Tag Archives: teens

Mothers’ Day Is Floating Away…

Mothers’ Day is inevitably full of surprises. Not that I’m naive enough to script the day. Indeed, the older I get, the more I let it go. Run by itself.

That says quite a lot, because I can be something of a control freak.

Anyway, as I said, Mother’s Day is full of surprises and usually goes off script.

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The Family with the balloons before blast off.

So, this morning as we’re heading back to the car after Church, I’m wondering why the kids have wandered off AGAIN. I wasn’t impressed! Started wondering why we can’t all get to the car at the same time and why our family herds like meandering sheep…

Trying to round everyone up, I could see our son was clearly distracted. Indeed, all his attention was clearly focused at the sky and nowhere near the car, going home or my Mothers’ Day lunch.

Yet, in a moment which would’ve made his science teacher proud, he’d launched a shopping bag with a Mother’s Day card into the clouds powered by a bunch of helium balloons. I just managed to catch it visibly heading into the clouds like a dream. Apparently, he’d carefully tested the number of balloons required to achieve the desired amount of lift. This was a scientist at work, being observed by an absolute dreamer (his mother).

This spontaneous gesture filled me with such immense pride. He might not have broken any records, or invented the first shopping bag in space, but my heart was glowing.

That’s not something you can count on with a teen, especially on Mothers’ Day.

Although we did manage to get some photographs, he might just have to: “Play it again, Sam!” (Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca). These pics were hastily snapped on our phones.

It truly was a magical moment!

More Mothers’ Day entertainment to come.

xx Rowena

Featured Image: Photo Credit – My daughter “Miss”.

Visiting the Young Endeavour, Stanley.

Continuing on with our travels through Tasmania, last Saturday, we drove down to Stanley to see a magnificent tall ship, the  Young Endeavor a Royal Australian Navy sail training ship

The Young Endeavour Scheme began when the magnificent sail training ship STS Young Endeavour was given to the people of Australia by the United Kingdom as a Bicentennial gift back in 1988. Since then, the Scheme, in partnership with the Australian Government and the Royal Australian Navy, has provided challenging training voyages for over 11,000 young Australians aboard Young Endeavour.

To be selected, young Australians can put their names in the ballot. No previous sailing experience is required and it is the opportunity of a life time.

With our family’s interest in sailing and history, we were looking forward to being able to climb onboard and check it out.

Unfortunately, very heavy winds picked up and we were unable to board the ship.

However, we did get the opportunity to meet and listen to former crew as well as a young lady who is was leaving on it the next day. Neither had any prior sailing experience and apparently they teach you everything you need to know onboard. I found that that both encouraging and a bit scary but they know what they’re doing. The experience is well known for improving self-confidence, resilience and problem-solving in young people and it really is the opportunity of a lifetime…especially climbing straight up the mast and clinging on for dear life while the boat rocks to and fro.

Humph, they can keep that experience.

As much as I would’ve loved to do this back in the day, I’m quite happy to stick to plain sailing these days.

Xx Rowena

The Reflective Sailor

Not sure what the reflective sailor’s thinking. If it were me, I’d be thinking about where my next coffee is coming from. Even a 9.00 am start on a Saturday morning seems a bit cruel, especially when we had to leave “the Peninsula” to get there. You just ask anybody who lives on a peninsula what it’s like travelling abroad? We’re all inclined to be rather insular…at least, geographically speaking.

Anyway, on Saturday morning Mum’s Taxi found itself feeling rather confused driving the sailor to his lesson, rather than ducking around the corner to drop our daughter at dancing. I quite enjoyed the change and having time driving along with my son and hanging out at the waterfront. Would’ve loved to go for a sail myself, although can’t sail and would need to hitch a ride. (Sounds like I need to do something about that!!)

Of course, I couldn’t go anywhere near the waterfront without packing my camera and I wasn’t disappointed.

stormy-dark-clouds-sailing

Moody Skies.

Not only was the sailor a little reflective, dark brooding storm clouds also obliged. Indeed, looking at the photos, you can’t help wondering how I let our son sail out in that weather.

Anyway, of course, he survived.

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Looking after the boat. The kids are taught that the boat looks after you, you look after it. I love the sound of that!

I’m so pleased our son loves sailing. Seems like a great stress release for the “reflective” teenage years. After all, I haven’t forgotten what sailing through the swirling vortex of pubescence was like. I’m sure most of us had moments where we’re surprised we made it through.

Do you sail? Feel free to share links to sailing posts in the comments.

xx Rowena

Why am I here?

Parenting isn’t a walk in the park and my kids are constantly keeping me on my toes. Lately, that’s even involved attempting pirouettes!

Well, to sharpen my toes even further, my son asked me this curly question today…“Why am I here?”

‘if your life is cloudy and you’re way off course,

you might have to go on faith for awhile,

but eventually you’ll learn that

every time you trust your internal navigation system,

you’ll end up closer to your right life.”

-Martha Beck.

He was in trouble and he mumbled something about dying being easier than living so why bother? It wasn’t a completely dark question at the time…more of an observation. He’s 12 years old and this kind of question goes with the turf. He’s not unique. Indeed, I remember feeling much the same and my Dad saying: “Life wasn’t meant to be easy”.

However, this was actually part of a longer quote:

“Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage: it can be delightful.”

― George Bernard Shaw

Jonathon Climbing Tree

Mister in the Climbing Tree 2011, Aged 6.

Anyway, in response to my son’s question my immediate response (which I didn’t share with him at the time) was that he wasn’t here to melt Halloween lollies in my new waffle maker, leaving a layer of sticky tar glued to the non-stick base. That he and his sister were not put on this planet to destroy everything within a 365 degree radius. Indeed, they could keep their sticky fingers all to themselves!!

Yet, I said nothing. Rather, I stared scrawling  my frustrations down on paper the way we writers do. While I know that doesn’t achieve anything, at least venting on paper helps me feel better!

“You just can’t sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream, you’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself”

-Diana Ross.

Anyway, when I asked my kids what possessed them to put lollies in my waffle machine, they told me that they’d seen a u tuber melt a Barbie doll in a waffle machine. While I’m no fan of Barbie, melting Barbie in a waffle machine for fun seemed rather sadistic. You also have to wonder what the world is coming to when a video of someone with bad language melting Barbie in a waffle machine gets 2,418,875 views with 94,220 likes. Moreover, unlike some of the crazy stunts your kids might see on TV, there’s no mention of: “kids don’t try this at home”. These U tubers have hero status,  yet no responsibility. No accountability.

So, I am grateful that I didn’t find Barbie stuck to my waffle machine instead of just the lollies. With a bit of boiling water and chipping away, the waffle machine is fine and the kids will need to be dead, before they’re allowed to stay home from school again.

Jonathon sunset

Why am I here?

Meanwhile, I still had to answer my son’s question: why am I here?

I told him that this was a question which philosophers, poets, sing writers, The Bible have all addressed for thousands of years. After all, it is the ultimate quest for each and every one of us to work out why we’re here. To find our purpose, our path, calling, direction…whatever you want to call it.

“There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born. All how you become most truly alive.”

-Oprah Winfrey.

This needn’t be a selfish, navel-gazing process. It can also be about that person who really wants to make a difference, help others, change the world or has spiritual ideas but doesn’t know quite how or where to serve or give. After all, it’s particularly hard for the inspired visionary to live with their vision, without knowing how to execute it. Indeed, this anguish could cause these brightest of flames, to snuff themselves out.

Anyway, to humour myself, I entered: “Why am I here?” into Google. I didn’t expect much, if anything, but Google has surprised me before and has delivered.

That’s was when I was reminded of the power of the personality quiz. These are not only great fun but I swear these quizes know me better than I know myself. Of course, you have to sort the wheat from the chaff too. I found this quiz on Who Are You Mean to Be? from Oprah Magazine http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Who-Are-You-Meant-to-Be-Self-Assessment-Quiz_1 It showed great insight and no surprises one of my top scores was Striving to Be Creative. I’ve pasted it down below because it really made sense to me.

Jonathon Christmas Tree 2

How creative! Mister turned himself into a Christmas Tree 2006 aged 2.

Striving to be Creative

You are an artist: You came out of the womb with a paintbrush in your hand. Or maybe it was a flute or a castanet or a fountain pen to go with your poet’s imagination. The point is, you’re an original, and you know it. Even if you don’t have a singular gift, you’re drawn to the arts—anything creative, for that matter— and you have a unique way of looking at the world. Your need for depth and authenticity in relationships can lead to both great joy and profound sorrow, depending on whether others reciprocate. You don’t care so much about adapting to group or societal expectations; your independence and sharp intuition propel you on your own path.

What to watch out for: When fear of conformity overrides your creativity, you can assume the role of “outsider” or “orphan” and end up feeling alienated. You may even go so far as refusing to vote or pay taxes. This lone-wolf stance might be a defense against feeling vulnerable. Try to be aware that blaming others for your banishment, or pushing away those who want to get close, only makes things worse. Also, dramatizing your emotions can interfere with your creativity.

Looking ahead: As long as you genuinely express yourself, you feel like the person you were meant to be. How you do it is irrelevant. A chef or architect can be as much of an artist as a painter or sculptor. Many advertising and public relations executives are also highly imaginative. Beyond work, there are opportunities everywhere you look to coax out your inner artist: Design your own jewelry line, create an innovative blog, dream up a comic strip. Relationships are another avenue for self-expression.

Google also linked me up with some great quotes, which I’ve scattered throughout.
There’s also this thought provoking post by Mark Manson  Seven Strange Questions to Establish Your Life’s Purpose. I highly recommend you read it!
Meanwhile, it’s time for me to think about fueling his physical body as well as his mind. Neither of my kids have ever been great eaters but we think he’s going through a growth spurt. Not only is he eating four Weetbix for breakfast, he turns up in the kitchen hunting for dinner with that same starved look our poor Border Collie had when he was on 50mg of prednisone. It really was quite cruel to the poor dog and leaving a starving teenager roaming around the kitchen, can be dangerous. You just ask Barbie!
xx Rowena

Poem: Somewhere In Between.

Neither tall,

nor small

but somewhere in between…

my feet now touch the ground

though my thoughts are

somewhere in the clouds.

 

I look out my bedroom window

at the road which lies ahead

wondering how to get from A to B.

Do I really have to walk?

Why can’t I take a jumbo jet?

 

I don’t have all the answers.

Indeed, I don’t even know

which questions I should ask.

Yet, everywhere I seem to look,

all I find is rules.

Rules on rules on rules!

 

Be here!

Go there!

This is how to do your hair!

Living by this ringing bell,

has to be a form of hell!

 

Neither tall,

Nor small

but somewhere in between…

why can’t I just enjoy the view

before I grow too big?

23rd February, 2016.

 

My son was given an assignment this week to write a poem “Looking Through My Window”. He is about to turn 12 and has just started High School. I wanted him to see the topic from a different angle and that looking through his window could refer to what he sees as well as how he views the world…his perspective.

As it was, his poem came from another perspective entirely and he wrote from an imaginary point of view about a mysterious rabbit which he spotted out his window, which no one else could see. This rabbit took on surreal qualities and started glowing, combusting and then in the morning there was no trace of the rabbit at all. It struck me as being a bit Steven King but well done. I gave him a bit of help with punctuation but it was his own piece.

I am trying to work out a good balance on the homework front. Every kid and his dog is being tutored these days and I figured my husband and I are qualified enough to handle this. Geoff is one of those lucky few who are good at maths and English. My maths ability was never strong but after putting so much effort into my creative side, it fell into some kind of swamp years ago.

So, who does our daughter come to for maths help tonight? Ha! Yes, yours truly. Well, they’ve even changed the way you do subtraction since I was at school and so Geoff ended up giving the pair of us a Maths lesson.

I would have thought that being a poet would’ve automatically disqualified me from all of that!!

By the way, it was sweltering here today and I caught the dog lying in front of a small fan we had running to redirect the air-con into the bedrooms….just like many of you in the North must have pets in front of the fire/heater this time of year. I was very tempted to grab that sun today and stick it in an envelope and post it to you all…no returns. Yes, I know I’d regret it in the morning and the temperature is supposed to be much more comfortable tomorrow. It’s really been a scorcher today!

Anyway, all too soon, I’ll be complaining about the cold!!

xx Rowena

When Everybody’s Smiling…

Welcome to another Weekly Smile brought to you by the ever-smiling Trent at Trent’s World.

This week I’m posting a rare family photo taken on the first day of school last week. It was our son’s first day of High School and our daughter’s first day at her new school, which is some distance from home.

Note: everybody’s smiling! What an achievement!

The First Day of the school year is always a momentous occasion. However, with both kids starting new and different schools this year, it was huge. Not only in terms of growing up but also due to the huge amount of behind the scenes organisation required.  The proverbial duck feet were paddling like crazy to ensure the kids passed muster…at least, on the first day! This was akin to something of an archaeology dig. First, I had to locate and resurrect both the student and their stuff. Then I had to glue all the pieces of this scattered mosaic back together again. Surprise! Surprise! I actually ended up with a complete picture. Nothing was missing. Well, at least, on the first day!

That was really something to smile about.

Organization is a very conscious process around here and there’s nothing natural or automatic about it at all.

I blame “being creative” but that’s not going to help my kids pass muster… let alone succeed. So, I have to change sides. Develop an administrative brain or at least a hat I can take on and off.

Humph…the hat does sound like a great idea. As much as it’s good to be organized, too much of that could undermine my creative juices. Kill me off. Don’t want that. So, if my organization is a bit fluffy around the edges, so be it.

So, I am smiling that we all managed to get it together at least on the first day and look fantastic.

However, the main reason I chose this photo is because we’re ALL smiling.

Surely, we’re not the only family who struggles to get everyone smiling in the same shot…especially without any rabbit ears or funny faces intruding into the shot?

To that end, I should probably point out that the Headmaster actually took this photo. So, that could explain the good behavior. He’s also a very warm and friendly person, not at all like the Principals I had who inspired fear and terror, even when you were good…great for encouraging smiles!

Speaking of THAT School Principal, you should have seen how the station cleared out as soon as her blue Volvo was spotted on the scene!! Girls and boys fled to the four winds…including actor Hugh Jackman, I believe. He was our local heartthrob.

Now, seeing Hugh Jackman at the station would’ve brought a few smiles. You could say that “Hugh Spotting” was something of a local sport. Our area had a lot of single sex private schools, which created a certain atmosphere best left to the imagination.

That brings back a few smiles too!

Hope you’re having plenty of smiles this week and encourage you to find some more at the Link Up.

xx Rowena

 

 

Building Bridges Through A Game of Cards.

After parenting for awhile, you’d finally think you know what you’re doing.

Ha! Isn’t that the biggest joke!

As any parent knows, just when you’re comfortable and in the grove, the ground changes. They have another growth spurt. Start school. Get bullied. Become the bully. They have good days and bad days. There is no consistency.

You feel completely and utterly, lost, stumped, completely out at sea and …a bad parent.

However, no matter who you are, there inevitably comes a day when you kid gets stuck. The wheels stop moving and you, as parent, are called upon to pull out your magic wand and suddenly make everything better. You say a few abracadabras and tap your kid on the head three times but nothing happens. There’s not even a poof of smoke. You’re not sure what’s gone wrong. Perhaps, your wand is bent or the batteries are flat but, of course, you’ve lost the instruction manual.That’s if your wand ever had one. It’s amazing how few things related to parenting come with instructions, most notably, the kid themselves. Indeed, they arrived into this world with nothing at all but a scream.

Away, unable to get your wand operational, you’re stumped.

Your kid is stumped.

Hey, most of the time, even the professionals are stumped. That’s if you can get your kid to see any kind of professional. Chances are if they’re not moving, that’s the last place they’ll go.

Here’s a post I wrote recently about the misunderstood and hurting child: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/06/20/loving-the-misunderstood-when-kids-hurt/

Anyway, for many of us, Winter can be a bit of a downer. Mister has had a dreadful asthma cough, poor, broken sleep as well as some troubles with his stomach where he was seeing stars and vomiting for a bit. Of course, the Emergency Department had no explanation and there was the usual mention of a “virus”. He’s missed a lot of school and really was operating at half mast and it wasn’t depression either. At least, that wasn’t the trigger. That said, with all that going on, he was hardly doing the happy dance.

However, even though my magic wand wasn’t operational, I still had my bag of tricks. This is what I’ll call “experience”. Not just my own experiences but what’s worked for others as well.

As much as someone who is struggling can appear like a cactus and needing to be left alone, this can also a time when they cautiously need you to dig in. More hugs, not less hugs. Understanding, empathy, doing things together..even, perhaps, if the bedroom door is shut.

That said, you need a catalyst. Some way of making that connection and lighting that initial spark.

Well, believe me. I was looking. Looking…looking…Did I mention looking?!!!

I’m not saying that this will work for everyone or that this is going to work forever but I remembered that I used to play a lot of card games with my friends in high school. Both my parents were avid Bridge players who taught my brother and I how to play as soon as we were old enough.

Finally, I had that elusive “light bulb moment”! Teaching the kids how to play 500.

In addition to seeing it as something we could do as a family, I also thought playing cards is a good way to make friends. Moreover, being good at Maths, I thought he’d love it and our daughter also loves a strategic challenge. It is hard enough for anyone to feel good trying to get anywhere on their weaknesses and I thought playing 500 would bring out their strengths.

Don't you just love the hot pink of the macaroon mix?!!

Don’t you just love the hot pink of the macaroon mix?!!

So, after refreshing ourselves on the rules, we had a card’s night last Friday along with a range of scrumptious desserts made by Miss: Adriano Zumbo’s Raspberry and Chocolate Macaroons (packet mix but very good) and a Chocolate & Raspberry Surprise…a pizza made out of a firm chocolate ganache with “my precious raspberries” and a raspberry sauce on top. It was exceptional good and yet so simple and straight out of her imagination. I was stoked. Mister also made a Chocolate & Raspberry Fudge which was exceptionally high in sugar but very good as well.

My daughter's spectacular tower of macaroons.

My daughter’s spectacular tower of macaroons.

Our kids are 11 and 9 and although we had a lot of explaining to do about suits, right and left bowers, tricks and bidding, after a few open hands, they pretty much had the hang of it.

Well, that’s as long as you don’t count a mad bidding war between the two of them. We were playing boys versus girls. First, it was my daughter’s turn to go all out with the bidding, stretching it to 8 Hearts (note we can only lose 2 tricks). Unfortunately, we went down in a spectacular defeat. A hand or two later, our son repeated the crime, at least, making the score somewhat even. Neither of them enjoyed going down…a valuable life lesson!

We also had to teach them about “the poker face”.

If you are not familiar with 500, the Joker is the highest card and just let me say there was a certain amount of jubilation when the kids had the Joker. We’re talking about jumping up and down with ear-to-ear grins doing an extremely exuberant version of the Happy Dance. Definitely no mind-reading required.

This is also a good life-lesson. All of us need to learn the distinction between what’s public and private and that there are some things you need to keep to yourself. Given how people plaster all sorts of selfies all over the Internet these days, learning how to hold back is a valuable life skill.

Naturally, we are wanting to continue these card nights. Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it sounds, even though we’re all keen. There is always so much to be done! My real hope, though, is that the kids can teach their friends how to play and it’s something they can do together, beyond playing computer games. A way they can connect. With this in mind, we’re already planning to get a few families together to put the wheels in motion. I can’t wait!

I should just add that we are fairly involved in our local community. Our kids both do Scouts. We go to Church. We’re involved with the school. I’m even part of the local dog walking community. This gives our family this extra layer of support. We’re not parenting them alone and they also have also these beautiful outer layers of the onion…as well as our extended family. That means that as we head towards what is often seen as the tempestuous teenage years, that we have back up. We, and indeed they, are not alone!

I have to admit that I was jubilant when our game of 500 went so well and that I’d finally “done something right”! It’s so easy to feel like you’ve failed as a parent and that you’ve really lost your way but then all of a sudden, the light comes back on and the wheels are turning again. You might not always be all “happy family” but at least, you’re content!!

After all, so often relationships and people are not broken. The pathways just need a bit of weeding, maintenance or a new direction to reconnect. Relationships are a journey with ups and downs and twists and turns in the road…not a straight, level road!

Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.
Charles R. Swindoll

I should also add that since my son fought off the virus and his cough has settled, he has also perked up a lot. That reminds me that as parents, we need to keep the faith and believe in the bigger picture and not get caught up in setbacks along the way which really can look like the end of the world.

We can never give up.

The one thing I haven’t mentioned, although I guess it is implied, is the incredible love I have for my kids and that connection we have. There is nothing else like it. Somehow, that love fuels my journey, even when I’m discouraged. During the terrible twos, I was told “tomorrow is another day” and that has also helped carry me though the rocky patches.

There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Do you have any advice for parents facing the teenage years? Anything you’d do differently?

Love and loads of patience and courage for the journey,

xx Rowena

Loads of messy dishes: the sign of a great night!

Loads of messy dishes: the sign of a great night!