Saturday, 19 October 2013

Let the sun shine.

Waking to such a glorious sunshiny day what else could we do but seek out the ocean. 
With one child back within the family fold we had another leave us. Campbell went off to spend the day with some school friends which meant we could give the younger boys the chance to do something that we cannot usually do as a complete family.
It is generally the simple pleasures that we opt for. For many years we could still manage to get Campbell down to the beach because fortunately he has always been so skinny that he was light enough to carry for a long time. We occasionally find a beach with easy access from the car, but it has become increasingly tricky to enjoy the beach as a family. The simple pleasure of strolling down the beach collecting shells and running in and out of waves, is not one we take for granted. Climbing the rocks and exploring rock pools is such an undervalued joy. 
So with the sun shining we set out for La Perouse. 
It was a perfectly lovely day.
 Campbell also appreciated time to be a teenager without being dragged along to do the stuff that he doesn't enjoy. It always feels strange to do stuff without him but we know that 15 year boys do tend to want to do stuff with their friends on the weekend.

We tried to re-capture this photo from our last visit to La Perouse. Look how they have grown!

The accidental discovery of a nudie beach will be a source of much amusement for many years to come- what a bonus!!! Thankfully we realised before the boys had to wash their eyeballs.

Friday, 18 October 2013

The middle.

How often to you hear about the misfortunes of being the middle child in the family? They are so often viewed with pity and are seen as having to live in the shadows of their siblings. I have heard adults complain about being the middle child in their family and the baggage that comes with that. We all know the 'Marcia, Marcia, Marcia' speech!!
My family dynamics are a little bit different to others, but I do believe that the middle child holds a very valuable position in a family. The middle represents the point of balance, the safe middle ground, with bookends either side as support. I can see that when I look at other families too- the middle child is so often the one who brings it all together.
My middle child has been away at camp this week and the important role he plays in our family was glaringly obvious even before he had boarded the bus. We felt a huge void this week. It was so strange sitting at the dinner table with one chair empty, and there was an awkward lack of conversation.  His older brother missed his companionship and helpfulness. His younger brother missed him so keenly that he was quite lost without him. The week was occupied with busy tasks- mainly to keep little brother active. No matter how busy we were it just didn't feel quite right. He was constantly in my thoughts and although I knew he was having a wonderful time, I was just looking forward to seeing him.
By Thursday I was feeling a sense of relief that he would be back in our fold very soon and things would just be right again.

Cue dramatic bush fires....

The benefits of social media are vast. We received frequent updates on Facebook from our school Principal to assure us that our children were safe. However, there were also frequent updates containing photos of terrifying fires, reports from concerned parents and news of road closures. It was quite a challenge to remain focussed on the Principal's voice of reason, and trust that all is well, while trying to ignore the bombardment of fearful images and updates. Roads were in fact closed, the fire was in fact quite close by, and the camp was well versed in the necessary procedures.
I have the most beautiful 'snap shot' moment of Joe's little fingers entwined with Drew's as they huddled together on the bench in the playground that afternoon. They were not even aware that they were clasping hands as they chatted about the things that had happened that week. There was no mention of fires, or exciting evacuations with police escorts. They just missed each other and had lots of news to share. Campbell threw his arms around his brother and declared "I missed you buddy boy". Drew was aware that they were close to danger, but said that nobody appeared to be upset at camp. Everyone remained calm and continued to enjoy the experience of being away from home on an exciting adventure. Thank you to the amazing teachers and the camp staff who kept it all together, not knowing if they were going to be able to leave on Friday or not.
It was a very dramatic first camp experience for Drew and he will always have a fantastic story to share- even though the fire saga is actually only a very small part of his experience. He recalls archery with far more enthusiasm!
So our middle is back. Nothing can operate smoothly without a core to hold it all together. We are centred again. We are in balance. We are at ease. 

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Gorgeous generosity.

I was a bit surprised this morning when I realised my hairdresser was calling me. I instantly panicked that I had missed an appointment. She was just wanting to know if I could pop in to collect Campbell's birthday present!!! She has met him just once and at my very next appointment she had given me a selection of his favourite shows to take home for him. Of course I always chat about my boys with pride when I have an appointment. She obviously takes such care to listen to all of their interests. She knew all about Campbell's upcoming party and his love of Mary- Kate and Ashley Olsen.
As she described down the phone the books she had managed to source through a variety of internet avenues I was overwhelmed with emotion. I actually got goosebumps. She was so disappointed that no matter how hard she searched she wasn't able to find a few books in the series!!
Naturally I was crying in amazement at this beautiful generosity. With the most perfect of circumstances Campbell was actually home from school today with a lingering flu. So as it turned out he could come with me to collect his special parcel in person.
He was quite literally shaking with excitement when he glimpsed inside the bag to see the huge pile of his favourite books. He quickly decided that it was the absolutely best present ever! Heaps better than what he got from Eric and I!
Our gorgeous friend is now considered family in Campbell's eyes and she is so completely worthy of an Auntie title from now on.
I have no idea how many hours were spent searching for those books. She made some vague references to lots of parcels arriving and I suspect that it must have become a fairly costly exercise for her too. Of course she wasn't willing to disclose any details. But I do know how long we search for these books online and the efforts we have gone to in order to find the occasional one or two.
It is so heart warming to know that there are such kind and loving people in the world and that she did it all for the joy of the smile on his face- not even realising that she would actually get to see him receive them.

Not only that but she had a pile of the Woolworths animal cards for Joe too! She has no kids of her own but had been collecting the cards. What a gem.

This is her- go and see her for your next hair cut!! Like her page and tell her how amazing she is while you are there. She deserves the best of everything :)

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Another year slips away...

What an amazing weekend we have had celebrating my remarkable first born child. Of course it was done in a typically unique and uplifting manner- because that's just the way he rolls. He just has a magic touch when it comes to bringing people together and connecting them in a way no one would have ever expected. The joy he radiated at his birthday party seemed to shine on us all. Everyone laughed and enjoyed simple pleasures, and it was all his doing.

He welcomed his guests with gusto and ushered them in to share in the treats (promptly after requesting his gift of course). He went to great lengths to ensure that friends were happy and comfortable. They seemed to thoroughly enjoy it all too. I found myself quite overwhelmed several times in the week leading up to his party. As the phone calls rolled in from the parents of the invitees I heard again and again that it had been many years since they had been invited to a party. That they don't get to go to many social events with their friends. That they are quite a bit nervous about coming to a party after all these years and they had changed their minds several times before committing to coming. I felt that I really had to do everything I could to make this party a success. Everything had to be perfect for this bunch of kids who have missed out of what is just so standard for so many kids. I had to make sure that everyone could feel included and at ease.
All that worry and stress when I should have just known that my incredible son would have all of that sorted without any fussing from me. They were all perfectly at ease and milled about the house chatting and eating.

With some great tips from very clever people I did manage to put together a few activities to create a party vibe and keep everyone occupied if things got a bit dull. With a mix of physical disabilities and varying degrees of autism to consider, I created a new twist on an old favourite. Our game of pass-the-parcel contained challenge cards within each layer of wrap and the layers were colour coded to ensure that the task was suitable to the person receiving it. There was a great deal of laughter and the participation was far more enthusiastic than I expected. YES I can quack like a duck for a prize!! YES I will sing a line of a nursery rhyme!! YES I can do a fake burp to impress the crowd!! I thought there would be lots of kids opting to pass on a task and not take a prize- but they were more than willing. They were also happy to laugh with good nature at themselves and others.

Campbell took a bit of time to warm to the idea 'pinning the moustache on Mary- Kate and Ashley Olsen', but he was able to see the funny side and accept a prize from the basket after taking a turn. He adores them so very much that putting a silly moustache on them was quite a challenge for him. I think that my gorgeous helper Beth probably drummed up most of the enthusiasm for that game and made it a success.

The cake was beautiful and made with love by my Mum and created lots of enthusiasm after the first slice came away to reveal a lolly filled centre. It was delicious too!!

This gorgeous 'Happy Birthday' bunting comes from Vintage Prints and was delivered promptly to complete our party.

Thank you to all of the well- mannered and enthusiastic guests, thank you to all of the inspirational parents who joined the festivities, and thank you to my beautiful boy who fills my chest with pride. 

Monday, 7 October 2013

Spring break.

Our theme tune as we hit the road last week was "Ohhhh I do like to be beside the seaside, Oh I do like to be beside the sea!" Campbell had heard it on one of his BBC comedies and it did seem fitting. Of course by the time we got to Pennant Hills road (only 5 minutes form home), he was finished with the singing and wanted to know if we were there yet!!
We were only going as far as Tea Gardens (thankfully) so he only had to ask another 23 times before we were in fact THERE!

It is rather invigorating the be beside the seaside and we are very happy to say that the sunshine was warm and sunshiney. The pool was heated to just the right temperature. The accommodation was NOT the camper trailer but a 3 bedroom apartment with a roof!! It was only for 3 nights but we made the most of our mini holiday.  Our poor deprived children were most excited about a holiday that did not involve a tent (I can't say any of us were complaining about that actually).  My only complaint is that the fish were not biting.

Campbell and I got to have an afternoon and evening to ourselves while the boys set off on their own little adventure. Cams was pretty keen for dinner at the Chinese restaurant up the road and we had a thoroughly lovely meal together. It was the first time that I have ever been asked whether I was his carer or his Mum!! The waitress asked me as I paid the bill and I am still trying to determine how I feel about that. I am so proud to be his Mum and I so enjoyed our chatter while we ate. Maybe there are lots of 15 year old boys who would rather not chatter with their Mum over dinner??? 
How lucky I am that my big boy still loves hanging out with me and considered our night out together a special treat. It was my highlight of our little holiday. 

Sorry to say that our Spring holidays are over, but I am very much looking forward to our Summer adventures. We haven't decided on our destination yet, I just know it will be wonderful (even though it will be with a tent).

Sunday, 6 October 2013


There has been quite a bit going on around here lately, but all at the right pace. It's been busy, but not frantic. I have had a lot to juggle, but I am not feeling stressed. There is a long list of jobs I need to tackle, but I am not overwhelmed. Things just feel balanced. That's just what I had been waiting for. It was pretty silly to think that it would all just happen without me taking some steps to make it happen.

My life was not in balance. I was in constant pain and I could barely move my head because of my constantly frozen neck. When the chiro or physio would ask if I had a head ache I would have to stop and think before realising that I did. It was so constant that it was my new normal. I used all of my private health insurance allocation for both chiropractic and physiotherapy mid year. They all told me it was stress and no amount of therapy ever seemed to help. But I just kept on pushing on anyway- for years!

Things have changed. I made time to do all of the things my family so desperately needed. Making it to an appointment for one of my boys is no longer a cause of high stress, major inconvenience to others and something that involves running, cursing in the traffic and skipped lunches/dinners. These days it is a pleasure. A bonus day with one of my boys to enjoy a leisurely morning together, a cheeky lunch out and an appointment where I can not only concentrate on what I will need to do, but I am also able to breathe. Kinda important that concentrating....and breathing. Now I can turn up at the follow-up appointment without apologies for not having met all of the goals set. Yay me!

I have earned my long service leave by working much harder and longer than I should have done over the years. I have been catching up on all of the things I sacrificed while I was working, and trying very hard to let go of the guilt and regret. The result is that my neck works now! I can look over my shoulder without pain, I don't have a headache and I often catch myself breathing! I seriously used to catch myself holding my breath in the past- isn't that counter productive?!

I really do have this strong urge to explain myself. Why am I entitled to indulge in all of this time? Why am I any more stressed than any other working woman with a family? But I'm not going to. I am happy with the choices I have made. I am grateful that I had options available to me. I am happy to have time to focus on my family. I am just going to savour that and continue to reach for more of what awakens my soul.

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