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!

It’s been too long!

Hey guys! How’s things?! Gosh it’s been a while, hasn’t it? I know I missed the 10 things this month; I was even going to do a “20 things on the 20th” yesterday, but missed that as well! It’s all been happening around here; up/down, good/bad/ugly, and everything in between!

Most importantly, Julius turned 2!!

This kid cracks me up. He is getting more and more communicative and adorable by the day. And so independent and full of ideas!! Still happy to (mostly) go along with the other kids, but he’s learning to stand his ground, that’s for sure!

I was pretty pleased with the cake I made for him too.

Chance and Quinn and I got so hooked on Lego Masters. What a great show!! I was super skeptical to be honest, but I loved how it really was all about the building and not about the drama. After putting the boys to bed, we would wait until they were asleep and sneak the TV on. It was lovely actually!

Speaking of lovely, Mothers Day was really nice this year. I went out the evening before for my cousin’s birthday, and while Darby and Jules had a sleepover at Gran and Grumpy’s, I got a great night sleep at home, and Chance and Quinn got themselves up and put the TV on and let me sleep in until 9:30!! Had a nice catch up with Gran and Grumpy for brunch and then back home for rest time, movie time, gardening, and fish and chips for dinner. Then the seven of us watched Lego Masters together! 🙂

This was the view from our house the other morning!

I found an Easter Egg last week that the kids obviously missed in the egg hunt!! Bonus!!

We got a pet fighting fish that the kids named Jeffrey, after a character in a show they watch called Deep. The character is also a fish. The kids want guinea pigs, but a fish is even better!! 🙂

I think that is just about everything to catch you all up! I have a few blog posts kicking around in my head at the moment, but am finding it hard to get the motivation up when I have the time, and adding brain space to the equation… well….. it’ll happen some time I hope!

I don’t really want to join in the choruses of “I can’t believe it’s May already” but honestly, I feel like I’ve lost a year. I know I can’t get it back; I know I can’t turn back the clock, and I know I have to find a way forward, and to forgive myself for my unhealthy lifestyle, knowing it doesn’t have to be like this forever. But gosh it’s hard. Some days are better than others, but generally I’m just finding the day-to-day grind takes everything out of me.

I wish I could outsource my “self care”, but I guess that’s the point. It’s about putting myself first, if only for half and hour a day, to recharge, so I can be a better Mama, and a nicer person to myself.

Now I might have a quick nap before the afternoon shenanigans begins!

Aaaaaaaaaand Julius just woke up….

A Mixed Bag

And it’s not even the 10th of the month! Although it seems to be fast approaching! Ugh. In fact, it is May the 4th today, International Star Wars Day. A lot of random things have been popping in to my head the last few days. What better place to share them, than here!

I love my kids, and I love watching movies at home. However, I do not like watching movies at home with my kids. They get so excited that I’m sitting with them, that they jump all over me and ask a million questions. Hard pass.

The kids are watching Ratatouille tonight. As a rule, I generally don’t like when animals and people interact in movies, but I love this movie. I also loved eating some delicious pasta with sauce from my freezer, made with love by my lovely friends who visited a few weeks ago. Delicious thanks ladies!!!

Me and the lovely Sarah

I spent a whole day (finally!) yesterday, child-free and unpacking and organising and sorting my house and it finally feels like my home. As I was getting ready for my shower last night, I found a piece of Lego stuck to my boob. I remembered that earlier, I was picking stuff up, I found some Lego and didn’t have a pocket so I stuffed it in my bra. Classy as.

People keep telling me to take time out for myself. And I do try, but Quinn has been particularly clingy lately (and super feisty!!) so “me time” is often “us time” but I do love colouring in, so it’s quite lovely. Today we had a couple of hours to kill while Chance was at a party, and I wanted to hit up a couple of op-shops, and she didn’t want to, so I pestered her for an hour until she finally caved. Winning.

Julius turns two in two weeks. He is so hilarious and cute and a delight and funny and adorable. But he is also nearly two, and he is all that comes with that territory. And I’m being re-introduced to all the challenges that come with two-year-olds. The tantrums, the defiance, the lack of effective communication skills, the getting in to everything, the fussy eating etc etc. It did occur to me that this is the first time I have had a two-year-old without a newborn in tow, so that’s got to be a plus, right? RIGHT???

Look at that strut!!

Julius has also be sick on and off all year. Hoping to have at least a few weeks off from illness now please!!!

Poor Bubba 🙁

Anyway, back to the date today. May the 4th has a very different meaning for me these days. It’s the day that Dr Andrew Bryant Died by suicide in 2017. My mum showed me the article when it came out, as he was her doctor at the time, and I remember it really saddened me. The day after Frith died, I told my cousin about the article that I had remembered, and told her that I needed to somehow get in touch with this Doctor’s wife. And because it’s Brisbane, my cousin knew someone who knew the family, and days later, I had Sue’s email address. We have been meeting up semi-regularly (not enough!) ever since, and she has been an amazing support to me.

So, Andrew, I never met you, but you sound like you were so like Frith; always the life of the party, quirky, intelligent, and a very deep thinker, and so much more. I hope the two of you are out there in The Force somewhere, watching over us all.

Melbourne Trip

Nearly a month has passed (flown by) since I took Chance and Quinn to Melbourne for a few days to stay with my brother and sister-in-law. It was so much fun and completely exhausting all at once! I honestly thought it would be such an easy trip, just with the two older kids, and that it would actually feel like a holiday.

Logistically, it was definitely easier. No nappies or toddler paraphernalia to pack, no stroller or nap times to consider, no bag of tricks for the plane ride to entertain kids for 5 minute intervals etc etc.

But emotionally? Woah. The kids were in this constant state of excitement/tired and overwhelmed I think, which was the perfect combination for meltdowns at 10pm, just around the time when I wanted to be hanging out with Kris and Kate, drinking delicious home brew. Not consoling a 6-year-old the first night and an 8-year-old the next night.

I really tried not to pack too much in to the trip, but I hadn’t really factored in all the walking we did, and all the time spent in the car getting from A to B. It really did take a lot out of them!

Anyway, I am already planning our next trip in October for PAX, and I’ve learned some lessons from this trip for sure! On with the photos!

Easiest plane trip EVER!!!! I got to read my book!
I took them to Frith St, Brunswick 🙂
And of course, Savers on Sydney Rd!
There were lots of walks with Brews the Dog – the weather was STUNNING!
And a lovely catch-up with my gorgeous niece
Quinn got to know Brews and by the second day of our trip, was patting him and not as scared!! This was HUGE as Quinn is pretty much terrified of dogs, generally…
Melbourne really turned on the most gorgeous weather for us, but that meant I just carried jumpers around wherever we went! Trust issues much??
We spent the morning at the Melbourne Aquarium which was great and included a 4D Ice Age show which was hilarious!
Fluffy baby penguin!!!!
Ice cream every day! Of course!
We headed to St Kilda to see the penguins that night as well. It’s a thing!!
The Melbourne sky line from St Kilda pier, with all the boats. Just gorgeous.

I really loved taking the kids to Melbourne. For me, it was where Frith and I really established ourselves as a married couple, and we have so so many memories that I fall back on.

On the Friday morning we hit up ScienceWorks which was heaps of fun, then while Kris and Kate went their own way for some important business we headed over to our good friends place for a huge med school catch up. Almost all of our close friends from Melbourne Uni days were able to make it which was completely fabulous! There were 8 kids there and 9 adults for most of the evening and it felt wonderful being with my Melbourne crew again. These people are some of the best I know, and I love that we have all stayed close over the last 10 years.

Saturday was more catch-ups and then the flight home in the evening which was delayed for nearly two hours all up, but the kids and I kept ourselves entertained with eye-spy and guessing games.

Darby and Julius went really well with Mum and Dad (thank you!!!!) and we even found a gorgeous penguin onesie for Darby at one of the op shops we visited!!

I was honestly so exhausted by the time we got home, but with a little more planning next time, I know we can have another great trip.

Blood, sweat and tears

And boxes. And bags. And random stuff thrown into piles and dumped into the back of my car.

The sweat was me, the blood and tears were poor Julius. Yes, our first night in the house and we had a mouthful of blood. I think he did a big old face plant (which may have be accidentally instigated by Darby rushing past him) and put his tooth through the side of his cheek. Poor little guy.

Though they looked pretty happy once they were fed and bathed and ready to play again! Julius paused just long enough on his way up to Quinn’s top bunk to give me a big cheeeeeeese!

And I’m pretty pleased with myself now, with all of them asleep and the sound of my keyboard tapping away. Because the Wifi is working and the NBN over this side of the bridge is so much better! Winning!

I still have heaps to do, but we’re in and everything else will come in time. Happy School Holidays, one and all! 🙂