Monday, May 27, 2013

Perspectives: Andrew's Career Aspirations

I can't remember Andrew not wanting to play World Cup Soccer, although the team has changed from Germany to Australia in the last two years.  (You might wanna stick with a team that MAKES it into the World Cup, mate, but that's another story!)

Pirate Andrew on his fifth birthday, April 1, 2001, in Europa Park

He's a decent player, but he hasn't been coached much until now.  He was stuck in goal until last year because the coaches kept insisting he was so good there.  You maybe wanna try giving the nine year old a shot at playing the game he loves? 

Turns out he's alright in midfield as well.

And, more importantly, he lives and loves the game.

Biking with baby brother Matthew at Jolo's Kinderwelt

Still, the chances are small, and even if he is any good, good enough for state or national or even international levels, it's a short and risky career.  Cruciate rupture at 28 and you're out man, don't pass Go!, do not collect...well, anything really.  Unless, like Michael Ballack, you have a face that lands you a lucrative Gillette contract going when you top out at 34.   Sigh.

And then you have to go and play for England!

Foosball player in at Bach Fest in Altdorf, June 2007

I've been trying to talk to Andrew about keeping his options open.  I have never said I didn't think he would make it as a soccer player, I've just suggested that he might like something else to do afterwards, since the career is so short. 

Fire Station Show in Altdorf, May 2007

I talk sports caster or sports writer, I talk about utilising some of his academic talents as well.  I've mentioned those Mid-East Peace Talks he negotiates after winning the World Cup title for Australia, becoming a famous TV personality due to his quirky interviews in German and American English, using the skills he developed as the middle sibling between an older sister with Asperger's Syndrome and younger twin brothers.

So I should have been thrilled when he came home from school yesterday and told me he had thought about his options and had a few career choices in mind just in case the soccer didn't work out. 

Policeman.  SWAT team.  Army.

Medieval Festival in Herrenberg, August 2007

Although, to pacify me he told me he'd use his engineering skills to build things for the army to use.

Oh.  Like guns and bombs and weapons of mass destruction?

What the hell happened to sports writer?!

Cowboy to Ryan's horse, summer 2007. 

Andrew's best friend at school has a dad who just so happens to be a policeman.  He's also the one who has gotten Andrew to join his youth group at church on Friday evenings.   I am so happy that Andrew is finally finding his group here, that he has a best friend who will attend the same secondary school and that that friend has values Andrew can relate to.  It's been a long journey for Andrew - I can finally see it all tying together for him.

Still.  SWAT TEAM?!  I'm beginning to wonder if maybe my children should start hanging with the wrong crowd!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dancing Solo

I finally got to dance with my daughter today.

Last year's Abbey Medieval Festival

Let me rephrase that. 

I finally got to dance next to my daughter today.

She asked me not to join her in the beginner's belly dance class that started at the end of January.  I have been sitting quietly, doing my veterinary continuing education points or writing in my journal, while all the other ladies swoosh and swoop and twirl and jiggle about.  I believe I gave off the impression of being aloof and uninterested, but only because I so much wanted to take part and I so much knew I had to exclude myself from what was more importantly Ryan's domain.

But now the Abbey Medieval Fest is coming up in early July and it's time for the gypsy dances.  We are both planning on taking part in the Romani Gypsy re-enactment.  And part of that is dancing.


The Shuvani Romani

I wore a lilac wrap with jingles on it that I had originally bought for Ryan but she refuses to wear.  I had on jangly purple earrings and silver necklaces and loads of bangles on both wrists, India-style.  And my hand-made leather gypsy sandals and white gypsy blouse. 

Ryan wore black leggings and a blue top and refused to have anything to do with me.

Once we got there we put on our full skirts and she promptly went to the other side of the room.

I didn't see her again until an hour later when it was time to partner up.

"You are going to partner with me, right?"  I asked.

It was supposed to be a rhetorical question.

No emotion.  No sign of happiness.  No sign of acknowledgement.  Just the same way I drag her everywhere (except the barn), completely apathetic.  Except for the fact that she knew all the moves, was swaying and shimmying and doing quite well, I would think she didn't want to be there at all, let alone with me.

I try not to take it personally - this is why a diagnosis helps - and I tried hard not to take it personally today.  But we had to dance around each other, we were supposed to be smiling and swooshing our skirts at each other, we were supposed to be flirting.  We were supposed to make EYE CONTACT.

Why am I only noticing now that my daughter rarely makes eye contact with me? 

"Get closer together.  Stay together.  You are dancing together.  Look at each other," the teacher tried.

I felt tears well up in my eyes and almost walked out the door.

"This isn't going to work for us," I managed.

Ryan could have been dancing alone in that room, she certainly wasn't dancing with me.

I thought about what walking out now would do to her, and to me.  Later I asked her if she knew that she had been hurting my feelings.  Huh?  No.  But she really didn't want to talk about it either.

She danced her dance.  And I danced mine. 

I enjoyed being in a room with other women dancing together.  I enjoyed the music, the moves, the skirt-swishing and the gypsy attitude.  I enjoyed the circle of women.

Ryan was among us.  And that has to be enough.  She enjoys the dance.  She dances well.  But she dances alone.  She dances by herself, with herself, and for herself. 

Tonight, I realise that this is okay, that this is the best reason to dance.  She dances because she enjoys the dance and the movements her body makes.  Anything else - wanting to be a part of a larger group, wanting to bond with my daughter, wanting to feel a shared passion, a common sisterhood, a mutual joy - is my problem.

Your children are not your children.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

My daughter dances solo. 
But she is dancing.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

On Reading the Label

Ryan has officially been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.

Why we don't take the kids out to eat much!

"Good news," texted Catherine, "Now you can get the help you need."

The psychologist showed me preliminary results from cognitive and academic tests, all of which were just fine, and then the test that screens for autistic spectrum disorders (since they are taking Asperger's out as an official diagnosis, Ryan will now be considered high-functioning autistic). 

Even I was surprised at how high she scored.  99% in most things.

So, yeah, we're pretty sure she's on that spectrum.  (The preliminary tests showed she IS on the spectrum, further testing in two weeks will show how impaired she is by it.)

Serious study of Schleich horse catalogue while wearing her self-knit rainbow scarf.  In the car. In 30 degree weather.

In filling out further questions on Ryan's behaviour, it is more and more unbelievable to me that the psychologists in Germany missed such a pretty straight-forward case.  (Although I've just learned my cousin's child has been diagnosed as well, and in Germany, so they HAVE heard of it!)

We are so fortunate to be here.  Not only are there provisions in place for dealing with special needs children in the mainstream schools, but there is government help for families.  And there is a general acceptance of everyone's uniqueness that includes a genuine acceptance of - not just sympathy for - people with disabilities and special needs. 

There are no horses in AFL football!

"How do you feel?"  asked the psychologist.


I do get teary eyed every so often as I consider that my child has autism.  My beautiful baby girl has something going on in her head that makes life harder for her.  It keeps her from organising her thoughts, from self-motivating, from starting, seeing through and finishing projects, from remembering basic maths concepts, from tying details up into a big, coherent whole.  It makes it hard for her to get up out of bed in the morning.  It keeps her from making friends.

I would have been devastated if I had known this when she was first born.  Or worse yet, in utero.  My perfect child is well, frankly, less-than-perfect.  My baby girl is less.  I figured my skills at parenting would be to show the world to my child, to have her soar and excel, to rise above, sail beyond, offer her all the opportunity to soar.

I didn't think it would be reviewing basic maths facts again as she glowers at me with dislike.  Sitting in silence next to her waiting for a dance performance to begin, while all the other families around us chat and laugh with one another.  Because Ryan doesn't want to speak to me - she is concentrating on the show - and cringes when I put my arms around her.  Or teaching her how to shave her legs, something I learned with my best friend, Jenny.  Because I am her best friend.  I am her only friend.  And the enemy that makes her get up in the morning at the same time.
Miley Cyrus impersonation in Caboolture
It's also hearing how brilliant she is when she goes for her weekly riding lesson, how mature and motivated and responsible.  Uh yeah, she can't fit in with people her age at school, but I bet she can get a job working with horses the minute she hits legal age! 

It's watching her belly dance at a seminar with about a dozen other people, all women older than she is, and many of them professional dancers.  And holding her own.

It's enjoying her bond with her flute teacher at her weekly lessons, quietly, through their shared love of the music.

It's allowing her the time to sketch, and watching that talent grow.

It's realising that the silly little book she has been reading on her tablet - My Little Pony -  is actually written on an adult reading level!  Even if it is about Celestia and the Magic Kingdom.

It's understanding that her love of these shows - including all her horse shows - is also the way she navigates human relationships.  That she relates to the gang on "Friends" as friends.  That she learns her life's lessons from "Heartland" and "Twilight" and "Saddle Club" relationships.

It's acknowledging that maybe this is better than the crap she would be picking up at high school!!!

It is knowing that I am going to be leading her on this journey for longer than most parents, and be more integral to the success of that journey.

It is the awareness that her specialness is a gift to us both, that it has made me stop and reevaluate what I had always taken for granted:  that one needs to struggle, to push, to excel; that one has to fit in, do what everyone else is doing, be what everyone else expects you to be. 

It is learning that I am not in control, that I am dust in the wind, blown about by the universe, that nothing is certain and nothing is permanent.

It is letting go and letting life take us all wherever it will, not where I am trying to push it to.

How do I feel?

Those test results are no surprise.  We knew she was different.  We knew she was struggling.  A diagnosis helps us explain this to any one else in her life who needs to know.  (Although, I find, now that we have the diagnosis, I feel less of a need to explain.)  It helps us get some support - both for home schooling and health care needs - that not only helps us financially, but gives me some validation that I am doing something of value, a job the government sees as valuable, that home schooling a child with special needs IS hard, is valuable and is every bit as worthy as re entering the workforce as a veterinarian.  (I know I shouldn't need this but.....)

Most importantly, it gets us help if she does choose to go back to school at some point, even a few days a week.  It gets her help at university.  It gets us both help now, in learning how to cope, how to learn, how to grow, and how to stay happy.

We are happy.  And we have been doing quite well.

I don't think much will change in our daily lives just because of the diagnosis.

It's just nice to finally have it acknowledged that there IS something going on, that it isn't my fault, or Ryan's fault, or some flaw in my parenting or our home life.  That Ryan doesn't need to buck up and fit the system, toe the line, get with the program.

And yes, this is what I heard in Germany.  And sorry, dear friends in English Group, I know you cared about us, but I heard that this is what you had been saying.  It hurt me.  And it made me isolate myself, at the end, from a great bunch of ladies who got me through the darkest times of my life.  You were there when I was depressed, you were there when I went into the loony bin, you were there through the miscarriages. 

I don't think any of us understood at the time - and it was the months before we left Germany too - that I was fighting for my child, that my anger was a result of the helplessness I felt in the face of a system that just wasn't going to help her.

How do I feel?

Exhausted.  I feel like I am at the end of a huge struggle that started when Ryan entered first grade.

Vindicated.  That I was fighting for the right thing.  That what I felt - and did - was right.

Sad.  That there was so much anger in me.  Sad that it did cost me the closeness of friendships I valued.

Hopeful.  Because we are on the right path.  And because anything is possible.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Shiva Rules!

Let go and let God, they told me.

Matthew, reading with his new glasses, post dyslexia-scare

I did just that and watched it all fall to pieces.  (Note to feminist movement: the god running my life, at least, is most assuredly male.)

It began 2 days before 2013 officially started, with the first tire blow out.  Continuing with the oven going, the aircon, the pool equipment, the balcony and a fan or two here and there.  Another tire blowout in March.  End of April we got kicked out of our house - because the owner can't afford to keep fixing the things that keep falling apart around us.  The second car breaks in half.  Pretty much literally.  And the first one is finally declared unsalvageable.  After almost one thousand dollars of new tires in four months.  I get rear ended in the loaner car.

And today that same loaner completely gave up the ghost out in Samford, 2 1/2 kilometres from John Scott Park, our intended destination. 

Hiking at The Gap

Look, it could have been worse.  If you have to break down somewhere, Samford is really the place to do it.  (Note to residents of Westchester County, NY and Greenwich, CT:  Samford is the area you want if you ever relocate to the Brisbane area.  Trust me.  It pains me to admit how comfortable I feel there after running from it for so long!)

I was able to coast another half a kilometre down the hill - on Mount Samford Road - and really could have jogged the last two kilometres quite easily, even with Ian in tow.  Ryan, however, was wearing her thongs.  FLIP-FLOPS to the USA crowd, FLIP-FLOPS!

Aidan's Aboriginal Art project for school

We had packed sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, carrots and kiwis for lunch and, as it was 10:30 when we broke down, opened up our bag and had a proper tea-time while waiting for word from the dealer.  All very civilised really.

I can imagine what the word from the dealer was, though!

Our friend picked us up and drove us to our get-together in the park, so that we spent the rest of the morning not even aware that the dealer hadn't arrived yet.  He came right before 1:00 as everyone was packing up.  Rigorous home-schoolers, all! 

Matthew is presenter and weatherman

Funny enough, the dealer had been wanting that car back to show to a potential customer.  Although he might have some more work to do on it now.  And our new car will be ready on Saturday, a fancier model (meaning it has doors I can open with a button on my key - ooh la la!) from the original.

I wonder if we can keep this current loaner damage free until Saturday.

Life's chaos swirls about us.  Shiva rules. 

When all is said and done though, we have a better car than the one we started out with, a nice new one, and a new home in Narangba at the end of June.  Narangba is further out, more country, more horse and pasture and nature and trails.  And Narangba Valley Secondary School is supposed to be one of the best in the state, with Schools of Excellence in Music for Ryan AND a reputable special needs program.  Even better, in Ryan's eyes, is the pony the owner says she will leave in the paddock out back!  The pastures all around us.  The riding ring.  And kangaroos.  An owner who is a friend and a horse-owner and someone we can live next to and talk to directly rather than dealing with a real estate agent.

Mexican!  (Aspley?  Chermside?  Somewhere around there!)

Andrew is applying to a local Soccer (and Engineering!) School of Excellence instead of taking the train into the city over an hour each way every day.  Together with about half of his current soccer team.  He's joining the Youth Group at the associated church.  He's finally got his band of mates.

Sock it to us, Shiva.  Give us your best!  We wouldn't have considered moving at this point if we didn't have to.  The universe gave us a big kick in the pants.

And booted us into a place that is better for all of us in the long run.

A quiet moment at home schooling

No growth without destruction.  No gain without pain. 

As it whirls faster and faster around me, I realise that I have let go and I have let God. 

Choir uniform and little brother

He appears to make a right mess of it at times, but, the dust settles if you give it time. 

And builds something remarkable.

Om.  Namaste.  And Amen.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Signs We Have Been Here Over Two Years Now!

Overheard from downstairs the other week:

Matthew:  There's a spider in the playroom.  There's a spider in the playroom.

Aidan:  Is it a huntsman?

Matthew:  Yeah, I think it might be.

Aidan:  Let me see how big it is.


Aidan:  Oh, it's just a little one.  Just set the Legos up a little to the side of it.

Matthew:  Okay.

Two years ago we were chasing huntsmen - which grow to be as big and meaty as tarantulas - out of our closets and trying to contain them in big pots to get them outside.  (Not only do I not believe in killing spiders, can you imagine the mess killing something that size would make?!)

Now we are building our Lego cities around them.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Eat The Poor!

We've been evaluating options for Andrew's secondary schooling recently.  In between Ryan's testing and assessments, the cars and - oh yeah - that little hunt for a place to live.

He could probably go private, on an academic scholarship.  But man, what a hassle! 

Then there are the schools closer to the city, state schools out of our district, but with academic and sports excellence programs he most likely could get into.  I'd compare them to magnet programs in the USA, still state, but just a touch above.  It would take him over an hour each way on train and bus lines to get to these. 

Unlike the system in the USA, you have a choice.  Like the USA, however, there are schools - and neighbourhoods - you just don't want to be a part of.  And yes, we ARE moving out to Narangba.  Partially because we are in horse country, house complete with paddock AND pony.  But also partially because we hear the secondary school (year 7 through 12) out there is excellent.  It has a school of excellence in music Ryan might be able to attend, at least part-time, some day. 

Tonight I attended a talk given by representatives of three of the local high schools in our area.  The topic was "State Schools Are Great Schools."  Supposedly they have the academics and the resources (one has an agricultural program I keep thinking Ryan could attend, but, sigh, if it isn't horses, sheep and cows are not an acceptable alternative), they manage behaviour and they send students to university. 

I'm just too jaded by my experiences at our previous local primary school to entirely believe them.  That school did NOT have the resources, the academics or the behavioural management.  My high-achieving child was under challenged.  My struggling child was teased and bullied.  The twins were learning unacceptable behaviours both in class and out on the playground.  Classroom management had to take precedence over academics and extension projects such as holiday arts projects. 

What that school DID have was an excellent teaching staff that was doing its best with what they had to work with.   (I think they need MORE teachers and MORE resources, even with fewer students.  I will work to help, I just will not send my children there.)

And our current state school is excellent.

But this school was the first one I had experience with in Australia.  There is no reason for me to believe that the other three primary schools in our area are much better.  At least one is reputed to be worse.

Granted, tonight's representatives were speaking of secondary, not primary, schools, but where is the pool of students coming from?  Principally these four feeder schools.  And no matter how great the program and the teachers and the resources, well, what I saw in the primary school isn't giving me much hope for the secondary schools. 

I believe the teachers are excellent and the programs are in the place.  I just don't trust the resources or the group of people my kids would, once again, be surrounded by.

Comparing my experiences at our previous school to tonight's testimonies leads me to one of two conclusions:  either my academic and behavioural standards are much higher than the national standard or the school we went to previously wasn't keeping up with the academic and behavioural standards expected nationally.

I'd be willing to bet it's a little of both.

But it looks terrible for the local secondary schools here that the primary schools are so unexceptional.  If our area isn't investing in its primary schools, why should we believe the secondary schools will be any better?

Of course, the parents there tonight are the ones who DO care.  They are considering private or parochial.  They want to know that their children will be extended academically and not bullied, that they will be surrounded by an acceptable group of peers, within a school with exemplary behavioural and academic standards. 

So may kids can, and do, well in state schools.  We count on Andrew (who is applying for a soccer school of excellence and engineering excellence program at another state school nearby in a different district) being one of them. 

But I will not hesitate to go private - or home school - if we ever have the same problems we had at our old school again.

I want to support our state schools, I really do.  And not just for financial reasons.  I want to believe in our state system, as a cornerstone of a vital and functioning democracy.  (Don't go there.  Write your own blog!)  I will support them on principal as a citizen, eh hem, permanent resident.  But not in practice as a mother if it is detrimental to my kids.

And then I remember that this is not my problem, or not only my problem.  It is not this area or this country or this particular education system.

What are we to do with the great mass of humanity that cannot or will not be educated to the standards the educated class upholds?  What are we to do with the tired, the hungry, the poor, now that they have not only reached the shores, but seized the land, stayed a couple of centuries, created the dole, and thrown drug addiction, broken homes, criminality, insanity, and well, frankly, lower standards, into the pot?  Is mass literacy and numeracy actually achievable?  And what do we do we those who not only don't learn, but impede our children from doing so by their behaviour?

What do we do with people who really don't KNOW how to behave?  Conform?  Achieve?  Tow the line.  Fit in.  Excel.

(I throw some of those in to point out the fact that I am, in fact, the mother of one of these people, a child who refuses - or cannot - fit into the system.  What do we do with her?)

What do we do with the people we don't want our kids in school with?

Think this is a new problem, one made worse by drugs and broken homes?  Think again.  Jonathon Swift wrote an essay about these people back in 1729.  He called it "A Modest Proposal For Preventing the Poor People in Ireland from being Aburden To Their Parents or Country, And For Making Them Beneficial to the Public."

He laid out a plan for "a fair, cheap, and easy method of making these children sound, useful members of the commonwealth."

What you do is eat the poor.

I only say this as an apology for my unkind thoughts to the children I want to keep away from mine.  As a spiritual being, I wish no one harm.  As a mother, however, I protect what has been given me to nourish and strengthen.

The state of the education system here isn't any worse than where I come from.  In fact, I find it has way more opportunity than Germany did, both for university track and non-university options.  I like the choice.  I like the oversight and the attempts to continually identify weaknesses and improve upon them.  I like the transparency.  I like that the educators are working very hard to reach high standards.

(What I still can't explain is why neither secondary school - even the one we personally visited - never got back to us about a special program for Ryan and then never bothered to return our calls.  Not looking all so promising when they then talk about individualised outcomes for each student!)

What I realise is that there is no reason to be angry, or to fight.  That we are all in this together.  On the same team, if in different positions. 

The struggle isn't a personal one, it is universal, and as old as man-kind has lived in a society and tried to get people to fit into it.

Some won't.

I will continue to work towards more resources and teachers for state schools while at the same time doing what is best for my children. 

Everyone chooses their own menu options, and while I don't think eating them is the answer, I don't think dining with people who have chosen such different options than mine from the buffet is necessarily the right answer either!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Why We Homeschool! (Give a Gonski)

I'd like to dedicate this to the comedian Damon saw on TV last week - an Australian of Egyptian descent - who most aptly phrased my biggest whinge about this country.

At the Caboolture Historical Village for the Urban Country Music Festival, May 5
(Why we homeschool!)

"So, who is for the Gonski initiative?"  he asked the audience.  One guy raised his hand.  "Ah, a liberal," he said.

"Who is against the Gonski initiative?" he then asked.  No answers.

Uh, does this come with an interactive smart board?!

"Typical Aussies," he laughed.  "No one gives a shit."

Laid back, yes.  Often to the point of apathy.

I attribute it to life being too good in this country.  Honestly mates, some people work TWO jobs in other countries. 

We could use a Brain Break!

Without tea breaks.

And still don't have it as good as people on the dole here.

So, yeah, what's to whinge about, really?!

Prize pupils.

The Gonski initiative, however, is an attempt to inject some federal and state funding into schools, something Queensland, at least, desperately needs.

Noone likes a whinger though.

Have a laugh. 

Waiting for recess.

And THEN give a Gonski.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Shiva's Rule

Now that I've decided I'm a Hindu, I also figured I could choose which god I get to worship.  Brahman is the supreme God, but he has many representations. 

I have been wanting to worship Vishnu, who represents balance.  He has many avatars that have come to earth at various times, the most popular being Rama, Buddha and Krishna.  I already have a lovely picture of Krishna, who represents joy, freedom and love.

This, I feel, is what should guide my life. 

Camping April 13. 

But who am I kidding?  It is clear that it is Shiva who is ruling my life right now.

Shiva is destruction.  Shiva is chaos.  Shiva is change.

As much as I want Brahma central, I see Shiva dancing in the heavens and smiling with me.

AFL game May 3.  I can line em up, but I can't control em!

He is the whirling dervish around me, the maker of mischief, of the huge changes in my life right now.  Home?  Gone.   After the pool, the porch and now the fence fiascos.  As well as the aircon and the oven.  Cars.  Take your pick.  One broke.  One scrapped.  Another dented.  That after the tires all started blowing out one by one from December to March.  Kid's sports activities?  Settled down now - thanks to patience - but totally up in the air for a while.  Ryan in assessments.  Andrew looking at schools.  Matthew and Aidan.  Yup, just Matthew and Aidan.  And Ian running around in the middle of it all, growing up and taking it all in stride.  I'm telling ya, life among the barbarians is fun, isn't it my little Buddhist reincarnation?

Hey, how come I have to be Ned Kelly?!
Urban Country Music Festival in Caboolture, May 6


I am quite sure he is NOT laughing AT me, thanks for asking.

He is dancing his dance of life, of which change, and death and endings are a part.

No worries.  We found a house in Caboolture.  Only one bath though.

I have accepted the inevitability of change and of endings as a necessary part of growth and new beginnings. 

I have to accept his change and dance his dance.

And Mom's not so sure about the kitchen either.

I dance the dance of Shiva, the dance of change.

I am balanced and accepting as the forces of new beginnings take shape around me.

And I feel strangely at peace.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Exceptional Needs

Ryan started her assessments with the psychologist today.

Bunny ears for ANZAC Day!!!

You meet some awesome kids in the waiting room.

One kid told me all about dinosaurs, complete with spelling.  Another one told me how to assemble a rocket.

Mind you, both were four years old.

Meanwhile Ryan, dressed in a cute pink top and leggings, and then wrapped in a purple sarong and carrying her knitting, was holding up a lego contraption and explaining how much it looked like a bridle.

Full cheek snaffle to be exact.

Urban Country Music Festival in Caboolture.  Blending with the locals!!!


Why does my child's exceptional talent have to be one nobody else can even understand?!

I'm just going to have to work on hooking her up with the future rocket scientist.

Obsession or talent?!

Maybe she can knit him a beanie for his rocket.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Hindu on Her Birthday

I have glimpsed The Truth, The One Way, and The Light.

But my Way to it is different than yours.

No crowds at White Water World on a rainy April 10.

This has been my problem with the Christian doctrine ever since highschool.  Before then I firmly believed that there was One Way, One Truth, One Path through Jesus Christ Our Lord and all that other stuff they told me.  I felt sorry for other people who weren't Catholic.  Or American, for that matter.  I mean, didn't it bother them that they were following the wrong thing, that they were going to hell, that they had an inferior brand of religion?  Nationality?  Belief structure in general?

I mean, how can it not bother all you other people to be wrong?!

Come out of the rain Ian!

I would have made such a great missionary if they had caught me early enough.

Great thanks to the atheist sitting besides me all those Sunday mornings in mass, whispering irreverent - and often absurd - commentaries in my ear. 

Ruumy- O during the worst of the downpour.

I worried about him at first, that atheist.  Grandma, a devout Catholic, complete with rosaries and Mary statues, stayed silent on the subject.  Mom just sighed.

"But aren't you scared to go to hell?" I asked him.

"No.  I will be buried and that will be the end of it."  answered Dad.

Although this, at the time, was an even scarier concept than hell, it did give me something to think about other than church doctrine.

As good a family photo as I am going to get.

I had nearly a decade off of English language masses while I was in Europe.  I explored Buddhism, lived among Muslim families and learned their traditions, and became a Mormon groupie.  Really, this is not irreverent.  Greatest bunch of people ever.  Totally cool Church.  Great Halloween parties.  Family oriented.  Love God and Jesus.  I just finally realised that if I wanted a bunch of old, white guys - ie a Church hierarchy - telling me what to believe I might as well go back to the brand of Christianity I started with. 

And then I heard the whole One Way, One Path, One Light through Jesus thing in English again and it disturbed me in a way it hadn't disturbed me in French or German.  French can make anything sound beautiful!  So can old medieval German churches!

Ian meet Kangaroo.

Or maybe it's like swearing in a foreign language.  It doesn't hit you with the same force as in your own language.  And while this wasn't swearing, it hit me hard, and it hit me wrong and it hurt.

At least the Catholic Church let me have Mary. 

I follow the Tao, but it turns out I need my gods.

Ian in charge.

So that when Aidan handed me a childrens' book at the library over the holidays, I was ecstatic to read the first line.   (He handed it to me on April 9, the day before my birthday, meaning April 10th - which we spent at White Water World / Dreamworld on the Gold Coast - now has a double meaning for me, the beginning of my physical manifestation here in this lifetime and the beginning of my awakening here in this lifetime.)

"A Hindu believes that there are many paths to reaching the goal of being at one with God."

I feel a little white-bread to call myself a Hindu at the moment, but it certainly is the central tenet of my core beliefs.

Ryan's day.  Poor kid, we DRAGGED her to Dreamworld!

Ryan and Ian and I were in the car last week when Gloria Gaynor came on the radio.

And I sang a little break -up song to the Christian God that had been thrust upon me my whole life.

"Just turn around.  Walk out the door.  Go on now.  You're not welcome anymore.  Aren't you the one who tried to hurt me with  desire?  I won't crumble.  I won't lay down and die."

I will survive.

Fun and games right up til the end!
Because that god, that Christian God of my childhood, is up there next to Brahma and Thor and Isis and a pantheon of Greek Gods currently hosting a god seminar on Mount Olympus, sipping wine and eating grapes and laughing at the antics of the druids out in the gardens.

That god, my god, is happy that I am finding my own way to Him. 

I am living the light, the love and the truth, not the doctrine and the dogma.

Nameste.  Om.  And Amen!