10 things on the 10th

10 Baby names we didn’t use

1. Silver – for a girl. Or boy. You can guess who chose that one, and who chose not to use it!

2. Gabe – short for Gabriel. Chance was going to be Gabe up until I was seven months pregnant and we heard the name Chance and liked it. It was always on the backburner but never got used.

3. Hector – cute or what!!?

4. Scout – I gave that a big old veto. Scout is a dog’s name, am I right??

5. Zeke – I really love this name, but Frith vetoed it for Julius.

6. Dash – Dash Foottit? I don’t think so….

7. Wesley – or Wes Lee. Ha ha. Didn’t quite stick.

8. Alby – how stinkin’ cute is that??? Frith vetoed 🙁

9. Louie or Linus – both adorable.

As you can see, these are pretty much all boy’s names, as we had a girl’s name picked out for a long time:

10. Lacey-Cate. The girl’s name we had picked out for Darby and Julius that we never got to use. We loved this name. I loved that it saluted the Cathy and Kates in our lives. Such a perfect name 🙁

There are actually HEAPS more like Victor, Hogarth, Bryce, Jesse, Leon, Sinclair, Jarvis, Archer, Lex, Howard, Bernie, Perry, Kiel, Luca and Aramis. Need a boy’s name? Feel free to steal one 🙂

Just another manic Monday

Julius woke up at 4am, but thankfully went back to sleep. Everyone was awake by 6:15am, so no complaints there.

I got to tell the kids that I bought a house!

I know right!!?? It’s in Brighton, where I’ve been concentrating my search. I bid over the phone at the Auction on Saturday morning from Melbourne and now we have a house! It settles mid-December, and we will move in January some time. Absolutely thrilled! Bought some bubbles to celebrate!

Not long after I told them, Quinny got her nose out of joint about something, and was up and down for the rest of the morning, saying she didn’t want to go to Prep. Also insisting she hated blueberries and only wanted strawberries. She didn’t want a banana or a peach either. I know it wasn’t about the fruit; she was tired and I’d been away all weekend, so I did try my best to be patient.

After stuffing around with school lunches, we were only slightly late for school. Quinn turned it around thankfully, and was happy to go into her classroom. As I was leaving the school, I was reminded that today was “Chappy Lunch Subway day” that I had already paid for weeks ago, which meant I didn’t actually have to make lunch for them. Sheesh!!!!!

I had committed myself to a series of cooking classes on Monday mornings at the church I go to playgroup at, and on my way I was feeling less than enthused. I’m pretty tired and have a lot to do with regards to the house, but I thought “I’ve committed, and it’s popular and I’ve taken a spot” so I wanted to honour that commitment. Plus I read we all received a “free slow cooker and Jamie Oliver cookbook!” Which I thought meant two cookbooks but no! I actually got a slow cooker! So I was pretty excited about that, since I don’t have one anymore.

I’ve now paid my deposit for the house, and have started scouring Gumtree for furniture. I plan to get everything second hand, as much as possible.

So yeah, just your typical Monday morning around here!

Going Solo and Melbourne

Mum and Dad went to Melbourne last Wednesday, and they return home today. I decided to “go it alone” with the kids at home, as a bit of a test run for when we find a house of our own. I did have some help (and lots of fun!) over the weekend with sleepovers and activities, and help with washing during the week, but for the most part, the last nine days has seen me single-parenting the kids.

And you know what? It’s gone rather well.

It’s one of those situations where, if you know you have to do it, you just do it. Having Mum and Dad around is an absolute God-send, and I really do appreciate how much they do for me every single day, especially when they’re not around. But I guess for me it’s nice to know that when it comes to it, I will be able to manage “on my own.”

Having something to look forward to has certainly helped! I head to Melbourne tomorrow morning for a friend’s 50th on Saturday night, and I get home Sunday night. I’m SO excited about this trip. You guys know how much I love Melbourne, and being able to see a bunch of people all at once will be such a treat. So this has definitely helped me plough through the night time routines and seemingly endless mornings.

I also feel like I have a bit of my writing mojo back which is nice. I have a lot going on in my head, a lot going down on paper, and not much going on the screen, but it’s nice to be writing again.

The title of this post was originally “Going Solo and Being Blindsided by Grief” but the grief thing is a post all in itself. I did want to say thank you for all the love after I shared that article on fb yesterday. It hit me rather hard and rather unexpectedly.

But right now I’m concentrating on my parenting victories, and my upcoming trip to my happy town. I might even squeeze in a spot of op-shopping 🙂

The perfect house

I remember when Frith and I were looking at buying a house in Wangaratta, one of the catch-phrases that and agent used was “Let’s find you a house so you can get your Saturdays back!” I feel like I need to find a house so I can get my life back! I live on realestate.com.au at the moment. I feel like I’m constantly hitting the refresh button to see if new houses have been listed; to see if “the one” has come up for sale.

I’ve looked at 21 houses in person in the last 6 months or so, and countless online. I’ve put in one offer (that was rejected for being “offensive”… don’t get me started…) and have tried to talk myself into a few houses that weren’t quite right, but possibly might have had some potential. I was contemplating all this house stuff when I had a quiet moment to myself the other day (it didn’t last long).

I’ve never had to look for a house under these circumstances. And I’m not just talking about being alone. I’m talking about knowing the kids and I will be there for many years to come, and not just another year here or a year there.

The thing is, over the last 11 years, I have always found us the right place to live. Sometimes my options were very limited, by budget and location, but often that was also a blessing. Sometimes we decided we wanted to buy a house, but it didn’t come through for us for various reasons. Sometimes, the stars aligned, we found a house we loved, and we moved into it. And sometimes we have been plonked into a house or townhouse with not much say in it (due to Frith’s work). But no matter what, I have always made it into a home.

The house we bought in Rocky* was the only house we looked at. Yes, we literally made an impulse purchase on a house. And even though I never ever intended on buying a  fixer-upper, even though we cursed it regularly, and spent way too much money on it, we loved it so much, and it really felt like home. The memories we made there as a family, are the only ones the kids will remember with Frith. It’s the only home we had as a family of six.

My point to all this is that, no matter what house I buy, I know I will make it our home. I’ve never been in a position to buy a “forever home”, or at least a 20 year home, and it’s daunting as hell. I guess I just have to have faith that no matter what, we will be at home wherever we are.

*I love this link because if you click on the photos in reverse order, it shows the before AND after!!

I’d like to thank the Academy

Look it was a team effort to be honest. It’s a really big deal and it’s really hard to accomplish eight hours of solid, only once-interrupted sleep as a mother of four children under eight. I just couldn’t have done it without everyone’s help.

I’d like to thank my son Chance, even though you did come in to my bed during the night, you were like a Ninja and I didn’t even notice, so thank you my darling. I’d like to thank my daughter Quinn, for not losing your “Dadda shirt” off your bunk bed during the night and calling out for me to retrieve it. You’re such a sweetheart.

Thank you to my darling Darby for sleeping in your bed all night long and not having to get up to go to the toilet. What a champ! And my baby Julius, even though you woke up at 2am, I brought you into bed with me and you went straight back to sleep. After the rough couple of weeks we have had with 5am wake ups, and even one 4:45am, waking up with you at 6am was just heavenly. I felt like I could conquer the world!

Let’s try it again sometime team!!!

<awards music comes on, drops mic, walks off stage>

Trying to remember all the things

I fear my memories of Frith are fading.

I was trying to think of one of our silly jokes that we used to always do, and I can’t remember the punch line. It’s really frustrating me.

We used to do this other joke where one of us would say something like “want some chicken?” and the other would say “you’re a chicken”. It works with many things. “Have you seen my mouse pad?” “You’re a mouse pad.” See? So dumb and so versatile.

Once when we were unpacking after one of our moves, Frith asked me what was in the box I was unpacking. I said “Crafty shit” and he said “you’re a crafty shit.” Oh my gosh I couldn’t stop laughing. It still makes me smile as I type this.

That was a running gag between us for years. Anytime I was crafting, Frith would say “what are you doing” and I’d say “crafty shit” and he’d say “you’re a crafty shit.” And from then on, whenever we moved, I would label the box of craft with “crafty shit.” This was before the kids could read, thankfully 🙂

Whenever the kids asked Frith what he was doing, regardless of what he was doing, he would reply “making a sandwich”. The funny thing was, he pretty much never made any sandwiches, but on the rare occasion he ever did, the kids would be cluey enough to catch him out, and ask him. I try and do that too. When the kids ask me what I’m doing, I try and remember to respond with “making a sandwich”.

I’m finding myself desperately trying to remember all our silly bits and inside jokes. They are getting harder to recall. I’ve been writing them down as much as possible, but I know I won’t remember them all. And it seems the harder I try to remember, the more the memories elude me.

I just hope that they come back to me in other situations, in the years to come. I hope that I can be transported back to a memory with him; a sweet moment, captured in time by a dumb, off the cuff remark, that is in the depths of my heart, waiting to resurface, and to give me a little smile.

10 things on the 10th

10 more things Frith never got to do

1. Make his own boots – he found a course in Melbourne that taught you how to make your own shoes. The cost of the course girls buy a lot of boots…

2. Get a tattoo – he had chosen the artist; a tattooist down in Melbourne (he loved Melbourne) but hadn’t chosen the design.

3. Watch Lost and How I met your Mother.

4. Run for local office. That was something he had started toying with in Rocky

5. Do a guest post on my blog. Apart from announcing Chance’s arrival, which doesn’t really count.

6. Get the Lego Knights Castle. It was on my list to get him…

7. See the new model Delica. I think he would have wanted it!!

8. Teach Chance how to solve a Rubix Cube.

9. Read The Watchmen graphic Novel I bought him, or watch the movie.

10. Try 99% Lindt chocolate.

The Loneliness of Grief

It sounds like a good title for a book, don’t you think? To be honest, since Frith died, I’ve considered writing a book, and this is one of the titles I’ve thrown around in my head. It was inspired by something said by a fellow sufferer of grief; the wife of a doctor who died by suicide 16 months ago, who I have befriended and who has been such a comfort in my life this year. (Hi Sue x)

I was just sitting on the couch, trying to decide what to watch, and all of a sudden I was filled with the desire, the need to talk to Frith. The silence that fills this space, the void on the couch next to me, the absence of my companion, my partner in life, punches me in the face every so often. And tonight was one of those times.

Normally, I’m fairly present, and these moments don’t often creep up on me. I’m constantly aware of them, but they don’t take me by surprise, if you get my drift. For example, my brother-in-law, Jacques, is driving the kombi at the moment, and is staying with my mother-in-law, a kilometer down the road, and every time I drive past the kombi, I’m present enough to know that Frith isn’t nearby.

I know it’s because nothing here is associated with Frith, so I don’t have the constant reminders of him. If we were still living in our family home in Rockhampton, I would have a constant feeling of Frith about to come home, or listening out for him. In some ways I’m fortunate not to have that constant reminder that he’s not here.

Like I need to be reminded.

But tonight, I was caught off-guard, and wondered for a moment “where’s Frith and what does he want to watch, because I can’t decide”. And it stung. I don’t cry much, partly because I don’t have the energy left at the end of the day; partly because my life feels surreal and it’s easy to detach from the old and exist in the new. But I suspect it’s mainly because if I start, my heart breaks a little more, and it’s too hard to stop. There will never be an end to this loneliness and this grief, and the thought of having to acknowledge that is just too much right now.

Maybe one day.

It does matter

I don’t often read the news, but every now and then I scroll through and get sucked in to clicking on headlines. I came across this story today, and my immediate reaction piqued my interest, so I did some further delving into the depths of my mind, and here’s what I came up with.

In my opinion, It matters how people die.

For those playing at home, the article is about the Good Samaritan in Melbourne who stopped to help a motorcyclist who had been hit by a car, and she was hit by another car while assisting, and she died. This in itself is an absolute tragedy. Had it been five minutes earlier or later, she would most likely still be alive right now. Just one of those horrendous “wrong place at the wrong time” moments.

What I read today, was that the motorcyclist who she was trying to save, and who also died, was a “career criminal” and had been arrested for speeding and other driving charges.

My initial thought was “he wasn’t even worth saving!”

Woah.

I don’t know if it’s the shite year I have had that prompted that graceless response, but even I was shocked by the harshness of it. I guess unconsciously, momentarily, I put myself if her family’s shoes for just a second. She was 27 and left behind a seven and five year old. The injustice of it stung me. The what-ifs are deafening.

Then I wondered, would it be easier for the family if she was saving an upstanding citizen, with no criminal record, who left behind a loving spouse and kids of his/her own? Or does that fact that she was selflessly trying to save a fellow human being, because that’s what we should do matter the most? It’s easier to want to save people who are just like us, but what about the unsavoury characters?

That’s what Christian grace is I suppose. Loving those who have done nothing to earn it.

And yes, this has to do with Frith and Etienne as well.

For the past 8+ months, with a select few, I have been continuously discussing the lead up to Frith’s death; what was he thinking? What could we have done? When did this start? How was he feeling? Why didn’t he reach out? And the aftermath; what do we all do now without him around?

When Etienne died, of a suspected cardiac episode, there was no place for those conversations. It was just a horribly tragedy.

It does matter.

The heartache that we are enduring, that the boys’ family are living every second of every day, is monumentally unfair. We/they don’t deserve this, but no one does. No one “deserves” anything in this life, good or bad. Some people work hard and get to grand places, but they are no more or less deserving than someone else who works just as hard and can never catch a break.

So what do we do with this unfairness? Do we let bitterness creep in, and take over our lives? Do we continue with the what-ifs? Do we acknowledge that other people have a rough deal as well, and we are just part of the unlucky bunch who drew the short straw? Do we keep asking the “why” and “how” questions until we are driven to the brink?

Do we accept that we will never have answers in this life? And that the only way forward is to keep putting one foot in front of the other?

Maybe we need to play the hand we get given, and accessorise the life we have.

I don’t know. I just know that, to me, it matters how we live this life, and how we leave it.