Category Archives: Parenting

Introducing Duke from Serendipity

Our granddaughter called. “I probably shouldn’t ask this, but I’m going to ask anyway. I’ve got friends who have to find a home for their dog. How do you feel about another dog?” “Male? Female? How big? House broken? How old?” I think she knew she had a sale because I wasn’t flat-out saying “no.” […]

via JUST CALL HIM DUKE — SERENDIPITY

Weekend Coffee Share- 5th August, 2017.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share! Why don’t you pull up a chair and I’ll get you your choice of tea, coffee or water for the more adventurous.

How has your week been? I hope it’s gone well. If not, my thoughts are with you. Life seems to be more about ups and downs, than smooth sailing.

As you might recall, it was my birthday last Sunday and the family went out with my parents for dinner at the Central Coast Restaurant & Bar. Unfortunately, thanks to the big cough, I haven’t been able to do much since. I consider these celebrations “postponed”. They will happen.

chocolate eclairs

However, a friend and her daughters put on a tea party for me. Her 10 year old daughter made chocolate eclairs from scratch and arranged them on the plate in the shape of a butterfly and dragonfly. Not only was I very impressed, it also touched my heart. It was so unexpected. A real touch of human kindness, and I feel such gratitude.Rowena & Amelia

 

This week, it was Education Week in our schools and both the kids’ schools held an Open Day, where parents could visit. Due to my flu, Geoff stayed home and drove me up to our daughter’s school which is an hour’s drive away. Her school put on an Art Show as well as a musical concert. My daughter sang in the choir, but there were also performances by the Indigenous choir and didgeridoo group. We never had any Indigenous culture in the schools I went to growing up, and it’s so important.

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Visiting my daughter’s classroom these days, is very different to when she was at our local school and I was in and out of her classroom almost every afternoon. I did the publicity for the Parents & Citizens Association (P & C), helped with the class reading and knew many of the parents and most of the kids personally. Our daughter changed schools after being accepted into an Opportunity Class for gifted students. This was a blank slate. You’d expect that with changing schools. However, usually you live in the area and there are those interactions or ties to the local community. We’ve had none of that, and didn’t realize how important all of that was to me, until we’d left. You’d think as the parent, that it’s not my concern. That it’s my daughter who is at the school, not me. However, there have been those family emergencies. Not knowing anyone who could pick my daughter up if required. There wasn’t that network we fall back on as parents. Thankfully, we managed to connect to some extent through kids’ birthday parties and my daughter also catches the train to school with a few local kids and we’ve got to know their families in the same way we would at the local school.

So, I was really looking forward to Open day and having the chance to meet up with my daughter’s teacher, meet other parents and see my daughter’s work. I love seeing all the kid’s work on the wall and intrigued by some of their learning techniques. Being a class for gifted children, their teacher has some great ideas which get me thinking for my own writing and organization. I have also found that the school also knows how to communicate things with kids, and I’ve picked up a few good ideas on these open days before. So, it’s not just a day for me to meet, greet and have lunch with our daughter, it’s also a learning experience.

Wednesday night, we had Open Night at my son’s high school. This was quite understandibly quite different as the students don’t have a set classroom and move around the school. I did get to speak to some of my son’s teachers in a casual setting, which was great. I think it’s important that the school knows you’re an invested parent. That you care about your kid. This is harder to relay in high school when your physical presence is most definitely NOT REQUIRED by your teen. That reminds me, I’ve been meaning to get involved with the P & C since he started last year. I’m getting there…

Having the flu and a very nasty cough, I haven’t been out and about this week.

 

That hasn’t stopped me from travelling online. Indeed, I’ve spent the last few days in London. While I was sorting through some books at home, I dug up a book about London from the 1950s and there was a three page letter with a recommended itinerary in the front. I thought I’d get onto Google maps and try to retrace the writer’s footsteps. I believe the author was a male writing to a woman and that the letter may date back to the 1950s. I spent a week in London myself back in 1992. So, I’m also trying to retrace my own footsteps and feel am having better luck with the stranger. I don’t remember terribly much. Not because I was under the weather in any shade or form. It’s just that 25 years and alot of flotsam, jetsam and dead cows have passed under the bridge since then. So, stay tuned.

This had been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share.

xx Rowena

Welcome to My Birthday Coffee Share 30th July, 2017.

Welcome to My Birthday Coffee Share!

It’s my birthday today. So, come along and join me. We can grab a huge chunk of sludgy chocolate cake with our coffee and swing from the chandeleir, until the whole  darn thing rips out of the ceiling. I might just leave out the bit about us falling to our doom.

I cherish each and every birthday and am grateful to be getting older…most of the time. I’ve never looked in the mirror and seen the wrinkles. However, I must confess that I’m profoundly short-sighted and as time’s gone by, I’m near sighted as well. So, I’d be lucky to see a fault line on my face, let alone a wrinkle without my glasses.

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Birthday Breakfast.

Anyway, we’ve had a fantastic day. It started out with a sleep-in. Our daughter made me a cheese and salami omelette, which she cooked up in heart-shaped silicone moulds. It really touched my heart.

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Mother and Son.

Not to be outdone by his sister, our son made pancakes for lunch and effortlessly flipped it. The smile on his face from pulling this off was priceless. He was stoked. I spent much of the day in my PJs, which I feel is the perfect birthday attire, especially for the middle of Winter. Then, we were ferrying our daughter to and from a last dance class before her exam tomorrow. She was be sitting for the RAD Grade 4 Class Award.

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Next, we were off for dinner with my parents at theThe Coast Bar & Restaurant, located on the Gosford Waterfront. I ordered a Pina Colada by some other name and shared a seafood platter. I wasn’t too sure about whether I would like the oysters. I’ve never been a huge fan. However, your tastes mature. So I thought I’d give them a try. I loved them. My mother has always been a huge lover of oysters and she’s always said that they taste like the sea. This was the first time I’ve ever eaten oysters where I’ve got that. They had that flavour of the sea and then, it suddenly intensified. Boom! They also had some charcoal coated prawns which were very crunchy and yum. Oops! I almost forgot to mention the lobster mornay. unfortunately, there was so much to enjoy and limited capacity.

Greed is good

Glasses? This might come as a surprise to you, but I always wear glasses but almost always take them off for photos. This is how I see myself. However, Geoff and the kids see me like this and think I look weird without them. Geoff actually likes to catch me with the glasses on. My shameful secret. 

For dessert, I had the cheese cake with salted caramel and chocolate ganache. That was so smooth and the presentation was incredibly artistic with a wave of caramel poised in suspended animation just asking to be photographed. Naturally, we had my camera there and that was more fun capturing those priceless memories of the family, and exploring some creative, photographic options.

Rewinding now to the rest of the week…

Yesterday, I went to an all-day drug and alcohol seminar at the local community centre. While this was geared towards people caring for someone living with drug and alcohol addiction (which I am not), it was also providing information on drugs and I thought my husband and I need to be more clued up. However, I not only learned so much about drug addiction, but I also learned some new strategies for getting through traumatic and conflicted family situations. So, it was really worthwhile.

During the week, my parenting skills were sorely challenged yet again when I caught our dog skyping the Queensland Governor’s do, Gavel from MY laptop at 2.00 AM. She gave me a bit of a woman-to-woman glance and crooned: “There’s nothing like a dog in uniform!” Turns out Gavel was training to become a Police dog. However, after being snubbed for being  “too friendly”, the Governor kept him on and he’s now been recruited as the Vice-Regal Dog. Well, thinking of herself as a real blue-blood, Lady’s fallen deep for Gavel. Or, was it all that bling on his coat and connections with the Royal Corgis.

Of course, I  snatched back my laptop and it’s now being stored in our room overnight.

However, my close friend who also has the rabbits and chickens which were of great interest to Lady, will be driving to Queensland this week. With a carload of kids all running helter skelter, I can just picture this sneaky little black dog who’s colouring enables to move with great stealth. She can’t chase a ball, but she can hunt AND she can hide.

You can read about Lady’s love life here: Love Is A Dog In Uniform. 

Rowena Backpacking

I also took part in Friday Fictioneers again this week. This week’s effort was inspired by my trip to Europe in 1992. A week after I’d left, I’d had wallet stolen, I’d lost my passport and I was missing a love interest back home in Australia, and I burst into tears as I was locking my backpack in a locker and wanted to go home. I found a telephone booth and phoned the bloke back home. I still remember standing there feeding that handful of coins into the phone with such desperation. I’d fallen apart on the other side of the world, where I knew nobody and nobody knew me. That thought didn’t hit me at the time. However, in hindsight it does. That utter dislocation from everyone and everything you know. Back then, it wasn’t like now where you can leave home without leaving home and Skype people. You also have email, Facebook. Travel just isn’t travel anymore. You’re still attached to the umbillical cord. Not doing it tough. You can read my flash Here

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Well, that just about covers it. Can’t remember the rest. So, it must’ve been good.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana over at Part-Time Monster Blog.

I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Love is… A Dog In Uniform.

Last night, I found out that my dog Lady has an online boyfriend. So, today I’ve been processing the ramifications, and am going into what’s known in professional circles as “Harm minimisation”, but in the real world as “going into damage control”.  Just like parenting your own kids, there’s no manual advising you on how to parent your dog either. Only an educated guess, gut feel and prayer.

While conventional wisdom recommends to “let sleeping dogs lie”, I’m discovering that these so-called “sleeping dogs”, aren’t sleeping after all. Rather, they’re like those enchanted toys. They come to life while we’re asleep, and then there’s mischief. Pure mischief.

While food theft has always been high on their list of misdemeanors, the most recent survey conducted by Naughty Dogs Research, shows clandestine cyber activity is rife.  Indeed, many dogs have become so tech savvy, that they’re accessing our lap tops while we sleep. Not only have they taken to writing on their parents’ blogs and posting selfies and vlogs, they’ve also turned to online dating. So, while I thought Lady was little more that a sleeping ball of black fluff curled up in her bed, she’s beeen hooking up with Gavel, the Queensland Governor’s dog. No longer content with Maltese Max, she’s punching well above her weight. Gavel’s official title is: “Vice-Regal Dog”.

Lady & Max

Lady chatting with Max online.

Obviously, like any responsible dog owner, I’m taking steps to reign Lady in. I’ve changed my password, and now keep my laptop in with us overnight. She has to be stopped. As I said, zero tolernace. I’m even thinking that I might need to catch up with the Governor over coffee, and just set up a few ground rules. After all, I doubt Gavel will be able to perform his Vice-Regal duties after staying up all night.

Anyway, this all came to light last night when I caught Lady in the act. A simple trip to the bathroom, and she quickly tried to do that alt-tab manoevre you do when the boss turns up. You know, how it works. You’re on Facebook, and quickly bring up some spreadsheet to cover your tracks. However, she wasn’t fast enough. So, thats’ when Lady being Lady, looks up at me with her ginormous puppy dog eyes and says: “But Mum! I couldn’t resist a dog in uniform! AND… like me, he’s ALMOST part of the Royal family.”

By this point, I was well and over all of her blue-blood talk. Indeed, I was sorely tempted to remind her that she’s a “Working Dog”, and that her grandmother was apparently a Blue Heeler. Nothing but a farm dog. That indeed, she is a mix, and NOT a pedigree.

BUT, as usual, I said nothing. I could hear my husband telling me that I’d catastrophized AGAIN. What’s so bad about two dogs talking over the net anyway? She’s desexed, and they can’t even share their fleas.

But, what would he know? Just because he’s an IT guru for a university, doesn’t mean he knows everything there is to know about the dangers of dogs talking over the Internet. While this Gavel seems squeaky clean, he could be TROUBLE. He could be one of these dangerous stalker types and he could arrange to meet up with her at a park or the beach and we’d never see her again. Not that I’m catastrophising. I’m troubleshotting instead. Forewarned is forearmed.

Anyway, not unsurprisingly, Lady wasn’t happy when I took away the laptop.  Like a fuming, exploding teen, she errupted: “You just don’t want me to have any friends. I hate you!”

Then, she delivered this dramatic monologue with all of Hamlet’s gravitas:

“Gavel and I met in an online chat room for dogs in distress. While you humans seem to think you’re the only ones who miss Bilbo (our Border collie who passed away a month ago), I miss him too. However, instead of being able to express my grief and talk things over with my mates at Dog Beach, I’m having to look after you lot, feeling like I’m about to snap in four, what with each of you fighting over who’s going to have me on their lap. That’s hard on a dog, especially one who’s spent her entire like wagging her tail, making people happy and having to disprove all those stereotypes of black dogs being the bearers of depression, anguish and angst.

“Gavel understands me. He was recently sacked from the Police force for being “too friendly”. While he now tells me that it’s worked out for the best, like me, he needed to grieve. Ooze out all the nasties and learn how to enjoy life again. Of course, he’s grateful that the Queensland Governor kept him on, and has recruited him as the Vice-Regal dog. However, he’s still coming to terms with the knock-back and was concerned that the Gov had only kept him to be nice. Anyway, he’s had time to get his head around it all now, and knows he’s better off. That it’s more of a case of dogs for different jobs, than being a dud. That he’s the master of the meet & greet, not concentration. Indeed, since they interviewed him online, “his story’s gone viral. He’s a star  and he’s promised to light up my star as well…just for a very affordable $1000 per month. I’m going to be famous.”

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What do you think? Am I wrong to be concerned, and take pre-emptive action?  Surely, that doesn’t mean I’m controlling? Treating her like she’s putty in my hands, which I can mould in any particular shape I like?

I don’t think so,  but clearly I have doubts!

Anyway, I almost forgot to mention that Lady’s been sending him postcards on our walks, sneaking them into the post box while she’s seemingly sniffing and I caught her posting this photo of herself, which she’d labelled as “My bed”.

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Lady caught sleeping on my son’s bed while he was at school. 

Who does she think she is? Soon, she’ll be angling for her own TV show. Or, better still he own movie: Love Is…A Dog In Uniform.

Meanwhile, I’m heading off to yoga, following my a massage and a huge piece of chocolate cake.

That’s what’s known as “self care”.

If your  dog has been up to any mischief lately, please dob them into the comments below.

xx Rowena

 

 

Dog, that is NOT your bed!

You provide your dog with a comfy dog bed and blankets in the house, the choice of two kennels outside, not to mention a possie lying on the grass in the midday sun and what does she do, she sets up residence on my son’s bed as if she owns the place.

As you’re probably aware, our dog is called Lady. Being a dog, she doesn’t have Google access to nut out the difference between being a “Lady” and being a “Princess” or even, (heaven help us) “THE Queen”. However, there’s no doubt that she firmly believes she’s holds prime real estate in Burke’s Peerage.

Or, maybe, she’s just dyslexic and thinks she’s God.

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Lady is “simply irresistable”.

Knowing the presumptiousness of that dog, I wouldn’t be surprised. She’s definitely working towards world domination. Or, at least, domination of our world.

So, it was that I caught her sleeping on my son’s bed yesterday, and not for the first time either. However, this time I managed to secure photographic proof.

Caught her in the act.

“I don’t really understand that process called reincarnation but if there is such a thing I’d like to come back as my daughter’s dog.”

Leonard Cohen

Dogs are curious characters and I never tire of watching and loving them and forgiving their indiscretions in a way you’d never do for a person. No doubt, that’s the reason they have those huge puppy dog eyes. Master manipulators who fly under the radar, they know it only takes one look to be forgiven…or to receive a snack.

We are but putty in their paws.

Has your dog been up to any mischief or adventures lately? I’m thinking I should turn this into a regular feature…Dob in your dog. 

Hope you’re having a great week.

xx Rowena

PS In case you’re wondering, Lady is a Border Collie x Cavalier. She’s totally black aside from a little patch of white on her chest and on her paws. She has floppy cavalier ears and very silky cavalier fur. She’s a very pretty dog.

PPS: Lady has requested an upgrade after seeing this French mansion: https://wikr.com/rsyt-auyt-man-stumbled-upon-abandoned-mansion-countryside-blown-away-saw-inside/?utm_source=desc&utm_medium=bestbot1

Dog Walking in Winter.

Just when I was fully cocooned in my doona and vowing to stay put until Spring, a friend invited me to walk the dogs at the beach. Given the bitter cold, the rational part of my brain was telling me to defer a few months.

However, our friends have a new dog they’d adopted during the week. So, like the cluckiest of grandma’s swooping on the new baby, I was uber keen to meet “the new dog”.

That’s why Lady and I found ourselves braving the elements this morning at a bracing 11°C or 51°F. That’s like putting an Australian into the deep freeze and closing the door. I do not respond well to the cold!

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It was fun walking our dogs along the beach. While it wasn’t their first trip to the beach with their new dog, they’re still finding their feet and paws and getting to know each other and the elements. Dog didn’t disgrace herself too much. Well, at the beach. She loved chasing the waves and biting them. If you have any experience of dogs drinking sea water, you’ll know this didn’t end well. However, we are still mid story and she still had a huge run down the beach to get through. We were concerned that she wouldn’t turn back. After all, she’s still bonding and getting to know her new family and where she belongs.

Meanwhile, Lady was wandering all over the place sniffing in her usual form. I think she disowns me at the beach. I ran into my usual dogwalking friend and filled him in about Bilbo. I hadn’t seen him since Bilbo passed, although he wasn’t surprised by the news. He was still throwing tennis balls for his dogs and usually Bilbo would’ve been barking at him to throw the ball for him too. Bilbo was a great dog but he was utterly obsessed and could be extremely bossy and demanding. Lady is relatively mellow. She doesn’t even bark when we have visitors. This means we’re now needing to get our doorbell fixed. No one could come near our place without Bilbo heralding their arrival. So, he was a fantastic doorbell, even if he was rather over-zealous.

Do you have a favourite local place where you walk your dog? If so, feel free to add a link in the comments. 

xx Rowena

PS It is looking like we could well be minding a border collie x kelpie for a bit. Her owner is trying to find pet friendly accommodation and didn’t want to give her up. After losing Bilbo, I didn’t want her to lose her fur baby. Stay tuned.

 

82 584 18 – Friday Fictioneers.

The numbers were etched onto the back of his eyeballs. Glued to his brain. Black numbers on a sunny yellow background. William was fixated on number plates. He knew no one by name, only their number plate.

“What about the boy?” The detective asked. “Must’ve seen something. Wasn’t he at the scene when his sister went missing?”

“Autistic…non-verbal. Not a hope. Just sits there rocking, banging his head.”

“Shit.”

His mobile rang.

Dinner By Heston? Sorry, babe. Birthday can wait. Missing kid.”

“The mother’s asked for a sketch pad, Boss.”

There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

…..

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioners hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields, where we write up to 100 words to a photo prompt. Click here to go through to the Linky. Photo Prompt © Kent Bonham

xx Rowena

More About Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that there is not one autism but many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences.

The term “spectrum” reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths possessed by each person with autism.

Autism’s most-obvious signs tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Some developmental delays associated with autism can be identified and addressed even earlier. Autism Speaks urges parents with concerns to seek evaluation without delay, as early intervention can improve outcomes. https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism