Thursday, January 29, 2015

On Motherhood.....

Before I had children,  during the rare moments when I even bothered to contemplate motherhood, I knew that I would be a good mother.  I also knew that I would have exceptional children because I would raise them well.  And that I wanted to become a mother to show my children the best of what the world has to offer.

I even thought I would terminate a pregnancy if the child were shown to be seriously mentally handicapped because I was so sure that my gifts of motherhood would be sharing superior intellectual pursuits.  (I also assumed God wouldn't really give me a less than perfect child anyway.)


Okay, I worried when Matthew - the twin with the fetal heart murmur - had a 1 in 8 chance of Down Syndrome.  But it was more about how hard it would be to deal with.  I never thought about termination.  And when the results for Ian showed high possibility as well, I was the one who explained to the technician that the risks were actually lower than the risks for my age at the time and that it was lower than Matthew's determined risk had been and that, after three miscarriages, I didn't care what my child might or might not have, I wanted that child.

As for sharing superior intellectual pursuits.  I've told you about the rock collecting, right?  And Ian's exceptional ability to mimic automatic weapons.

The child I have learned the most from is the one who DOES have a diagnosed disability.  Her disability is mild, barely noticeable, something I have intentionally not mentioned to her trainer.  It is more about not easily fitting into the mold, about being different, about refusing to be what other people expect. 

Through Ryan, I am meeting amazing young women who have an innate sense of who they are and why they are here.  I am inspired to learn from them and humbled that they feel I have anything to offer them.  Through Ryan, I am entering a world of excellence, where obsession becomes passion and passion becomes talent.  And where she is comfortable just being who she is.

The two young ladies I mention aren't even horsey ladies.  Now that Ryan has Bug, and is able to pursue her passion without limits, she is more comfortable involving herself in other activities as well.  Her soul is at peace and can now expand itself. 

Not that it has to really. 

I always knew I would have exceptional children.

I just never imagined they would be the ones showing me what the world REALLY has to offer!


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How DOES My Garden Grow?

But you don't want to hear about me.

The kids are doing great.

Ian.  Two years ago!

Ian, at the age of 3, looks like a 4 to 5 year old.  And has the verbal capacity to clearly explain to other 4 and 5 year olds that he is (and I quote!) "going on four."  Which is only a problem because he is closer to 3 than 4,  has problems sharing and is still in a diaper.  We're not sure whether to be impressed with his intellect or to despair over the toileting issues.  He is not only my only child to teach himself the alphabet as a two year old, and to learn all the letter sounds at three, but the only one who can simulate an automatic weapon firing and name various types of pistols.    He also does a mean hip- hop dance and plays soccer with the eight year olds but won't participate at music time for pre-schoolers and has a tantrum when asked to join organised activities.  I give up.

The twins have started Year 4.  Matthew finally got the (digital) piano he has been asking for and began formal lessons this afternoon.  He is our special kid, kind and sincere.  And most likely on the spectrum but doing really well, despite - or because, of it.

Aidan and Matthew.  Also two years ago.  Imagine them taller!

His twin, Aidan, is the one person in our family who we can without a doubt say is not on the spectrum.  We aren't quite sure what to do with him.  He is a man's man, a bloke, and it kind of scares me.  Although he also likes collecting rocks and got a rock collection for Christmas.  So maybe there is hope for him yet.

Andrew is, and always has been, our wonder child.  He breezed through the Year 7 Engineering Excellence program still hardly applying himself (something which frustrated his teachers) and spent his free time playing handball or soccer instead of joining the science and maths clubs.  His passion remains soccer and I stopped telling him to look for other options - just in case his knee blows when he is 25 - when he told me that engineers could design weapons of mass destruction for the military.  Yes they can dear.  Shut up and practise your shots on goal!

Andrew.  Has since outgrown bike.

Ryan has blossomed.  From being my trouble child, she is now my friend and guide.  She has just started Year 9 at The Brisbane School of Distance Education and is thriving there.  Last year, she received a merit award for English.  She is accountable for her own education and maintained a B average last year.  This year I hope she learns to put some effort in outside of online classroom hours.  She is still dancing with Soul Dance.  And she has Bug.

We bought Bug, a 16 H, chestnut, 5 year old Thoroughbred gelding, last August.  Bug is proof that good things do find you at the right time, but also that you may have to work for them.  Bug is worth way more than we could ever have afforded for Ryan - and when his owner also threw in his bridle, two rugs and offered to deliver him to us on top of it - it really was the universe finding the right family at the right time.

Two years ago.  But horse actually on the bit!

He is SO beautiful!  And trained to a much higher level than we'd ever expected to find in our price range.  Thank you, Bec! 

Bug changed our lives.  He is the reason we moved from Narangba to Dayboro.  And the reason Ryan has learned to work a horse in frame instead of just sit on a horse and ride.  Funny enough, Bug, if you hadn't decided to give us trouble and start rearing just to test our determination, well, then we probably would have tried to save money on training and just ridden you on trails and in pony club.  And by "we" I mean Ryan since no one else in our family has the skills to ride you.

Through Bug we met Robert and through Robert a whole group of enthusiastic horse people who are happy to work with Ryan rather than threatened by and jealous of her enthusiasm and talent.  At Robert's place- where Bug spent much of the month of December - Bug, our big flashy chestnut Thoroughbred, became "that little chestnut" compared to Robert's big, 17 H Warmbloods.  And, although Robert now admits that little chestnut did give him a run for his money, we now have four feet on the ground and a trainer who only lives 7 minutes away by car.  And keeps trying to get Ryan to choose show jumping or eventing over dressage.  Baby steps, aye Robert.  We just got this horse ON the ground!

Well, at least ONE of us is a proper Aussie!
Oh dear.  Not only does this sound like one of those Christmas cards I used to spoof (did I tell you about the new house has a media room?!) but I spent more time writing about the horse than about my children.  But for the last few years I have been hiding how hard it has been - financially and work wise and socially and emotionally.  Sure, I complained about Ryan and school, but I wasn't honest about how much we've struggled to understand this place and to find our place within it. 

Only other migrants to Australia - and perhaps especially to Queensland - will understand this.  After four years I can admit that I get angry at the lack of a work ethic and the lack of a value for education and knowledge, that I see around me. (What's really annoying is that, until now, the standard of living here is amazing WITHOUT work and education!) But I can also say that there are Australians - even Queenslanders! - who have the same work ethic and educational standards and life expectations that I have and I am able to surround myself with them instead of trying to understand the others.

I have hidden the struggle, but I've also hidden the successes.  My kids rocked the National Tests - all my kids - and this year we even learned what that triangle on top of the range of scores is for.  The kids that exceed expectations so much for that year level that they don't know where to put them.  Andrew also rocked the International tests in maths and science.  Ryan received a Merit Award for English, which is really nice since the other three tend to be holding down the maths and sciences.

And we also know other families whose kids are equally successful.

We work hard for those successes and we shouldn't have to be ashamed of them.  "Tall poppy syndrome" was supposed to cut down arrogance, but is has become a way to encourage mediocrity.   Why shouldn't my kids do well at school?  Why shouldn't they succeed in their extracurricular activities?  They work hard at them.  Many Dayboro residents - especially those poor souls on our street - know that Ryan rides Bug nearly every morning, before 7 am, at the Showgrounds.  And have seen her doing hills around town - with me on foot.  Matthew plays the piano every day, multiple times a day.  Andrew practises soccer with mates down at the Footy Field.  And Aidan....collects rocks.  Really nice ones too!

And so, yes, thanks for asking.  We've had some struggles.  Way too many struggles in fact and lots of despair.  2014 sucked.  It was probably the worst single year I have ever had.  And that is saying a lot considering what I felt like in Germany. 

All I remember of the bad times is slogging through it and keeping going for the kids, struggling hard so that at least the kids were okay, so that the kids didn't suffer for our bad choices, our rotten luck and/or our personal failings.

So that now, when things are finally looking up, I shouldn't have to apologise for my successes.  I have often felt, in the past year, that I had nothing to show for my life.  I haven't published a book, had a brilliant veterinary career, I don't garden or sew or paint or sing.  What do I do?  What do I contribute to society, what do I create?

You should see her two years later!

I am in the process of creating five productive lives, five positive, happy, healthy, bright, eager and interested human beings. 

And they, in turn, are in the process of creating me!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tolstoy, Tarot and Speaking in Tongues

January 2013.
Has it really only been six weeks since the summer holidays began (and ended)?

2014 went by in a haze of exhaustion/depression/anxiety/hypothyroidism/anemia and mental illness.  Not necessarily mine, for once.  What DOES happen when a person whose mental condition requires truth collides with one whose mental condition exists on lies and manipulation?  It is a Stephen King "what if" scenario: Autistic Spectrum Disorder meets Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  Thank you to Dee for recognising the second disorder when I described it so that I was able to educate myself and understand at least part of what was happening to me.

One pub, four churches, a butcher, a baker and lots of vintage/retro shops later, Dayboro is the haven I have been searching for. 

Couldn't find it in a bottle; the St. John's Wort only stifled the symptoms.  Giving my red blood cells the iron they were begging for helped some, as did finally giving my metabolism some thyroxine to run on.  And yeah, I am still relying on those B12 injections to keep me running.

I'm still tired a lot of the time.  But now I'm mellow and happy and tired instead of stressed out and anxious and tired. 

And that's a start!
December 2012.  Flat tire in Beerburrum.

Damon and I took the kids to our annual Christmas nativity church service again this year.  Only this time the church didn't tell us that we were sinners for not believing the same way they did, or rant about Israeli and U.S. politics or simply bore us to death.  (Which is what has happened the last three years at the Hip-Hop Christmas Carol, the Uniting Church of Australia and the Catholic Church, respectively.)  This year, Pastor Gary spoke about unwrapping our Gift.  And then we prayed for rain.

Six rain-drenched weeks later, I've mentioned to Gary that we might let God know that we're good on the rain now.   

Six weeks later, I feel as if I am emerging from a life-affirming hibernation.  We've only left Dayboro to go to the amusement parks on the Gold Coast.  And I really don't ever want to leave it at all.

But school started yesterday.  And the old problems are cropping up already, like weeds after six weeks of rain.  (Sorry.  Had to be said!)

December 2012.  Flat tire somewhere else.
I can handle the schedule.  Until Saturday at least.  On Saturday, January 31, 2015 Ryan and I have dance practise from 8:30 - 10:00 in Old Petrie Town.  Andrew's soccer sign -ons are at Redcliffe until 12:00.  (The twins have been signed up online for Murrumba Downs or else we would have to do BOTH clubs in one morning.)  The Year 4 class at Kurwongbah is in charge of the Election Day Sausage Sizzle/Bake sale which I should be able to help at from 1:00 -2:00 before helping distribute some fliers for the Greens Party until 4:00 because Damon and I  are due at  Kobble Creek at 5:45pm.  This Saturday.  Which I just realise is going to have to start at 5:00 am because Ryan needs to work Bug before dance class.

The tarot cards I bought on December 12 told me I would be travelling, but I had hoped they meant it spiritually or emotionally.  Or at least meant a trip to the Pacific Islands!

No, Pastor Gary would NOT be happy about the tarot cards.  Although, funny enough, they were the things that pointed me towards going to church.  I also FINALLY read War and Peace around Christmas time.  And The Count of Monte Cristo.  I am now rereading Les Miserables.  Once you get into the writers from the early 1800s, it is really hard to go back to Sci-Fi and Romance!

And yes, all these old dudes believed in a divine purpose for man.

The Abbey, 2013.  What it should be.

I'm still not saying a lot of what I want to.  Damon and I are involved in a court case.  (And I can't even finish THAT sentence the way I really want to!)  And I am trying to stay positive and surround myself only with people who are positive for me. 

Soul Dance.

I have been able to do this for over six weeks but now the year is starting and we have spotted three of the five most offensive culprits in the last two days.  Number one allows her husband to molest her children.  We don't need to see her again.  Number two is just competitive and controlling.  Which is a recipe for disaster if you are trying to deal with me and mine!  The three we have seen lately are just plain competitive and nasty and mean.  And they don't mean well for me or for my children.  Oddly enough, all three are in competition with myself and Ryan.  Why Ryan and I evoke this enmity in people who are less than happy with themselves is a question I need answered.

Indigenous Australian Art Exhibit at Art Museum in Brisbane.  2012

I  have grown enough to know that I don't need to be friends with everyone, that I don't even need to particularly like everyone (beyond in that Namaste, love your neighbour as yourself kind of way), and that I certainly don't care anymore if they don't like me.  This is a HUGE step for me.

Ryan has always felt this way.

The Abbey, 2012.  Familiar friend being kind and making us feel special even before we knew her!

What I'd really like to learn in 2015 - in a year where all of my dreams are being realised - is how to negate that bitter hate when it is directed against me and my family only because we are happy and doing well.

I don't know if I'll find the answer in classical literature any more than I will find it in the tarot cards.  I suspect I may find it in community work and positive prayer.  And I hope that, when I do find it, it speaks to me in a language that I am spiritually aware enough to understand.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

There's No Place Like Home!

Phew!  How things change!

I posted a blog in the beginning of September that maybe I shouldn't have but I am so glad I did.

Only a handful of you read it.  The count was 15.  You figure my family in the USA and the few close friends I had here who knew what was going on and that brings the count to 10.  The people I wrote it about - who were NOT meant to see it! - and they then showed their families and the count is 15.  So no public damage done.

Apology sent.  Blog post pulled.  Power of the written word - for good and for damage - noted once again.

It wasn't even all that well-written.   Yes Dee, it's strongest point was the "Broken Fences" title.  And yes, it WAS a metaphor.  But since I obviously would have had to explain it, not well done.

Most appalling to me, as someone who purports to be a writer, was the atrocious beginning.  I started off by talking about the Tao and Buddhism and Jesus and what a great person I was and how nice I was to everyone.

And then proceeded to tear into this other person.

So not cool.  So not what any spiritual guide intended. 

My apology was immediate and heart-felt.  I never meant to hurt anyone.  And, if it helps, I never meant for them to see it.  It was meant as a vent to close friends and family overseas.  The people who usually read my blog.  All ten to fifteen of them.  Most of them safely overseas.

The impact of that post has been life-altering though, and so I can't regret writing - or even posting - it.  Since then I have finally gotten myself to a different doctor and am being treated for severe anemia in addition to primary hypothyroidism with possible pituitary involvement. 

That explains a lot.  Like why I can't breathe or why my chest hurts when lifting weights.  Why I get dizzy or start to sway and almost fall asleep on my feet.  Why I am so snappy and anxious.  And exhausted.  Why I basically feel depressed - a huge fear - despite not really being depressed!  Severe anemia.  Severe hypothyroidism despite normal routine tests. 

It also explains why the sand in Ian's sandbox looks like the most delicious meal ever!

I have been taking iron and an increased dosage of thyroxine for three weeks and am already feeling better.  I still have dark circles under my eyes but my hair isn't as brittle and my skin isn't as grey.  I still get fatigued but not as early. 

I am starting to actually enjoy things again instead of just going through the motions.

If I can accomplish all that I have this past year without energy, just imagine what I will be able to do once I have a full contingent of working red blood cells and a metabolic system!

The same day I physically collapsed and literally couldn't do it anymore - because I could barely stand up anymore (and yes, this is what it took to get me to the doctor!) - was the same day we were asked to vacate our rental property.  For defamation of character due to said blog post.  (While this actually isn't a legal reason to cancel a lease, we took the out and ran with it.  Who wants to live next to someone they aren't comfortable with?)

And after that things just got better and better.  Everything fell into place.  Everything went right.  Everything.

It was like Damon and I - in our fear - were telling the universe that we were okay living like this, that this was as good as we could do or that it was all we deserved and all we were asking for.  It was okay to act like the people we were surrounding ourselves with (note: NOT literally the neighbours!) and to accept their different (okay, I mean lower!) expectations as our own.

I finally valued myself enough to go to the doctor and get the care I needed.  And to tell the universe what I really want.  That yes, I have the right to it and that yes, I deserve it.

We came to Australia 4 years ago on November 3.  And I finally feel like I am in a home and  in a community that fits who I am. has a dishwasher! 

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
People love you when you're
average because it makes them
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.


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.