Mothering teenage boys is a puzzle.

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.

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Date day. (I look impressed don’t I)

 

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.”

Him “OH MY GOD…MUM!!!”

Continue reading “Mothering teenage boys is a puzzle.”

Day 46

Day 46 

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.

 

Day 43

Day 43

 

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.

Love the big tree in the feature photo.

Day 41

Day 41.

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.

Day 40

Day 40

“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.

 

Day 39

Day 39.

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.

Enjoying reading The Language of flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I will never look at flowers the same way again.

(I was going to write a post about our house, that is why I am hanging out on our back stairs in the feature photo)

Make up post.

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)

Day 28.

First day of school holidays today.  My boys are always a bit feral for the first couple of days of holidays. That’s ok. They are tired from a massive term at school, sport and coming down from the stress/high if being on the go for 8 weeks. So yeah this morning was attitude plus and pushing boundaries.

My hubby took the covers off our bright orange 1975 Valiant, and we took Val and the kids out for fish and chips.  We went to Bribie, ordered fish and chips and spread out on the wide concrete steps that line a section of beach and enjoyed the greasy meal, while watching people fish and others coasting along on the calm blue/green water in their luxury boats.

This afternoon I sat with my bestie, her husband, her Mum and her mums partner eating rocky road and drinking red wine.  Not only was my cup full of red wine, but so was my heart at the wonderful, funny conversation, that then turned into me interviewing my besties mum for my #mesistertribe. Can’t wait to write about her, an amazingly interesting woman.

When I got home from my afternoon of great people, wine, chocolate, conversation and an abundance of mozzies. I found messages from Daphne my #mesistertribe feature from yesterday, liking the post I had crafted about her  ( thank god). Because we all know how much I stress about those posts.

My heart is full today.

End of day 28

Curled up on the lounge next to my hubby typing this on my phone.  My thumbs are killing me.

My feral, cranky children where delightful after spending time near the sea water.

Day 23

Carpooled with hubby today. That means I am an hour and a half early for my shift. He starts at 230pm amd I start at 3.00pm, the department he works for has an unwritten agreement, that the boys get to work early and all sit around like old women and have
a chat, share the gossip and then let the previous shift go home early. 

I definitely, do not have that unwritten rule in the department I work in, it doesn’t matter if I am 5min early or an hour early. Start and finish times are set. Most of the time I stroll in 5 minutes early with my cuppa in hand, a smile on my face and
get handover.

Yesterday I put my foot down and told him I was driving myself to work. I had zero desire to sit around in the tea room for an extra hour and a half.  I got caught up  writing yesterday’s blog post, hanging washing and getting ready for work. Then the
dog came flying up our back stairs, as I was straightening my hair, and I burnt a tiny bit of my hairline as my about 60 kilogram dog slammed into my legs, because he heard a clap of thunder. This turn of events didn’t bode well for me being able to leave
for work on time.  After much love and trying to get him to unattach himself from my legs. I finally got him down stairs and onto his bed, so I could leave for work. 

“I would have a heart attack, couldn’t handle walking in that late” was the reply text message I got from my husband as I was walking into work at 2.56pm.  

End of day 23

My husband thanked me for carpooling with him, said he enjoyed our chat to work. 

Have typed this whole blog post on my phone. In the work tea room. While eating extra hot wings crinkle cut chips, that burnt my mouth, and then I burnt my mouth more when I tried to skull my coffee, to stop the burn from the chip’s . Listening to Doctor’s diagnosing/debating what is wrong
with a patient, that fell down a hill and now has abdo pain, on a show playing on the tv that takes up nearly whole wall in the tea room.

Vows

Vow | a solemn or earnest pledge or promise binding the person making it to perform a specified act or behave in a certain way (Collins dictionary).

A guy  I work with recently got married, and of course posted the wedding YouTube video to Facebook. I cried into my porridge and wrecked my work makeup.  It wasn’t the Bali garden setting, with the view of the ocean over a stone wall, or the flowers that adorned everything or the trendy macramé curtain that framed the couple beautifully under a wooden arbour, that had me weeping. It was their vows. Vows that were their own words written with thought, truth, humour and love.

When I was a bride to be, all I wanted was to marry Scott and have his babies. With everything in me down to my soul I wanted to be the wife to my first love.  I wanted the traditional Catholic Church wedding, with the white dress, standing before God, family and friends being tied to Scott forever. The Catholics have their own script and order of service for the wedding ceremony and at the time I was okay with that. The only thought I put into my vows was that I would not vow to “obey”.

The day of our wedding, I couldn’t wait to get to the church, (I was 20min early). Walking with my Mum on my left and my Dad on my right, and my sisters walking in front of me. I smiled and waved and said hello to family and friends, as I walked towards my guy in the black suit looking like he wanted to vomit or curse me for taking so long to get to him. When I finally did reach him I couldn’t take my eyes off him, all we had to do was say “I do” after the Priest recited the words and vows that bound us.

Priest: Scott, do you take Melinda for your lawful wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?

Scott: I do.

Priest: Melinda do you take Scott for your lawful husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?

Melinda: I do.

After 15 years of marriage, the words that I vowed to live my married life by seem shallow, weak and immature. (That opinion is coming from a place of experience, time, hindsight, trials and love).

I wish I would have had a heart-to-heart to the women in my family, extended family and friends about being a wife and the relationship of marriage. I was so young the concept was of marriage was romantic and exciting. I wish I had my Grandmother, mother, and aunties share their wisdom and insights into being a wife.  What is the joy in their marriage and the difficulties in their marriage?  In hindsight I would of crafted deeper, authentic words and my own personal promises instead of; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.

Girls night in

Honestly look at this photo……..I love it.  This photo could be the poster for one of those heart-warming, tear jerking, comedy chick flicks about girls from high school and where they ended up as women in their thirties.

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I was nervous, insecure and had an emotional week. I didn’t have the strength to put on my everything is great / confident face. All day Saturday I completely melted my brain trying to think of an excuse to bail out of dinner.

I was having dinner with women that I have been friends with since year 8 of high school. So we were about 13 or 14 and are now 37.  Some I have been closer with than others, (Renee and I watched 500000000 hours of Tom Cruise in Top Gun and we still joke about me cheating on our Japanese exam and me getting a better mark).  But all of us are connected over those awkward and ugly years of teenage hood, (I was definitely the ugliest with silver braces, glasses and short hair and the nick name penguin- oh the horror). Obviously I didn’t chicken out of dinner with a pathetic excuse.  No, I pulled up my big girl knickers, actually they were a lacy number that matched my bra – nice knickers are my thing. Threw over the top of them my favourite jeans, white button up top with my favourite flats, and dressed it up with some jewellery, total mum uniform and I wanted to wear something funkier but I felt like I needed a shield.

Before the woman on my Google maps took me the scenic way to dinner, I called in at the local bottlo and choose a bottle of red with the coolest label I could find (also one of my things- to find the coolest/ prettiest/ most appealing label on the bottle and that’s what I buy).

By the time seven of us arrived, all the hugs, kisses and greetings were done and sitting at a perfectly set table, dining on amazing food, sipping French champagne. I couldn’t remember what I had been worried about.  There is such comfort and ease in being with people that you have known for such a long period of time and have history with.  We don’t see or talk to each other every day, week or month. But chatting, laughing and catching up was seamless and felt as though we do speak every day (well we kind of did on FB messenger trying to organize dinner and when everyone was available).  Then, (I am not sure who, by then a couple of flutes had been sunk) someone said we should go around the table saying one nice thing that we think about ourselves.  I will not reveal what was said at that sacred women’s table. But let’s just say there was uncertainty, uncomfortable truths, support for each other, calling bullshit, love, laughter, tears, snot, toilet paper (ran out of tissues), lots of hand holding and hugging, and a pact was made. Bottles of champagne and chocolate truffles smoothed over the emotions. We are all of the same age, but all at such different stages in our life. And all of the stunning women around that table had trouble sharing something awesome about themselves, despite the love that was flowing.  I feel incredibly blessed to have had a cherished, cleansing and connected experience with some special women in my life.

Mumma at the beach

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Dressed in cut off shorts, t-shirt and jumper, big sunglasses and blonde pixie hair that I ran my fingers through before leaving home. I Embrace my inner lizard and climb the wooden rail and take up a spot on a sandstone rock to soak up and enjoy the little bit of warmth the winter sun provides, while my family surfsin the ocean below. All the surfers and body boarders look the same in with their black wetsuits and white boards.  I am nervous with my boy’s out there in the expanse of ocean, but they love it. They don’t care about the size, temperature or being the small, amateurs amongst the adult locals.
A woman in her late teens dressed in cut off shorts exposing a leg tattoo that skims her knee, long hair piled on top of her head in a messy bun, a jumper with bikini straps hanging out the top,  her little boy on her right hip and her left arm full of towels and bags followed her partner carrying a surf board down the wooden steps to the sand. She sets her load down on the sand, strips off her jumper, and starts unloading a bag with a hat  and board shorts for her little one. Her little guy starts walking in the car tracks lining the beach.
Looking at the ocean I am silently cheering on one of my boys as he catches a beautiful wave all the way to the beach. (Lucky I didn’t loudly cheer like I wanted to. It was not one of my boys.)
A few minutes later in between a stream of surfers and body boarders, another family walked past me baking on my piece of sandstone rock. 
A woman in her late twenties dressed in jeans, shoes and socks, jumper, scarf and a backpack. Her partner behind her with a little boy and surf board in one arm and towels and a bag in the other. The lady shakes out a towel and has a seat.  The partner sets down the little boy, towels and bag. Arranges a towel for the little boy, grabs his surfboard and runs into the surf.  The Mumma pulls out a phone and an Ipad, she hands the Ipad to the little boy and starts tapping on her phone.
As I watch the ocean and try to identify my family, little boy one runs to the edge of the water and plays tag with the waves, I can hear his belly laughs as the waves almost touch his bare feet. Next to him his Mum writes with a stick in the wet sand.
My husband catches a great little wave and flings himself into the water as the wave ends.  I know that it’s him from the colour of his wetsuit and the way that his foot sticks up as he duck dives. 
Little boy two runs to copy little boy one, his mum puts down her phone, picks up little boy two places him back on the towel with the Ipad and dusts off his shoes.
My littlest boy comes out of the ocean, with a slight purple hue about him.  I peel myself off my rock and meet him at the stairs. He is frozen and can barely speak, but tells me he had heaps of fun and runs to the car to get changed. 
As I try and find my other boy in the crowd of surfers,  little boy one races away up the beach with his mumma pretending to chase him.  Little boy two hasn’t lifted his head from the Ipad screen.   My littlest one comes up behind me and puts his freezing cold hands over my face and laughs his little head off.

Every family needs a farmer

This picture was posted on Instagram this morning and it inspired this post.

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Early this year 80% of Queensland was declared in drought, with early stages of el Nino meaning drought breaking rain in winter and spring were highly unlikely.

One particular lady always says when I ask if the skies have blessed her property yet. – “We are one day closer to rain.”

I want to talk today about the stewards of the land that contributes to owning, caring and managing 61% of Australia’s land mass. Ninety four percent of these custodians actively use natural resource management. These people live through this el Nino phenomenon, as well floods and fires and are bonded together as communities because of these events that contribute to life on the land.

From what I have experienced as a soft city slicker, life on the land is as unforgiving as the weather and not for the faint hearted. These men and women that raise cattle, grow crops and provide nourishment for their city cousins have chosen this life and what a life.

I have visited this place when the air has been so dry and hot you would think you were baking in an oven, so much so that your lungs burn and I got sun burnt from hanging washing on the line for 5 minutes. Smashing lips together so that you don’t accidentally swallow 1 million flies, wind and red dust sting and burn your eyes if not wearing sunnies. The ground feels baked under your feet and the heat can be seen shimmering just above the ground.

Wind blowing through the 6 layers of clothes that I tried to wiggle into, while lying in the warmth of the bed with flannel sheets, two blankets and a doona, nose and eyes running from the freezing air. See soft city slicker – who is on the long road back to Brisbane after a maximum of 5 days. Despite my little whinge here, I truly treasure the time spent at the end of a dirt road, where the closest corner store is 45 minutes away and the local hospital is over an 1hr away.

Bushies are generous, open and welcoming they make anybody present feel like a close friend, big-hearted in always offering a meal or a drink. Wonderful funny and interesting conversation is always involved when hangin out with this lot. Picture a place where you know all of your neighbours, and these neighbours are kilometers away, but your friends with them. A place where on the day that the Bathurst 1000 is raced you channel the celebrity drivers speed and intensity and race around a fire that’s straight from the depths of hell and 20 of your neighbours and friends help you while it burns hot and ferocious and fire balls claim thousands of acres of your land. Where you buy 8 seater cars so that you can take turns in carpooling to school, swimming, grocery shopping, home from boarding school or Brisbane. A place where your neighbour will call in to drop off your mail, which usually consists of groceries and anything that can be ordered on the internet, and leave hours later after helping you pull a calf from its mother’s womb, or grabs a wine or beer and helps you do the rounds of your property checking water or feeding drought ravaged cattle or doesn’t leave until the roar of the tractor engine finally is music to your ears. A place where after a dust covered day’s work, you load the kids into the back of the 8 seater car and head to the biggest dam in the community where all your neighbours and friends are to share a beer, a swim , go for a ski. A location where mobile service is limited and when you come together with your friends, you actually talk and communicate with each and enjoy the visit.

When the flooding creek traps you on your own little island for days on end with no outside communication, dust covered boats are launched into the flood waters to check on neighbours and friends and make sure everyone is safe and feed. A place where parents are happy to drive hours for their kids to participate in sport and extra-curricular activities. Drive an hour, one Thursday night a month to reach the local book club where a good book, wine and more friends await, one night after having to deal with a cow in the side of your car.

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Now I am only talking about 1 tiny community of the 134,000 farm businesses in Australia, 99 percent of which are family owned and operated, that supply 93% of Australian families food. I have shown a very small slice of the estimated 35,100 women who live on farms and work outside of the home, not to mention the 16,500 women that work exclusively next to their husbands.

I haven’t touched on the fact that farmers with a tertiary degree has increased 6 fold since 1981.

I also failed to talk about the stats that in farming communities there is such a great sense of community that 39% of people in the bush are volunteers compared to their city cousins at 19% and these figures don’t include non-registered volunteering.

While I have portrayed a community that supports each other and is connected, this is not the case in every community. Stats show that agriculture / farm workers are 1.6 times more likely to commit suicide and that there is a farmer every 4 days taking their own lives.

Six hours south west of Brisbane, in the shire of the Maranoa is a fabulous community of people who I have grown to love and respect over the past 11 years that my sister has lived there. I hope that I have shown a small part of their lives justice in this piece.

Instagram likes

 

Yesterday morning, I was on Facebook and found this great article that I blogged about later in the day. This morning I was on Instagram scrolling through stunning images of people on holiday, baby photos, breakfast photos, selfies, memes the list goes on. A little orange heart pops up to tell me that Luca Spaghetti like my photo. Seriously Luca Spaghetti, liked a photo I uploaded to Instagram I kid you not.

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I mean he has been read about in 10 million copies of Eat, Pray, Love by Lizzie Gilbert. Everyone knows Luca.

Luca the Italian tax accountant, the man that will never live anywhere but Rome so he can be near his Mumma (what a good Italian man), Luca the man that is still in love with his childhood sweetheart, the man that took Liz out for a cream puff after his soccer team was defeated one Sunday afternoon, the man that got Liz gilbert to eat newborn lamb intestines, the man that encouraged Liz to become a master of bel far niente, (the beauty of doing nothing). Luca the man that declared his favourite English word is Surrender.

Ok, ok, I may be going over the top a bit here with Luca liking one image on my Instagram account. I mean I didn’t get this excited when I had a photo of Brett Lee at the cricket.

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But seriously, in 2010 when Eat, Pray, Love was released, I read it 3 times in 3 days. I was like all of the other 10 million women that bought the book and made it an instant New York Times bestseller that stayed on the charts for over 200 weeks. I wanted to escape to Italy, practice yoga and meditating in an Ashram, Bali didn’t really appeal to me – but I would have made it work. At the time I was stuck in a big black hole, and the escape that Eat, Pray, Love provided me was priceless. I pre-ordered movie tickets and was in the opening session of the Julie Roberts movie (I love Julia Roberts but the book is always better). I attended a lecture by Elizabeth at the Brisbane Powerhouse, where she cursed like a sailor, inspired motivation comparable to her friend Oprah, was so incredibly authentic and fabulously funny and all the name of provoking people into embracing their own creativity. This woman is one funny, creative and down to earth chick, who is obviously a wonderful person, just going off her book and the people that welcomed her into their lives and loved her on her journey . Luca, Sofie, Giovanni, Richard from Texas, Ketut Liyer and Wayan all my absolute favourite people from the book. And I am still stoked that LUCA liked my post.

 

So thank you Luca, I feel very special. Xx

 

 

Learn something new everyday.

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“Blogging”, lets learn some interesting facts about blogging.

The word “Blog” is a combination of web and log.

Blogging was thought to have started in the early nineties, by an American college student. Initially blogs were a platform that people used as an online diary. That has expanded now and there are some people who are able to make a living out of blogging as professional bloggers. It is thought that some professional bloggers have up to four blog sites.

This seems to make sense as it is thought that in 1999 there were about 23 blogs and know there are about 1.3 billion. WordPress and BlogSpot are the most popular blog sites with about 40% of people preferring WordPress.

Views can increase up to 94% with the use of images on your blog.

Most people read blogs in the morning between 7.00am and 10.00am

People are thought to have more trust, connection, and perceive the business as healthy and thriving if they have a blog.

Approximately a third of bloggers are mums with children under 18.

Over 80% of blogs are written in English.

Blogging has made such an impact on mainstream media, that they acknowledged that blogging and social media is changing the face of news. Richard Sambrook, the director of the BBC Global News Division, spoke at Oxford Social Media Convention, saying that, citizen journalism is something that needs to be taken into account. That this new media is delivered with transparency and that is what builds trust with consumers. He went on to say that news has to be delivered accurately and fairly and that consumers need reliable source of where the information has come from. Journalists are no longer gatekeepers of information but are having to share it in a public space.

Have fun blogging everyone.

Fly out Friday

acceptance

Today was fly out day for us, the end of 7 days of R and R for my husband and back to work for 21 days. We have lived this routine for 2.5 years now. Some fly out days are tough, like crying and lots of emotion tough. Other fly out days aren’t as bad, still hard but, ahh you know its fly out day and we will get through. Today for me was an odd one, I was sad like emotional sad, but also ahh you know its fly out day. It was one of those r and r’s where we were disconnected and living in our own worlds and our own priorities of work, kids, sport, my husband wanting to do his thing on his days off and me just wanting to get through the week and everything that entails. Its ok to have R and R’s like this, it doesn’t happen all the time. But ahhhh you know when it does, I get to fly out day, and look back with some regret, that I didn’t try harder and some indifference, because well it is what it is. Not every time he is home is going to be a fairy tale of fabulous conversation, date days and undying love.

Over the last couple of years, I have seen our relationship morph into different forms continuously. I am not sure if that is an acute observation, because emotions run so high when we are separated for 21 days a month and then try and cram all of that pent up emotion into 7 days or if I am just more observant of our relationship. Either way having a marriage while living the fifo lifestyle can be a roller coaster. I think for me the trick is to acceptance, this is the lifestyle we have for now and to accept the time we have together for what it is. Some days will be off the charts fabulous and other days not so much.

Eye opener

I totally judged today, because I don’t understand.girl

(DISCLAIMER) I am going to sound like a judgemental, snobby cow in this post, sorry if I offend anyone.

Today we had to go to our local police station to renew a licence and to the local court house to have some forms witnessed by a JP. What an eye opener, we walked into the Police station and up to the front desk, where there was a harassed looking mid-aged woman, who looked like she wanted to murder the person she was on the phone to, as she said through gritted teeth “it’s still not working” as she was slamming the mouse in her right hand on the desk. I didn’t realise how loud I had spoken when I said to my husband “I have never been in a Police station before”, he coughed out a half-hearted laugh and the murderous woman looked up at me with raised eye brows and bewildered look on her face.  I promptly retrieved my phone from my hand bag and proceeded to be completely anti-social. The front doors opened and in walks a man with the skin like leather, ratty dirty hair, smokers cough and hard look on his face. “You been fuckin’ looked after yet?” he says from behind us, as he looks at the lady on the phone. My husband replied in an equally hard voice and pointed to the lady, “she’s busy”, I stood with my head further in my phone.  The unfortunate lady behind the counter processed our forms after slamming the phone and asked if we wanted to pay for one or five years of the licence.  My husband and I replied at the same time, I said five (because I do not want to have to come back here in one year) and my husband said one year, because it was cheaper.  Old leather face behind us pipes up, and starts ranting how ridiculous the price of a licence is and that we are mad if we pay the five years, he was absolutely pushing the buttons of the reception lady. I was on repeat to the poor woman, five years we want to pay five years, just take the amount for the five years off the savings account.

I pretty much ran out of the Police station, away from leather face and another two men that had walked in while I am chanting five years to the receptionist, that looked like they had just got out of prison. Next we had to make our way to the court house to see the JP, where there was a line up out the door of people, waiting in line to be processed through security to get in to the building. I will not go into what this lot looked like cause I really will sound like a judgemental, snobby cow. Let’s just say that our local justice precinct is in a particularly low socio-economic area with a lot of crime, unemployment and violence.

As we were signing papers with the JP, a woman strides through the doors like she owns the building, in shoes that are flip-flopping off her feet, her top is falling off one shoulder (I’m pretty sure that particular top isn’t designed to do that) and a skirt that is dragging on the ground. She is communicating to the government employee behind the counter that; no she didn’t get to her court hearing yesterday, because she has shit to do on a Monday, and that today is a better day for her to go to court over her few outstanding warrants, and she is not sure why everyone has their knickers in a knot over her not being in court yesterday. My face obviously portrayed a WTF look because the JP, smashed his lips together in an effort not to burst out laughing at me.

I know I can’t judge, I don’t know their stories, and I’ve not walked a day in their shoes and all that. But holy hell, you know what leather face, if the price for five years is $150 then that’s what you pay no big deal, if you don’t have the money, only pay for one year. But don’t take it out on the lady on the front lines of the Police station, having deal with people like you throwing ridiculous points of view at her all day. To the lady that has shit to do on a Monday, if Monday doesn’t suit you to go to court, don’t do the friggin crime and stop wasting tax payers dollars on having to now reschedule to have your court date changed.

Day One

Summer has officially started for me, even though in Australia summer officially starts on 1st December.

I originate from a dedicated cricket family, my grandfather founded the cricket club in his home town, and my Dad followed in his footsteps, he was a successful all round cricketer, in one game he took 6 wickets, and my Dad, is still faithful to the Australian game. I recall as a child having our television, locked to Kerry Packers Channel 9, to watch every 5 day test and every single one day game, the worst of all for me was the Boxing Day test in Melbourne.

For people who don’t know cricket, it can be an extremely slow game of 11 players essentially playing a bat and ball game, where the aim is to get the most amount of runs, while keeping as many of your wickets as you can, this can go on for 5 freaking days. I have memories of streams of tears flowing down my face in frustration on sweltering days, and being forced to hang out in our lounge room, to watch these tortuous games with men standing around in white clothes, hitting a red ball with a piece of wood that is shaped as a cricket bat. Sounds traumatic doesn’t it. Fast forward 20 years and with this devoted line of cricketers, I was forced into becoming a cricket tragic. I now have two boys who are so devoted to the game that when they play and win a game, the emotion displayed is the equivalent to winning the Ashes (this is the pinnacle in cricket for an Aussie). At the moment we spend about 6hrs training a week, and then 6 hrs every Saturday playing the game.

So why am I ranting about cricket? Because today “The Gabba” in Brisbane, hosted the first day of test cricket between Australia and New Zealand (yes a test that goes for 5 days), and I was there (AHHHHH). Believe me when I say that is a good AHHHH.

I am extremely fortunate to also have a dear friend who is also a cricket tragic – actually probably more than me (that’s saying a lot), so we spent the day at the cricket.

So what did our day involve? Oh where to start…..Weeeelll lets start at the beginning. Brisbane city council offers free transport to the game, from selected locations for anyone with a ticket to the cricket. So we took advantage of the council’s generosity and took an early bus, to the game. This is after mum duties, of getting our kids safely tucked away at school so we can go and enjoy our day, watching men in white, hit a red ball with a piece of wood. Our aim was to grab fabulous seats in the member’s area and more importantly be settled with a cup of coffee, watching the first ball of the game being bowled. We totally missed all of the above, because the bus took the longest way possible around the city to eventually arrive at the cricket grounds (Sounds like a bad start to the day doesn’t it.). Due to our unfortunate bus trip, we rushed, like almost ran into the stadium, to try and find seats and see what was happening in the game. Well, who should we run into, but one of the best fast bowlers and one of the most talked about Bollywood stars in the world – Brett Lee. What a sweet and generous man to indulge a couple of Mumma groupies in taking selfies with him and then shamelessly posting them on every social media site we are members of and tagging the hell out of them. What a fabulous start to the first day of a five day test, where at lunch we went and spoiled ourselves with a glass of champagne each, of course this is after visiting the coffee van lady. Only to find ourselves in the “man bar” as we called it. As we elegantly sipped gorgeous $19 sparkling wine, and scrutinised the crowed, only to find that we were the only women surrounded in a bar full of beer swilling men lined up out of the 18 + area waiting for a sausage sizzle, while listening to a live musician belt out songs from the 70’s, like Piano Man by Billy Joel, and I was educated on the fact that Madonna was not the first person to sing American pie.

After lunch we watched David Warner rack up his 13th test century and New Zealand struggle to keep the Aussies under control in the field.

We had to depart our member’s seats at tea (3.00pm) to catch the bus, the long way back to the car so that we could pick – up kids from school. Oh, but we will be back tomorrow, cannot wait to see what day 2 involves.

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November 1

First blog post of November and I am nervous and a bit excited. See I have signed up for NaBloPoMo . NaBloPoMo is a 30 blog challenge. I have toyed with the idea of a blog for mmmm probably 12 months. I dipped my toe in the blogosphere in June with the posts Bikram, mountains and fly in fly out, Brazilian, Twenty-one days, and Cricket mum and quickly jumped back ten feet, from dipping said toe, because you know I didn’t get a million likes or comments. My confidence took a nose dive and I was way too scared to try again, because well obviously no one like my writing (no naïve and obviously no clue about blogging). So I am back, ready to roll up my sleeves and get my typing fingers tapping away, creating blogs posts for the next 30 days.

Don’t get me wrong, still worried that no one will read my blog posts, that everyone will read my blog posts, that no one will comment or like, that everyone will comment or like, that I may get negative comments, that I may get positive comments, am I writing in a style suitable for a blog, am I writing interesting content. Oh for god sakes, what a way to melt my brain……………….

My main aims for the next 30 days is to enjoy my writing and my build confidence. I have no plan for how I am going to find content for the next 30 blogs posts, I am thinking maybe experiences from that day, or things I love, things I hate, maybe include a quote and what that quote means to me, one day I may tackle just posting images.

So with all that being said “Happy November” and stay tuned for my next blog xx

Bikram, mountains and fly in fly out

My girlfriends are the most beautiful, supportive and fit women in my life. I am not one for the gym, but my exercise of choice is yoga. I am in a love/hate relationship with Bikram yoga.

Bikram yoga, the type of yoga where I sweat it out in a 38-degree room for 90 minutes in a series of 26 yoga poses, like ‘Awkward’ pose. I  drag my ass into, two classes each week. If my gorgeous friend Helen, didn’t come with me and make me feel guilty, lazy, and unmotivated if I didn’t go, then nope, I wouldn’t put myself through the torture.

In the hot room there are a few things I struggle with and it doesn’t matter how much I try and surrender to the yoga instructor’s voice, I cannot shut-up my internal chatter. Other times, it is my body screaming at me. Almost always it is the sweat. I hate sweat, I hate it when it goes up my nose, I hate it when it drips in my mouth, I hate it when it trickles in between my boobs, I hate it when it runs down my legs. But the moment I conquer a class and hit the showers, none of those things matter and I have a sense of triumph, and feel like I can do anything.

I have also included a new form of torture. Again, I have the most beautiful and supportive, fit girlfriends I could ask for, and then I have the two ‘bitches’ (I called them that during this walk) that drag me to a local mountain to “go for a walk”.  The mountain of choice at the moment is about 10 minutes from my house. It is the worst 700 meters that I have ever walked. From the very first step it is insanely steep, and I mean…straight-up steep. No meandering path, no gentle climb, nope, straight into the steepest freaking concrete path I have ever seen. The first time that I did it, I really did think that I was going to die. My heart was beating out of my chest, I couldn’t for the life of me catch my breath, my legs were burning, and my mind was in overdrive with the most dreadful names that I could think of to call my friend.

On the second go up this god-awful mountain, I changed my plan of attack. I decided I can only look at my feet. If I look up and see that steep, torturous concrete path I get overwhelmed, my breath shortens, my heart races and my mind turns negative. My mind tells me I will never get there; my mind tells me to stop. But if I just concentrate on my feet and take one step at a time, I don’t get overwhelmed, my breath slows and I can concentrate. It is only then that the tortuous path does not seem as bad. It is still tough, I defiantly get a work out, but I can manage it, and without too much name calling.

In the same spirit of the yoga and mountain experiences, I have been struggling with FIFO this swing. The 21 days have been like that god-awful, torturous concrete path, and I feel like I have defiantly been sweating it out with sweat going up nose in the Bikram yoga room. However, during my post-mountain walk emotional high, I saw the similarities of the extreme exercises of yoga and mountain walking, and the last two weeks of this swing. If I stop looking at the date that Mr S comes home and only look at today’s date and what I need to get done today and only concentrate on today, then like that concrete path and the sweat, I will get there. So, I can say this much…The time Mr S is away will be crap and I will have dreadful names running through my head about what I think of FIFO. But when I pick Mr S up from the airport at the end of the 21 days, I will have that same feeling of Bikram yoga and mountain climbing triumph, and I will feel like I can do anything.

Twenty-one days

I contemplate our lifestyle as a Fly in– Fly out family and it isn’t about the money. I’m increasingly worried about Scott’s mounting frustration and tension with being away for twenty one days.

Twenty-one nights in a single bed that feels like a piece of concrete. I know he craves, our queen- size bed, with his big strong body curled around mine, holding me tight, not having to wake at 4.30am. No line-up for breakfast, lunch and dinner, his stomach turning at the sight of what is on offer. I can’t wait to sit down and savour a home cooked meal with him.

Twenty-one days of running along the fence line, because the gym overflows with the same people that he lines up for meals with.

Twenty-one times of blowing in the breathalyser, despite having no access to alcohol.

Twenty-one days a month 600kms away, to support us. Transported by a car, plane and bus to get to the 400- man camp that he stays in. The compound could be mistaken for a jail. I know that after a long and detailed process, the gas that is being extracted is only used for domestic use. To top it off, working in 50 degree heat and minus zero temperatures.

In this next swing, I will not spend Easter with my husband, he will miss our oldest boy’s cricket grand final and our youngest boy’s school recital.

The screen is black, the ring tone bleeps as I anxiously wait for Scott to hit connect. I mean, how ridiculous that I am anxious, he is my husband.

As FaceTime connects I see the green eyes and scruff that details a strong jaw. His face beams at me and I know that my face has an equally blinding smile; my eyes sparkle with tears I will not shed. “Hey beautiful, no crying,” he says. Oh god, my heart melts seeing his face and hearing his voice at the same time.

“Hi babe, so I need to interview you on fifo!”

“Yes dear, what do you want to know?” Scott sighs, sounding exasperated. He loathes talking about work and being away. Preferring to spend our time together hearing about home.

“Babe, before we start on this interview let me have a quick chat to the boys.” As I listen to Scott laugh and talk to our boys about school and cricket. I am eternally grateful for modern technology. Jack sits at our much- loved kitchen table, with his dad on FaceTime working through Year 8 maths homework.

Toms laughs as he talks to Scott. “Yes, mum’s doing the dishes!”

“I wish I was doing the dishes with you babe,” Scott yells through the computer screen. The dishes have always been our time at the end of the day to chat and catch up. Now text messages, phone calls and FaceTime are our way of catching up.

I grab the laptop and make my way to our bedroom, so we can chat without interference from the boys.

“So what do you hate about fifo?”

“Seriously, that’s your question?” His unconscious movement of running his hand over his short back and side’s haircut signalling signals his pent- up frustration. “You know the answer to that. It’s fucking shit.” Beautiful green eyes hardening, jaw tense and eyebrows drawn in so far they nearly touch. “It pisses me off that I don’t get to come home to you and the boy’s every day. I want to be home for Easter.” Swipes his hair again. “I am here working my ass off, dealing with idiots that couldn’t organise a piss- –up in a brewery. Working on a public holiday with no penalty rates. After twenty one days I hate the ass holes I work and live with. I did five hundred squats today. Five hundred times I had to squat down and tie off cable. Because some idiot ordered the wrong equipment and refuses to send it back. It’s bullshit. They want us to work harder and faster, with no additional tools and resources.” I scan over his chest and face as he sits rigid and tense on the single bed, as he swipes his hair.

“We got told, that there has been 9 suicides since Christmas, that’s nine blokes that who killed themselves. Fifo and everything that goes with it did that.” (My stomach sinks and I consider the poor men that got to that point, and the families left behind to deal with that devastation.)

Abandoning the questions I had prepared, we chat and catch up about home. Scott now lounges casually on the single bed and his smile reaches his eyes. It makes me think of last month when I picked him up at the airport.

He crossed the zebra crossing dragging his bag behind him at a furious pace, the backpack used as a carry -on slapped against his back, black cap pulled low down over his green eyes. I could see he had no intention of making eye contact with anyone until he reached me. He made sure to wear the black t-shirt that I love. It shows off just a peek of his tattoos, on the arms I adore. Dressed He was dressed in his low slung jeans that hang off his gorgeous ass perfectly. Scott reached our four- wheel drive that took us camping for that break and wrenched the door open. I just about jumped the seat to get to him, I had missed him the past three weeks.

Bringing me back to our conversation he laughs. “Mel, you need to go babe, I can hear the boys arguing.”

My whole body slouches in sadness, tears slip down my face at having to say goodbye. Scott’s eyes are full of love and with a beaming smile across his face. “Love you, babe,” he declares as he hits end. His image is frozen for a second on the screen while the connection drops out. As I stare at the image, I am the one left feeling frustrated and tense with Fly in and Fly out.