Tag Archives: beauty

Weekend Coffee Share… 13th August, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

As much as I’d love to have you over for coffee tonight, you might want to reconsider. It’s so cold that my fingers are numb. Of course, it would help if I accepted that it was still Winter, and that turning on the heater or putting on a jumper would be a good move. It’s evening and currently 11°C or 52°F.

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Rosie with her tennis ball collection on my laptop.

Before I proceed, let me just introduce you to Rosie, our black and white Border Collie x Kelpie, who is staring straight at me with dogged persistence. She has a serious fixation with chasing balls, sticks or anything which could possibly launch through the air with her in hot pursuit. Rosie’s been parked in front of my chair for hours patiently depositing fragments of stick on my keyboard depositing fragments of sticks and tennis ball on my keyboard, and wondering why I haven’t seen them. Indeed, the pile is growing and she’s just upped her campaign and brought me a forbidden wooden peg. You should see the focus on those eyes and the highly strung tension in every cell of her body. She can maintain this pose for hours…and hours. I’m ignoring her more than usual tonight. Wonder if she thinks I’m broken? Or, perhaps she’s concluded I require more training… She certainly hasn’t given up trying to motivate this comatose human. She is the personification (or should that be dogification?) of persistence.

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Sporting my new haircut at the local waterfront. 

My big news this week, is that I’ve finally had my haircut. While I acknowledge that for much of the population having a haircut is a non-event, for me it’s more of significant and I’m out there ringing the brass bell.  Forgive me Father for I have sinned. It’s been around two years since my last haircut, and that rushed ponytail or makeshift bun have been heaven-sent. I know it sounds terrible now I’ve actually reflected on my crime and the horrors -of “letting myself go”. It’s just that it takes a lot of effort, not to mention money to maintain the facade, and my prime focus is more on what goes on underneath something money can’t buy.

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Trying to get a photo of my new haircut…the wind showed no respect and kept blowing it around. 

After my haircut,, I headed back down to Terrigal Beach for a Fisherman’s Basket and thought my hair hair was about to fly away…so much for respecting my new haircut. However, I was grateful to find a parking spot. It took quite a tour to find one. What? Did they know I was coming? Obviously not.

Last week, I mentioned that I was reading Raphaelle Giordano’s  French novel: Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One. This inspirational book is a hard creature to categorize. While it claims to be a novel, for me it reads more like a memoir, which is perhaps the ultimate tick of approval for any novel. After all, they’re supposed to feel real, and lure the eager reader into their web.

However, most novels don’t include action steps and writing post-it notes to change your life. Fill the void surrounded by all the trappings of success, supposed happiness, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.

I decided to take on these challenges myself. Why not?

The first task was to throw out ten items. Me being me, I started musing to myself about what these ten things should be. Of course, I could follow the letter of the law and throw out ten bobby pins and cross it off. However, obviously to experience the full benefit, I needed to embrace the full spirit of the law. Ideally, I would’ve moved on the piano, car bed or table I’ve been meaning to sell or give away, but that wasn’t going to happen quickly. So, I found a sort of middle ground and the deed was done. Too much analysis was only going to lead to paralysis, something I knew too well.

In the book, simply throwing out these ten items launches Camille into a cleaning and renovation frenzy where she even ends up painting their apartment. Such monumental change seemed too good to be true. However, I’m also finding a renewed desire to straighten things up around here. As usual, all roads are leading to my desk and the kitchen table, which always end up as a layer cake of family detritus. Indeed, I have no doubt that there are even fragments of stick buried on my very desk. Clearly, when it comes to sorting all of this out, I’m up against it.However, I’m not aiming for clinical perfection. It is our home. We’re a family. Love, connection and relationships are what it’s all about. Yet, these diametrically opposed worlds collide in every home and we each just try to make the best of it.

Have you read any good books lately? Has anyone read the Jane Hawk series by Dean Koontz? I heard a great review this week, and am tempted to have a go. I don’t usually like reading series and am more of a non-fiction reader, but might give it a go.

How has your week been? What have you been up to? I hope it been great.

This has been another contribution for the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali. You’re welcome to come and join us for a cuppa.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share February 26, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

If you’re joining me for coffee today, you’re in luck. You’re welcome to check out my daughter’s gallery of birthday cupcakes which she and a friend decorated with a veritable rainbow of artificial colourings. She’s gone away to camp for a few days, and I’m seriously hoping she hasn’t gone all twitchy. We don’t usually have colours around here, but every now and then I forget or I let the festive spirit over-ride my better judgement.

My daughter turned 12 on Saturday, which felt like an absolute whirlwind swept through the place. It wasn’t any ordinary whirlwind either. This one had swallowed up half a dozen tins of paint and then proceeded to spew the contents out all over the place. The colouring-in began at our local Sephora makeup store where my daughter and her friend went “swatching” through the store trying out a multitude of lipsticks, eye shadows, blushers, foundations and lets just say there wasn’t much skin on her arm which hasn’t been swatched. She also ended up wearing some blue mascara which looked very striking, which she paired up with cobalt blue lipstick. Meanwhile, after feeling like a fish out of water on our previous visits, I got into it this time and sported mauve lipstick which I kept on to go home. That was so liberating and I felt like I could be anybody and express myself in unreserved abandon in there and it felt so good.

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After our shopping expedition, the party started back at our place. A few of the girls were staying over and we’d set the tent up in our poor excuse for a backyard better known as The Wasteland. With the dogs outside, I didn’t have any concerns about the girls being safe, but I hadn’t factored in the dogs’ determination to get inside the tent and join in on the fun. Lady, our 5 year old border collie x cavalier is very mellow these days. However, our 8 month old pups, Zac and Rosie, are too intelligent for our own good. They found  way into the tent and chewed up one of the girl’s prized makeup, which I’ll need to replace. Grr. Actually, Rosie’s been chewing up everything lately and the pair of them have de-stuffed a second dog bed.

Anyway, the party was a lot of fun and a good way to help our daughter make friends at her new school. You can check out the photos and read about it Here.

Also during last week, our son took part in a program at our local sailing club where the juniors had the opportunity to skipper a member’s yacht for the twilight sailing race. I could only stay long enough to see him climb on board, but the owner of the boat greeted him with a warm handshake and treated him with warmth and respect. I managed to photograph a heartwarming handshake and it was great to see he was going to have a fabulous time. As it turned out, they also came first. So, he had a wonderful time, and you can read about it Here

Less exciting news from last week, was that I developed a severe sinus infection. I didn’t know what was going on for a few days and I was becoming concerned. My eyes were aching and really heavy and I also had the tell tale facial aches. Anyway, I was almost relieved to blow what looked like an alien out of my nose and finally find out what’s going on. So, I’m back on the strong antibiotics again and filled the repeat today. BTW I thought you’d love this. When I blow my nose, my son says I’m playing my “nose trumpet”.

Thanks to the sinus infection, productivity has plummeted and I’ve been sleeping a lot, drugging up on Codral and trying to ward of fierce headaches while being the mother of the birthday girl and trying to ensure she had a Happy Birthday. That’s been a difficult balancing act. She’s missed out on really celebrating quite a few birthdays because I haven’t been well, and I naturally feel bad about it, even though it’s not my fault. Every parent wants their children to have a “normal” childhood, even though we don’t exactly know what it is. That said, I mightn’t know what’s normal but I can certainly pick was isn’t.

In terms of the blogging I’ve done in the last week, I wrote a contribution for Friday Fictioneers: The Last Rose of Summer. I also wrote about the Sinus Attack. 

So, how was your week? What have you been up to? Hope you’ve been keeping well.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Alli.

xx Rowena

An Extreme Colour Weekend.

Why is it that we tend to paint ourselves grey, when we were born with such stunning butterfly wings painted in a kaleidoscope of colours? Indeed, why are we so afraid of colour? Could it kill us? Give us cancer? Mentall illness? Possibly even bring on the plague or ebola? Is too much pink, red, turquoise or even periwinkle, is going to kill us? The way we hide away from it, you’d think so. Why is it so hard for us to live as butterflies? Spread our coloured wings out against the sun and radiate magic sparkles across the sky? Or, even colour ourselves in with a thick brush oozing with luscious paint…

“Color possesses me. I don’t have to pursue it. It will possess me always, I know it. That is the meaning of this happy hour: Color and I are one. I am a painter.”

– Paul Klee

“With color one obtains an energy that seems to stem from witchcraft.”

– Henri Matisse

“Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways”.

-Oscar Wilde

“Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.”

-Claude Monet

Rather than embracing colour, we’ve been taught to fold up our wings. Blend in. Don’t stand out.

Yet, how would we feel, if we could only view our world in shades of black & white? As bad as that sounds, if that’s all we’ve ever seen, we wouldn’t even know that the world had any colour in it at all. We’d think that’s all there is. We wouldn’t know that the sky is sometimes blue. That the sun is golden yellow and that the grass comes in many varied shades of green and brown. Unfortunately, I suspect this is how way too humans actually perceive our world and themselves. So, they just stick to the tried and tested black & white and shades of grey or beige and wonder why there is no bounce in their step at all.

Life is like a box of crayons. Most people are the 8 color boxes, but what you’re really looking for are the 64 color boxes with the sharpeners on the back. I fancy myself to be a 64 color box, though I’ve got a few missing. It’s okay though, because I’ve got some more vibrant colors like periwinkle at my disposal. I have a bit of a problem though in that I can only meet the 8 color boxes. Does anyone else have that problem? I mean there are so many different colors of life, of feeling, of articulation. So when I meet someone who’s an 8 color type… I’m like, hey girl, Magenta! and she’s like, oh, you mean purple! and she goes off on her purple thing, and I’m like, no I want Magenta!”

– John Mayer

Perhaps, I should apologize for having this rant about colour. However, this weekend as we celebrated our daughter’s 12th birthday, there was so much shameless colour and it felt so good. Indeed, as I applied a generous layer of mauve lipstick at Sephora and left it on for the rest of the afternoon, I felt quite liberated..like I’d been let out of a vault. Wearing purple lipstick also felt a bit naughty, breaking a tabou and openly flaunting it, but for once it didn’t matter. No one was judging or condemning me or calling me a “weirdo”. I just was. That was a huge step forward for me, although it shouldn’t have been. As an extroverted extrovert, I should be allowed to be me.

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Stepping out there in mauve lipstick.

While I’m not into make up and fashion and it’s taken me awhile to feel comfortable at Saphora, I am starting to love it. This is more than picking up on our daughter’s infectious enthusiasm. Rather, I’m finding my own way, which started out with seeing the eye shadows as palettes of colour, paint for your eyes. Yes, that’s what it is…paint and as with any true artist, you can create a masterpiece. When we were in there yesterday, the staff had made up their faces into national flags. For the Greek flag, one consultant had applied cobalt blue eye shadow with some white eyeliner and paired it up with matching lipstick. It looked so amazing and other worldly and definitely belonged in the category of art.

Not unsurprisingly, I’ve never thought about wearing blue lipstick, but my daughter put it on along with some blue mascara and it looked amazing. Then, just for the hell of it, I put on the mauve one and much to my surprise, I didn’t die and no one mocked me either.

However, the wild colours didn’t end there. My daughter had a Rainbow Cake for her birthday cake. This was very easy as we just bought it from our local Coles Market and saved me from tackling something highly creative and risky in the Australian Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Book, which is an established Australian birthday tradition, also with all the nail-biting stress.

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Then, there were the home made cup cakes with vienna icing. The girls were all too full to serve them up at the party and I was thinking today that they were going to get tossed Out, when Miss and her last surviving friend, were going to decorate the cupcakes. Although she’d initially asked me to leave the icing white, they ended up mixing so many colours together and being so creative that I was really impressed. There was a blue Cookie Monster wearing a red bow tie, another cupcake became some movie star my daughter has a thing for. All of them, were brightly coloured and I confess, loaded to the hilt with artificial colouring.

It’s not that long ago that artificial colourings were banned in our house and were even banned at school and social activities for our kids. They really responded badly. One holiday camp, they fed our daughter orange cordial and fairy bread and she was speaking like a chipmunk afterwards and was almost flying. That was stopped immediately. Mum was bad cop.

As the kids have grown older, they handle the colours better, but that said, they’re not a part of our diet. I make most of our food from scratch and don’t touch the stuff.

“The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.”

– Marcus Aurelius

However, like most households, things creep in. Just as she likes bright colours in her make-up, she also adds food colouring, coloured playdoh or paint to the numerous slimes she makes at home. If you don’t know what slime is, consider yourself lucky. Also known as flubber, making this stuff at home’s become a huge crazy and bedrooms around the world are being turned into slime producing labs. The kids add foam balls, glitter and all sorts of stuff to varying the texture and the slime itself is made from a variety of ingredients depending on the desired effect. There’s shaving cream, borax, PVA glue. From where I sit, it’s art meets science which could be considered educational but you also need to be careful in confined spaces or it becomes glue sniffing and bad for the brain.

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However, tomorrow it’s back to the real world and all our colours have been packed up and it’s now raining cats and dogs outside and we’re back to grey skies.

I don’t know how I’m going to maintain a bit of colour from now on. Perhaps, I should get the paints back out and use some of the empty canvases still floating round the house like lost sheep. I also have some beautiful Prismacolour coloured pencils which have really vibrant colour…yum!

Anyway, it’s very late here now. The Internet slowed right down and time ran away.

How do you feel about a little bit of colour? Are you daring or do you prefer to play it safe?

xx Rowena

 

When Your Baby Turns 12…

“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.”

William Barclay

So what if it’s my daughter’s birthday? That’s hardly newsworthy. After all, she’s not Princess Charlotte, and the only paparazzi hanging around when she blew out her candles, was her Mum.

Yet, that doesn’t mean that her birthday didn’t mean anything beyond our four walls and her beaming grandparents.

Amelia Geoff Ro

Our daughter turned 12 yesterday. While she’s still not officially a teenager, she’s in her first year of high school. So, this birthday marked a definite transition from childhood into something else. Entré into a zone where it can be difficult for parents to find their way. Are we wanted, or unwanted? In the way, or ignoring them and giving them too much space? Are we expecting them to be kids and adults all in the same breath and setting all sorts of unrealistic expectations? Or, are we feeling like little more than a taxi driver? An ATM only good for more money?  I’ve heard a lot of parents lament that their teens only grunt, and shut them out. Lock themselves away in their rooms. There’s also the great electronics challenge. How do we tear our kids and teens away from Minecraft long enough to even look us in the eye and say “hello”?

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These are challenging times. After all, the teenage years come with the same kind of flashing neon signs as the terrible twos. Having been through that, I’m no idiot. I know it’s virtually impossible to come out unscathed, but I also feel empowered. I make things  better or worse.

However, none of that was at the forefront of my mind yesterday. That all came afterwards, as I reflected on how well everything went and how I’ve built connections with my daughter, her friends and their parents. Also, I’m pleased to say we passed muster. So, I’m feeling really stoked…content.

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Miss in Saphora Sporting Blue Lipstick.

The big birthday, began with a morning of dance rehearsals and classes for Miss, and I set about trying to find the carpet in her bedroom. Even though the girls would be sleeping in the tent in our backyard under the watchful eye of the dogs, kids always end up in the bedroom and hers needed major reconstruction. I’m still fighting off the sinus infection too so wasn’t 100%. Meanwhile, Geoff was salvaging the backyard from the pups. There isn’t a blade of grass out there, and there was all sorts of chewed up detritus. With only hours to go, we had a lot of work ahead. Fortunately, I did my baking on Friday, making Mars Bar Slice, Pavlova, cup cakes. Dinner would be pizzas.

However, before the party began, Miss wanted to go to makeup Mecca, Saphora, with her friend, so she could go crazy with her birthday money from her Godmother and earn double points and a birthday gift. We also spent awhile in Lush.

Saphora really is a kind of fantasyland and they let you play around with a kaleidoscope of eye shadows, lipsticks and highlighers so you can even glitter and sparkle in the dark. It was so much fun. After all, how often do we have the opportunity to colour ourselves in using the brightest of brights without any limitations and get away with it? At Saphora, our face is a blank canvas only limited by our imaginations and our arms are our palettes. Indeed, there’s even a word to describe trying out this multitude of product…”swatching”.“

Not unsurprisingly,  I don’t keep up with make up or fashion trends. I was chaperone. My daughter’s friend’s Mum likes the girls to be accompanied, and that makes the decision easy for me. I’m a slow walker. So, they’re always a metre or two in front and I probably look more like a stalker. However, this means they have their own space, can do their own thing and have an old head with them if required. You just don’t know what those unpredictables can be, and they’re not quite at the stage where they have the life experience to deal with all of that on their own. Also, my daughter is tiny and younger than many of her friends and I’m quite conscious that a stranger could pick her up and cart her off without any effort at all, aside from her resistance. In Australia, we had a young man called Daniel Morcombe who was abducted from a bus stop, violated and murdered. He was 12 years old. That puts things into perspective for me. While a 12 year old might be sensible, trustworthy and intelligent, they are still a child and need a backstop.

I don’t know how parenting a teen will look down the track. Her big brother turns 14 in a few weeks and hasn’t brought us the usual problems of teenagers yet. We tend to be late bloomers in the puberty stakes, so perhaps all of that is just around the corner. You sort of hope it is as a parent, as much as you want to keep pushing it off into the future. After all, they really can’t have a relationship with their electronics. Or, at least not one that’s going to produce any grandchildren (not that I’m wanting them any time soon).

Anyway, my modus operandi for parenting teens at the moment, is to get to know my kids’ friends and their parents. Keep those lines of communication going. After all, what I’m finding so far, is that they’re all quite chatty and we’re all getting on really well and they trust me. This might not matter much at the moment, but it might down the track.

So, I’m now positioning myself as my kids’ parent and their friend. Trying to make the hard decisions and enforce boundaries and deadlines, while also being involved enough that they feel I know them,that they know I have their back and can see their point of view, even if I don’t agree with it. It can be very tempting to think that now our kids are growing older, that we can get more “me time”. Work more. Pull back. I’m not too sure.When they were younger, they could go to daycare or before & after school care but once at high school, they’re home alone…or not. Unfortunately, that doesn’t address the family finances or the need for both parents to work, sole parent families and the complexities of life. My complication is my disability and chronic health, which has ruled out paid work for the last 5 years, although I am now starting to set the wheels in motion. I’m currently looking into freelance writing opportunities.

I’ll write more about how the birthday went in my next post. In the meantime, I was wondering what your view are about parenting teens. What are your hot tips for parenting teens? What helped you? I have definitely found that we often have our best chats in the car or around the family dinner table. I’ve also been playing quite a lot of board and card games with our son lately at his request. That’s usually when the wifi gets turned off, but it’s him seeking me out, not vice versa. These games might be old-fashioned, but we’ve had a lot of laughs, the competition is fairly intense, and I can feel the bonds knitting together on the spot.

On that note, I’m off for slice of pavlova. Birthday party leftovers are the best.

xx Rowena

 

Mummy’s Littler Miss.

This is the inimitable Miss, Age 3…a long 8 years ago!

I’m currently riffling through photos on my hard drive, searching for a photo of my daughter with her ballet teacher, which was taken about 5 years ago. That’s how I chanced upon this stunner,  which grabbed my heart with both hands.

The things is, eight years down the track, I’m struggling to remember why she’s covering her eyes. Is she playing hide-and-seek? More than likely, she’s hiding from my flash.

So, I return to the scene of the crime.

After all, I never take just one photo. There’s always a series!

 

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Someone loves Mummy’s lipstick a tad too much!

 

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Look at me!

I’m not going to show the next image of her contorting herself to escape from the flash. However, there’s no doubt she’d had enough of the paparazzi!

Fast-forwarding to 2017, her make-up is impeccable and the lipstick well and truly stays within the lines and yet it’s so lovely to hop into my time machine and celebrate this exuberant moment… three year old’s passionate journey into Mummy’s world.

She has plenty of time to grow up!

xx Rowena

 

Rainbow Crumbs with Dog Hair & Chocolate Storm.

You try having a foot spa with a cup of tea and slice of cake without the famished, fur-shedding Border Collie all but eating the cake off your plate. You can see from the photo that Bilbo’s left significant DNA evidence behind. Yes, he was most definitely at the scene of the crime. Except, I beat him to it!

xx Rowena

Off With Her Fingernails!

Just as well my violin teacher is nice. After all, if she was anything like the Queen of Hearts, she would’ve cut my fingernails off with a guillotine weeks ago. Too bad if she also took off my fingertips! The Queen of Hearts doesn’t care about little details like that! If you refuse to cut your own nails, you pay the price.

All this is rather new to me. Although I am heading down the other side of 40+, I’ve only been playing the violin for a few years. Indeed, I only took it up after sitting in on my 5 year old daughter’s lessons. After she quit mid-term, I kept going. That was four years ago.

What nobody tells you about taking up an instrument is that so many of them require you to cut your nails. Seriously, cut your nails so there’s no clicketty clack all over the piano keys and if you’re playing any stringed instrument, so you can play the notes. Trust me! You want to play in tune and that means no nails. Not even the hint of a fingernail.

There is no middle ground.

So, even if you’re half-serious about playing the violin, you need short nails…especially on your left hand. It’s the same with the guitar.

That’s just the price you have to pay.

When you‘re a serious musician, you don’t even think about cutting off all those precious fingernails. No regrets. You just want to make music.

Of course, if you have crappy nails, it doesn’t matter either. You have nothing to lose.

However, when you finally have beautiful, long, strong nails for the very first time in your life, you hang onto them for as long as you possibly can. Cutting them off almost feels like murder.

So, despite being back at violin lessons for three weeks, I still haven’t trimmed my nails. I’m still hanging on!

It’s not that I’m vain or even fancy myself as a bit of a Princess. I’d just like to pretend I was Sweet 16 again. Be pretty!

Surely, there’s nothing wrong with that?!!

Yet, there comes that point where things no longer compute. You can’t call yourself a violinist when you can’t hit a note and you’re playing out of tune.

When your violin is how your express the inner beatings of your heart and those notes are infused with such emotion, even the best set of fingernails can’t stand in the way forever. They have to go. They might look good but if you’ve ever heard fingernails scraping down a blackboard, you know they can’t sing!

However, while I can sort of justify the long nails and dreadful playing to myself, it’s quite another thing to face up for yet another lesson with super long nails and painful playing. After all, I’m paying for these lessons and they don’t come cheap.

Either I shape up, or I ship out.

Deferring the inevitable only makes it worse.

So, it’s off with my nails!

If only that’s all it took to make it all the way to the Opera House!

xx Rowena

 

The Importance of My New Hair Cut!

Since every human and their dog is giving life lessons these days, I thought I’d share my latest little piece of wisdom.

Neglect your hair long enough and when you finally get it cut, you’ll look like an absolute movie star!

I should know. My transformation’s been so dramatic, I’m off to Hollywood. Move over Nicole! Trouble has arrived!

Not that I intentionally neglected my crowning glory. Indeed, after all the wows I’d had after my last haircut and being told I looked ten years younger, I can’t believe I let it go. Indeed, I should’ve booked straight in for my next appointment before I’d even left the salon. “See you in six weeks”, instead of turning up six months later.

Why is it so?

Indeed, to be precise…why wasn’t it so?

How should I know? What makes you think I have all the answers? Don’t be silly! I was only given the questions. Someone else, only goodness knows where, has all the answers. That’s their responsibility.

However, there’s one question I can answer.

That is, why did I finally get my hair cut today when I’d managed to avoid it for so long?

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Straight from the salon….an SLR Selfie. Not ideal!

I mean any sane, normal person gets their haircut for Christmas and for my role as Stage Mum. There was her big audition for The Sound of Music, her appearance in School Spectacular (albeit as a speck in a huge choir) and the end of year concerts. Aren’t I supposed to dress the part as well, darling?!!

Well, apparently my script got lost in the mail. Or, so I believe!

My hair was sadly and repeatedly neglected. Indeed, you could say that I barely even knew it was there but I’m sure I would’ve known if it wasn’t. At least, EVENTUALLY!

My justification is that if I could’ve dropped my hair off at the dry cleaners and picked it up that afternoon, I would have done it. Moreover, it wasn’t my fault that my hairdresser moved and I couldn’t quite find her again. As we all know, changing hairdressers is more serious than swapping lovers because nobody else quite knows how to cover up all those things you’re covering up in quite the same way. Do they?!!

Sorry! Yet again, I digress.

There is one very simple reason that I’ve had my haircut this week.

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The ghosts of school years’ past. The kids in their old uniforms.

It’s called the start of the New SCHOOL Year. With the start of the new school year, I’m putting my best foot forward and leaving that other foot well and truly left behind. I know I’ve just given a perfect description of the splits but I’m still hopeful.

As we all know, you can ride your moral high horse through New Year’s Eve and renounce New Year’s resolutions. However, you can’t get away with such outright rebellion or   even apathy, when it comes to your New SCHOOL Year Resolutions.

You see, schools have not only invented reports to test the students and keep them accountable, they’re also for the parents. I’m not saying that you get marked when you do your kid’s project because as we all know, you didn’t do it. You let your kid sink or swim through their own efforts. All you did was provide a set of floaties, a life raft, a bucket hat and some sunscreen. That’s right. You might also have set flags up at the beach and gone on surf patrol. No! You’re definitely not that interfering parent!

No! It’s your job as parent to provide the optimal conditions for your kid to reach their ultimate potential and if you can give them a rocket boost along the way, why not?

However, while you might hear about parents’ hot-housing their kids, what you don’t hear about quite so much is how parents’ sabotage their kid’s future through neglect, disorganisation, mis-management and all the usual things you find in your average workplace or home.

I don’t want to be that parent.

I also don’t want to be that parent who has let themselves go either. Not that I need to be that fashion plate exuding wealth and success but there’s a happy medium.

Indeed, when the kids start at their new schools this week, we just want to blend in with the Joneses…no more, no less.

However, that in itself takes an incredible amount of work behind the scenes and definitely no dashing back into town the night before like we used to.

This year we have lists on lists on lists and yet I still have that awful sinking feeling that I’ve forgotten something.

This afternoon as I was catching the train back from Sydney, I ended up writing about three poems about having the guts to believe in myself. Know I can do this because I can. I know I can! I am prepared. We are prepared and now all we need to do is make the final preparations. It’s not that hard. The kids have been going to school in some capacity for seven years. Although the schools have changed and high school is a whole new ball game, we can do this and I know it. I have to switch off that annoying little voice which keeps trying to undermine me and stand tall. I also have to stop it running completely amok throwing things all around the room and cowering in the corner. Let my stronger, more sensible self prevail.

So, I had my haircut. My new haircut may or may not win friends and influence people but it’s helped me feel better. More organised. On the ball. That has to be worth something.

Now, we just need to get the kids’ haircuts organised. BUT first things first…

I’m sure you know what I mean!

Or, perhaps your kids have never scratched their scruffy heads!

Something to look forward to…or maybe not!

Yet, these indestructible critters seem to be a hidden bonus of “community”. Hugging friends, feeling your child rest their head on your shoulder while reading a book and knowing the nits are on the march but reading on regardless.

They’re a sign of true love!

If you have kids going back to school soon, I wish you all the best for the New School Year!

May the Force be with you!

xx Rowena

May the force be with you

It’s Not Easy Being Green!

G is for Green and as I struggled to think of a meaningful topic for the Blogging A-Z Challenge, I remembered a favourite childhood song: It’s Not Easy Being Green, which was written by Sesame Street songwriter Joe Ripozo and sung by Jim Henson as loveable Kermit the Frog.

It's Not Easy Being Green
It's not that easy being green
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves
When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold
Or something much more colorful like that

It's not easy being green
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over 'cause you're
Not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water
Or stars in the sky

But green's the color of Spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like an ocean, or important
Like a mountain, or tall like a tree

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why
Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful
And I think it's what I want to be

You might even want to have a sing-a-long: www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpiIWMWWVco

This song is dedicated to Freddie the Front Door Frog. If you go back to my post to my post for F about Fractured Fairytales, you might recall being introduced. Freddie lives with my in-laws about half an hour’s hop from Byron Bay when he hitches a ride in the car.

Freddie the Front Door Frog.

Freddie the Front Door Frog.

Well, being an Australian Green Tree Frog, I thought Freddie would appreciate this song. After all, we wouldn’t want him deciding that he didn’t like being green and going all fancy dress, turning himself rainbow colours or hopping around weighed down by too much bling.

That’s right. We want him to know that we love him just the way he is or even because of what he is…GREEN!

By the way, Freddie says that it’s actually a lot easier to be green than you think. That you don’t need to go and change your skin colour, or anything else that radical. Rather, you can start small. Get a worm farm. Reduce the amount of packaging you use and don’t buy snacks in individual serve packets. You can grow a few tomatoes,. Have chooks. Walk instead of drive.

Apparently, all these little things add up and even the smallest and seemingly weakest among us, can make a difference for the survival of our beautiful blue planet and he points out, save more frogs!!

Today has been brought to you by the letter G as part of the Blogging from A-Z April Challenge.

xx Rowena

Writing Class: as bald as a Blobfish!

As a compulsively addicted, forever-at-it,  passionate writer, I’ve been trying to find sneaky, subtle ways of encouraging my kids’ with their writing without getting sprung.

As any parent will agree, as soon as you show more than observational interest in any of your child’s activities, it puts on the kibosh on them. You are the kiss of death and the worst thing any outsider could possibly ever say to your child, no matter how well intentioned their motivational efforts might be,  is: “You’re just like your Mum/Dad” or even worse still “Ah! A chip off the old block!!” When I was a kid, those sort of comments were “stick-your-finger-down-your-throat-type” revolting and a instant death knoll to any kind of interest. RIP!

At the same time, I still want to do some writing with them and somehow pass on something of my box of magic tricks…even if it’s only enough to enable them to be competent writers and express themselves enough to cover school requirements. That in itself is a challenge anyway.

That said, if they were to show any interest at all in writing well…Yes, I’d still probably have to keep myself in check because, as I said, a bit too much parental encouragement can be a very damaging thing. We all need to wait for the butterfly to make it’s own way out of the chrysalis or it will never be able to fly.

Reading their eclectic writing efforts, I definitely felt I could help them but the real trick was HOW. I didn’t want to go on the rampage with the notorious red pen and turn them off writing for life but at the same time, I appreciated that I know a few tips or short cuts. I mean as much as I agree with Lennon’s quote, sometimes you you just want to cut to the chase and get to your destination without any hassles or impediments. There’s a lot to be said for taking the easy way out or what’s known as “The K.I.S.S. Principle”: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

I don’t know if you remember back to your primary school compositions or creative writing exercises but my Mum taught me how to spell enthusiastic when I was 11 and I soon found that when enthusiastic ended up in my compositions, there was that illustrious red tick and a VG (very good) in the margin and I was smiling like the proverbial Cheshire Cat. While too many big words wasn’t the way to go, judicious use definitely paid off. By the way, my Mum also gave me a Roget’s Thesaurus at the time and I soaked that up like a sponge. As you can see, I was a bit of a writing nerd even then. To make matters worse, I was also accused of reading the dictionary in high school but I still deny it.

As I said, I’ve been fumbling around trying to find some simple things I could do with the kids to nurture their writing and help them get ahead. Then, last week, I attended a meet and greet at the school and walked away with a very simple sheet about how to build a super sentence, which was fabulous. This also included working on similies, which can be a little tricky at first.

We started off with a simple sentence:

Yesterday, Bilbo had a haircut.

By asking who, when, what, how why, where and including a simile, our simple sentence expanded into:

“While most people receive scrumptious chocolates and stunning red roses for Valentine’s Day, Bilbo, our woolly Border Collie, received a free haircut and is now almost as bald as badger”.

I wrote most of this as an example.

So my ever-inquisitive daughter asks what a badger looks like and we jump straight to Google Images and she promptly tells me that a badger isn’t bald and is actually rather furry. Of course, this launches a new line of inquiry which has absolutely nothing to do with writing super sentences and I’m starting to suspect that my daughter’s taking me on another one of her circuitous goat’s trails. Yet, who ever said you had to stick to the narrow path to gain an education?

It turned out that the expression “as bald as a badger” comes from Victorian times when the original expression was:  “as bald as a badger’s backside”. Badger’s hair was used to make men’s shaving brushes. Brush makers would trap badgers and take the hair from their derrieres and then set them free. Eventually the hair grew back however it wasn’t uncommon in England’s Victorian past to see badgers with bald backsides.

Quite an interesting bit of trivia really!

Well, as interesting as this explanation might have been, it didn’t have much application to a modern kid whose Dad uses an electric shaver or in the case of my husband…an electric beard trimmer. Although my husband has a very full head of hair, for many kids whose fathers shave off their receding locks rather than going for the finesse of the comb-over, a more appropriate simile would be:

“as bald as my Dad.”

So my daughter who is the master of asking tricky questions and really putting me on the spot suggests her own take on this simile. A simile which the rest of the world has left alone for at least 100 years. Her version of the simile was:

“as bald as a blobfish”.

At that point, my ire was raised and I was getting really stroppy…especially after trying to build a super sentence out of: “I am awesome”.

BLOBFISH????? WHAT THE???

Just when steam was starting stream out of both ears and I was definitely losing my cool, she looks up Blobfish on Google Images. My goodness!! It actually exists and it is as bald as a badger. While you can research the Blobfish yourself if you’re interested, it’s main claim to fame is being awarded the title: World’s Ugliest Animal in 2013. While it certainly looks odd, I wouldn’t call it ugly. It’s a bald, blobby, gelatinous thing which actually looks kind of cute in an alternative, dare I say “different” kind of way. It could even look a bit contemplative or spiritual.  That said, it also reminds me of a lot of blokes you see walking around with bald heads.

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans”.

John Lennon

Yes, while the rest of the world might despise the Blobfish and think it’s ugly, we love it. Cherish it. Indeed, I am in the process of ordering a toy version for my daughter’s birthday. After that priceless conversation, we had to had to immortalise the moment! I just haven’t quite worked out where to store the moment because it is on the large side and her room is already bursting at the seams.

Blobfish looking plush.

Blobfish looking plush.

After processing all of that, “bald as a blobfish” is starting to appeal and dare I say that it even exceeds all my wildest creative dreams for my child. Why should she settle for a comparison which no longer makes sense when our dog could be as “bald as a blobfish” instead?

It seems that my wish has been granted after all and I’ll take the blobfish over a badger any day!!

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference”.
Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken

 

Have you ever been caught by a blobfish? I’d love to hear your tales!!

xx Rowena

Further reading:

http://dykn.com/the-truth-about-why-the-worlds-ugliest-animal-isnt-that-ugly/