Monthly Archives: March 2013

I found this post very encouraging today. I sometimes feel like I’m plodding along making no progress and I am looking forward to that surge of growth!! Mind you, last year was a pretty phenomenal time for me so I am grateful for the growth I’ve already experienced! xx Rowena

Ideas for success

There is a type of bamboo that develops very slowly after it is planted. The roots begin to spread out. The bamboo doesn’t begin to grow up until the roots are fully established.  It takes four years for the roots to develop enough to support a tall bamboo plant. Then suddenly in the fifth year, the bamboo begins to grow very quickly and can grow 80 feet in one year. It can grow almost 4 inches in one day!

Many people work very hard on their dreams and goals in life. They may work hard year after year on a marriage, a relationship, a career, a business or other endeavor. They may feel that they are making no progress. But suddenly, success can come.

Jerry and Jana Lackey worked year after year in Botswana, Africa. They built orphanages and helped poor people. But they were limited by the need for…

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My Son and the Rose

This morning, I had an incredible Eureka moment.

No! I didn’t go running naked through the streets like Archimedes but I was running naked on the inside. The drought had broken and I wanted to run outside and feel all those life giving raindrops wet against my skin. Stick out my dry, parched tongue and quench an insatiable thirst.

Our son did the most amazing thing and I was the proudest mother on earth! This came after a difficult time for our family and I really needed a bit of affirmation. Being a parent is a wonderful thing but it can also be quite a challenge. Like the rose, love also has its thorns.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire,that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet.

For the last four weeks, I’ve been ill. I’ve had serious stomach pains and I’ve barely been eating. I have also been sleeping a lot and feeling extremely vague. I wasn’t sure whether I had a virus or if it was stress. I had another appointment with my lung specialist (which went well) and more tests and was feeling pretty stressed. Anyway, I was finding it very difficult to get the kids to school and organised some outside support to help get them ready in the mornings. I also lined up some friends to drive them to and from school. I needed to stop and recover somehow.

Despite my usual health issues, I don’t usually stop and my whole modus operandi is to keep going no matter what. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, even when it feels like I’m wearing concrete shoes and it’s quite difficult to for me to walk or even lift my feet. At times, it can get very, very hard but I’ve always been convicted that it’s easier to keep going than try to restarting the engine. I guess I’m scared that if I stop and actually let everything go that I’ll lose the lot…poof!

Anyway, we’ve really enjoyed having our helper here and she finished up this morning. As a bit of a parting gesture, our son gave her a beautiful, red rose from our garden. We were both deeply moved not just because he gave her the flower but his timing was quite incredible. You see, she had been having a bit of a rough day and she really needed a bit of encouragement and then Mister just turned up offering that great timeless symbol of love…a beautiful, home-grown  red rose with all its thorns. It was exactly what the doctor ordered…exactly! I could have cried and our helper was naturally deeply moved. It’s not the sort of thing you expect from a knock-about nine year old boy who plays football and runs everywhere with dirty, skinned knees but our boy is often full of surprises. No matter how hard we might try to classify him and squeeze him into some kind of box, he resists. He is full of so many contradictions and always keeps me on my toes. I never know quite what to expect next.

I was so proud of him. I could have shouted it from a mountain top: “I have the very best son in the whole entire world!!”

I was so proud of him and yet there have been so many times as a parent when I’ve wondered whether anything is getting through. Some things are private but suffice to say that my son has struggled a lot with my illness. There are times when I’m well and fully present and there are times when I can be like a ghost. I’m there but not there. When he was 3.5 years old, I was admitted to hospital and rehab for 7 weeks. That was a very long time for such a little boy.

Reading with Mister while I was on weekend leave from the rehab hospital

Reading with Mister while I was on weekend leave from the rehab hospital

For awhile there, I was either in bed or in a wheelchair and was really crook. I had two professors looking after me along with an entourage of medical students. That gives you some idea of just how serious things were. My prognosis was really quite unknown. Mister came in to see me. He looked up at me with his huge brown eyes and blond curls and asked: “Mummy better? Mummy better?” I remember that moment so very, very clearly. Bang!  It was like being shot between the eyes. Being shot in the heart. I said absolutely nothing and simply didn’t reply because we didn’t know. We didn’t have an answer. It was an incredibly hard moment!

We look like the epitome of happiness yet this photo was taking while I was at rehab hospital.

We look like the epitome of happiness yet this photo was taking while I was at rehab hospital.

My illness hit Mister pretty hard. He knew what it was like to have his whole mum and to be the centre of my universe. We used to do so many things together.  Then, along came his little sister and shortly afterwards, I became ill and everything changed. I was so exhausted and we juggled his care between my parents, day care and time at home. We did our best and it wasn’t anybody’s fault but that didn’t mean he was happy with the situation. I knew he was angry. I knew that anger was somehow locked deep inside him and it wasn’t coming out. His development froze for some time and he stopped writing, cutting and drawing. My health is a constantly shifting carpet with marked good and bad days so we can’t really come to terms with anything. But these good days are also a blessing because we can largely live an almost “normal” life. We squeeze as much as we can out of life because we know life is short and we have to …carpe diem seize the day.

I view my illness as an external force, an outsider, some kind of malevolent stalker. I don’t blame myself and I certainly don’t see the illness as part of myself, who I am or part of my “identity”. This perspective has been quite critical to how I’ve managed. I live with dermatomyositis. I am not my disease.

Unfortunately, the kids don’t make that distinction. For them, the illness and I are one and the same. When I’m well and able to do things, they are happy and I am the best. When I’m sick, they usually muck up and I’m “the worst mother in the world”. That’s a bit simplistic but you get the gist.

It can be very difficult, discouraging and downright depressing when I’m fighting my disease and a pair of cranky kids at the same time. So when my son gave our helper the rose, it was so much more than just an act of kindness. It was a sign of healing and of hope. I saw such love and kindness in his heart.  It was extraordinary and I was immensely proud. The drought had broken.

The rose is usually used to symbolise the duality of romantic love…the beauty of the flower and the pain caused by its thorns…a double-edged sword. However, the rose also represents the love for your child. There is joy and pain as a parent which all starts off in childbirth I guess.

Somehow, when our relationships with our kids are going through a period of drought, we need to hang in there. Keep the lines of communication open so that when the drought breaks, the seed is still there ready to grow.

When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love
In the spring becomes the rose.

As beautiful as this moment was, I am still a realist. Every rose has its thorns but it’s still a rose.

xx Rowena 

PS It was interesting looking through the old photos to find some shots of Mister while I was in hospital. I have thought of him as a fairly lone, solitary figure and very sad. However, when I looked through the photos, I found much happiness, cuddles and togetherness. I actually remember kicking the ball briefly with  him while I was in rehab and we read together. We had fun despite our circumstances…an important thing to remember.

My International Women’s Day 2013

When it comes to writing about International Women’s Day (IWD), you could say that I’ve well and truly missed the boat. IWD was two weeks ago and in this era of instant news, this story is well and truly done and dusted. Dead. It’s definitely a case for “Bones”

Yet, I would like to think that perhaps as bloggers we are somehow beyond the restrictions which constrict and limit the so-called mainstream media. That if we want to write about something, we just do it…especially when we are beyond the flow!

So I’m sorry this post is a bit late. I was struck down by some strange stomach bug last week and essentially spent the week in bed. I did manage to write some other posts and clean out the pantry but that was about it.

Our banner

Our banner

International Women’s Day is also my son’s birthday and so while I was out there marching for women’s rights, it was also my celebration and otherwise of being a Mum. I have been a mother now for nine years. I had been baking a birthday cake the night before and sending Mister off to school with cupcakes for his class and I was back there to pick the kids up from school afterwards.It was a busy day.

A joint Birthday Cake for my kids who turned 7 & 9.

A joint Birthday Cake for my kids who turned 7 & 9.

So in some ways for me, IWD was a case of wearing a number of different hats. I was there as “myself”, as a working woman and a mother. I was marching to celebrate being a woman but also to acknowledge that when it comes to women’s rights and equality, we still have work to do. Not just for ourselves but we also need to stand up for those we have dubbed “voiceless women” who are unable to speak for themselves.

Perhaps, you might joke about a woman being voiceless. You wouldn’t be the first. Women are usually great talkers. However, there’s a difference between talking and exchanging social chit chat and being able to express what’s really going on behind closed doors and revealing bruises not just to your physical body but also to your heart and soul. These things, which are so incredibly private, are kept secret behind locked and closed doors. It is a secret but perhaps the signs can be all too clear even if the words aren’t there. I sometimes suspect that as much as we talk about wanting an end to violence against women, as a society, we really don’t really want to know about it. We don’t want to get involved and that’s why so many of these women remain silenced. We are not looking. We are not listening.

I am no better than anybody else when it comes to trying to help these voiceless women. There’s nobody sleeping on my couch and I have a roof full of baby stuff that I really should drop off for somebody, anybody to use. We stuck it all up in the roof in case we had a number three and that’s where it’s stayed. All that’s stuff is now out of circulation and in a sense is now going to waste not that these thoughts have mobilised me yet. Like I said, it all gets a bit hard. Takes too much work.

Out of sight…out of mind.

International Women's Day March through Gosford.

International Women’s Day March through Gosford.

That is why we have to take to the streets and make these women visible again. We need to stand up and be counted and say no to domestic violence and we also need to end an evil I thought disappeared centuries ago… slavery and human trafficking.

My daughter who has just turned 7 asked me why I went in the women’s march. I had to put a bit of thought into that. Why? Why? Why? I don’t march for any other cause so why this?

I marched because I believe in equality for all people. I believe we all deserve respect and I feel women don’t always get the respect we deserve. In particular,  I feel that mothers as a group are not respected in our society. In too many instances, the words “mother” or “Mummy” have derogatory overtones. I particularly don’t like the term “Mummy blogger”. A woman’s parental status shouldn’t enter the equation.

So I marched for that little person inside me who still believed in the vision…the sky somewhere beyond the glass ceiling.

I also marched to celebrate the breakthroughs for women in the past such as gaining the vote, which should never just be taken for granted as well as looking forward to a more equal situation for all women in the future. In other words, continuing the good fight.

This was my second IWD march and it was extra special this year.

You see, I was walking down the main street of Gosford when I spotted Paralympic gold medallist Liesl Tesch and introduced myself. I am on the Status of Women Committee which organises our local march and Liesl was the keynote speaker at the post-march event.

Anyway, Liesl hung her gold medal around my neck and I completed the march with a Paralympic gold medal around my neck. I was stoked. Not just to wear the medal for what it really was but also what it represented to me.

Eureka! After nine years of being a mum, I had finally received my gold medal!

I was a happy woman!

If you would like to see a clip of our International Women’s Day March in Gosford, please click here: http://www.mygosford.tv/community

Any thoughts?

xx Rowena

A very touching story from the depths. xx Ro

Cold

My Modern Love piece from a couple of years ago.

The Wrong Kind of Inheritance

By VICTORIA DOUGHERTY
Published: July 20, 2008
I ALWAYS knew something would happen to one of my children. I never said it out loud. I didn’t allow myself to dwell on it. But the feeling was there: a vague superstition that visited me on my paranoid days, the kind of day that would find me in my children’s rooms at midnight, making sure they were still breathing.
Some of this superstition is in my heritage; I’m from a long line of Slavs, from what used to be Czechoslovakia, where a lot of people believe in curses. But my fear is bolstered by the fact that both my mother and my mother’s mother have lost children in devastating ways.

Sixty years ago, my grandmother daringly escaped from postwar Czechoslovakia to join her husband, who had defected…

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This is an incredibly moving, tragic story but so beautiful that I had to share it! xx Ro

Cold

In the family I grew up in, love was often misplaced, nearly always badly botched, but nevertheless there – taking us from day to day. As a unit, we had every kind of bad luck you can imagine – Nazis, Communists, deaths big and small, petty humiliations and feature film-worthy fiascos. It’s luck so bad my mom actually calls it a curse. She believes that curse started germinating right around 1939 – when Hitler rolled into Prague. My mom curses that day.

But I’m an American. The only member of my family actually born here and raised with the corresponding happy-go-lucky spirit that all of us Americans share to some extent – even the grumpiest of us, the most self-loathing. I guess that’s why my family’s story – from my point of view – didn’t begin with “the curse.” It began with a gold box with a big plastic ruby…

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Hi Everyone,
After sorting out my dreaded pantry, I found this wonderful post with some great tips for creative people who might be organisationally challenged and it helped me feel so much better xx Rowena

i must have this thing

fey

If you’ve got the brain of a creative artist or innovator, chances are you may find yourself feeling “under the desk”, like our none-the-less successful friend, Tina Fey.

Innovators are “pilers” not “filers“, tend to be great at starting projects, (many), through not always great at completing them. Spontaneous, inventive, and motivated to create what doesn’t yet exist, innovators & creatives can be passionately absorbed on a project of interest, losing all sense of time in the focus of creation.

einstein

Einstein

twainTwain

Traditional organizational methods don’t work so well – Our linear brains take a backseat to the wilder, creative, non-linear brains (yes, we all have both aspects, but one can be dominant).

jobs

Jobs

We suffer from out-of-sight, out-of mind syndrome, so desk drawers, clothes bureaus, and filing cabinets can be useless. Getting us to schedule methodically can be a challenge, too.

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Slaying the Dreaded Pantry Beast

Although you might think I’m paranoid, for quite some time now a wild beast or monster has taken up residence in our kitchen pantry. The doors won’t shut and last week, a glass jar suddenly fell on my foot. The monster’s getting angry and quite frankly, I fear for my life!!

Moreover, I’m pretty sure this isn’t some cute, fluffy harmless monster of the cookie monster variety. Rather, it’s dark, sinister and very, very mean! The sort of monster that keeps you tossing and turning at night…all night!

I think there could even be drop bears inside. You see, the glass jar isn’t the only thing that’s fallen out of there and I often hear the sound of falling cans or jars. I’d always thought that drop bears lived deep in the Australian bush but I’d swear there’s an entire tribe of them living in my pantry and they’re all having a party….Boom! Crash! Bang!

There’s a lot of activity going on behind those almost closed doors!

Well, I’m no Shrinking Violet so I’ve decided to reclaim my pantry and get rid of that monster and its friends once and for all. Unlike David Attenborough who would quietly study the monster in its native habitat, I’m going to kill it. Exterminate! This is a time for decisive action!

It’s my pantry and I want it back! It’s mine! Mine! All mine!

Well, although it’s generally a good idea to prepare for battle and at least do a few push ups, I actually slept through most of last week. I’ve barely been able to get out of bed and actually enlisted help getting the kids to and from school. I came to an absolute grinding stop due to some kind of stomach bug or extreme stress. Either way, my stomach ached. I couldn’t really eat and then I ran out of ergs. I was like a ghost wafting through the house.

Not exactly the time to tackle pantry monsters perhaps but I needed to clear my head. I have way too many things on my to do list and they’re all swimming round inside my head. I need to clear my head…or have I mentioned that already?!!

I’ll say it again. I need to clear my head.

Anyway, I was feeling recharged today and was ready to slay the beast once and for all. It was going to die. Meet its maker. Moreover, it was going to happen today too! No more “tomorrows”!!

The monster inside my pantry is the familiar “clutterbeast”.  Perhaps, you know it well. It doesn’t just settle with one of something but always goes for multiples. For example,  I found three separate bags of polenta stashed in different parts of my pantry. There were also two packets of sponge finger biscuits. You see, I’ve been intending to make a decadent family dessert called Chocolate In-Betweens but haven’t quite gotten around to it yet. We also won the school’s Christmas hamper and there are a few delicacies left from that as well. It’s quite an assortment really and everything tells a story.

As chaotic as it sounds, my pantry hasn’t been total anarchy. Rather than a place for everything and everything in its place, there are general areas or shelves dedicated to particular categories. All, or at least most, of the breakfast cereals are together for example. I have got something right!

It’s just that over time, things get shoved in gaps and any breathing space at all fills up and the whole place begins to suffocate (for some strange reason Cluttermonsters defy science and can still breathe in these difficult conditions and moths continue to breed as well).

Traditionally, I am not an ordered or structured type but I’ve come to appreciate that being able to find things quickly can save me a lot of time and stress.

I also hate waste with a passion…particularly food waste. We have a worm farm and I’ve also made a commitment not to use plastic packaging for the kids’ school lunches anymore. They do have plastic containers but that’s it. So while I could be doing more to save the planet, I am trying.

Throwing out unused food stuffs from the pantry, wastes both food and packaging. These are my two pet hates so it’s really something I want to avoid. Having a more organised pantry where I can see what’s actually there, will hopefully prevent such waste in future.

So my reasons for cleaning the pantry were as follows:

  • Being more efficient. I want to find things straight away.
  • Clearing my head. Get another task off my to-do list.
  • Saving my feet from future glass jar attacks
  • Keeping a better inventory of what’s in my pantry
  • Preventing waste
  • Saving money
  • Having a happier family life. Peoples have been grumbling about the drop bears in particular.

I’m certainly not cleaning my pantry to win some Housewife of the Year Award! I absolutely detest the term “housewife”. Moreover, if I was a domestic goddess of any variety, my pantry wouldn’t be in such a mess. I’m just your garden variety dreamer. That’s all.

Anyway, I probably could have looked up a zillion web sites and blogs to find out how to clean out my pantry without reinventing the wheel. However, I just wanted to get on with it. I’d put it off for long enough!

So here’s a dreamer’s guide to sorting out your pantry, which I believe could be used to sort out just about any kind of mess in your life. It is surprisingly methodical and structured, probably because I find it so difficult to organise stuff.  However, I’m starting to suspect this is somehow related to my lousy sense of direction and difficulties parking my car and isn’t some dreadful character flaw after all!

This is what I did:

1)      Emptied the pantry.

I took everything  out. That means everything. This process is not for the faint-hearted. You need to see this space with fresh eyes and not simply put everything back where it came from. Be extremely critical!

2)      Stacked everything on the kitchen table.

You will obviously need a clear, flat surface.  At this point, I felt completely overwhelmed. There was just a huge, amorphous blob…a veritable haystack… packets, jars, cans, bottles and quite a few moths flapping around. The monster had now materialised and boy was I scared!!

3)      Wiped down pantry shelves.

4)      Threw out things that were out-of-date.

This sort of felt good because I was getting rid of stuff and creating space but at the same time, I felt guilty about the waste. I threw out two bin bags worth of stuff. That was a lot of needless waste! That waste also cost money.

5)      Merged things together.

I topped up containers and generally added like with like.

My labeling machine

My labeling machine

6)      Labelled everything.

I used my Dymo labelling machine to do the labelling. This may seem a bit anal but I am so naturally disorganised that I need to be super-organised (if that makes any sense). Some of the containers had been labelled on a previous cleanup.

My Pantry Mind Map

My Pantry Mind Map

7)      Made categories.

Everything needs to be grouped or classified before being put back in the cupboard. By putting like with like, it makes it easier to find things.  At this point, I drew up a quick mind map to get some kind of structure in place. Again, this may seem a bit over the top but with that great big blob on my kitchen table, I needed to impose some external order. It was my way of trying to establish some boundaries and control…and subdue the beast!

8)      A place for everything and everything in its place.

This was easier said than done. How do you find a place for everything and as all of us know, there’s always a handful of homeless stuff left over after every big clean up. Where does it all go? How do you work out where to put everything? I’m still working on this one. Most of this superfluous clutter usually sneaks its way back in there somehow.

A common rule of thumb with these declutter projects is to put the things you use most at the front where you can access them easily. That might work in some households. However, in my last stop-gap pantry clean-up, I put all my chocolate in one plastic container and I had my Tim Tams and other chocolate biscuits in another. I labelled the containers and stuck them at the top of the pantry. Before I knew it, the kids had spotted my stash and it was gone. It had all been a sitting duck just like the US fleet in Pearl Harbor.

I have put all the sweet contraband type stuff on the top shelf, which while it’s not out of reach of the kids, they’ll at least have to work harder to get it down. If I’m really lucky, they might also realise that the stuff on the top shelf isn’t for kids but somehow I doubt it!

DSC_6946

Next I drew up a little diagram of the cupboard and wrote on the things that were easy to place first and slowly tackled the rest. Breaking down the space into more manageable blocks helped me feel less overwhelmed and that I could tackle the pantry one step at a time.

9)      Give away food I won’t use.

I accidently bought a huge jar of olives with pips and I’m going to drop them down to a local food charity. I won’t need to feel guilty anymore. I’ll be generous instead.

10)   Use what’s in the pantry.

It looks like we’ll be eating a lot of polenta!

11)   Buy what we need in future.

Don’t be lured in by specials and supposed savings in future like buying two for less when we’ll only use one anyway. Maintain a shopping list.

My storage tubs.

My storage tubs.

Rowena’s top pantry storage tip:

I have some medium-sized lidded crates where I store like things such as packets of biscuits, dried fruit and baking “bits” (bicarb, patty papers etc). These all stack up almost neatly on each other. They manage all those really annoying bits and pieces and make it so much easier to find things.

The finished product. It isn't perfect but at least the doors finally shut!

The finished product. It isn’t perfect but at least the doors finally shut!

Well done Ro! I’d say that it probably took me almost five hours to clean out the pantry. I threw out two garbage bags worth of food and I’ll be taking that jar of olives down to our local food charity. I found quite a lot of what I would call “exotica” in the pantry. Ingredients I’d bought to make some kind of fancy or different meal which I’d never made. That felt a bit disappointing because there have been so many nights when I haven’t known what to cook and we’ve had the same old same old when we could have been eating polenta (all three bags of it) instead.

But now there are no more excuses. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday…we’ll all be having polenta! Ha!

Do you have any funny pantry or clutter stories? I’d love to read them!

xx Rowena

Bird Rescue

I am trying to think like a pigeon…a mother pigeon.

My kids, bless their cheeky little souls, decided to “rescue” two baby native pigeons from the nest in their climbing tree and now we are trying to reunite them with their mum.  This all happened yesterday when Mister was home sick from school and I have been fighting off some kind of tummy ache for weeks. It’s amazing how a sick kid can still get up to mischief…even if it’s well-intentioned!

Miss with a baby bird

Miss with a baby bird

Anyway, we put the birds back in the nest yesterday afternoon and waited…and waited. By 10.00PM when there was still no sign of the parents, we brought them inside for the night and returned them to the nest this morning.

The nest is in my kids’ climbing tree and it’s probably only thanks to Minecraft that the kids had not found the nest sooner. My kids are budding naturalists and love anything that moves.

You could just imagine their excitement when they found two live baby birds in “their tree”!!!!

I was still in my PJs and barely walking but called out to them to leave the birds alone. Put them back!

Then Mister pipes up: “I’m rescuing them so they can go to the RSPCA. “

“What????” I’m thinking to myself. “They already have a Mum and Dad. They don’t need to be rescued!!” I said matter-of-factly.

By this stage, however, mother bird was flapping in the tree and flew away and each pair of little hands was carefully clutching their prized baby bird. They found containers for them and made them nests despite them already having a nest and their own bird parents where they had been quite happy and content before being supposedly “rescued”.

I also have to admit that as much as I was trying to be the responsible adult, I was drawn to the tiny, fluffy fledglings myself. They are the size of a chicken chick and fit perfectly into your hand. It was very tempting just to keep them but we can’t feed them. They are still crop fed and need their mum.

The bay birds sitting on their towel nest

The baby birds sitting on their towel nest

The tree is right next to Mister’s bedroom so I could get a good view of the nest from in there to see whether the parents had come back. Much to my horror, the nest had fallen over and I rushed to the base of the tree to find what had become of “my” baby birds. I scooped them up and returned them to our nest inside.

The Nest

The Nest

It was time to take more serious action. This is where things became more difficult. You see, if you are a native animal, WIRES will take care of you. If not, you’re off to the RSPCA and I’d have a longish drive to get them there, which is beyond me at the moment. The WIRES phone line specifically mentions that they do not help pigeons. I was feeling a bit down but also quietly confident that I’d be able to find someone around here with a big heart (other than our friends who have recently rescued about 5 cats. They have big hearts with room for way more animals but I sense a slight incompatibility issue here.)

I was feeling a bit sad about such I guess discrimination and how your fate can depend on where you were born or your type and it wouldn’t be so bad if these “rules” just applied to injured wildlife.

Anyway, our little pigeon chicks had a reprieve. Geoff mentioned that they’re a breed of native pigeon called a Crested Pigeon. They were fine.

I was just about to call WIRES when I heard a tell-tale pigeon noise near the tree and spotted mother pigeon. This is why I’m trying to think like a mother pigeon. How is she going to know that her babies are sitting in the box wrapped up in a towel? The babies are motionless and silent. How would she know they were in there? Could she smell them? Are they making sounds I can’t hear? I don’t know. I’m just trying to give them a bit of space so they can get reunited before I try to get the nest back up in the tree. Actually, I suspect I’m going to have to make a nest or at the very least find a container for their nest. The original is looking rather worse for wear.

As you could imagine, I didn’t need this bird drama. I have been quite unwell lately and I’ve actually arranged for some help getting the kids ready for school and friends are taking them to and from school while my tummy recovers. I haven’t eaten properly for almost a week. I’m not sure whether it’s stress or a virus and the way people keep implicating gluten, that’s also a possibility. I just want to feel better and get my energy back. I’m exhausted. The strange thing is that I perk up at night and then have had a bit of trouble sleeping.

Getting back to the birds, as bad as it was for the kids to take the birds out of the nest, I can understand it. Not just from a curiosity point of view. One of our favourite books used to be The Bird with the Broken Wing by Bob Graham. It is a beautiful book which tells the story of a pigeon which flies into one of those mirrored glass buildings, breaks its wing and falls to the ground. Everyone just walks passed it leaving it for dead until a little boy comes along. He picks the bird up with his mum and they take it home until it gets better and then they return it to the park. It is a beautiful story of hope and recovery, which is why I read it so often to the kids. Mummy could get better too!

WIRES rang me back and were very helpful. Turns out our pigeon isn’t a native after all but she told me how to make a nest out of an ice cream container to get the birds back in the tree. I’m going to put their original nest inside. Apparently, WIRES insurance prevents them from rescuing non-native animals but she said they’re always happy to offer advice. An animal lover is an animal lover, after all…as long as it’s not a pest!

Old nest...new nest

Old nest…new nest

So it’s starting to look like the bird drama is almost over. However, it seems like I’ve pulled a calf muscle climbing up the ladder. I know I’m not super human but sometimes I forget.

I’ll be watching those kids like a hawk this afternoon. Those little birds really are simply irresistible and I know that even though they’ve been told to stay away, they will be doing their utmost to have “a peek”.

As night falls, we have decided that our birds are actually Peaceful Doves and not pigeons after all.

If you enjoyed this bird story, you might enjoy a very different bird story about when a bird flew inside our house and became stuck. I totally freaked out!! https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/you-can-count-on-me-when-a-bird-flew-into-my-house-4/

By the way, I thought you might be interested to know what else the kids were up to on our sick day…making volcanoes on the back deck. I am starting to wonder how Mrs Einstein coped with an inquiring mind…

Making volcanoes using bi-carb and vinegar and my very special vintage Sunbeam Mixmaster bowl

Making volcanoes using bi-carb and vinegar and my very special vintage Sunbeam Mixmaster bowl.

xx Rowena

Birthday Cakes: Baking Your Own!

Rules are made to be broken but some rules are sacred.  Etched in stone. Set in concrete. Nonnegotiable. Beyond change.

For our family, that means baking our own birthday cakes.

That hasn’t changed but there has been what you might call “a deviation”.

The updated birthday cake book.

The updated birthday cake book.

As a little girl, Mum used to make cupcakes out of the Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook along with a special cake out of the Australian Women’s Weekly Kids’ Party Cakes book.

I loved our old Sunbeam Mixmaster too and licking the beaters, scraping out the mixing bowl and stealing spoonfuls of mixture were also part of our cake baking ritual. That mixture was irresistible! As much as I thought cooking all that mixture was a crime, I used to love waking up on my birthday and seeing my cake. The cake was just as important as the presents…well, almost!

Miss licking the beaters  aged 2.

Miss licking the beaters aged 2.

I have always made my kid’s birthday cakes. It started out with a dreadful number 1 cake where the blue food colouring clashed with the melted white chocolate and the icing came out a revolting army green colour, instead of baby blue. More successfully, there was Humpty Dumpty (a chocolate Easter egg) sitting on a wall made out of chocolate sticks. There has also been an Alice in Wonderland cake. The most memorable cake of all probably had to be the Thomas the Tank Engine Cake where Geoff sculpted the cake with the electric carving knife and it was really tricky pulling that one off. Making these cakes has been fun, stressful and agonising but they were made by me with a bit of help from the kids and sometimes a lot of help from Geoff. They also had one very special, magic ingredient…Mummy’s love pouring straight from my heart. That’s what really made the cakes extra special…at least to me!

The Thomas Cake. I think I used sprinkles to cover up the cake crumbs in the icing.

The Thomas Cake. I think I used sprinkles to cover up the cake crumbs in the icing.

Well, this year I had to break with tradition. I ordered Mister a cake for his birthday party with my family on the weekend. When I first placed the order, I felt pretty dreadful about it although to be honest, I also felt a deep sense of relief. It was all taken care of and I didn’t need to get stressed, worry…nothing.

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I had met Cathy at one of my business networking meetings. I took her card never expecting to use it myself. After all, as I said before, I am the Cake Queen. I always make my own cakes and I never perceived a need. That said, I thought I’d probably pass her card on. I had seen one of her works of art and it was beautiful. As Mister’s birthday approached and I was busy and not feeling the best, that business card started to whisper in my ear. Mum and I started looking through Cathy’s web site and found a Lego Ninjaro Man Cake and showed it to Mister. He was beaming. He absolutely loved it! He really wanted that cake. It was special. He felt special and he felt loved. It didn’t bother him who made it. He was so happy that I became happy…even excited…looking forward to the grand arrival of our cake… a bit like the arrival of the Queen of Sheba!

At the same time, I still felt like a bit of a bad mother. I couldn’t even make a birthday cake for my boy. Shame! Shame ! Shame!

Mister aged 4 with an irresistible  chocolate smile.

Mister aged 4 with an irresistible chocolate smile.

But does my performance as a mother really depend on whether I actually bake the cake myself or is buying a cake really good enough or possibly even an improvement?

Moreover, when it comes to being a mum, should I really be talking about performance anyway? What do I have to do to prove my love for my son…or my daughter? Be some kind of performing seal? No, I’m human and a flawed human at that. We are all flawed but just like an opal, these supposed flaws are part of our intrinsic inner beauty and what makes us who we are…whether we like it or not. It’s how we we’ve been made. The way God intended us to be for some strange reason. I don’t know or understand why he didn’t make us all perfect so we didn’t have to battle these frustrating elements of imperfection. That’s just the way it is. The way we are. Perhaps, it’s to keep us humble. I don’t know.

You are possibly reading this and thinking back to my last post and my frustration with trying to get my pantry sorted out and how I had finally reached a state of acceptance. Although I was at least somewhat accepting of acceptance back then, I am now coming to appreciate that acceptance is more of a process. It’s like building up muscle. It takes time. You can’t just click your fingers and magically accept the way things are and stop fighting. It takes time for the warrior within to put down their spear and let go.

The Lego Ninja Man Cake made by Cathy.

The Lego Ninja Man Cake made by Cathy.

Cathy dropped the cake off at our place. The Lego Ninja Man was just fantastic and Cathy was beaming. She seemed really excited to meet the kids and be a part of our celebration. She also encouraged us to actually cut and eat the cake. The chocolate mud cake inside was beautifully moist and scrumptious and as she said, it was too good to waste. I should also mention that the cake was served up on a mirror tray, which created some fun effects for the photos.

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The birthday boy and his cake

The birthday boy and his cake

Everyone was really happy except the poor Lego man who was heard shouting: “My legs! My legs I can’t feel my legs!”

Perhaps, I should take a leaf out of Edith Piaf’s book: “No regrets”!

However…

As it turned out, I did actually manage to make the kids a joint birthday cake to take to Church on Friday night. Our kids’ birthdays are ten days apart and they ended up having a Happy 79th Birthday with their number 7 and 9 on the cake. This was a chocolate cake covered in lashings of chocolate butter icing and smothered in Smarties. It was a real success and was demolished very quickly. However, I didn’t know whether I was going to be able to make this cake when we ordered the birthday cake so I did go through a lot of mental hoops this week.

Happy Birthday Kids. The cake made by Mum.

Happy Birthday Kids. The cake made by Mum.

Some rules are just too hard to break!

A friend made this birthday cake for Mister's 2nd Birthday when Miss was only 10 days old.

A friend made this birthday cake for Mister’s 2nd Birthday when Miss was only 10 days old.

It was interesting going through my photos looking for images for this post because I found that despite my protests, this wasn’t the first birthday cake I’ve bought. Interesting how memory can spin a bit of fiction… A friend very kindly made this cake for Mister’s second birthday when we were juggling the new baby.

I’d love to hear your stories.

xx Rowena

My Light Bulb Moment

A few days ago a large, glass Moccona jar fell out of my kitchen pantry and landed on my foot. It made this awful loud thump as it hit and the pain was excruciating…a definite twenty out of ten. I was pretty convinced something was broken but these jars are tough. They might not bounce but they don’t shatter. I guess it’s a good thing we don’t have tiles!

My foot was sort of fine too eventually …after two Panadols and an ice pack!

Well you might ask why that jar fell out of the pantry but I’m sure you already know. After all, I’m only human! I was simply doing what most of us mere mortals do…struggling to squeeze just one more tiny little thing into an already over-stocked pantry. Hence I was doing some kind of juggling act holding back a row of Moccona jars while trying to quickly and very deftly slam the door shut before the avalanche hit.While using those big Moccona jars seemed like a great idea for storage, they don’t stack and they’re not square and they certainly don’t breathe in and squeeze into tight places. Instead, they jump out and do nasty, nasty things to your feet. Believe me! I would just love it if our pantry was all stacked and ordered like something out of a Tupperware catalogue but who am I kidding? I’m just not some domestic goddess. I’m somehow beyond the flow. That’s all. Sorting out the pantry just doesn’t seem to make it to the top of my to-do list. It’s one of those killer jobs I keep putting off.

A row of Moccona jars removed from the pantry for photographic purposes!

A row of Moccona jars. They have understandably removed from the pantry for photographic purposes!

Well, you would think that after that jar fell on my foot that I would suddenly find the motivation to get on with it. See it as a sign or perhaps an act of God? After all, what am I waiting for? A jar to land on my other foot or perhaps for all of those jars to jump off in unison like 10 green bottles standing on the wall? That would definitely be a trip to Emergency if not a ride in an ambulance.

As I said, I would dearly love my pantry to be neatly stacked and organised just like something out of a Tupperware catalogue so why don’t I just do it?

What will it take for me to act?

We all know this goes way beyond just sorting out my pantry.

That the pantry is a metaphor… a symbol. Or in my case, perhaps it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

For some reason most of us are creatures of chronic inertia…even when it involves changing something which really matters.

You could quite possibly call it “Tomorrowitis”.  It’s a serious almost incurable disease and you can be assured that if you do actually manage to cross a few things off your “Gunnado List” (this lingo might be Australian but let me assure you it’s a universal disease!!!), you’ll never get to the end. That’s just the way it is.

Such light bulb moments have changed the world even if they haven’t changed me.

Archimedes who was a Greek mathematician, engineer, inventor, and astronomer had a legendary “Eureka!” moment some 2,200 years ago when he realised the principle of buoyancy while taking a bath. He was reportedly so excited that he immediately jumped out of the bath and ran onto the streets naked shouting ‘Eureka!’ ‘Eureka!’ (You can read the whole story here. It’s an awesome story http://www.itsnotmagicitsscience.com/science.asp?newsid=381)

Perhaps, you’ll be thankful I haven’t seen the light after all. The sight of me running through the streets naked isn’t what it used to be!

An apple fell on Isaac Newton’s head and he came up with the Principle of Universal Gravitation.

Meanwhile, a jar hits yours truly on the foot and what do I do?

Absolutely nothing. Nothing at all!

Well, I did do something. I wrote about it instead.

However, after writing about this all day, I have finally reached that elusive state of acceptance. You see, everybody has their own set of priorities and we can’t possibly get everything done. I went for my swim this morning… all 10 laps and it was a small pool but you can only do what you can do. That’s all. It’s taken me a long hard day slogging away on this post to reach this state of acceptance but I’m finally there and it feels like such a release.

I have finally accepted that I don’t have to conform to what someone else considers important or be able to do what they can do. I just need to be me. That is good enough.

Now, I finally “get” the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr

What happens when all your light bulbs go on at once?

What happens when all your light bulbs go on at once?

PS: After I reached this lovely point of acceptance, I was flicking through Lao Tzu’s  Tao Te Ching and found this advice, which just turned all my acceptance on it’s head:

Keep filling your bowl

and it will spill over.

Keep sharpening your knife,

and it will blunt.

Keep hoarding gold in your house,

and you will be robbed.

Keep seeking approval

and you will be chained.

The great integrity leads to actualization

never overfulfillment.

I will get to the pantry. I will….

How have some of your light bulb moments turned out?

My son has an all systems light bulb moment. He received this lamp for his birthday today.

My son has an all systems light bulb moment. He received this lamp for his birthday today.

xx Rowena