Saturday, August 30, 2014

No Loitering

Listen, mate.  About the closed gate and the "No Loitering" sign that we've posted in front of it.

Since I'm assuming you don't own the dictionary you threatened my daughter with, I thought I would define it for you.

According to Webster's New World Dictionary (an old hard-bound copy I have lying around and not the online version) loiter means the following:

1.  To spend time idly; linger in an aimless way.  2.  to walk or move slowly and indolently with frequent stops and pauses.

I know you can't help walking slowly, being the size you are.  But "idle" suggests " a habitual avoidance of work, or inactivity, indolence, etc."

Indolent means:

1. Disliking or avoiding work; idle; lazy.  2.(Medical.) A.  Causing little or no pain (an idolent cyst)  B.  Slow to heal (an indolent ulcer)

While the terms idle and indolent should hit a nerve, they actually don't define what you are doing in front of my gate verbally attacking my daughter.  That is mean, malicious and possibly illegal. 

Sigh.  Malicious means "spiteful, intentionally mischievous or harmful."

Malice means:

1. Active ill will; desire to harm another or to do mischief, spite.  2. (Law) evil intent; state of mind shown to do, or intentional doing of, something unlawful.

Spite is:

1a.  A mean or evil feeling towards another, characterized by the inclination to hurt, humiliate, annoy, frustrate, etc.; ill will, malice

Roget's International Thesaurus links spite to hate and hostility and malevolence.  It furthermore...

Wait.  A thesaurus is "a book containing a storehouse of words; specifically a book of antonyms and synonyms."    (Webster's again.)

Well shit.  An antonym is the one that means opposite and synonym is the one that means the same.  To use a thesaurus you first have to...

You know what?  Never mind.  I am tired of having to dumb myself down in order to fit in and not make everyone else feel stupid.  I am tired of being the bigger person and of being nice to small people who are just plain jealous, mean, childish, ignorant and lazy.

Let me backup and make it clearer for you: stay the hell away from my daughter, my family, and my property.

Or else we are calling the coppers, mate.










Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ryan Meets the Green-Eyed Monster

Ryan apologised to me today for being rude to an adult neighbour who walked by this afternoon when I wasn't home.  When I asked her what had happened she told me that she wrote down the entire dialogue after it happened as a way of processing it.  (Woohoo!)

The power of the written word!

She reminds me this is a FICTIONAL story (wink, wink) and that all names have been changed to protect - well, who the hell are we trying to protect anyway?  Names changed for the sake of propriety!


Tony A Gaskins puts it this way:

The closer you get to excellence in
your life, the more friends you'll
lose.
People love you when you're
average because it makes them
comfortable.
But when you pursue greatness it
makes people uncomfortable.
Be prepared to lose some people
on your journey.
 
Ryan E Connor (I mean Amy!) puts it this way:
 

Amy is a 14 year old horse crazy girl. She home schools due to problems at school and to focus on her dream: To become a famous horse trainer. She also belly dances with new friends, that are more like family. Amy is in year 8. She repeated the end of year 4 when she and her family moved from Germany. She has 4 younger brothers.
Amy's Diary:
Regular State School hasn't taught me to be happy. Horses have. And so has dancing with my friends. The only thing school has taught me is how some people are just a big waste of time. 'There comes a point in your life when you realise who really matters, who never did and who always will.
 
Thursday August 28, 2014
After I finished school today, I went out and took care of Midnight. I groomed him, cleaned his paddock and hand grazed him.
As I was out hand grazing him two ladies walked by leading their ponies dressed in riding gear.
Hello Amy. Did you know Bailey got a C average on her report card last term? Did you know she got a C- in her recent Science Test? What did you get?”, The lady in pink NDHD top and cream jodpurs said in a rather snobby tone.
I got a B- on my Science Test and a B average on my report card.”, I replied casually.
Then she seemed to notice that I was holding a different horse. Talk about stupidity. There is a big difference between a bay horse with no facial markings and a chestnut horse with lots of 'Bling'.

“So, you got rid of Zorrow then, eh? How much did you sell her for?”,she was still talking in snooty tone.
”We didn't sell her. She was never ours.”, I replied, starting to get annoyed.
”What's wrong with this horse?”,she was getting snootier.

”There is nothing wrong with him.”
 
”Well if you aren't going to tell me what is wrong with him, tell me who owns him. He needs a chiropractor, he isn't standing normal.”
”He is my horse.”, I said proudly. Giving him a pat as he gave me a kind nudge. And he doesn't need a chiropractor, his feet are just sore from his shoes. If you don't believe me ask my parents”,
”Our horses don't get shoes plus the chiropractor visits them every 6 months. You don't deserve a horse like that! You do nothing, your parents do everything for you! You wouldn't know the meaning of hard work and deserving a horse like that, even if a dictionary hit you.”,
That was when I completely lost it.
”Really, so me being out here everyday taking care of him, grooming him, feeding him, watering him, cleaning his paddock, rugging him, riding him isn't hard work?”, I said in the same tone as she was.
”Well, Bailey does the horses once a week, and you, well, have never fed a horse in your entire life. She has the interest and you don't.”
”Yeah, well I feed him everyday. Twice a day. And for your information, I have the interest and the passion. And you will see, once I become a famous horse trainer.”,
”Well, if you don't show how do you expect to become famous, hey? Bailey got 5th place at a recent horse show. I bet you have never even been in a horse show. Bailey will be competing against Sonia next year, and you won't because you have to start at the beginning.”,
”I actually have. And I placed 2nd,1st and 3rd. But I don't car about winning. And anyway, Midnight is at a Prelim Dressage level. Plus, Bailey will only compete against Sonia in her dreams because Sonia trains and works hard and she goes to shows as often as she can. Sonia is at a higher riding level than Bailey, and she always will be if you don't train. You can't expect a horse to win a show if you barely even ride it once a month.”
”Well, I guess we won't have to worry about competing against you, since you can't even get to shows. And you need to work on your manners girl.” And she walks off. The lady who was walking with her gives me this sympathetic look and follows.

”I'm not the one who needs to work on manners. Come on Midnight, let's get you ready for bed.” I said to Midnight once both ladies were out of ear-shot.

After half an hour, they came back and stopped by our driveway and looked in.
I pretended to not see them. They watched as I fed, rugged and watered my own horse. She has to pay her daughter to feed the horses, she doesn't do it out of free will.
I am sick of people telling me that I don't deserve a horse or that I am doing something wrong. I was taught never to hit a horse with a whip, that only makes situations worse. I trained the last horse I had, with weekly lessons on how to re-school this horse. Now, Zorrow is a safer horse. It was time to move onto a bigger challenge and my own horse. I will train Midnight to be an All-rounder. I will teach him to jump, western and tricks. And tackless, of course.
I have been riding for a long time. And I have been working really hard. There are people out there who don't deserve horses. Especially the person who said I didn't deserve a horse like Midnight. That is the second time I have heard that.
Stop correcting me on things I already know. Stop telling me I don't deserve a horse because the fact is... You are the people who don't deserve a horse. You are the ones who don't really know the meaning of hard work and deserving. 
 
Note from Amy's mother:  I couldn't be prouder of you honey.  There are times to be polite and there are times to stick up for yourself.  Good for you for refusing to be bullied by a jealous adult.
 
The more you grow into your own, the more other people are going to be intimidated by you.  (It doesn't help that you have the figure of a Greek goddess and the confidence to match!) They will tell you you are just fine and should be in regular school and that your parents are just coddling you and catering to you and treating you like a princess and giving you things that you don't deserve.
 
Take it as a compliment.  You are just fine. 
 
And I am taking it as a compliment as well.
 
Thank you, Green-Eyed Monster, for reminding me what a wonderful job my family is doing!!!
 
 
 

 
 
  





































Monday, August 25, 2014

Technophobe Rant

Computers still make me so mad.

Doesn't anyone else see what I do:  that these tools that were supposed to make our lives easier have instead taken to dominating our time?

Mostly I think they are a big waste of time and I don't bother with them.

But every now and then someone convinces me that I am missing something and so I try it - for the kids.

Mindcraft?  Biggest time suck I have ever seen.  1980s technology.  Concept that is just a lame computerised version of Legos.  My kids can get brainwashed into it just like any other.  But it's a worldwide phenomenon and now my kids can say they do it just like everyone else.

I would prefer they come discover the Glass House Mountains with me.  Hammer apart some sandstone to see what's inside.  Build a Lego version of the mountain.  Tell me what they've thought about that day.

Granted, I have met a couple of autistic boys who create a comfortable world for themselves on Minecraft.  And who then use it as a means of communicating with other kids.  Cool.

But let's all stop pretending our kids are brilliant for being able to use this program.  I mean: it IS meant to be user friendly, isn't it?!

Last week we watched a kids gaming news show.  Apparently someone has created an exact replica of Mount Everest on Mindcraft.  The hope is that someday the entire planet will be realistically rebuilt on Mindcraft.

Really?

They can't get these people to work on solving the current Ebola crisis or TB or AIDS or world hunger or cancer or poverty or the Mid East?  Never mind the last one:  I finally looked it up online.  They have been fighting for over 4,000 years.  Christ couldn't solve it.  Mohammed couldn't solve it.  Where the heck is that saviour the Jews keep waiting for?  Heads up:  NOW would be a good time.  If you don't get blown up before you finish childhood. 

But those issues would require moving out of your parents' house and working on something other than computer games.  (Look:  Temple Grandin said it first and SHE's autistic.  So don't come down on me!)

Same with two year olds figuring out our IPhones.  Once again: icons you don't need to read to follow.  Instant gratification.  Our newest gadgets are MADE for a two-year old mentality.  Which is good since that is what I see all around me everyday.

But, of course, I HAD to try Reading Eggs.  Go ahead: it's so great for getting your kids to read.  Forgetting that my other four kids had learned to read WITHOUT Reading Eggs, I decided to give it a go with Ian. 

Ten years ago I made the same mistake with Baby Einstein.  The video shows moving images and objects designed to stimulate your baby's brain.  Like going outside or playing with blocks or coloring or SPEAKING wouldn't do the same thing?  Was this just a ploy to get people to feel good about sticking their kids in front of a TV screen instead of paying attention to them?

Ian has taught himself the letters and letter sounds over the past year while I was busy worrying about Ryan's schoolwork.  He DID use some technology: those abc toys that you press that then tell you the letter.  But then he walked around the house - or outdoors - and found letters and told me about them. 

And we read books. 

Books.  Remember those?

Today he wanted to learn about the clock - really, he asked - and I taped some numbers in a circle on the floor and he stood inside them and whirled around telling the time with his sword as a pointer.

I AM showing off a bit.  NONE of my other kids had this interest in letters and numbers before they were three.

But I'm finding that SPEAKING to him and LISTENING to him works a lot better than throwing him in front of a computer program. 

Like he really needs to get hooked on facebook.  Talk about a time suck.  Last week I had a dance mom get mad at me because I hadn't checked facebook that day to find out about the new performance she had booked in. 

"Is Andrew to able to perform at the Mango Hill gig?" she asked.

Not knowing which gig that was - and having quite a few Mango Hill gigs with RYAN's dance troupe as well - I asked her which one she meant.

"The one at Mango Hill,"  she replied. 

I had that one coming.  I am TRYING - and lately failing - not to be judging common IQs.

"What date it is?" I persisted.

"Oh, I don't know.  Uh.  Sept 3, I think?"

Note: SHE was the one who had put up the notice that afternoon!

"What time?"

"Oh.  I don't know.  It's on a Wednesday.  We all live nearby anyway.  It shouldn't be a problem.  Let me know if he can come."

Deep breath.  Not only does EVERYONE in the world NOT live in North Lakes or Mango Hill, (think USA military base without the soldiers in combat gear checking under your car for explosives at the entrances) but it apparently would come as a huge shock to some people living there that most of us wouldn't WANT to!  Plus, Andrew still has soccer on Wednesdays from 5 -6 and while HE has mastered the juggling act quite well, I am getting a bit old for it.  And have four other children to juggle in addition to Andrew.


I politely declined the invite.  Honestly, if you can't tell me person to person while I am standing right in front of you, then I am not wasting my time going to facebook to get the information.

Don't you dare text message me while I am still in the room either!

Maybe I AM retro, old-fashioned, German, Steiner, hippy homeschooler, anti progress.

My kids play board games and dress up as knights and superheroes.  They write books for fun and color home-made birthday cards.

As for Reading Eggs?  I am pleased to report that Ian doesn't get the concept at all.  The egg makes a big splat and a fart noise if you press the wrong letter.

"Heh.  Heh.  Heh.  Reading eggs farts, Mom,"  he tells me, as he intentionally presses the incorrect answers as often as he can.

It certainly does my little wonder boy.  Let's put on your spider man outfit and superman cape and go out and see what magical powers you can imagine for yourself this morning.

Without the help of a preprogrammed computer game.




Saturday, August 9, 2014

Hanging the Laundry To Hang the Laundry

Better things to do than dishes!


On the other hand, I have this laundry thing down pat.

I LIKE doing the laundry.  You take the filth out of the room, throw it into a machine that hums and thrums for an hour and a half, letting you know that you are getting the job done without really being there at all.  THIS I am present for!

I have the kids trained to throw their stuff into the machine.  Damon too.  Most of the time.  Once it is full, the machine sings prettily as I punch in the cycle.  I even use the "conserve water" cycle so I can feel really good about myself.

And, when the machine is done - and again sings sweetily at me - I go out to hang the laundry on the line in the clear Australian sunshine.  Depending on the load - whether it is full of socks or full of one of Damon's work outfits - it takes me twenty to thirty minutes to hang the laundry.

I have a system.

I love my system.

I make order out of the chaos.  Socks and undies here.  To hide from the neighbours.  Sports stuff here.  Mine there.  Ian.  Ryan's riding gear.  School uniforms go on hangers in the shade.  The twins stuff gets hung together and sorted later.

I think of the Americans who waste so much energy on driers.  And on the Germans who have to hang their laundry in their basements for four days before it dries.  I feel really really lucky to be in Australia hanging out my laundry in the sun. 

Australians also have a very American approach to ironing.  Heads up Europe:  you can mostly get away without it.  Put the shirts on hangers on the line.  Spray with lavendar.  Heck, I don't even do that.  Only cowboys iron their jeans in the USA.  So far no one in my gym has noticed that my sports gear is wrinkly. (Hmmm.  Maybe if I lost more weight?!)

The only thing that used to get me down about the laundry is the inside out socks I used to waste time turning rightside out.  All I could think about while I was doing it was that if the boys (and Damon) could be just that little bit more respectful of my time and do it themselve then I wouldn't be stuck doing it for everyone all at once.  It made me so mad.  Like I have all this time to waste on turning out their flippin' socks.  Like they couldn't respect me and love me enough to do this for me.  Heck, for themselves.

About nine months ago I got fed up with it all.  I figured I would teach them a lesson.  Let them work it out for themselves.  If they left it inside out, then so would I.  I happily handed back socks that were inside out or worse - where one was and one wasn't.  Whatever.  Let them learn.  If they want their socks nice, then they can learn to do it for themselves.

And you know what?

No one noticed.

No one noticed.

Not one male person in my house - and there are five of them - noticed or cared that their socks were inside it when they put them on.  And here I was getting myself all worked up about it.

They didn't learn a lesson; I did.

I no longer worry about their socks or a lot of other things - like how the beds are made - because you know what?  They don't.  If it doesn't matter to them, then why was I killing myself doing it for them?!

No one noticed.

I was righting socks for no one but myself.

Once I freed myself from that obligation, it's amazing what followed.

No more single socks waiting for a partner; turns out the boys also don't care if they are wearing two different socks in a pair.

They also don't care if they are wearing underwear or not.

Or if what they are wearing is truly clean or not.

And so - within reason - why should I?

It is truly liberating to hand control of their own lives over to the men.  It cuts down on the workload tremendously.

I sometimes wonder if we could solve all the wars in the world by just letting the men manage things on their own.  Once they ran out of socks they would find it hard to invade.

I still need to be heavily medicated - St. John's Wort DOES help - to clean the dishes.  (Ick, yuck, all that grease and food.)

But I would really miss hanging the laundry.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Washing The Dishes

Zen Master Ian

Over twenty-five years ago I browsed the campus bookshop at Cornell University and picked up a few books - on my parents' tab - that weren't in my curriculum. 

I still have most of them with me today.  Maybe I should have added them to my curriculum when I had the chance but back then I was conquering the world and only mildly interested in all this hippy shit as more of a lifestyle statement than an actual path to personal change.  What was there to change?  I was eighteen and perfect!

I have yet to understand most of them to this day.  The Vedas?  Upanishads?  Uh huh.  Good thing I ran into that Indian man (from New Jersey!) in the Atlanta Airport that day five years ago and had to spend eight hours in line with him during the snowstorm.  He directed me to a better version of the Bhagavath Gita and so at least I have a running start with that one.

What was a little white girl doing buying Indian spiritual books in Ithaca, New York twenty-five years ago when she was supposed to be studying chemistry?

And why did it take another twenty years for the universe to strand her at the airport with just the right guy to point her in the right direction?

The other book I think of most is "The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practise of Meditation" by Thich Nhat Hanh.

I have only made it through the first eight pages in twenty-five years, but those pages stick with me.

Once I have mastered the simple principles outlined in them, I aim to go on to Chapter Two.

On page one Allen learns how to make all time his time by no longer dividing into time for work and time for family and time for bills and time for groceries.  He makes his time with his child count as his time.  And time spent with his wife count as his time.  So that he now has unlimited time for himself.

I get it. 

In theory.

And every now and then I even manage to make it work for me.

I think of eating the tangerine, described on page five, all the time.  Jim gets so excited talking and talking about the future that he has no idea that he has peeled and eaten a tangerine at the same time. 

It is about mindfulness and being one with the present moment and what is right in front of you.

I do try.

But this one about the dishes I really can't get my mind around at all.

"If while washing the dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not 'washing the dishes to wash the dishes.'  What's more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes.  In fact we are completely incapable of realising the miracle of life while standing at the sink.  If we can't wash the dishes, the chances are we won't be able to drink our tea either.  While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands.  Thus we are sucked away into the future - and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life."

On one hand, this is what I am doing all the time while maniacally driving the kids around and planning their schedules and figuring out how to get two soccer matches and a dance rehearsal into one Saturday.  Before 11;00 am.  And setting up Ryan with a horse and the opportunities for a future in the equine industry.  Andrew with a possible soccer career.  Because the engineering just seems cut out for no good - why are they learning about roads and bridges?  To help the mining industry?  What about sustainable fuels and renewable energy sources?  Someone has to make batteries smaller and more practical to use.  They did it with silicon chips.  Oh - and dance, if the soccer doesn't work out. 

Ian and I go to the library and to gym time and music time to give him the best foundation to build upon for his future.

The future.  I am bound to the calendar and to the future, and am unable to live in the present.  I get that.

It's the part about the dishes that bothers me.

I don't want to be alive to do the dishes.

I agree wholeheartedly that "we are completely incapable of realising the miracle of life while standing at the sink."  Or in the kitchen at all for that matter.

I feel that I am only alive to be doing the dishes.

And I feel that there are better things I could be doing - with the kids, with my husband, for the world, for myself - than the dishes.

I get the whole living in the present thing, I really do, but I still don't see the part about obligation to the effin' dishes.

Maybe I'm not humble enough.

Maybe I have to go back and reread Chapter One. 

Problem is:  I have to go and wash the bloody dishes!




Thursday, August 7, 2014

Running Through An Airport Naked

Awww!  How bad could THIS get?!


Why is it that I think about the fact that I am having recurring dreams of being lost in airports - and of being on a crashing airplane - more than about what happens to me in my waking life?

The crashing airplane thing two nights ago was no worry, really.  I had one crash a few years back and the dream just ended and it was all grey and my dreaming mind thought: oh, that didn't hurt at all and I am in control of my dream after all and so what that I died in this one, let's see if I can get a better one going. 

Same thing with the out of control cars and the nudity.  Really.  If you just ACT like you have clothes on in your dream, no one else in your dream notices you are naked.  It's YOUR dream.  It's also why you can dance like a moron and look like a professional or breath underwater or fly.  If the car is really out of control, let it crash and start over. 

The breathing underwater thing I mastered as a kid.  You just have to focus and relax.  (Shame I haven't figured it out in the real world, yet!)

Flying took some more time.  It's a matter of getting enough height and not letting the earth drag you down.  (Look.  I SEE the parallels!  I just can't apply them, yet!)

So what about the two possums I missed crossing the road on the way to dance class a few nights ago?  Wow is that sentence full of  - dangling participles is it? 

To clarify, I didn't miss the possums.  I saw them both.  I just didn't hit them with my car.  The possums weren't on the way to dance class, I was.  Although, why did the possums cross the road?

And what does it all mean?

Did I make it clear that the possums weren't a dream?  No?  I think I had better stop with the possums.

The best - and clearest - message I got from the universe came through the post this afternoon. 

The Brisbane School of Long Distance Education sent back Ryan's artwork from last semester.  Including the giant face mask made of recycled cardboard which we told them we never really needed to see again, thank you very much, feel free to save Australian taxpayers the postage. 

My universe has a sense of humour.  I spend three hours weeding out my facebook account of unwanted clutter.  And it sends me trash.  Marked "fragile."

Maybe I can use it the next time I am running late through an airport naked.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Great Purge Begins: Defragging My Facebook

Seemed like a great picture for having too much too handle!


So. I didn't have the courage to "unfriend" many people yet.  Only a handful.  People who have really made decisions in life that I can't abide by.

Most I just stopped "following."  Because I don't need to see their family photo albums or hear about what they watched on television or where they went for dinner or know what they are doing at the shopping centre on a Sunday. 

And this isn't because I don't care; it's because I don't have time to be personally involved in the lives of over 200 people living in every continent on earth except Antartica.  People I have met in my previous life as an expat, people I went to school with lifetimes ago, people I only knew for a few short years or people that just seemed really nice at the time.

Some of them I can't even be sure how I know anymore.  Who are they and how did they end up my friends?  I checked the country to be sure.  Ahah, Germany, must be English Group. 

It turned out I didn't have a lot of people on there I actively disliked.  Although there was one I just realised must have unfriended ME months ago.  Problem solved.

Most are just really kind or interesting people or people with similar skills or hobbies and interests.  Or kids with Asperger's.  Or kids the same age.

I had to keep all the family members, of course!!!

I unfollowed anyone who I was only keeping on there just in case they might help me in some way in the future, that were a good connection to have.  That is not a reason to keep tabs on someone.

And I unfollowed anyone I kept on there only to keep tabs on them, to compare, to see how their lives are going, to make sure my life is okay.

I strongly suspect this is why most people are on Facebook to begin with.

I unfollowed anyone who gave me that "not-so-good" feeling, people I was never REALLY friends with but we ran in the same social circles, people I was close to once and who then turned mean, people that I never really liked that much to begin with but felt I had to friend because they asked me to.

I unfollowed a lot of really really nice and great and interesting people too, people I just don't have the time to follow up with and whose content is just bogging me down.

I kept people with mutual interests - my old writers' groups, my new dance troupe - and true friends who are truly interested in the same things that I am.

If you read my blog, or have told me how fantastic I am recently, I kept you too! 

And already my content has changed to reflect my interests - world interests and social concerns  - rather than being a barrage of unwanted information on daily activities and suburban trip-trap.

I made that last word up.  I don't know what I mean.

All I know is that I didn't care about most of the shit that was up there before - even if it was posted by people I really liked - and now I am learning about Rita's view on the atrocities between Israel and Palestine and what Margarets thinks about representations of the Romani people.  (Or that Sharon likes my pretty dress.  That's really important too!  I need people who care about ME as well as the state of the world.)

By clearing out the clutter, I have made room for the people who post things I am actually interested in. 

I am hoping that defragging my facebook is just a small part of finding myself again, of remembering what I am really interested in and what really matters to me.  And who.  Yes, Mat, for reminding me of what's really important. 

It's part of not trying to please everyone else, of learning that not everyone needs to be my buddy, that I need to focus my energies in order for them to be effective.

Although commenting on my blog or how great I look in my dance costume really works too.