Thursday, 24 January 2013

When there isn't any weekly project...

When there isn't any weekly project...

My Dad is one of my all time mentors, heroes, inspirations and has so many wise and insightful stories and advices; if you were so lucky as to sit down to a cup of green tea and really listen to his stories or to be taught by him in his unbelievably valuable karate (life) lessons  you would truly understand when I say that he is one of *those* people who make a change on this planet.  He leaves his legacy in every action of each day.  

One of my Dad's sayings is that all a person needs on this planet is something to be enthusiastic about.  The last couple of weeks I have struggled a little as I settle into our new home with our in-laws and I have reflected on this a little.  What do I find I'm enthusiastic about right now?  I, in absolute and without condition, love my daughters.  I (try to) commit each day to providing the 'best' environment for them to feel free and to experience their childhood (something I feel society at large is slowly robbing kids of); however..

I suffer from depression and anxiety.  I regularly read comments from those in the less-than-know-how advise those suffering from depression/anxiety that:
- "It's a frame of mind - just change your thoughts";
- "Fake it 'til you make it";
- "Just pull yourself out of it and get over it".
- "Just get yourself out of the house and you'll start feeling better".
It is hurtful to read those who may naively be trying to help and have all the best of intentions, with the advice coming from a place of love.

Let me start by explaining a typical night...

I found it hard getting to sleep that night -  insomnia - I took 2 - 4 hours getting to sleep.  It was somewhere around 2am when I fell asleep after thought after thought chain to each other..  laying with restless legs and limbs.. My eyes closed then open, closed, then open.. contemplating getting up to research/make a note/ send an email or trying to sleep.. I concentrate on my breath but find myself back into racing thoughts.. a night of nightmares where loved ones are usually getting hurt or I'm running away from something.  (last night's dream?.. our country was being invaded, Remi was crying and I had to quieten her as people came through our house with intentions back by everything but love.  I had to cover my little baby's mouth.  I suffocated her.  I woke up with tears already built up, blinked and they rolled down my face filling my ears.)  Remi magically wakes up just when I do (synchronised sleeping patterns really astound me!).. she tumbles and rolls over to me and I feed her.. I cuddle her as best I can while my milk lets down; she gulps the milk down and I cry from the amount of love, the relief that I haven't lost her as I hear every exhalation from her nose.. I feel extraordinary amounts of gratitude that I can co-sleep with her, that I can breastfeed her at the breast, that I have the milk supply to nourish her tiny and beautiful body, that I have a husband that I can roll over and cuddle (which I didn't this night),.. I hear Marika over in her bed snoring and thank God I have such beautiful and healthy children!.. the oxytocin coursing through my body... I catch my breath and fall asleep as I feel and cuddle her.
So, since I was 8 or so I experience regular nightmares... with the exception of when I was pregnant. (I quietly pray the girls didn't take them while they grew inside me!)...
Remi feeds anywhere from 3 - 6 times a night.
The local wildlife wake up with the sun rising and inhabit the trees outside the window.  SQUAWK, SQUEEL, CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP, CRAAAW CRAAW..
SHUUUUUT UUUUP!... Danny gets up and closes the window and pulls the curtains across.  I hold my breath watching Remi toss and turn a little from the sudden noises and movement.  She rests and has a sharper, louder exhale.  I drop my shoulders and relax back into the pillow.. (sometimes I feed her back to sleep)..
I wake up abruptly, usually by one of my girls, sometimes crying for food or yelling for a bottle of juice.. or they are half asleep having a night terror.  I'm short of breath .. I'm exhausted.. feel more tired than before going to sleep.    

So moving along...

I message Danny to let him know one or both of the girls are awake.. sometimes he can look after them for a moment while I toilet and wash my face, sometimes the girls come with me.  I sit up .. my joints ache, my eyes sting,.. I feel like crying as I force myself to stand.  I force any enthusiasm I can muster into words as I chat with the girls.  "Good morning bubby!"... I look in their eyes and I feel so much love... I genuinely smile and adore those tiny little faces when they first wake up...
I look away from them and feel a room of black.  I feel heavy.  I feel sluggish.  I feel lack of motivation and direction towards anything in particular.  I look back at the girls and see a glow in the room.
Suddenly, Marika gets frustrated and yells at me, or Remi.. or hits Remi... or talks loudly while Remi is asleep even with my gentle reminders to whisper... Remi wakes up.  My stomach lodges in my throat as I realise I am getting up to make breakfast for us all, keeping one eye on the food while I prepare it and the other on the girls as they explore the loungeroom with fresh, revived eyes from their restful sleep.  They climb the coffee table and wrestle a little - let the pancakes burn or risk one falling off the table... I fast walk over and put Remi on the floor... she cries in disapproval.  Wrong move mummy.  She climbs back on the table again.  Pancakes burn.  Remi soils her nappy and this time it leaks out the side and stains the carpet.  Marika yells out on cue "I WANT ACCCCKLE JUUUUUUICE".  I change Remi's nappy sometimes with a lot of props handed to her.. sometimes with a lot of struggle.. rarely without a fuss.

My inner voice wakes up and starts muttering and complaining.. blaming and yelling... I Just want to make breakfast, without my heart racing.. with the girls playing with each other, calmly.  I sigh.  I sigh a lot.  I glide across the floor and adequately make breakfast for the girls and they are still able bodied without broken limbs, yet.  I carry Remi to her seat and entice Marika to her breakfast.  I scoff/inhale my breakfast and it's a good morning if I remember the taste of it.  

The room gets a little more foggier.. I somehow reversed back into my head and I feel like I'm looking through binoculars into the room.. whose body am I in?  How are my arms move?  I don't have any reason to move them.  I watch Remi smear her breakfast over her tray.. scratch some food into her head... she grows bored of the food and throws some on the ground.. She analyses a bit more food... throws it on the ground and looks at me.  She doesn't look down this time, feels around for some food, picks it up, continues looking at me, throws the food on the ground.  I get Remi to the bath and Marika slowly makes her way there to play too.

The next few hours involve a bit of juggling to ensure the girls stay safe with each other, entertained/engaged, cleaning up after breakfast, cleaning laundry, cleaning nappies, wondering what the hell to have for lunch... or even snacks since Marika wasn't too impressed with breakfast.  I clean up toys when they are discarded all over the loungeroom.  I concern myself with quite a bit of worry that we clean up after ourselves while we live in someone else's home... quite a 'fun' task when 2 toddlers.  

If I look at my day... I consider where the enthusiasm is at..
I consider if there is anything I'm enthusiastic about.


I haven't given myself time to myself.... I feel the difference in these weeks where I have not tried and completed any projects FOR ME.  I felt it important to be there for Marika as she realises that this is now our home and not the "golden home" back in Brisbane.  She has daily emotional purges where she cries to go back home.  It hurts to watch her miss something like that and not be able to give it to her.

Marika came first and comes first for me.  Remi's safety and happiness came first and comes first for me.
But I feel it.  I feel the exhaustion from giving to others but not restoring my energy reserves.  It weighs me down and it affects my sleep and it accumulates day by day.  My inner voice changes and becomes darker.  The rooms that turn into pockets of bubbles that I feel suspended in feel constricting and restricting.  I start wearing different lenses and my perspective starts skewing.  

I add to all this a major shift in hormones as my body tries to find a bit of post-natal balance.  I try to fight nutrient losses with iron supplements.  

This week I came across a random video of a Sydney abattoir and the disgusting animal treatment there with in.  My conscience is devastated and I am now trying to add vegetarianism into my life.  

If I look up "depressed" at this is what it says:


[dih-prest] Show IPA
1. sad and gloomy; dejected; downcast.
2. pressed down, or situated lower than the general surface.
3. lowered in force, amount, etc.
4. undergoing economic hardship, especially poverty and unemployment.
5. being or measured below the standard or norm.

As a sufferer of depression I look at the first definition and shake my head chuckling a bit at how understated it is with how I feel.  "Sad"... "gloomy"... no wonder society fobs of depression as something to just shake off and "get over"...
"Dejected", "downcast"... o_O ...
The physicality of depression for me is at times excruciating.  I feel like my bones turn to lead.. I feel my joints are sealed with a hot glue gun.. I feel like someone has lined my lungs with sandpaper.. I feel like I have a softball lodged in my throat.. my jaw aches like it's blown up a packet of balloons...
to be "pressed down" would be relevant if it meant a fridge was sitting on my chest.. or "situated lower than the general surface" was to be sinking in some bottomless sludge that I was trying to walk through.

I do feel like I'm being measured below the standard or norm sometimes.
I do feel like there's hardship... but overall the definition of "depressed" is absolutely understated.

I need to persevere and try to work out projects I can do just for me, but it's hard.. it's really hard - to get motivated in looking for projects; to consider adding something to each day as I raise my toddlers; to consider doing something for just me when I already feel I'm not giving enough to my husband, to the community, to my daughters, to cleaning.  It's hard when projects (usually) involve spending money with no financial return for my family - quite a guilt production for me.


Do you have projects?
Any you would like me to try? ;)
I love projects with purpose (both in the community sense, both in practicality and in developing skills).
I'm considering weekly projects, on request, and for sale - let me know ;)

Love Bri!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

This Week's Project: Sketching Wildlife

This Week's Project:
Sketching Wildlife

This week I was reflecting on how I have changed since becoming a parent.  

I feel:

- I have more appreciation of: stay-at-home parents; pregnant women regardless of the trimester they are in; single parents (who really ARE doing it single); breastfeeding mothers; husbands who respect their wives and make an effort daily to express gratitude; all parents who strive to be gentle and truly unconditional; parents who strive to be environmentally conscious; parents who remember how hard it gets and do get a little nosey and ask if you're going ok (yep, I appreciate that now!); I appreciate parents who express the struggles in their days instead of keeping up a facade of "perfection"  or only talk of their "successes"; ...
- I have more appreciation for child friendly restaurants, play areas and fences around playgrounds;


- I am more critical of parents who seem to criticise another parent (who they do not know) after 5 minutes, yet i (almost hypocritically) feel like stepping in and speaking up for a child in public who is shamed, smacked, patronized  intimidated and/or ignored.
- I struggle with anxiety and depression ... Some from being unable to control everything as a mother and also new "issues" that have risen from my own childhood.

Out of curiosity and a bit of fun i wanted to take a few quizzes to see how i might have changed ... I decided to take a few "what animal best represents you?" quizzes.. No two quizzes could agree on what animal my inner self is: wild dog, wolf, panda, antelope, kangaroo, beaver, ... And they all gave different reasons why I was that animal.

I wanted to draw a couple of animals as a reminder of my strengths in moments of self-doubt... In part it came down to which animals I could be stuffed drawing.. kind of lol ..
But I liked one description of the wolf and I adore wolves.. So drew the wolf first... I also love the home grown essence, freedom and maternal love of the kangaroo.. So picked that second :)

I LOVED having wildlife drawings in my book after they were finished... And decided that I would continue drawing them for January :)

My mother-in-law's birthday was also on us, so I found out her favourite animal (koala) and drew one as best I could.

The sketches:


I can not draw freehand without copying another picture/ photo/ having something still in front of me... I also can't help but add different shading/ highlighting and leave out little bits of detail (especially when I feel the urge for it to be finished with and to move on)..

The picture shows resemblance but my animals have their own character in the end..(one reason why I don't like drawing people- they won't reeeaaally end up looking like the original/model).. I also seem to focus on one or two areas with interest, in particular - with the wolf it was the eyes. A wolf's eyes intrigue me with their depth, both artistically and spiritually.. I've never seen a wolf in person but each picture and video of a wolf seems to show a pretty soulful animal.

I didn't have a pencil so used a pen and surprisingly I drew it without panicking that I'd fluffed it.. I enjoyed having nice thick (watercolour) paper to draw on instead of recycled paper... I enjoyed zoning out of the room and zoning in and hiding behind the sketch pad lol

I added detail for down the chest and body but became quickly less interested in continuing that so came back to the face again... I was more interested in forehead detail (how interesting for you all to know lol).
Well, here he is... (Could be a 'she' but it felt more like a 'he' while drawing.)

This was drawn while kids were entertained/distracted with tv and family after dinner.  It was satisfying to finish- a short and sweet accomplishment :)


Did you know an eastern grey kangaroo can feed two different aged joeys at the same time and provide each with different milk to suit their stage of development; they can also pause their pregnancy delaying a birth to wait for more suitable weather conditions? (Thanks Alma Park Zoo and my mother-in-law for those pretty interesting facts! :))

I decided on drawing a red kangaroo next though because the google picture I saw appealed to me - this specific kangaroo's aura (for use of a better word) and it's artistic capacity to be transferred to paper.

Original google picture:

I used pen again and I had a few moments of "urgh! Stuffed this one up" but it was surprisingly forgiving to draw... That is, with so much detail of shading, i could change shading of an ear, that started too low compared to the eye placement, into forehead.

The focus of the kangaroo was the eyes again and it stayed the primary focus of interest; the forehead and ears, like the wolf, seemed to become focal interests also :) I particularly enjoyed drawing the paws and peripheral shading of the eyes.  I particularly started to get impatient with (and secretly beginning to hate) fur after a little while lol

Here is mamma kangaroo:

She was drawn on and off through the day.  It was a priority for me as I was feeling very run down trying to keep on top of cleaning/cooking/ feeding/ holding my body up ..
When the girls were happy playing independently and/or my MIL was around them while they played, I stuck at it.


My mother-in-law is compassionate, deep thinking and very caring.  While being a very introspective and a meaningful responder (rather than reactor), I value her opinions, advice and experience.  With her birthday (very fastly) approaching I wanted to sketch a "your animal within" for her. I couldn't seem to pick one so asked (everyone) for favourite animals.  I found out her favourite animal, the koala, and thought it was actually a fitting "your animal within" for her as I saw her- cuddly (loving/caring), beautiful, less intimidating/in your face and more to-the-self, less disturbed by surface interference and more highly sensitive to real threats to habitat/ family/ health.. Cute/beautiful with grunt lol (not meant to sound insulting Debbie lol).
.. aaand all the personality adjectives /traits above I would see a koala to be if personified (compassionate, introspective, responder,..)

Original google picture:

So I got started... And stopped quickly.  It turns out it's pretty hard in such an active house to draw on a big notepad when kids just aren't interested in playing nicely with each other or without adult interaction.  Marika wanted to draw on the paper (not her own) and Remi wanted to eat it lol Also, having the recipient of the picture living with you adds excitement to opening and closing the book lol 

The "cuddly" was my focus overall but I can't help but be drawn to the eyes of an animal - so that's where I started... Earlier, my MIL passed on a lead pencil to me after I'd drawn the wolf and kangaroo and I thought it'd be perfect for the koala :) Interestingly, I seemed to struggle more in the beginning using a pencil than I did with the pen for the kangaroo/wolf. 

Remi helped smudge a lot and also enjoyed eating bits of rubber that gathered to the side of the page.

I drew a polar bear with 2 cubs awhile ago (not this week):

I found it similar drawing some of the koala as I did with the polar bears- the detail in where there isn't pencil marks... For example: the top of the polar bear mother's head; and the tips of the koala's ears.  It's tricky in the beginning trying to NOT draw the detail but instead draw shadows around it to highlight it.. Make sense?.. Clear as mud? lol

I again was about halfway through when I became impatient with/sick of drawing fur lol very fine detail started turning to larger swirly shading and smudging.. So my focus kept turning more to the trees - both so I could escape drawing fur and because I like tree details :)... I couldn't add too much tree detail though because the koala "cuddly" was to be the focus... And the gum trees are meant to be simple, smoother looking trees.

So here is the koala.. I don't like looking at my sketches too often after "finishing" because I want to just keep adding to it, touching it, highlighting/shading more.. I hope my MIL liked it :)... if anything else it was a nice time to reflect on how lucky I am to have such a loving, supportive mother-in-law :)

The Koala-

Putting the koala and kangaroo originals up side by side with my sketches you can see resemblances and differences.  Considering i drew them from the original pictures off my phone screen and with on-going interruptions, I'm pretty happy with the finished products :)


Do you like sketching? With pencils, pens, charcoal, pastels,..?
What do you draw and what appeals to you with that subject? :))

Love Bri!xxxxxxx

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Words don't matter: intention, intonation and intimidation do.

Words don't matter:
intention, intonation and intimidation do.

A straight-forward, less-embellished post today.. but one that means a lot to me. :) 

I'm not so concerned about words, that's all they are- words, letters, sounds.. The "f" word is a common *gasp* word if it comes from the mouth of a child..

However, there are two areas that BUG me!

It seems to be more socially acceptable across a range of social settings to take a dig at another person, with "friendly" name calling.  I am VERY sensitive to name dropping and loose adjective use: silly, clumsy, stupid, dickhead,
.. I am guilty of sarcasm, "friendly" character stabs.. But I will definitely be honest and say it's out of learned relationships with those people and stemming from insecurities and inadequacies.  I cringe each time I say or the other person says it's "all in the name of fun", "you know I'm just kidding", "it's just light hearted"..

We can laugh and have fun without it being at the expense of another through teasing.

Even more upsetting and what im more sensitive with is when genuine disabilities or genuine labels are used as an insult - like "retard" .. even using terms like "gay" in a derogatory way.. Or targeting the gender as the inferior trait in the joke.

When it has become a habit in a relationship it's so hard to change! When you notice a conversation turning into character stabbing and speak up, you feel or even criticized as the "too sensitive" one or the one who "can't take a joke".

In 2013 I vow to be "that one".  Let's be a little more intellectual and find more to laugh at than putting another down. 

Maybe life is too short NOT to take this a little more seriously and to encourage more genuine, interpersonal, meaningful connections with everyone we come in contact with.


Please feel free to leave a comment with your opinions on "friendly" conversations in your life :) 

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Moving In & Moving On: Moving House with a toddler

Moving In & Moving On: Moving House with a toddler

The last couple of weeks has involved Christmas, New Years but more importantly for us- our move.  We have moved north of Brisbane 2 hours to Gympie into my in-laws home while we plan and build our own home just up (and down) the street from them.  In my mind I feel we are still living in both places because:

1. We are still to renovate our first home before selling it (I can't bring myself to say "Old house") so we will still be going back and forth to it over time;
2. Most of our belongings are still back at the other house;
3. I'm struggling to accept the move so far from my family and from a new friend (and Marika's new friend who she calls her best friend).

I have felt changes in Marika over the last few days that to most others just seem to be what a "normal" toddler would do: push/shove/hit her sister; be quite oppositionally defiant towards me; be uneasy and moving around fast and a bit erratically...

Back at our own home (urp.. old home.. previous home.. back in Brisbane) she had open access to go out the back by herself and to play with the cats whenever she wanted.  She would play out there a good hour or two at least, a day.  It was her own time, her own place, wind down time, happy time, decompress time - anything she wanted..

She would have access to everything and I removed anything I didn't want little hands on..
She could eat where she liked, when she liked...
She could watch whatever on tv or on her iPad...

Now at our new place we are moving in with others, into their home.  My in-laws are absolutely lovely- they are responsive to Marika and Remi; they are loving spending time with the girls; we share making meals and have company with others when eating; .. Pretty much the perfect "other people" you'd want to live with.

However, ... Putting ourselves into Marika's tiny little, yellow butterfly shoes .. and our new home is quite different:

- she is suddenly denied a lot, furniture can be scratched so play is conditioned more, she can not go outside by herself and can't access cats by herself, for a few days she was even sanctioned in the loungeroom with Remi to limit Remi's wandering through the house (I'm relieved Marika has learnt to climb over the barrier), while she is still eating around the house it's very closely watched and warned, there is always someone around (it is awesome having her grandparents both around most of the time!! But it's not usual for her)...

At home we did frequent arts/crafts/activities but while packing/unpacking/settling in we haven't done near as much and different types (neater, cleaner crafts)...

Our old/former/Brisbane home is Marika's "golden home" (so I've recently learnt; coming home must be signalled by siting yellow bricks)

There seems to be 2 school of thought when it comes to toddlers and moving:

1. Kids go-with-the-flow, adapt to change easily and most issues are projections from the parents;
2. Moving is quite a huge deal for a toddler; they live with routine and we are, after all, changing their WHOLE world - without their permission, without them really understanding the benefits long term..
I'm kind of mixed in both of them really.

I think I'm one of them but then realise I'm not.. Then think I'm the other...
But I realise now that I cancel them both out as irrelevant when I REALLY tune in to MY daughter.. and I think that above all is the most important.

She is dynamic; she is taking in all signals, information and interaction.. And like anyone processing a major event in their life they aren't ALWAYS thinking about the event- there's distractions everywhere..

So Marika may have a kick-arse morning then all of a sudden have a "nup.. Nup... Nup" stretch and demand bottles of juice.. Demand going outside to jump on the trampoline.. Or start flipping out that Remi is trying to play with the toys she wants to play with.

I am in the process myself of mourning the move (crying daily/nightly and also celebrating the lovely hospitality, love and company here- smiling a LOT more, yelling a LOT less...

While trying to organise my thoughts/feelings/ sense of self over the past year (particularly with a psychologist), I like to also organise my mind with the girls...

I like to frame my thoughts so it affects my emotions in a more positive way and then this (hopefully) enables me to catch my breath, respond rather than react and be there in the moment for the girls more..

So here are my more organised thoughts on this moving with a toddler.. Marika seems to respond to them quite well!:
1. Allow Marika to feel emotions that come to her in moving:

- don't dismiss any comments about wanting to go back to our home in Brisbane by always distracting her with what's "good" at the new place;  let her express them and let her know we understand that she misses the golden home, the pool, her bedroom, the neighbours, her friend, ...

- take pictures of everything: rooms, gardens, driveway, backyard, pool, garage, bricks.. And print them out so she can look at them when she likes;

 2. Give Marika opportunities for closure:

- give her the opportunity to say goodbye to each space;

- give her a little box to pack some of her final toys to move and give her space to put her toys/books;

3. Try to maintain as little disruption to her routine:

- shower and bed routine (unless she falls asleep early like she has been!);

- incorporate art/craft each day;
So far this is a little sketchy.. we have a lot of art/craft supplies in boxes still and haven't a place set up for arts/crafts.. we are using the dining table for a lot so it needs to be neat, organised and easy to put away.  A LOVELY friend in Brisbane and her daughter gave Marika a few arts/crafts sets and supplies and we have slowly worked through them over the past week:
Face Paints....

Modelling Clay (Marika wanted the whole kinder
surprise monster set - so why not making them :))

Our own Monster's...
brother monsters and a baby monster.
Making the clay animals on the packaging.

Brown paper bag animal puppets

Barnyard scene book.

- make sure I'm actively engaging with marika each day (Danny and I are a strong constant in the move and I want to make sure that her support system is strong/er);

The only couple of photos I took while playing with Marika..
Our one-on-one trampoline time: playing "roll-play monsters" - The monster falls asleep often and needs to be kissed by someone wearing a hat to wake the monster up.. it then searches for the one who woke the monster and tackles then rolls about with them (almost like a crocodile's death roll.. except not so deadly lol)
- I was considering weaning the bottle out through 2012/start 2013 but not until we are WELL settled in now (I will offer cups/glasses including drinking from mine often but not push to use them at all!); -With more support around, ensure we have uninterrupted one-on-one time with Marika: no tv, phone, computers... Full attention for ~10-30 mins every day.  While we did not have too much long length one on one time in Brisbane, we still did a lot together.  That is now shared with more people in her daily support system- so i feel more concentrated time together would be better/needed now.

- create "retreat" spaces and Marika Only spaces.
We will set up her play tent from the old house somewhere where only she can go.. and this beautiful tent (pictured below) can be for both the girls to retreat to.
Remi Playing in and around the
woodland fairy tent
from Grandma & Granddad

4. "Indoctrinate" Marika into living in Gympie:

- after settling into Gympie (completely unpacked, room prepared downstairs for our own bed/lounge/art space) join classes and attend groups to forge new friendships and activity  (classes would also help with less disruption to some degree given Marika used to attend baking classes and gymnastics classes.)


I am acutely aware that being such a hyper sensitive person and , particularly now, very fluctuating in moods/hormones,.. That it is so easy to project my own worries and sadness with the move onto Marika...
My heart breaks when i see the "oh :/" look in her eyes when we say "This IS our home now".. and when she says 5, 6, 7 times a day that she wants to see her friend/ go in the pool at home/ any 'place of the day' back in Brisbane..

With the steps above I also hope it therapeutically helps my acceptance in transition!

In saying that I WILL be determined to visit my family regularly as well as my more recently new, in person Brisbane friendship and keep Marika's friendship with her friend fresh.

Right now it's midnight.  Danny is in Brisbane packing (well, probably sleeping now) and working either side of the weekend.  Im sad Marika is on the floor mattress instead of next to me (rolled out of bed, so I can't keep her in here even with rolled up towels under the fitted sheet).. And Remi is sleeping sideways near my knees...

I want to sleep but have thought after thought racing through my mind..

Things I need to do tomorrow; when should I close the curtain to block early light or close the windows to block LOUD morning birds; what needs to be organised for meals; do I need to go shopping for juice; when do I start juicing; when will we start painting again; will Marika (and Remi!) be able to roam free somehow without hearing "uh uh/don't touch that/out of there/nooooo/"; which days are laundry for clothes or towels again; what pet hates do my in-laws have that they have said something about-have I forgotten them and will I upset them? Would they tell me?; I need to start back on cloth nappies- do I wait until Danny gets back home or would that not make a difference?; I need to change the nappy bin tomorrow; I need to remember to shower the girls and brush teeth in the morning; when should we go to the dentist?where?; should I contact Mr.--- regarding Remi's angular dermoid cyst? Can we wait a lot longer before removing it- I don't want her under a GA so young; if Remi was 3 like Marika, she'd still be too young for me to put her under a GA; would I be there before the surgery and when she wakes? Can I feed her afterwards? Would she still be feeding?  She's not eating many solids now... What can I make tomorrow that she might eat a lot of and is healthy?; I need to research and go buy some supplements from a health food shop; should I buy online? Should I use my Christmas money or is that meant for something else?; ...
My brain moves on so quickly from one thing to the next!...
Sometimes I get myself hugely worked up and it all ends in tears or even an anxiety attack...
But I'm working on the quality of thoughts now... I will eventually get to the quantity and pace lol

Have you moved with a toddler before?  What have been your experiences?

Do you find yourself having hours of chained thoughts, lying in bed needing to sleep?  What practices/techniques/routines help you fade to sleep? :)
Lots of love,

Sunday, 30 December 2012

This Week's Project: Canvas Button Art

 This Week’s Project:
Canvas Button Art
(Week Ending 23/12/12)

I had a brief period of making button jewellery and as a result have a ridiculous amount of buttons.  I thought I'd try and start a project that used as many buttons as I could.  I decided to use a canvas my mum passed onto me and make a colourful piece of button art.  I love spirals and rainbows so joined them both together.. and voila!

It was a lot harder to get this piece done in the lounge room with the girls playing - they were constantly coming over and trying to touch the canvas during the painting process and the gluing of the buttons; so I had to resort to an adjacent room.  It was stressful working from the other room because both Marika and Remi were high maintenance in different degrees..
Remi would come and just yell at the gate like a siren..
Marika would come and ask for a drink... every... 20... minutes..
Marika would go up and push Remi over.. or sit on her.. or take a toy off Remi.. and then run away.
Remi would try and climb up on baskets upturned..
Remi would go over and try and reach for buttons on the tv and get frustrated at not being able to reach them anymore..
LOL solve one frustration then up sprung another issue..*sigh*

It was interesting though... as the project progressed the girls would tag team coming to the gate but every now and then it felt like I could see a glimmer in their eyes "we need to work it out between us and give mum a break" and then walk away.. It dissipated quickly.. but gave me hope lol 

Doing the art project from the other room meant I could watch the girls while doing it.. even though there was still on-going stress... but I again decided it is important to persevere and:

1. have the girls see me doing my own thing;
2. to do my own thing, for me.

The Processes Involved:

1. Free Hand drawing of the pattern

I started this project ages ago without having any idea where it was going; I drew a spiral on the canvas and just left it in the craft room (which was used for the jewellery making ...but once Marika became mobile I stopped crafts in there and it pretty quickly became a storage room for crap that didn't belong in any other room or put there so it was out of the girls' reach).

The spiral was drawn free hand and other than "a spiral" I didn't have any other specifics in mind before drawing.. or even that I was going to put buttons on it lol

2. Painting the spiral: acrylic paints

I decided to paint the spiral with the foresight that the buttons wouldn't cover the whole face of the canvas; I wanted the colours of paint to fill in the blanks between buttons.  I also wanted the paint to guide me with which coloured buttons to use. I thought it would be easier to blend paint from one colour/shade into the next and then start matching the buttons to the paint - It was VERY handy.  It's pretty hard getting an idea of the bigger picture when you have a heap of buttons and shades.

While painting, I found the thickness of the paintbrush tip made it hard to paint the thinner spiral parts.. I then realised that if it was hard to paint then I was going to find it tricky to fit buttons in between lines... so I expanded some sections as I painted.  This will be a deciding factor in any future button canvas art I plan on doing.  I wasn't super worried about the craftsmanship of the paint job given it was going to be mostly covered.

3. Gluing on the buttons

It didn't really matter, but I decided to glue on buttons from the centre and work outwards from there.  I chose 2 really thick, hole-less buttons (apparently they are still buttons.. there's also buttons with one hole, three holes, even some with 6 holes.. crazy buttons! lol) and I glued them in the middle of the canvas; I thought it would be good to have some strong pinnacle in the centre of the spiral - it looks ok lol

I used the normal, white craft glue that we have in bulk.  I didn't use any hot glue or superglue.. I'm thinking buttons will slowly but surely flick and fall off over time - oh well :P

After I finished gluing the buttons on the front of the canvas face I thought I was finished and felt happy I completed something again \o/ But over the next 24 hours I decided it didn't feel finished without gluing buttons onto the sides (where I had also painted)... soooo I kept going.  I almost regretted starting that step, feeling it was too much..

At the end of the week we went up north to Gympie for Christmas to see Danny's parents, so one edge of the canvas wasn't buttoned up... it technically was finished in the second week of "production". :)

ALL DONE! yaaaaaay \o/

I was going to give it away to someone, wasn't sure who.. asked Danny (DH) and he wanted us to keep it; he thought it was similar to those pictures that are made up of tiny little pictures - pictures within a big picture :D ... That was so nice to hear... good enough to keep! :D


Have you done any canvas button art before?  Did you use normal white craft glue - did it hold? :)  How have you used buttons? (other than on clothes ;))

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Little Miss Trouble & Mr. Men

Little Miss Trouble & Mr. Men

I thought I'd post this entry early on and in light of my experiences of late.

What am I going to write about?
- What makes us special?
- Emotional expression..
- Santa Clause coming to town..
- Time outs/walking away from a child/re-directing...

- Cyber judgement ...

How do all these relate to me?... well, it's all how increasingly concerned I've become with society and parents' impact on the self-esteem, confidence and respect of a child.

I have been seeing a psychologist most of this year now in order to organise my thoughts  with suspected depression, anxiety, post-natal depression (PND).  What has come to light is my unrelenting high standards and extreme levels of self sacrifice.  My childhood, schooling and home life influences have in totality encouraged me to believe that I am special not because of who I am, but because of what I do.  In order to feel special, valuable in this life, I feel I NEED to do things for everyone else.  

We have all read the thoooousands of affirmations and mantras about giving to others.. what you give you get... what you sow you reap... what you send out will come back..

Well.. I'd like to also add that there needs to be a level of self respect and selfishness.. self love... Give to yourself as well.  ... that it is also important to have 
Equal Energy Exchange.  

I would like to extend this to raising our children!
There is another soul in that tiny body... another being thinking and feeling in that still developing skull.  Our children are not inferior to us as adults.

(In fact I'd like to controversially say that we as adults are inferior to those beautiful, loving, unconditional souls..
Anyway, moving on..)

To the kids: Behave, Behave, Behave.

Our children don't get off the ipad straight away when we ask them to go to the table; they want to spend a little more time playing with cars or playdough before getting in the car to go shopping; we want them to move along in the shopping centre instead of window shopping; ...
High expectations on behaving after we tell our children what we want them to do.  We highly praise them, smile, give them cuddles when they are quiet, behaving 'correctly'... we indirectly tell them that we are happy with them and love them when they are doing/behaving the way we want them to.

We tell them Santa only gives presents to girls and boys who have been nice - you behave well, you get gifts and love.
Our love is over and over and over taught to our kids as conditional on their behaviour - when they are upset, crying, 'tantruming' we will not show them love.  

Yes, you can say we are just letting them know the behaviour is unacceptable.. but that's not how it translates to a child... you are teaching them that the child themselves is not acceptable, not enough to be loved in that way.

To the title of this post... I was reading a Mr. Men book to Marika and her cousin.. I bought some of these books before Marika was born as I saw such cuteness in all the qualities of a littly - the cheekiness, the battling, the physical explorations.. Different story now.  I've read up... I've experienced my words and they're effects in such a short time already (having a 3 year old and a 1 year old)...
These book characters are all materialised on their behaviour (or in fact their appearance) - Mr. Clumsy, Miss Trouble, Mr. Small.  They are summarised, judged, expected upon, name-called on the one attribute.
My eyes widened.. characters punching each other, nasty talking behind their back... the solution?? get other characters of the book to do the SAME thing to the main character and conclude:

"Doctor Makeyouwell looked at her.
'Cheer up', he said.
'You know what you've just had, don't you?'
Little Miss Trouble shook her head.
'A taste of your own medicine', he chuckled.
And went home.
For supper.

Actually, lovely little person.. you know what you just had?
A terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE lesson about how inconsiderate, nasty, unforgiving, malicious, un-empathetic an adult has been towards you while teaching other characters how to bully.  This Dr. "Makeyouwell" did not make you well, he patronised you... did not try to understand what brought you to express yourself in that way and to help you express yourself in a more healthy way for everyone.  

In all honesty, that's what happens... we try to shut a child up when they are upset... try to get them to smile straight away... to stick food, a drink, a toy, a breast in their mouth every time they cry.  We try to FIX them.  Or, even worse we shun them for tantruming and dismiss their cry for help to process the emotional frustrations that they are having and don't understand.  A child falls over, "Hop up; you're alright!  Stop crying.. shake it off.. it's just a scratch."
Child A takes a toy off Child B, so Child B hits Child A.. Child A hits Child B back." Both children are crying.  It's not uncommon (rather, it's COMMON) to hear "Welllll, you hit Child A!.. *looks at the kid "so what do you want me to do about it?"*"

"Well you took the toy away from the other child, so you got what was coming."

We give a time out for a behaviour instead of a time-in for the emotional plea.  We walk away from a tantrum or aggressive nature instead of staying close/nearby and allowing them to feel safe and loved themselves.. to have someone touch them in love via a hug or holding hands despite their "body's natural fear reaction gone awry." (See "Feelings, Behaviors, and Relationships" link below)

How about, consider the emotional needs of your child in that moment.  Any lessons you have for them, or actions they could take next time - bring them up when it all calms down and the child can cognitively process what you're saying!...

I read an article based off the book "Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control", called "Feelings, Behaviors, and Relationships" at who succinctly and briefly discusses the emotional needs of children and the physical, desperate pleas for help to process emotional confusion: "If we see the kicking and screaming child as one who is having difficulty regulating due to an overflow of feelings, we can learn to stay present with the child in order to help him modulate these feelings and thus, help him to build his emotional regulatory system."

Let the kids FEEL the emotions and PROCESS the emotions.. Allow them to feel accepted to feel like they need to.  To feel safe to express all their emotions... Children are not those feelings and emotions.  Seperate your view of the child as how they behave and see them for who they are.    

Then, add to all THAT... more authoritarian, aggressive/passive parenting - there's scheduled feeding from the start, controlled crying, forced bedtimes, forced clothing, forced hugs with relatives, no snacks until one of 3 meal times or you'll wreck your dinner, finish your meal or no dessert
... we teach them not to trust their hunger cues, their body's messages, their own rights to personal space.  

By having faith in our children to know their own bodies and to help them through each lesson and emotion does not make for "those bloody selfish, resenting, younger generation who shows no gratitude for others or their possessions"
... in fact, I hazzard a guess it would make for a very self-respecting, confident, respectful, caring, emotionally stable, independent adult.. who can especially come to me to discuss the "negative" experiences/anything in their life no matter what.  (As a side note, NO I don't have to put my foot down to THAT behaviour now with a 2/3 year old because it's easier now than later... it just doesn't make sense in the bigger picture!... putting my foot down and working through the emotional frustration BEHIND the behaviour is where I'll focus thank you so very muchly).

To the adults: STFU

I read a blog entry where a lady poured her heart out of her traumatising breastfeeding experience - she was mad, angry, hurt, disgusted, fuming, swearing and cursing, blaming .. and just all out snapped.  I came across it as a link from a facebook page who are (supposed) supporters to and devoted to breastfeeding.

WELL...  The comments that came... they wanted to SHAME the blog author, called her names, patronized her, criticizing the language, laughed at her, stating that no matter how bad the author had it THEY had it worse...

Wow!  I was disturbed.  Finally, someone came on asking where all "the loony lactavist people these articals keep going on about?" are.
I'm flabbergasted.  It's not obvious that a lot of those judgmental, criticizing, angry "breastfeeding nazis" (I HHHAAAATE that term) are right there... in that thread...???

This lady needed the right help support for her when she was breastfeeding.. she asked for help and still couldn't get the right help... she is now still hurt from it all and just as much needs help now as she would have back then...
Yet instead of empathising (which I soooo so so so can), she is hypocritically judged, for judging!

Now with adults, we don't stick food/ drinks/ breast in their mouth... although we are teaching our kids to feed those emotions away.. with emotional eating... or numb the feelings with alcohol... bottle those feelings up because they are just NOT ON.  With adults, we are just downright rude and open about telling each other to take that emotional turmoil elsewhere.  We are happy to share all those fluffy affirmations about understanding each other, to put yourself in another's shoes... but there's apparently a line when it comes to swear words... or.. or .. or.

Ironically, writing this post carries its own judgment.. but there's always subjectivity and sensitivities when it comes to parenting and I'm not writing my PhD on this at 6pm on a loooong damn hot day lol

Additionally, I am far, far, far, FAAAAR from practising what I preach.  I have spent the last few months having daily battles with Marika (3 year old).  I fight and fight to ensure we aren't talking about her behaviour... I take us to the "How are you feeling..." wall and try to help her express her happy/ angry/ sad/ scared feelings... I remove myself from the room... I remove Marika from the room.. I scream... I confiscate... I witness myself contradicting all the above advice over and over... failing my own advice...
... but I re-take the oath every night... to be more understanding of my daughters and myself the next day.. I always kiss the girls goodnight, let them know I love them...
I don't always do this with my husband, family members and other adults ... but that's a work in progress.

It is for all of the above reasons to why I have started blogging:

- I will let out/ vent/ purge all my emotions because they are all healthy to feel... I will experiment with how I express them... I will stand and boast I see a psychologist and get professional help to do this... especially for the good of my girls as they see a healthier mother and a role model.. I will advocate to support any other person trying to use this medium for the same reason as we are all trying to learn our own different lessons perspectively.

- I will advocate to be there for our kids unconditionally to be free agents and loved by at least one person on this planet who will pledge to understand EVERY moment they have. and not give-in to the strong programming from the majority of parenting/mainstreaming we received to "Put kids in their place and submit.".. Our children are who they are because of who they ARE, not what they DO.

- I am not perfect.  In fact.. I am a real mother who hoards, yells, doesn't clean the kitchen every day (or every 2nd or 3rd day).. who yesterday bought Mcdonalds for the toddler after her exercise class because I was too tired and could use the excuse of having a bad headache.. who is still trying to wean the 3 year old off the bottle filled with juice (albeit heavily diluted juice.. ..bottled juice.. not home juiced) that she uses as a comfort... who gave chocolate to the 1 year old before she was 1... who watches shows from time to time like "Sons of Anarchy" or movies like "Ted" with the toddler in the room but will still pause/ fast forward/ etc. thinking that that's okay I need my "Me time"... I judge myself.. then accept myself... I cringe at my actions... then I learn from them... I read and educate myself then grow and change... but I will regress like any other human being.
I was told that some people just need to read that there are other REAL women, mothers, wives out there that are nowhere near the Stepford variety, but still thriving against the overwhelming expectations and pressure of society.  

Blogging is my oyster!

Lots of love,