Treasury Brisbane Arcadia was alive with energy and rhythm and we soaked it all up as we enjoyed the wood fired pizza and champagne courtesy of Brisbane Festival vouchers. The free #CelebrateBrisbane River of Light show had hundreds of people in the precinct with their phones out turned towards the Brisbane River. All captivated by the water fountains dancing in the sky, the coloured lights, lasers and the indigenous voice telling the traditional story of the dreaming serpent. What a way to start the night before we headed to the Cremorne theatre for Stalin’s Piano.
Being awarded this opportunity to be a citizen reviewer as part of Brisbane Festival means that I have been gifted experiences like Stalin’s piano by composer Robert Davidson. He talks of the voice being like music, we create music every time we speak, every time we express ourselves and the more passionate we are about our message the more musical it sounds. Robert created Stalin’s Piano and it is a tapestry, a multi-media show featuring politicians, creatives, and thinkers of history in pictures, words, recorded voice, archival footage and the main thread that holds it all together – virtuoso Sonya Lifschitz potent on the piano.
This is a fast paced sold out show of 65 minutes. I had a hard time dividing my attention between Sonya and the screen. I didn’t want to miss out on the action on the screen, but, I was not going to miss out on watching the woman on the stage. The weave of the music and the multi-media on the screen was so refined and perfected that the music was the guide for some of the 19 musical portraits, and then would fade into the background for others. I likened the show to flicking thorough social media where I get distracted by the screen, consciously needing to focus on the real life happening around me, talent, creativity, skill and hard work. But, the mind and eye gets distracted by the pretty flashing lights, the words and every now and then the messages on the screen will inspire. Frank Lloyd Wright talking about housing and architecture, Arthur Boyd in conversation about writing and painting, the genius Maria Yudina’s story, the images of concentration camps the talent, creativity of musicians, writers, artists having their freedom, their life, their beauty taken away from them, not only robbing them of life but the world of their gifts.
Stalin’s piano – I kept thinking of it as Sonya’s Piano, had me drawn to the creatives and the thinkers of history. Their message – make the art, get messy with the paint, write the words, and play the music. The creatives are culture, the creatives colour our world, and represent their countries with beauty. The art, the music, the words draw the crowds, opens minds, and has audiences thinking on a broader scale about life and humanity. Music, voice, and creativity is human, it is the rhythm of life.
A magical, sparkly shop was where we scheduled our meeting, surrounded by stained glass lighting, imported handcrafted Turkish rugs and handbags, time pieces hanging from every wall, sparkling jewels and trinkets on every surface. The aroma of the coffee machine seduced us away from the window shopping and straight to Bengü, Gallery B’s exotic owner. Marina and I took our preferred beverages to the alfresco area at the back of this little wonderland.
Marina is a woman I have worked with before, I wanted to know her story, and how she found herself specialising in boudoir photography. She starts by telling me the photo sessions are a process of healing, healing for herself and the woman that she is working with. She takes a deep breath and starts what she tells me is a long story. How she feels she was pushed into the decision to take this path, but the backstory is important part of her journey that she feels is her destiny.
“As you know I was born in Kazakhstan, which was part of the Soviet Union. I have a German / Russian background and am from a small village, so quiet conservative. After the revolution there was all of this equality, and woman could do whatever men could do. There was no limits they could be engineers, they could be astronaut if they wanted. But at the same time, it was two extremes woman in Soviet Union was like traditional woman, who take of the family, who takes cares of the children, cooks, cleans, and takes care of her husband like another child. But she goes to work as well full-time”.
“But there is still a lot of degrading thoughts about woman like “chicken is not a bird and woman is not a human”. Of course it isn’t the whole society but it is still part of the culture. Woman body, nude body, sexuality, sex there was no talks at all about this. It is all taboo. There was all negativity around the body and it wasn’t like I had that sort of relationship with my mum where we would talk, when I was becoming a young woman. So everything about that body image and sexuality was taboo and it was dirty and it was bad.
Marina remembers negative dialog around a woman that had left the village in her twenties unmarried, studied, had her own money, apartment, a career women. Listening to this harmful gossip as a child Marina thought no little girl would want to grow up like this woman. Much the same if you got pregnant out of wedlock or divorced, women were pushed into a mould of being a second class citizen. Marina tells me about her beloved Grandma’s story.
“I feel her presence at the moment. My grandma had quite a difficult life, she was divorced. My grandfather he was an alcoholic and quiet aggressive when he was drunk, my mum tell stories that she would break a window to run away, when he was in this aggressive mood. And I guess if my grandfather didn’t leave the family then my grandmother wouldn’t get divorced from him because it was taboo and he left the family when my mum was young. My grandma, single mother of four, working full time. They did not get married because of love, they got married because my great- grandfather and grandfather were drinking together one time and well it became more or less an arranged marriage, it wasn’t love at first sight, it wasn’t a beautiful life and I think that it is best for my grandmother that grandfather left, but it certainly didn’t make her life easier. She never married or had another partner. At any family wedding or event my grandmother would sit in the furthest part of the room from my grandfather. When they were buried, there graves are next to each other. It is quiet ironic, it wasn’t planned, it just happened, my grandmother died first and then my grandfather died a couple of years later”.
“When we moved to Germany I was eighteen. I married when I was twenty. I started to study photography at the same time and the first few years, I was still influenced by my Russian/ German background. The first day when I went into the photo studio where I met my mentor who became my best friend, I opened the door and walked in, and there were pictures everywhere framed and unframed. The first picture that got my attention was a picture mounted behind the counter. It was a black and white a2 size, it was a pregnant women, just the torso. I couldn’t see much of her face it was turned to the side, she was a silhouette. She was nude. She was completely naked. I could see her bare breasts, I was looking at a nude pregnant woman. A nude picture of a pregnant woman on the wall. It was a shock for me. Who would do that! Why would they do that! In my head everything about nudity was supposed to be private and intimate. Your nude body is supposed to be very, very private, and it was kind of dirty. It was so shocking. I was so shocked”.
“So every day I started to come to this classic portrait photo studio. Classic, you know, families, babies, new borns, pregnancy, weddings, passport pictures, corporate portraits, communion photos. But she also specialised in art nudes, studio boudoir sessions. There were not many at the time showcasing pictures like this, it was a speciality that she really loved. Sometimes, when we would put pictures in the window to display them, we could come the next morning to the studio and have a lot of cigarette butts in front of the window, there was also a lot of rotten eggs thrown at the window!
As her internship progressed Marina immersed herself in her role, the work, the people and their stories, she thrived on this experience where everything was different and new. She came to recognise that the women in these photos weren’t models. But, beautiful normal people, everyday women, teachers, mums, accountants, all beautiful.
“Looking at these made me see that, oh my god, these are normal people, it’s not Sodom and Gomorrah, they not prostitutes, it’s not dirty. At that moment I was 20 and I was naïve and had all of these background stories in my head. Then I started to meet these people because I was assisting my mentor while she was photographing. Over the years I would get to know these people, because they would be photographed when they first become a couple when they are so in love, and they wanted pictures for the Christmas for the family and then photograph their wedding and then photograph the pregnancy and the first baby and the second baby and then first day of school. Then mum comes in and says: “I feel like I have lost myself I want to feel sexy, I now you can take these pictures, can you take these pictures of me? I mean I know I have cellulite and my belly isn’t beautiful anymore because of the stretch marks.”
“I really did feel like a part of a family. We were giving pieces of our souls, because it was all analogue photography and I was standing in the dark room developing these images, and I would stand there and cry, because, I would remember the story she would tell us. The intimate stories, the sad stories, the happy stories and they would all make me cry”.
That is how Marina started as a photographer, she eventually out grew her surroundings in her professional and personal story. She needed to escape, so she ran as far away as possible, to travel and study English. She landed on Australian soil on the 26th October 2007. Flying back to Germany she resigned from her job seeking professional and personal growth elsewhere. Berlin became her new residence and her new partner her home. At the time, in the back of her mind was a dream to be self-employed one day. But she never felt ready, she knew she had the talent and skill to be successful and thrived on the connection with her clients. However, arriving in Berlin she was took on a job as Manager of a photography studio.
“When I started the job in Berlin it was very different because I was on my own, I was managing the studio, and at some point I got apprentice’s that I was responsible for. I didn’t have as much contact with the clients anymore, there was a separate studio and shop and to make it more efficient I only had contact with the clients when I photographed them. I never had a chance to meet them before the session or when they would pick up the images. It started to become more money making and not about connection and that’s what made me burn out”.
Marina’s health started to suffer. Marina wasn’t eating or sleeping, her body was expressing her soul’s unhappiness as physical symptoms. Doctors couldn’t find anything wrong. The studio’s clients were happy with what they were getting, but this didn’t sustain Marina, she had lost the connection with the whole process. Her creative work wasn’t coming from her heart anymore, it was money making. Boudoir photography was growing in Marina’s portfolio in the time she was burning out at the studio. Boudoir is founded on trust. Photographer and client would meet before the shoot, she painted the faces of her client and then Marina captured the essence of the woman in images, during their three hours together. Marina would not be rushed with these creative connections with her clients.
“The boudoir shoot is how I got to know my clients, they come to the shoot and I was doing the makeup. This is where they were telling their stories, they were sharing things they probably never shared with anyone. I photograph them and see the transformation from shy and nervous, to working half nude in front of me, and we become friends, that was magical.
Boudoir is not about sex, I see more of the sensual, intimate, yes it could be sexy but it is not necessary for it. It’s about the 40 something years old mum with five children that comes to me and says, “I can’t look at myself in the mirror, what I see there is so disgusting”. From being a young woman, to the abuse, to the five children, she is an amazing person I see the beauty in her eyes. Yes, she has wrinkles, her body carried five children, she nourished five children. I see the miracle of life, the miracle of giving life, the miracle and beauty of her. When she looks in the mirror she has lost the connection to her femininity. She lost connection to herself, to who she is. She is working full time, she is a mum, she is a wife, she’s a friend, a daughter, there is so much and she always puts herself last. Somehow there was something in her that realised she needs to change something that is why she has started to do things outside of her comfort zone. That is when she discovered what I am doing”.
After chasing this same connection with her clients from continuing her work at the studio and increasing her boudoir sessions, she applied for a job in Switzerland, she travelled for three days to explore the possibility. She cried for the three days, at the end of this release Marina’s heart told her that if she took this job she would be in the same situation but with a different view.
Big changes started unfolding for Marina, her dream to be self-employed started to manifest. She was petrified, fear of financial instability, but she had the support of her partner who was also going through changes at work. They started having hard conversations with life changing questions. Where do you want to be employed? Do you want to be self-employed here? Do you want to move somewhere else? They decided there new chapter would be in the place they met, the place Marina dreamed of as a magical country when she was a child, a place as far away from possible from all the struggle. They landed in Australia 14th October 2014.
Arriving in a new country Marina felt like a new woman, an independent woman, still fearful but excited. This is the part of the story where she was pushed into boudoir photography. The owner of the studio she worked for in Berlin, forbid her from using the images she had created and added to her online portfolio when applying for jobs in Australia.
“The images that I created the last four or five years I wasn’t able to use them, I mean I can understand if I was doing this and making my own studio maybe five hundred metres away from him but I was going on the other side of the world. It was devastating for me, this was my work, how do I apply for jobs without being able to show my work, fresh work. I was now depending on my partner, he got his visa and I was on the partner visa, I had a right to work and I had a right to become self-employed. I had no job and no website with images that I could use. I had to think about what had given me the most joy. When I was in this difficult time of depression and burn out I was thinking of quitting photography completely. I have been doing this for 13 years. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else! What else could I do? This is when I started the process of self-development. I realised I didn’t love myself.
That is where boudoir photography and loving yourself and loving your body, loving you as is, that’s where it all comes together. Seeing woman coming to me and willing to change something, willing to see themselves in a different way, wanting me to show them a different side to them, wanting to reconnect to their femininity or even discover their femininity. I felt like I was seeing this as a whole picture, and boudoir was something that I could without a studio. It was something that I was enjoying most from all the stages of my photography.
I was scared to focus, I was scared that it was too focussed. I was thinking things like; there are so many people who don’t like it, who don’t get it, who don’t understand it. Why on earth would you focus on that! You would lose so many clients, if you do family portraits everyone loves family portraits. Everyone loves baby photography! Everyone loves a new born photo, families spend so much money on it that would be easier. But, the best work I do is one on one that is where I can get to know them and connect. It doesn’t have to be boudoir it can be fine art, it can be editorial. So I kept myself safe with fine art, editorial and boudoir. When I would go to the networking events or telling people what I do I was hiding myself behind fine art and editorial photography. If I said boudoir people then say, what is that? Then when I would show pictures, some would get it wrong and then think it was dirty again, and then some would be like, “ohh, who wants to do that”!
I wasn’t standing my ground. Now I say I am a boudoir photographer. It was a process of the last three years. There were moments where I was thinking, “gosh it is kind of going nowhere”. No, I won’t give it up. I know stories of the woman I have photographed. I have photographed a woman who’s 74 years old, who has got a husband who is sick for many, many years and she is caring for him, but she fell in love. She is 74 years old and she fell in love with another guy and she is having an affair. Or is it! I don’t know, I don’t care. She is a wonderful beautiful person and I don’t think it is bad, she is great, she is a woman, she is a human being, she’s got her needs, and it’s ok. I mean she cares for her husband. But, she is in love with someone else, and she came to me and wanted me to photograph her. For me, I want to be like her when I am 74, not the sick husband, but in love and still wanting sex and live my sexuality and not thinking, “oh, ok I am 40 and life is done”. There are so many more woman like this and I know what impact it has on their lives. It is addicting to hear their stories, and see them change and transform it is addicting. And it heals me. It is ok to love your body, doesn’t matter the scars, it doesn’t matter shape, size or age. It’s ok”.
Devoting her life’s work to women and their stories, what is the definition of woman for Marina?
“Woman there is so much that pops into my head, though the first things maybe that silhouette. The next thing is pain and growth and love and seeds, like plants and their seeds. Growing the seeds putting them into the earth and seeing them come up and growing and giving fruit”.
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“in some cultures the mother proceeds to the status of a matriarch”
an older woman who is powerful within a family or organization.
“a domineering matriarch”
I am perched on the edge of the visitors chair in Yvonne’s office that is reminiscent of a fishbowl. Two of the four walls in her office are floor to ceiling windows looking over the grounds of Caboolture Montessori School. Next to me is Yvonne’s collection of Elephants, every colour every size. I draw in a deep breath while taking in these beauties, thinking of the traits I know about these extraordinary mammals and the matriarchs that lead them – wisdom, strength, intelligence, natural born facilitators, social intelligence, openness, decisiveness, patience, confidence, and compassion. The banging in my chest, the fluttering of wings in my belly and my shaky hands, do not at all mirror the woman sitting comfortably in her office chair, stockinged legs crossed, arms lounging on the arm rests, chest, heart and face open, smiling and confident.
The planning of Caboolture Montessori 20 years ago, was the result of two women making a decision to commit their passion, time, and money into a venture that they wanted to succeed.
“Then three years later I left and went to a bigger school, then nine, nearly ten years ago I heard that they were looking for a principal here.
I decided to come back home.”
Yvonne, like Dr Montessori has training in the medical field. Medical technology and haematology were the fields that Yvonne first trained in, she held a position working with children in Zulu land looking at protein calorie malnutrition. Working closely with little ones she discovered that children were a lot more than physical entities, that they have an amazing capacity. Ever the student, Yvonne needed to know how to understand children on a deeper level than she had been trained for. About to become a mother herself, she sought a type of schooling that would nourish the whole child, the answer was given to her through word of mouth.
“That was 39 years ago, after that I looked at education, I managed to get myself two degrees. Firstly traditional education, and when I was doing my masters, I decided that again Montessori seemed the best thing because it was appealing to all areas of learning. So Montessori is it”
Yvonne’s education on a cellular and intellectual level of children’s development and growth is what sustains her. Her wise assessment and constant wonder of watching a child be able to do things for themselves, their own development and education and not being held to the “monkey see, monkey do” phrase, influences her. She takes her job seriously in influencing others to see the wonder that she sees.
“To get the best out of who they are as adults is looking for the best in children. It’s really not words and I really believe that so strongly. That every child is magic, and it’s up to us to remove those barriers to allow the magic to happen, and then provide scaffolding for them. I have millions of these moments for me. I mean for me it’s a daily occurrence. When I see one of the students and their eyes brighten up and they say over and over again, “I have done it” and you know they have done it. That to me is a glorious moment”.
When selecting people that she can nurture, learn from, teach, be playful with as well have the strength to lead, Yvonne seeks people that: lead with their heart, must be open to learning, know how to be professional, but, most importantly knowing that their own learning is vital for the children. That it is essential for the children to see their role modelling.
“Three or four times a week, I refer to Dr Montessori’s readings and books. And read them again. When you read things again you see if from a different perspective every time. I tell the kids that. I tell the staff that. Learning doesn’t happen in one go it takes repetition, but, repetition when you are ready and you’re ready at different stages, in different areas of your life.
It is always good to go back to good things. Good books, good memories, good people. You will gather more information”.
“They really are my children. Yes my staff are my kids – in a way. It is one on one when you want to reach a person it’s not just about relationships it’s about inter-relationships and intra-relationships. If you know who you are then you will give the best to the other person. So it has to be one on one first, when you are talking to a group absolutely you will start getting a conversation going. But if you are a leader when you are in a group, you try and get everyone else to talk. When it’s two of you, you can really focus on each other. Individuality in the class room is the same you still have to have your focus on everybody, but when you are talking to a student it’s just the two of you in that space. It encourages active listening and most of all trust. If you trust somebody you will give them the best and you will want to do your best. If you don’t trust them it is superficial, you don’t go down inside. Growth is from everyone. When people say look around look what you have done. I am not being patronising when I say that, it’s not what I have done, it’s what we have done as a group. There is no way. No way, that one person alone could’ve every achieved what we’ve got here. It’s just not possible. I have staff that are so committed, so passionate and when I know that they have got that, I can aspire and push for bigger things. Yes, what we have done is phenomenal and it is not ending, now it is what is coming next? What is the next challenge?”
A well respected and wise matriarch with an ability to communicate, know when to take charge and know when to listen, when to connect with other leaders and draw from their wisdom in making decisions. Yvonne, shares with me her perspective on her first five years as the head of her tribe.
“My first five years of being a principal were absolutely terrifying. Terrifying. You feel that there is so much weight on your shoulders and you really don’t have that person next to you to say, “Well let’s do this or let’s do that”. So your decision making, your perception and how you see things is totally reliant on you. The responsibility was phenomenal and at the time, I didn’t have all the knowledge and I didn’t have the experience, I mean experience is something that nobody can buy or teach you. You learn through the process. So there hadn’t been enough process, I had been a teacher, I had been a curriculum director with others helping me make decisions. Those first five years was, “you breathe, you get in do the best”. Every time. Every time I was in a difficult situation, I would go to the bathroom, if I needed privacy,
“I would say think with your heart and do the best that you can with your heart not just your head. If it’s wrong then it will be wrong, but, you have done it with the best you can give at that very moment”
Now days when I look back I think, I was ok. I don’t know if I am proud yet, but I feel that I can relax more, I still have the moments when a big decision comes my way, now I don’t feel like I will crumble, I feel like I look around and grab people to support me. I have learnt that lesson, that, there are people that will help you and I also have an amazing board. When you have people above you and you know that they are there for you it helps a lot”.
Yvonne also draws on the life of other phenomenal humans.
“Mother Theresa I feel that, that, woman spent so much time in so much angst with no support that she was phenomenal. I mean Jo of Arc is another woman that is phenomenal. I need to bring in a man. Leonardo Da Vinci, I mean that man, the brain that really says it all for Montessori. The creative side of the brain, the logical side of the brain. I mean he had art, technical skills and information. I mean if I could have them all here, I would crawl under the table and let them go for it, they could do it all. But I can’t so I suck out the elements of each. If I could have anyone working beside me in the school? I mean the obvious choice would be Dr Montessori. But I think really I would like Madame Curie, she was an explorer, she was one that never felt she had enough and even what she found and discovered she was not happy with that, she kept going.
Seeking more of her openness and female intelligence I ask what the word “woman” means to her;
“Apart from Mother I think woman to me is arms outstretched and positive and powerful”
Of course finishing of for the quote of the day is none other than the Montessori quote.
“Let me do it by myself”.
I am grateful for Yvonne for sharing her story, her journey of wisdom, strength, intelligence, social intelligence, openness, decisiveness, patience, confidence, compassion, and for being the matriarch that has guided my family through our Montessori journey for eight years. She has shown every single one of these traits to the most important boys in my world.
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1. an extension to genealogy in which the life and times of the people concerned are investigated Family history puts flesh on the bones of genealogy.
Mum phoned Grandma and papa, and told them we would pop down for a cuppa and morning tea. I selfishly want my grandma’s story, I want to know about the life and experience that lead her to sixty plus years of marriage. I want to know her stories so I can have a deeper understanding of the blood that runs in my veins, I want to know our similarities. I want to know her traditions and the memories she holds dear. We took our morning tea party to the front of the house and enjoyed the sun. I sat on the brick stairs, with a cup of coffee in my lap, papa supplied the tim-tam biscuits on the table. Grandma had Papa sitting on her left hand side, Grandma’s hands were fidgeting in her lap, her body leaned towards papa, and her eyes continually peeked at him, her voice held the same wobble I get when I am nervous, she was afraid to move in case my phone didn’t pick up her voice. My whole being vibrated with love for my grandma, my eyes misted over at the details she remembered and what she didn’t recall she would lean to her left and ask Papa for the answer. My papa a proud and determined man, softened as he listened to the woman that he has been married to for 62 years was reminiscing about their early years together. The longer she chatted about Papa, her immediate family and extended family the wobble left her voice and the memories kept surfacing, the conversation had her glowing.
“I was 12 when my brother went away. Jackie, my brother turned 18 and went to Kingaroy for training, then went to Canada and then England. He was flying plains for the air force, he flew planes over Germany, the war finished in 45, and he got home in 46, I think. I mean there was so many troops to try and get home, it took them along time. Bobbie trained as well and was set to go to New Guinea, but the war ended. My dad worked at the post office in parcels post in Queen Street, he would get all the telegrams. If you ever saw the telegram boy in your street, you just felt so sick. That happened one night when I was at Aunty Dot’s. In the middle of the night there was a knock on the door, there was a young man standing there in uniform. Oh, we felt ill. When Aunty Dot answered the door it was nothing. Just a silly young drunk boy, looking for the people across the road”.
A favourite thing, we loved when growing up was Guy Fawkes Night, cracker night. It was great. We would go and buy our crackers and light them up.
“Remember, Remember the 5th of November.”
We would make a big bonfire and let off all the crackers. One night we were all trying to light the bonfire, it wouldn’t light. Later, we found out the miserable old sod at the back had hosed our bonfire. There was also always the bad kids going round and lighting up all the letter boxes”.
“I was 14 when I finished school. The teacher sent us into Brisbane to go to the chemist to buy the toiletries she needed for the week. We went in to the chemist, Della Huntys. We got the tram to go back to school. I forgot it was a one way street. I got off the tram and walked around the front and was hit by a truck. I was in hospital for about a month, then was sent home to recuperate from a fractured skull. Once I was better I got a job with my sister Valda at Leutneggers. I just went in and asked for a job, they gave it to me. I had a job sewing hats, some buy machine, mostly by hand though, they were sold in shops all over Brisbane. So there was half a dozen girls on every table, we all sat in a row and sew. I was there from when I was 15 and left when I was 18, when mum and dad moved to Redcliffe to live. All the girls back then were either milliners or dressmakers. I was never wrapped up in it. I mean it was just a job, I didn’t love it. Once I left I never thought of making another hat again. While I was still working in Brisbane I stayed with my Aunty Dot. I worked at Woolworths in the city, when I finished at the milliners, then when they opened a shop in Redcliffe I moved down there.”
I am fascinated about how young girls and women led there life in the 1940’s and 50’s, but I want to hear the love story of my grandparents. Papa gives a little deep chuckle, Grandma shakes her head and pats papa’s hand.
“Oh, it was terrible. I met papa at Rosalie while I was living with Aunty Dot. He was walking up the road with a couple of friends. I was standing outside talking to a boy, he was just a friend”. She says as she pats papa’s hand and send him a sneaky smile.
“Papa had a nice blue jumper on and he looked over and saw me looking and he said “would you like me to take it off for you”? “Oh”, I said to my friend “I hope I never have to talk to him again”. Papa lets out a belly laugh while grandma shakes her head.
“Well, Papa’s mother heard what he said as he walked past me, and told him to “get over there and apologise.”
“Aunty Dot didn’t have a phone at the house, so we had to use the one in the local shop. The shop lady would call out to all the neighbours when they were wanted on the phone. The next day she called out “Fay, your wanted on the phone”. It was papa. Papa was on the ship working and called me asking if I wanted to go to the movies. I wasn’t very impressed but I said “oh! Yes ok”. He bought me a box of chocolates. We were sitting there and he told me a friend of his bought a girl a box of chocolates and she ate them all herself. So all through the movie I kept asking him: “would you like a chocolate” every single time he would say “no thanks”! I couldn’t even enjoy the movie, I was too worried about the chocolates”. We were about 16. Then he went off to sea, he could be gone for up to six weeks, he went to England at one time. I would check the newspaper every week to see when his ship was coming back to Brisbane. When I moved to Redcliffe, I would catch the red bus up to Brisbane to see papa. Papa would be waiting at the bus stop for me, I would leave Redcliffe about 5pm and get to Brisbane about 8.00pm. We would go to Bon’s café, we loved the pork sausages. We were married in 1955 at Sacred Heart church, Rosalie in Brisbane. I went and bought my dress from a shop in the Brisbane arcade. After my wedding, it was handed down to my sister-in-law and then I sold it for 10 pounds. We had the reception next to the Broncos leagues club, there was a big reception hall there, oh there was about 100 at the wedding. A wedding back then you just invited everybody. The football was on that night, the reception was everyone listening to the football. We had booked to go away for our honeymoon, but, oh we couldn’t afford it so we cancelled. We had a rented flat and we moved in the night we got married. I hated the colour of the walls, so papa painted them for me”.
“Papa was working on the wharf at the time. We had 3 cents to our name after the wedding. It was hard living in those days. Papa was only paid when there was work. If there was no ships in we didn’t get paid. We listened to the radio every day, to hear his number, 2565 when it was called. Everybody that worked the wharves had a number, the numbers were called at random at 6.00am every day, if your number was called you had work for that day, no number no work. We lived in Stafford St at Paddington, we didn’t have a phone at the house, and papa would have to run up the hill to get to a phone box to call the wharf to say he would work. I would watch him out the window and if he was running down the hill he would have work. Sometimes we could go a week with him walking home which meant he had missed out on the job and was without work. Once we had the kids I would be yelling out to be quiet, so we could hear if their father had work for the day. There were ships in everyday, but, I mean there was so many water side workers”.
“Your mother was born at the Royal Brisbane hospital. There were no men allowed to be around when the baby was being born. Nobody was allowed to go in with you when you were delivering the baby, you went in all by yourself”. Grandma tells me this with a shrug. My mind and heart are spinning at the thought of having to deliver your baby with only a room full of strangers supporting you.
“I went in to the hospital, the week before all my babies were born. My water always broke the week before they were born. I would have a dry birth. I had Doctors and Professors studying me because it was so unusual that it happened with them all. The husbands were only allowed to view the babies through the glass in the nursery. Papa was only permitted to visit between 7pm and 8pm every night and at 8pm the nurse would be like; “righto, out!” “One day I bought your grandma some strawberries and cream in a bowl. There were too many visitors at the time, a nursing sister came, got the strawberries and cream and closed the door in my face. I was left outside waiting to go and see grandma. I couldn’t get in until some of the visitors were leaving”.
“Oh, the nursing sisters! It was just like they were trained in the army, I think may have been. No one was allowed to sit on the bed, they would march up and down the ward, glaring at everybody. We had to stay in the hospital for nine days after delivering the babies, we weren’t allowed out of bed, not even for the toilet. They would bring all the babies around in a long trolley at feeding time. We would also have to express milk for the babies whose mothers couldn’t feed them, you had to express every day, and the nursing staff would get cranky at you if you didn’t give enough”.
With grandma’s recall of events I have thoughts flying through my head like: what if they mix up the babies? Nine days in bed actually sounds pretty good to just rest. Express for other babies! Is that healthy?
“Once discharged, I got a taxi home. We lived in Red Hill, I got the taxi driver to take me home so I could pack a bag and go to papa’s mother’s house. I left your mother on the seat of the taxi, went inside, opened up the flat and packed a bag, now days they would call child services if you did that”. She says with a chuckle.
“Oh, yes when we moved to Redcliffe. I mean your mother went to kindy on the bus on her own when she was 3. The bus driver would help her on the bus. Your mum would wait at the butcher shop, get on the bus. Then the same in the afternoon, they would get her on the bus and she would get out at the butcher shop and walk home, sometimes my mum would meet her there and walk with her. I was still working full time then at Woollies and your mother had kindy. So! When your mother went to school, my dad would make hot chips and take them to the school and have lunch with her. At night we would have to rush through dinner and baths so that we could watch television. We were the only house in the street that had tv. All the neighbours would come every night and watch our tv. Quiet often we couldn’t get a seat in our lounge room because all the neighbours would be there. Either that or everyone would go to the shop windows and watch the tv. When we first went to Redcliffe no one had phones, so we would go to the telephone boxes you would call the exchange and they would tell you to wait your turn. Once they connected you, after 3 minutes the operator would say “are you extending?” We would have to say yes or no and put more money in. You would talk really quickly so we didn’t have to put more money in”.
I look to my right and see my two boys 15 and 12 playing on their smart phones as grandma tells me about waiting your turn to call someone.
When we moved to where we are now in Redcliffe, this was just a big pineapple farm and dirt roads. Pineapples were still growing when we bought the land, we didn’t get neighbours for two years after we moved in. If there was a car coming up the road we would know we were having visitors. We were the only ones in the street, I would have time to yell out to the kids “hurry up and tidy up”.
So Grandma what’s the secret to having a marriage for 62 years? “Do what your bloody told!”. My papa says laughing while wrapping his arm around Grandma, while she pats him on the leg and says.
“Oh, but it has been a lovely life here with papa.”
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I left my boys with my sister and drove down the dirt road for my interview with Bella, these interviews that I organise have me anxious and out of my comfort zone every single time. I arrived at Bella’s home and after initial greetings, and quick catch ups with her parents over a flute of champagne, Bella and I got comfy in the lounge room for a chat.
The first question that I asked Bella was, “tell me what boarding school has been like for you?” This eloquently spoken 16 year old young lady started her story.
“I left home in 2013, as a year 8 student at St Hilda’s on the Gold Coast. It was my first time leaving home for longer than a week or two.”
“It was terrifying, boarding is terrifying, but, it has been amazing.”
I promised myself on the drive over that I wouldn’t get emotional. Well, that first sentence killed that promise. My nose started to run and my eyes misted over.
Sport, socialising and being active in the community is big part of the culture of living in the bush. Bella has built close friendships from being a team player as a young girl. As luck would have it she was introduced to her closest friend at a sporting carnival playing netball, and the girls went on to board together at St Hilda’s. There are not only rural and remote girls at the boarding school but a number from Papua New Guinea, Asia, and some prefer boarding over home.
She tells me about the process of being dropped off at her second home.
“For first time parents they are advised to leave a bit earlier so it doesn’t get too emotional. Our parents settle us in and then we head to the boarding house.”
The head of boarding and the boarding mums are at the school for the arrival of the girls to support them in getting settled. Helping the girls set up their new bedrooms, getting comfortable in their new surroundings. Bella is following in her mother’s footsteps at St Hilda’s. She was blessed to be allocated to the boarding mum that guided her mum, through the boarding years. The boarding mum also holds strong ties to the family. Bella’s granny nurtured Bella’s new boarding mum when she was a student at St Hilda’s.
“A boarding mum is a lady that comes to work and looks after boarding girls, they are so kind. I had her in year 8, I was her granddaughter and she loved me the whole way through. So when I finished year 8, I moved boarding house and she moved with me – she was with me for the next two years. I then moved again and now she is looking after my sister. When I started, I mean we were the babies, we are their babies, the babies of the school. These ladies are our mums while we are school. They are a big part of us, I mean we spend more time boarding than we do at home. So they become very special to us.”
“They looked after us through it all. We were naughty, but god they love us.”
Tears are now flowing freely down my face. For Bella, knowing that this young woman is so loved by so many strong women. For her mother for being so courageous and dedicated to her daughter, her education, and growth and sharing her child with another woman that Bella loves so much. And the boarding mum, what a special lady to devote her life to opening up her heart to loving and helping raise teenager girls so far from home.
“As a year 12 girl I get an individual room. They are very nice. The mums come around at 7am and wake us all up. Breakfast is 7.15am so we get dressed and ready to go to breakfast or we can make brekky in the boarding house. We usually just sit and have time with the mums in the morning, watch the news, get ready and then off to school. After school is where we go and do co-curricular activities or tutoring if we have to, otherwise we just go back to our room and do whatever we want until 5.00pm. Prep is at 5.00pm, so we study time until 6.10pm and then go for our dinner sitting, 6.40pm we have prep until 8.30pm. We can study in our rooms or they provide tutors in the boarding house. Most of them are old St Hilda’s girls as well, they come up we chat and study. From 8.30pm is for showering, studying or visiting friends in their rooms. It’s just like home you go around and chat to the mums, chat to your sisters.”
Bella acknowledges the social skills she has developed from being a boarder, she tells me about the situations faced by boarders that sometimes are out of their comfort zone, and what she has learnt from that.
“Every term we change rooms, you find when you’re living beside different people you become better friends with them. A few years ago I was put beside this girl and I was like, “oh no, I do not want to be beside her”, but by the end of the term we were really good friends.”
I have to laugh at little when she is telling me about the deep friendships that are forged in the boarding house. She makes it sound like a five year slumber party with your besties.
“It’s so much easier in boarding to make friends. I mean everyone is your sister we are so open and comfortable with everyone, maybe a little too comfortable. We are always talking to people, always with people, you just get so much confidence. Best part of boarding is just always being with your friends. In the end you are boarding more than you are at home and they are your second family, they just mean so much to you. I mean we can go out on leave on the weekends, but sometimes you just want to say home and hang with your girls. I have boarded for five years and yeah this is my last year. So daunting. I mean I am not going to see all of those girls every day and it is going so fast. I mean crazy fast, and scary knowing it’s nearly over. The whole time you think:
“Oh gosh I want to get out of here”. But now, its like, “oh no! I am getting out of here soon”.
And with friendships established with the girls you live with, you also build relationships with their family. The girls are “allowed out on leave” every weekend. There are a couple of weekends a term that are dedicated to the families and them spending time together.
“I mean, for all the times that mum and dad have come down I don’t remember a time that we just had us as a family. We always take out my sister’s friends or my friends, if they are stuck in. My really good friend, her mum lives in Western Australia so every time mum and dad come down we take her out.”
Bella compares going out on leave to see her parents with the feeling little kids get on Christmas Eve. “Oh yeah, it’s like I can’t wait to see them, I mean we only see them a few times during the term”.
Then for the families the routine of drop off and settling in to school is repeated. Drop off at school, mums and sisters are allowed up to the rooms for settling in, but being a girl’s boarding house, dads can’t go in. Bella tells me, most of the parents sign their girls in at reception, the girls catch up with friends before starting their school routine again. Obviously this is easier on some than others.
“Lucky for me I get to see mine every few weeks, which is very nice. I can also go over and see my sisters in their boarding houses whenever I want, and they can always come and see me.”
Bella participates in a new initiative for the school. She has taken on additional “sisters”. The program starts before the little girls arrive at the school some starting in year 6. Year 12 students connect with them by sending Christmas cards and wishing them a happy new year. On arrival at the school the big sisters look after the little ones, help them with the settling in, they help with homework, and offer support when boarding is overwhelming. Bella is positive that this new programme has helped the little girls greatly.
“I know my first year we all thought we were pretty tough and would hold back the crying. You always end up crying. All you want to do is go home see your family, god, even see the dog. We never had any older girls to help us get through it. Oh, those older girls for me where so scary, they were so big and we were so little. By doing this we are breaking that, we are good friends with them, and both of my buddies are good friends with my sister.”
She is home now for the school holidays, I ask her what it was like this time coming home.
“It’s is so good, so amazing to come home. I mean everything changes. Last time when I was home everything was green, but on the turn to brown. But I got here the other day and there is knee high green grass and we have puppies”.
“I mean and coming home to mum and dad and my youngest sister, oh, it’s everything”.
She goes on to tell me that she hasn’t always been positive and accepting of her life of having to live away from her family to receive an education.
“I am ok now with going away, but in year 9 I threw the biggest tantrum. I was not going back to school. I was not going back to boarding. There was nothing worse. So I just refused. I was just like “nope, I am not going back”. But yeah, year 9 was my worst year. Year 8 is so surreal, so new and exciting. Year 9, I knew what to expect, I knew what was going to happen and I was just like nope, I won’t be leaving mum and dad and my sisters. It was terrible. Eventually, I got in the car and I was taken back. Year 10 was so much fun.”
Year 10 for Bella was not only receiving an education from the school but from travelling the world. Bella an active student at St Hilda’s participates in sport, the adoption of little sisters, and she also represented the school in an exchange program to Holland for six weeks.
“It was the absolute best experience. I had never travelled overseas before, and then I ended up going to Holland living there for six weeks, oh amazing. I was really keen to travel everywhere when I got home from Holland. But now I just love being home. Australia is the best.”
In her last year at school, having made the most of her experiences as a boarder and in her education Bella has completed a hospitality and barista certificate and responsible service of alcohol certificate. She is currently working on her certificate three in childcare and works at the St Hilda’s day care centre with the pre-preps. So what is happening next year?
“Next year I will hopefully go north, maybe the Kimberley’s and either go jillarooing or governessing for a couple of years. I want to eventually go to the Marcus Oldham College”.
This portrait was a difficult piece to create as openly as I normally write. When I was crafting this piece I didn’t simply have Belle to think of. But her parents were taping away at my heart as well, that was the prickly part. I wanted the story from the mouth of the daughter that lives this experience. I wanted this interview and this story because I bow down to the parents that share their pre-teens and teens with a second family so generously. A big thank you to Bella and her Mumma, love you both for sharing your unique story.
If you love reading this and would like to read more interviews. Why not back me financially? I am creating a platform for me to showcase my best work, build a community and get paid to keep on creating. The more patrons in our community means more interviews, and more stories. A portion of this money will be used to pay it forward, sharing the love with other women and girls and raising their voice.
I want to write today about being a mum to a teenage boy.
My first born was 15 a few weeks ago, and, I feel the same way I did on his first birthday. On his first birthday I cried, and held him all day. It was a multi layered cry, on one level I was relieved that we had barely survived the first year, he was growing out of the baby stage. I wept harder though, when I thought about how he wasn’t the baby anymore, that my arms would get lighter from here on out. I cried in celebration because it was our day, his birthday, and my birthing day.
This year on his 15th birthday I cried. I cried because our relationship is evolving and my arms and heart are aching for my little boy that always wanted my attention, that little boy love for his mumma. I would stand for hours watching him bowl a ball. Now he goes out into the yard on his own to practice cricket. For the little boy that would always yell out to me, just so he knew where I was at all times. For the little boy that would cuddle me just because he wanted to, now I have to place his arms around my neck. He is moving out into the world and doing things that he doesn’t need me for. He organised work experience with Queensland Cricket at Albion, which meant he had to catch two trains to get there and then walk to the fields. He was completely confident and excited to be doing this on his own. My husband and I took him the first two days and he was mortified. The third day, I sat drinking endless coffee, in my back yard staring at my phone waiting for him to call me; when he changed trains, when he arrived at Albion station, when he clocked on at work. I was more worried on that day than the day I sent him off to school. At school, the staff have to care about the students, keep them safe. Putting him on a public train, and off to work in the big wide world, where no one really cares, was scary. He was totally fine and completely nailed his work experience – the whole experience, not just the work part. But getting ready, arriving on time, being responsible.
He also has a girlfriend who he wants to spend more and more time with. This is honest to god killing me. I want my little family with me at all times when I have the weekend off (which is not often). He is now wanting to go and watch her play sport and spend weekends with her. Last weekend they had a “date day”. He watched her play sport and then her family dropped them at a local beach town. My boy took his girl for lunch at a burger restaurant, splurged on ice cream, and they hung out on the beach. I actually had tears in my eyes talking to my husband about this situation. The conversations in our house are now revolving around not blowing allllllll of your money that you work for, on a girl. This conversation does not go down well. This also hurts my heart because I want to be supportive, but, am finding this teenage, first love situation stressful, and hard to navigate so that I don’t look like the bitchy mum.
The no secret rule in our house is one we have preached since we tied the knot. We always try to be open and honest in an age appropriate way with the boys. At the moment that includes lots of talk about how to treat a girl, how to be respectful. We have had the; having babies at your age will completely ruin your life conversation. We have been focussing a lot on talking to him about choices and the wrong ones will send you in a down ward spiral, how at this point in your life the world is your oyster. This was cemented last week when my boy and I had to meet at the school to decide his “pathway” through the next two years at school. My husband has been spending a lot of time with him, and his brother fishing in their little boat, surfing, riding skate boards, and mountain bikes, and four wheel driving, re-enforcing in his soul that we are always here for him, and that there is always opportunity for conversation when hanging out with dad. I feel a bit left out at the moment with all of the boy activity going on. There is a definite shifting, I feel like we are puzzle pieces that haven’t clicked into place yet, that we know we belong together, but just have to find our place. I do feel like I am grieving for the little boy days, when my husband and I were the only important people in his orbit. When the most important thing I was teaching him was how to brush his teeth or that a banana is a better choice than a chocolate.
As I sit here writing this my boy is on school survival camp. We are old pro’s at school camp, Montessori kids start going to camp in prep (prep camp is a one night sleep over at the school). This year is different again as I feel like this is a big test for him, with choices that he makes and how he behaves on camp. I am missing him a lot more than usual. And my advice to him when he got out of the car was
“Love you, have fun, learn lots, try and stay warm, don’t get any one pregnant.”
I have been in hibernation this winter, hence the radio silence on the blog. I am allergic to the cold and struggle to be motivated when the air is cold, the wind is blowing, and I have to be rugged up in multiple layers. No, really I am allergic to the cold season, my skin goes into meltdown the minute the weather changes. My skin starts out really dry, and then changes into an eczema type skin condition on my neck, boobs, and stomach. It is crazy itchy, and it doesn’t matter what oil I put on it or how much a fill my gut with good bacteria like kombucha, yoghurt, green vegetables, bone broth, turmeric. The only thing that makes it disappear is spring.
Sunday morning we were at the beach, my husband truly believes in his soul that the ocean fixes everything, he was convinced that the salt water would fix my skin, and made me go for a dip in the ocean, in winter. The water didn’t fix my skin, but it livened me up. It was cold and gave me goose bumps, had my teeth chattering, and my extremities purple, heart racing, but so refreshing and cleansing. My husband and two boys frolicked in the ocean with me after their morning of surfing in wetsuits, laughing at me in my summer bikini.
I will back track a bit and explain how my husband made me go for a swim in the ocean, in winter and made me write today.
I have a little project that I am in the planning stages of. Anyone that reads my blog, knows that I have a categorgy called #sistertribe, where I interview women and post the interviews and photos on the blog. Well I want to expand that. I want to Interview more women and be paid for it. I have found a platform called Patreon that will facilitate this project. I have been planning and making notes and making lists of women that I want to chat to, I have been setting goals and researching and researching. To sum up, I am procrastinating.
Sitting at the football on Saturday, I put my foot down – I actually stamped my foot like a two year old, and told my husband that I would be doing more writing, that I am going to make this project work and I want his support. He looked at me like I had three heads. See he doesn’t at all, nor has ever, understood why I write, or post to a blog or want to interview women and post their stories.
“Honestly babe, I just don’t get it, it makes no sense to me. Why do people give a shit, why on earth would someone pay money to read about someone else? Why do they want to read about other people’s business? You tell me you want to do this, just do it. You want to write and talk to women, just do it! Not once have I ever told you can’t have or do something. It doesn’t make sense to me, but so what. Just because we are married, doesn’t mean I am going to agree with you 100% of the time. If you enjoy something, do it. Do not, however, hide yourself away in your office when we are all home, we need you and want you with us. Prove to people like me, that don’t understand what you do, that you can make it successful. That you can prove people wrong.”
At this point I didn’t know if I want to punch him in the face or kiss it. He kissed me, patted my leg and went back to watching our boy play football.
On our way to the beach on Sunday morning, my husband asked me, who are the women that I have on my wish list to interview. I told him about a woman from Northern Wales that is on my wish list, Natasha Brooks (please, please click on her name, it will direct you to her film), she swims in the mountain lakes there. Yes in northern Wales, where there is snow and temperatures below freezing, she swims naked. I want to interview her and ask her why, and find out her story. I told all of this to my husband. So by the time he had finished surfing and I had been sun baking/ sleeping in the winter sun, he leaned over me, dripping freezing water on me and said come for a swim.
“No, I am not swimming in that ocean today!”
“Northern wales this is not babe, it’ll fix your skin.”
Sitting at dinner that night we were going over our day like we usually do.
“So how much writing did you get done, while the boys and I went four wheel driving.”
My dear husband took our boys out to a local four wheel drive track for 4 hours after we came home from the beach, he text me at one point and said “we will be a while – write, do your thing while we are gone”.
“I washed and ironed clothes, washed the floor, carted wood upstairs for the fire, started dinner, baked muffins.”
Monday and the no phone experiment was meant to finish yesterday, I have sent the odd text but I didn’t use my phone today either.
I have an essay due in a couple of weeks for the art history and design unit I am studying. I have a few days off work, kids are at school, Scott is at work, so I got stuck in today and learnt all about 19th century Paris. Not just the art but the urban planning, feminism, the culture, the fashion, the alcohol, drugs and prostitutes. I didn’t want to research the well-known artists, I wanted to find some interesting creatives. My research didn’t really go as planned but I ended up with Marie Bracquemond, Jean Béraud, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and I love them all for different reasons, they are what I was looking for. I got sucked into the rabbit hole that is the internet. I started on the university library website and found a few articles that lead to a few more, and then I was reading websites and blog posts and then went back to the library articles.
Before I knew it the clock said 2.15pm, I forgot lunch and my coffee was cold after sitting on my desk from 8.30am when I walked in to the kitchen to brew it post school drop off. My phone was still in my handbag, on the back seat of my car parked in my garage, so another day went by without my smart phone. No phone could prove a little dangerous socially and mentally for me. I love the no contact too much, and would become a recluse. I know this about myself already, I am very well known for not answering the phone and can be a shocker for not replying to text messages. I am not being rude, I just forget, or at that moment too hard to talk. I didn’t think that I would find it so easy to cut myself off, however, my life seems to be on the phone. It has all the phone numbers of the people that I love and need in my life – before mobile phones I knew everyone’s home phone number by heart – not anymore. The phone holds my roster for work – I used to carry a diary. The phone holds my banking app – I used to do banking from desktop at home. My phone holds all my photos – I have cupboards and boxes full of printed photos from before mobile phones. I can catch up on study on my phone, the high school app is on my phone, I have kindle on my phone and can read a book, I can even write a blog post on the WordPress app, Google maps is my absolute best friend, I love how she can tell me how long to get it will take me to get where I need to go – no more upside down refedex or listening to an inaccurate traffic report. Overall the experiment was good for me to shut off for a few days focus on my family and friends, and not be looking at the endless list of apps, social media and other features on my phone. It does seem though, it is an evil necessity.
Saturday morning and still no phone. AND I am loving it. I had to be a little more organised this morning than I usually am, but that’s not a bad thing. T had football at 12.20pm but Scott left the house with the boys at 9.30am, they wanted to go to Bunnings and then watch a couple of football games before T had has game. I was not leaving home at 9.30am, so had to make sure that T had text all the grandmothers to make sure they knew what time and where to meet us at the football and make sure he had all of his gear and had to make sure I knew where to meet them at the grounds where there are 4 football fields. This no phone experiment is also saving us money, I went to text Scott when he was at Bunnings to grab a couple of things – but no phone. I thought about it and I really didn’t need the things that I was going to ask him to buy. And he apparently forgot I had no phone and sent me a text while grocery shopping asking for 8 pork chops. What the hell do we need 8 pork chops for!!! Glad I didn’t get that time wasting text message.
When we had all met up at the football to watch T, I was fascinated and a bit disturbed as I sat in the sun and people watched. EVERYONE was on their phones, I was also embarrassed to realise that I am also one of those mums. While waiting for a game I usually do pull out my phone and check social media or call or text someone. I was watching the kids as they were warming up and observed the amount of times they look at their parents – and the parents are watching their smart phone. No photos of T at the game, no phone and I forgot my camera. His team lost but he had good fun, got a fat lip, strapped fingers and tag marks all the way from the top of his thigh to his knee.
The boys had to stay at mums over night as Scott and I both work tomorrow morning. We dropped them off after dinner and about 30004238053023 kisses from me and goodnight and have a good day tomorrow. See I always text them goodnight and good morning, but no phone. Off to bed.
I turned off my phone last night. I had a mixed response from the 8 people that I told. I text Mum, Dad, my sister and my best friend. I told Scott and the boys.
Scott said I won’t last until Sunday
Dad text me back “ok, love”.
My best friend sent a text within 2.5 seconds of me telling her I would not have a phone until Sunday. Why? Ok?
My sister: Why? Is everything ok? Enjoy the peace and quiet.
Scott and T went fishing this morning at 4.00am. One undersized dart was caught in the 3.5 hours, but they had a great time together.
J asked for the day off school as it was cross country, he was complaining about it and that he hates to run. When I told him that he could have the day off, only if he went fishing at 4.00am and then went to the art gallery with me at 10.00am, he had his school uniform on in record time. His brother, however, jumped at the chance to have the day off. My first thought was shit – I have to find the email address to let the school know. Our school seems to have gone digital – if that’s a thing. We now need to email when our kid has a day off, it’s annoying. Why can I just ring the office! (Which I suppose worked in my favour today as I don’t have a phone)
T and I went to the art gallery after dropping J at school. We sat for an hour and listened to the artist speak about his contribution to the installation at The Hub at Caboolture Regional Art Gallery. He spoke of the breast plate that he created and the story of his nanna that inspired it. The breast plate was made from lead, it is heavy, toxic to the nervous system and it’s cold. The other element to the piece was old fencing wire to represent his nanna’s living conditions as a young child. (read the post here)
I took my camera with me and asked permission to take some photos, it was awkward walking around with a digital camera instead of my phone. We had errands to run after the gallery and headed to the local shopping centre. I wanted to print some photos for my sister and frame them for her birthday, we were having an afternoon tea for her special day – I hadn’t wished her happy birthday yet, no phone. We got to the shop and I couldn’t print the photo of her gorgeous girls because – no phone, the photo that I wanted was tucked away on my phone in my cupboard. So we had to think so something else for her birthday, while at the shopping centre I had to get my watch battery replaced as I usually use my phone to tell the time, I tried to call my husband to find out what he wanted for dinner and I also tried to check my account balance, again no phone.
We had afternoon tea with my family celebrating my sister’s birthday and I am usually the one snapping pictures but – no phone. My family couldn’t get over how weird it was that I was not using my phone, apparently there was a back and forth texting session the night before when I had told everyone I was going phone free for a couple of days, between my mum and sisters who were concerned about me and why I would want to have no phone. I think they all think I am mad.
( you will notice that this has taken me a couple of days to publish – keep reading my future posts to find out why)
They were in a concentration camp, they were enclosed within the perimeter of a wire fence, they lived in dormitories and their clothes were not suitable for the climate. Their language was taken away from them and if they spoke it they would be punished severely, their culture, their traditions were prohibited from being practiced or spoken of. They were afforded no dignity. They were malnourished not only physically as the food was not sufficient to sustain them, but mentally and emotionally. They were forbidden to use their names and they were assigned an alpha numeric identity. Nanna was W38.
W38 was stamped into a lead breast plate worn around the neck. Elements that created the breast plate were lead, and old fencing wire. Lead is heavy, it is toxic to the nervous system, and cold. Lead in the breast plate represented the deadly way of life forced on these people. Fencing wire represented the boundaries for living as a young child.
We took a seat in the arranged seating and with five other women of varying ages, leaving half of the chairs empty. Emotive art works from Michael Cook lined the walls and Wilma Walker’s baskets were displayed on pedestals, down lighting lit the space and the polished wooden floors added another earth element. Listening to this world renowned artist verbalize the atrocities of his family and country, I had tears tracking down my cheeks. I was ashamed, and embarrassed that within the hour spent with this generous, honest man, I learnt more about Indigenous Australian history than when I was at school or at any time since. I was uncomfortable as a white woman in this setting, that, I had to be educated to the outrageous history of the state that we live in. History that is so new. As Dale said, while World War I and II were raging in Europe and atrocities were changing their culture and history. There were atrocities happening in our own country. In our state of Queensland. He opened up and told us that this history lesson had also skipped a generation in his family. That his mother never knew the extent of her mother’s and his nanna’s tragedy. It wasn’t until Dale started to ask about the story of his nanna that it came to light. Dale worried about asking appropriate questions to his ancestor, he was mindful in seeking her permission to share her story, he is very cultured and educated on the strict protocols for sharing women’s and men’s stories.
As T and I left the gallery after taking a few photos. I was grateful that T had the opportunity to have that experience and to learn some history from such an authentic source and to view the Exhibition: My Country, I Still Call Australia Home: Contemporary Art from Black Queensland.
I know the word “tribe” is a popular term at the moment and being bashed to death. I’m 14.10 years into the raising of our boys and have always drawn on advice from my mum, my sisters, my hubby’s family, friends, teachers and principals, other mothers. It’s become very apparent over the last few days or even weeks really with the rising of the boys that I need this tribe.
Families need a clan in their lives. It’s not just when they’re babies and you know you’re tired and you need someone to hold the baby while you shower or pee, no mothers with teenagers need someone too. There’s my mum who has a subtle way of chatting or giving advice, you know she rubs their hand or I’ll see her occasionally give a cuddle and she’ll whisper something in their ear and it might not be a full on lecture or a rant but might be just a few words that really stick. The boys are comfortable in opening up to her a lot. They will tell her things that don’t tell me. My Dad, he’s a quiet man, he doesn’t say much but has strong opinions, in saying that the boys respect him immensely and a happy to have a chat to him about anything.
My sister posted my first born son a letter that was about life and how at 14 you don’t need to know everything, you are not expected to know exactly what you want to do in your life. Just like your Mum at 37 doesn’t know what she wants to do, but attitude is everything and to try, take every opportunity and make the most of it. For me at the moment, the letter from my sister meant everything. I balled my eyes out when I read it a few days after my son received it and asked me to read it when he was at school. We went to holiday with her, on her family property on the school holidays, and my eldest was lumped with the dishes of 11 people one night (he had other help but he kept being ridiculous, so he was left with about a quarter). He refused to stop being silly and do the job, I went and stood in the kitchen and he got worse. My brother in law walked in, stood at the bench and flicked through his phone, sending me outside to have a wine and watch the sun set with my mum, sister and cousin. The dishes were done perfectly in record time and not a single complaint. My eldest worships at my brother in law’s feet and would never want to disappoint him. My youngest sister and her family have the same comfortable relationship with my boys they will talk to them about everything. We have always lived by a “no secrets in this family” policy, the boys are comfortable sharing everything with my sisters and parents.
I was driving to school a few weeks ago and my eldest boy had a history exam, I was on the phone to my best friend and she was offering him words of wisdom for his exam. Remember dates, places, and names. It was a small conversation but for me at the moment those small moments have a huge effect.
Recently my cousin has come back into my life and even though the boys haven’t seen her in years they are comfortable with her and feel comfortable chatting to her and asking advice.
It’s not even just in raising kids you need a tribe to bounce ideas off. Some of my most joyous moments are sitting having a coffee with a friend or my mum and my sister and talking about what’s going on, what they have to say and how that can change my mind set or how I look at a situation.
I refuse to let my family get bogged down in screens and social media – that actually does nothing for you socially. We need a lot of people in our lives that have deep connections with. That are respected and we are accountable to and have a deep love for. You can have lots of people in your life, but they might not mean anything, but I think that it’s important for kids to know that they don’t have to just only tell their parents everything. I want them to know if they need to have a chat to someone else, they have family (some who are not blood) to share with.
I read an article and it was 15 ways to help a new mother and I’ve been thinking about writing a blog post for 15 ways of helping mothers with teenagers because it’s not just mother’s with newborn babies that need help. However, I hate lists and glaze over at reading them if it’s too long. So here is my top 5 ways to help a mother of teenagers out.
Suggest meeting for coffee. (Depending on the day this could progress to wine and escalate to tequila.)
Don’t talk about the kids, there are billions of subjects to talk about. When a mum with teenage kids is having to deal with teenager hormones, attitude and opinions at home. Find something else to talk about when you see her or chat on the phone. Don’t mention the kids, give her a break.
If she needs to talk about it, let her vent, let her get it all out, rant, rave. If you have useful advice share it otherwise, sit and listen. (Perhaps pass her another glass of wine.)
Take her out. If she has teenagers she is running around after them, with sport, or work, 1 million other commitments. Take her out and do something that makes her heart happy. She will then come home refreshed and energised to love her kids.
Don’t talk to mum at all, build up a relationship with the kid. If you are close enough to the family reach out to the kid. Send them a text saying Hi. If you are visiting sit and have a conversation with the kid.
I read an article this morning while on my third cup of coffee. I worked yesterday afternoon, got home at midnight and couldn’t sleep. So feel as though I was on the wines last night. My reaction to this article could be merely because I am tired and cranky.
As I started reading it, my initial thought was “good on you!”, the longer the article went the more I thought of for fuck sake woman. The article was about a woman that mow’s her own lawn.
“I hope you understand that I am not mowing the lawn because someone told me to. I am not mowing because it’s my job.I mow because I am quietly making a statement.”
If you own a house, with a lawn, then it is your responsibility to keep your little piece of earth tidy and well maintained. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female.
“Mowing the lawn is, in a way, my silent protest against patriarchy—which is still alive and well no matter how many people tell you that women and men have equal rights. We are still fighting an uphill battle.”
Can everyday tasks not just be that and not a protest? I have chopped wood, I have changed a flat tyre in the middle of nowhere, on the side of a dirt road in 40 degree heat with my 30 week pregnant sister, I have fixed a broken pipe in the laundry, and I have mowed the lawn, and pitched a tent. I watched my mother, a single mother, do lots of “men’s work”. Mow the lawn, move furniture. I have talked to my sister on the phone while she was driving a bull dozer, she musters cattle, fights bush fires or builds farm fences.
“I hope the other younger girls in our neighborhood see me mowing the lawn and remember the image of a strong woman, a strong working mother, who has the power to decide which way the stripes go. I hope they see a strong woman sweating, not wearing any make-up, enjoying the satisfaction of hard work. I hope they all see me—a woman doing “men’s work” without asking for permission.”
None of the above was done for recognition, or to show off to the neighborhood children and we certainly don’t ask for permission. All of the above jobs are just that. Everyday jobs that need to be done as part of life. When I am cold I chop wood, flat tyre change it, long grass mow it, broken pipe fix it. Our father didn’t let any of his girls apply for a drivers license before we knew how to; check the oil and water in the car, change tyres, replace wiper blades and get fuel. As young girls, we unloaded trucks full of hay, we were expected to help out in the yard, there was no “men’s work”. I say to my two all the time that if you live in this home you contribute, doesn’t matter the task just do it, and we all help. My boys wash the dishes every night, they help in the kitchen, and they know how to iron a shirt and make their bed properly. They also carry the grocery bags for me, pick flowers and arrange them in a vase. They know how to make a cup of tea as well as they know how to change the chain on a push bike.
Julie – owner of JPS Hair and Beauty, and I sat down in her pedicure lounge with a coffee and cheesecake and had a chat. This lady boss who is celebrating 19 years in her salon was modest in telling “her” story.
“I mean, it’s not just me this is my sister tribe. Lots of people make this salon.”
Start at the beginning, tell the story of your salon.
The salon started when I began my apprenticeship. The salon was the Cutting Crew, at Banyo. The owner had salons at Banyo and Wynnum. Within a few months I was winding perms and giving $5.00 haircuts. My boss recognized that I could work by myself and she would drive me out to her Wynnum salon. I was a few months off qualifying when she dropped the bomb, she was moving overseas for an extended period of time. I had mixed feelings about it, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. So I went home and I begged, I begged if I could buy the salon. I went from bank to bank to bank and I finally purchased the salon. I was nineteen. She fast tracked the last few months of my apprenticeship so I could own the salon. It was my baby. My boyfriend at the time had a Harvey Norman franchise and he worked up to 7 days a week, so we worked and worked and worked. We were young, it was all we had so we just put everything in to the businesses.
Julie saw growth in the suburb of her home, grabbed it with both hands and started another successful salon that she built from scratch.
I was driving between the two salons at this point, we were married, no kids.
The second salon was so successful that in less than 12 months, she employed a management team and an offer came through for Julie to sell.
I was solely at Wynnum when I had my first bubby- Roamie. We then purchased Morayfield – yeah Wynnum and Morayfield are a long way apart. I was working 9am til 9pm, starving hungry, nowhere to stop and eat, and crying baby in the back of the car. When we took over at Morayfield, it had been established for a decade and came with a great reputation. I will never forget the day I took over, I parked out the back and the girls came running at me for big hugs, I had never met these girls before.
Within that first week, I was violently ill and pregnant, with Luca. So I was building two salons with a one year old and pregnant again.
We love the chaos and craziness.
When Luca came, we had the front room of the salon as a childcare room, rather than putting him in child care we employed a child care worker. There was swing, cot, change table, it was all glassed in and had air-conditioning, she would look after not only my baby but anyone else who bought babies into the salon. I was still breastfeeding. I always found it important to show my girls that you can work and have a family and I felt strongly about breastfeeding. I still wanted to be able to give that to the boys. There was always a breast pump out the back if the boys weren’t here or if they were I was always feeding and I wanted that to be part of everyday life. When Luca was two and a half I approached the man next door to the Wynnum salon and said this is all too much now I can’t keep driving from Burpengary to Wynnum. He had always said if I wanted to sell to approach him first because we watched for 10 years how I built up the business. And so within a few weeks he took over.
Julie’s savvy business skills were on full alert again when a couple of years later the madness and hunger to conquer the world took over again and she saw a prime opportunity to open a salon at Murrumba Downs.
There was only one salon in the suburb and they were building a new Coles complex. We went and bought off the plan. There was countless problems, plumbing problems, building problems, budget problems. But we built a stunning salon, a year later we built another salon in another complex at Woodford. So now we had three salons.
I do all of this buy putting on a few different hats, making lists, I suppose when you are used to a lifestyle it is just that. At times it can get really overwhelming definitely.
Julie distributed her time between each salon, she spent other days doing stock, payroll, and all of the behind the scenes responsibilities of running three salons and being a mum and wife. We were approached by a broker who wanted to purchase all of our salons. But you know, while the kids are in school it is so flexible with our lifestyle and being around for the kids. We decided to stay in business and so they purchased just Murrumba downs. Shortly after that, the Woodford shopping centre owners pursued us, wanting the Woodford salon. So for two years we have just the one salon. I am here for my kids and seeing my boys succeed is everything. In sport or just at home, seeing my kids at home scootering around the driveway, free as birds. That makes me feel very, very special. Also seeing them accomplish things, you know cooking for themselves, them cleaning up makes me very happy. It’s the little things. I think with kids you want them to experience things, you know not just one off, if they experience something over and over and over they will get really good at it, I mean that is with the bad things too. If they come into a situation where something bad could happen or they have had set backs in their training, they sometimes get hurt, you know this builds resilience. They have experienced this, they are prepared for it mentally and physically.
Julie’s passion for teaching and encouraging not only includes her children but “her girls” too.
We have 15 girls here in the salon. Beauty therapists and hairdressers. It is perfect. I love coming to work, I do school hours. I drop the boys off and then am there to do school pick up. I am so content at the moment.
So my girls. Rachel has been here since the day we took over. So 11 years. Majority of the girls have been here for five years. Jasmine is our manager at the front desk, having her as host gives me the opportunity to look after my clients and mentor the other girls. Help them, support them, counsel them. Because you know, sometimes we are not having the best day and other times we are absolute rock stars. We often have binge food days but you know we all do it together. We have good days and bad days, that goes with being a woman, we have a lot of Panadol in the back room, we are here for each other, this is my sister tribe. Lots of people make this salon, it is not just me. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for every single person. All of this still happens even when I am not here, which is what I love.
I am getting enjoyment out of seeing the girls grow up, one of our babies just became qualified. Apprentices make the salon run, they are the salon, they keep us young, they keep everyone in coffee and their hair washing skills and the scalp massages are amazing. We get so much out of having them as a part of the salon. I will always have apprentices. The girls love to mentor, they love having an assistant, someone to help them. Our latest newly qualified hairdresser, she started when she was 15, as a school based apprentice. We got her through high school together, she graduated, had her formal, became full-time and now she is a qualified hairdresser, she has moved out of home, has a lovely boyfriend, she is woman. I am so amazed, I love seeing the full circle.
My joy – oh seeing what those girls can create – when I see the girls photos of their work, if I haven’t been there for the day or I have been stuck in the office and I see the styles they have created, it is everything, amazing, my girls are so talented.
I feel like they stay because of appreciation, everyone wants to be appreciated, I give them flexibility in their roles, I provide the tools and they can be free to create. We have a great team, a great connection. I don’t stand over them, I just let them go for it – most people flourish with that, sometimes it doesn’t suit them. I am about encouragement and motivation, leading by example, by showing them what I love about the industry. You know I try and keep it fun, most of the time I’m the jokester. Hairdressers are creators so they just flourish with all that encouragement. You know after we consult a client it’s always like, “I am about to do this colour what do you think?” and we bounce off each other. I am passionate about hair, they see that. I am always doing crazy stuff with my hair and they see that confidence, just to try and pull of anything. I want to show that to my customers also! That they can be confident in me. I always love to try what’s new. I mean we started using Olaplex 9 months before it was in Australia. We were importing it. The industry changes, trends change. We want to keep updated and offer that to our clients. We love to do a bit of advanced beauty.
Julie encourages her team to be open and creative, she embraces new ideas and trends.
The feather brows – oh god they are just stunning, the girls are so talented with feather brows. Some of our team came to us and said “oh look at this!” – I was like “yeah this is awesome how can we be the best at this”. That was a couple of years ago and it has boomed. We also offer laser tattoo removal, we have a class 4 laser remover, which is a medical grade laser to remove tattoos. We love to push the envelope and get great results with hair and beauty. Another one of my passions is hair extensions. I have flown around the world by myself investigating and from that I have created my own hair extension range. Whenever I have used hair extensions there is always something wrong with them, be it a shedding problem, or hair matting, or the tape wasn’t sticky enough, or the hair wasn’t the best quality, or wasn’t long enough. In the end I made my own. I don’t have any of those problems. We use absolutely stunning Russian hair, beautiful quality hair extensions that I have designed from the very beginning and are exactly what I have always wanted. We were provided with samples and often the samples weren’t right either, so I would send them back, outlining exactly what I wanted fixed. Everything from the hair, the tape, the length, weight, everything – I was fussy with. I wanted these to be just right. I have done this for so many years – these needed to be perfect. I have designed everything the packaging the name – Lucia. This is what I wanted my daughter’s name to be if I had one. So this is my baby. The whole process has been two years. Not being happy with the quality or the price lead me to investigating, trialling, having multiple salons and wanting the best. I love investigating and trying things and I want the quality.
I feel everyone has a certain amount of energy and if you channel it into the right things then you are going to go so far.
And if it’s not channelled it can be really destructive and you can get quiet depressed because you have you have no channel, no direction. I channel that energy, keep focused. When it all feels too much and I am overwhelmed I will go up to the beach – the Sunshine Coast. It completely clears my mind, it files everything where it needs to go, it cleans out all the clutter and I get completely refocused and hungry for more. Every couple of weeks I have to go to the beach. It is my thing – it is my drug. My husband also helps keep me focused, he is a business man, he is so smart, and I have always wanted to be like him ever since I met him. He has always been really focused, he then keeps me focused and holds really high standards. He helps me late at night, he is the handyman. He is here fixing washing machines and dryers and painting and renovating and making my visions come to fruition. When I have a vision of something I want to create, he’ll tell me it can’t work, but oh yes it does.
Like my green wall, I wanted a green wall – I got my green wall, or I am going to take my team to Vegas and we did.
Last year we created our own bi-annual education event called JPS retreat, rather than go to Vegas. We hired two beautiful mansions at Stradbroke Island, we flew in prominent educators and had three days in a nice relaxed environment and learnt new techniques and styles. We bought in Penny Antuar a make-up artist. The beauty therapists perfected all new techniques with make-up over two days. The hair side of things we had – Belinda Keeley from Melbourne, motivational speaking and colour placement with the girls was her specialty. My idol Lorna Evans – the up style queen, she showed us amazing braids and up styles, how to sew hair, sew an up style with cotton wool.
Julie wears so many hats, wife, mum, business owner, mentor, creator. What is next for this lady?
You never know with me, there is always so magic in the air.
Why back me financially, by having to pay to read the interviews? Because I am creating a platform for me to showcase my best work, build a community and get paid to keep on creating. The more patrons in our community means more interviews, and more stories. A portion of this money will be used to pay it forward, sharing the love with other women and girls and raising their voice.
Do you know what I am doing today?? EVERYTHING. I have done the school run, grocery shopped – I deliberated between the $1.99 avos that were ripe and the bag for $4.99 that were hard as rocks as long as I possibly could. I shopped at the local crystal shop for a smudge stick, came home and cleansed my house – so now every room in the house smells as though I have had a session of smoking weed. I cooked up a huge brekky for my husband and I that lead to me cleaning the whole kitchen, I have washed all the clothes I could find, towels, sheets and doona covers, I have vacuumed, weeded one of my gardens. I have sat with two cups of coffee and watched my husband absolutely lose his mind over a bolt on the ride on mower. I have had a nanna nap. AND I am writing again after a break, from baring my life and soul to all. Busy day hey!
All this spring cleaning is not because I am bored or because it is the first day of my annual leave. No, it’s because I have an online art history exam to do and I am petrified. I am being tested on Greek, Indian, Chinese / Japanese art and philosophy. Last time I did an exam if was for the subject “defining women” – I earnt a HD for that subject, however, when I sat down in front of the computer screen and clicked the begin button – I looked at those questions and thought I must have been given the wrong exam because not a single question seemed at all similar to what I had been learning. My brain completely shut down, my heart was pounding out of my chest and I was freaking out.
Hence my OCD cleaning binge this am, this post is the closest I have let myself get to the computer.
Two hours, an exam, a school run and afternoon tea later.
The exam took me less than an hour and I got 95/100.
I walked into the space at the Festival of design where Ania and Kat had their art displayed. The blonde and brunette haired beauties, one from Germany and one from Italy, made use of pine wood pallets as supports for black and white pencil drawings of whales, fish and swim suits. Green leafy branches from palm trees added colour, a quick shade in the same colour as the foliage and its poles allowed Ania to hang her whales and white flowing material softened and gave the display a beachy feel.
I had just finished having a speedy interview with Kat about her drawings and asked Ania if she would also be interested in a quick chat. I could’ve spoken and listened to these interesting and extremely talented ladies with their European accents for a lot longer, but it was a market type feel with people walking around and I didn’t want to take up too much of their time.
Ania told me that she started to make the three dimensional whales in February. “It was a strange thing. I had been doing this back in Italy just for an hobby. But then I came here to Australia and I met this girl she is an artist too” and she said “you should try and sell your stuff.”
She sent some pictures to a really famous interior stylist in Sydney. And this stylist wrote me back and said “I want to buy your whales!”
Laughing she tells me “And I was like oh my god, ok!” So since then I have been starting to sell them, to Sibella Court, Sibella Court Society Inc, and she is from Sydney. Since then I have been selling to shops and galleries, off my own website.
Ania tells me that when she came to Australia and landed in Darwin she had no idea what she was going to do here. She proudly and with a big smiles say “and now I am in artist in Australia.”
Ania spent time in Italy making flat metal sculptures and in Australia embarked on making three dimensional whales, she told me she finds these so much more fun to do, and they are so much more challenging.
“I just love whales there is something so magic and they are so poetic, I just love them, there is a special connection with the ocean and I wanted to do something to represent that”.
In November the whales are playing in the waters off Byron Bay Ania said “it was just crazy seeing them in the ocean in Byron bay, they were jumping and I was jumping.” Watching them in nature added to her research on the whales form and movement. This research is also backed up from Ania’s study of design in Italy, yacht design actually. “I left university and I came to Australia because yacht design back in Italy is not really mmm you know”, she says with a shrug of her shoulders and lifting of her hands. “I mean the technical yacht design and drawings for the yachts are very similar to the whales.”
“I usually go on YouTube and watch videos and study and sketch the movements and study the three dimensional part. I make lots of sketch and then I go free hand.”
After the sketches are completed she gets down to making the sculpture, she explained to me that first time was difficult creating the three dimensional pieces because of course she didn’t know what she was doing. So this could take like two, three days. “But now I am quicker. I love it, I love when I find a new position or something new to add or do.”
From Ania’s expression and body language she loves Australia as much as the whales. “I have been here for one year and I am here for sure until July, I just want to stay. I will be a student my whole life if I have to, so that I can stay here.” She recounts her travels and how her sculptures support her life here. “I love travelling here so much. I have a van, I landed with my sister in Darwin and we got a van and we crossed the desert and we saw Uluru and the Great Ocean Road, then up to Noosa and then back again, then down to Tasmania for two months. I am always driving. My van is nice, it is a super old van, it is a thirty one years old van, so everyone looks at my van and it is a good display for my whales. On the side of my van in the window I always put my whales, on the side with my website.”
As a 16 year old I knew that I wanted to work with pre-schoolers, I was always interest in the early years. In year 12 a lady came to our school as part of a careers information session. She was from The Nanny School in Brisbane. She spoke about The Nanny School, being a nanny, what it involved and the possibility of working overseas, I knew then that is exactly what I wanted to do. So I worked part-time and saved to be able to go to The Nanny School, prior to this I had studied and completed a Certificate Three in early childhood. I went straight into a Nanning position after graduation, I was there for 15 months before moving to London with my boyfriend who was a professional rugby league player. We moved to Leeds and lived there for a year I was working in a Montessori nursery, still knowing that I wanted to go and Nanny in London. When we came back to England from Australia for another football contract in Leeds, I said to him I am going straight to London.
I have always gone through a nanny agency, they do all the screening and they know how to match you. They ask very specific questions eg. Do you drive, will you travel with families, age preferences. From this I was in a job for just under a year, the mother only need someone while her husband was away from home – he was an actor. This family referred me to a friend that needed a nanny for 2-4 weeks, while their permanent nanny went home to Australia. This was perfect for me as I was about to go travelling with my boyfriend who was playing in the Rugby world cup. I knew the children that I would be looking after as their nanny and I were friends and would have play dates with our children. One week and the mother said to me “we have spoken more in this week, than I have spoken to the other nanny in a year. Having you here has made me realise what a nanny is meant to be doing.” She went on to say that she wanted me to come back to her and nanny and live in the converted flat upstairs, after I had travelled with my boyfriend. She told the permanent nanny not to come back. So I ended up staying with them for 3 years. This was until the father wanted to be a stay at home dad, and also because I was getting too expensive as they now had three children. The third child I looked after from birth until she was two. Still to this day I call her my baby. They have four children now and I have been appointed guardian if anything was ever to happen to the parents.
The next family I went onto I was with for a year, they had two children and I did not bond with the boy child or the mother at all. From this I ended up working in Turkey as a summer nanny, even though I never wanted to nanny outside of London. But the money was so good and a friend who was also a nanny was going on holidays and her children needed someone. I knew the children, because when they would come to London we would meet for playdates with my children. I was there for the summer with three housekeepers and a driver only one of them spoke English so the eight year old would translate for me.
While I was in Turkey there were agencies in London deciding which jobs they would allow me to look at. This is how agencies work, based on experience and qualifications they usually gave you about three to look at. I was told that I was highly sort after in London based on my experience and qualifications, and serving time as a nannies helper and moving quickly onto sole charge. I was sitting on the top pay scale, which at the time was about 390 – 400 pound a week about $1000 Australian. I only worked for families where the parents were at work all day. I refused to work for someone that wasn’t working herself, as I felt if you are not working you need to be looking after your children.
I worked 12 hour days with the children, I usually had one on my hip, one at nursery, or school. We would have a strict routine. We would drop children at school or nursery and the baby and I would do our morning activities, maybe meet up with other nannies. Come home feed them lunch, put them down for a nap and then go and do pick up in the afternoon. Nannies really do have the best social calendar, you do not want to be stuck at home all day. I would have sole charge of the children, I would not clean or do general housekeeping, I would only do child nursery duties; cleaning their rooms, cooking their food and their laundry. Occasionally even on my days off or after I had signed off for the day I would still be with them, I loved them and loved just being with them.
As a mother everything that you have just said makes me want to cry. Everything you have said is what I did as a mother with my boys. These mothers must absolutely love and trust you immensely to be with their child like this.
You are right and I totally understand how you feel, at one time I had an au pair helping me with three children and when I would see her with my children, playing with them or showing the affection and I would become so jealous.
I said to the best friend of the lady I was working for “I admire and respect you and the women that work and have nannies – purely for the fact that you are willing to share your child’s love with someone else. I understand that is a choice, I mean the women that I worked for were high profile, extremely successful women, family orientated women. They had worked very hard for years to get to where they were. They loved their careers but also wanted a child. It meant that they need to work out the best balance for them emotionally and of course they still had mother guilt and had to learn how to deal with the social pressure from other women.
The top nanny agency in London, put me forward for a job in Kensington, I went for the interview, the agency negotiated the job for me. They called me in Turkey to say that I had just topped the pay scale for them; I would be getting 390 pounds a week, a flat in Kensington and a car – a BMW X5 and my only bill being a mobile phone. Being at this level, I knew my boundaries as a professional Nanny and always demanded respect from the families, I would only work for families where our values aligned and knew we would be a good fit. I would never travel with the families, dynamics change, and routines change. I was a professional nanny, so when the parents went to work I started work, when they went home I finished work as a live in Nanny. If you travel with them you are at their beck and call. So there are girls that are specifically holiday nannies. They only do travel with families and some only do high profile families and couldn’t think of anything worse than my position where I was stationary in London, doing the same routines everyday was their job from hell.
At the end of the day I just love being around the children under five, I love being with them and having play dates, developing a bond with them, I get so much satisfaction out of watching them grow. I loved for example the chaos and busyness of eating dinner with a table full of under-fives. It was crazy and loud and I loved it. When I moved back to Australia and would be sitting at the dinner table with my husband and it was quiet and civilised I found it boring and I suffered from what I think is empty nest syndrome. For 12 years I had a child on my hip or under my feet from when I was eighteen and I stopped when I was 30. At the end of my time as a nanny, I was just so tired of leaving families, I would just get so attached and I would end up being an absolute mess.
One of the challenges of Nanning is living in a house and living with the dynamics of a husband and wife. Working and living with a family you are dealing with them on a professional level and also an emotional level. Living within a family there is such a personal level of the job as well. The family that I worked with the longest I called her my mum away from home, and to this day we are still in contact with and I have just been invited to go and visit them in Sydney.
My biggest thing especially with under-fives is always to sit and eat with your children and eat the same food. This is so important because: children do not innately know how to eat dinner at a table and food does not motivate children under five. The only thing that motivates a child under five is fun. If they are at a table just being told to eat they are not learning, they learning by copying you. The very first thing I did as a nanny would be always to sit down and eat with the children. The family I was with the longest named me “two dinner Edwards”, because I always ate with the children at 5pm then would go out and eat with friends later. The last job I was in the little boy refused to eat vegetables, but within two weeks of me being with him, he was eating vegetables. The mother said to me I don’t know what you’re doing but keep it up, because her son had a new favourite food of broccoli. The food behaviour in the home changed because I made fun out of it and boys are motivated by challenge, so I would challenge him. “I would say to him you can’t eat a tree”. And of course he ate the tree. Eat with them, eat the same food as them – because they want to be the same as you, they role model you. So do what you want them to copy and feeding children under five needs to be fun. Do not ever clean a child up at the dinner table, let them get food everywhere, on their hands, on their face. Let them feel the food, clean them up away from the table. Let them explore it. Another tip when you do go to wash their face, don’t smother their face with the face washer. They will pull away and bat their hands. Be gentle, lean into them with a soft and soothing voice and clean off one part of their face at a time, explain what you are doing, they will relax and lean into you and let you do it. Be soft and delicate.
Routine. I had a really strict routine. It got to the point that the children could predict what was happening next. This created a sense of calm in them. If children don’t have strict boundaries they don’t feel safe and secure and they can act out because they are feeling disconnected from you. If you are consistent they always know what to expect from you and again they feel secure. Routines and consistence is the key.
Communications with under-fives is so important. Especially over the age of 3, they become much more reasonable. Appreciate that they know more than you think they do. They understand more than they can verbalise. Explain things to them, it’s not fair to dictate to children, explain why you are doing something, this brings understanding and they will be so much more reasonable.
If you want to distract, motivate or engage a child, music wins every time. Make it fun and sing, it captivates them. I spoke to a music teacher about this and she agreed with me that music changes the dynamic and a great way to distract, motivate or engage a child.
Get down on the ground with the children, go to eye level especially with boys. It’s not an innate awareness for parents to get down to eye level. Some parents have an instructional, dictator relationships with children. If they see them at eye level they have a serve and return interaction with their child. For example sit and eat with them at the dinner table, sit with them a do an activity with them.
Start with the end mind, think about how you want them to act not as babies, but as older children. Speak to them with proper words, use appropriate language. That is one of my biggest tips for parents.
For the last 3 years we have hooked up our camper trailer and driven south down the highway to Northern New South Wales to a little place south of Byron Bay. The caravan park where we stay is tucked in between a headland and the beach. The camp ground doesn’t have many facilities in itself but the location is perfect. To get our favourite camp site we need to a year in advance. The dates that we have stayed have meant that the same people have been there each year. One lady that comes to mind when I think of Broken Head has stayed at the park at the same time of year for over 60 years, all of her children and grandchildren have spent summers at the park and her husband actually passed away there, on their annual holiday. She is an expert on the weather, she out fishes the men and can be seen walking the beach everyday.
We spend our time on holiday walking over the headland in the morning, going for a swim or a surf on the way back to camp, we usually have a nanna nap, go back to the beach for more swimming after lunch, then it is “happy hour” with cheese and wine before heading back to the beach for a late afternoon fishing and a pipi hunting session. Then back to camp and cooking on gas oven, with ingredients and produce from the fridge that we take with us, we have a comfortable set up with lots of shade, the boys sleep in their own tents, and we cover our camp site with 100’s of fairy lights making it shine brilliantly.
With mostly the same people camping in the park at the same time each holidays, my boys look forward each year to catching up with their mates from all over Australia. They spend their days, at the beach, in the park, going from camp site to camp site catching up and getting to know families. The group of mostly boys in the mornings head up to the camp kitchen and cook and feast on pancakes. Most days I have to actually remind them to eat and I always insist that they are back at our camp site for dinner; otherwise I would never for the whole holiday see my children.
One of my absolute favourite things is getting comfy in my queen size bed in the camper trailer and listening to the ocean as I fall asleep, going for long walks with my little family and practising yoga on the beach is pretty high on the list as well. The 16 days that we are away each year, living a healthy lifestyle of eating beautiful food, being active everyday, spending time together is my favourite time of the year.
Happy summer, December 1st. I love summer, I get excited about the heat and the energy and the movement of summer – like running across sand when it is burning my feet, racing into the ocean so my skin stops burning, the way I launch of the seat in the 1975 Valiant with vinyl seats when it fries the backs of my legs. School is finished, holidays are here, cricket is endless and days and weeks are spent at the beach. Skin is brown and our lifestyle feels healthy and active. We eat light food and eat it outside, we have bonfires and seek relief from the heat in the afternoon under big leafy trees. The days are longer and feels refreshing to wake up with the sun, I enjoy waking up in the heat, it’s a motivator for me to get out and get the day moving early. The feel of grass crunching under my feet, the baked feeling of clothes off the clothes line, the burn of my skin when I step outside, the refreshing feeling of drinking water to stay hydrated. Light and airy clothes, bikini’s and togs, thongs on my feet, fruit that is juicy and the essence of the seasonal delicacy runs down my arm as I bite into it. The excitement of Santa, the twinkling of Christmas lights, the white noise of the fan or air-con while trying to sleep.
Maybe I love all of this because I am a fire sign (I am not a big believer in all of that – because whenever I read any descriptions on being an Aries none of it sounds like me), but maybe the time, date and year of my birth is what puts the fire in my belly in summer and the heat makes me feel alive and refreshed. Because winter sends me in the opposite direction. I feel bogged down and heavy, the clothes, the food, and the short days. I feel myself starting to go into hibernation around my birthday in March
I am not a shopper. I actually can’t stand wandering the shops. However, I had a great time Christmas shopping for my family yesterday. I love gift giving and finding nice things to give to the people that I love. And most of the people that I buy for are girls, which is such a treat, I enjoyed trying to decide what to buy. The children in my family always receive books from me at Christmas, and I have a hard time making a choice when it comes to only buying one book. I spent most of my time while shopping in the book aisle and then moved on to the book shops.
My fingers itch to hold and flick through every book in a book shop. I would spend hours amongst the shelves of books if I could. I actually avoid book stores if I am shopping with someone else, I like to just be able to meander around and scan through the books and words and get lost in the different genres of books in the shop, on my own at my leisure.
I picked up the book Anne of Green Gables yesterday and it made me think of the photos that I had looked at the day before on a work colleague’s phone. She had actually visited the house where the story was set – Prince Edward Island, Canada. I love that about books– the inspiration they stir, the thoughts that they spark, that they stimulate conversations, and provide holiday destinations.
So next year 2017, will be the year of book giving, for my family and friends. For birthdays and Christmas everyone will be receiving a book, I can see and almost hear the eye rolls now. If any of you are reading this, send me lists of books you want to read and I will endeavour to get them. Maybe not all of them will be brand new books, some may be from second hand stores. But I will be giving books next year – early warning. I will get to spend time in books shops, you know that it will be a well thought out gift and you get to read. Win- win for us both.
Remembrance Day was also the day of the work Christmas party. I’ve not been to any social events hosted by work. I am usually working, my husband was working away or it was just too hard. We live about an hour from the city where these events are held, public transport is not particularly safe after having a few drinks and I would never catch it on my own late at night and a taxi would cost hundreds of dollars. This year however I paid for us to go and celebrate with the people that I spend a lot of my nights and weekends with. I paid for our tickets and booked a room near the venue so that we wouldn’t have the hassle of trying to get home and so that we could relax and enjoy ourselves.
I went and bought a new shirt for my husband – it was too small, it was a different cut to what else is hanging in the cupboard. So I got my money back, because he wanted to wear a shirt in his cupboard that I am not fond of and I often tease him about. With the money from the shirt I picked out a dusky pink shift dress. Really pretty but I was a bit worried when I tried it on that I may look a bit like mutton dressed up as lamb. But the lady in the fitting room next to me assured me it looked great.
I organised for the children to stay with my mum the night, I picked up my husband from work and we headed into the city for a fun night away. We followed the lady on Google maps to the address that I was emailed on the confirmation of booking our room. We had a bit of trouble finding the parking, so we parked illegally and went to check in. At check in the reception staff were lovely, and they directed us to the carpark. We parked and fought over the correct button to press on the lift. The room numbers outlined on the lift said that our room was on the lower ground (LG), my husband said that must be a typo, he thought we were on the LG in the carpark. We get to the room and my husband opens the door with great drama and excitement and we are both stunned. The images that were on the website where I reserved the room, are nothing like the actual room. Just to the left of the door is the bathroom, the shower is so small I don’t think that my average sized husband will fit. The double bed which should be a queen bed is in the middle of the room and there is barely enough room between the bed and the wall for me to squeeze through. To top it off though there is no window.
A friend of mine gave me her Uber code so that we could receive $10 each way on the first two trips of using Uber. It was fabulous – from our room that is a claustrophobics nightmare to the work Christmas party venue was $7.10 each way. So the country bumpkins (aka us), who never go to work functions in the city, who obviously aren’t great at choosing hotel rooms, and had never booked an Uber were the talk and laugh of the Christmas party. I was so glad that we made the effort to go it was a fun night with great people, prawns, oysters and other finger food, champagne, beer, wine and spirits, photos, laughs and a hang over the next morning.
Changed this challenge to 100 posts. I have for the last 4 days felt guilty for not writing. During the four day’s I would think of topics, or things that I wanted to include in each post but didn’t have the discipline to sit and write the post.
Over the past four days, I spent time having coffee with my mum and we did a bit of shopping my heart was full after spending a few hours with her and having a chat. I also had an incredibly interesting conversation with a lady that I work with, it was her first shift back from 6 weeks on holidays. She was telling me about her solo drive around Tasmania, the haunted BnB she stayed in, the amazing seafood, the lovely people and that for 48 hours she was listed as a missing person when she was travelling through dense bushland in the mountains of Tasmania and the last words that she said to her daughter on the phone were “ I am so isolated and frightened, if anything happens to me here you will never find me.” She was actually fine after a day with no phone service and no emergency service time was wasted looking for her.
I worked two night shifts, that were horrendous and made me pissed off and frustrated with stupid people, made me angry that anybody can procreate and thankful for emergency service workers.
On Friday night and into Saturday I didn’t see my children and my arms ached to hug them, didn’t sleep well with missing them.
Sunday I had three hours sleep, while my husband and boy 2 were fishing and diving, boy 2 was incredibly sea sick and still looked a bit green when he got home. Boy 1 wrangled another night at his friend’s house and then more time going to the movies with him. He came home tired, cranky and with a severe attitude problem, that didn’t sit well with my tired and emotional state coming off night duty. I spent Sunday with one of my oldest and dearest friends, we ate cheese, drank wine, talked while our children swam and laughed and our husbands talked and drank beer, we laughed and shared dinner together with our families, and then we all made our own individual Pavlovas. It was such a simple joy for the eight of us to be in the kitchen making a treat.
Yesterday, boy 1 went on camp, we didn’t part in a great way as he absolutely hated me for sending him to camp, apparently none of the cool kids go to camp. He thought it was also uncool to take a towel, toiletries, lunch for yesterday and water. We argued all morning about packing a couple of life’s necessities and he barely said goodbye. I cried, his father was fuming and he rolled his eyes.
I loved my husband a little bit more yesterday after our disastrous morning, when he hung new curtains in our bedroom. I have wanted curtains for the longest time, but never got around to it, or didn’t want to part with an exorbitant amount of money for material that covers a window, I also quiet like waking up with the sun. Now that I am back on nights I needed curtains.
End of post 69
Getting ready for work, the weather here is hot and humid and the makeup is sliding off my face.
Boy 1 is on school camp and can’t wait until he gets home.
Feature photo is me watching the cricket after waking up from night duty.
I have written in previous blog posts that I completed a 7 day nature challenge (bloody hell me and challenges this year – at least they are positive and helping me grow) with the hope of being published in the Womankind magazine. I dashed into the newsagent, grabbed the bright yellow magazine and raced to the counter and handed over $14.95 to see myself in print. I jumped back in my car and had only a few minutes to get myself to work. I parked in the carpark and thought “I really need to take a selfie of this for the feature photo of the blog today”. So I uncomfortably snapped a couple of photos of me holding up the magazine. I took the selfies, and flipped through the magazine. Issue 10 is all about Vietnam there are articles, photography and art work about the Asian country. My heart was pounding and my nervous giggle came out. And then there I was in print, my words printed on the pages of a magazine that other people can read, people that I don’t know and in countries all over the world. The excitement, pride, fear and accomplishment is so addictive, it makes me just wanna tap my fingers over the keys and keep on working on my writing. To see my words in print on soft duck egg blue paper is exciting. So when I was driving in the drive way at work and passed my husband, I stuck my head out the window and waved the magazine in his face, “I got published”. He couldn’t stop as he had traffic behind him and I don’t think he knew what I was doing waving a bright yellow and red a4 thing in his face.
It is now 11.46. Illuminated by the stove light, I have just finished pawing over the other entries of the nature challenge. I am stoked to be among the woman that completed the nature challenge and were also selected to be published.
End of day 68
Really short entry today, I had hoped that I would find the magazine and be able to write about it, so hadn’t thought to write anything else.
Had Wednesday coffee with the school mum’s this morning. Paid for our Christmas holiday. Posted a photo for the #loveyourspouse challenge. It was a photo of us when I was 18 and about to board a plane to then board a cruise ship for 7 days. After our very first major argument, I went to the travel agent and booked a holiday on my own. Had the most awful time, I was sea sick for 3 day and my luggage was lost for 4 of the 7 days
Annual Grandparents day at the school today. I generally am uncomfortable at these school events, however today my anxiety didn’t rear its ugly head. The primary school years are closing in fast for my little family, the end of next year I will start paying two lots of school fees at the local catholic high school. Today my boy lead me around the art displays, I chatted and laughed with some of the parents and teachers and one that has been around my family for 12 years, I also spent time with Mum, she raced to the school on her lunch break to spend time with my boy on Grandparents day. The Montessori philosophy, “help me do it myself”, was holding strong today, the wonderful parents that volunteer at the school had art / craft activities set up, one activity was to decorate a triangle that would be made into bunting for the school to use. The only way to make the calico piece of material pretty was to sew something onto it. My husband can attest to my non-existent sewing skills, he always laments the fact that he hasn’t got the 1950’s housewife that cooks and sews and knits in her heels and make-up. However those buttons were sewn on the little piece of material in the shape of a “T” and they looked good. With confidence brimming over at my new found handiness I then embroidered “TE” on it as well.
I submitted a week’s worth of writing to Womankind magazine for a competition they were running a couple of months ago. They enjoyed my writing and it is to be published in Issue 10 of the magazine. Issue 10 was to be in newsagents and other retail outlets today, I searched the two outlets that I know stock the magazine near me and no one had it.
I started reading a new book on my phone via the kindle app, on my tea break today. “An Italian Journey: A harvest of revelations in the Olive Groves of Tuscany by James Ernest Shaw. I am only 35% into the sample, but his descriptions of the people and the place has me wishing I was sitting in a Piazza sipping palpation inducing coffee, not in the fluro lit room with air conditioning blowing like the arctic, forcing down international roast.
End of day 65
My stomach is sore from laughing so hard this shift. The last four shifts I have worked with the same lady, this never happens our eight hours a day have featured a wide range of characters and our conversations are getting funnier, louder and more shocking that later the night goes on.
Look at the concentration on my face in the feature photo! That button was going on.
Mum, I missed you yesterday! Are you staying home tonight?
Morning babe, please tell me you’re not working tonight!
Mum can you please pick me up from school today? I love when you are at school in the afternoon.
My bestie shared my feature blog post for askingmums (read about it here) website, on our school closed group Facebook page and there were heart felt, thoughtful comments from parents of the school about my writing.
There has been increased traffic on the blog this week.
And I have been included in an Instagram group of women from all over the world. The purpose of the group is to encourage and support each other.
A video and article on Facebook appeared in my feed today on Why women need a tribe. It was a great read and an interesting video with facts and scientific research about why women thrive and are healthier when they have the love and support of their sister tribe. It made me think of the love I receive from my sister tribe. If I have learnt nothing else from this 100 day blog challenge it is how the positive words, love and encouragement from my sister tribe has kept me on track, has made me get the hell out of my comfort zone and the encouragement has made me confident and wanting to extend myself further.
This afternoon I was in the kitchen and my husband called out from wherever he was in the backyard. “Babe, I need you down here, can you come here now”. I silently muttered about how bossy he is, and got down stairs to a wine and cheese set-up on the grass, and my husband telling me how happy he was that I wasn’t going to work today.
End of day 64
The wine that I have had tonight has me feeling the love of a pounding headache already.
I applied over the last few weeks, to be a guest /feature blogger for two different blog sites. Today, both accepted my proposed ideas on posts that I would like to write for them. If you had a read of the blog post from yesterday day 55, you would understand why I am constantly chanting to the Universe, asking for writing opportunities and occasions to meet people that can inspire, help me or offer me writing experience, applying for guest/feature blog opportunities and trying to get my writing to be known, so that I can earn money doing something that I love. Also found out today that my published writing piece for Womankind magazine will be out in stores on the 29th October. You can buy it here: Leading bookstores, 3,000 news agencies, Coles, leading art galleries, airports.
My husband was home today, so he did the school run, while I battled the peak hour traffic, to get to work, while missing out on Wednesday coffee with the girls. I was dressed in a mid-thigh length stretch material skirt (I am not a sewer so don’t know the material, but it clung to my butt and was fitted) a loose top covered the material covering my butt and a lace pair of sneakers that look like Converse but aren’t Converse. It was a simple, comfy, cute outfit. I was told I looked like I was going to play tennis, you need a filter people – you don’t need to say everything that pops into your head, I don’t even play tennis.
Dinner was prepared and ready to be cooked when I got home and the dishes were done and kitchen clean by the time the boys were ready to leave for cricket training. The fruity and fresh, clean skin red, that was sitting on my bench is now keeping me company while I write this and it is very fruity and while it is nice, it is kind of giving me an instant headache. Don’t want to blame the wine though, because it does taste good and it was in a great price range.
End of day 56
Off to have a Panadol, take off my tennis outfit and soak in the bath
Going to research some more writing opportunities and ideas
My first game of cricket for the season today (well not me I didn’t play, boy 1 did).
I love and hate cricket season. Boy 1 is crazy obsessed with it and he is an absolute arrogant, selfish nightmare when it comes to Saturday cricket. This morning was no different he slept until 6.35am – this was after me trying several times to wake him. We need to leave by 7.00am to be at the grounds on time. He was yelling and arguing about his whites, breakfast, water, sun cream, boy 2 and I being ready to go.
We got to the grounds a few minutes late but by that point I didn’t care less and was ready to go home. Because you know 14 year olds know everything and cancer doesn’t affect them. So why do they need sun cream on a 27 degree Celsius day when they are going to be standing directly in the sun for the next 4.5 hours!
My boy is known for his bowling and has done very well with his skills over the last 3 seasons. So you know, 14 year old boys know everything so why not change to being a wicket keeper, and not use the skills that he has worked on tirelessly and driven everyone mad about for the last 3 years, to do a position he has never played before. Yes that is what happened today and I have never been the pushy parent, but I mean it made sense to me that if you have established skills and you are in a new team trying to prove yourself, would you not use the skills that you already have?? Mmm apparently I don’t have a clue when it comes to this and my boy played wicket keeper. Which seemed like a waste but, whatever. So I sat in the sun and watched like a good mum. No shade was provided by trees or any form of shelter at these grounds, I felt like I fried my face off, but the wind was cold, so I also wanted a jumper that I didn’t bring. It was a very long 4.5 hours today, because when he went in as the opening batter he was caught out after hitting the ball in the air in his second over (hitting a ball in the air is a big no, no in cricket – unless you can slog it for 6).
In the end our team won, boy 1 wasn’t happy with his game. He now has a headache because drinking water is also as uncool as sun cream.
End of day 52
I am home alone as the boys have taken Val to a car show. That they arrived for at 4.30pm for what they thought was a 5.00pm start, but doesn’t actually start until dark.
Feeling fried so going to have a soak in a coconut oil bath.
I am writing again at 11.31pm, but I am up late writing tonight because I met my bestie in her soon to be new home suburb of West End in Brisbane. I parked my big car, on the street in the tiny lane, behind her home that her husband is currently renovating. I had the grand tour of the two units that will be rented and air bnb’d out. Her hubby has done a great job in transforming the units. The space that has been revamped is a perfect blend of the original building and the modern reno. I was walking on wide old floor boards with the modern light fittings above and funky bathrooms, modern kitchen with original windows and doors in the same room.
My friend loves a good walk. I should have taken this into account when I was changing outfits twenty times, because I didn’t walk to look like the Caboolture school mum, while dining in West End. The inner city suburb that is known for its style and eclectic mix of alternative and vintage, with lots of art galleries, and a great café and restaurant scene. So I dressed in black skinny jeans, a funky little jumper with a gorgeous neck line and heels. Yeah, heels not the best choice as I now have a blister on the underside of my foot running from my big toe to my little toe and I am kind of limping. We ended up at The gunshop cafe which is 1.4km from where I parked. We stumbled on this place while looking for another well-known restaurant. I am so glad we decided on this little beauty with exposed brick walls, mottled lighting courtesy of the unique light fittings and relaxed atmosphere. I had; Creamed leek risotto, Garden Greens, Persian feta, dukkah. The flavours were amazing, it was light and creamy and fresh and I loved it and savoured it slowly while chatting to my friend and sipping on Shut the Gate Shiraz x 2, followed much later by hot chocolate with brownie and ice cream.
We were the last ones to leave the funky little café. I hadn’t even noticed the time or the coming and going of other diners. I looked up just before we left and one of the staff was mopping the floor. That was how great of a time we were having chatting about anything and everything, catching up, talking about family and friends, and work and renovations, holidays and creative ideas and study. I caught my first uber, the driver was lovely, the car was nice and clean – he got 5 stars on his review. It only took a few minutes to drive back to my car, but this totally saved my feet.
End of day 51
Off to bed because it is nearly midnight and I have to get up early for cricket.
I love simple pleasures they fill my heart with joy.
50 days of writing, well sort of. There were a few days of writing that I chickened out of but they will be added to the end of the 100 day challenge. I feel like I should celebrate 50 days some how, not sure how to do that, but thought I would recap on some parts of the last 50 days, follow up on some the blog posts.
Where to start? Well the 5 days that I chickened out of writing, I found it a relief not to write and blog for a few days. I was sick of writing and reading my own babble. I was finding this writing challenge to be lonely, even though people take the time to read and comment on my posts. I was frustrated that my husband knows that I write everyday but he hasn’t read any of the blog posts. Usually this doesn’t faze me at all but this week it did. Unfortunately the only routine to when I write is when I am on my own, the kids are at school, husband is at work, when I am on a tea break at work, after work at midnight. I write the blog posts on my phone, on my work email, on my home pc.
I wrote a post on day 43 about my favourite thongs breaking. It was a post that really surprised me. As I was writing it I felt a bit ridiculous writing about rubber thongs. But my readers enjoyed it and it was one of my most popular posts.
On day 47 I wrote about cricket training being at a time that sends my OCD dinner tendencies a bit mad. This was exacerbated as my Dad called on the day and asked if he could stay the night. He lives in western Queensland and was coming to Brisbane for a funeral. He was a very good cricketer in his younger days and has a deep knowledge, experience and advice when it comes to most subjects and cricket is one. He came to training with us. I was waiting all day for him to ring me and say that he would be late or that something had come up and he wouldn’t make training. I hadn’t told my boy that Pop was coming to cricket, because I didn’t want him to experience the disappointment of Dad cancelling on him. But he shocked me and he was there and he helped my boy, he gave him invaluable tips and small adjustments to make my boy 1’s game better and kinder on his body.
On day 4 I wrote about working on my marriage and looking back on the last 50 days of writing I have skimmed over all the hard work that we are both doing in our marriage. It is definitely not all roses, but we are working the hardest we have ever worked on us. Some days suck and I am pretty sure that we hate each other, but instead of letting issues and comments brew and fester we are talking them through or texting each other if we can’t chat. Our happy place is the beach and we find it easy to reconnect, relax and enjoy each other there. There is a definite theme running through the blog in relation the beach and the ocean. With the way that we have plotted our rosters it is favourable for the boys, but definitely not great for our relationship as we pretty much high five each other on the way in and out the door. I took a sick day to travel to Northern New South Wales with him and was excited because we would have dinner together.
Another part of the 50 days that I has kept me writing is the #mesistertribe interviews
Travelled to Northern New South Wales today to visit Scott’s nanna. By the time we reached the farm at Coraki, my whole body was vibrating with stressed out energy. I wasn’t angry, or upset, I had mother stress going on, where I didn’t know whether to scream or ignore them or disown them. My two had been given red/green/cola medium sized Slurpee’s when we stopped to get fuel. I think that BP laced that coloured ice with speed or some such drug. My kids were off their faces. We have a duel cab Hilux Ute, so not lots of room but usually enough. Not on this trip. They were being loud and silly and poking each other, kicking chairs, laughing hysterically about nothing. It didn’t matter to them one bit what I said or asked or threatened them with, they thought it was hilarious and cackled about everything. As soon as we got out of the car, I made them run to the gate (about 200 meters) and back, made them skull water and not come anywhere near me until we had to go and visit nanna. They ended up climbing trees, doing laps around the yard, checking out the cows. I sat on the wide open veranda and had a cup of coffee – wanted wine but thought it was probably rude to ask.
We visisted the nursing home to see Nanna, had a tour of the farm, feed orphan baby calves, made the family smile a lot while I snapped away with the new camera, drank wine on the deck. Nearly peed my pants at some of the family stories that were told, ate home grown and killed duck with roast veg for dinner, slept in the most comfortable bed in the cutest little room in a Queenslander style cottage that has been Scott’s aunt’s family home all of her life.
I have spent the morning washing, vacuuming, folding and putting away 5 million pieces of clothing, washing dishes, tidying up and shopping for groceries. I miss my house when all I do is work, try to sleep and sloth on the lounge because of the lack of energy or motivation. But once the fog has lifted and I look at the pig sty it grosses me out. So today is housewife day and it feels great.
It also feels great to wear clothes during the day and not pyjamas. Back in my Mumma uniform of my favourite pair of jeans, a cute top and my new thongs that I hate. They are uncomfortable and not broken in. I nearly face planted when they got caught on the step, on the side of my car when I was climbing in after I did our groceries.
Boy 1 has cricket training from 6pm-8pm tonight. This does nothing good for my OCD tendencies about dinner at a reasonable hour. It is a bit of a dilemma for me, do we have dinner at 5.00pm and then the boys are starving from the work out at cricket. Or wait until we get home, but I would never ever wait until 8.30pm to start cooking dinner. That thought sends ridiculous anxious thoughts through my head. So I feel like I am having to do double dinner. Dinner at 5.00pm and then a light supper at 8.30am.
I have also just realised that in my tired state that instead of hitting publish on the last 3 blog posts, I was pressing save. So none of them were published. I didn’t even click to this when there had been no likes or comments.
I have also spent time on Google and found a writing retreat in Tuscany that I dream of attending. It is called Wide Open writing and it not only incorporates writing but massage, yoga and Reiki.
End of day 47
It is not the end of the day but I have lots to do in the next 2 hours before school pick up.
Hope you found all my now published blog posts from the last 3 days.
I don’t have to drive down the highway or walk into that bloody department today. I feel better today, I think I am way passed tired. I drove in to my driveway this morning to my family driving out. I cried. They were going to the skate park so I could sleep. I asked my husband to drive me to my Papas birthday lunch, he said yes. I cried. I choked down muesli and yoghurt, camomile tea and magnesium tablets then tried not to vomit it back up when I had a shower that left me light headed from the heat. I don’t remember getting into bed. I remember waking up at 9.28am thinking it was 9.28pm and that I had to get ready for work. With a racing heart and a confused head I figured it was morning not night and curled up and went back to sleep for another hour.
By the time that we got to lunch, I felt like I had a bad hang over, but had a delicious lunch and a great time spent with my family.
Today was the Bathurst 1000. I don’t know anything about cars or car racing, I really had no clue what I was watching, and it was a testament to how deliriously tired I was, that I sat on the lounge chair after a shower and changed into my pyjamas at 2.30pm and watched cars going around in a circle. I was completely into it and watched it until the winner crossed the finish line. Even had a little cry when the winner made his speech – don’t know who he was, but I was happy for him and his accomplishments.
It is 5.15pm after our massive lunch, I have just had a dinner of avocado on toast, my husband has taken boy 1 to work and boy 2 is playing soccer next door. I am planning on being in bed in the next 15 minutes when hubby and boy 2 get home.
End of day 46
This is a short sweet post but has taken me forever to write.
Excited I can sleep in my bed all night.
Not taking a pyjama photo, so the feature photo is one from when I was having dinner with a girlfriend.
Today is the worst day of this week. My whole body feels like it weights 100kgs, I am squinting to keep my eyes open and my brain feels as though it is wading through mud every time I have to make a decision or do something, my skull feels as though it is being ripped in two. I am freezing. My hands are shaking, my hearing is heightened, I feel that I can hear everything 10 times louder than usual. I am teary.
I called in at cricket on the way home this morning. First game of the season and I wanted to wish my boy luck, I didn’t get to see the start of the game, I decided I needed to get home and off the road before I killed me or someone else. I inhaled my brekky of muesli and yoghurt, a camomile tea and 2 magnesium tablets. I always take magnesium before I sleep after night duty, otherwise I get excruciating leg and feet cramps.
I was woken at 1.02pm when the boys came home from cricket. Dragging myself out of bed, I shuffled to the lounge room where the sun burnt holes in my eyes and I felt as though I was going to vomit. I rested my head on the back of the lounge and my feet sprawled across the coffee table, eyes squinting while boy one told me about his great game. After an hour I had to excuse myself and head back to bed. I woke 2.5hrs later and felt marginally better, but still tired and trying really hard to reign in my foul mood at having to go to work again.
My husband cooked a big meal of steak and salad for dinner and was highly offended that the smell and sight of steak made me want to be sick. I ate only the salad much to his disgust and headed back to bed for another 1 hour before work.
End of day 45
Last night of work
Wearing jeans to work (not allowed to, but not like anyone from management would show up on a night duty, a comfy t-shirt with a bra that crosses at the back, so when I am at my desk I can secure a heat pack on my shoulders and neck.
Looking at the gated area that is filled with garden beds, potted plants full of colourful blossoms, and outdoor play equipment. I could see one little head amongst the rosemary, one blonde little girl with a blue watering can drowning purple petunias, a wooden chair sitting in the shade held one little guy reading a book, and another boy was scaling a climbing frame. I witnessed this 10 second snap shot of a Montessori day as I went to pay for boy 2’s senior shirt for next year. I was in a foul mood because I had already worked 24hrs in 48hrs, I have to do night duty for the next two nights, I was feeling exhausted and we had an awful school morning, I was cranky because I had to go to the shops to pick up cricket whites for tomorrow for boy 1. But when I walked by that scene and even though my two are in older grades at school, my bitchy mood lifted slightly, because this school and a good education for my boys is why I do the crap shifts, with the penalties. Since the day boy 1 was born I have been focussed and driven in why I work. I have fought from the day boy 1 started his first day at the children’s house, to keep them in an education method that has nurtured them, has let them learn and grow and challenged them. A method of learning that has cultivated broad thinking, open minds, to work independently while also being considerate of the multi age class they are a part of.
Montessori has enabled my chalk and cheese boys to thrive in different ways. One boy is very strong willed, opinionated, has strong views on subjects that he is passionate about and doesn’t suffer fools and is happy to let them know, he can be arrogant and thinks he knows all. Montessori helped him channel all of these qualities in positive ways and was encouraged to study and learn about the subjects that he was interested in or wanted to learn more about. His principal from our very first interview with her knew exactly how to handle his arrogance and know all attitude and would sit and debate, challenge or make him carry out research on his views. They ended up with a solid and deep relationship.
Boy 2 is all about movement. He likes to move, he likes to study moving things, if he can use his hands or body to learn he flourishes. He is a thoughtful, kind, gentle giant my youngest boy. From day 1 of the children’s house if he was able to wash a window, sweep a floor or water the plants he was in his element. But put him in front of a bookshelf and ask him to pick a book and he will do anything in his power to find another activity. The directors that he has been blessed with throughout his Montessori journey have all recognised this in my boy and adjusted his learning accordingly ( for one book review he was allowed to read an instruction manual on how to build a car engine. He read the manual, built the engine and got top marks for his review). He came home today and talked to me all afternoon and during dinner about the new project that his teacher will be running every Friday, that is being facilitated by a local university, where the kids are given an iPad, an app and materials to code and build a different robot each week. He was thrilled this afternoon that his group was the first to finish coding and building their robot for this week and could start on the next level one for next week.
End of day 44
Spent money on a new pair of thongs today that are not at all comfortable. I hate them already.
Spent time on Pinterest today laughing my head off at quotes about night shift. Made me feel much better.
This afternoon, I am mourning the loss of my favourite pair of thongs. They broke this morning when I was reaching up to get in to my four wheel drive. I wore these black little pieces of rubber everywhere. I bought them at Seaworld on the Gold Coast when the boys and I were there celebrating the birthday of my besties boy three years ago. They were instantly comfortable. They didn’t need wearing in like most of the cheaper types. There was no blisters in between my big toe and my second toe and they fitted perfectly.
Those thongs had some stories to tell, they have walked in a mothers footsteps. I wore them every day for school drop off and pick up, grocery runs, they were at all most every Wednesday morning coffee, they went to majority of the Tuesday and Thursday cricket training and every Saturday cricket game. They have been to the hinterlands of the Gold coast, Sunshine coast and northern New South Wales. They have been on beaches from the top end of the Sunshine coast to the glorious beaches of Northern New South Wales. They have stepped in cow shit, and saved me from barb like thistles in the paddocks of my sisters property in south west Queensland.
They were worn with jeans and skirts, cute little shorts, and maxi dresses. I wore them with socks in winter. They went from being too big for my boys, to, too small for my boys.
I have just re-read this and can’t decide if I am deliriously tired after my 17 hr work day yesterday or a complete bogan for writing a post about a my favourite pair of thongs breaking.
End of day 43
Back to work, I tried to have a sleep earlier and the dog started howling and a bird was tapping on my bedroom window.
Did a search for book publishers, for when I go to Europe and write a book about it. Found a self-publishing option via Hay house called Balboa press.
Morning, it is 4.56am. Nope I haven’t risen early today. I just haven’t been to bed. I was called into do an overtime shift last night and I stupidly said yes. Very stupidly because I will finish at 7.00am and then have to be back here at 5.00pm for my rostered shift. Yesterday when I wrote at the end of day 41 that I want someone to pay me for my writing so I don’t have to work from 11.00pm until 7.00am, I was completely serious.
I am part of a group on Facebook, set up by Daphne Kapsali the author of 100 days of Solitude. Yesterday she posted an idea of trying to arrange an actual meet up of the women in the group. It would seem I am the only one on the other side of the world. Daphne wrote: Let’s manifest some cash and get Melinda over to Europe. I replied that I would write a book about me travelling to Europe for the meet up (I was joking at the time). But the depth of my hatred for working night duty, has me wanting to go knocking on doors of airlines, accommodation and publishers to fund a trip and a book. I mean seriously isn’t there some new phrase/term on social media called an influencer.
Influencer marketing is a form of marketing that has emerged from a variety of practices and studies, in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual) rather than the target market as a whole. It identifies the individuals that have influence over potential buyers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers.
Influencer content may be framed as testimonial advertising where they play the role of a potential buyer themselves, or may be so-called value-added influencers such as journalists, academics, professional advisors.
A person who has the power to influence many people, as through social media or traditional media: Companies look for Facebook influences who can promote their brand.
I mean, I am really happy to whore myself out and represent any company that wants to send me to Europe to meet up with an author and other women from around the world and represent their companies on social media. OHHH how fun, to influence Mothers, to take a trip to Europe to pack up their suitcases and their mother guilt and spend sometime on themselves. Imagine the fun I would have writing an honest, raw, no doubt emotional account into book form.
End/beginning of day 42.
I will probably read this in a few days and be very embarrassed about my fatigued and delirious ramblings.
Depending how I feel may have to ad an extra post to this seen as it is only 5.27am.
Our home is devoid of boy’s voices and their presence today and I feel a bit lost. There wasn’t the frantic rush and nagging this morning to get ready for school, where is your belt, where is your tie. I was parked on the drive way watching my boy close the gate, and he had on his belt and his tie and it was 8.00am and we were already on our way to start a new school term. “I love you extra hard this morning mate, you are wearing your belt and tie and we didn’t argue about it.” “mmmmm” he says with the tiniest, tiniest of movement of lips towards a smile, he didn’t smile though.
We live in a Queenslander home, it was originally located at West End in Brisbane city and previous owners relocated it to where we are now. I always wanted to live in a Queenslander. Our house has so much character and imperfections. Whoever moved it here didn’t do a great job of getting the height to standard, because everyone except children have to duck when they walk under our house. There are small, tiny gaps between floor boards and walls where wind whistles through in the winter. None of the doors shut properly and if there you place a ball on our kitchen floor it will roll away. Our toilet that is in the bathroom reminds me of a public toilet. There is a single floor board outside of our bedroom door that creaks when you stand on it. It is a home that makes its own music, the tin roof pops with expansion or compression in the heat and the cold. The floorboards in the lounge room echo when they are walked on. Windows without screens and trees nearby, mean that bird sounds pour through our windows, along with the occasional butcher bird that likes to sit on my kitchen bench and mozzies and sand-flies that like to feast on my family. All of these noises kept me company today with no children around.
I sat with a cuppa and eggs on toast and finished the book that my sister recommend to me the language of flowers. Don’t know if book club books are my thing, but then maybe they are because, I either hate the book or wouldn’t usually read that style or make me think a lot. I finished this one, I loved the start and hated the middle and I yelled are you serious at the end. I thought she was a selfish bitch, who never really grew up. I know that she was an orphaned foster kid, but the people surrounding her showed her love, kindness and how to be a decent human and she learnt nothing. There was certain parts in the book that made no sense and I found very frustrating. (I won’t go into it too much don’t want to spoil it), glad I read it only because I can have an in-depth chat to my sister about it.
End of day 41
Just got called in to do an overtime shift tonight.
Want someone to pay me to write so I don’t have to work night shift.
“It’s not exercise it’s stretching.” He says this and then huffs and puffs his way through a Sun salutation flow, that started our drizzly, cool day and when the yoga instructor on my IPod says don’t collapse on to your left/right side – he so collapses. My husband still doesn’t take yoga seriously he is such a child, when the instructor guides us to downward facing dog, he erupts in to laughter – it’s really not that funny.
Today was also spent driving in our 1975 Valiant to the town where I was born. The four of us and my mum, spent time in the spitting rain, sipping coffee, looking at the ocean, the boats and more rain roll in. We stole geranium clippings (oak leafed geranium means true friendship and the pink geraniums are used in love spells.) from the garden of my grandma and papa. We stopped in at Bunnings to look at the plants and loaded the floor of the Val, with 8 lavender plants (grace, elegance and femininity – but in the language of flowers book I am reading it means mistrust) that we paid $16 for instead of the full price of $87.84.
Mum filled our bellies with coffee, organic corn chips and quince paste as we sat around her dining table continuing our day with her.
This afternoon was reserved for snuggling under crocheted blankets having nanna naps, it was taken up by standing in the rain, and lovingly transplanting root bound lavender into our garden and dividing up pilfered geranium cuttings into pots. I curled up on our lounge chair and immersed myself in the book I am reading.
The cooler, rainy day meant I filled our claw foot bath with water so hot, my skin was the colour of the tomato’s that I brought to have with our tacos for dinner (not the weather for tacos – not my favourite meal either, but my family loves it and we had home grown lettuce to use so we had tacos that I didn’t really enjoy.)
End of day 40
My legs are sore from riding the bike yesterday and the yoga this morning.
Ironed all the school uniforms for back to school tomorrow.
I rode a bike today. I haven’t ridden a bike since I was in primary school. My husband and boy 2 were teasing me mercilessly about not being able to ride a bike.
“I can so ride a bike”.
“I have in 19 years never seen you ride a bike- prove it”.
The bike that was forced on me was my husband’s mountain bike. I did a quick lap (kinda quick, while dodging our rose garden) from the house to the chicken pen and back. Boy 2 was running beside me in case I fell off (these men have no faith in me). Boy 2 was trying to tell me how to change gears, and “don’t use the front brakes Mum, or you are going to fly over the handle bars and scrape your face off”. I was happy with my quick lap around the yard and was happy to leave it at that. No, no my husband and child challenged me to ride down our street, turn left on to the newly concreted path and peddle to the next street about 1 kilometre away. You know when you watch documentaries about new born animals and they stand up for the first time and are all wobbly. Yes, well this was me trying to ride a bike down our street and then down the hill that is made of concrete.
Boy 2 stayed by my side the whole way down the hill. He was on his scooter and was coaching me through the gears. My nervous giggle as I was flying down the hill was making him nervously laugh. We raced each other up the hill and passed my husband and our massive dog who was taking up the whole path. Boy 2 and I were yelling “move”. Boy 2 made me go back down the hill, ride back up and home again. He wanted me to ride to the other end of our street. He is one tough trainer. The whole way he was saying things like, “proud of you mum”
“you are so good at riding a bike mum”,
“you could go all day mum”.
My heart was full from learning something from my boy, enjoyed my ride and came home and enjoyed a goblet of red, while cooking roast pork.
End of day 39.
Football grand final on the TV, what a bunch of Neanderthals.
Holidays are coming to an end. We went this morning to the barber for back to school haircuts, my boys are looking very sharp.
I had to work this afternoon, my husband worked this morning, and boy 1 was at a friend’s house, so boy 2 had to come to work with me. So that I could hand him over to his father. As we headed down the highway, and saw all the bumper to bumper traffic heading north to the coast, for the last weekend of school holidays and the scheduled long weekend. I said to boy 2 “you and dad are going to have a long drive home”. “Yes this isn’t an economical use of my school holiday hours Mum. I told you that I should’ve stayed at home.” I burst out laughing, who knew that my 11 year old could put a sentence like that together. Yes he had nagged me to stay home and or go next door and play the play station.
Work this afternoon was incredibly slow, we figured that everyone was sitting on the highway and not in our waiting room. I worked with some of my favourite work friends today. When you work shift work, you form some very close relationships. Some very interesting conversations are had on slow shifts. On a night shift at 2.00am absolutely no subject is off limits. When you are eating Sunday dinner, with the same people that you had Saturday night dinner with, you have dinner conversation like you would at home with family. When you spend the whole Easter weekend working the same shifts, with the same people you form a strong bond. When someone asks for a shift swap so they can go to an event for their child or go camping with friends, because they have had to say no every other time, there is no hesitation in swapping.
Don’t get me wrong it is not always smooth sailing. However, I am very lucky with the core group of people that I work majority of shifts with. So this afternoon in between our work, we laughed and chatted seamlessly, we are all up to date on each other’s families. We know what everyone is doing for the weekend, we spoke of travel plans, investment properties, and we emailed ideas to one of my colleagues sons, on what to buy his godson for a gift all the way from New York. We mother lectured one of the young girls on her weekend away camping with a group of friends and boy that she likes. We sent loving and healing thoughts to a friend with cancer. We oohhed and ahhhed over baby photos. We sipped tea in between filing charts and letters. We walked each other to the carpark. We had a goodnight.
Our school has a school Facebook page and one of the teachers posted a fascinating article about parenting on the page.
It was called Abandon parenting and just be a parent the article is an interview with Alison Gopnik about her new book The Gardener and the carpenter. I also did some more research and the Guardian also talked to Dr Alison Gopnik about her new book.
I found these articles to be a fascinating read. I suppose I was more inclined to read it, you know with it being the school holidays and spending more time with the boys. I look at them some days and cannot believe that I gave birth to these gorgeous humans. I have always loved the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”.
I do worry about our parenting style. I do try to be a fit free range with the boys and let them explore and discover and learn lessons in their own way. To a point though. I do sometimes feel like a bit of a helicopter parent and feel as though I am getting a bit worse with that the older they are getting because they are stepping out into the real world, so different to toddler lessons and primary lessons. Alison touched on the work parenting and that it is a term that was introduced in the 1970’s.
It’s interesting that the very word “parenting” is so recent. It only showed up as a word in 1960 and became common in the 1970s, even though, of course, the words “mother” and “father” and “parent” have been around for as long as English has. The rise of that particular word came with the rise of a particular cultural picture of being a parent: that your job as a parent is to get expertise, information and tips that will help you shape children.
I have included some fascinating paragraphs that caught my attention when reading the articles.
What ends up happening is parents are so preoccupied with this hopeless task of shaping their children to come out a particular way that their relationships with children at the moment become clouded over with guilt and anxiety and worry and the need for expertise.
I so understand this. I found it especially hard when helping boy 1 to pick subjects for year 10. I took the route of if you love your subjects then you will learn lots, get good marks and then you will have lots of options at the end of school. I really tried not to go down path of what do you want to do when you leave school and pick subjects from that, because well his mind may change 10 times in the next 3 years and he may end up doing subjects he hates and fail. He was excited about his subjects so we will see what happens.
Gopnik musters all this evidence in an attempt to persuade parents and educators to stop trying to mold children into adults with some desirable mix of characteristics, the way a carpenter might build a cabinet from a set of plans. Instead, we adults should model ourselves on gardeners, who create a nurturing ecosystem for children to flourish, but accept our limited ability to control or even predict the outcome of.
It should be fundamentally both reassuring and liberating for parents to know that children are doing most of the work. All the research that shows how incredibly sensitive and intelligent and powerful and good at learning children are and that they do it by observing and watching the people around them doing the things they do every day and by playing spontaneously. Children learn much more from using their own brains to just observe and play than they do by having someone sit down and teach them.
Yes, yes, yes this is why I love Montessori education.
The things that come out of play and free exploration, which are things like capacity for creativity and innovation, those are things that we need more than ever in the adult workforce. It’s a bit ironic that we’re taking a school system that was designed for 19th-century factory workers to be able to do the same thing over and over again—it was to try to develop human robots. In the 21st century, what we need is innovation and creativity, but we’re extending the robot model to younger and younger ages and more and more children.
The message is if you do the things that come naturally to you, that’s the best formula for being a successful parent.
End of day 36
Boys and I spent time at the Skate Park and slothing on the lounge talking, laughing and enjoying each other today.
I got absolutely fried on the beach yesterday and today I am wearing jumper, jeans and socks.
I have been MIA the last few days. I just couldn’t post on here. I was feeling fragile, tired and was sick of writing about myself every day. Ridiculous work hours, no sleep, school holidays, pms, and a husband that I was really trying hard to love, but really hated, put a halt to my feeling creative and focused. I had started this 100 day blog challenge for myself to help improve my writing and to see how I would grow or change in the 100 days. However as the days have gone on I have looked forward to the writing and people’s reactions to it. I found myself starting to stress about the stats of the blog and was stressing about the writing of it and if it was what people were wanting to read. Last week on night duty while on my breaks I was researching blogging and sending myself crazy, comparing my blog to people that have hundreds and thousands of followers and feeling like a bit of a failure. I had myself feeling like the picture below (Willy Wonkas Chocolate factory when they visited the TV room and the little brat shrunk himself and he turned into 1 billion pixels, I felt like I was the billion pixels floating in the air)
I had a read of a blog post by Dr Ashlee Good growing pains are real, it was what I needed and it helped ground me. My friend (not my actual friend but love her work) Elizabeth Gilbert wrote a post called go to the water. I did this, this morning with my little family and I floated in the ocean for a couple of hours, I breathed deep, I sunk my feet in the sand, I watched my 3 play and enjoy each other. Amazing how salt waters heals all.
End of day 35.
I am not naked in the feature photo, on the beach, just wearing strapless bikini.
Off to work, but feeling good about writing for me again.
I read motivational books, and I practice yoga, always try and find the positive, I scroll through Pinterest looking for inspiring quotes, do things like a 100 day writing challenge, to get me outside of comfort zone. But today was a profound day. I went to my Nannas funeral today. As I wrote in a post a few days ago, I wasn’t close to her and felt sorry for her because of the life that she could of lead and the life that she chose to have. Today I went to the funeral as a support for my Dad. As we arrived and I watched how the family interacted with each other, I was glad that among us there was no false emotional greeting. We greeted each other with polite indifference, just like when we were growing up. That was about most honest thing that happened in in the hour and a half that we were together.
My sisters and I sat towards the back of the chapel while the rest of the family was in the first few rows. We were actually more comfortable at the back, we weren’t there under false pretences, we were there for our father. As the three of us sat and listened to the obituary and other tributes we were remembering our own memories of our Nan, completely different versions of the same memories that were being recalled. It was interesting as the rest of the congregation seemed to be doing the same thing, as I glanced at her surviving children in the first row, both had their heads bowed and seemed to be lost in their own memories of their mother. One of the tributes was from my Nans, brother. He was amazingly honest and real in his recall of his sister, saying that he didn’t know her as well as he knew his seven other sisters, and that he had to research her so that he would be able to speak at her funeral.
As my sister and I drove home with had our youngest sister on speaker phone we dissected and debriefed on the funeral. I said to my sisters, I think that has been the most motivational/ profound experience I have had. It makes me want to be a better Mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend. It makes me want to get out and live a beautiful life, to be kind and thoughtful and get out of my comfort zone and experience life. The motivation wasn’t because this is what my Nan did. The motivation is because I want people to be able to speak honestly about me and not have to do research to be able to pay tribute to me at the end of my journey on this earth.
End of day 34
My sister has had to leave her broken car in my yard, and drive 6 hours home in our other sister’s car. This means that she will be back in a week or so to pick up her repaired car, can’t wait to see her again.
I felt incredibly overdressed for the funeral, but was proud that I stood with my sisters and represented mum and dad in a way that said we were raised right.
Me: If you have nits you are getting number 1 clippers all over.
I walk over to my boy and look at where he has parted his hair.
Me: ahhh, where is the phone I need to call your Father. You have a massive tick.
My Husband: Hey babe.
Me: Tom has a tick burrowing into his head, I can’t remember which way to turn it, clock wise or anti- clockwise! Do I need methylated spirits, I don’t have any in the cupboard. Oh shit why do these things happen when you are at work. How do I get it out? What if it’s the type that can kill him, shit what happens if I don’t get it out?
My Husband: Turn it anti-clockwise and just pull it as you turn it.
Ok into the bathroom, get the torch, I will get the tweezers, sit on the bathroom floor and I will sit on the bath.
Hold your hair.
Hold the torch.
Ok I am going to try and get this thing, oh god it’s burrowing in deeper.
Shit, I can’t get it, it’s going deeper, oh god it’s still moving.
Where is your father when I need him!
Ok, I got it, I got it. AHHHHH it’s still alive and moving those creep little parasite legs.
End of day 33
Completely freaked out about the tick in my kids head.
Went for a massive walk with my husband and dog this morning, while boy 1 was riding his skate board at the skate park and boy 2 was at a friend’s house. We didn’t get swopped by magpies, in an area where everyone gets picked on.
I have bookshelves in the lounge room, my office and the library. I also have a stack of books that I keep on my kitchen bench, in easy reach for me to grab a little daily inspiration if I need it. I have Oprahs – What I know for sure, Elizabeth Gilberts – Big Magic, Sophia Amoruso #Girlboss and Lisa Messengers Life and love – creating the dream . Today I reached for Oprahs – What I know for sure, curled up on the lounge with my youngest boy, a cuppa tea and a crocheted blanked and flicked through it. I usually hold whatever book I choose for the day, take a deep breath and ask for guidance or a message for the day (sounds a bit kooky hey, but whatever works). After finishing night duty this morning and only having three hours sleep, I needed some sort of guidance and didn’t think the red variety in a glass would help, so I left it to Oprah. I opened up to page 49 of the book and it was the start of the chapter – Connection. I want to share a few phrases/ sentences that touched my heart from the chapter:
At our core, longs to be loved, needed, understood, affirmed- to have intimate connections that leave us feeling more alive and human. I loved this one because on my About me page on the blog, this is what I am striving for, for myself and for the readers of my writing.
What I know for sure is that a lack of intimacy is not distance from someone else; it is a disregard for yourself.
I’ve always thought that communication was like a dance. One person takes a step forward, the other takes a step back.
These two resonated strongly with me in regards to my marriage, we have had a shit year and we are working really hard on our relationship and reading these made me think back to the worst and lowest point this year and our lack of communication and I could see clearly the thorough disregard, dislike and frustration that I felt towards myself and how I was projecting that on to our marriage.
I have found myself looking forward to hanging out, laughing, connecting and embracing others as a part of the circle. It’s added new meaning to my life, a feeling of community I didn’t even know I was missing. This struck a chord with me after a Facebook private message conversation that I had with a friend this afternoon about this exact thing. Connecting with genuine people and them becoming your tribe, and only when you found these relationships did we realise that we have missed not having them all along.
When you make loving others the story of your life, there’s never a final chapter, because the legacy continues. The only thing that will have any lasting value is whether we’ve loved other and whether they’ve loved us. Yes well this is the whole point to life isn’t it cause at the end of the day it is the people and the love that make up our lives not the things.
End of day 32
I saw my husband for about 30 seconds this morning and he hugged me so hard I have a sore shoulder.
I braved egg collecting today, I HATE birds/chickens. But there beautiful eggs where sitting in the chicken coop needing to be collected and I did it. I may have had tears in my eyes from fear and was making a hell of a racket so the chickens wouldn’t come near me, but I got the eggs.
I have just finished reading Daphnes latest blog post (Daphne was my last feature for #mesistertribe). It is a thought provoking read about choosing to live the best life that you can right now. It may not be what you imagined, and there may be overwhelming challenges and fear and wishing for something different and lot’s of explaining to do to people that question and judge. But it’s your life right at this very moment and you are growing into more of you by living through the challenges and the fear.
It made me think of how a few months ago I was struggling with different choices that I had made, and how instead of feeling like I was growing and moving forward, I felt like I had taken 20 steps back. Tonight is a perfect example; I am on night duty again. Three years ago, I swore black and blue that I would never do another night duty again in my life, after I resigned from this job. A few months ago, on my first night duty back at said job, I cried the whole way to work. Night duty sends me crazy, sleep deprivation is a form of torture for me, and it makes me a complete and utter cranky bitch who can not function.
As Daphne said in her piece, she didn’t choose solitude; she chose the best life she could. This was sage advise for me as I sit at my desk typing this. Because I didn’t choose shift work and to go back to a place I didn’t want to, but I am choosing what is the best life for my little family right now.
The feature photo is an example of the choice that I made, my youngest took this of me while we had a cuppa this afternoon, shift work and night duty means that I can be there for them during the day and spend the holidays with them and then while they are having sweet dreams, I am making money.
End of day 31
Ate home grown lettuce and radish for lunch, grown by my husband and it was delicious
My two went screen free today and they made creative use of my new camera and their imaginations.
Last night I had a nagging feeling that I had forgotten to do something, but couldn’t put me finger on it.
I had worked yesterday morning, by the time I pulled into our drive way I was in a foul mood. I was sick to death of people, sick of the phone, sick of people continually making demands. I was in a prickly mood about our roster, because I never, ever make requests and I requested certain shifts to make the school holidays easier and of course I didn’t get them.
I had the shits because my three went to lunch and the movies without me. I was annoyed at the dollars being spent, because at the moment it kinda feels like we are haemorrhaging money – yes it is school holidays and the 2 young boys want to be entertained. But I mean really, the children don’t have a shithouse life where they miss out on experiences, they have it pretty good, and it is only day two of holidays.
I was feeling a bit defeated with the blog, and the drop of 200 views for the week.
I got home from work and planted myself in the kitchen to make custard and brownies. Even this simple task that I generally find cathartic didn’t soothe me.
A boiling hot shower, where my skin almost melts off didn’t help, because our new hot water system isn’t as burning hot as I would like.
The walk that my husband made me do, also didn’t help because our massive dog who obviously knew I was in a mood kept walking in front of me.
After dinner and kitchen clean up and two episodes of MASH, I gave up on my day and went to bed at 7.30pm.
I woke at 2.02am, and remembered that I had not written my day 29 blog post and I hadn’t taken a photo of the day.
That’s thing about challenges I suppose, you get challenged, and when you slip up, you can either give up or try again.
(the feature photo is me on father’s day, which was the complete opposite to yesterday)
Me writing my feature post for tomorrow. I love the process of interviewing and chatting to the awesome ladies that generously share some of their stories. I record the chat on my phone and make notes when I get home (that rhymes). I try and forget about it, because after the interview I am on a bit of a high. And have so many ideas on how I want to write the piece, but I have found if I let myself settle for a couple of days, and then listen to the chat and read over my notes I get more out of it. I hear things I forgot about, or hear new bits of the conversation that I didn’t pick up on in the chat. So today, I sat and listened to my chat via Skype with Daphne. It was a terrible connection and there was bit and pieces of the chat that dropped out, but overall it was a good talk. I could have chatted for hours to Daphne about writing and life on her little Greek island, while she smoked her cigarette, in her new office. I was so caught up in listening to the recording, I almost forgot to go to my hairdresser appointment.
I love my hair, after getting my hair cut, coloured and styled. But I cannot stand the process. I actually hate sitting in the chair for two and a half to three hours. I mean don’t get me wrong, I have an awesome hairdressing salon that I go to, and the girl’s there are absolutely lovely and crazy skilled in their profession. I just have this weird trait that makes me dislike massages, sitting for 3hours getting my hair done and shopping. If I go shopping I am in and out. I don’t browse. If I can’t find what I am looking for in the first like half an hour, I am out, done, finished, obviously didn’t need what I was looking for cause I couldn’t find it.
Tonight will be homemade pizza. One meat lovers for the boy’s and a vege with loads of mushrooms for me. Then we are off to the Montessori school production, which is always held on the eve of the last day of school for the 3rd term. Need to be there by 5.45pm and it finishes at 9.00pm.
End of day 27
Feeling slightly insane at the moment, one child is blaring country music at one end of the house. The other, is playing some sort of rap, or some such thing and the singer/computer whatever who is making that incessant noise, has 4 words to work with to make up the whole song. I am sure my ears are going to start bleeding.
Feeling the post-holiday blues about going back to work tomorrow. I didn’t have holidays, but 4 days off and I am not jumping for joy at starting at 7.00am tomorrow.
Apparently this week, is the week, I need to learn to live without essential services for a while. No power yesterday, no water today. We had our solar hot water replaced. It was only for a few hours, but I forgot to fill the kettle up, so no coffee after school drop off. No washing was done either, no floors washed, they did get a vacuum. My husband was a roof plumber for 15 years, and it just so happened that the company that installed our new hot water system, was a company that he previously worked with. So he strapped on his tool belt and did the roofing part of the job. I admit I did sit outside eating toast, reading a magazine and watching the tradies work, can’t go past a good tradie. For 15 years he whinged and whined about how much he hated roofing, well today when he finished with his tools, and put away the ladders, he told me how good it felt to be back on the tools and work with a crew. I smiled sweetly like a good wife and took this comment with a grain of salt, knowing the depth of his hatred for roofing, I knew this was just him feeling nostalgic.
This proved true when this afternoon he was feeling stiff and sore in his back and legs. So I kindly offered to do some yoga with him. He laughed, mocked and couldn’t take the yoga instructor directing us on the IPod seriously at all, during the whole 40 minute session. He did say that he felt a bit better afterwards, not sure how. Maybe it was all the laughing.
My first born had to work this afternoon (feature photo is me doing pickup). It is still surreal for me to have a child that is now working. Another stage of motherhood, I am learning to navigate. When they are babies, you teach them to hold things, and colours, numbers. When they are 14 you teach them work ethic, to make sure that they are organised with school, sport, and work. We are trying to teach him the value of his hard earned money and how to look after it. We have told him that he has to have, $500 in his account before he can start spending money on his version of luxury items, that $500 is his zero balance. That his pay will be divided in spending and saving and everyday money. This was a tough talk. I thought we was going to do damage to his eyes with the amount of eye rolling going on, and put a kink in his neck with the way he was throwing his head back and saying “oh my god”. Kinda reminded me, of when he was three and I wouldn’t let him use all the baby wipes to clean the sand pit. This motherhood gig, I think I have figured out a small part of it is all about stages and growth and getting through the best I can, while teaching them to be decent humans. And today was about work and money for the big one, and not wrecking the 4th pair of school shoes for this year for the little one.
End of day 26.
Two days until school holidays
Still laughing about the ridiculous yoga session, feels good to be connecting with him over stupid stuff instead of stressful stuff.
We had no power today. We did get notice that we were losing power, but I completely forgot. I was a bit annoyed at first, because I had planned to bake and wash and write this blog post early and search YouTube for tips on how to use my new camera. But, no power ended up being a bit of a treat. I folded washing that I had been putting off, I had a sleep, I read a trashy romance novel in the sun and listened to the baby lorikeets that live in our trees, I went for a big walk and met my second born, skater boy on his way home from school.
This afternoon after school there was a mini photo shoot in my backyard, with my new camera, my very unwilling children and me. They weren’t keen on me hanging around and taking happy snaps of them while they were skate boarding and riding bikes. My very generous husband was the complete opposite and let me experiment with my camera and his face.
I am writing this on a laptop, which I kind of find annoying, as I much prefer to type on a desktop. But I am watching Zumbos just desserts on the TV. I HATE reality TV. I never, ever watch it, but some how this has me hooked. I can’t stand the people, but the desserts are amazing. I am shocked and appalled at the way the contestants talk to each other, it’s disgusting and I just yelled “in your face” at the TV, when the only male contestant just got sent home. This is so not me, that one of my boys just got out of bed to see why I am yelling at the TV.
End of day 25
We have an owl in our backyard “hooting” tonight, the dog is freaked and keeps whining and will not move from the top of our stairs, and each child has got out of bed and is wanting to know why there is a loud, hooting owl in our backyard. I think it sounds beautiful and hope that it stays.
I also was just on FB, and saw that my sister was in the Country Life newspaper for her work with the ICPA – Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association. So proud of her.