Tag Archives: family

Family Holiday Fun

Well, we’re back. We had a great time at the beautiful Gold Coast last week, taking a break from our usual life as well as all our electronic gadgets. We went swimming in the hotel pool, walked along the beach, jumped waves and made sandcastles, walked around town, ate lots of good food, and generally had a blast. We also celebrated my husband’s birthday while we were there by taking a ride on an amphibious bus and eating highly over-priced cake.

Does it get any better?

So before I lose myself in the great joy of 125 new emails, 42 Facebook notifications, blog comments, Twitter feeds, and all the news I’ve missed while I’ve been away, I wanted to share some of our happy snaps.

(Click on the pics to enlarge.)

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Filed under Life With Kids, Random Stuff

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Commitment?

Today is October 31st. Lots of people believe today is the best day to dress up in funny clothes, confront their fears, and have a lot of fun doing it.

Here in Australia, it’s the middle of Spring. The days are long and lovely, the sun is shining, and it’s hard to imagine ghosts or goblins hiding behind the garden beds in flower. But that doesn’t mean we can’t share in the fun.

Eight years ago today, I dressed up in my own once-in-a-lifetime costume, and did the scariest thing I could think of.

I got married.

Today is our 8th Wedding Anniversary. It’s the 12th Anniversary of us making the choice to move from friends to lovers, and the 13th Anniversary (give or take a few weeks) of our meeting and falling into a deep and immediate friendship. It’s a special day. Not just because it’s another anniversary — more proof that we’re getting older and (hopefully) wiser — but because the last couple of years has been really hard work.

About eighteen months ago, not long after Little Brother was born and while I was struggling emotionally with the reality of having two children in the house, my husband was diagnosed with depression. In some ways, it made things easier. He began treatment and we could both finally understand why everything had been so difficult for what seemed like forever. But in other ways, it made things more difficult. It made things real.

Emotions flew back and forth like petals in a hurricane. Love. Anger. Frustration. Guilt. The occasional moment of intense dislike and regret.

There have been good times. There have been bad times. But, most of all, there have been times. Because no matter how hard it’s been on both of us, no matter how much we’ve struggled, we’ve always remembered the love that we felt on that day eight years ago, and we’ve fought and struggled to find those feelings within ourselves. No matter how many times we’ve each thought about walking out, calling it quits, or deciding that this marriage thing is all too freaking hard, we haven’t done it. We remembered the friendship that came before and after the love, and we remembered the many, many reasons we decided to tie our fates together for eternity.

Eight years ago, at 9:00am on the 31st of October 2004, our lives were entwined during a handfasting ceremony on the top of the mountain. Harp music played while the celebrant called to the earth, water, wind and fire to bless our union. Our hands were fastened with rope of braided white and gold to ensure our lasting love and friendship. Vows were said, rings were exchanged, and toasts were made.

And now, after all the trials and tribulations of the last two years, we’ve refound the solid love and friendship that was always lurking under the surface of our harried, hurried, stress-filled lives. For the first time in a long, long while I look at my husband and I breathe a sigh of happiness and thank the Gods we found each other.

And so, to my husband and the world, I repeat the vow I made all those years ago.

Destiny has made our paths to cross. Today, I make the choice to entwine my heart and spirit with yours for all eternity. In our life together, I pledge to respect and honour you. I will support you always, as friend, lover and confidante. I will share your hopes and help to make your dreams come true. I will stand by you in the good times and the bad. I will cherish and protect you always.

I love you.

Do you have any special anniversary traditions?

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Filed under Opinion, Random Stuff

Please Don’t Be a Perfect Parent

I don’t really know what it means to be a Perfect Mum, but I know I’m not it.

But that’s okay. Because kids don’t need perfect parents.

Children who feel like their parents are perfect, grow up believing that they too should be perfect. And, as many of us know, that’s a road destined for heartbreak and misery.

Kids don’t need perfect parents.

Kids need parents who always try their best.

Kids need parents who:

  • talk openly about not being perfect.
  • always try their best.
  • acknowledge their shortcomings.
  • take responsibility when they make a mistake.
  • apologise to people they’ve wronged.
    • (even if it was an accident.)
    • (even if the person wronged was a child.)
  • take responsibility when they lose their temper.
  • don’t blame others for their emotions.
  • model the behaviour they want to see from their children.
    • (even when their kids aren’t watching.)
  • say, “I love you.”
  • are consistent and predictable.
  • smile.
  • laugh.
  • respect themselves and others.
  • love them, no matter what.

Parenting is hard. We all know that. But sometimes we make it even harder than it has to be, by setting ridiculous expectations on ourselves.

So stop.

Stop trying to be perfect. Stop feeling guilty. And just concentrate on being the best parent you can be on any given day.

Your children will thank you for it.

 

Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.

— Teddy Roosevelt

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When “Being Nice” Backfires

This may come as a shock, but I wasn’t very good at making friends when I was a child.

I was awkward, gawky, self-conscious, and never “right”. I never had the right clothes or the right hair or the right words. I wasn’t cute or cool or hip. I had glasses (before they were geek-chic), I was chubby, and I was always the tallest in the class. Always. Also, I was painfully shy.

It didn’t help that we moved to a new school every year or two (due to my father’s job) and I had to go through the “making new friends” thing all over again.

When I was ten, we moved from the US back to Australia. There would be no more teasing and mocking my accent and asking me to repeat things over and over so people could laugh at me. I was hopeful.

Those hopes were quickly dashed. As it turns out, I did have an accent. I had an American accent. And I was immediately subject to the exact same teasing as I’d faced on the other side of the world.

But in amongst the bullying, there was a single bright light. I made friends. Multiple. Two of them. Their names were Natalija and Nicole. We hit it off when we all walked home in the same direction on my first day, and that was that.

Every morning, Natalija and Nicole would meet up and walk up to my place to pick me up for school. We’d walk the two blocks to the schoolyard, chatting and gossiping about the teachers and the kids in our class and who was going out with whom this week. Then we’d all sit under the trees until the bell rang for morning assembly. On the way home, we’d head out of class together and walk home, sometimes stopping at the corner store to pick up a bag of mixed lollies to share.

But about a month into this beautiful friendship, I made a decision that haunts me to this day.

Every day, Natalija and Nicole would come to my place before school. And every day, without fail, I’d be running late.

“I’ll be there in a minute!” I’d yell from the bathroom where I was half-dressed, with a toothbrush in my mouth and no idea where my shoes were hidden. “I’m coming!” I’d call from the kitchen where I was trying to stuff my lunch into my schoolbag, but only succeeding in dropping books, papers, and pieces of fruit all over the floor. “Nearly there!” I’d scream from my bedroom where I was crawling around under my bed trying to find the homework I’d done the night before.

Every day. Every. Day.

I was embarrassed. Every morning I was racked with guilt and mortification, sure that Natalija and Nicole secretly resented me and talked about me behind my back. Not that they ever said anything. They never commented or complained, they never even rolled their eyes when my parents told them again that I would be out in a minute.

But I felt terrible.

So I made a decision. Because their friendship was so important to me, because I loved them as much as a ten year old girl can possibly love the only two people outside her own family who don’t mock and ridicule her, I decided to sacrifice my own happiness on their behalf.

“I’m really sorry I’m late again,” I said, meeting them at the door with unbrushed hair and only one sock. “Just go on without me. I’m never ready when you get here, so you may as well not come by in the mornings. We can just meet up at school.”

So they left. And they didn’t come back.

Nothing was the same after that. They stopped walking past my house in the mornings — they walked to school a different way, meeting up with a couple of boys we all had crushes on. When we met up for morning assembly, I’d missed the gossip and felt like a third wheel. I didn’t know what to say to them so I stopped walking home with them in the afternoons. We drifted apart.

And I still regret it twenty-five years later.

Because when I said, “Don’t come by my house anymore,” what they heard was, “I don’t want to hang out with you anymore.”

But I learned something from the situation. I learned not to make personal sacrifices on behalf of someone else unless they’ve asked me to do so. Or, at the very least, not unless I’ve talked to them first. And I learned that what I say and what people hear aren’t always the same thing.

So please, learn from my lesson. Next time you’re tempted to make a personal sacrifice on someone else’s behalf, make sure what you’re offering what they want. Make sure you’re not accidentally saying: “I don’t want to be your friend anymore,” when what you really mean is: “I love you so much I don’t want to cause you any inconvenience.”

Postscript: I’ve been informed that this post is somewhat… depressing. So I just want to add that I posted this story because these types of miscommunications have been on my mind lately, and those lost friends have stuck with me.

As adults, we often make these sacrifices without even realising it. People think things like: “I won’t invite X to the party this time because she’s just had a baby”, or “I know Y is having money trouble, so I won’t ask if he wants to go to Hawaii with us”, or “I know Z is busy with her job so I won’t ask if she wants to volunteer at the school this year”. But the moment you make that decision on their behalf, you may send them the wrong message.

But how do you feel if you’re X, Y, or Z? If the reasons haven’t been explained to you, and you haven’t even been given an opportunity to decide for yourself? No matter how much you may justify the reasons you’ve not been invited, in your heart you feel hurt. No one wants to bet the cause of hurt feelings. Especially when you’re just trying to be nice.

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An Affair to Dismember

On Friday I packed Big Brother and Little Brother into the car after school and drove 500km (310 miles) to my parent’s house. (Sadly my husband had to work all weekend and couldn’t come.) Sunday morning, we climbed back into the car and drove home. By the time we got back last night, I was exhausted. It’s a really, really long way to drive for one day. Especially with two children and no other adults.

But we did it for a really important and exciting event.

Today is my Dad’s 60th Birthday. 

On Saturday the whole family (minus my husband) gathered to celebrate it in the only way we know how: with a loud, exuberant game, plenty of alcohol and not a lot of sleep.

 

We started the celebration with presents and a cake.

(The cake was delicious.)

One of the presents was the evening’s entertainment.

We’d chosen characters a couple of days in advance, and organised our costumes. (All except Dad. This was a surprise to him, so Mum had organised his costume for him.) Once dinner was mostly prepared, we all went to get ready. Then out came the drinks, the cameras, and the posing.

Allow me to introduce…

Glumda, the Wicked Witch of DePressed:

Dr. Angela Deth, Psychotic Dentist at Large:

Madame Garlique, the Flamboyant Clairvoyant:

Lizze Bordeaux, Goth and Bride-to-be:

The Mummy of King Aldrinktotat:

The Monster of Rogersandhammerstein:

and Hannibal the Cannibal:

With my husband unavoidably absent, we needed an eighth person. It wasn’t easy, but we managed to rope in a dummy.

(Big Brother was there too. He was dressed up as The Boy Who Really Wanted to Play But Was Forced By His Mean Mother to Go To Bed Even Though It Wasn’t Fair.)

We had a great time. We ate, we drank, we solved a murder. It took us until 2:30 in the morning, but by gum we did it!

(Also, we ate pavlova.)

Happy Birthday, Dad.

Sixty years young today.

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Filed under Random Stuff, The Inner Geek

Family Traditions: Just Say No

I’ve been reading through parenting advice recently, and I’ve come across something important. Something I hadn’t even realised was important. Apparently, as a parent, one of the most important things I can do for my family is to establish positive, meaningful family traditions. This will enrich the life of my children and ensure they have a solid grasp of who they are and where they belong.

It’s time to get me some family traditions!

But where do I start? I’d like to draw on the family traditions we had when I was a child, but sadly we didn’t have any.

(I’m beginning to feel un-enriched already.)

But maybe I’m missing something. Let me think back to my childhood days…

Christmas was always special. The three of us kids would wake up early (really, really early) and quietly go through the goodies in our Christmas stocking. Then, at 6:00am, we’d bound into our parents’ room, wake them up, and exhort them to hurry, hurry, hurry, get up, get out of bed, and come out to the tree, and see the presents, and let’s get started! We’d sit around in our pyjamas, eating chocolate and lollies from our stockings, and open the presents. Dad would sit by the tree and hand them out one at a time, all of us sitting and watching and waiting to coo over whatever gift was unwrapped. We’d draw the process out as long as we possibly could. (Seriously — if there was a gift that required batteries, the batteries would be wrapped separately. That’s TWO gifts instead of ONE.) When the presents were finally all opened, Dad would go into the kitchen and cook bacon and eggs for breakfast. We’d eat at the table, then go off and play with our presents while Mum and/or Dad prepared lunch.

We did this every year, but it wasn’t a tradition. It was just Christmas.

Birthdays were always a big deal. You got presents, and a cake, and your siblings had to be nice to you all day. And (and!) you got the ultimate treat of the year. The Birthday Boy or Girl got to choose what we had for dinner! It could be anything. Pizza? Sure. A three course roast meal? Absolutely. Ice cream with sprinkles? No problem. We would agonise over this decision for weeks before our birthday as though we were choosing our Last Meal. And, the funny part? Mum would often ask us what we wanted for dinner at other times of the year, but it wasn’t the same. It just wasn’t.

Choosing birthday dinners was a big deal, but it wasn’t a tradition. It was just something we did on our birthdays.

I have memories of sitting down in front of the TV to watch Young Talent Time (for the US readers: think Mickey Mouse Club) with my parents every Saturday evening at 6:30pm.  When that show stopped broadcasting, we moved on to watching Hey, Hey It’s Saturday at the same time. Every week we’d all stop and watch TV together and enjoy the family-friendly programming. It was a special treat — something to look forward to.

But it wasn’t a tradition. It was just Saturday night.

Every night, us kids would set the table and all five of us would sit down for dinner as a family. There would be a fresh pot of tea on the table, which we would pour for ourselves (using a strainer to catch the tea leaves). We would eat dinner and dessert, talking about the things we did that day and the plans we had for the next day. We told jokes and argued and debated and shared. And when dinner was done, one of us would help with the dishes while the others went to do our homework.

This is one of the strongest memories I have of my childhood, but it wasn’t a tradition. It was just dinner.

… As you can see, there’s not a single family traditions to be found.

We may have done things together, but I don’t believe for a moment that my parents ever sat down and discussed ways they could establish positive, meaningful family traditions.

You know what, Parenting Expert? I say “No” to establishing positive, meaningful family traditions.

I don’t have time for that nonsense.

I have to go ask the kids to set the table for dinner and spend a few minutes reflecting on my day so I have something interesting to talk to them about. Then I need to think about which movie we’re going to rent on Saturday for Movie Night. Plus, I’ve only got 10 weeks until my birthday and I have no idea what I want for my birthday dinner.

Honestly, we don’t have time to establish positive, meaningful family traditions. We’re too busy being a family.

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Filed under Life With Kids, Opinion

…And We’re Back

Hi there. Nice to see you. It’s been a while, huh?

It feels like it’s been months since my last blog post. Oh, wait. It has been. Three months, in fact.

When I wrote about my reasons for taking a short break, I didn’t anticipate being gone for so long. I figured I’d spend a couple of weeks in the warm glow of rediscovered passion, and then seamlessly drop back into the blogosphere. But a really odd thing happened.

I discovered a new world — an entire new world — that exists outside the borders of my computer screen. A “non virtual world”, shall we say. A world full of conversations you can have with your mouth and ears rather than your fingers and eyes; a world full of images that you can smell and touch and (occasionally) taste without having to click to enlarge; a world full of laughter that actually is out loud and people who don’t click a button to tell you they like you.

So instead of taking a break from blogging, I found myself taking a break from the internet. I didn’t check Twitter. I updated Facebook a dozen times in those three months. I checked my email twice a week. I disconnected the wireless cable that used to run between the beeping, flashing, LOLing Overlord in my office and my brain.

And it was good.

Really good.

I thought I’d miss the notifications. “Someone likes your post.” “Someone commented on your post.” “Someone responded to your comment.” “Someone responded to your tweet.” “Someone likes your status update.” “Someone invited you to play a new, improved, and totally-different-we-swear version of Farmville/Superheroes/Words with Friends/whatever.”

But I didn’t.

I thought I’d miss the stats — the obsessive checking and rechecking to see how many page-views my blog has had. “Do they like me today? Was my post good? Am I good? And has anyone found my self-worth lying around?”

But I didn’t.

You know what I missed?

You.

I missed my friends. I missed Kim and Bridget and Ava and Tricia and Stephanie and Katy. I missed Stephen and Emerald and Kay and Brian and Anthony and Ben and Emma and too many other people to list by name. I missed everyone I’ve connected with in the bloggy world, everyone who has read my blog, friended me on Facebook, followed me on Twitter, and invited me to share in their lives by commenting and blogging and connecting with me in a way that wouldn’t be possible in the “non virtual world”, either by dint of distance or time.

I’ve missed you all.

Thank you to those of you who messaged me on Facebook or tweeted me or emailed me to see if I was doing okay. Thank you to those of you who encouraged me to “hurry up and come back, damn you!”. Thank you to those of you who are, after a three month break, still here and reading this.

I’m back now, and I intend to stay around.

So, what have I been doing during my three months away?

I’d like to say that I’ve run a marathon or learned a new skill or even (Gods forbid) finished the first draft of my novel. But I haven’t done any of that. I’ve done something far more fulfilling.

I’ve spent a lot of time with these three wonderful guys.

And you just don’t get better than that, do you?

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