Friday, August 15, 2014

An everyday family tradition

What is your best thing ?

Those are the words we hear every night repeated at our dinner table.
Years ago when the older kids were just little people we started an everyday dinner time tradition, to try and focus on each other's highlights and low points in the day.

At some stage in the meal someone will ask any other person at the table "What was your best thing today? " The replies are often funny, or mundane, sometimes they are revealing and pleasantly surprising. Sometimes a best thing is as simple as the snuggly welcome home someone got from the dog that afternoon, or that they managed to shoot a netball hoop after 258 failed attempts.  I LOVE it when their best thing is whatever I've cooked for dinner.

The initiator then asks " What was your worst thing today?" Again, the answers can reveal in a sentence or two whether the replier is having issues with a subject or classmate, whether they are sad about something we didn't even know about.  It's always okay to say you didn't have a worst thing.. That is a happy day indeed !

We then ask again " What is another best thing" to finish on a positive. Once that person has given their three answers it's their turn to ask another person at the table and so we go on. Any visitors to our table are included, including grandparents, aunts and uncles, sleepover visitors, even dad's mate who came for dinner on his way to a conference !

The only rules are - we all listen to each other's answers, and you aren't allowed to say "nothing" for your best thing. If the answer is nothing we all give some helpful hints, including the fact that they have a hot meal in front of them, warm clothes and a loving family. They might need to be reminded that there is only one week until school holidays, or that they got an award at school assembly.

So what were we teaching our kids ?
That there is always more good than bad in every day.
To try and focus on the positives and really think about what worked and what didn't work in each day.

They have learnt to sit, listen and take some interest in what is going on in the lives of every other person at the table. 

When kids are little, we as parents often ask "What did you do today?" Imagine how busy little people try to summarize all that happened in the day-  Impossible! Giving them a starting place and a specific question helps them organize their thoughts.
As the children have gotten older, we've found this little tradition has been crucial in engaging our teenagers in conversation. We could ask "Have you had a good day?" and we would no doubt get a monosyllable answer. With this tradition, they have to answer in a sentence and give more than just a Yes or No response. 

We didn't realise it when we started, but this simple family tradition has become one of the most important daily events in our lives.  

Do you have a family ritual or tradition ? How do you help your child reflect on their day ?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Laughing at myself - I MUST CONFESS

I MUST CONFESS - Deep inside, past all the grown up, mother of 4, responsible working nurse me, way past the mortgage paying, grocery shopping, bed making 42 year old me, there still dwells a bemused 18 yr old.

I regularly have moments of wonder.

Wonder that anyone thinks I'm mature enough for all this responsibility, that I have even a quarter of what it takes to raise another human being, let alone four of them.

I'm stunned that I am deemed trustworthy enough to work, to drive, to supervise teenagers.
And yet here I am.
Sometimes I talk to myself, from old to young, or from young to old.... one girlfriend to another.

Sometimes 18  year old me is stomping her feet saying "I don't want to do this".  Often she is looking in the mirror saying "Holy crap Lisa, what the heck is going on with your hair? "
Regularly she is shaking her head and chuckling "Wow, 42 years and you still can't put on eyeliner !"

 She laughs out loud at me ... ( she doesn't LOL becuase at 18 years of age for me there was no such thing as text messages, or mobile phones. )... she laughs out loud at my rules for my teenagers. Giggles when I lay down the "Rules when your boyfriend comes to visit", and snorts when I'm demanding that my teenage girls do some homework. She mocks me and asks "How are you going to handle this one" when my teenager declares (again) that she hates school and is quitting, and high-fives me when I manage to convince the same teenager to stay at school, at least for the rest of this week.

When my teenage daughter is telling me she hates a subject or that some teacher is boring, on the outside I am maturely trying to problem solve and explaining the importance of a complete education.
But 18 year old me is reminding me of how many times I told my parents I wanted to quit. I'm reminded of how frustrated I was at having to do subjects I hated, and how I thought most of my teachers were idiots.

18 year old me shows me a flashback, of my Mum sitting on the end of my bed, gently asking if I would consider doing just an hour of study for my HSC.. and of me laughing and saying "Nope" I had a boyfriend to visit, friends to catch up with.

When my just-turned-18 year old daughter asked if she could go to Melbourne for a night with a group of friends, 42 year old me at first said "Hell, no". After several discussions she got permission to go but only after I questioned her for details, rang the motel they were all staying at, checked on who else was going, lectured her on the possible dangers of drinking and going out in the city and the importance of sticking together.

A little whisper in my ear was again reminding me of how, just one month after turning 18, I announced I was going away for a weekend with my boyfriend, and that there was nothing my parents could do to stop me. I was bold enough to go, to just expect that I had every right in the world to do as I pleased and that they would just have to get over it.

I'm pretty sure that 18 year old me is a bit shocked at all the seriousness of this parenting gig. She's certain that this isn't at all like we had imagined. I think she thinks I'm a bit of a bore.

But that's because she's 18, and she doesn't know what I know now.


What would your 18 year old self say to you now? 

On Mondays I love to linkup with Kirsty from My Home Truths for I Must Confess.

She is having a teensy little break from blogging so I am hosting the I Must Confess linkup this week. Please join in - add you post confessing anything, or just sharing what's going on in your day. We love to see new faces so add your link and have fun visiting the other blogs. xx

Prompt for next weeks I Must Confess Post is  'If I could go back to one single moment in my life, it would be...'  hosted by Emma at ... get typing bloggy friends.

I'm also Linking with One Mother Hen for Open Slather 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Taking care of spiders - I must confess

Fear is a strange thing.

It can take perfectly normal, sensible people and turn them into shrieking toddlers.
There are degrees of fear.
A general feeling of disquiet over a thought or possible event.
Anxiety and worry about our loved ones. 

A raised heart rate, dry mouth, wide eyes....
Then there is the 'fight or flight' adrenaline pumping full blown : Holy sh*t I'm about to lose it, jumping around like a ninja kind of fear.

I feel it when I think about snakes. When I get surprised by a picture of one, the idea of one.

I wrote about my INTENSE fear of snakes in Snakes Alive

I understand the feeling, the fear, the irrationality of the reaction. I understand the superpowers a person can instantly develop in their need to escape. I want to vomit at the notion that one might be in the backyard, near my kids or my animals (or me!). I will argue loudly that snakes should all be rounded up and sent to the Galapagos Islands. Far away from me. 

And yet, weirdly when someone else is experiencing that same level of fear, over something  that doesn't really bother me, it's hard not to find their reaction hilarious.

On Thursday night my friend came to visit for a while, we chatted, made some plans...
Then she got ready to go home. I walked her out to her car in the cold winter darkness. She climbed into the drivers seat, flicked her hair and  promptly LOST HER MIND !

I have never seen anyone climb out of a car so quickly, she leapt over the centre console, levitated across the passenger seat and threw herself out the door on the other side of the car all while shrieking like a fire alarm. A spider which, according to her ,was "as big as a walrus" had dropped past her hand.

This is the point when you would think that as a caring friend  I would have be gentle and caring, soothing and full of compassion. And I would have been, had I not been laughing so hard I nearly peed my pants. There she is begging "Lisa, Lisa, you have to find it. Now, You have to !" And I'm snorting, doubled over in the middle of the road. 

Eventually I found some composure. The spider had of course taken itself into a small dark corner and I couldn't find it. We sprayed an entire can of fly spray in the car, closed the doors and she took my car home.  The next morning I checked again and returned her car to her, twitching from the nerve gas lingering in the car. I had checked under the seats, flipped down all the sun visors, searched in the glove box and found no spidery evilness. No doubt the poor little thing jumped out of the car as quickly as she did and went to find more welcoming accommodations. 

That's why we are friends. I will take over when walrus spiders attack her, and she will protect me when nasty evil snakes cross my path. 
Because that's what friends are for.

What is your irrational fear? Have you ever had to face it?


Linking up this week with Raychael from Ms Mystery Case for I Must Confess

Please visit Raychael for more bloggy confessions, and the prompt for next weeks exposé.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sticky Tape

This morning as I was getting myself and our household on track for the day, Miss 10 went to the stationery drawer and found the clear sticky tape. 

As her room is already overflowing with crafty bits and pieces pilfered from that drawer, I stopped her and told her whatever she needed to tape up, she should bring it out to the table & do it there. 

I kept going with morning tasks in the kitchen. I could hear the sound of sticky tape being pulled off. Gosh she was using a lot of it. I turned around to find her happily sticky taping her tragically broken sneakers together for sport! 

I died ! 

Firstly, how completely and innocently unpretentious is she, that she didn't even think to ask for new sneakers? 
Secondly, obviously I've been parenting with blinkers on for a few months, cos I had no idea the state they were in ! 

We raced to the local department store before school started and bought new sneakers, and sticky tape. 

Just another Mother Of The Year moment ! 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dealing with Teenagers

I must confess, when we decided to start our family at the tender ages of 21 and 22, we planned a pregnancy. A baby, maybe we projected far enough to toddler-hood and the first year of school. But honestly, most of the "Let's start a family" discussion was really "Let's have a baby".

But babies have a strange little habit of growing.
And they become tantruming toddlers, and boundary pushing children. They become smelly and busy school kids. 

And then... then they become teenagers.

Dealing with teenagers can be fun and funny, it can be enlightening, rewarding and awesome. It can also drive you demented and make you want to stab yourself in the eye with a teaspoon.

Trying to communicate with teenagers and anticipate their moods is a hit and miss game of epic proportion.
I can't remember a day in the past 4 years when at least one of my teens wasn't defensive, moody and offended by something I said.

I know I know, just let it go... 

... except it's bloody hard to keep on trucking through the bewildering and unpredictable spurts of anger and still lovingly care for the large darlings.

Today in the space of an hour I managed to annoy Miss 18 by asking her to write her work shifts on the calendar ( you know, so I can DRIVE HER TO WORK ! )

I am now receiving the silent treatment from Miss 16 because I bought the wrong sort of bread ( actually someone else bought the bread but apparently I am the Grand Pooh Bah of food stuffs in our home so the buck stops here). 

Someone called the house asking for him, so I made the outrageous decision to wake Mr 20 at 8am and clearly he's not appreciating the gesture, given the huffing and muttering from his bedroom.

And Miss 10 , a newly minted tween as of last Thursday has begun teen-practice, so she was truly angry, sulky and generally unpleasant because she had to brush her hair for school.

Right now, the only ones in the house who aren't displeased with me are the fluffy four legged members.

(actually the cat doesn't like me much either).

Linking up with Ann from Help I'm Stuck for I Must Confess Monday, 
holiday hosting for lovely Kirsty who is having a much deserved break xx

Friday, July 18, 2014

AUTISM ALERT - free printable

I am blessed that in our home autism has not significantly compromised the safety of our family members, but many families with an autistic loved one have to make plans for emergencies.

One thing I'd not really thought about was alerting emergency responders to the fact that a person with autism is present.

The more I think about it, the more I can see how essential it would be to be able to let a police officer entering your home know that a person with autism lives there. That they may not respond to verbal commands. They may be non-compliant THROUGH NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN.

I think about the urgency of letting responders to a car accident know that an  person with autism may have been in the car. That they may resist help, or they might have run away and be hiding in nearby bushes or buildings.

I have seen alerts available, most requiring ordering ( & payment) and shipping.

I have made a free printable and I am more than happy for you to share it far and wide, sharing is caring xxx

CLICK HERE to go to the free PDF download, hosted through a safe file storage Mediafire. ( the pic here is just to show you what it looks like, not high enough resolution for printing) 

I have made two sizes, one that is about half the size of a piece of A4 paper, perfect for putting at the front door to alert visitors and a smaller version that could go in a car window without obstructing driving vision. Print them out and laminate them. 

Given with love x

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Littlest turns 10 today - Thankful Thursday

It's Thursday, Thankful Thursday.

I don't have to look too far.
My littlest baby is ten today.

I am so very Thankful to have her in my life, she makes me laugh and cry, she grabs my heart and twists me around her not so little fingers.

She is home from school, sick with a temperature and a sore throat. The bonus of that is having a day to play with your new presents, to have complete control of the remote control, and to help Mum make the birthday cake.

The other bonus is I get to just watch her, today and marvel at how a teeny tiny whisper of a wish has turned into this beautiful girl. I am thankful.
Thankful for her and all she brings to my life.

Now commencing gratuitous photo sharing :-)

Monday, July 14, 2014

A House Divided

Our home is clearly divided. 
Four who do and two who do not.
I'm on the larger team, and as far as I can tell, there is nothing remotely attractive about crossing to the other side.

Four Sleeper-Inners.  (Sleeper Innerers. Sleep Inners, people who stay asleep after the crack of dawn)

On my team I am the captain, after many years experience of that delicious snooze-state. I love the blissful moment when you emerge out of a deep sleep, remember that there is nothing urgent on the calendar for today, and roll over to submerge into dreams again. Heaven!

J-man is 20 ( holy shamoly, my heart stutters when I write that number.. 20 ! But I digress) .. ahem J-man perfected the art of sleeping in around the age of 12 and has refined his skills to the point where we are lucky to see him before lunchtime.

Miss 16 has been sleeping in since a similar age, she works hardest at it on days when she has stuff to do, like.. school. But on the weekend, she will slumber away until she can hear the sounds of morning tea or her frantic Facebook updates become too urgent to ignore.

Miss 9 may not actually sleep in all the time ( although she regularly hits 9am before she opens her eyes) but she understands the importance of a leisurely rising. Playing on her iPod, reading in bed, talking to her dolls. She is that rare blessing of a child who waits until someone tells her she can get up.

Leading the opposing team of Annoyingly Cheerful Early Risers is The Man I Married. He jumps out of bed at the first break of dawn, happy, chipper and annoyingly loud. He makes a coffee LOUDLY,he munches toast LOUDLY, he greets the dogs LOUDLY, he ponders what he'd like to do today with them LOUDLY. He is crazy enough to get up at 6 am on a sleep-in-able morning to pop down to the gym for an hour. He is tinkering in the garage by 8 am. Mowing the lawn by 9am.  A ridiculously chipper morning person. 

Miss 18 is also a morning person. She is much more quiet than her Dad, but she is often in the kitchen by 7 am, sweet and cheerful. She does go back into her room and tried to not disturb Those Who Won't Wake. She accepts my grunts and growls and brings coffee to soothe the morning beasties. 

Back in the days of three wee small children ( and Miss 9 was just an idea) sleep-ins were but an elusive dream. Now they are attainable and plenty, I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why anyone would deny themselves the glorious pleasure. 

Which team are you on ?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Giveaway Ranty-pants

Hot on the heels of my last post about my lack of ranty-pants, I'm about to pull on a pair !
Last night VirginMobileAustralia Tweeted this

Pretty nice of them, a generous gesture in a time when so many are going without, living on or below the poverty line. Sure, they get their name out there as well, but all in all, a solid effort to give something to those who are in need.

So I was really pissed off to see this

So many of the comments were snarky, mean spirited and just plain rude.
First of all, not a "Hey, that's awesome. thankyou!" But critical of the gesture at all. Critical of the added exposure this would provide to VirginMobileAustralia.

When did we get to be such a self righteous bunch of arseholes?

What difference does it make if VirginMobileAusralia gets mentioned a few more times (or lets hope several thousand times) on twitter. I'm pretty certain those who are hungry and in need of a meal couldn't care less.

The idea behind these comments ( there were many) is that a company or person should give to society silently, without any fanfare and without expecting any kudos. One commenter very proudly tweets that she volunteers and gives and never mentions it ( anywhere except, you know, twitter) .

Which is lovely for her, in all her holier-than-thou self righteousness. But it doesn't inspire anyone else to join in and volunteer or give. It doesn't invoke a call to action. I'm sure she feels very good about herself but none of her friends know what she does on a Thursday night while she's at the local soup kitchen. For all they know she could be pole-dancing . Just maybe, if she told her friends what she was doing, one or two of them would volunteer as well.

We need big companies to give, to be generous, to extend a helping hand in what ever way they can. We need them to inspire other companies to do the same.

Companies are businesses. They need to make a profit to stay in business. To justify giving something away, there needs to be a return to the business. Better social media exposure is the prize in our media heavy world. So many companies gain this by running giveaways like a holiday, a car, gift vouchers. Every time I go on Facebook or Twitter my newsfeed is guaranteed to have a giveaway posts, all increasing the positive social reach of airlines, cruiselines, phone companies, electrical stores, dog foods manufacturers...

Those giveaway posts are shared, re-shared and re-re-shared by thousands, happily, all hoping that maybe they will be the lucky winner. Nobody is bitching and moaning about the companies ulterior motives. Nobody rants that the company is only giving something away to gain popularity.

Is it just because there is no chance of personal gain by the reader that Virgin's offer has so offended people? It's still a giveaway, just not to them. It's the same amount of social media exposure, but no possible benefit to the angry people.

I know who I think is the scum here. And it isn't Virgin

Friday, July 4, 2014

Back in blog land

Hello bloggy friends.. It's been weeks since I last posted.
I could lie and say I took a much needed hiatus to reflect and refocus. 

That would be a big fat lie.

I just haven't really had much to say. The blog world is overflowing with so many people hot on the pulse of every social drama or conflict, every injustice and here I am, wondering what the heck I'm gonna make for dinner, and how on earth I'm going to get all these clothes dry on the middle of a cold wet Victorian winter..?

Does that make me shallow? That I spend more time thinking about the general comings and goings in our own little house than I do about the greater matters of the universe? Probably.

But as hard as I try I just can't get on board with constant social outrage that seems to be fuelling the greater portion of blogging land at the moment.  I'd rather have a laugh at something silly, or admire something gorgeous. 

I'm the one posting goofy pictures of a cat who missed the window sill.

I'm the one saying "Nawwww" at the fluffy baby bunnies.

I'm the one chuckling at this and forwarding it to everyone I know who grew up watching the Muppet Show

( Hahhaaaaa , you just read that using the chef's accent, didn't you!)

So for a while I've wondered if I should be bothered with this blogging thing, because I really don't seem to fit the norm. I'm not deep and meaningful ( I have short bursts of that but nothing sustained). 
I'm not a 'Mummy Blogger", I'm fairly old fashioned in what I think is appropriate in public.... and I don't have my ranty pants on twice weekly.

But I've decided that I will keep doing it, because I like it. And if my non-ranty posts amuse someone, that's lovely.

I'll leave the social rants to someone else.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Happy Birthday to our sweet girl

In a totally self indulgent photograph heavy Thankful Thursday Post , I am THANKFUL today for my beautiful daughter who turns 18 today.

From the minute we knew she was on her way, she has been the softest whisper in my heart, a gentle and forgiving soul.

She has been the sweetest smile on my saddest day and she never ceases to amaze me with her creativity and her kindness.

I look at the woman she is today and it just takes my breath away, that this lovely young lady has grown from our bumbling attempts at parenthood.

May all your dreams come true, just like ours did.

Thankful Thursday xx

Thankful Thursday with APL

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Daylight savings - Save me!

Daylight Savings ended last night.. a whole extra hour to stay snuggled in bed snoozing. Bliss!

Except that The Man I Married missed the teenage lesson on how to sleep in, so at 6.30am - which today became 5.30am , he woke up and decided to get up. 

Woke the dogs up and had a loud chat with them, banged around in the kitchen, turned on the TV and flicked channels.


I don't know about you, but once I'm awake and disturbed I can't go back to sleep so there we both were, awake, nursing cups of coffee at 5.30am. 

I retreated into Computer land, mostly because I wasn't sure I could speak in pleasant sentences to the overgrown two year bouncing around on the couch.

I understand you are possibly sick of me raving about my refound designing mojo, but once you get something back that you loved, it's hard to squish that kind of Happy down. 
So here's what I made yesterday afternoon, and what you can feel free to download.

How cute is that ? This makes up into a little Easter Bunny Treasure box about 6.5cm high, perfect for a few Cadbury Eggs as a sweet little gift for someone.

You can grab the PDF to print it out HERE 

Don't just click and save this little picture as you box will be too tiny :-)

You basically cut around the outside edge, score all the solid lines with the back of a butter knife and a ruler and fold into the box shape, adding a lick of glue along the tab line to hold it together.

The bottom interweaves which gives it a little extra strength, and you can secure it with a bit of tape if you are loading the box with heavier items.

This mornings ridiculously EARLY start gave me time and head space to play a little more, so I made a second box... just in case you aren't into bunnies - although I don't even know how that is possible because :

Back to Box Making :

So this morning I made this:

Same deal, different pictures, a little brighter and funkier...

You can grab the PDF to print it out HERE

In case you can't tell, I'm having alot of fun!

What time did your little or big treasures get out of bed this morning?