Sunday, 29 December 2013

2013, A Look Back

Today is a stay at home do nothing kind of day - I don't even plan on getting out of my pj's. And so as I sit here and reflect on the past year it occurs to me that it has been pretty full on! So I thought I'd do a post on what happened, month by month. So much can change in 12 months, it's interesting to look back and remember things.....I wonder what 2014 will bring?


...saw as it always does, Miss Emily's birthday and mine as well as a big cross country move! On the way Penelope gave us quite the scare before we knew she was Penelope that is, and proved to us that she really is destined to be a superhero!

My Dad and The Awesome One packing our shipping container for the move

Driving across the Nullarbor Plain on the way to Western Australia
February came and we found out that our Little Lord Nibbler was actually going to be Little Lady Nibbler! The kids started school for the year, The Awesome One set up my art studio and I started running some art lessons. 

We may have discovered she was Wonderwoman instead of Batman, but to me in this ultrasound, she looked like a puppy :/

March brought with it the Little Dude's birthday, the halfway point of my pregnancy and our first wedding anniversary! Also this month I had work in the Mandjar Art Awards and made an alien costume for The Boys' assembly at school and The Awesome One started working again after almost three months off while we moved!

I thought it was a pretty impressive costume actually!

April of course holds The Awesome One's birthday, and was spent mostly making stuff for Little Lady Nibbler as she was known then.

Penelope's playmat turned out so well - I was so proud of myself for making it!
May brings with it The Social One's birthday - she turned 14! It also brought a fundraising day at the little kids' school; The Happy Walk - things beginning with C. Miss Emily dressed up as a cheerleader and The Boy was Captain America!


June was spent in a haze of blood glucose checks three times a day and monitoring what I ate; generally I was absolutely sick of being pregnant and gestational diabetes was just the icing on my already irritable cake!

While I thought I was so huge at the time, looking back I can see I was really not overly big comparatively speaking!
July and Little Miss Penelope made her arrival! Our beautiful little girl was 6lbs, 8oz and was induced two weeks early. 


August saw us get a second car (yay!), my Mum came to visit and meet the newest addition, we made an awesome cake for a special little girls' first birthday and The Eldest One got her very first job; an after school and weekend position at a fast food place. She really doesn't like it very much, but she does like the money!

September was the Eldest One's 16th birthday!! I still can't quite believe I'm old enough to have a 16 year old! Miss Emily had her netball awards night to close the season and we had our first real day out as a family (since Little Miss Penelope's arrival that is) when we went to the Perth Museum for the day. 

The Eldest One looks a little reluctant to have Happy Birthday sung to her!

Miss Emily and a couple of team mates at their sports award night.
October was when The Eldest One got her Learners' Permit!! Now I get to freak out officially. Also in October I opened my Etsy store, started this blog and we carved pumpkins!

  November this year was kind of hectic: the start of the month saw us hold an epic Halloween party with the coolest tulle costumes, and the rest of the month was spent preparing for the school fete where I had a stall with my art and paper products. 

December has been rather chaotic to say the least. I'm kind of glad it's almost over and we can take some time to relax and enjoy the summer holidays. This month we have seen The Social One participate in an art exhibition with her gorgeous clay works, my Dad's book has been published, Miss Emily received an award at school, and I was invited to have my artwork officially represented in a gallery for the first time! School finished up for the year, we saw Little Miss Penelope's first plays at the beach and in the pool and of course Christmas and our cheeky elf Bernards' antics cap off the month. 

It has certainly been a crazy and full on year! I'm not sure what 2014 will bring for us yet. There are a few certainties though: The Eldest One will be working hard studying for ATAR, which is what will get her into University to do Forensic Science in two years (if that's still what she wants to do that is!). The Social One will continue to be social and try to commit to too many things: although she will for sure continue with the school soccer program. Miss Emily will be in her last year of Primary School, and will almost certainly still play netball again over winter. The Boy will be halfway through his Primary School education and will continue to make us both laugh and shake our heads at his idiosyncrasies that make him who he is. Little Miss Penelope will start sitting and crawling and walking, and will continue to make the entire household smile every day. I will continue to create and The Awesome One will still be awesome. We will visit family, both interstate and overseas. But aside from that, what will happen in 2014 is still unknown. One thing is for sure though; 2014 will see us happy and healthy and in the end that's all that matters. 

Have a wonderful New Year, however you spend it and enjoy whoever you spend it with. See you all next year! ;)

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Monday, 23 December 2013

A School Award and A Visit To Santa!

Last week was the final week of school for the year (yay!!). To conclude the school year, the primary school where the younger children go holds an awards ceremony. This ceremony celebrates the achievements of students who have worked to the best of their abilities throughout the entire year. Only two students from each class are given the award and a few weeks ago we received a letter from the school advising us that Miss Emily would be a recipient of one of these book awards!

It's supposed to be a surprise to the children, they only find out on the day so we had to keep it a secret from her for a couple of weeks. She kept asking what was in the letter and was convinced she was in trouble for something! So last Wednesday I took myself and the Little Miss off to the school in the middle of the morning and watched the Awards Assembly.

She looked so excited (and somewhat relieved that she hadn't done anything wrong no doubt!), and I was very proud of her. I loved the comments her teacher had written on her certificate:

She looks so proud of herself, here with the school principle and the president of the P&C. Awesome job Miss Emily!

And so now that school is done and we can all relax a little bit, we were trying to find time to take the kidlets to see Santa. It turns out that is quite difficult to arrange! With The Eldest One working a lot, plus the social lives of the others, and The Awesome One's work schedule as well it has proven quite difficult to find a time to go see Santa all together!!

We were avoiding the 'big' Santa at the main shopping centre like the plague because of the crowds, and let's face it: Santa is Santa when you are little! So we had to work around work and party schedules and Santa's own schedule and in the end we realised that if we wanted to get there, it was going to happen without The Eldest One. Which was a little sad, but she was perfectly fine with it. (She is 16 after all!).  So yesterday we took everyone minus one, up to see Santa at the local shopping centre. He was a very cheery Santa; he extolled the virtues of Lego and dissed One Direction (the band) all in one go! He explained that he has had requests for both of those things more than anything else so far this year!

Penelope was not fazed in the slightest bit, quite happily sitting in Santa's ample arms. We even got a few smiles from her! The Boy on the other hand proved that his idiosyncrasies are still alive and well by not wanting to go anywhere near Santa! You can see him sat in front in the picture; that's as close as he would get!

He wouldn't even come close enough to take a lollipop! Santa had to stretch out to give it to him.

I'll be back after Christmas with more posts from our crazy, insane wonderful family! (I'm pretty sure one of the first posts will be about the Little Miss sitting up and being almost on the move already)! In the meantime I hope everyone's Christmas is filled with fun and love and a little bit of craziness to boot!

Merry Merry Christmas and a Happy Wonderful New Year To You All!

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Friday, 20 December 2013

Forgotten Australians: My Sense Of Injustice Is Burning Brightly

I need to talk about an issue that is bothering me in a big way. I feel....I'm not sure how to describe it. I feel upset, I feel angry and I feel cynical. Not for myself, because I had a better upbringing and childhood than I could ever have asked for. But for my Father, and for the hundreds of thousands of other people who suffered abuse, mental physical and sexual, at the hands of the people who were paid to 'care' for them.

I'm sorry that this post won't be my usual fun and lighthearted one; but as the title says, my sense of injustice in the world is burning me so hard that it hurts right now. And I don't know what to do about that. So I'm doing the only thing I can do which is to share this story and hopefully raise some awareness of this issue.

My Dad has written a book, which I know some of you already know about. It tells his story; of a 'childhood' spent in institutions, a 'childhood' that was absolutely robbed from him. In his words,

" ... It is not only a story about a small dark part of Australia's history, but the search for my identity and the search for a father who had once loved me as a child.
Before he died when I was just three, he left me just a thread of a memory to cling to. 
This story is about me clinging to that thread of a memory for the next 47 years as I searched for answers. I needed to know what had happened to my father and why my sister and I were put into the care, for want of a better word.  
My story covers a span from childhood in orphanages, through boys homes, sent back to foster parents to whom I was a burden to and ultimately to jail."
But my post today isn't just about his book. My post is also about the Royal Commission into Forgotten Australians . In 2009, the Australian Government 'apologised' in Parliament, to the hundreds of thousands of then children who were treated so very badly in both Government and Private (religious) run institutions. They announced a Royal Commission into the abuse and set aside a budget of some 40 plus million dollars to do so. 

Again in the words of my Father:

"I contacted the commission to tell my story. They were very nice during the initial interview. They asked me what homes and institutions I was in.
I told them my small story. The same story of thousands of us. The abuse, physical and mental. The denial of food for up to twenty four hours. Being tied to our beds for hours on end, canings, being locked in broom cupboards. Made to wear the wet bed sheets around us as punishment for wetting the bed, and the list went on.

And then came the final insult to us.

I was told that the abuse that I had suffered in care as a child could not be listened to as it had happened in government run institutions. The royal commission would only take submissions from people who were sexually abused in NON government, religious institutions.
They would NOT be taking evidence of physical abuse on children in care if it happened in a government run institution.

How bloody convenient for them. They knew that if they allowed evidence of any abuse from within a government run institution then that would open a Pandora's box that they could never contain."

I am beyond appalled at the hypocrisy of this. How bloody convenient for them indeed. I cannot escape the thought that keeps circling in my head; that we as a nation were asked to say sorry to the Indigenous Australians for the damage done when Europeans settled here over 200 years ago. The Government felt that injustice was something we needed to atone for as a nation. Yet here we are with half a million or so Forgotten Australians, children who did nothing wrong except be born into families that either didn't want them or couldn't care for them, and the Australian Government doesn't feel the need to investigate the abuse they suffered. Doesn't feel the need to properly apologise. Our Government who is supposed to be for the people is choosing to ignore what these people want. They don't want compensation, that's not what it's about. It's about acknowledgement. It's about someone in 'power' finally saying 'you know what? It was wrong, and it should never have happened.' And more importantly it's about someone saying

"I believe you."

My hope for this is simple: that enough copies of this book are bought and read that it comes to the attention of the powers that be. And that it makes them take notice. I know that's an idealistic, unrealistic and probably highly naive way to think, but I cannot help the way I feel. My parents brought me up to be an optimistic person. Despite his horrendous 'childhood' my Father still managed to instill a sense of right and wrong, hope and optimism in me. And right now, my sense of right and wrong tells me this is very very very wrong. 

Please, if you do nothing else, share this post around. Let's see if we can get this issue the attention it so very greatly deserves. 

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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Sleep Baby, Sleep!

It's no secret that Little Miss Penelope has never (in all her 5 months old life!) slept very well. She, dare I say it, is probably the worst sleeper out of all five of the kidlets. At first it was just that she hated lying down because she tended to get such bad reflux. This meant that we (I) would hold her at night from around 5pm right through until roughly 10 or 11pm when I would feed her and put her in bed where she would finally sleep for a few hours!

And while I say it like that, she did actually sleep; but as you may or may not know having a baby sleeping on you in your arms hurts like buggery after a while! That tiny tiny little thing that weighs nothing, after a few hours feels like she weighs close to a tonne! Plus you can't really move or do anything if you want her to stay asleep for a while. So for pretty much the entire first three months of her life I would fall asleep on the couch at night while watching tv and holding her. I was awesome at finding just the right position after a while, that would guarantee she didn't slide down; a combination of cushions tucked up behind me and to the side and me leaning in towards the back of the couch meant she didn't move for a few hours.....but man oh man was it painful!

So when she finally started sleeping in her bed at night, it was a time of rejoicing! Yay for being able to watch tv and talk and get up and move around! She still woke up around 11pm for a bottle but was starting to sleep longer so it was around 3ish that she would next wake. Well at just over 5 months, she still doesn't really sleep all night! Don't get me wrong; she is a million times better than she was. But still....I'm kinda tired....

She goes to bed anywhere between 6 - 7:30pm and then she sleeps until somewhere around 10:30 - midnight. Most of the time we wake her up for a bottle, sometimes she wakes on her own. The reason for this is that if we don't feed her, she's up around 3am. If we do feed her, she sleeps until anywhere between 4 and 6am. Which is kind of ok. But she is not really showing any signs of sleeping all night any time soon, which is worrying for me only because I desperately want a full nights' sleep.

So this is where we are at now - she started rolling both ways in the last week but she still loves to be at least partially wrapped for sleep at night. Conundrum! What to do about that? I decided that she needed some sleeping bags - you know the sleep suit style? Partly because that way in the heat she still has something light covering her when it cools a little over night, but also because now I don't have to worry that she'll strangle herself in the middle of the night with her wraps! So courtesy of the Little Miss' wonderful Grandpa whom she has yet to meet, we now have two wonderful sleeping bags that seem to be doing the job fantastically!

Obviously this is not Penelope! But this is the sleep swaddle suit she now has! (and no....we don't make her be a one-armed baby!) -Click HERE for more info

Thanks also to her Grandpa she now has one of those wonderful Airwrap bumpers as well. These are awesome! Mostly because while traditional bumpers are a SIDS no-no, these are mesh; fully breathable and designed to crush under a baby's weight so once they are standing they can't use it as leverage to climb out of the cot. They also have no ties to secure it to the cot, rather velcro along the top and bottom edges so no strangulation risk either. Best of all, it means she feels more secure (the open sides of her cot were freaking her out a bit after the closeness of her bassinet we think), and she can't get arms and legs trapped in between the bars.(Which she had already done at least once!)

So now my only stress about her sleeping (or lack thereof!) is that she has discovered that she likes sleeping on her tummy! Oh the stress in my head about this!!! I know she'll be fine, after all she is the one rolling onto her tummy. I put her in bed on her back. But the little moment of panic when I walked into the bedroom yesterday and saw this:

 She was sleeping soundly, so after my initial panic I snapped a couple of photos.

 She actually slept decently yesterday; I think it was the heat and humidity. I felt somewhat better when I went in to check on her during her second nap in bed (*gasp, in the same day! What's happening here!?) and found her stretched out like a starfish. I think she was hot, hehe.

Ordinarily her daytime naps are mostly short and more often than not, in the pram not her bed. Two daytime naps in her own bed is almost unheard of, but I'll take it where I can thank you very much! She is asleep now again today in her cot, and once again I checked and she's on her tummy... *sigh*....

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