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Moving Blog

Hi Everyone

I have moved my blog to http://shambolicliving.com/ my email subscribers have been transferred over and will continue to receive email notifications with each post.

However, if you were subscribed through your wordpress.com account I don’t believe I have been able to transfer you to the new blog (still trying to check if that’s the case).

If you head to the new site (and this site is going to be redirected there) you will be able to follow through email (or Facebook or Twitter).

Thanks for your patience as I wander unprepared into this new world!

Cheers

Janine

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Mother of Daughters

I am the mother of daughters. I don’t know how you raise sons. I remember watching friend’s sons leaping over lounges, wrestling on the floor and kamikaze body slamming each other and I would wonder “can’t they just sit down and do some drawing? I have some pretty glitter pens here”.

Instead we have lived in the world of Bratz and Barbie.We’ve drowned in fairies and sparkles. A world of cuteness and light … and then they grew up.

Our house is a seething mass of hormones “why are you crying?” “I DON’T KNOW WHY I’M CRYING”. My husband hides in the kitchen. “I’m cooking dinner, a very important task, everybody needs to eat, see I’m helping here, please let me stay in the kitchen, don’t make me go out there, DON’T MAKE ME TALK TO THEM”.

The dog hides under the table too afraid to venture out.

Unfortunately, I too am a girl. So I bring to the party my own ovarial complications. Just ask my husband, “I’m just mad alright, you are an idiot. I wouldn’t get this angry if you weren’t an idiot. MENTION MENOPAUSE AND YOU WILL DIE … DO YOU HEAR ME DIE”. (BTW I know ovarial isn’t a word, I made it up, it’s my blog and I can do that … don’t even think about pointing it out. Right just Googled ovarial it might be a word sorry I overreacted).

Right today’s a new day. Moving on…all is good. It wasn’t that bad. Then I catch husband marking the calendar, he’s planning fishing trips for the next 12 months but only on particular weeks. He’s going to be away a lot.

 

A Letter to My Daughters About NAPLAN

Dear Girls,

The Government decided that all students would be tested in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 to monitor their levels of literacy and numeracy. In theory it seems a good idea. Parents get a sense of where their child sits in relation to other kids, schools can identify problems and so on. In practice, teachers teach to the test. Endless hours of practice for the one exam. We’ve moved the pressure of the HSC onto eight-year-olds. Children recognise when they don’t do well and wear the “label” of no good at maths or spelling or grammar in their classroom for the rest of their education.

I want you to know NAPLAN reflects just one or two days of your life. It may reflect that you were coming down with a cold that day and couldn’t concentrate, it may reflect you developed a stress headache and the words went all blurry so you just guessed your answers, it may reflect you forgot to take the necessary equipment (seriously Hippie Child if you don’t put that maths set in your school bag NOW), it may reflect on that particular day you were on fire, remembered everything your teacher had ever said and managed to nail a great result.

What NAPLAN doesn’t show us is your talent for creativity, for music, for art. It doesn’t show us your love of books and the diverse range of reading you do. It doesn’t let us see your kindness when you help the old lady at the shop who has dropped her purse, or when you make the day of an eight year boy by letting him  join in the fun of jumping off the town wharf with you and your friends.

NAPLAN won’t uncover your ability to question, consider and formulate your own opinions on a wide range of subjects – oh the conversations we have had!

NAPLAN can’t tell me about the hard work and perseverance you have shown when faced with a difficult task you really, really wanted to get right.

NAPLAN doesn’t capture your strength when times are tough.

NAPLAN will not display your sense of fair play and your ability to work in a team.

NAPLAN doesn’t define who you are. It doesn’t determine your level of success in either literacy or numeracy – it is just your level of success on one given day – you can change the result in the many other days you have in your school life.

I hope you finish these eight years of education able to write a coherent sentence and work out how much change you are due at the shop but I also hope you leave school with a continuing desire to learn stuff, a curiosity about the world and an ability to examine things for yourself and come to your own conclusions about their validity.

By the time we get the results of NAPLAN we will all have moved on (it takes five months after all), but if you have aced it we will celebrate your success, if you haven’t gone as well as you hoped we will celebrate having a go. Whatever the scenario we will find a way to celebrate ’cause you know your mum likes a party.

Good luck today Hippie Child (and next year Princess Child)

Love

Mum

PS Here’s an interesting article on the NAPLAN

Growing Up Country

I grew up in a country town surrounded by blue-grey hills where houses sat on wide streets and had big backyards. In a time before the internet, digital TV, Skype and mobile phones when living in the country meant existing in an insulated time warp.

We had:

  • Two TV channels. The ABC and the local one which played programs years behind the Sydney channels.
  • Two radio stations. The ABC and the local one which played hits from decades past, with a strong country and western flavour and accompanied by the stock report and the funeral notices.
  • A movie theatre which went through long periods of being closed down, although when they were open we managed to catch the blockbusters of the time Star Wars, Grease, ET. We just caught them long after the city folk.
  • There were very few concerts. Although Jon English, in skin-tight jeans warbling Hollywood Nights, was one musician who braved the wilds of the bush to put on a performance in the closed-down movie theatre.
  • We weren’t a multicultural hotspot, the one Chinese family ran the local Chinese restaurant and just before I left an Indian family moved to the area and opened a, you guessed it, Indian restaurant.  Other than that it was burgers and chips from the takeaway or if you wanted to go posh you went to the restaurant attached to the local motel and had prawn cocktails, steak diane and chocolate mousse.

Socialising usually involved whichever sport you played – and trust me you needed to play a sport. Or, if your Dad was in Lions, it was going to the fundraising BBQ’s. You mixed with everyone, old and young.

It was cold in winter and hot in summer. Nobody had inground pools in the backyard, although a couple of lucky kids had the round, above-ground variety.  If you managed to score an invite to their house you spent the arvo bombing each other or freestyling in circles. Otherwise it was the town pool or the dam to try to beat the wilt-inducing temperatures.

We got ourselves to and from school. We rode bikes to our mates houses and nobody worried about where you were until dark.

We played in places we shouldn’t and made our own fun from whatever resources there were at hand, old cans, rocks, sticks.

When we got into a pickle we figured a way out with the help of our friends. Look you got up that tree you can get back down, just put your foot down a bit, you can do it.

There was only once we had to resort to calling on the adults and that was ’cause we needed an ambulance.

It was a childhood that built resilience, adaptability, imagination and a distinct lack of pretension.

When I moved to the city at 18 the friends I made were country kids just like me.

Where you a city kid or a country kid?

The Stages of Parenting

I hear young couples discussing the “best” time to have a baby and I chuckle to myself. Seriously, you are already over-thinking it. You can’t plan or prepare for the caper that is parenting. You just need to dive in head first and brave your way through each new crisis as it erupts. Look, I know you’ve seen those cute babies in the tv commercials looking oh so delicious. What you didn’t see was the behind-the-scene footage of screaming infants and the smell of poop as each in turn managed to deliver a big one just as it was time to shoot.

What you need to know is that parenting is a staged process. You need to pass the challenges of each level before you emerge at the end, grayer, tired, somewhat defeated but hopefully still upright.

0-5 They’ve handed you a newborn, congratulations you’ve passed your L’s

Every other gig in your life requires more preparation, study, practice and testing before you are regarded as competent. Parenting, not so much. Sure read the baby books, but trust me the baby won’t be on the same page as you for most of the next five years.

At this stage of parenting you need certain skills.

  • The ability to sleep not just standing up but while walking from room to room in your house rocking a crying child. You should be able to manoeuver around every piece of furniture with your eyes closed. Of course the ability is severely tested when your navy husband arrives home and messes with the system, that is closes the bedroom door, which you walk into face first because you DON’T OPEN YOUR EYES when you go to get the bellowing baby at 2.00am.
  • A duck and weave technique to avoid the flying food when they hit solids. Because they insist they CAN FEED THEMSELVES despite the complete lack of the necessary coordinating skills to move spoon from plate to mouth.
  • The speed of an Olympic runner to chase the three year old who thinks it is a great laugh to run away in the shopping centre.

5-12 Hallelujah you’ve graduated to your Red P’s

Right you can smell your independence – for six hours a day somebody else is responsible for your little angel. The plans you have for how you will spend that time, you’ll write a novel, you’ll scrapbook all your photos, you’ll catch up with friends for lunch. You soon discover that given the driving time back and forth (and the fact you keep on putting up your hand for reading groups, fundraising bbq’s and covering books in the library) 3.00pm can roll around pretty darn fast.

The vital skills at this point.

  • The ability to recall every stray piece of maths and english you ever encountered in your life and a creative dexterity with cardboard and toilet rolls. It’s hysterical, but the teachers actually believe the children are capable of completing homework sheets, home readers and an assortment of disjointed projects. Just remember in households around the world the same arguments are taking place; “I don’t know how to do it”, “But haven’t you done this in class?”, “That’s not how the teacher does it”,  “But the answer is right”, “You are doing it wrong”, “Look just write this down for God’s sake so we can get to bed before dawn”.
  • A strong heart to wear the myriad of disappointments inflicted on the tiny soul in this time line, when they don’t get invited to the party, when they miss out on qualifying for long jump (seriously, couldn’t everyone just have a go on the day of the athletics carnival?), or when they come last in the race.

12 – 18 The end is nigh you’re on your Green P’s

Look you think you are getting the hang of this parenting thing, then one morning your little darling wakes up a completely different person. Welcome to the teenager.

Here’s what you need now.

  • The negotiating capabilities of a UN Inspection team on a trip to North Korea. So help me you will have to justify and explain every decision you make and in most cases the teenagers will still  unleash the nuclear missile anyway.
  • High level driving skills and the ability to create a home-away-from-home in your car, because that’s where you are going to spend most of time. There will be parties, part-time jobs, after-school activities all of which require your taxi service.
  • Good quality car insurance when it comes to teaching them to drive.
  • A second job – teenagers cost money, lots of money.

18 + You’ve got your license

Holy cow, uncork the champagne, you’re home alone. Enjoy it while it lasts because here’s what will follow.

  • Hours of phone counselling over heartbreaking boyfriends, exam stress and crappy jobs.
  • Hang on to that second job – there’s uni fees and unexpected bills that keep cropping up you know, like rent and electricity.
  • Don’t redecorate their room just yet – like boomerangs they have a tendency to return – just when you had started to enjoy your hard-won freedom.

Disclaimer for Hippie Child’s friends who read this blog – the photo at the top is NOT her, and if by chance Princess Child’s friends start reading it’s not her either. I don’t think my god-daughter reads so  I reckon I’m safe in using her image.

What’s a Perfect Life?

How would you define a perfect life? Then how would you get it?

There’s a blog called Inspiration and Chai where a former palliative care worker has created a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Bronnie Ware, in her work with the dying found there were five themes running through their list of regrets as life drew to a close.

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish I had let myself be happier.

The list even now provides an uncomfortable reality check with the feeling that I too could get to the final boarding call with a few of those regrets in my excess baggage.

How do you then go about crafting a life that will give you peace and happiness while living and the certainity of ending with no regrets?

It seems the odds are stacked against us in the modern world. We now operate on a 24/7 cycle. Shops open 7 days a week late into the night. The internet (and we love the internet) demands immediate attention with little sympathy for those who step away from the keyboard (even for a short period of time) and fall behind in the information game. Two incomes now seem a necessity (although perhaps we have just structured our lives to incorporate two incomes creating a strait-jacket for ourselves).

Time seems rushed. Money seems less. Friends live further apart. Work seems more demanding.

My perfect life would look something like this:

  • Everyone healthy and happy.
  • Enough money to comfortably pay the bills, finish and furnish the house and enjoy some special holiday experiences.
  • Flexibility in our working lives.
  • The opportunity to write, and write and write and see where that ended up.
  • Many, many more meet-ups with friends local and distant, with lots of photos and some great blog posts to come out of it.

It’s not outside the realm of possibility, and I have taken steps to get there. I work part-time. I’ve got my Project 44 I’m working on. I’m blogging to get myself into the habit of writing. Although it still feels challenging with road blocks often appearing to getting what I want.

How would you picture your perfect life? How will you avoid regrets?