Kintsugi

Kintsugi is the name of a Japanese art form and philosophy. In the art of Kintsugi, cracked and broken pottery is repaired with lacquer, mixed with powdered gold. As a philosophy, the breakage is seen as our most vulnerable point in life. The repairs are not disguised but highlighted to signify something that is fully healed and stronger. The repaired piece of pottery has strong core values, which is used as a metaphor for life, to not skip the struggles but to embrace it, by showing where your character is built. 

My beautiful cousin Emma gave me an early birthday present, and a lovely card explaining these black and gold hearts. I’m not sure that I’m fully healed, or that I will ever be, but I guess that’s the point. The cracks in my life are golden, they will always show, and I’ll never try and hide them.

Shock took the first half of my year, and I feel medication took the second half.

Don’t get me wrong. I needed both of these things, in precisely measured doses at these times, but it’s hard to look back at my year and not feel as though it was taken from me.

There are pockets of the year that are a mystery to me. I know I was living day to day, sometimes hour to hour or moment to moment, but months seem to have vanished.

I certainly have a lot of paperwork and paid bills to show for my year. I also have kids who are all a year older, and a few more wrinkles and several stress kilos added to my body, so the year definitely happened.

A friend asked me last week if I thought I had gone through the whole grieving process. Intellectually, yes I have. Emotionally? I’m on my way, as I’ve been working on it. I have time for that. There is no hurry. The golden cracks aren’t going anywhere.

I have made efforts this year to work through things, with counselors and psychologists. I am learning that I don’t need to make everyone happy; that my job is to work on my own happiness, as well as my kids. I’ve mostly come to terms with the lack of answers I will ever have. The coping strategies I used last year (mainly food and booze) are not long-term solutions, and I’m looking forward to backing off on those this year, and rediscovering other things that make me happy instead. 

This time last year, my world had fallen apart, but thanks to family and friends, I have started to rebuild. I look forward to 2019. It’s going to be a-okay.

What a great day

You know those situations where things don’t exactly go to plan, but you just decide you can’t do anything about it and just go with it? That was today. I had planned a birthday party in the park for Chance and Darby yesterday, but due to fevers and a spot of spew, decided to postpone to today, and hope for the best. And I got it!

We had such a nice, simple birthday celebration at home, with a big bowl of chips, a couple of cheeses and some Jatz, and a few plungers of coffee.* 

The boys are really into Super Mario at the moment, with Chance always choosing to be Mario, and Darby in love with Luigi, pronounced “Louie-Gee”. It’s the best! And easy to find inspiration for their cakes! I also found the hats and tashes on ebay, and just couldn’t resist!

I had so much fun making the cakes, (the 8 was my signature orange polenta cake with chocolate ganache, and the 4 was the best chocolate cake with chocolate icing – I’ve been making this for years and it’s best served at room temperature, for those playing at home) and it was nice to take my time with the decorating. I used pre-made royal icing (it’s the best!) and put it all together fairly easily. With a glass of bubbly and no interruptions, it was a great Saturday night in my books!

The boys were so happy with the end product. I hadn’t told them what I was doing, so it was so nice to see their faces when they saw them, though clearly, Darby has his poker face on here… 

My heart is so full as I type this and look at the photos. It was really exactly what I was hoping it would be – easy, relaxed, a few kids to play with, lots of adults around to help with the kids, (thank you in particular Nathan, Josie, Uncle Felix and Aunty Kate!!!!!) and very happy kids. In my present circumstances, what more could I possibly ask for?

And to top it off, Darby just came out and told me he had an itchy arm and can he have some cream on it. I put some Sudocrem on which I usually use when I change Julius’ nappy and he said “that’s butt cream.”

The perfect end to a marvelous day. 

*personally I had Aeropress with a good glug of Kahlua, but that’s just me 🙂

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.

My four in onesies

Ooh my heart ❤️

Look I’m not going to lie. I can’t believe it’s been over 2 weeks since my last blog post, and this is a quick-fix for that. I was going to blog about The Whitlams song but I ended up just putting a post up on fb because it was the easy option at the time.

My back is still annoying and niggly, and I’m really needing to get moving again which is being delayed, but I’m getting treatment and it’s slowly coming good. Julius’ burn is healing very well and his “sleeve” doesn’t seem to worry him much. He has to wear it every day, with a break for a couple hours, for at least a few months. What a friggin’ champ. Can you imagine any of my other kids being okay and not whingey about it if it were them??? Or me??? Nopey nope nope.

The last two weekends saw me at two of the best weddings of my life, hands down, in every way. The first was a country wedding at the bride’s family farm for one of Frith’s best mates. It may have helped that I had four child-free nights, an 11-hour stretch of sleep, and adult conversations. But I think it was most likely all the wedding feels.

The second, on the weekend just gone, was for my dear friend of over 25 years, Beth, who married the love of her life, in their back yard at their beautiful house.

Both weddings had so many gorgeous, personal touches, and there was just so much love everywhere. I also met some new people and had some great conversations. I still find it tricky to know whether a) they know about Frith; b) I should tell them about Frith; c) if I mention Frith in conversation, which I often do, where it will lead… It’s hard to navigate sometimes, but honestly, everyone is always so supportive and loving and caring, so I needn’t worry too much. It’s just the balance of the time vs the place vs the circumstances, you know? There’s never a good time, but I also don’t want to hide that part of my life away if someone asks.

Anyway. Hello tangent!

I will give a more thorough report on both weddings, with photos, very soon, but in the mean time, I’m still here, still tap-tap-typing away 🙂

Remember the time

There have been many stages to my grief this year. First there was shock, followed by a long period of numbness, overlapped by sadness, with some frustration, pity and bewilderment thrown in. If I’m honest, I’ve allowed myself a lot of sadness for my kids, and not a lot for myself. It’s been too hard.

There has been a lot of anger in my heart lately. A lot. It has definitely taken over the sadness; perhaps as a coping strategy. Self preservation of you will.

But tonight I allowed myself to remember some things about Frith, that I only I ever got to experience. I allowed myself to remember times when he was running late for work, all dressed up in his vest and tie and boots, me in my daggy pjs and dressing gown, hair all over the place. He would say goodbye to me, and I’d give him the biggest, longest, lingering kiss. It would stop  him in his tracks; he would be in a trance (yes, I was that good) and say “hmmmm can I stay here with you all day?”

I allowed myself to remember the quiet moments with the kids, when he didn’t know I was listening; his soft words, his cuddles, the endless number of stories he would read, or the countless times he would read Fox in Sox. He knew it by heart.

It was his birthday on Saturday. He would have turned 37. We had a family day filled with potjie, Lego, music, wine, a fire pit, movies, pjs, a skateboard, lemonade, lollies, Savanna Cider, and cheesecake. In case you don’t know, Frith hated cheesecake. But we all love it, and we all have our own memories of trying to make him like cheesecake over the years 🙂

Here was our day. Lego before…

Ice cold Savannas
Cousin cuddles around the fire
The skateboard
Brotherly love
The Lego, finished, hours later
Amazing beef cheek potjie!! Served with polenta. Thanks Ma!
The cheesecake (there was also home-made sticky date pudding and orange polenta cake that were, quite frankly, outstanding!!)
I know I’m allowed to be angry, and sad, and everything in between. But I also know it’s nice to remember some good times for myself, and not just remind the kids of all the wonderful things he used to do for them, and with them. He did a lot for me. We did a lot together. He loved me. And I need to remind myself of that every day, to keep his memory alive. And perhaps to help soften the anger that is sitting in my heart.

Another Pizzeys Trip

Oh wow guys. We went up to Hervey Bay last weekend for my Mum’s aunty’s 90th birthday and it was so amazing to catch up with those rellies. They are just some of the best people in the world, and even though I only see them once a year (sometimes less!) it’s always good for my soul.

We made an impromptu trip out to Pizzeys on the Sunday, and the kids had an absolute ball.

I have spent the last 20 minutes looking for the blog post I thought I wrote about our trip to Pizzeys two years ago, but I can’t find it anywhere, and can’t believe I didn’t blog about it! So annoyed. So some background info: My mum’s family own some old fishing shacks along the Burrum River and the place is named after Jack Pizzey who founded the area (or something like that!?) and we have been going there since we were kids. We grew up fishing and crabbing and boating and swimming and just getting up to all kinds of fun and mischief with our “cousins” (second cousins once removed if you’re playing at home!) and now all of us cousins have had kids of our own, and so the adventures continue. I will blog about our trip from two years ago for my Flashback Friday post. Stay tuned!

Anyway, Chance was desperate to go fishing (“Mama, I was born to fish!”)

And the older boys took Darby under their wing and showed him the joy of Burger Rings fingers!

Quinny stayed pretty close to me as there were dogs around and she’s not a huge fan of dogs at the moment, and we all took turns following Julius around as well.

Quinny was also the only girl there. There are a lot of boys in this generation!

And they are really all just lovely. Even though it was an exhausting few hours, trying to keep track of Darby (the place is a death trap for an adventurous boy like him!!!) and leading Jules away from this and that, it was 100% worth it.

25 years of The Whitlams

When I was 20 years old, my big brother allowed me to accompany him to a Whitlams gig at The Arena in Brisbane. He was a HUGE fan, and I was just getting into their music. He gave me some rules to follow (bottom line: be cool and don’t embarrass him) and I had a fantastic time. I saw them a few more times over the next few years, but not since.

About two months ago, I had a hankering. I decided that I wanted to go to a Whitlams gig. I didn’t even know if they were touring, but after a quick Google search, I found out they were on their 25 year Anniversary tour. What luck!! As the Brisbane gig had already sold out, I looked further afield. I even considered going to Melbourne, Cairns, Townsville and Albury, and making a bit of a trip of it. But since I hadn’t weaned Julius as yet (still haven’t) I didn’t want to go too far. So I booked two tickets to the Gold Coast gig at Currumbin RSL.

My friend Nathan, visiting home from the UK for a bit, was keen to come along, so we grabbed a yummy RSL dinner and joined the cue to get in around 7pm. When the supporting acts started (Deborah Conway and Alex Lloyd – both brilliant) it occurred to me that the Whitlams might not actually come on stage until 10pm!! And I was already yawning!

Anyway, we were one of the first ones in, so we positioned ourselves right at the front, near the keyboard. Thankfully they came on around 9:30pm and I did perk right up immediately!

I was rather excited when Tim and the boys came out.

The energy they still have on stage, even after 25 years is so fantastic.

Yes I was this close!!!

They played all of my favourite songs (there aren’t many that aren’t my favourite!) and it was so much fun to sing along.

Even though I didn’t get home until 1am and couldn’t sleep for a while because of the  adrenaline and the ringing in my ears, it was totally worth it!

A Grumpy Birthday

Happy birthday to you Grumpy!

We celebrated (last Sunday!) with cheesecake, a bike ride, some model tank building, chocolate cake, and watching the Snoopy Movie together to top it all off. Not bad for a Sunday. Happy Birthday Dad. You truly are a wonderful Grumpy 🙂

Flashback Friday – Julius is ONE!

That’s right folks. Today I’m taking you back to the delivery room! Lucky you!

I don’t think I’ve shared the kids birth stories on this blog (g-rated obviously) but there is one thing I remember about Julius’ birth that I want to share. You see, the canulas they use in maternity are HUGE needles. In Mount Isa, Frith was introduced to the practice of using a tiny bit of local anaesthetic for any canulas he put in. Many nurses/midwives/doctors would say “why would you give them two needles when you can just give them one?” The thing is, for my last two births, they missed my veins and had to try for a second time anyway. Two needles. Two HUGE needles.

For J’s birth, a midwife put the canula in, and after an hour or so my hand started throbbing. When we looked down, we saw it had tissued and was swelling up. Frith just took charge, asked for a canulation kit and some local anaesthetic, and got to work on my other hand.

I remember a wave of love for him rushed over me in that moment. He had my back. He protected me, and he got the job done with no pain. I felt fearless after that, knowing he was by my side for another birth. It also filled me with pride to be married to such an amazing doctor.

That evening, just before 6pm, we welcomed our little bundle of deliciousness into the family.

This year has been near impossible, but the joy he has brought to our lives has no limits. He is our little treasure and we can’t wait to see what the next year will bring for us all. We love you Julius xxx