Happy birthday my friend

Happy birthday to my friend Joyclyn.

I like being around you. I like our conversations, but I am just as happy to sit in silence with you, drinking tea. Though I don’t think that’s ever actually happened as we always have fun things to talk about.

I like that our conversations are (mainly) about ideas and life and experiences and dreams and fun things, not complaining about this that and the other.

You are fun, kind, interesting and capable. Time with you is always time well spent. I’m looking forward to that New BeGinnings cocktail on my deck some time, and more laughs and good chats over tea and freshly made olive bread.

The happiest of birthdays to you my friend. May the following year bring joy and surprises ❤️

Love, Renae xx

When life gives you lemons…

…just order a shit sandwich, a Gin and Tonic, and dive right in.

These are lemons from my lemon tree. They are huge and juicy and I love having a citrus tree in my garden. When I started writing this post in my head a couple of months ago, the tag line was “when life gives you lemons…. share them with your friends” and it was going to be about how in the past 18 months I’ve shared a lot of my life-lemon moments with my people. Oh and how I’ve also shared my actual garden lemons with them too.

The point I think I wanted to get across was that the more people you have in your life to share your lemons with, both theoretical and physical, the less sour your life will be.

Unfortunately, I’ve been in such a mood, on and off, these past 10 or so days, that the post in my head took a turn for the cynical, and here I am. You see, on Sunday, my back situation started steadily declining, and by the afternoon I knew I was in a bit of trouble. Monday I spent in bed resting, but around 5pm, it went into one hell of a spasm and I just thought “of course.”

At 4 in the morning, when I had three kids in my bed and couldn’t sleep, I was messaging my friend in the UK (hi Kat!) and said “Without sounding completely hopeless I’m not even bloody surprised. I’m just like oh yeah. That seems about right” to which she responded “Sucks when you start to get used to the shit sandwiches”.

I couldn’t quite figure out if it was sad and cynical, or actually kind of dark and comical. I just wanted to give a big old “up yours” (my new favourite emoji, BTW) to the universe and be done with it.

Thankfully, with the help of some good drugs, my back was okay to fly and I had a marvellous trip to Rocky. And maybe it’s not a bad thing that things don’t rattle me much these days. It’s not like I’m waiting for shit sandwiches to be served to me on gold platters, it’s more that when they are, I can stomach them without too much drama.

And while life, and my tree, keeps giving me lemons, I know I have a whole bunch of people I can share them with. Maybe even in a G&T or two 🙂

10 things on the 11th

I received a text message the other night from my friend Kate, of a list for my 10 things on the 10th. Kate and I have known each other our whole lives. It made me cry a little, but mostly made me grateful for good people in my life who love me and are there for me always. So here it is.

Guest post by Kate White

10 things you may or may not know about Wifey.

1. Before mobile phones she wrote reminders all over hand.

2. She did Ballet as a child. (I was jealous)

3. She was mean bass player, both the guitar version and double bass.

4. She can enter a kitchen with nothing in it and like MacGyver come out with a yummy meal.

5. She made me vomit during the delivery of my first child when she entered with some sort of curry smelling meal.

6. She has a big crush on Bradley Cooper.

7. She lived in Edinburgh in her early 20s.

8. Her heart is absolutely broken but that never stops her being a fabulous mama.

9. Despite her extremely busy complicated life she will always help a friend in need

10. Her family mean the world to her. She was happy Nanny got to meet Chance but would love to have seen Nanny and Quinn together, facing off with their stubbornness.

I love you Kate xx

The first 40th

I attended my dear friend Luke’s 40th over the weekend, which has kicked off 40th season for me! I’m a 1980 baby, so many of my friends will be turning 40 next year, but of course some are a little younger and a little older, so it’s nice to space them out.

Luke and I have known each other since we were 15 years old. He’s one of those forever friends and we have so much history. I just adore him. He is one of those good humans I spoke of on the 10th. He has a beautiful wife and three gorgeous kids, and is just one of those people I will always make the effort to spend time with.

When he told me about the party a couple of months ago, I just said “yep I’m there.” No matter what, I was going. And it turned out that a friend of mine was driving through Brisbane on his way home to Mackay, so I got to catch up with him at the same time. It’s all in the timing!!

The party was up in Luke’s home town of Gympie. We started at the Bonsai Brewhouse at Cooran, and then headed back to his parents’ property for bonfires, wine, and great conversation. Okay, by then it was mostly talking shit and belly laughing over German sausage innuendos but whatever. My belly was honestly sore yesterday from all the laughing.

Luke, you’re a bloody legend. Happy birthday 🙂

You are with me

There are so many things that remind me of the wonderful, special people in my life. I don’t want to brag, but I’m pretty good at remembering where gifts have come from. I love wearing the earrings Dad picked out for me on one of his trip to NZ; I adore the necklace I bought as a gift to myself, from my favourite cafe in Wangaratta; and I feel so loved, putting on my rainbow scarf that a good friend gave me just after Frith died, among so many other things.

One of the newest additions to my treasure trove, is my new favourite bag.

I have very talented friends in my life, and very generous friends indeed. One of these lovely friends does incredible crochet work, some of which I had purchased in the past at markets, and some I’d seen on her facebook page. I knew she had a way with denim, so I asked if I could send her a few pairs of Frith’s jeans, (he had over a dozen pairs!!) to turn into a bag.

And she absolutely nailed it. I also sent her the dress I was wearing when I heard the news on New Years Day, to use as the lining, knowing I would never want to wear it again. This is me wearing said dress, the day that I had bought it at an op-shop in Melbourne on our trip together in November 2017. Our final trip to Melbourne.

I get a lot of compliments about my bag, and I love that it pretty much goes with anything, just like jeans. Also pictured in that photo is a gorgeous bracelet/cuff that my dear friend Sian bought me for my birthday, and Frith’s wedding ring that I will often wear.

Today has been a rough day. There is just so much sad news going around, and too many families losing loved ones the way we lost Frith. It breaks my heart every single time. What are we to do?

He is no longer here, but he is with me, always.

Kite Fest 2019

Just over two years ago, Frith and I took the kids (the three that we had at the time – I just realised I must have been about 35 weeks pregnant with Julius!!!) to the Emu Park Kite Festival. I just found that blog post and had a read and it’s quite relevant to this one too!

I had pretty much resigned myself to taking the kids this year, though I wasn’t overly excited about it. Jacques took Chance and Quinn last year and had a great time, but this year I was going to be there, as well as Darby, and that just changes the dynamic, as well as the rules of the game of spending money.

But. I was smart enough this time to go in with a plan.

I told the kids that they had $25 each to spend, and when they ran out of money, that was it. Of course that meant absolutely nothing to Darby, but he ended up somehow sticking to his limit. Quinn had another $25 in her wallet from her birthday, and I said she could spend what she wanted. And Chance had an extra $5 in his wallet, so he could spend that too.

And it actually worked!!!! As usual, Chance wanted to find an awesome toy, and Quinn wanted to get her face painted, and they all wanted slushies – some things never change!!

We went to church this morning, took Julius to Gran and Grumpy’s for a sleep, headed down to Clontarf and met up with Uncle Jacques a little while later.

The weather looked a little ominous for most of the day, but thankfully the rain stayed away for our visit there. Chance was super helpful, taking care of Darby and holding his hand and pointing things out to him. It was incredibly sweet.

After cruising around for a while, and thankfully not being lured into rides, showbags, or “sideshow alley” we made our way over the the kids area to line up for face painting. While Quinn and I waited, Jacques took the boys around a bit, and they chose a few toys to buy and played at the jumping castle. Not far from where we were waiting, I spotted this entertainer on stilts.

I’m not going to lie. I kept looking around for Darby in his red hat, and waiting to see a blur of red streaking towards big bluey there and taking their legs out from under them. Not in a malicious way, but just for fun. Thankfully I was just being overly paranoid….

After a 45 minute wait, it was Quinn’s turn, and I’m sure you’ll agree it was worth it!!

You guys, face painting is not what it used to be, that’s for sure! That’s a stick-on horn that she got to keep as well. It was mesmerising! And she was so pleased 🙂

Even though they bought some dumb, overpriced toys, I really didn’t care one bit. They made all the choices themselves, and didn’t ask for extra money, or get disappointed about what was on offer. Chance and Darby bought Ninja swords (good grief…) and a few other bits and pieces, and they were happy to leave after a couple of hours.

We made our way home from Mum and Dad’s as this huge storm front was making its way over, and got home as it started raining but before it became torrential. It was a really soothing end to a super fun day.

Weekend Wonders

I think I’m still recovering from a very eventful weekend, and it’s Thursday, so we are already preparing for the next weekend!! Darby’s Godfather, Uncle Felix came up from Orange on Friday morning to Monday evening, and it was jam-packed with goodness!

It’s always a good time when Uncle Felix visits, like this time, and this time among others, in the past.

I had been making a to-do list for us to work on, with bits and pieces around the house that needed to be done. I bought my first power drill (woot woot!!) and in between making snacks for the kids, eating good food and drinking Prosecco, we got so much done!

Of course, there was plenty of time to play!

Friday night is always movie night!!

We hit the op-shop together on Saturday, for old time’s sake, and instead of the kids pestering me about buying crap, I directed them to Felix. Let’s just say he made a sizeable donation to Lifeline that morning, and our toy boxes are a little more full…

We had an awesome afternoon at home, after Uncle Jacques and Chance rode their bikes, and Felix ran, from Mum and Dad’s place. It’s about 10km and the weather was perfection!!

On Sunday we went to church in the morning, then headed up to Maroochydore to visit Felix’s family who were staying up at Cotton Tree. The weather was just as incredible, and the kids had two big swims in the pool, and we had a trip to the playground.

Felix’s Ouma then took us all out to dinner at an amazing Japanese restaurant at around 6pm, and the food was great, but the company was even better.

The kids were so well behaved. Honestly I was really blown away. There were only a few brain-farts during the day, and zero meltdowns which, after being awake and racing around ALL DAY, was a bloody miracle! The kids passed out in the car as we left at 7:15 and we got to listen to our own music and chat all the way home.

The next morning we took Julius’ new wheels, thanks to his Fairy Godmother Hayley, for a spin on the school drop-off.

And got through another bunch of stuff while we only had the two younger boys. When it was time to say goodbye that afternoon, the kids were so sad, but we are already planning a trip to visit Felix and his beautiful wife and baby girl in Orange in a few months.

I was pretty sad to see him go as well. Now more than ever, it is so incredibly important for me to fill my kids’ lives with amazing male role models, and I’m so fortunate to have people like Felix, as well as Uncle Jacques and Cousin Nathan (and others!!) who are such a wonderful influence and presence in their lives.

Until next time!!!

10 things on the 10th

10 characteristics of a good human, according to Wifey.

Good humans might be a part of your every day life, you may only get to see them occasionally, or you may only meet them once in your life. But when you come across a good human, you know you are in the presence of something special, and we would all do well to remember to be grateful for these people, and for the roles, big or small, they play in our lives.

1. Good humans make you feel welcome and at ease in their presence, with seemingly little effort on their part. This is truly a gift, especially when you have four children in tow.

2. Good humans will turn up, physically or otherwise, with what you need, even if you didn’t know you needed it; a meal, a bottle of wine, a small soy cappuccino, some fresh baking, (home made or store-bought, matters not) some kind words, babysitting, flowers, a hug, a box of tissues….. the list is only limited by the good human’s imagination.

3. Good humans will play with your kids, or walk your dog, or offer to keep you company on a walk. They will know which of these things to offer, that’s what makes them good humans.

4. Good humans listen; without judgement, without interrupting, without trying to fix your heartache. They will offer advice or wisdom if asked, but may indeed look you in the eye, and say “I don’t know what to say. But I’m here, and I’m so glad you are talking to me about this.”

5. One of my favourite characteristics of a good human, is how they respond to a request for help. If you are ever in the (privileged) position of being asked for assistance, and you can’t help out, please may I offer this as a response: “I’m sorry I can’t do it this time, but please ask me again.” As someone who finds it extremely difficult to ask for, or accept help, and now no longer having a choice, this response can mean the world, and I will always remember when people say this to me, to ask again next time.

6. Good humans will let you cry on their shoulder until you are a blubbering mess of snot and tears, and not move a muscle until you are ready to pull away and reach for the tissue they are holding for you.

7. They will make you laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time, by allowing you to be exactly how you need to be at that time, and they are not afraid to show their own vulnerability in those times.

8. Good humans participate in healthy debate, and aren’t threatened by other people’s views, when they disagree.

9. Good humans broaden your horizons; they introduce you to new music, their favourite place to get the best lunches, an awesome TV show you’ve never heard of, or a great brand of Prosecco.

10. And finally, good humans invest time in your life, and your kids’ lives (where applicable) to help you be the best versions of yourselves you can possibly be. They get to know you, and what makes you tick, and they build you up, knowing there is enough in this world that can tear us down in an instant.

I am so fortunate to be surrounded by good humans in my life. I know this is no coincidence, as Frith and I were always meeting new people, every time we moved, and it would have been easy to stay in our little bubble, and not get out there and meet all these good humans. But now, with my life taking such an unexpected turn, I am a thousand times thankful for the incredible people, near and far, who support me ever day.

This is my thanks to you.

“I’ve never seen you cry”

I have written this post over a few hours and a few glasses of wine. It’s not overly edited, a little raw, and I’ll appreciate reading it tomorrow, and in the years to come I’m sure.

Today was really hard. Not all of it mind you. Parts of it were utterly lovely. I took the kids to Sandgate Uniting Church for the first time this morning for the 9am service. I had my game face on; I had done some research and knew a few names from my time working for the Uniting church over a decade ago, and being a leader at Sandgate UC Youthgroup 20 years ago (gulp). And I knew that there would be welcoming smiles and a cuppa and Monte Carlo bikkie at the end.

I went in, armed with a calm voice and a kind mantra to myself. Guys, the kids blew me away. They were so well behaved and apart from a few very minor brain farts from Darby, I was incredibly pleased and super proud of them. We chatted to a few people afterwards, and Chance and Quinn are even keen to go to Day Camp this year. Day camp is where Frith and I met (we were leaders) for the first time 20 years ago this coming July.

When we got home, Quinn melted down over something (seemingly) minor, which was followed by about 20 minutes of her screaming/crying/pleading with me to help her but not being able to tell me how. I tried sitting with her and talking to her but she was such a hot mess of emotions. We got there with distraction (I showed her old videos of herself as a toddler) and some soft words.

My tank had taken a big hit, and it was only lunch time.

We then headed over to Mum and Dad’s to celebrate Dad’s birthday (it’s tomorrow) and we had such a great time. There were friends of my parent’s whom I hadn’t seen in a while and they are such great people and wonderful company. The kids pretty much kept to themselves downstairs watching their new favourite show “The Deep“. I had such a great time talking to our friends and eating wonderful food prepared by mum and dad. Just lovely.

Then we headed home and Woollies dropped off my order not long after that. Quinn was being incredibly helpful with putting things away and I commented to her about how proud I was of her and how helpful she was being. I felt so relieved that we were done with the outbursts for the day.

But I was wrong. Boy was I wrong. At around 5:30pm shit went down. And the shit hit the fan. And then shit was flung all over the walls. You get the idea…

I can’t even tell you where it all went wrong. I think Quinn pushed Darby over to get past him to get to me and demanded to know what was for dinner. I asked her to ask nicely and it was on like Donkey Kong. There was hitting and kicking and screaming and demands and crying and more screaming. I kept as calm as possible, but felt utterly helpless and no matter what I tried, I couldn’t talk her off the ledge.

I told her that before anything else could happen, she needed to apologise to me for hitting and being rude. She is such a stubborn little thing. Just like her Dad. Frith rarely apologised to me when he really should have. So so stubborn and argumentative. She was wearing me down, and fast.

Then she took it out on the boys as well and I just lost my cool. Not at her, but something broke inside of me. I started crying a little to myself in the kitchen, starting to think about a few people I could call to come and give me a hand. Honestly, the neighbours must be wondering who the hell has moved into their street. It would be hard not to judge. I know I would find it hard if I didn’t know any kind of back story and all I heard were screams of “Mama!!! Mama!!! Pleeeeeeeease!!!!” (Please make it better immediately somehow.)

Then Chance and Darby were having a pillow fight in the lounge room and knocked a bottle of wine off the sideboard. I heard the bang and looked at the wine on the floor and fell apart. Not about the wine, clearly, (plus it had only split the cap and there was just a puddle, not a bottle of wine in a million pieces) but just the feeling of helplessness; of utter desperation.

I let the tears pour out, knowing it was what I needed in this situation; knowing it was a perfectly acceptable response to my immediate and surrounding circumstances. You see, I’ve been on antidepressants for almost a year which have been numbing the pain. Before that, I was just running on adrenaline; keeping my head above water; keeping going for the kids; functioning at such a high and unsustainable level, that when I came down with a crashing thud in June last year, medication was a good option suggested to me.

Then when Frith’s brother Etienne passed away, something had to give and I started on the meds. They numbed me. They were doing the job I needed them to do, and it enabled me to just keep going with the kids; they enabled me to buy a house and move for the last time in a long time; they enabled me to deal with the big highs and lows the kids were having; but they also took away my ability to really feel those highs a lows myself. I have been on a slow simmer for months.

After talking to my GP, I have reduced my dose (which was very low to start with) by half, and I’ve felt more like myself these past two weeks than I have in years. It’s nice. I’m just chugging away on the half dose, and certainly feeling less cloudy than I have in a long time.

And it means I can cry.

I have not been able to cry for months. Not properly. In fact, one of the reasons I spoke to my GP about reducing my meds was because I had no avenue for release. When shit went down with the kids, I was like a pressure cooker with nowhere for the steam to go. It would just build up and I would get angry and feel out of control with nowhere for the emotion to go. I needed that release; I needed to cry and be able to move on.

So tonight I cried. I howled, all the while Quinn was continuously yelling “Mama mama mama mama mamaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”

Darby asked me why I was crying. He said “Mama it’s okay, the bottle didn’t smash!” Ha ha. He thought I was crying about the spilled wine. I kept crying. I didn’t say anything to him. The last few months of pressure was pouring out in tears and snot and sobs. “Mama why are you crying?” Darby asked again.

I could feel Quinn’s presence behind me; I could sense her apprehension; I could hear her quietness. I walked over and sat down as my cry subsided. I didn’t cut myself off; I was aware that I needed this, and that I also needed her to see it. Not to make her feel bad or to feel like she was to blame, but to help her understand that I am not a robot. To help her see that her actions had made someone she loves more than anything in the world, feel really sad.

Why are you crying?

I’m crying because I don’t know how to make you feel better and I get really sad when my kids are upset and I can’t make them feel better. I’m crying because I’m really upset. Maybe I’ll feel better after I have a cry.”

To be honest I don’t know exactly what I said, but I wanted to be as honest as I possibly could, while still being age-appropriate with how much I shared.

I’m sorry Mama.”

Followed by lots of hugs and soft words.

At dinner a few minutes later, the mood was light and calm. I said something along the lines of “what did we all learn today? Maybe we learnt that Mama sometimes cries too?”

I’ve never seen you cry before, Mama” said Quinn.

I certainly haven’t tried to hide my emotions from the kids, I just haven’t been able to get them out. Now they have seen me cry, maybe they will see me as more human; as more vulnerable; maybe a little softer than the Mama they have gotten to know these last 17 months.

I wish I could say the rest of the evening turned around after that, but after a disastrous bath session with the four of them in the tub, and far too much water out of the bath, I put them all to bed straight after, at 7pm. The three younger kids were out to it within 10 minutes, and Chance was asleep just after 7:30. I knew they were tired, I’m just glad they didn’t resist.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring. All I know is, I needed the cry, and they needed to see it. And I am drinking the wine that they compromised. I’ve been dreading cleaning up the kitchen (only a mild disaster), but I’ve just realised that it can wait until tomorrow. I don’t need to put that pressure on myself.

That’s where I’m at this fine Sunday evening. At least the wine is still okay… 🙂

~ Drops mic. Walks away… ~

Flashback Friday

2 years ago today ❤️❤️❤️

This is the best photo from about 20 that I took. Julius is 6 days old, Darby 2, Quinn 4, Chance 6.

There are a few blog posts around the time Julius was born that I’ve just re-read and am so grateful (yet again) that I have this amazing record of our lives for the last 12 years. Not just photos, but stories that, over time, you forget. It’s so lovely.

If you want to catch up, head here. (It’ll be newest stories up the top, so scroll down for chronological order 🙂 )

Soooo I am child-free for the next 24 hours! (Thanks Mum and Dad!!!!) I have already gone to Pilates, had 2 cups of coffee, I have a hair cut in half an hour, and have planned my dinner tonight (seafood marinara with zoodles and a hint of chilli! And a glass of bubbly) and I have to decide what movie(s) to watch. Oh I’m so excitied! I have no set plans for the afternoon, but I’m sure I won’t have any trouble filling in the time. And I get my bed all to myself.

I love my kids, and I love them more when I get a chance to recharge! Bring it on!