shook his head and said that he still thinks of me as a kid (yes, he’s a little older than me).  I had to smile because I still feel like a kid mostly.  Being an adult was always something for people older than me.  But now that I’m on my way to the big four-oh, I need to face facts.  I am adult now.  I have a university degree,  I am a married woman, I have birthed two children, I pay bills, cook meals and I live in a house without my parents.  So I guess I qualify.

When I was younger, my yardstick for ‘being old’ was reading the Women’s Weekly.  You were definitely an oldie if you bought the Women’s Weekly.  The Women’s Weekly and Family Circle.  Anything that came with sewing patterns in it was definitely retirement village material.  And how old was I when I was making these insightful assumptions?  Well.  I was reading ‘Dolly’.  So yeah -  I was reading about periods, and first kisses.  Ahhhh....such innocence!

Now not only do I buy The Women's Weekly, but I have subscribed to it!  I do the crossword (which makes me a nerd AND old).  In fact, that’s the only reason I get the magazine.  Oh, that and the recipes.  Because somewhere along the way between Dolly and Women’s Weekly, I have developed an interest in cooking.  So by my 14 year old self’s definition, I am old.  And yet, now that I’m here, I don’t feel old.  But I guess that’s always going to happen isn’t it?  Whatever age you may be, you’re only as old as your approach to life.  And I work everyday to ensure I stay positive, grateful and mindful.  And all of these are also signs that I'm aging.  Sigh...

And what about you?  What did you use as a yardstick to getting old?

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Sew what?

There are a lot of things that I don’t know or understand.  Some of these things I just thought I would “get” as I got older.   Cricket (the rules, the whole point of it),  gardening (can’t you just stick it in the ground and watch it grow? Do you HAVE to water it all the time? And what do you mean you have to re-plant?!), cooking without a recipe (can’t do it but then I never claimed to be a Masterchef), and sewing.

In Grade Eight Home Economics we had to sew a pair of shorts, and a library bag.  I got a fail for both of them.  Both.  When I told my Home Ec teacher I didn’t choose Home Ec for the following year, she said “that’s probably a good thing”.  Ouch!  Bitch.

I don’t sew.  I can’t sew and I don’t know if I ever will sew.  My Mother sewed.  She made me lots of cute outfits as a child, and as I went through school, she would make my costumes for school plays and the like.  She could also knit which is something else I don’t know how to do.  I once made a macramĂ© keyring.  Does that count for something?

As I grew older, I only needed sewing skills when my hems would fall.  My ‘sewing’ consisted of a stapler.  No needle and thread required!  And this has happily been my way of fixing all things in the clothing department.  If it gets too hard, I send it off to the local thrift shop.

But now I have a child in school.  And that involves uniforms.  And she, you know, grows!  So the hems on her uniform are quickly getting higher and higher. Not even considering to attempt it myself, I took it to our local dry-cleaning service which also provides alterations.  I asked for a quote, and she quoted me $30.  Thirty dollars!  To HEM a kids uniform?  I marched straight across the road to Woolworths and bought a needle and thread.  And tonight I will attempt to hem for the first time.  I guess I should have bought a quick unpick (that’s what it’s called, isn’t it?), as I foresee a lot of effing and blinding in my future.

Who knows - this might ignite a hidden talent within!  And perhaps I will become one of those parents that can 'run up' (that's the right term isn't it?) a costume in the blink of an eye.  Instead of being one of those parents rummaging through the dress-up box wondering how I can come up with something to match the specific criteria.  Sigh.  Never mind - I imagine my latent creative skills will be put to the test many, many times in the future.

And sew what?  Bring it - I'm ready.

Friday, 6 July 2012

What a difference a day makes

Twenty-four hours ago Little Warrior and I were both taking our first ride in an ambulance.  He as the patient, and me as the garden-variety neurotic, worried Mother.

The night before, Little Warrior had been coughing all night and in the morning he started wheezing.   It progressed from bad to worse very quickly despite me using Ventolin and Redipred (last resort).  So you can appreciate that I was already a little worried at this point.  I dutifully packed our bag (food, DVD player, iPad, USB loaded with movies etc etc) and quickly got Little Warrior into the car.  I turn the key and...nothing.  This has happened before and I blogged about that here.  The Architect and I had thought we had fixed the problem, but apparently not.  And I was finding out the hard way, with Little Warrior sitting the backseat, struggling to breathe.

So it was straight into the house and on the landline calling triple 0.  I was trying to stay calm as I spoke to the Triple 0 operator and describing his symptoms when the line went dead.  Can you believe it - the handset had died.  I mean, I'm calm now when I'm telling you what happened, but yesterday I was furious.  Beyond furious - I couldn't believe that two things in a row (that I desperately needed to work) had up and died on us.

Thankfully, we have two other handsets in the house and the operator was still on the line.  The ambulance arrived and Little Warrior was on the nebuliser within minutes.  The paramedics were fabulous - they took care of my little man and had us safely at the hospital within a short space of time.  On arrival he was pronounced borderline medium/severe and for the next five or six hours he had a regular dose of Ventolin and various other medications.

We've been here before unfortunately. Both Polynesian Princess and Little Warrior suffer from asthma-like symptoms.  Apparently they can't be properly diagnosed as asthmatic until they're over six.  (But the facts are that they have trouble breathing, and when they take Ventolin and Redipred it helps them breathe).

We follow both of their asthma management plans to the letter, but sometimes it's still not enough and we end up in hospital.  Our closest hospital is the Royal Children's Hospital, Brisbane. And I cannot speak highly enough of the staff there.  Words can't come close to describing how grateful I am to them all.  Beautiful human beings doing beautiful work.

Last night was the first time we were required to stay overnight, due to Little Warrior not responding quickly to the medication.  It was a fitful sleep for both of us, but eventually a new day dawned and Little Warrior had managed to go three hours without needing Ventolin.  This was good news, because it meant he was responding to the medication, he wasn't working so hard to breathe anymore, AND we could go home.

And so.  Here we are, 24 hours later.  Little Warrior is fast asleep in bed, he's on the mend, and I'm still getting by on adrenaline and caffeine.  I know that once the adrenaline and caffeine wears off I'm going to need a weepy session.  I predict that will be somewhere around three or four o'clock today.  At three o'clock yesterday Little Warrior was hooked up to a nebuliser and watching a movie.  And me?  I was trying to remain calm and not burst into tears in front of my little man.

What a difference a day makes...

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Over half-way

I am now on Day 17 of the 28 day scream-free parenting challenge.  So far, so good I guess.  I mean, in the past two days I have officially lost my shit at least four times with the kids, but I’m not counting them as failures.  In fact, lately when I lose my temper, I’m faster to let go of it.   Prior to the challenge, if I lost my temper, I would tend to ruminate about it, think about how other people I know would probably have handled it a lot better, and brand myself as a hopeless Mum.  But not anymore.  Now I just remind myself that I’m only human, and that at the very least I’m aware of it, and I’m trying.

Each morning I wake up to my email from Jackie Hall (Self-Help for Mums) and I take the time to read it and then apply it to my day.  It’s not that hard.  Jackie has taken the big picture, stripped it down to bite-size, digestible pieces and is spoon-feeding it to us slowly each day over this 28-day period.  Some of it seems repetitious (by Jackie’s own admission), but I believe that’s because the basic premise of this whole challenge is that all of the stress and anger culminates from the conflict we have between our belief (of what should be happening) and the reality of what is happening.  Oh sister…ain’t that the truth.

The best tips I have received so far are: 
  • we should recognise that stress is caused by the conflict between belief and reality;
  • we need to deal with the reality of what’s happening – don’t catastrophise everything;
  • to detach your self-worth from their behaviour – they’re not trying to undermine you, they’re not trying to demean you; and
  • to look at the bigger picture – Jackie provided us with an ‘expansion exercise’ which truly helped me to realise how small the problems really are (it worked for me yesterday).
I feel a touch of Buddhism running through Jackie’s emails and I like it.  Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali would have to be one of my favourite books.  I discovered it in the first year of Polynesian Princess’s life and read it a couple of times over the course of that year.

So in between me writing the above paragraph and this paragraph, I have just screamed at the kids and sat back down to finish this off.  Apt.

My heart is racing, my head is pounding and I am trying, desperately to look at the bigger picture, to remain mindful and to understand they’re not trying to piss me off – they’re just being kids.

Breathing in……

And out….

Right.  Where was I?  That's right - with 11 days to go I’m looking forward to receiving more tips and advice from Jackie Hall.  I’m keeping all the emails in a folder and they’ve been great to read back on whenever I get a chance through the day.

So I'm getting there.  Baby steps, people.  Baby steps.

Are you doing the challenge?  Are you finding it helpful?

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Photo a day June

My photos from #PhotoadayJune

This is my third month running taking part in Fat Mum Slim's Photo a Day Challenge.  For anyone who hasn't heard of this challenge, the rules are pretty simple and can be found here.  Each month Chantelle (aka FatMumSlim) compiles a list and all you need to do is consult said list, find out what the word/challenge is and take a relevant photo.  If you so desire, you can whack a filter on it if you like and then post it to your Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, blog, Tumblr, Flickr (you get the idea) and add the hashtag #photoadayJuly (as an example).

Above are all my photos from the June challenge, and here is the list from June...

As I said, this is my third month and I really quite enjoy it.  I also enjoy seeing what photos other people are tagging as well.

For anybody who is interested, the July list is here, and for the meantime, I intend to keep going with this challenge.  It seems to make sense for me.  I take lots of photos with my phone, I'm totally addicted to filters and any camera apps, and it's yet another way for me to connect with my friends.

If you're on Instagram - follow me at dilettantediva.  See you there!

Later shutterbugs :)


Rolling with the punches

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Oh what a night. Polynesian Princess came into bed with us at some stage during the night (last night). Little did we know, it was going to be one of THOSE nights with her.

You know the kind...

The kind where there is coughing followed by vomiting (that sound will always make my heart-rate spike).  The kind where the house is thundering with the sound of running to the toilet.  The kind where sheets are stripped and beds remade.   The kind where showers are had, and hair is washed.  Blech...

At two in the morning no-one can hear you scream.

I slept (or didn't sleep) with one ear and one eye open with her lying next to me.   Any movement or cough, and I was up, flicking the light on and asking "are you ok?!"  It may sound like I'm an attentive, caring mother, even when it's two in the morning.  But truth be told, the thought of changing yet another set of sheets would have sent me screaming into the night.  Soooo....not so much attentive, as lazy.

As I drifted back to nigh-nighs, I thought "well there goes her sleepover with her grandparents".   You see, the next day she was due to head down to spend a few nights with her grandparents.  Obviously this wouldn't be happening.  And the next morning it was official - she had gastro.  Okay people - Plan B!

That's the thing with having kids, isn't it? You really need to roll with the punches and understand that plans are very rarely ever set in stone. Playdates are cancelled at the last minute, sleepovers as well, and nobody ever really minds. Because we all understand. We all get the fact that when it comes to kids we realise that they get sick.  Stuff happens and plans change.  Constantly.

So here we are.  Sleepover is rescheduled, playdates have been cancelled and we are officially rolling with the punches...