Wednesday, October 22, 2014

There's No Place Like Home!

Phew!  How things change!

I posted a blog in the beginning of September that maybe I shouldn't have but I am so glad I did.

Only a handful of you read it.  The count was 15.  You figure my family in the USA and the few close friends I had here who knew what was going on and that brings the count to 10.  The people I wrote it about - who were NOT meant to see it! - and they then showed their families and the count is 15.  So no public damage done.

Apology sent.  Blog post pulled.  Power of the written word - for good and for damage - noted once again.

It wasn't even all that well-written.   Yes Dee, it's strongest point was the "Broken Fences" title.  And yes, it WAS a metaphor.  But since I obviously would have had to explain it, not well done.

Most appalling to me, as someone who purports to be a writer, was the atrocious beginning.  I started off by talking about the Tao and Buddhism and Jesus and what a great person I was and how nice I was to everyone.

And then proceeded to tear into this other person.

So not cool.  So not what any spiritual guide intended. 

My apology was immediate and heart-felt.  I never meant to hurt anyone.  And, if it helps, I never meant for them to see it.  It was meant as a vent to close friends and family overseas.  The people who usually read my blog.  All ten to fifteen of them.  Most of them safely overseas.

The impact of that post has been life-altering though, and so I can't regret writing - or even posting - it.  Since then I have finally gotten myself to a different doctor and am being treated for severe anemia in addition to primary hypothyroidism with possible pituitary involvement. 

That explains a lot.  Like why I can't breathe or why my chest hurts when lifting weights.  Why I get dizzy or start to sway and almost fall asleep on my feet.  Why I am so snappy and anxious.  And exhausted.  Why I basically feel depressed - a huge fear - despite not really being depressed!  Severe anemia.  Severe hypothyroidism despite normal routine tests. 

It also explains why the sand in Ian's sandbox looks like the most delicious meal ever!

I have been taking iron and an increased dosage of thyroxine for three weeks and am already feeling better.  I still have dark circles under my eyes but my hair isn't as brittle and my skin isn't as grey.  I still get fatigued but not as early. 

I am starting to actually enjoy things again instead of just going through the motions.

If I can accomplish all that I have this past year without energy, just imagine what I will be able to do once I have a full contingent of working red blood cells and a metabolic system!

The same day I physically collapsed and literally couldn't do it anymore - because I could barely stand up anymore (and yes, this is what it took to get me to the doctor!) - was the same day we were asked to vacate our rental property.  For defamation of character due to said blog post.  (While this actually isn't a legal reason to cancel a lease, we took the out and ran with it.  Who wants to live next to someone they aren't comfortable with?)

And after that things just got better and better.  Everything fell into place.  Everything went right.  Everything.

It was like Damon and I - in our fear - were telling the universe that we were okay living like this, that this was as good as we could do or that it was all we deserved and all we were asking for.  It was okay to act like the people we were surrounding ourselves with (note: NOT literally the neighbours!) and to accept their different (okay, I mean lower!) expectations as our own.

I finally valued myself enough to go to the doctor and get the care I needed.  And to tell the universe what I really want.  That yes, I have the right to it and that yes, I deserve it.

We came to Australia 4 years ago on November 3.  And I finally feel like I am in a home and  in a community that fits who I am. has a dishwasher! 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ryan Meets the Green-Eyed Monster

Ryan apologised to me today for being rude to an adult neighbour who walked by this afternoon when I wasn't home.  When I asked her what had happened she told me that she wrote down the entire dialogue after it happened as a way of processing it.  (Woohoo!)

The power of the written word!

She reminds me this is a FICTIONAL story (wink, wink) and that all names have been changed to protect - well, who the hell are we trying to protect anyway?  Names changed for the sake of propriety!

Tony A Gaskins puts it this way:

The closer you get to excellence in
your life, the more friends you'll
People love you when you're
average because it makes them
But when you pursue greatness it
makes people uncomfortable.
Be prepared to lose some people
on your journey.
Ryan E Connor (I mean Amy!) puts it this way:

Amy is a 14 year old horse crazy girl. She home schools due to problems at school and to focus on her dream: To become a famous horse trainer. She also belly dances with new friends, that are more like family. Amy is in year 8. She repeated the end of year 4 when she and her family moved from Germany. She has 4 younger brothers.
Amy's Diary:
Regular State School hasn't taught me to be happy. Horses have. And so has dancing with my friends. The only thing school has taught me is how some people are just a big waste of time. 'There comes a point in your life when you realise who really matters, who never did and who always will.
Thursday August 28, 2014
After I finished school today, I went out and took care of Midnight. I groomed him, cleaned his paddock and hand grazed him.
As I was out hand grazing him two ladies walked by leading their ponies dressed in riding gear.
Hello Amy. Did you know Bailey got a C average on her report card last term? Did you know she got a C- in her recent Science Test? What did you get?”, The lady in pink NDHD top and cream jodpurs said in a rather snobby tone.
I got a B- on my Science Test and a B average on my report card.”, I replied casually.
Then she seemed to notice that I was holding a different horse. Talk about stupidity. There is a big difference between a bay horse with no facial markings and a chestnut horse with lots of 'Bling'.

“So, you got rid of Zorrow then, eh? How much did you sell her for?”,she was still talking in snooty tone.
”We didn't sell her. She was never ours.”, I replied, starting to get annoyed.
”What's wrong with this horse?”,she was getting snootier.

”There is nothing wrong with him.”
”Well if you aren't going to tell me what is wrong with him, tell me who owns him. He needs a chiropractor, he isn't standing normal.”
”He is my horse.”, I said proudly. Giving him a pat as he gave me a kind nudge. And he doesn't need a chiropractor, his feet are just sore from his shoes. If you don't believe me ask my parents”,
”Our horses don't get shoes plus the chiropractor visits them every 6 months. You don't deserve a horse like that! You do nothing, your parents do everything for you! You wouldn't know the meaning of hard work and deserving a horse like that, even if a dictionary hit you.”,
That was when I completely lost it.
”Really, so me being out here everyday taking care of him, grooming him, feeding him, watering him, cleaning his paddock, rugging him, riding him isn't hard work?”, I said in the same tone as she was.
”Well, Bailey does the horses once a week, and you, well, have never fed a horse in your entire life. She has the interest and you don't.”
”Yeah, well I feed him everyday. Twice a day. And for your information, I have the interest and the passion. And you will see, once I become a famous horse trainer.”,
”Well, if you don't show how do you expect to become famous, hey? Bailey got 5th place at a recent horse show. I bet you have never even been in a horse show. Bailey will be competing against Sonia next year, and you won't because you have to start at the beginning.”,
”I actually have. And I placed 2nd,1st and 3rd. But I don't car about winning. And anyway, Midnight is at a Prelim Dressage level. Plus, Bailey will only compete against Sonia in her dreams because Sonia trains and works hard and she goes to shows as often as she can. Sonia is at a higher riding level than Bailey, and she always will be if you don't train. You can't expect a horse to win a show if you barely even ride it once a month.”
”Well, I guess we won't have to worry about competing against you, since you can't even get to shows. And you need to work on your manners girl.” And she walks off. The lady who was walking with her gives me this sympathetic look and follows.

”I'm not the one who needs to work on manners. Come on Midnight, let's get you ready for bed.” I said to Midnight once both ladies were out of ear-shot.

After half an hour, they came back and stopped by our driveway and looked in.
I pretended to not see them. They watched as I fed, rugged and watered my own horse. She has to pay her daughter to feed the horses, she doesn't do it out of free will.
I am sick of people telling me that I don't deserve a horse or that I am doing something wrong. I was taught never to hit a horse with a whip, that only makes situations worse. I trained the last horse I had, with weekly lessons on how to re-school this horse. Now, Zorrow is a safer horse. It was time to move onto a bigger challenge and my own horse. I will train Midnight to be an All-rounder. I will teach him to jump, western and tricks. And tackless, of course.
I have been riding for a long time. And I have been working really hard. There are people out there who don't deserve horses. Especially the person who said I didn't deserve a horse like Midnight. That is the second time I have heard that.
Stop correcting me on things I already know. Stop telling me I don't deserve a horse because the fact is... You are the people who don't deserve a horse. You are the ones who don't really know the meaning of hard work and deserving. 
Note from Amy's mother:  I couldn't be prouder of you honey.  There are times to be polite and there are times to stick up for yourself.  Good for you for refusing to be bullied by a jealous adult.
The more you grow into your own, the more other people are going to be intimidated by you.  (It doesn't help that you have the figure of a Greek goddess and the confidence to match!) They will tell you you are just fine and should be in regular school and that your parents are just coddling you and catering to you and treating you like a princess and giving you things that you don't deserve.
Take it as a compliment.  You are just fine. 
And I am taking it as a compliment as well.
Thank you, Green-Eyed Monster, for reminding me what a wonderful job my family is doing!!!


Monday, August 25, 2014

Technophobe Rant

Computers still make me so mad.

Doesn't anyone else see what I do:  that these tools that were supposed to make our lives easier have instead taken to dominating our time?

Mostly I think they are a big waste of time and I don't bother with them.

But every now and then someone convinces me that I am missing something and so I try it - for the kids.

Mindcraft?  Biggest time suck I have ever seen.  1980s technology.  Concept that is just a lame computerised version of Legos.  My kids can get brainwashed into it just like any other.  But it's a worldwide phenomenon and now my kids can say they do it just like everyone else.

I would prefer they come discover the Glass House Mountains with me.  Hammer apart some sandstone to see what's inside.  Build a Lego version of the mountain.  Tell me what they've thought about that day.

Granted, I have met a couple of autistic boys who create a comfortable world for themselves on Minecraft.  And who then use it as a means of communicating with other kids.  Cool.

But let's all stop pretending our kids are brilliant for being able to use this program.  I mean: it IS meant to be user friendly, isn't it?!

Last week we watched a kids gaming news show.  Apparently someone has created an exact replica of Mount Everest on Mindcraft.  The hope is that someday the entire planet will be realistically rebuilt on Mindcraft.


They can't get these people to work on solving the current Ebola crisis or TB or AIDS or world hunger or cancer or poverty or the Mid East?  Never mind the last one:  I finally looked it up online.  They have been fighting for over 4,000 years.  Christ couldn't solve it.  Mohammed couldn't solve it.  Where the heck is that saviour the Jews keep waiting for?  Heads up:  NOW would be a good time.  If you don't get blown up before you finish childhood. 

But those issues would require moving out of your parents' house and working on something other than computer games.  (Look:  Temple Grandin said it first and SHE's autistic.  So don't come down on me!)

Same with two year olds figuring out our IPhones.  Once again: icons you don't need to read to follow.  Instant gratification.  Our newest gadgets are MADE for a two-year old mentality.  Which is good since that is what I see all around me everyday.

But, of course, I HAD to try Reading Eggs.  Go ahead: it's so great for getting your kids to read.  Forgetting that my other four kids had learned to read WITHOUT Reading Eggs, I decided to give it a go with Ian. 

Ten years ago I made the same mistake with Baby Einstein.  The video shows moving images and objects designed to stimulate your baby's brain.  Like going outside or playing with blocks or coloring or SPEAKING wouldn't do the same thing?  Was this just a ploy to get people to feel good about sticking their kids in front of a TV screen instead of paying attention to them?

Ian has taught himself the letters and letter sounds over the past year while I was busy worrying about Ryan's schoolwork.  He DID use some technology: those abc toys that you press that then tell you the letter.  But then he walked around the house - or outdoors - and found letters and told me about them. 

And we read books. 

Books.  Remember those?

Today he wanted to learn about the clock - really, he asked - and I taped some numbers in a circle on the floor and he stood inside them and whirled around telling the time with his sword as a pointer.

I AM showing off a bit.  NONE of my other kids had this interest in letters and numbers before they were three.

But I'm finding that SPEAKING to him and LISTENING to him works a lot better than throwing him in front of a computer program. 

Like he really needs to get hooked on facebook.  Talk about a time suck.  Last week I had a dance mom get mad at me because I hadn't checked facebook that day to find out about the new performance she had booked in. 

"Is Andrew to able to perform at the Mango Hill gig?" she asked.

Not knowing which gig that was - and having quite a few Mango Hill gigs with RYAN's dance troupe as well - I asked her which one she meant.

"The one at Mango Hill,"  she replied. 

I had that one coming.  I am TRYING - and lately failing - not to be judging common IQs.

"What date it is?" I persisted.

"Oh, I don't know.  Uh.  Sept 3, I think?"

Note: SHE was the one who had put up the notice that afternoon!

"What time?"

"Oh.  I don't know.  It's on a Wednesday.  We all live nearby anyway.  It shouldn't be a problem.  Let me know if he can come."

Deep breath.  Not only does EVERYONE in the world NOT live in North Lakes or Mango Hill, (think USA military base without the soldiers in combat gear checking under your car for explosives at the entrances) but it apparently would come as a huge shock to some people living there that most of us wouldn't WANT to!  Plus, Andrew still has soccer on Wednesdays from 5 -6 and while HE has mastered the juggling act quite well, I am getting a bit old for it.  And have four other children to juggle in addition to Andrew.

I politely declined the invite.  Honestly, if you can't tell me person to person while I am standing right in front of you, then I am not wasting my time going to facebook to get the information.

Don't you dare text message me while I am still in the room either!

Maybe I AM retro, old-fashioned, German, Steiner, hippy homeschooler, anti progress.

My kids play board games and dress up as knights and superheroes.  They write books for fun and color home-made birthday cards.

As for Reading Eggs?  I am pleased to report that Ian doesn't get the concept at all.  The egg makes a big splat and a fart noise if you press the wrong letter.

"Heh.  Heh.  Heh.  Reading eggs farts, Mom,"  he tells me, as he intentionally presses the incorrect answers as often as he can.

It certainly does my little wonder boy.  Let's put on your spider man outfit and superman cape and go out and see what magical powers you can imagine for yourself this morning.

Without the help of a preprogrammed computer game.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Hanging the Laundry To Hang the Laundry

Better things to do than dishes!

On the other hand, I have this laundry thing down pat.

I LIKE doing the laundry.  You take the filth out of the room, throw it into a machine that hums and thrums for an hour and a half, letting you know that you are getting the job done without really being there at all.  THIS I am present for!

I have the kids trained to throw their stuff into the machine.  Damon too.  Most of the time.  Once it is full, the machine sings prettily as I punch in the cycle.  I even use the "conserve water" cycle so I can feel really good about myself.

And, when the machine is done - and again sings sweetily at me - I go out to hang the laundry on the line in the clear Australian sunshine.  Depending on the load - whether it is full of socks or full of one of Damon's work outfits - it takes me twenty to thirty minutes to hang the laundry.

I have a system.

I love my system.

I make order out of the chaos.  Socks and undies here.  To hide from the neighbours.  Sports stuff here.  Mine there.  Ian.  Ryan's riding gear.  School uniforms go on hangers in the shade.  The twins stuff gets hung together and sorted later.

I think of the Americans who waste so much energy on driers.  And on the Germans who have to hang their laundry in their basements for four days before it dries.  I feel really really lucky to be in Australia hanging out my laundry in the sun. 

Australians also have a very American approach to ironing.  Heads up Europe:  you can mostly get away without it.  Put the shirts on hangers on the line.  Spray with lavendar.  Heck, I don't even do that.  Only cowboys iron their jeans in the USA.  So far no one in my gym has noticed that my sports gear is wrinkly. (Hmmm.  Maybe if I lost more weight?!)

The only thing that used to get me down about the laundry is the inside out socks I used to waste time turning rightside out.  All I could think about while I was doing it was that if the boys (and Damon) could be just that little bit more respectful of my time and do it themselve then I wouldn't be stuck doing it for everyone all at once.  It made me so mad.  Like I have all this time to waste on turning out their flippin' socks.  Like they couldn't respect me and love me enough to do this for me.  Heck, for themselves.

About nine months ago I got fed up with it all.  I figured I would teach them a lesson.  Let them work it out for themselves.  If they left it inside out, then so would I.  I happily handed back socks that were inside out or worse - where one was and one wasn't.  Whatever.  Let them learn.  If they want their socks nice, then they can learn to do it for themselves.

And you know what?

No one noticed.

No one noticed.

Not one male person in my house - and there are five of them - noticed or cared that their socks were inside it when they put them on.  And here I was getting myself all worked up about it.

They didn't learn a lesson; I did.

I no longer worry about their socks or a lot of other things - like how the beds are made - because you know what?  They don't.  If it doesn't matter to them, then why was I killing myself doing it for them?!

No one noticed.

I was righting socks for no one but myself.

Once I freed myself from that obligation, it's amazing what followed.

No more single socks waiting for a partner; turns out the boys also don't care if they are wearing two different socks in a pair.

They also don't care if they are wearing underwear or not.

Or if what they are wearing is truly clean or not.

And so - within reason - why should I?

It is truly liberating to hand control of their own lives over to the men.  It cuts down on the workload tremendously.

I sometimes wonder if we could solve all the wars in the world by just letting the men manage things on their own.  Once they ran out of socks they would find it hard to invade.

I still need to be heavily medicated - St. John's Wort DOES help - to clean the dishes.  (Ick, yuck, all that grease and food.)

But I would really miss hanging the laundry.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Washing The Dishes

Zen Master Ian

Over twenty-five years ago I browsed the campus bookshop at Cornell University and picked up a few books - on my parents' tab - that weren't in my curriculum. 

I still have most of them with me today.  Maybe I should have added them to my curriculum when I had the chance but back then I was conquering the world and only mildly interested in all this hippy shit as more of a lifestyle statement than an actual path to personal change.  What was there to change?  I was eighteen and perfect!

I have yet to understand most of them to this day.  The Vedas?  Upanishads?  Uh huh.  Good thing I ran into that Indian man (from New Jersey!) in the Atlanta Airport that day five years ago and had to spend eight hours in line with him during the snowstorm.  He directed me to a better version of the Bhagavath Gita and so at least I have a running start with that one.

What was a little white girl doing buying Indian spiritual books in Ithaca, New York twenty-five years ago when she was supposed to be studying chemistry?

And why did it take another twenty years for the universe to strand her at the airport with just the right guy to point her in the right direction?

The other book I think of most is "The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practise of Meditation" by Thich Nhat Hanh.

I have only made it through the first eight pages in twenty-five years, but those pages stick with me.

Once I have mastered the simple principles outlined in them, I aim to go on to Chapter Two.

On page one Allen learns how to make all time his time by no longer dividing into time for work and time for family and time for bills and time for groceries.  He makes his time with his child count as his time.  And time spent with his wife count as his time.  So that he now has unlimited time for himself.

I get it. 

In theory.

And every now and then I even manage to make it work for me.

I think of eating the tangerine, described on page five, all the time.  Jim gets so excited talking and talking about the future that he has no idea that he has peeled and eaten a tangerine at the same time. 

It is about mindfulness and being one with the present moment and what is right in front of you.

I do try.

But this one about the dishes I really can't get my mind around at all.

"If while washing the dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not 'washing the dishes to wash the dishes.'  What's more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes.  In fact we are completely incapable of realising the miracle of life while standing at the sink.  If we can't wash the dishes, the chances are we won't be able to drink our tea either.  While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands.  Thus we are sucked away into the future - and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life."

On one hand, this is what I am doing all the time while maniacally driving the kids around and planning their schedules and figuring out how to get two soccer matches and a dance rehearsal into one Saturday.  Before 11;00 am.  And setting up Ryan with a horse and the opportunities for a future in the equine industry.  Andrew with a possible soccer career.  Because the engineering just seems cut out for no good - why are they learning about roads and bridges?  To help the mining industry?  What about sustainable fuels and renewable energy sources?  Someone has to make batteries smaller and more practical to use.  They did it with silicon chips.  Oh - and dance, if the soccer doesn't work out. 

Ian and I go to the library and to gym time and music time to give him the best foundation to build upon for his future.

The future.  I am bound to the calendar and to the future, and am unable to live in the present.  I get that.

It's the part about the dishes that bothers me.

I don't want to be alive to do the dishes.

I agree wholeheartedly that "we are completely incapable of realising the miracle of life while standing at the sink."  Or in the kitchen at all for that matter.

I feel that I am only alive to be doing the dishes.

And I feel that there are better things I could be doing - with the kids, with my husband, for the world, for myself - than the dishes.

I get the whole living in the present thing, I really do, but I still don't see the part about obligation to the effin' dishes.

Maybe I'm not humble enough.

Maybe I have to go back and reread Chapter One. 

Problem is:  I have to go and wash the bloody dishes!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Running Through An Airport Naked

Awww!  How bad could THIS get?!

Why is it that I think about the fact that I am having recurring dreams of being lost in airports - and of being on a crashing airplane - more than about what happens to me in my waking life?

The crashing airplane thing two nights ago was no worry, really.  I had one crash a few years back and the dream just ended and it was all grey and my dreaming mind thought: oh, that didn't hurt at all and I am in control of my dream after all and so what that I died in this one, let's see if I can get a better one going. 

Same thing with the out of control cars and the nudity.  Really.  If you just ACT like you have clothes on in your dream, no one else in your dream notices you are naked.  It's YOUR dream.  It's also why you can dance like a moron and look like a professional or breath underwater or fly.  If the car is really out of control, let it crash and start over. 

The breathing underwater thing I mastered as a kid.  You just have to focus and relax.  (Shame I haven't figured it out in the real world, yet!)

Flying took some more time.  It's a matter of getting enough height and not letting the earth drag you down.  (Look.  I SEE the parallels!  I just can't apply them, yet!)

So what about the two possums I missed crossing the road on the way to dance class a few nights ago?  Wow is that sentence full of  - dangling participles is it? 

To clarify, I didn't miss the possums.  I saw them both.  I just didn't hit them with my car.  The possums weren't on the way to dance class, I was.  Although, why did the possums cross the road?

And what does it all mean?

Did I make it clear that the possums weren't a dream?  No?  I think I had better stop with the possums.

The best - and clearest - message I got from the universe came through the post this afternoon. 

The Brisbane School of Long Distance Education sent back Ryan's artwork from last semester.  Including the giant face mask made of recycled cardboard which we told them we never really needed to see again, thank you very much, feel free to save Australian taxpayers the postage. 

My universe has a sense of humour.  I spend three hours weeding out my facebook account of unwanted clutter.  And it sends me trash.  Marked "fragile."

Maybe I can use it the next time I am running late through an airport naked.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Great Purge Begins: Defragging My Facebook

Seemed like a great picture for having too much too handle!

So. I didn't have the courage to "unfriend" many people yet.  Only a handful.  People who have really made decisions in life that I can't abide by.

Most I just stopped "following."  Because I don't need to see their family photo albums or hear about what they watched on television or where they went for dinner or know what they are doing at the shopping centre on a Sunday. 

And this isn't because I don't care; it's because I don't have time to be personally involved in the lives of over 200 people living in every continent on earth except Antartica.  People I have met in my previous life as an expat, people I went to school with lifetimes ago, people I only knew for a few short years or people that just seemed really nice at the time.

Some of them I can't even be sure how I know anymore.  Who are they and how did they end up my friends?  I checked the country to be sure.  Ahah, Germany, must be English Group. 

It turned out I didn't have a lot of people on there I actively disliked.  Although there was one I just realised must have unfriended ME months ago.  Problem solved.

Most are just really kind or interesting people or people with similar skills or hobbies and interests.  Or kids with Asperger's.  Or kids the same age.

I had to keep all the family members, of course!!!

I unfollowed anyone who I was only keeping on there just in case they might help me in some way in the future, that were a good connection to have.  That is not a reason to keep tabs on someone.

And I unfollowed anyone I kept on there only to keep tabs on them, to compare, to see how their lives are going, to make sure my life is okay.

I strongly suspect this is why most people are on Facebook to begin with.

I unfollowed anyone who gave me that "not-so-good" feeling, people I was never REALLY friends with but we ran in the same social circles, people I was close to once and who then turned mean, people that I never really liked that much to begin with but felt I had to friend because they asked me to.

I unfollowed a lot of really really nice and great and interesting people too, people I just don't have the time to follow up with and whose content is just bogging me down.

I kept people with mutual interests - my old writers' groups, my new dance troupe - and true friends who are truly interested in the same things that I am.

If you read my blog, or have told me how fantastic I am recently, I kept you too! 

And already my content has changed to reflect my interests - world interests and social concerns  - rather than being a barrage of unwanted information on daily activities and suburban trip-trap.

I made that last word up.  I don't know what I mean.

All I know is that I didn't care about most of the shit that was up there before - even if it was posted by people I really liked - and now I am learning about Rita's view on the atrocities between Israel and Palestine and what Margarets thinks about representations of the Romani people.  (Or that Sharon likes my pretty dress.  That's really important too!  I need people who care about ME as well as the state of the world.)

By clearing out the clutter, I have made room for the people who post things I am actually interested in. 

I am hoping that defragging my facebook is just a small part of finding myself again, of remembering what I am really interested in and what really matters to me.  And who.  Yes, Mat, for reminding me of what's really important. 

It's part of not trying to please everyone else, of learning that not everyone needs to be my buddy, that I need to focus my energies in order for them to be effective.

Although commenting on my blog or how great I look in my dance costume really works too. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I CAN'T Quit!

I meant to write about saying 'no' and about all the activities I am going to quit.  Like no more P and C (PTA) meetings.  I learn a lot but it's another two nights a month out late.  And no fundraising for either school.  I don't like to raise money, I hate fun run sponsors and chocolate drives and sausage sizzles and trivia nights and discos with a bunch of crazy sugared up kids.  I hate feeling like I have to participate for the good of the school and the good of the kids. 

What the fuck?  I am happy to pull them out and home school any time.
I am so tired of having to force myself to go out into the scheduled routine of suburban school life every afternoon. 

But then I couldn't get this picture loaded.  Which wasted an hour I wanted to write.  Also interrupted by finding a boat for Ian to play with so that he could pretend to be a dolphin swimming next to it.

Yes, he told me this.

This is after getting Damon and three boys off to school and before 8:00 am. 

Carol texts me at 8:15 that her son isn't going to school so that Andrew - who is supposed to meet her son and get a ride to dance with Carol - should just come find her on his own.  (She is at the primary school next to their high school.)

Andrew is already at school.  He HAS a mobile but he forgets to use it.

Which means the afternoon I had planned going to an Eco-Mums meeting (and- oh shit - I forgot to remind Aidan and Matthew to come find me in the meeting room after school) might turn into an afternoon trying to figure out where Andrew is.

He has hip-hop class from 4-4:45, soccer practise from 5 - 6, and another dance practise for a flash mob his crew has been asked to perform in from 5:30 - 7:30.  The flash mob takes place next Wednesday at 7:30 pm.  In Brisbane. 

Channel 10 will be filming four other flash mobs they are doing to promote the Redcliffe Festival.  Twice on Thursday nights and twice on Sunday mornings.  In the next two weeks.  All this to raise money for the trip they are taking to Melbourne in the beginning of October to compete in International Finals.  We also have a sausage sizzle, disco, and trivia night.  This month. 

For today, I have already worked out that he can't be everywhere at once and that - more importantly - I am literally making myself sick driving from Narangba to Kurwongbah to Murrumba Downs to North Lakes and then back to Murrumba and then back to North Lakes and home to Narangba.

Hence Carol helping me get him from Murrumba to North Lakes.  If he finds her.

Which allows me to get the twins back from Kurwongbah to Narangba and then rest a bit before heading back to North Lakes for Andrew.

And he can skip soccer practise and just stay and dance for 3 1/2 hours.  4:45 - 5:30 break dance.  It's almost the end of the soccer season anyway.  Thank God.

Except that God - and a good bit of talent - has made his team the number one team in the league and so they are off to finals as well.  Two more Saturday games sometime in late August, early September.   Two hours away.  Each.

They should probably practise too.  Which means Wednesdays run between North Lakes (where he dances) and Murrumba Downs (where he plays soccer) continues.  It's only 8 minutes between The Space in North Lakes and John Oxley Field in Murrumba Downs.  He changes from knee pads and dance gear to shin guards and kleats in the car. 

And then we have awards night.  Twice.  Once for the twins and once for Andrew.

Ryan dances too.    She is also dancing at the Redcliffe Festival.    And her new horse comes this morning.  Although she is happy not to compete with him at the moment.  Shit.  That's a float (trailer) to buy and more already full weekends down the drain. 

Matthew wants to play the piano.  Although school trumpet lessons have kept him and Aidan happy for now.  Plus they are free.

All three boys want to take gymnastics.  And the twins still need swimming lessons.  Next term.

They all want play dates with their friends. 

Sure guys, if you can find a friggin' date free.  STOP finding new friends!

Ian and I have Music Time on Mondays and Story Hour and Kangaroo Bop.  I like Music Time - it's in a private home - but am beginning to question why he has to go to all these other "social" activities.  Because that is what modern society - and I - have decided is right?

Who cares if he plays with kids his own age?  He prefers older kids.  Kids who can verbalise and show him new things like soccer and dance.  Not kids who can't speak yet and just come over and hit him on the head.

That's social?!

Shit.  He has all the pre reading skills of a four year old in kindergarten.  Why send him to kindergarten?  To learn social skills from a pack of brats who haven't been taught to properly behave?  So he can conform to what traditional education says is right?  So that he can succeed and achieve and become something great?  He already IS great!

He goes to the crèche at my gym on Tuesdays so I can do yoga.  But I am so mad at myself that I also thought it was good to prepare him for school. 

I missed yoga yesterday.  Can't you tell?

I can't breathe.  My throat hurts.  I just want to....

God, I want to dance.  Or play with my magic rocks.  Listen to classical music.  Read "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho again.  Write.  Do yoga.  Sit under a tree.  In silence.  Walk along the beach.

Except the horse is coming this morning.

And I have kids to hunt down this afternoon.

What is it that's important, God?  What is my true Personal Legend?  (Paolo Coelho.)

It's not that I mind all the shuttling back in forth.  It's that I have nothing left for myself.

Is all this opportunity that's on offer for the kids just blocking our true destiny?  Or is it that, as the goal comes into sight, the obstacles to achieve it become harder?

Shit, Paulo.  I can't give up now.

But I CAN quit those committee meetings and those extraneous little social obligations that are only in my mind.

I CAN quit trying to be everything.

And focus on playing with my dolphin instead of trying to train him to perform for others the way his mother does.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Renee - Because Today's Her Birthday!

Headpiece.  Half-done.  But also something I would never have accomplished without Renee Life's big metaphor. 
Looking back on what I've managed to post this year, I realise that what I write isn't as bad as I think it is, that life has been incredibly busy and that I miss seeing pictures of my children.
I've been sick. 
Since the end of April.  The first Tuesday the kids were back at school after the Easter holidays in fact.  Or rather, 3 AM that Wednesday morning, when I woke up barely able to breathe.  I was so sick I spent the first week of school having Ryan watch Ian while I slept on the sofa for three hours a day. 
I managed to get to the twins' first soccer game that Saturday and every Saturday after that. 
I took TEN FULL DAYS off from the gym and then went back the second week in May so that I could punch out the 20 classes I needed to get my free GROUPIE T-shirt.  In two weeks.  While so sick I could barely stand up.
I got sick every evening I spent outside in the cold.  And yes, 15C counts as cold!  That's Monday nights for dance, Tuesday and Wednesdays for soccer and Fridays again for dance.  And every night I was up late for Tribal Style Belly Dance: Tuesdays.  I dragged through a weekend and managed to recover a bit but was down by Wednesday.
I never fully recharged, even after I stopped going to the gym.
And then came the Abbey Medieval Fest.  Or the weeks before it when there were costumes to sew. Which I don't do.  And my best friend - heck, sister - Renee started coming over during free hours to help sew four costumes.  She sewed Ryan's and mine before her own. 
She sewed my daughter's costume before her husband's.  Mine before her mother's.  Hers last of all.
Since January, Damon has been coming home to find gyspy skirts - or pieces of them - spread all over the kitchen.  Renee's entire sewing cache - her patterns, and materials and not one, but two, sewing machines (one is an interlocker?), made their way into our home.
We cleared out the playroom on the porch.  The kids now call it Renee's room.  They come home from school and ask if Renee is here.
So into our emptiness, which was packed pretty full to being with, but into the emptiness created by my sickness, stepped Renee.  She is a mix sister-daughter, a big sister, kindred spirit and friend to Ryan, a soul-mate for me, someone always welcome in our home, in her room. 
I've been getting slowly better - chest rads okay, EKG okay, no bloods ever done because my doctors suck - but ran in the Jetty-to-Jetty yesterday with Andrew and my cough is back.  I suspect seasonal allergies combined with cold and/or exercise induced asthma. 
My yoga teacher suspects I need to breathe. 
Oh yeah that.
Ain't life a bitch.  I won't slow down.  I can't slow down.  OH, can't breathe.  Funny how that slows you down!
I have no time, energy, or interest in sewing.  I have no time for those damn costumes.  I have no energy for more. 
And yet, the room was made - literally and figuratively - and everything was half done and in total chaos and totally unorganised and completely not in control and done systematically and....
In steps Renee.  She brings her own chaos into our crazy life. 
It turns out she is just what we need.
And as I tell Damon, if we were going to have a sixth child, isn't it nice that she's an older one, and a sister to me and Ryan at the same time.
Oh goody - grand-kids!!!!
(Cough cough.) 


Sunday, July 20, 2014

But the cold DOES bother me!

So yeah.  About that letting go.

I AM getting enough hints from the universe. 

Did Disney REALLY have to get in on the act?!

"Let it go.  Let it go."

"The cold didn't bother me anyway."

The difference being...oh shit...there ISN'T any difference.  Am I as transparent as a two dimensional Disney princess? 

The cold DOES bother me.  But MY THING doesn't: being a free spirit, sitting home and reading, writing, researching, learning, growing, accepting, learning to sew gypsy outfits, learning about gypsies, dancing, learning about gardening, horses, riding, working out, yoga, grit classes, running, breathing, making healthy foods, picking up shells and rocks and putting them all over the house, gathering cool looking pieces of wood off of the beach, advocating for education and Asperger's, empowering others to achieve their goals, working with others to achieve common goals, leading through example not through rules, learning that everything I discover in my quest for self growth has already been stated in the Tao.  Oh.  Ohm.

The thing is that I can't let go entirely because I have one - five - things that the Disney princess does not.  Children. 

I would LOVE to see her find her prince and raise five kids and still find the time to do ice sculptures.  This Disney princess's secret was NOT finding a prince!!!

I enter the cold every day: for school activities and pickup, for baby time music and gym circles, for soccer practise and dance studio, for fundraising and committees and helping out at the school, the soccer, the dance. 

This isn't me. 

This is what I hated as a kid: school.  And what I continue to hate every day that I have to do it.  I hate conforming to the schedule of modern day society.  I hate it.  I will never be comfortable with it.  And I can't wait until I can model my own life.

I throw myself into it and I FORCE myself to do it because first, as a child, it was what society expected and now, as a mother, it IS what is best for my non-Aspie children.

And I am good at it, at faking it, at making it look easy.  I am in the thick of it.  I look happy.  (This is a common female Aspie trait, mimicking and becoming what is expected of you.  Being German certainly didn't help.  I AGREE with societal expectations whole heartedly.  I just wish that conforming to them didn't make me so miserable.)

And it takes me hours and days to recover.  Hours and days I don't have anymore.  I go from one activity to the next - needing MORE time to recover than most - and making do with LESS.

The cold DOES bother me. 

And I face it again and again day after day after day.

Let it go?  I guess I am still working on it.

But it's the other line that kills me. 

"The cold never bothered me anyway."

Ah hell..I guess I'd have to truly let go to figure out what the hell she is talking about!

If I am beginning to think I am starting to get SOME of what the Tao is talking about I hope that one day I will be advanced enough to understand Disney.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

I Give Up!

I don't like to "let Go and let God." 

I'm more of a "God helps those who help themselves" kinda gal.

Let go?  And who is going to pick up the mess when I do?

God?  God?!  Have you seen what a mess He's made of things?  Cancer, disease, child labour, war, genocide, global warming.  Uh yeah...I think He's having enough troubles managing his own affairs let alone worry about taking care of mine.

Maybe He oughta try yoga.

"Surrender to the Earth," and all that.

Except I'm not any better at surrendering than I am at letting go. 

My least favourite pose in yoga is "Child's Pose."  That's the one where you just sit back on your heels and lean forward and chill out.  Let go, they tell you.  Complete surrender. 

And all I can do is think of how uncomfortable this is and how I hate being bent forward over my fat stomach this way and is my fat ass far down enough on my heels and my stomach is on my knees which is obstructing my breathing and I can't draw breath and I hate this pose and when is it time to get into "Warrior."

I'm more of a fighter.   

I can flee too. 

But surrender? Let go?

That sounds like giving up to me.

A few weeks ago the kids and I did a mini archery class at the Abbey Museum in Caboolture.  The kids do it all the time, but I thought I would give it a go this time as well.  I had Andrew show me how to hold the bow and string the arrow and then....well, then I had to let go.

I had to let go.

Let go.

Let go, my mind said.

Let go, my son said.

Let go, said the instructor.

But letting go involved, well, letting go, and it was really really hard.  You see, I had spent all that time learning to set it up and I finally had it all in a nice position and it looked good and my fingers were in the right position ad if I let go I wasn't sure what would happen to the string and to my fingers and to that position that I had worked so hard to get to.

I am not making this into a metaphor on purpose.

Finally, I let go.

And the arrow sailed pretty far and fairly straight. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Kenny Rogers on Life

You'll have to thank (condemn?) Lindsey for my latest writing spree.  She sent a chain email asking us to send our favourite quote to live by to person number one on the list and then move her name up and place ours under it.  I never did forward it to twenty friends - and I only answered it a month later - but I did meet Mary that way and catch up again with some old faces from the Stuttgart Writers' Group.  Oh dear - I am SO bad at letting go. But more on that later.

Writers are notorious for not being able to follow directions. 

Excuse us; we all decided one time in Stuttgart that it's our brilliance and our creativity.  The rules really CAN'T apply to US can they?!

So I sent two quotes BEFORE the one that counts.  And have come up with another since then.

1.  Is a personal quote from Lindey herself:  "Everything strong comes from something broken." (Look, behind every writer is a person searching for healing! Oops.  Is that another one?!)

2.  Is a personal quote from a friend of mine here.  When discussing Tao and emptiness and what it means.  And if emptiness is good.  "I guess it all depends on what you allow to fill the emptiness."

3.  Is mine.  I still want to blog on this one.  It came to me last week.  After a LOT of searching.  "Surrender is giving up with hope."

4.  Kenny Rogers.  (Written by D. Schlitz)  "You gotta know when to hold 'em.  Know when to fold 'em.  Know when to walk away.  Know when to run."

I heard it again today at the Urban Country Music Festival in Caboolture and really think it covers everything there is you need to know about life.

Especially the part about running!!!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

An Empty Nut. (Continued)

The rules didn't used to apply to me.

Why am I so crushed by them now?

If only someone had told me children were like Horcruxes.

They are more than carrying your heart forever on the outside, fragile, as someone once stated.

They tear apart your soul.

Until there is nothing left of you.

Although, once you have had them, you are nothing without them either.

Without my anxiety, my world is grey.

I can't remember the last time I felt joy - true, unrestrained joy - without boundaries or barriers or obligations or texpectations, without timelines and deadlines to meet.

Is this all there is?

Is this what I came here for?

How long can a soul run on empty?

What's after empty?

(Hmmm...maybe if I took a WHOLE dose of St John's Wort I wouldn't worry about this so much any more.  )

A friend once told me that it depends on what fills the emptiness.

I am waiting. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

In a Nut.

Speaking of 'in a nutshell', this is what I wrote on March 31 while watching the boys at hip-hop and break dance.  I didn't post it, because I didn't want to scare my mother!  (I'd been taking the half doses of St John's Wort for a week by then.)

So.  It's taken the edge off.  Now what?

Who am I without my anxiety?

An empty mellow shell.

Now that I'm not worried about all the things I need to do.

I'm bored.

Who am I without my anxiety?

Taxi driver, dish washer, laundry lady, fast order cook, schedule planner, clothes sorter, 8th grade teacher, learning my alphabet for the sixth time, toilet cleaner, nursery rhyme singer.

Does it really matter how many pushups I can do, how long I can hold a plank or how fast I can sprint?

I am only as good as my last workout.

I am only as slim as my last weigh-in.

The endorphins are as fleeting as the anxiety.  Are either real?

Am I only as young as my face cream?

Who am I?  If not this portrait of middle-aged suburban mother of five I have lived myself into?

Sigh.  Who am I? 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May. Be!

Oh, I don't know, sometimes the universe DOES seem to be working as it should.  Take, for instance, the fact that I haven't been online except to check school and sport activities in over half a year.  I answer an email - granted, from someone I trust - and end up with a new friend and inspiration.  Just at a point where Damon is home more often and I can contemplate writing again.  (He's been working six days a week, 72 hours a week, in a country where every other dad is home for 5;00 soccer practise and where it is illegal to force employees to work more than 38 hours a week.  Don't ask.  If we had wanted him to work that hard and not see the kids we could have stayed in New York City, thank you, and been able to afford an au-pair, maid, lawn and pool care - oh, and a pool!)

Last term was tough.  But, in less cynical moments, I do feel like people are being sent at the proper moments to take care of me. 

First things first:  I started taking half doses of St Johns Wort in mid March.  It DID take the edge off and get rid of the anxiety.  But don't panic on the essay I wrote after that - emptiness might be what I was looking for after all!  Blah-dom without worry was just something very new to me at first.

Some assumptions to start with, so that we are all caught up for April:

1.  My kids are still brilliant.  All of them.
2.  Ian is so smart I might have him writing my blogs soon.
3.  Ryan still has Asperger's.  Although I haven't wanted to beat her since that big fight over showering (or, more to the point, NOT showering!, over two months ago.
4.  The school system still needs improvement.
5.  And I, of course, know exactly how to improve it.
6.  The Queensland culture often confounds me.
7.  Although some of my best friends - and family - live there, some things about Germany - the culture, the government, the school system and the World Wars - still make me angry.
8.  I get irrationally angry at the weather over there.
9.  I believe my personal growth is accelerating at an exponential rate - which Ian should be able to calculate for you before he is three - and also believe I am the only one to have had these revelations before and feel the need to share them with everyone.  Sorry about that.
10.  I am still too fat but I love working out and so continue to do it anyway.

And that, in a nutshell, is me at 45.

Although lately I feel this is really just the beginning and not the middle at all!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

What Friends Are For! Ode to Catherine

I love that my friends have a much better opinion of me than I deserve.

Take this text from Catherine last night (which came with a photo of the finished products):

"I got cheap small Easter eggs.  Put them into water balloons.  Blew up ballons slightly and tied off.  Then dipped yarn into 50/50 PVA glue and water and wrapped them around the balloons.  When they are dry, pop balloons and eggs are trapped inside.  (With the coloured string around them.)  Hang up on Easter day. "

This is the type of person I am friends with.  Such a tough act to keep up with!  I would like to say that Catherine was showing off - after all, she deserves to! - but the punchline came before the instructions.

"I thought this might be something you would like to try with your children!"

I also love having friends with comedic value!  (And Catherine even KNOWS my children!)

Oh, Catherine.  At one time I thought this would be the sort of thing I'd like to try with my children too!  But that was before I had five of them.

I had Ryan banging on pots and pans and sorting dried peas and beans with plastic measuring spoons.  I made playdough.  That stopped with the twins.  Too much time spent chasing beans and peas around the living room.  Not enough time to make playdough while they were destroying the rest of the house!

You'd lost me at : dipped yarn into 50/50 PVA glue.  Just way too much effort!

I'm pretty happy I got the Easter box out of the shed.  It's been sitting in the front room for about two weeks now.  Unopened.

Please keep sending those ideas though. 

I like pretending that I AM the kind of mom who still does those things.

And I really DO like that idea of having the kids do dishes in the plastic pool out back.

I've even bought finger paints again recently.

What say I bring them over to your place over the holidays?!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Parking Principles!

The twins are why I have this obsession, compulsion, phobia about parking spots. Now that I only have one toddler I don't even use the pram parking. When a friend of mine with a three year old said she still used them and didn't see who would need them more than she did I had an answer: the lady with twins. Her other friend with twins had told her the same thing.

I am pretty loose about the pram spots. I don't need them anymore and I am grateful. I am happy to leave them to whoever feels they need them.

But Australians – Queenslanders anyway – take parking to a whole new level. Or maybe it's just the parents at our school.

They basically park wherever they like.

The problem is they need about twice the parking space a New Yorker would need for the same size vehicle. And I would whinge about it except I am still American enough to think that anyone with a pickup truck (or ute) could be packing a gun. And German enough to think that I need the walk up the hill anyway.

It's the principle of the thing though.

Curbside parking at the school is not the freeway. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LEAVE A CAR LENGTH IN BETWEEN VEHICLES WHEN YOU ARE PARKING! Or sorry, three-quarters of a car length, just enough so that my seven seater can't get in there.

And you don't need to shoot me dirty looks when I try to get in there anyway. I mean, what are you leaving all that space for mates? The kangaroos?!

Haven't you people heard of bumper to bumper parking? Eleven point turns to get in and out? Actually USING the bumpers in front and behind to maneuver your way in?

I guess not from the looks I get.

You people would be shot in New York for parking the way you do.

I think you might get shot in Germany for it too.

Today a friend of mine from Belgium caught me scouting out the cars as she walked behind me up the hill to school pickup. „What are you planning?“ she asked. „I'm not planning anything but I could easily get four more cars into that row of seven,“ I replied.

„Ah, yes,“ she agreed, „ but we can use the exercise.“


In America, we enlist friends and relatives in the hunt for a spot. „OOH. Look, a spot just opened up. You go and stand in it and I'll run down and get the car and circle round and make sure we get that spot.“

„Ah, it's a busstop“ said my same friend when I jokingly tried it on her today.

„Oooh, then let's do the German thing and copy down the license number and report it to the police.“

What about pretending to be German and parking on the grass?“ said a naive Australian friend.

Germans? Park on the grass? Mates, we aren't even allowed to WALK on the grass half the time!

It looks like I'll be complaining about the parking no matter where I live but I really am happy to be where I am right now, in a child-friendly country full of sunshine and families, where it doesn't matter that I have to walk a bit farther because it isn't raining and it isn't cold and I no longer have two infants to carry.

Speaking of which – will someone go and help Anita get out of the house and out to the Biergarten please? Once it stops raining.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Parking with Twins (and Missing Anita)

Ah, Australia, land of boundless plains to share.

But apparently not parking spots.

Now, let me remind you of my obsession with parking spots. (This is the part dedicated to Anita! I remember how you used to laugh at my parking rants when my twins were babies. I hope the memories still make you laugh now that you have your own!)

In Germany, I wrote a piece entitled „I Find God in Parking Spaces.“ I don't think I ever published it. It was so short. And a bit embarrassing. It was almost like a prayer. And then I stopped talking to God and that whole prayer thing got a bit awkward.

But really. I found God in parking spaces. If I found one – close enough to where I needed to be with two newborns, a four year old and a six year old, through city traffic that does not stop for children, in a climate of rain and snow, bitter cold, grey and windy, AND it was big enough for me to get my seven seater into in a world built for Vws and Minis – then I believed. If God couldn't provide me with even that much – after apparently trusting me enough to give me TWINS – then I wasn't sure He was worth it.

I wasn't that picky. I was willing to crawl out the passenger side. In the back. The one that had sliding doors. So that I could squeeze into spots and not requiring room to open a door.

I even got out on a wall once and pulled the kids out behind me.

Anita would have been laughing but you know what I'm talking about now, right?! (What kind of a car do you drive now anyway?)

The whole double stroller situation didn't make it any better. Having to maneuver it out wasn't so bad; I had that procedure down to military precision. Although it apparently looked so difficult that I had men offer to help me with it. German men.

The stroller problem was that Europe – or Germany anyway – isn't wheelchair accessible.

Which means that the only twin strollers available at the time (side by side) couldn't fit into most public buildings. Which means that when the twins are infants you also need to take two baby carriers with you on top of the stroller – literally balanced precariously ON TOP OF THE STROLLER – to carry up the stairs and into the buildings. No elevators either.

I wonder now why I didn't just lay the twins on the floor. But yeah- I had to CARRY them in first. Before neck support.

And you just didn't lay babies on the floor in Germany. It just isn't done.

Someone official would have spoken to me about it. Because of some mum complaining.

Not that anyone would have offered to help. Just judged and prosecuted.

I remember the last time I tried to get to a public library in the city with Babette. We had to park over four blocks away. She took our older four and I got the twins out into the stroller and made my way over curbs with the extra two carriers balanced on top of it. By the time I got to the library one of the twins was screaming and needed a diaper change. The other was asleep. (They always did this – tag team sleeping – just to keep me on my toes CONSTANTLY!) I had to change one outside on the lawn, then transfer both to their carriers and lug them up the stairs into the library, sweating and exhausted.

Only to find that library hour was over – the kids and Babette had really enjoyed it – and it was time to turn around and repeat the entire process in reverse.

Oh dear, you don't get out much now do you Anita? I'd like to say it gets better. And it does.

In Australia! (By the way, that's when I used to walk through the fields and visit you in Hildrizhausen instead! I'd love to say I wish I was there, but I REALLY wish YOU were HERE!)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Daniel's Law

Let me just say this before it passes us by.

Because it shouldn't pass us by.

And I hope it doesn't.

Australia just passed a guilty verdict on the man who sexually molested and killed a 13 year old boy here in southeast Queensland 12 years ago. I don't know all the details because I can't bear to hear them. Maybe he didn't molest this one because this one struggled and that is why he died. I've been hearing about this case ever since we moved here. Everyone here knows Daniel Morecombe was waiting at a busstop to go to get his haircut and the bus driver passed him by because the bus was full. But waved to him that another bus would be coming soon.

Except this creep found him first.

I don't know how the Morecombe's can bear it, let alone start a national campaign for awareness and prevention as well as going into schools and teaching other children how to be safe so that the same thing that happened to their little boy doesn't happen to them. It took them ten years to find the body and two more to prosecute the man everyone knew was guilty.

But I do know that Australian understatedness is just killing me.

They gave this guy – a guy who has been in prison before for molesting children and was let go on parole– a life term with possibility of parole in twenty years.

Are you friggin' kidding me?!

The Morecombes say they are disappointed with the sentence but are certain he will die in prison.

Are you friggin' kidding me?!

How certain can you be when there is THE POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE? For someone who was parolled before and then killed your little boy?

The guy who let him out of prison the first time says he's sorry he did.

Ya think?!

They are working for a national registry for convicted sex offenders – like Megan's Law in the USA – but the justice system is worried this would lead to vigilantes taking matters into their own hands.

I know this had been said before but....

Are we actually worried about protecting convicted, parolled sex molesters more than we are worried about protecting ourselves and our children?

Are you friggin' kidding me?!

There are very few rights that we don't, as a democracy, have. We can choose our partners, our haircolour, what books we read, who we hang out with, what music we listen to, who we vote for, who to pray to, what to teach our children, where to send them to school, what we want to believe.

But it has never at any time in any civilisation been our right to kill another human being.  (Defining "human" being something else we have had to work on.)

That man did not have the right to sexually molest children or to kill them.

And others shouldn't have the right to try. Or to be protected so that they can try again.

There should be a Daniel's Law here the way there is a Megan's law in the USA.

It won't protect our children from every psychopath out there, but it will let us know which neighbour not to trust as a baby sitter. I looked up the list when I lived in Arizona and NAMES came up in HANDFULS just within our walking area.

(Of course when Damon got home he found I had also been inadvertantly registered in a few inappropriate sex sites, but hey.... Sorry babe, not researching what you wish I was!)

It's not about forgiveness and second chances. Look what Daniel's killer did with those.

It can't be about an individual's right to privacy. They gave that up when they took that right away from someone else. Against their will. Forcefully.

It's about protecting ourselves and our children.

Are we actually worried more about protecting the rights of convicted sex offenders to anonymity more than we are our own childrens' rights to safety?

There should be a Daniel's Law and a Megan's Law because there is no Daniel or Megan.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Children for Sale?

Maybe this isn't perfect parenting technique, but I've been trying sarcasm.

"Listen kids, we now have the one we wanted, so we can now sell off you earlier models that aren't working out."

This is on days when Ian is teaching himself the alphabet and flute and playing hopscotch with three year old girls on his own.

Funny enough, the two I am talking about know exactly who they are.

"Yes, I am talking about you two: the seven year old who didn't want to read today and the fourteen year old who won't shower."

"No, we won't mention that in the ad, and no, we won't show them the three that ARE working out okay."

Of course, I used to ask Ryan if we should take Andrew back as a baby because we thought he was broken. 

Sorry Ryan, the warranty ran out on that one!

And, as we are constantly reminding Andrew, we HAVE put a lot of time and effort into the twins so we should probably keep them.

I'm not REALLY selling off any of the kids.

I just think it's really funny the two of them knew they were the ones with "For Sale" signs on their foreheads that day!

We discuss this at family meal times. 

Do I get brownie points for having those?!


Monday, March 17, 2014

A Daughter Just Like Me?

„When you grow up I hope you have a daughter just like you!“

Boy did they ever get that wrong.

A daughter just like you, you would understand!

The way I see it, a daughter like me got good grades, pretty much ran the school, did the school work and home work herself, managed her own schedule, could drive herself places at 16 (something Qld really needs to think about) and got herself into university and veterinary school without any help.  

Let me be the first to say my mother might have more to say on the subject.  Write your own blog, Meka!

Really. In first grade they placed me in the hallway by myself during reading groups and I read the highschool textbook alone. It was heaven. I figured out my own freshman year schedule when the guidance counsellor left me in the room by myself for a few minutes. And I just ignored the uni rules and wrote my own schedule there too, taking on extra courses without asking for permission.

I pretty much took control early on.

Mostly because I didn't trust anyone else to do it properly.

I spent much of my childhood watching and listening to everyone else muck it up and my mother just quietly accepting and leaving it alone. This drove me crazy even as a little kid. Couldn't you see that these adults were mucking up simple things and why wouldn't you speak up and do something about it?

By now I am realising it might be about acceptance. Relinquishing control.

Giving up really.

But I think it is also because stuff like that just didn't – and still doesn't – bother my mother. This is because my mother is a lot like my daughter. And my daughter is like my husband. Who is, as much as they will all hate this, a lot like my mother.

Ryan even has Meka's handwriting! It is unbelievable.

I spend most of my time envying these people their lack of concern and some of the time hating them for leaving it all up to people like me to sort it for them. Although, since Bobbi thanked me for the work I had done at Lawnton that now benefits her daughter, I feel better. I know not everyone can stand up for themselves. It's just nice to know they ARE standing behind me!

Because, when it comes right down to it, the people who pay up in the end are the people who care the most. We are the people who get things done.

Just once I wish I could be the serene one: the one who knows someone else will get it done for her.

Om mani padme om. Be the lotus.

But that isn't me. That is Ryan.

And most of the time I am doing just fine with it. I accept my daughter for who she is. And I am learning when to take a stand and when to leave it alone; how and when to use my talents for good rather than let them lead me into evil. It's all very Tao. Or Spiderman.

Other days I have a wish for Ryan: when you grow up and have a daughter, I hope that she is JUST LIKE ME!  (Right, Meka?!)

Go ahead: try and be a lotus when you've got a duckling like me paddling around in the shit!

Om mani padme om!

Sunday, March 16, 2014


Just another manic Monday.

I'll tell you why I don't like Mondays.

And maybe come up with something original to say as well.

Although, don't hold your breath.

Last Monday was another Series of Unfortunate Events.

It doesn't help that we are listening to the book on audiotape during our travels in the car. Even if it is narrated by Tim Curry. Who we all love.

It also doesn't help that we only listen to Tim when all three older boys are in the car. Because we are all in it together often enough to be halfway through the book in three weeks. When the twins are in the car alone we listen to Spanish. They can introduce themselves, tell you how old they are AND their likes and dislikes. As long as they like icecream, strawberries, pizza and coka-cola. But then again, who doesn't? And it's only been three weeks. In the car. Without Andrew.

If Ian is in the car – which is altogether too often, poor dear – and awake – we usually have to preempt our regularly scheduled program for Elmo.

He also demands that we sing along.

All of us.

And he knows if your heart isn't in it.

There is a CD for Ryan. Or 97.3. And yes, she can tell if it isn't 97.3. It's magic.

And then I have a meditation CD for the times I am in there alone.

Yellow. It is the colour of self-fulfillment. And blah blah blah as my mind drifts elsewhere. But I like to think I am absorbing the wisdom subconsciously. And the music is nice.

I generally do keep my eyes open though.

When I can.

A lot of the reason we have so much time to self-educate ourselves in the car is because of Mondays.

You've already seen the schedule. On a good day.

Two weeks ago (I wrote this early March) Ian was vomitting. In a bucket. Helped by 7 year old twins while I raced to get Ryan to belly dance at the same time that Andrew needs to be picked up from hip-hop.

Really. I AM going to figure out how to be in two places at once. Something about a train and going fast enough around the world at the speed of light. But then the mass and something about impossibility.

How does Einstein get to weigh in on my mass and theoretical impossibility?

Last Monday I had it all sorted.

Until Andrew missed his ride from school to dance and I had to go back and get him. Which meant that the half hour I saved not having to go from the twins' school to his school and then to dance turned into one trip with the twins and another trip back to get Andrew. That added an hour of meditation. Or would have if Ian wasn't also forced to come with me.

Elmo's World? Welcome to mine!

Andrew missed his friend at the H block handball courts because he inadvertently spilled water all over himself by not screwing the lid of his water bottle on properly. Then, when the bell rang, he decided to go and clean himself up in the bathroom instead of make his appointment.

Because his uniform – that he would be changing out of twenty minutes later for dance – was wet.

With water.

On a 30 C (90F) day.

And yes, this is the gifted and talented one.

I would cry if I didn't keep telling myself it makes great fodder for my writing.