Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I've had cause to cast my mind back a bit of late.

In particular I've been remembering my pregnancy and early days with my Little Mate.

I don't do pregnancy well. I whinge and moan and carry on and think it is the most revolting and painful thing imaginable. I do however love babies and children, and that is the way I grew them so I tried to suck it up as best I could.

There are things that were noticeably different with my Little Mate though, things that I now wonder weren't maybe a sign of what was to come. Hindsight is a fine thing.

In all my pregnancies I became a bit of a hermit, but with that boy I was even more so. I found it hard to spend time with even my closest friends and just wanted to be alone. I commented to someone that maybe the baby was going to be an extreme introvert and was exerting his personality over me from in utero. When I think of that conversation now, I know that extreme introvert doesn't even go close! Who knows if there was something at play there that cannot be explained.

When I was 34 weeks pregnant I spent a night in hospital after having signs of early labour. Everything settled down again but it really threw me. For the next five weeks I walked around like I had a bowling ball between my legs, and that was what it felt like too. He was fully engaged and I was 3+ centimetres dilated for all of that time. Uncomfortable is the greatest understatement of all time! He had a very impressive conehead to show for it once he was out as well.

He was born in hospital after a short and intense labour. I had a wonderful midwife who had done home visits with me throughout the pregnancy and who I trusted, even when she told me he was going to be born soon and I could do it (whilst I yelled for drugs that I didn't really want and cried that he was never going to come out). He was born with the cord loosely around his neck (as were all but my youngest) but unlike the others he did not breathe immediately. He was born blue and took a minute or so of rubbing to help him start breathing. He pinked up quickly and was fine after that, but of course now I wonder if that minute didn't play its part in where he is now.

The problem with hindsight is sometimes I am looking for answers to questions that are, in fact, unanswerable. Sure there are things that may have impacted on other things, but I've no way of ever knowing exactly what or how. I will always wonder though...

Do you look back and wonder?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Little Wins

We've been having some really hard days lately.

My Little Mate has developed an aggressive streak. It would be easy to blame it on his having started at child care recently, but I know it goes deeper than that.

He and Little Miss Thing are now attending two days each week. He has gone from having me with him quite literally 24/7 to having two seven hour days where I am not there.

The girl is coping well. She has adjusted, has a favourite carer who she is quite attached to and no longer cries when I leave. I knew she would, independent spirit that she is.

Last Friday was the hardest yet for my Little Mate though. From the moment he woke he repeated over and over 'daycare soon' which would be great but for the fact when he says 'soon' he means 'never'. We dropped the big kids at school and when we didn't turn back towards home he started crying, increasing in volume the closer we got to the centre.

By the time we got there he was screaming and clinging to my leg. I signed them in, left the girl (who was upset by her brother's crying but otherwise fine) and headed to the kinder room where my son had to be physically removed from me. As I walked out of the building all I could hear was his yelling 'Mummy's car, Mummy's car'.

And my heart ached so much I couldn't breathe.

So why am I putting my precious son through this you may ask?

Here is why.

In the time since he started there he is noticeably speaking more, and people are understanding him better. After he recovered on Friday (which takes an hour or so, and is about as long I am biting back tears wherever I am as well) he voluntarily sat at a table with another child there. He sat and listened to a book with his carer without trying to run away. When the group had mat time, he stood a metre away from them and listened.

With any other kid, maybe none of this would be worth mention. With THIS kid, each individual thing is worthy of celebration. Together, they give me so much hope for his next few years

So when he lashes out at his siblings, when he wants to sit on my lap for hours, when he randomly loses the plot, I remind myself how much his brain is processing right now. Huge changes for a boy who does not like change.

As much as I would love to wrap him in cotton wool and protect him from hurt forever, if I do so he can't grow. Neither of us can. And that would be the cruelest thing of all.

I am so proud of my son.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Monkey Balls

To be honest, this recipe is a basic deviation from monkey bread but my kids think Monkey Balls are hilarious and so the name stuck. No doubt you can imagine the jokes that go with it, particularly from the 8 year old boyo.

The balls are based on a brioche recipe, so if you already have a favourite you use to make brioche then that will work just fine as will most yeast-based sweetbreads.


350g flour (plain or bakers flour)
250g butter (softened)
80ml warm milk
1 teaspoon (or one sachet) dry yeast
2 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
Brown Sugar

Making the Dough:

Put the warm milk in a bowl and add the yeast. Mix gently.

Take 100gms of the butter and add it to the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together, then mix them into the yeasty milk.

Combine the wet and dry mixtures and knead for 5 minutes. A mixer, thermomix or hand mixer with dough hooks is really helpful at this stage as the dough is very moist and sticky.

Cover the dough and allow it to rise for 1.5 hours.

After that time knead for a further five minutes (longer if kneading by hand), cover again and leave to rise until it has doubled in size, around 30 minutes.

Baking the Balls:

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees celsius.

In a bowl combine brown sugar and cinnamon. I use loads of both, you can use whatever suits your palate.

Take a golf ball sized amount of dough and roll into a ball, then roll the ball in the sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Place in a slice tray or other short sided baking tray.

Repeat until the dough is all gone, placing the balls next to each other so they are touching.

Once you've completed this, take any leftover sugar/cinnamon mix and sprinkle evenly over the top of the tray of balls.

Place the remaining 150gms butter in a microwave safe dish and nuke until melted. Pour the melted butter over the top of the balls.

Bake for 20 mins and then gobble them up while they are still warm.

So yummy. Great for a decadent brunch or afternoon tea option, plus kids like talking about their balls.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Of bloggers and writers.

When I was in Year 10 I thought I was quite a good writer. It came easily to me and I had a good grasp of grammar. I had an English teacher who thought less of my skills than I did. He said I'd make a good copywriter or editor as I could use pretty words and summarize issues very well, but I only ever skimmed the surface. My writing had no depth.

At the time I was so wounded, but these days I think I understand better what he meant.

In my life before children I was an English teacher (along with Psychology and a generalist Grade 5 teacher). That ability to edit and recognize errors on sight served me well. But a writer? Not so much.

I've had some interesting conversations about this lately. I was telling Karen (Miscellaneous Mum - who is a real and proper writer herself) last week that I'm a bit shocked to be in the company of 'real' writers over at iVillage. I'm not entirely sure how I managed to make the cut.

There are so many talented bloggers out there. People who share their lives openly and whose writing can make your breath catch in your throat. Bloggers like Deb. Bloggers like Eden. And so many more.

I am not writing this so people will say 'oh but you are a good writer'. I know my strengths, and my weaknesses. I'm still very good at using pretty words and glossing over the top of things. I am happy to write the way I do and I love the community I have found in the blogosphere. I write for myself and I write for the people who take the time to comment and let me know they are here.

I guess what I'm getting at is that in my head writers and bloggers have been two separate things, when in fact they are the same. I write stuff and I publish it on the internet and sometimes people are kind enough to write back to me too. That's a bit awesome, huh? I may not be the deepest thinker, the most soulful wordsmith... but I am me and that is okay.

I wonder what Mr Whatshisname would make of it all.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Why life isn't like television.

Very occasionally, the Supertrucker and I get to watch some television together. It tends to happen in the late evening, and without fail there are heaps of the crime type shows on which inevitably include scenes of death, autopsy, and other graphic imagery.

I have a pretty weak stomach for that stuff. I remember seeing Starship Troopers at the movies with my then boyfriend a million years ago and feeling physically ill. 

Over the years though, my tolerance has increased. Repeated exposure has diminished my horror. In fact as my Tweeps will know my fave show of all at the moment is True Blood, although that is a far less realistic and more fantastical brand of horror altogether. I don't get why I like it either. Let's just say Eric. And Alcide. 

There have been some horrific events in the news in the past week. The avoidable and tragic death of Thomas Kelly, which has damaged many lives including that of the aggressor and his family. The Colorado shooting which is so far beyond my comprehension. We are treated to glamourised images of death via television every single day, but the reality is very far removed.

On the weekend there was a tragic accident on the road near Nagambie in Victoria. My Supertrucker was one of the first on the scene moments after it happened. A sedan drove into the path of a B-double for reasons not yet determined, and the sedan driver died while the truck driver walked away physically unharmed but with untold psychological damage.

At the time my Supertrucker went into emergency mode, helping police move the driver from the car and realising that he was in fact dead. After giving a statement he was back on the road and that was that.

But of course that isn't that at all. On the trip home the following night, my husband found himself grateful for the thick fog as he couldn't see the landmarks of the accident. What he did see in his mind's eye was the crushed car and the lifeless young man. 

Unlike the television versions, this death will not lose it's impact on him once the half hour is over. Because he is a MAN and a TRUCKIE there is an assumption that he should suck it up because 'it's a pitfall of the job' and 'we've all seen that loads of times'.

Firstly, I call bullshit. If you can see something like that and walk away unmoved then you have no soul. Secondly it shouldn't surprise me, this kind of response from the industry, but it still does. And it is not good enough. I do not care how gnarly and tattooed and bearded and shaven headed a man is, that is NO indication of his capacity to love, feel and be moved. None. 

A man lost his life. A family lost their son/brother/friend. Through no fault of his own, another driver must now live with the knowledge that his vehicle killed another human being. It may be a reality of the job, but that doesn't mean these men shouldn't be cared for in the aftermath just as much as the families involved. 

My husband doesn't get to switch off and walk away from this. All the televisual crime scenes in the world cannot compare to being faced with such a reality. 

I don't know what the long term impact will be for us. I truly hope that the company my husband works for grow a clue and offer him some kind of support. In the meantime my heart breaks for the family of that motorist, along with the police and paramedics who DO deal with such incidents regularly.

And please please, if you are tired when driving stop for a sleep. Nothing is worth losing your life for. 


Saturday, July 21, 2012

A breastfeeding story.

When I was pregnant with my eldest child, I read a lot about breastfeeding. My Mum had been a breastfeeding counsellor and with three younger sisters I witnessed a lot of it when I was growing up. I understood that it wasn't necessarily easy, but also that it was important to try.

When my son was born I found those early days weeks nothing short of agonising. Cracked, bleeding nipples, engorgement... I remember I would grit my teeth and curl my toes and count to thirty slowly at the beginning of each feed. I thought of all the people who said that if it hurt you were doing it wrong and I wanted to stab them with a fork. In the eye.

As the weeks went by though the pain began to ease. By six weeks we were pretty good at it. I was proud of myself for having persisted when there were times that I just wanted to give it up.

I know now how lucky I was that we managed it at all, and am thankful for the support I had from family and friends.

As the months passed my goal was to make it to three months, then six, then two years as that was the World Health Organisation recommendation. I never would have imagined that I would feed through a pregnancy, then tandem feed, and finally he would wean at three years old.

As he got older I became more and more aware that our continued breastfeeding relationship was not the norm. The older he was, the weirder it became to other people. I remember feeding him at around 15 months old in a food court, heavily pregnant, and an older gentleman recoiling in what can only be described as horror. In fairness we must have been a sight to see.

He did of course wean eventually. No boob over the school fence for him. My daughter fed until she was five years old which kind of surprises even me. She chose to give it up in her own time and I am grateful for that now. 

The thing is, people seem to assume when you talk about breastfeeding toddlers and older children that it means they are on you and grabbing a boob all the time. For me that was not the case by a long shot. As each of my kids have hit toddlerhood they've lost interest in feeding when we are out and about. The world is out there to explore! Why sit with Mum? Even my little mate who has autism and seeks the comfort of my arms more than the others ever did is more likely to have a cuddle and scope out the crowd than anything else. For many 'extended' breastfeeders the later years involve a feed to sleep or before bed and that's about it. 

In my life before children I was a teacher. There were 30 ten year olds in the class I taught before leaving to have my baby. Of those 30 I could not tell you who was breastfed for how long, who had a bottle from birth, who was born via ceasarean or who still shared sleep space with their parents. It did not matter, and it should not matter.

Like all parents we make decisions based on what we feel is best for our own family. Like all parents we are sometimes made to feel bad for those decisions. We are sometimes made to feel great for them. 

If you choose to breastfeed for a long time, good for you. If you choose not to breastfeed, good for you too. How wonderful that there is a safe and reliable alternative available in this day and age.

Whatever you choose know this. Your child will benefit from your love and attention. As they get older no one will be able to tell the difference. Only you will know. Only you will care. And that is as it should be.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Life

Seems like a pretty obvious thing to be thankful for doesn't it? And of course I am grateful for my life every single day. But this week I am grateful for a different reason.

You may remember this post from a little while back. Today I am grateful that this family is a part of my life, even though we are separated by distance these days.

I first met Renee properly very shortly after our eldest was born. It was a time of high stress and emotion. Her family lived a few houses down from ours, but she knew of our situation because we both posted on the same forum. When my son was a few days old she came to the door with a gift for him.

When I was a little more on top of things, I went down to her place with our baby and we had a coffee and a chat. I discovered that not only was she an amazing Mum, but that she was a caring, giving and loving friend as well. Over time I got to know the story behind their family and to this day it amazes me how much they coped with in such a short space of time.

If you were to meet the family, you would see two adoring parents and six beautiful, beloved children. You would not see the ill health that plagued them once. You would not see the scars they carry. But it may strike you that their attitude to life is a little different to others.

They embrace every day. Because they know how easily it could have been so different.

Because of them, I embrace every day too. Even the hard ones. Even the tiring ones. Even the ones where I wonder if the monotony will ever end. Because the monotony is a blessing in itself.

Yesterday saw 10 years since Mark received his new heart. To celebrate the gift of life he was given, and to honour the family who made it possible they wore red, as did I and many others.

Today I am thankful for life. I am thankful to a family who gave my friends the life they live today. I want that family to know that in choosing to donate organs in their time of loss, they have touched so many people's lives including my own.

#redforclint #organdonation

It is Thursday. I am thankful. Are you?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The country doctor


When someone got sick where we used to live, we'd head to the local medical centre. The turnover of doctors there was reasonably high, so we didn't have our own family doctor as such. We saw whoever was available at the time we needed to go. Some were great. Others not so much.

After we moved I made an appointment at a medical group in the regional centre near our town. They only had a couple of doctors taking new patients but as Little Miss Thing was due her 18 month vaccinations I grabbed an appointment with one of them and hoped for the best.

To be honest, I didn't click with the doctor at all. The nurses who did the jabs were great, but when I told the doctor that Little Mate has autism (as he was being very stimmy) she said 'How do you know? Are you sure?'. She lost me. Right then and there. A few other offhand comments sealed the deal.

My littles have been unwell and I discovered there is a doctor in the next town over, so made an appointment and crossed my fingers.

There is only one doctor there and a few nurses, and we waited an hour past our appointment time. In any other situation I'd have been spitting chips, but it is hard to when the receptionist kept coming out with fun things for the kids to do and telling me how awesome they are. As other patients arrived the room filled with friendly chatter about the town, families they knew, the kids in the waiting room. It was inclusive and lovely, and while my girl was overtired and my boy overstimulated no one was anything but caring about their noise and rambunctiousness.

Finally it was our turn. I explained to the doctor that Little Mate is autistic and does not cope with examinations. He went out of his way to make sure the boy was as comfortable as possible and was kind and understanding when both kids were screaming the room down less than cooperative.

There was a medical student as well, who's understanding of autism I suspect may be lacking... He tried very hard to distract and engage the boyo throughout, bless his kind heart. He also made a point of trying to entertain the girl as well.

We were not examined, rushed and given the standard dose of antibiotics as we were used to in the patient factory other medical practice. We had a conversation. We were treated compassionately. I left feeling confident and cared for. It is years since I've felt that way leaving a doctor's surgery.

Suffice to say, we have found our new family doctor.

What is your expeience of doctors surgeries like? Is it a place you feel cared for?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Removing mould from bath toys.

From possible sex toys to domestic goddessery at its most mundane. Awesome right?

I shared this tip on Twitter a few months ago and a lot of people hadn't heard of it, so thought it worth sharing here as well.

How to remove mould from bath toys, chemical free.

You know the one where the kids are playing in the bath and squeeze one of the squeezy toys and this gross flaky stuff comes out? Yep, mould.

Even grosser when your kids are prone to squirting water from the toys into their mouths or their siblings faces (which we roundly discourage by referring to bathwater as bumwater, but apparently that just makes it funnier).

Top tip? Pour some cheap white vinegar into a bowl. Submerge the squeezy toys and be sure to squeeze some vinegar into each one.

Allow them to sit for at least an hour. I often forget about them so they soak overnight.

Give them a shake then squeeze out the vinegar and mould. Fill with water a few times to rinse and get rid of the last of the yuckies.

The best thing is that unlike chemical cleaners if any vinegar remains it won't hurt your child if they choose to ingest the bathwater once again.

It's not just my kids is it?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Soundtrack

Way back in late 1998 I got a part time job at the Foxtel call centre.

A few weeks later I met the man who would become my husband.

That Summer was a magical one. On the odd occasion our work shifts intersected we would send sneaky instant messages to each other over the intranet and try to schedule breaks together. Those minutes were so precious. We take them so much for granted now.

The televisions in the centre were always tuned to Channel V, providing a soundtrack that to this day takes me back. Faith Hill, Jennifer Paige and Brittney Spears punctuated our days.

I've been a bit down lately. Actually a lot down, on and off.

But the universe has its ways.

Over the past few weeks part of our soundtrack has caught me over and over again. This song has popped up in random playlists, on the radio, on the TV... None of which I would usually pay much attention to.

It takes me back to those halcyon days. It reminds me to keep going. It makes me move. And sing much to my Little Mate's disgust.

It may have been a one hit wonder, but to this day it speaks to my heart.

What features on the soundtrack to your life?

Welcome to Thankful Thursday!

Because I am very disorganised I cannot figure out how to drive a Mac I'm enjoying a night with my sister and am using a foreign computer we're having a comments party again this week! The linky list will be back next week but in the meantime please leave a link to your Thankful Thursday post in the comments, grab my button and be sure to pop around some of the other blogs that join in :) 

Monday, July 9, 2012

The irony. It burns.

Please note I said irony not ironing. I don't know enough about that to comment.

I shared a somewhat cheeky article over at iVillage last week about being a bad mother, and how that is what we all are really. It just depends who you are talking to at the time. I was trying to make a point (that I seem to try to make fairly often) about respecting choices even when they don't reflect our own.

A few people were kind enough to comment, but I was a little nonplussed by the one that took issue with homebirth as a choice for women because 'every major medical organisation in Australia warns against homebirth' followed by the usual scaremongering type language the mainstream media love to throw at people, and which many seem to take as gospel truth.

My first reaction was to point out that in fact our own homebirth was organised via a hospital led program, so to state that all medical organisations are against it is a pretty long draw of the bow. In point of fact Western Australia have had homebirth programs attached to many of their maternity programs (funded by the government) for a number of years. But lets not allow facts to get in the way of a good story... we all know stats can be manipulated to support whatever point of view is being presented and given the bullshit less than transparent reporting on this issue of late, it is no wonder people are taking it as truth.

But the thing that strikes me is that in just a few sentences this commenter managed to illustrate the very point of my piece. Because this person does not support homebirth they have judged, derided and minimised a choice that I have made, and considers it a choice I should not have been allowed to make. In doing so they have become the person I was writing about. The person who calls me a 'bad mother' for my choices.

It is possible to have strongly held opinions but not judge others that hold opposite ones. It is not easy by a long stretch, but it is possible. There are aspects of parenting that I can be very opinionated about. But at the end of the day I do not care if your choices are different to mine because they are YOUR CHOICES. For your family. Made based on your own research, needs and what is best for YOU. So rather than tell you your choices should not be allowable because they aren't like mine, I will tell you I support them because PARENTING IS HARD.

THAT is the point I was trying to make. If we all stopped responding to sensationalist claptrap designed to pit women against women over issues that, at the end of the day, will make NO difference to anyone but ourselves... Can you imagine what we could achieve?

*End rant*

What Autistic Looks Like

Recently rapper 50 Cent tweeted some really ordinary things. In short, he suggested that someone 'looked autistic' as a way to deride that person, and also made comments about 'special ed' kids.

I'm sure we've all read the arguments about the use of the word 'retard' as a derogatory term. I think it is really easy to use terms like that as a put down without really thinking about the implications. I'm going to assume that this 50 Cent person was having a thoughtless day and hope the reaction to his tweets has made him think twice about the terminology he uses.

My marvellous friend Marita who blogs at Stuff With Thing has started a flashblog event... What Autistic Looks Like. This post will be appearing over there as well. If you know what autistic looks like, I would love you to join in.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

What Autistic Looks Like...

Autistic looks like exploring and having adventures, even when different places
can feel daunting. Just like other people.
Autistic looks like playing and having fun with your family,
the same as other kids do.
Autistic looks like trying new things, even when they seem scary or overwhelming.
Just like everyone else.
Autistic looks like sensory experiences that make you feel good,
just like they make other people feel good too.
Autistic looks like special friends, who may speak more than you
and behave differently to you but who love you just the same.
Autistic looks like loving, and being loved.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Truckies Wife

My husband is a trucker. A Supertrucker in fact. You may have gathered that.

He leaves of an evening and returns a couple of days later twice each week.

What this means is that I'm flying solo for more than half the week and there are a few days where I need to keep the kids quiet or go out so he can sleep. That is not my favourite day. Not by a longshot. Although it is far easier to manage in this house than our last.

I sometimes wonder if I'll ever get used to it. If I'll ever not have a nagging worry as he does his 2000+km round trip each time.

The upside of the solo time is that on the very rare evenings that all the kids go to bed and to sleep without major kerfuffle I get a couple of quiet hours to myself. Not uninterrupted, but quiet. That's the nicest bit for sure (hello True Blood on my laptop. Mmmm Eric. Or for those playing along at home and watching Season 5 as I am, mmmmm Alcide).

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have a partner that worked 'normal' hours. It must be lovely to have everyone at the dinner table of an evening. But I am grateful that the Supertrucker works so hard so that I can be at home with our small people. We are blessed. And of course I know full well how I lucky I am that we have the family dynamic that we do... that we are all happy and healthy.

Do you have a partner that works odd hours or is yours a 9-5 household? Or do you fly solo all the time? What is your favourite thing about your situation?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Thankful Thursday: In pictures.

Wise words. Words to live by in fact. 
There are flowers on my blueberry bush for the first time ever!
Lazy school holiday mornings. Ohhhh yeah.
A helpful little mate is 'doing the washing' <3
DSL. I haz it. FINALLY!
Love these loopers.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The problem with perfection...

is that it doesn't exist. Not really.

When I was a teenager my friends dobbed me in to the school counsellor for harmful self talk, my eating disorder and their fear that I might hurt myself permanently. I was so angry with them at the time, looking back I know it was done purely out of concern. It was a horrible time to be me.

I remember the counsellor saying to me 'It isn't easy being perfect is it?'. I thought she was an idiot. I felt like the most imperfect being in the world. I was so fat (I wasn't) and so unloveable (not that either). I had no idea what she was going on about.

More than half of my lifetime later I know what she meant. I'm REALLY good at putting on a brave face. If what you read here was all that we are, it would look pretty damned good to me too. But of course what you read here is not all of me. Like everyone we have a backstory that is at times painful and tragic. Just because I prefer to focus on the positive (and if I'm honest with myself, it is nice to have people think you are on top of things and doing it right) doesn't mean I don't doubt myself.

Some days I know I am doing all I can to raise my kids positively. Some days I know I have the most amazing marriage in the world. Some days I feel as amazing as I make it look.

But some days I feel like the shittest parent on Earth. Some days I look in the mirror and loathe what I see there. Some days I just do not want to get out of bed. Admittedly, these days happen more often in Winter. Stupid SAD.

Today I called our daycare centre and booked my little two in for a second day each week. I've been advised by a number of people that the adjustment for my littles would be easier is there weren't a week between sessions for them. I've juggled our finances and found a way to make it work... to try it out in the hopes that it all becomes a bit easier for them.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Because that looks prettier than saying I am finding it hard to be a decent parent at the moment. That I don't feel like I am enough for my children. That my husband being away so much of the week is taking its toll.

That I am imperfect.