Tag Archives: children

The Great Esky Wall.

Tomorrow, we are leaving on an epic family holiday to Tasmania and we’re taking along the ultimate must-have holiday accessory…”The Great Esky Wall.”

The Great Esky Wall conveniently fits into the back seat of your car absolutely filling up that space that could have been number 3 if it hadn’t been for Numbers 1 & 2.

Indeed, our Great Esky Wall conveniently sits right on the seams of the backseat upholstery. This means that if either child tries to invade the other’s territory by even a millimetre, the battle lines are clear and action can be taken.It’s time to pull out the cannon. No, actually it isn’t!

You will notice in the photograph provided, that our Esky  is poo-brown ugly and beyond a retro-statement, but it’s made of good, old-fashioned plastic which could withstand a hit from a truck.

However, that still doesn’t mean the Great Esky Wall is going to endure 3 weeks of pretty intense driving with two kids living and breathing the same air all that time.

Even a tough and rugged Esky can only endure so much!

Have you ever been to Tasmania? Or, perhaps your family has been on an epic family car trip somewhere else, which you’d like to share.

xx Rowena

History. The Esky was created by Malley’s, a Sydney refrigeration business. Some historians have credited Malley’s with the invention of the portable ice cooler. According to the company, the Esky, was “recognised as the first official portable cooler in the world.”

PS While we’re away we have house minders in and two ferocious guard dogs. Well, make that one.

Caring for Mum.

Yesterday, I shared about finding out my brother’s cat, Archie had passed away. What I didn’t mention, was that my Mum’s in hospital with acute back pain. Although we initially joked about it being like a holiday with a room to herself and meals arriving like magic, the reality is different. Even with a brilliant imagination, you can’t keep pretend that you’re lying by the pool when you’re in agony, in hospital and you don’t know why or how it happened. One day, you were you and the next day, your back seizes up and you’re in excruciating pain and you’ve become someone else. What happened?

Except for me, these questions are being asked in the third person. What’s happened to Mum?



If you asked me to describe my Mum, I’d tell you that she loves the beach and looks great in a bikini. Because when I immediately picture my Mum as my Mum, she must be about 30 and she’s wearing a bikini and she’s full of beans. She’s playing tennis, swimming at the beach and driving us all over the countryside to piano, violin, ballet and she’s nowhere near a hospital. Indeed, even my grandmother running round the shops needing some kind of harness to keep her under control. She was getting around with the same speed as my toddler son whose now 13 and attached to electronics most of the time these days and now much, much easier to catch.

I’ve shared about this weird sensation about time before. That just because we’ve aged, it doesn’t mean that our idea of who were are or those close to us, has aged along with the physical body. I know for me there’s definitely a huge disparity and I remember my grandmother telling me that she didn’t recognise the old lady staring back at her. That was someone else and her true reflection was simply hiding somewhere behind the glass.


I haven’t been prepared for Mum to grow old.


Mum has been our rock through my health crises taking in the kids for 7 weeks when I was first diagnosed with dermatomyositis. She had two traumatized, very active kids and it was very intense for Mum, Dad and my brother.Yet, they were there. They were my strength when I clearly had none…physically or emotionally.

So, it’s hard to come around to the idea that Mum, indeed my parents, are drifting into the elderly category. Where it won’t be Mum taking me or the kids shopping, and we could well be taking her. That instead of her visiting me in hospital, it’s us visiting her. As much as I’m glad to be well away from hospital these days, that doesn’t give her permission to sign up. Moreover,  it definitely doesn’t give The Patron Saint of Hospital Admissions permission to come after her. It can well and truly leave all of us alone thank you very much!!

I guess what I wanted to write about and tap into is this sense of unfolding grief we often experience these days when older family members and friends have protracted medical treatments. We watch their strength, personality and even memory get chipped away, chipped away ever so slowly and you and they both know that they’re not how they used to be, and yet they’re still here. Indeed, I had two grandparents live with long term Alzheimers and by the time they died, I had almost run out of tears. My grief had been used up along the way.

That’s because there is grief along this journey, even though there’s also that gratitude and relief that they’re still here.

So, now while I’m feeling rotten about Mum being in hospital and knowing how much pain she’s experiencing, I still feel in a sense that I have no right to grieve. She’s not dying. She’s “fine” only she’s actually along way from being fine and we have no crystal ball about what this means. My son still expected Mama to pick him up from school this afternoon. After all, that’s what Mama does and has been doing on Wednesdays ever since he’s been born almost 13 years ago. She’s been here…an hour’s drive away hail, rain or shine because she loves us. Moreover, given my health problems and uncertainty over the years, she has been their rock. The net that catches my kids when everything’s falling apart and there’s no ground to land on. She hasn’t been there only support but she’s definitely been there.

I had to remind him that Mama is in hospital.

Mum and I didn’t get on for many years and we’re very different people. Being an extreme extrovert, she often tried to reign me in…something I didn’t understand until I was doing the same with our very extroverted son. Obviously, nobody explains all of this to you when you’re a kid. Yet, the yin and yang between introverts and extroverts is something I need to understand with family. After all, opposites attract and it’s understandable that there’d be a mix throughout the family. Having that understanding has been critical for better relations.

So, even though Mum doesn’t let me write about her, I needed to share my anguish, my gratitude that she’s not worse and to provide a space for you to share these complex and challenging emotions. I am very lucky to be 47 and to have both my parents alive but I also can’t imagine a world without them in it. They’ve been here forever just like the air I breathe in and out.

Not that I need to think about that now but at the same time, I feel the need to acknowledge this partial grief and concern for my mother being in so much pain. It’s very hard to think about her suffering, but being there for her, means embracing it head on and being her daughter…not a coward.

I would like to open up the comments section for people to share their feelings and reflections about parents getting old, losing a parent and please link to your posts. I am thinking of you and send you my love and prayers!

xx Rowena

PS Despite the seriousness of Mum’s situation, there’s still opportunity for humour. When we told our son that Mama was going for a bone density scan, he asked if she was getting carbon dated. Well, at least I was laughing!



Coles Bay, Tasmania with Little Man…a Flash Back.

Today, we’re not only travelling back in time, but also to another dimension.

Well, at least, I think Tasmania’s another dimension.

In November, 2005 my husband, our year old bolt of energy, the inimitable Little Man and my rather pregnant self, went on our “before the new baby arrives” holiday to Tasmania. My husband, Geoff, was born and raised in Scottsdale, North East of Launceston  and can trace his lineage back to John Newton convict who spent a bit of time at notorious Port Arthur after a stint on Norfolk Island. I think the rest of his folk were free settlers.

Coles Bay

Anyway, it’s my husband’s 50th birthday next week and rather too late in the planning, I’ve been playing archaeologist ploughing through the archives digging up memories.

That’s how I came across this series of photos taken at Coles Bay.Coles Bay is located on Tasmania’s East Coast and is a 2.5-hr drive (192 km) from Hobart and a 2 hr 20-min drive  (173 km) from Launceston.

Coles Bay Lighthouse Walk


To be perfectly honest, its been 11 years since this adventure and I can’t say I remember exactly where these photos were taken. I can’t remember a lot about the trip to be honest. I’ll blame baby brain and exhaustion chasing the Little Man. The Little Man was also waking up about 3-4 times a night and that didn’t help keep the brain operational either.

So, rather than being about Coles Bay, this is the view of a misty-eyed parents whose Little Man turns 13 early next year and these photos now feel so incredibly precious and I’m filled with passionate love for this uber-energetic, flash of blond curls.


It makes me smile seeing Little Man up on my shoulders. It was such a long time ago and it’s been a long, long time since he was able to sit up there without killing me!! Indeed, these days he’s working very hard trying outgrow his Mum and Dad and I’m just lucky I’m tall because I think he’s already caught up with my Mum.

Geoff & Little Man at Coles Bay

That said, I did label these photos as the Lighthouse House Walk. There is a stunning but rather rugged walk down to the incredibly photogenic Wine Glass Bay. However, we thought it was too much for me at the time and so we took the Lighthouse House Walk, which is wheelchair-accessible if you need it.


What I haven’t forgotten about this trip, was the usual difficulties of trying to round up the Little Man and get him back into the car. I’m sure most parents share such memories, which might do your head in at the time but become part of family legend as time goes by.

I really love this shot:


Time to go Home.

Have you been to Tasmania? Or, perhaps you’d like to share about your special family holidays.

xx Rowena


A first-hand insight into homeless, which everyone should read. It could be you. It could be me.


xx Rowena

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

August 24Hot sun heats the metal beyond touching comfortably. The playground equipment squats at the mouth of a giant coulee, as if poised to be devoured. No children run across the taupe grit where soap suds lap at the water’s edge. Soap Lake gets its name from those minerailzed suds, and a few adults wade out into its tepid waters. What do they hope to be healed of?

The town of Soap Lake is as gritty as the sand. Houses built of black basalt are void of green lawns. Small businesses based on an alternative healing niche line a short main street. A few resorts boast of healing waters piped to rooms. Locals 30 miles away in Moses Lake warn me of biting red bugs in the water and tweakers in the desert.

It looks as inhospitable as a homeless shelter must feel to a child.

That we even have homeless…

View original post 2,209 more words

Weekend Coffee Share 16th July, 2016.

Welcome To Another Weekend Coffee Share!

If we were having coffee today, we’d be having to resort to pens or typewriters to jot down any writing ideas because we could well be too busy using our phones and other devices capturing Pokemon. Not that I’ve been hugely into Pokemon Go myself but I had a couple of creatures invade our lounge room, evading me, the dogs but not my son’s eagle eye armed with his ipad. One of these things even had the audacity to sit on the couch. No doubt, it was responsible for the latest packet of Tim Tams which went missing, instead of the usual suspects.


The Kids Arriving At The Theatre.

Pokemon Go was launched in Australia just over a week ago and it’s gone manic. My kids woke up all ready to go  hunting, only to find out the site had crashed and once it came up, that they couldn’t play with their phones. They don’t have WiFi. My phone’s from the ark and we couldn’t get it connected. So, the kids just had to satisfy themselves with the few Pokemon who ventured into the house. Meanwhile, however, a friend who took her toddlers to the park, said they were the only little kids there and the park was packed with teens chasing Pokemon. Well, at least they got out of hte house and found out those feet were made for walking!


Today, we finally saw our kids perform in their Scout/Guide Gang Show. Have you ever been to a Gang Show? This was my first. So, throughout all these months of rehearsals and the last couple of weeks getting costume details finalised, I really felt I was flying blind. Although I’m quite used to being in the dark, that doesn’t mean I like it. I ended up delegating the “navy dress pants” to my Mum who ended up running round and round  Sydney’s Macquarie Centre with the kids like rats stuck in a maddening maze. They were having terrible trouble trying to explain what dress pants were and kept getting shown formal pants and you wouldn’t think that buying a pair of pants in a big city could be become so difficult…or so complicated! In the end, they were using my Mum’s navy pants as an example and in the end , Mum remembered she had a smaller pair or navy pants which might do the job. So, our son headed off to Gang Show in Grandma’s dress pants with a belt. Our other drama was our daughter’s hair, which had gone very dry over Winter and is getting very knotty. I swear I used half a jumbo bottle of Pantene conditioner to  get that hair plaitable!

Take it from me, there’s absolutely no glamour involved in being a stage parent. The kids might be shining, but our lights have gone out.

Yet, if you knew me, you’d be saying: “Come on, Ro. We know how much you love it. You just can’t get enough!”

Too true!

We attended the Matinee Show today and absolutely loved it. I can’t show you any photos from inside but suffice to say that I walked about feeling a hell of a lot better than when I went in and had so many belly laughs. The show was called : Once Upon A Time and had had a series of fractured fairytales including Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel with so many hilarious twists and turns. They sang and danced to Waltz Disney classics like “When You Wish Upon A Star” (while flashing their torches. Scouts and Guides love torches!!) Bad To The Bone and an a more extended version of this poem from Dr Suess’s The Places You’ll Go:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

O course, there’s that surge of pride of seeing your kids on any kind of stage and they don’t have to be the star to to feel absolutely and totally blown away by their performances. The whole concept of Gang Show is that it’s about the gang and while some of the older kids and leaders had some more extended solo parts, most of it was done as a group. My kids each had about 5-7 costume changes in the show and multiple stage entries, so it was a fabulous introduction to what it’s like to be in a theatre production.

However, as much as they were performers performing on a stage, they were also Scouts and Guides and the show finished off with everyone in their uniforms, marching and proud of who and what they represent.

While a group of Guides and Scouts performing on a stage might seem of little consequence given what’s going on around the world at the moment, I disagree. Although the current state of the world feels overwhelming and somewhat scary, we still need to believe in the future and our kids, our teenagers and young adults are our immediate future and we need to keep building them up. Teaching them the importance of good values and character and standing up for what is good and just in this world and how that doesn’t begin somewhere out there in the adult world but starts with them where ever they go. This is where the rubber hits the road for all of us. Being nice to your brother or sister and not erupting, even when they deliberately press all your buttons all at once just wanting for them to go troppo and get in trouble with Mum and Dad. It means being patient in traffic and not even muttering words under our breath, thinking they can not be heard.

We might not be able to change the big staff, but at least, we can work on our own stuff, the seemingly small, insignificant stuff which doesn’t seem to matter until it does.

Before I head off and unfortunately we’ll really be heading off soon because we have to pick the kids up tonight from their finale performance tonight at 11.30PM. I think Dad’s Taxi’s going to need a double expresso before we leave. It no doubt think it’s gone to bed for the night and won’t be happy heading out there again…especially in the cold.

Yellow taxi

It’s not quite this wet as we head out tonight. However, why let truth get in the way of a good story?!!

By the way, what do you think of my new writing mug? I bought it tonight when Geoff and I went out for Churros after the performance. It all but says “writer” on it and I stuck my black Artline pen in there because that’s what I use to do much of my writing. It has a really smooth action, almost enabling my fingers to keep up with my surging train of thoughts. By the way, I have been known to chew my pens and turn the clock back 20 years and I chewed my pens until they cracked, splintered and and no doubt damaged my teeth. Thank goodness, I have chilled out since then.

So, how has your week been? What have you been up to?

I hope you and yours have all been safe during the terrible events of recent times. As much as I’d love to travel, at the moment I’m just wanting to keep everyone close and stay put.

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster. You can click the  linky to read the other posts.

Sleeping Dog!

Although I’m fully aware of just how sickening it can be watching a parent going all soppy over their child and that it’s even worse when humans wax lyrically about their pets, I couldn’t resist.

There was Bilbo all snuggled up asleep on the Pooh Bear rug and I went all mushy, gushy and took at least ten photos of the poor mutt who probably thought he was being struck by lightening as the flash kept going off.

Bilbo turns 10 this year. While he’s looking very healthy, I’m very conscious that dog years and human years far from correlate and there will be a goodbye.

With this in mind, we adopted Lady a few years ago. She was supposed to be our next dog, especially as he wasn’t in good shape back then. Somehow, her arrival gave him a second wind and he’s really perked up.

However, adopting Lady also made us appreciate even more how each and every dog has their own character and that you can’t replace a dog anymore than you can replace a person. You simply have to grieve and then move forward.

However, this wasn’t supposed to be a sad, reflective post. It was all about showing off my puppy dog in all his cuteness and appreciating him…. ball obsession and all! He’s a marvelous dog and definitely our best furry friend…along with Lady of course!

Do you have any pets and good pet posts? Please share!

xx Rowena

Mothers’ Day Coffee Share.

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share!

It’s Mother’s Day here in Australia. So Happy Mothers’ Day and I hope you’ve all had a great week. To read about our Mother’s Day, here’s Mothers’ Day & The Ghosts of Mothers Past.


Cards and flowers from my kids.

If we were having coffee tonight, I’d invite you to join me watching Masterchef Australia. The contestants are doing an invention test using meat and three veg with English Master chef Marco Pierre White. No lamb chops with peas and mashed potato and diced carrot here. Two minutes to go and the tension’s intense. Go! Go! Go! The music’s accelerating as the plating up begins. Oops…under cooked…DISASTER!!!!…30 seconds to go! 10, 9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1…Time’s Up!


This is cruel. Watching Masterchef when we’ve had an express meal. It’s Mother’s Day…not Mummy Masterchef Night. Mummy does nothing night! Nothing at all!

The stars just twinkled at me and said, who are you kidding?

By the way, the new Australian season of Masterchef kicked off last Sunday. To celebrate, I chucked all the limp carrots out and wrote this post.

Sunday night is a precursor to Monday and the start of another week. However, at least I’ve had a pajama  day and been able to take it easy. No breakfast in bed but I did receive hand made cards and flowers from the garden from the kids and a tulip from Geoff and bought flowers. I also had a surprise for Geoff. His mother passed away 16 years ago and on Saturday I found some Willow pattern china at the opportunity shop. Geoff’s Mum also collected elephants and I found a Mothers’ Day card with an elephant on it. I don’t also remember my MIL on Mothers’ Day but I did this year.

Geoff as baby slide

Geoff as a baby.

Tonight, I wrote about how we celebrate an Australian Mothers’ Day, while making a tribute to mothers past. More than a history, buff, I did honours in history at university and I am mindful that women haven’t always had choice. That even an education, is a relatively recent leap forward…not only for women but the general population. Indeed, an education is still beyond the reach of much of the world’s population. So, we need to be thankful. Not take what we have for granted.

Newton Family & bilbo

A family photo with Bilbo as a pup Mother’s Day, 2007.

I also want to be thankful for my kids, my family and wallow in that today, without looking over my shoulder, which I must say I’m doing less and less now they’re getting older. To be perfectly honest, I am probably better suited to older kids and I am in much better health now too, which certainly lifts my outlook.

Happy Family Golden Book

The Happy Family

This week, both my kids are doing the NAPLAN tests. How do I begin to explain our Australian NAPLAN tests? Parents stare at each other blankly and I’m not even sure that my kids even know what NAPLAN is and they’re about to sit the !@#@# thing. All I know is that while the teachers downplay it and say it tests them more than the kids, I know NAPLAN will definitely be counting towards my daughter’s high school applications, even though high school is 2 years away. At the moment, she’s focused on applying for our local selective high school. Try explaining that to a ten year old who has changed schools this year and is fighting a rare digestive condition, gastroparesis. She might only be 10 years old but this year has been quite stressful. She’s also learning dancing, violin, Baritone Horn and performing in the Scout Gang Show. I haven’t turned her into a performing seal doing grueling hours of tutoring. Will she regret it? Or, can she pull this entire thing off whatever it is? Sometimes, it feels like we’re collectively passing through into some other dimension and it really is full on. Naturally, we need to aim high and not settle without going for it, which like it or not, brings the whole family into the dynamic. It’s hard for a ten year old to see the bigger, longer term picture and not get caught up in the now.

Meanwhile, I’m still recovering from the A-Z Challenge. I’m now in the process of cutting and pasting my posts back into Word and print off the DRAFT. Can’t believe I wrote so much! Thank you very much for those who have checked out my posts. Tomorrow, we all post our survival posts.

I’m so sorry. I just realised that I’ve reached the end of our coffee share and I realised that I forgot to offer you tea or coffee. My apologies. I was so focused on all that Masterchef food that I wasn’t thinking about drinks. I’m a lousy host but I’ll make it up to you with a few Tim Tams. These ones are dark chocolate so the kids haven’t devoured them all.

Hope you’ve had a great week and I look forward to catching up!

The Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Part Time Monster.  You can join this week’s Coffee Share on her blog or by clicking on the “Linkup Linky“.

xx Rowena