Monday, October 20, 2014

The Happiest Of Happy Days...


IMAGE : MORGUEFILE.COM | The Happiest Of Happy Days

I'm giving a bit of thought to happiness today.

Happiness is pretty damn important isn't it? I reckon it's a bit like oxygen for our soul.  You realise this a) when you are happy and therefore in a blissful state of gratitude for that particular state of mind, and b) when you're not happy and you find yourself out there on a desperate quest, searching for something that will make you feel happy again. As it turns out, life can so often get in the way of happiness and it can be really tough to maintain, especially when you're an adult. Sometimes being an adult really sucks. 

With that in mind, do you remember the happiest day of your life so far? I do. I don't have a wedding day to speak of so that's out and sure, the birth of my kids goes down in history as momentous and brilliant but truthfully, there was a shitload of pain and a whole lot of panicking health professionals present - yes it was happy but it was also BLOODY TERRIFYING. Thankfully there was a great result both times and I was indeed very happy about that, but I'm talking about a memory; a day or a time that is defined solely by true, carefree happiness.

Not surprisingly, my happiest memory comes from my childhood. It's quite random and unremarkable but it conjures up a feeling; a warm glow in the pit of my stomach when I remember it and that warm glow for me, represents something like happiness.  As an adult I have at various times experimented with hypnotherapy on that grown up quest for less stress, and when I have been successfully hypnotised, this is the memory that has always revisited and calmed me in my state of subconsciousness. Therefore, I define it as it my happiest. 

When I was a kid, we spent every weekend and every holiday season at the family beach house. We had loads of friends down there who spent just as much time there as me, and as an only child, that time spent hanging out with my friends was pretty valuable and probably went some way in ensuring I didn't grow up reclusive, spoilt or bratty. In that group of childhood friends there was much Lord Of The Flies business and there was absolutely zero tolerance for bratty behaviour. Our little coastal abode was flanked by many enormous pine trees. Across the road from my house was a vacant block filled with not only giant pines but also native shrubbery and a walking track that allowed us to cut through to the beach. This vacant block was like an extension of our garden - we spent many hours riding bikes there, pretending to be explorers, losing ourselves in imaginative games, and learning to ride horses when we were a little older. One particular weekend after a windy night, we awoke to find one of the enormous hundred year old pine trees had toppled over in that vacant block. The giant structure took up the majority of the block and lay there, mortally wounded, branches outstretched and roots still attached to the tree but stiff and horizontal forming a perfect ladder to the top of the large circle of hard dirt that had once surrounded the base of the trunk.  This unfortunate end to one of Mother Nature's most loyal disciples turned out to be the beginning of the longest and best fort-making, tree climbing day of my life.

From the warm sunny morning, through to the damp crisp evening we played on this old fallen giant. We climbed the protruding root system and sat high on the top of what would have been the base of this old tree. We ran along its vast trunk for what felt like miles, weaving through branches until we reached its tip. We attached ropes to it and abseiled, and we dug trenches underneath it, tunnelling like mini miners burrowing in the dirt to avoid whatever enemy we were had conjured up.  Our trackies and T's (the standard issue holiday house attire of the late 70s) were covered in soil and sticky sap and our fingernails were black. We played there for the entire day without a thought, eating the food that was thrown at us at various intervals by happy parents, who were probably rejoicing in the extended period of peace back at the house. 

And at the end of that day when darkness had fallen, dirty T's were replaced with warm dressing gowns, we were packed into our cars for the Sunday night return to the city exhausted but blissfully happy with the day we'd spent together so well as we waved each other goodbye knowing that next weekend, further adventures awaited us. And not surprisingly, there was not a smartphone, iPad or computer in sight, or even in existence. Here's to more days like that. For our kids who seem to spend too much time stooped over a screen and not enough time scraping the dirt out from under their fingernails.

Eventually, the council came and took our tree away. And years later, people bought that vacant block, built a house and fenced it up for privacy. Some thirty years later I'm still lucky enough to be able to walk past there often and when I do, I remember the cuts on our legs, the dirt under our nails and the cool evening that crept in. I remember that day as the happiest, most carefree of all.

So what's your most vivid memory? If you were asked to return to the most happy and carefree time of your life, what would it be? 


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

School's Back! Witness Protection Complete!


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | School's Back! Witness Protection Complete!

Hooray! School's back!! 

While I'm a fan of hols and the absence of such things like school lunches and early morning threats about going to school in pyjamas, I love coming home after the first day of term drop off. Bliss! First, coffee. Then worship the silence. Then housework.

Miss A went back this morning with her usual amount of tummy nerves, mostly revolving around people's reaction to her new short haircut. A paranoid fourteen year old in a six year old's body is she. God help me when she is ACTUALLY fourteen. Miss O went back filled with happiness; that girl fades like a wilting flower if she doesn't have copious amounts of social interaction with her friends. Her Dad is the same.  He's always the last to leave every party and God forbid, she'll undoubtedly be the same when her time comes. (The sounds of clinking glasses and extreme house music is already ringing in my silence-loving ears).

Our holidays were pretty good on the whole. The home bathroom renovation meant that the kids and I were exiled to the beach house which in theory sounds wonderful and mostly it was, but it also felt like some kind of witness protection program where my children and I were confined to each other's company with a directive to have as little amount of contact with the real world as humanly possible. Man, those two kids can talk; like a pair of jackhammers. I forget what they're like - holidays always remind me of their vocal abilities, at times, like a poke in the eye with a stick. Still, around the mindless chatter at unnecessary volume, we indulged in open fires, beach walks, bike rides, too many packeted chocolate cakes, made tree swings, and I made a somewhat feeble attempt at enforcing limited wifi use. Sometimes I won, sometimes I didn't. Admittedly, devices meant quiet and in turn that meant sanity for all so I relaxed the rules a little more than usual. There were lots of pyjama days and probably more laziness than there should have been but the way I see it, that's what holidays are about (or at least that's how I choose to justify my own lack of parenting motivation thanks largely to a super-dodgy neck).

Mr Mother Load stayed home, went to work and supervised the renovation (bless him). Let's just say he became very good at scheduling toilet breaks and showers in their various locations. Poor bugger. Better him than me, though. Imagine how much I would have complained!!? We saw him sporadically down at the beach house, then as we arrived home finally released from our self-imposed witness protection program over the weekend, he kissed us farewell and darted out the door to Las Vegas. Yeah - that's not a metaphor for better times. He really did head to Las Vegas. Now I'm in charge of plumbers and builders. But I have a shower, a toilet and a bit of peace, so I'm good with that.

Today, the house is quiet. My ears are resting. There's no one rustling around in the pantry insisting upon chocolate biscuits before 10.00am. There's no one nagging me to play Uno Moo for the one hundredth time and at some point in the next couple of hours, I may very well eat a square of chocolate outside of the confines of the pantry. And I may take my own sweet time about it, digesting it appropriately.

It's the small things. 



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ten Things I've Learned This Week...


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Ten Things I've Learned This Week
Like many others, we're on school holidays.

I usually equate the holidays to that age old expression, "it was the best of times, it the worst of times" but so far there's been more best than worst thankfully. Having said that, there's still a week and a half to go so I won't be making too many rash holiday statements at this stage. Damn it feels good to sleep in and not have to do school lunches every day though, doesn't it? Almost worth home-schooling just for that. (Clearly I'm throwing my head back and laughing madly into the air right about now. As if). 

Quite randomly, here are ten things I have learned this week:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Today Is A Bit Shit...


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Today Is A Bit Shit..
Despite the gorgeous sunshine that is warming my ghostly white skin and the excellent coffee that is resting in the palm of my hand, today is a bit shit. 

In relative terms the world is not ending, but our Honey dog (affectionately known here as the geriatric) has cancer. 

She recently had a lump removed and it's a secondary melanoma. It's kinda funny isn't it? Too much sunning herself by the pool in her hey day, one might think? Her doggy bikinis were too skimpy for proper coverage? I knew that backyard pool was a bad idea - I always suspected that as soon as we left the house she'd be out there, reclining on a banana lounge. I guess my suspicions were true.

Given that she's about fifteen years old, it feels okay. I don't feel angry or ripped off. It's not a waste and yes, the overused expression "she's had a good innings.." rings true but it kinda makes me sad to know what it is that will eventually take her because after all, she's Honey The Wonder Dog and pretty much nothing was going to take her as far as I was concerned. I guess I was wrong. 

We're resolved that treatment and further invasion is pointless and unfair so we'll let nature take its course and hopefully it will be a long and pain free journey for her. She's fifteen for God's sake - I could shout too close to her and she could drop dead at anytime (if she wasn't completely deaf). As I see it, she'll simply live out her days with us spending lots of time at the beach where she is happiest and when the time comes, she'll be farewelled as only a dog of her calibre should be. 

Anyway, whatever grievances I have with the universe currently (and I certainly have a few!), I'm keenly aware that there is always someone dealing with worse shit than you and today is no exception. So I'm sucking up this news, giving Honey a firm and tender pat on her grey head and we're off to the beach in some well put together, healing sunshine. And that's not so bad by comparison.



Saturday, September 20, 2014

To Be Or Not To Be? Don't Ask Me.....


IMAGE : MORGUEFILE.COM | To Be Or Not To Be Don't Ask Me
Decisions are so not my thing. 

My Mum says I've always been bad at making decisions - even the battle between a vegemite or peanut butter sandwich used to throw my head into a spin when I was a kid and I've been that way ever since. (Remember when we used to be allowed to take peanut butter to school? I know - those were the days).

Some decisions are small (aka peanut butter or vegemite) and some are life-altering. I tend to give equal amounts of attention to either size which means that a huge amount of my head space is wrapped up in a virtual two column scenario of pros and cons. I stand in line at the supermarket checkout silently pondering the big questions - if I go down this path, will this happen? What if I take the alternative route? Will I regret not taking the other?? Etc etc. I continuously recreate my own alternative scenes in my head like the plot from 'Sliding Doors' (minus the cute Scotsman, the Gwyneth P makeover and her cool late 90s hair cut).

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Home Is Where The Bath Is....


IMAGE : PINTEREST | Home Is Where The Bath Is
 * MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS.

We only have one bathroom. 

We moved from a house with a bathroom for every member of the family a few years ago and now, in the name of moving to a more desirable suburb close to school we live in a little "cottage". Calling it a cottage is my way of defining our ridiculously small abode while making it sound worthy of a House and Garden spread. In reality, it's a nice house but should be twice the size given how many family members we have. No really - I'm not being a massive sook, it's genuinely small. 

(Okay, well maybe I'm being a bit of a sook. First world problems and all that. Anyway, stay with me).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

2014 - I'm Not A Fan!


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | 2014 - I'm Not A Fan

So I'm interested to hear - how would you rate your 2014 so far?

We're now three quarters of the way through and I'm wondering if you would say this year has been one of your best, one of your worst or one like any other? 

I've been pretty lucky from year to year - largely they've peeled past at a rapid rate, leaving our family relatively unscathed and allowing each of us to take the relevant steps onward and upward with ease and a generous dose of happiness. This year however, will probably go down in our history as one my family might rather put behind us. More accurately, I'd describe it as large bucket of steaming dog turd if such a comparison is called for. For various reasons, we've all found ourselves furiously spinning plates in the air just trying to tackle one life-altering issue to the next; you name it, my relatively small (but thankfully robust) family has tackled it in 2014.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Let's Go Play! A #GenBetter Initiative


IMAGE: THE MOTHER LOAD | Medibank #GenBetter
Let it be said that this is not a sponsored post. I just thought it was worth a share in the name of getting kids active and as much into good old fashioned play as my generation was when I was young (granted, that makes me sound really old).  Regardless, spring is here and we're finally getting a bit of sun so it may be time to wrestle those devices out of the hands of kids and force them out into the Vitamin D. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Happy Fathers Day, Dad


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Happy Father's Day, Dad

Happy Father's Day to this guy.

He's my Dad. He's pretty cool, as you can see. And he plays the sax like a boss which automatically makes him even cooler.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Exercise - Meh


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Exercise - Meh
Exercise.

It's just not my thing.

I do it but only when I've exhausted all of my excuses. I have this ridiculous conversation with myself on gym days that goes something like,

"MUST get to the gym today."

"I'm too tired - my thyroid is sluggish and I just need coffee and good conversation. Exercise - meh." 

"What? Don't be ridiculous. You had coffee and good conversation yesterday!"

"I know but I really like coffee. And I like my friends. And I need more work/ life balance."

"You're being pathetic. Squeeze your saggy ass into those skins, get that ill-fitting sports bra on and pull yourself together!" 

 Sometimes the active me wins, sometimes coffee wins. (Yay for coffee!).

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Bad Case Of OPG (Overstated Party Guilt)


THE MOTHER LOAD | Party Guilt
I have a small favour to ask. (I know - I'm needy, but stay with me).

Can we all please just take a large, deep breath and chill out about kid's birthday parties? Please?! Recently, I was wracked by a condition I'm referring to as OPG or 'Overstated Party Guilt', caused by over-thinking the ins and outs of the final invitee list. I had a bad case of OPG but at the same time, there was also a large part of me that was annoyed that I allowed myself to suffer through this silly condition because I made some well considered choices and I didn't particularly wish to invite the entire free world to our little party. Is that unreasonable? No really, tell me because maybe it is. Dunno. I figure I've either lost my radar on what is perfectly acceptable when it comes to kid's party guest lists or the world has gone a little bit mad when it comes to the importance of who's invited and who's not. Nonetheless, instead of feeling the joy of planning a get together for a little person who doesn't especially like big group activities, I found myself guilt-ridden and annoyed.  And that was pretty annoying in itself.
 
Still here? Bravo.

Monday, September 1, 2014

ProBlogger 2014 - You Were Awesome!


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD  | ProBlogger 2014 - You Were Awesome


This past weekend, I attended ProBlogger - Australia's largest blogger conference on the Gold Coast. What a fantastic community of passionate, talented and dedicated people I am lucky enough to be part of.  I'm so pleased I forced myself to attend even though the idea of staying home and remaining curled up under a blanket of bloggy anonymity appealed to me so much more than getting in the taxi to the airport. Now on the other side of the experience, I'm happy to report that I'm changed! ProBlogger has changed me! Not in an "I've found God" kinda way or even in an "I'm going to give up sugar" kinda way but in an "I know where I want to go on my blogging journey" kinda way! Zing! (Yep - waaay too many exclamation marks here I know, but there's no other way to provide you with the full version of my excitement and post-conference energy so bear with me, OK?).

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

ProBlogger 2014 - Here Goes....!


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | ProBlogger
Eeek! I'm going on a blogger's conference. In nine days. By myself. Eeek!

I don't go anywhere on my own. I'm lucky to get a trip to the beautician without someone accompanying me, asking all kinds of questions about hot wax and pain levels. I get followed to the bathroom with such predictable regularity that even the dog manages to get the door open most of the time. Nonetheless, I'm packing a bag and heading for the Gold Coast and I'm going simply as me the "writer" (note, I put that in quotation marks because I don't really feel worthy of that title yet - maybe the conference will help me change that?).

I'm a bit nervy though. I'm not very good at walking into a crowded room without having someone to make a bee-line towards. It reminds me of starting at a new school when I was a kid. Just gotta open that door and dive right in, eh? Nothing to it. Character building, one would argue. That's what I keep telling myself.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Parenting Teen Girls - An Evening With Michael Carr-Gregg


IMAGE:THE MOTHER LOAD | Michael Carr-Gregg
The further along I travel on my journey as a parent, the more I suspect that firstly the learning curve is getting steeper as the years rush by and secondly that I may well be monumentally screwing things up and no one is coming out and telling me honestly. I often balance precariously on the verge of feeling as though each parenting strategy I adopt might be the right one, and probably feels appropriate but then again I half-expect any possible dire consequences of my strategy to hit me suddenly, teach me that well-needed lesson and remind me of just how badly I'm doing. So mostly for me, it's a confidence game coupled with my somewhat unrealistic desire for parenting perfection. Oh what a fun mum I must be! With these various insecurities in mind, I have always found the advice and wisdom of others vitally important on this parenting journey. This seems especially true now as we head into the challenging adolescent years, aiming to raise well-balanced people who at the end of their teen journey still have some level of respect for you as their trusted parent and indeed for themselves.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Distant Hum Of My Childhood Fear


IMAGE : MORGUEFILE.COM | The Distant Hum Of My Childhood Fear

I remember when I was a little girl, I developed a crippling fear of the sound of aeroplanes flying overhead.

Admittedly, I was a bit of a sensitive, worrisome kid so it's no great surprise that I found something else to be afraid of, but nonetheless, the distant hum of an aircraft thousands of feet above me terrified me to the core until its sound had faded far into the distance. (I know - totally weird, but it's not really kosher to judge a six year old so stay with me....).

Monday, July 21, 2014

MH17 - Bring Them Home.....


It's Monday morning here in Melbourne; it's foggy and cold and people everywhere are shuffling off to work perhaps feeling a weighed down by a bit of Mondayitis or the return to school routine after a holiday break. It's almost impossible to comprehend though, the infinite amount of suffering many families are enduring right now at the hands of this unspeakable tragedy, the missile strike on passenger flight Malaysian Airlines MH17, Thursday July 17th (Friday AEST).

I feel like I have to write something down. I feel like my brain may just explode with the overwhelming amount of empathy and sadness I am feeling for these people, in particular for the Australian parents who have lost their three children and the children's grandfather charged with the job of accompanying the kids safely back to Perth for the beginning of the school term. I can't process it;  I simply cannot fathom how they are functioning. How are they getting up this morning in their house, drowning in the physical belongings of their kids knowing they won't be coming back? How does the human body have the ability to continue functioning in such circumstances? What does the mind do to ensure the broken heart keeps pumping?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Winter Holidays 2014 - Done And Dusted!

 
IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Winter Holidays

Okay, so maybe the above pictures aren't of us frolicking in some exotic location which requires one to pack only a passport and a string bikini, but I'd say they include pretty happy faces overall given the distinct lack of adventurous holiday destinations on our schedule this year.  During these school hols, we've managed to bunker down at the beach house and survive the cold pretty well given the insane arctic conditions Victoria is serving up currently. We've just arrived home and I feel like a bear emerging from its hibernation period thanks to the return to the miracle that is central heating.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Do It Like A Girl!


WATCH 'LIKE A GIRL' VIA YOUTUBE - CLICK HERE

Have you seen the latest advertising campaign by Procter and Gamble?! 'Like A Girl' is great. It's simple and it's meaningful and it has all the qualities I have such trouble finding in advertising and media generally these days.  Big thanks to my friend Sal for sharing it with me - you can watch 'Like A Girl' by clicking image caption above or here.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Me And My Jawbone...


IMAGE : WWW.JAWBONE.COM
* THIS IS NOT A SPONSORED POST. NO REALLY - I JUST LIKE IT. 

Are you a fitness band wearer? I totally am. Six months to the day, give or take. Yep - Merry Christmas to me. 

I just love my JawboneUP.

Truth be told, before I was a Jawboner, I wanted a FitBit. I wanted a FitBit because that's the only band I'd heard of, its name made perfect, rational sense and lots of other people I knew had one. Nonetheless, on Christmas morning, I unexpectedly unwrapped this thing called a Jawbone. Santa had done his own research and had decided that one was better than the other on my behalf (good one, Santa) and so the Jawbone was the result. Weird name, still can't explain it but that's what Google is for. Go forth if it's troubling you. (I prefer the mystery).   

Thursday, June 26, 2014

How It All Goes Down In My Head (A Blog Hop About The Writing Process)


IMAGE : MORGUEFILE.COM | A Blog Hop
I've been invited to participate in a 'blog hop' by my dear friend and fellow blogger Kate from One Small Life - how cool is that? A blog hop is a bit like the old fashioned chain letter but without the annoying need for stamps or for your mum to ring someone else's Mum and let them know you're not allowed to participate because you have too much homework.

Kate has asked me to write a post about my own writing process. You should read hers here; it's an excellent piece, as are all her posts over at One Small Life. She has set the bar very high on the subject of personal writing, nonetheless, here's my take on our shared passion.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

To See Or Not To See? (I Really Don't Want to Talk About It, Thanks)


IMAGE : WWW.EYECHARTMAKER.COM | To See Or Not To See?

I witnessed the most Oscar-winning performance from Miss A at her first routine eye test last week.

I should have known. I should have been more switched on given she was broadcasting to everyone with great excitement even before the big appointment, that she was "definitely" getting a pair of pink glasses. While I know she can be pretty convincing when it comes to getting her way, I certainly didn't expect the performance she put on for the lovely optometrist who was thankfully able to see through A's dramatic interpretation of  'Stevie Wonder - The Early Years'.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Judy Blume - Thirty Years On


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Judy Blume Thirty Years On
If you're a child of the 1980's you'll probably remember these books (although they look a bit different now).

I loved Judy Blume books. They introduced a 'tweenage' me to all kinds of concepts such as self esteem, bullying, body image, friendships, the beginning of adolescence and the realities of life generally. I felt so grown up reading them; Margaret became a kindred spirit and I learnt that Sheila the Great was simply a misunderstood and frightened know-it-all.

My ten year old girl adores reading. Her head is always in a novel of some sort and it occurred to me recently that she's now at an age that she might really enjoy the Judy Blume series, just as I did. I've purchased a few of the books relevant to her age bracket but I might leave 'Forever' alone for a while - I don't think we're quite ready for the boy/girl relationship business (!).

Sunday, May 25, 2014

That's A Wrap On Another Mother Of A Week!


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | A Mother Of A Week

It's Sunday - finally. I love a good Sunday.

I'm parked firmly arse-down on the couch today in front of a humming gas log fire while two kids make a well worn path between the TV and the pantry still wearing their standard weekend uniform; pyjamas. It's pretty loose around here on a Sunday when there are no plans. Laziness is generally acceptable, TV is permitted and no one has to brush their hair until evening bath time, me included.

This week was crazy...!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Resilience, Rainbows And Other Ramblings


IMAGE : PIXAR 'Boundin' | Resilience
WARNING : MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS. 

I seem to spend a lot of time talking to my girls about resilience. 

Resilience is pretty much defined as having the ability to cope with, and bounce back from life's speed humps, big or small. Some kids are naturally more resilient than others (I suspect environment plays a role in their ability to cope) and some kids need to be taught. Not surprisingly, mine fall squarely into the latter category. Even as I type, Miss A (five) is snivelling uncontrollably because Miss O (ten) doesn't want to play Minecraft with her. Her tears, heartbreak and lack of acceptance of this momentary rejection demonstrates pretty clearly that we have a lot of work to do in regard to her resilience but then again, she's five so no great surprises there.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Life And Its Lemons.....


IMAGE : PINTEREST.COM | Life And Its Lemons
You know the famous expression, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade"..? 

Well as it turns out, sometimes life doesn't just hand them to you. Sometimes they are literally hurled at you and often at the most unexpected times. 

Sometimes, you can catch them one by one and immediately engage the appropriate response by simply adding a little positivity and sweetness to create the proverbial lemonade. But at other times, the lemons are really big ones and they come at you like a giant landslide and engulf you because you had your back turned, comfortably believing in your own immunity to such things. I guess we're not immune though, are we? Doesn't matter how much of a fine upstanding citizen we are, no matter how much we consider others, give back to the community or even how many times we politely give way in traffic, the lemons are neither sympathetic nor selective and they can find us at any given moment.