My children stole my Christmas Spirit!

Now, I'm the first to admit that as far as the whole Christmas thing goes - I have never been the biggest fan. The consumer side of the festive season leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I dislike the expectations our society places on people, loading us with feelings of obligation and guilt if we do not conform. Running around like a headless chook consuming "stuff" that for the most part, means nothing more than an obligatory Christmas lunch stomach ache or an extra roll of wrapping paper under the tree - that really isn't my idea of a joyful family tradition.

Then I had children.

It was almost like having children gave me permission to take part in the kind of Christmas that for so long I had conscientiously objected to. I had kids, therefore I was allowed to consume meaningless "stuff" for the purpose of creating a joyful family tradition... You know... For the children.

With kids in the picture, we did the tree, and the decorations, and the lunch, and the presents, and the parties... We did Christmas.
And I enjoyed it.

This year, my children changed the rules. My children - my permission to celebrate something I don't really believe in - they stopped believing in Christmas.

They took my Christmas Spirit, examined it closely, then stamped a big fat PERMISSION DENIED across it's face.

It started with our road drip down to see TJ's family. I was all for calling it a Christmas road trip - I wanted to decorate the car and fill our esky with Christmas themed food and play Christmas carols and bring Christmas DVD's.
I bought reindeer antlers for the car - you know the ones you attach to the windows, with a red nose for the front? Fun, right? Er, maybe not.
As I was attaching them, Miss F asked me what I was doing, and when I explained what the antlers were for, she said,

"Oh mum - Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Put the antlers down and step away from the car, OK?"

Christmas Road Trip =
Permission denied.

Next was the Christmas present list. I thought it would be nice for everyone to decide on one "decent" present for each member of the family, instead of getting lots of little ones. I started initiating conversations about what to get certain people while said certain person was out of ear shot.
Then my children started initiating "take the mickey out of mum's Christmas present conversations" conversations.

Mary Poppins is a vegan, so Miss V suggested we make her a roast turkey for Christmas lunch.
Sammi is deaf, so Miss J suggested getting her a ukulele.
Mr R has no lower limbs, so TJ suggested getting him a new pair of shoes or some brightly coloured leg warmers.
Miss F is a fashion diva, so Miss J suggested a stripey top with "matching" polkadot shorts.
And on and on it went.

Christmas presents =
Permission denied.

Then the Father Christmas of all Christmas traditions was snatched away from my Christmas Spirit.

My children stopped believing in Santa Clause.

One morning last week, Miss V came over and sat down next to me. She had the kind of intense look on her face that has me shaking in my "I'm an adult and I know about stuff" boots. Her brow crinkled, then she looked up at me and began...

Miss V, "Mummy, do you really think that there is a big man in a red suit who lives in the North Pole and makes presents and then delivers them all in one night? Do you really think that's real, mum?"

Me, "I'm more interested in what you think, Miss V?"

Miss V, "I think it's bullshit."

Me, "[Choke, cough, splutter].. Umm.. OK."

Miss V, "OK. Just as long as you know."

A visit from Santa Clause on Christmas eve =
Permission denied.

With my Christmas Spirit sad and weak and rocking alone in a corner, I hardly dared believe my ears when Miss J asked me if I'd like to see the calendar she made to count down the sleeps until Christmas.
A small glimmer of hope flicked across my Christmas Spirit's rather pathetic and sulky face.

Could it be?

Could Miss J actually be excited about the consumer driven, obligation and guilt fueled seasonal event that I don't really believe in?

Close examination of her face revealed what was most definitely and unmistakably...
Excitement!!!

She showed me her calendar - a beautiful, beautiful, calendar - with lots of green trees and golden bells and red music notes.

Christmas colours!
Christmas trees!
Christmas decorations!
Christmas music!

Christmas Spirit!!!

There was just one small detail that was not quite right.

Me, "Miss J, you have one too many days on your calendar. This one is the day after Christmas."

Miss J, "Yes, I know."

Me, "How come you made too many days?"

Miss J, "I didn't... We go to Woodford the day after Christmas!!!"

Her whole body beamed with sparkling, tingling, magical anticipation and excitement. She jumped onto my lap and threw her arms around my neck...

Miss J, "Only three more sleeps to go! Can we practice sleeping with ear plugs now? In case it's really noisy at night? Or maybe when we get there we can just stay up all night! Could we mum? Pleeeeeease?"

Excited tummy butterflies flew out of her mouth as she was talking and fluttered their way down to my stomach. The electric buzz of anticipation attracted the other little people like a magnet.

Miss F squealed, "I'm not going to sleep at ALL, the WHOLE time! And I'm only going to sit on speakers. And I'll eat guitar strings for breakfast!!!"

Miss V's eyes grew wide and she asked, "Do you think we could sit in the AusLan seats with Aunty Sammi? What if we take our ear plugs so we really can't hear? Then could we?"

TJ watched on in awe, listening to all the wondrous tales of what could be possible in this mythical wonderland we call the Woodford Folk Festival.

My Christmas Spirit took in the scene before us...

The excitement.
The anticipation.
The wonder.
The possibilities.
The magic.

It wasn't consumer driven.
It wasn't what society expected.
It wasn't out of guilt, nor obligation.

But there was no mistaking what it was.

Christmas Spirit -

Kewl style.

Five

Things have been pretty busy in the Kewl house of late. Today I have found time to relax a little and actually sit infront of the computer, as opposed to standing over it, head facing the screen and body turned toward the multitude of other things that have been demanding my attention.
I've finally found the time, but it seems I've also lost the brain power!
So, as five is a pretty special number in our family, please accept a five point catch up and my apoligies for not being more entertaining or profound or, well, interesting!

One:
We are now officially home schoolers, as Miss F and Miss J's home schooling applications were approved this week.

Two:
Yesterday morning I did a radio interview for One Second, the safe driving campaign inspired by losing Daddy Kewl to a drink driver. You can listen to the interview here.

Three:
The people at our local newspaper received Miss V's email and have agreed to publish her newspaper! It will be a double sided, A4 page insert and if it is popular, they will continue to publish it for her!

Four:
I have been hiding out at Always Kewl, an invite only blog where I use real names and say all the grief stuff that otherwise bubbles away below the surface. I miss Daddy Kewl a lot at this time of year, and it's nice to have somewhere to talk to (and swear at) him.
I've also decided I am comfortable sharing the less "together" moments, and that it's actually quite helpful, so please comment here or email if you'd like an invitation.

Five:
Last Sunday the 22nd of November, Miss J and Miss F turned five!!!
I told them that they are not allowed to get older any more. Next year they will just turn 5 again. Or maybe go back to 4.
Miss F rolled her eyes at me and said,

"That's called denial, mum. And it 'aint a river in Egypt."

Yep. They are definitely going back to 4 next year.

Honest Scrap

The gorgeous Fe from Fe.. a life was recently awarded an Honest Scrap award. With this, she blogged ten honest things about herself - all of which were heart felt and inspirational! She also passed on this award to three other people, one of them being me... Kewl! Thanks Fe!

By accepting this award I need to blog 10 things about myself, and nominate 3 other bloggers.

In the spirit of honesty, and in order to honor the gutsy post from Fe, I'm about to disclose things about myself that I am usually very careful about sharing. Why the heck I am putting them on a very public blog, I am not quite sure, but I don't believe in secrets or silence, so I guess now is the time to prove it.

Here goes then - My ten things...

1... Sexual assault was part of my life experience as a child. My parents separated when I was a baby, then when I was 10 the person who contributed the sperm in my conception forced his way into my life. He demanded weekly "access", where he sexually abused me for just over a year. The day I first disclosed to a teacher at school was the same day he skipped town.

2... Around a year ago, the same sperm donor was diagnosed with cancer.

Of his testicles.

Honk honk! Thank you, karma bus.

3... As a young person, one of the ways I dealt with the sexual assault was through bulimia. I felt out of control, so I tried to control the one thing about my body that nobody else could. I would severely restrict my food intake, then lose control and go on a binge, before the self hatred kicked in and I would purge.
It was unhealthy, it was self destructive, and at the time, it served a purpose.

4... I was a ballerina from when I was 4 until I was 15. Ballet certainly did not help my self image - spending hours upon hours in front of a mirror, comparing myself to an impossible ideal and striving for perfection that was never attainable to begin with.
In the competitive dancing world, the hours of self destruction paid off and I won a few major titles - The last of which was on a world stage, where I walked out to be presented with the award and appeared to trip over my own feet. Totally classy.
Actually, I was so disconnected from my body at that point in my life that I didn't realise I had been dancing on ankles riddled with stress fractures for months, and when I walked on stage, my feet finally gave out.

5... I am grateful for the sexual assault, the bulimia, and the ballet. Each of these life experiences served a purpose and enable me to be the person I am today. Even better than that - Each of these things are experiences that I can now choose not to pass on to my children. To me, this is the true meaning of "empowerment".

6... Running away to join the circus saved my life. If it weren't for the people in my circus family and for the help and support they provided me as a young person, I would definitely not be living the life I am today.

7... I believe in the Law of Attraction - what ever you want to call it, I believe it, and I like to think I live by it. And I don't care when I offend people by telling them that if they don't like what they are experiencing in life, they are the one's responsible for changing it. My husband is dead and my surrogate son is dead and I still believe it - so I will never apologise for it. I don't always get it right, but what ever I'm getting is my own doing.

8... When Daddy Kewl and I left the circus we rented a little beach shack to one side of a double block near the beach. The landlord lived in the house next door and he was an outrageous, eccentric, hilarious and self stated drag queen. He was something of a parental figure for Daddy Kewl and myself as we started out in the big wide world on our own. We loved him dearly and thought of him as family.
When he died, we realised he thought of us as family, too. He left us our family home - the double block by the beach.

9... With some education, some amazing opportunities and some hard work, Daddy Kewl and I set our family up so that we are now financially independent. This allows myself and the kids to live the lifestyle Daddy Kewl and I dreamt about. It means we can welcome TJ and Mr R into the family without any financial hesitations, it means we get to play host to a ridiculous number of animals, it means we can home school abundantly, it means I work on projects I am passionate about because I choose to, never because I have to - Essentially, for us it means choices, and for these I am incredibly grateful.
I decided to include this because I believe there is almost as much stigma attached to financial wealth as there is to sexual assault and eating disorders - and because I believe both are misplaced and unnecessary (and because there's no more crap left in my closet!!!).

10... I have turned comment moderation on because posting all of this stuff in such a public space terrifies me. I'm quite comfortable sharing this with my blog friends, who are like a big virtual hug and who never fail to astound me with their warmth and compassion. But there are people who read this blog who aren't friends - virtual or otherwise - and putting myself in a vulnerable position by sharing such personal information makes my heart slip into my stomach.
Actually, the person I am most worried about sharing this with is not a stranger, or some Google freak - it's my mother. It saddens me to say that my mother and I are not friends, and I am worried about what her reaction will be - But that is a whole other blog post and I think this one is about as much honesty as we can all handle for one day!

So there you have it. Honesty in the form of an open closet door.

To finish, I am passing this award on to:
Tiff, from Three Ring Circus
Lani, from Missy Boo and
Bush Babe, from Bush Babe of Granite Glen

Miss Association

Miss F was having a mini melt down because her little sister was beating her at a reading task. Miss F cried,

"But MUM! It's not FAIR! Miss V is SMARTER than me!"

Miss V, genuinely concerned for her big sisters happiness, patted Miss F on the shoulder, and said,

"Don't worry, Miss F, you are still smart by association."

Letter from the Editor

The following is copied directly from an email Miss V has just sent the people who publish our local newspaper. The only thing I changed was her real name to "Miss V", and I was only allowed to help with the spelling of "famous".

Dear person who is going to publish my newspaper,

My name is Miss V and I would like to make a newspaper that has only good news. Good news is more important than bad news because it makes you happy.
My newspaper is called Weekly Grinners and I have some articles for it already.
Mum says she will loan me some money and I can pay her back when my newspaper is famous.
Please will you publish my newspaper?

Yours sincerely,

Miss V

Editor of Weekly Grinners

It's a Matter of Safety

The Kewl kids and I went to the park yesterday and after a good hour of running around, we decided to go across the road for an ice cream. There was no pedestrian crossing so we walked over to the curb, then - as you do when you have small children - I went into control mode. I picked up Mr R, as I didn't have the pram and his walking is too slow to be safe while crossing the road. I asked Miss J and Miss F to hold hands with TJ, to remember to listen for my instructions and to help me to check for cars. Then I asked Miss V to hold my hand. Er - problem - my independent 3yo was not about to hold my hand when nobody else had to.

Standing by the side of the road, with 4 other children eager for the icecream that was waiting for them on the other side and the danger of passing traffic in between, my first instinct was to reach down and grab Miss V's hand anyway. When I tried this, she did the whole, 'hands behind her back, stepping away from me', thing. Then she said something awesome...

"Don't touch me! I said no!"

Man I love it when my kids say things like that!

I did a quick check to make sure Miss J, Miss F and TJ were safe and staying put, then I did some risk management with Miss V.

Me, "OK, you can cross the road without holding my hand if you stay right beside me all the way to the other side. If you get too far away I will use my hand to stop you without asking and you will have to hold my hand next time. Do you agree?"

Miss V, "Yes."

Me, "Where are you going to walk while we cross?"

Miss V, "Right beside you."

Me, "OK."

We proceeded to check for cars together, then we all crossed the road, with Miss V walking right beside me all the way to the other side.

Before I could thank her for such fantastic behaviour, a woman who was sitting at a cafe table a few meters away stood up, approached me and said, "Excuse me, but do you know how dangerous that was?"

She had obviously spotted us crossing the road and was concerned about my decision to respect Miss V's choice not to hold my hand (either that or she was just a nosey twit).

The conversation that followed went pretty much like this:

Me, "Do you mean my 3 year old choosing not to hold my hand?"

Woman, "Yes - this is a busy road, what if she ran off and got hit by a car?"

Me, "Thanks for your concern, I'm glad someone is looking out for kids in our community. If I thought Miss V was at risk of running off, I would not have let her walk by herself. She chose not to hold my hand today and I respect her choice."

Woman, "When it's a matter of safety, children shouldn't have a choice. I really don't think it is worth the risk."

At this point, I would usually just finish the conversation and walk away, but this person seemed genuine in her concern and although her words were confrontational, her body language was quite open and she seemed willing to listen to my perspective, too. So I continued...

Me, "Speaking of children's safety - Do you know how many kids are sexually assaulted before they turn 18?"

Woman, "No, and I don't see the relevence.."

Me, "1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys. Most of the time, perpetrators are people the children know. I would much rather teach my children that it is OK to say no to adults they know touching them and manage the risk of crossing a road when I am present, than make my daughter hold my hand and potentially risk her holding the hand of a perpetrator when I am not around."

The woman went on to say that making my daughter hold my hand to cross a road had absolutely nothing to do with sexual assault and to suggest it did made me "a total fruit loop".

That was where our conversation ended yesterday, but I'd really like to continue it here.

Holding hands to cross a road is really a poor example, as there are many, many other factors at play and I think it confuses the issue. I'm not saying that making children hold someone's hand to cross a road puts them at risk of sexual assault, nor am I saying that children can make whatever decisions they like and we should respect them.

What I am saying is that yesterday, the risk of Miss V not holding my hand was minimal, and reinforcing her ability to say no to me touching her was more important.

This
is what I'm curious about.

I know that I am a total fruit loop, but I would really love to know what you think about children's safety, sexual assault and their right to say no to adults?

Knock knock...

Today, for the first time in a long time I was left alone, with no role to play, no hat to wear, no expectations to fulfill.

There were no children in the house - so I didn't need to be anyone's mum.
I wasn't in the company of anyone - so I wasn't expected to be funny, or freaky, or positive, or social, or interested, or.. anything.
I had no work demands - so I didn't need to be 'professional'.
But the biggest difference today, was that for the first time in months I did not burst into tears the moment I was left alone - so I didn't become the grieving wife, or the grieving mother.

I didn't have to be or feel like anyone except myself.

Er... Self?

Hello?

Are you there?

It would seem that, metaphorically speaking, I got lost on my way to the door. I couldn't figure out if I was the one saying "Knock knock," or the one asking, "Who's there?", but I was at least certain the the joke was on me.

I eventually found myself down with the horses, scratching my "big sook" behind the ears as I leaned against his neck and he nuzzled his head on my shoulder. Horses always have a way of bringing me back to earth - or in this case - showing me where the door is. I am lucky that whenever I get lost, I know they will find me.

Having found myself, I've also found my curiosity, and I have a question...

Who is knocking on your door?
Who will answer?
And if they get lost, who, or what, shows them the way?

Warrior Wednesday - Birthday edition

Miss V, "Zy is a lucky baby, hey mum?"

Me, "Yes, Miss V, he is. What do you think makes him lucky?"

Miss V, "He has two birthdays in a row! His body birthday and his spirit birthday."

Me, "Yeah, that's pretty lucky."

Miss V, "Yeah. But he is luckiest the most a'cause you are his mum and we are his sisters. It's luckiest to be Kewl, you know mum."

Me, "I know, Miss V."

***

Happy birthday darling boy.

Love me.

Warrior Wednesday

It's been a while since I posted a Warrior Wednesday on the Kewl blog. After realising that I was focusing too much on the past, and what was missing, I changed my perspective in order to embrace the present. I have still been writing to Zy, every Wednesday, but in a diary especially for him, where comments and "publicity" are not factors in holding my attention to death and grief and all of the stuff I am trying to move away from.

This week I am struggling big time to keep my head above water. My vision is blurred and the perspective I have worked hard to gain is spinning circles around my head - like a merry-go-round on fast forward, complete with ups and down, dizzying lights and "drive you insane" music.

This time last year, Baby Warrior had just been diagnosed with atypical Esophageal Atresia and shortly after that, with Cri-du-Chat syndrome. I was facing regular amniocentesis to treat polyhydramnios (the build up of amniotic fluid), with the possibility of premature labor each time.
His biological mother was wanting a medical termination.
I was wanting my husband to hold my hand and tell me everything would be OK.

This time last year, I was terrified. And it wasn't about to get any easier.

Today, the terror is almost as fresh as the first time around. There is a growing sense of fear and dread in the pit of my stomach, desperately being squashed down in the hope that positivity and a lighter perspective will make everything OK.

Today, I don't want to hold it down any more. I know that eventually, I will need to let it out if I truly want to pick myself up and continue on again, and right now, in this moment, I am tired of fighting it.

Zy died. That sucks, and I want to be miserable about it for a while.

So, the Kewl Kids and I are going away for a while. We are going to a place that is close to our hearts, and allows us to feel closer to Zy. It's also a place that is filled with much joy and adventure for the kids, so I will be more able to let the rivers wash my misery away before it affects them too much.

Take care out there, my friends in the bloggosphere. See you all on the other side.

There is just something about this that makes me laugh!

NAPCAN: Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect

Did you know that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys are sexually abused in Australia?

Did you know that over 30,000 children in Australia were abused last year?

Did you know that you can help?

Week 2

Or should that be weak 2...


Sammi and Miss J's contribution to iHeartFaces - "Blue"

Candid

With 5 children now taking up residence in the Kewl home, you would think I would be somewhat immune to nagging by now, right?

Er, wrong.

Sammi is a creative genius and graphic whiz. She is also a relentless pain in the bum when she wants something! Sammi takes some pretty spectacular photos of the Kewl kids and she has been harrassing me for months to let her post some on her blog.

Well, today I caved.


This "candid" photo of Miss F, working out how to pull strings, is now up on Sammi's blog for the weekly I Heart Faces comp.

Teachable, Touchable, Talkable, Eatable!

Does your child know the difference between good touch and bad touch?
Do they also know that good touch can sometimes turn into bad touch?
We know that when traffic lights turn from green to red, the cars have to stop because we can see the different coloured lights- But how do you know when good touch turns into bad touch?
What happens then?

For lots of people, talking to children about protective behaviours seems uncomfortable and maybe even a bit scary - But child sexual assault is far more uncomfortable and far more scary.
Ignorance is not innocence.
And knowledge is power.

To power up your child's self protection skills, here is one of our favourite good touch/bad touch activities. There are many opportunities for teachable moments throughout this activity, but if talking about touch is new for you and your child, you can pick just one point to focus on and repeat the activity a few times. If your kids are anything like the Kewl girls, they'll want to repeat it over and over and over again anyway!


You will need:
Plain biscuits - something like milk arrowroots
Chocolate
Small lollies with at least some in green, red and orange - here we used M&M's
Access to a microwave

Method:
Break the chocolate into small squares and place in a bowl or cup.
Heat in the microwave in 10 - 20 second increments (depending on the power of your microwave). Each time you take the chocolate out, mix it with a spoon and have kids test it with their finger.


This is a perfect time to talk about how good touch - Mmmmm.. melting chocolate! - Can turn into bad touch - Ouch! Too hot!
Start by talking about the early warning signs that tell you the chocolate is melting.
What does it look like?
Can you guess what it will feel like?
How do you know that it is melting, and how will you know when it is too hot - NO touch - chocolate?


By heating the chocolate in short bursts, you are constantly checking things out and watching for early warning signs. This means you will notice when the chocolate is getting hot and STOP before something - or someone - gets burned!
When you all decide that the chocolate has melted and is too hot, ask your child whether they want to touch it now and let them practice saying NO to bad touch. You could also put it back in the microwave and let your child press STOP.

Our bodies have early warning signs, too. They come from inside to tell us when something is not right. How did your body feel when you put your finger out to touch the melting chocolate? Did your heart go thump, thump, thump in your chest? Did lots of butterflies take off flying in your tummy? Did you feel a big lump of sticky chocolate in your throat?
These are your bodies early warning signs telling you to be careful of NO touch, too hot, chocolate.

Once the chocolate is completely melted and cool enough to touch, use a spoon to spread it over the top of the biscuits.


You could try using a fork for this step - watch how the chocolate leaks through the gaps and the fork leaves funny marks on the top. This is the wrong kind of touch! Just like other people's hands touching your private parts is a wrong touch. Mum or dad or a doctor are only allowed to touch kid's private parts for cleaning or health checking - and it is always a short touch, not a long touch.

Once you have covered all of your biscuits in chocolate, it's time to decorate! If you use one green, one orange and one red dot, what does it make???


Yes! Traffic lights! Green says go, orange says warning, and red says STOP! Hey... What a great reminder of how good touch can turn into bad touch!

Green is for good touch.
Orange is your early warning sign - I'm telling - touch.
Red is for too hot - NO WAY! - touch.

Put your biscuits in the fridge to set and soon you can enjoy my favourite touch of all - eating chocolate!!!

With a bit of thought, an open mind and a little creativity, talking about good touch and bad touch doesn't have to be scary at all! And the more you do it the more powerful you AND your child will be.

For more fantastic child protection info go and see Megan at Imaginif.

Kewl Kid Initiation

Even though Daddy Kewl is no longer a physical presence in our lives, he spirit still very much present in our family. We love him, we think about him, we talk to him, we share things with him, we write him letters and burn them in the fire to send them to him, we blow bubbles up to him and Zy... And on occasion, I still make him breakfast.

It's usually something that happens spontaneously - I'll be dishing out the cornflakes and decide in an instant that Daddy Kewl will join us at the table that morning. Sometimes it's something I plan, and the girls all help make a big chocolate cake for breakfast!
It is always something that comes from a place of calm, and never a place of grief. Sometimes it stirs up more questions or thoughts from the girls about Daddy Kewl and how he fits into our family unit now... But making him breakfast is never something that comes from my grief space. It is one family tradition that I want the girls to have joyful memories of.

Probably the best part of Daddy Kewl having breakfast with us, is working out who will eat what from his plate. As Miss V pointed out - dead people cannot eat fruit salad and yoghurt - so she had better have the strawberries!!! There is far too much banana on the plate for someone without a body - so Miss J had better finish that off for him!!! And the watermellon - that would just go right through a dead person!!! Miss F - that must be for you!!!
Strangely enough, of all the times we've shared Daddy Kewl's breakfast - not once have the girls faught over who would share what. Pretty impressive for 3 little people, really.

Recently, two more little people joined our family unit. TJ, who is 7, and Mr R, who is 2. At 7, TJ is pretty understanding of our quirky family unit and especially, of what Daddy Kewl means to the girls. When there is an extra setting at our table, he understands that it is our way of including Daddy Kewl in our lives, and he is very respectful of this. At 2, Mr R sees an extra bowl of food that the girls are eating from, and he wants his fair share! As understandable as this is for a 2yo, the kewl girls were equally as understanably unimpressed. They grew angry and upset at the thought of sharing their dad's breakfast with another child, while Mr R was more than outraged at being denied something the others were having - and so began a rather spectacular breakfast table battle!
Instead of stopping the breakfasts with Daddy Kewl, I started putting two extra bowls on the table (one for Daddy Kewl and one for Mr R), which solved the battle of small children.

This morning, Daddy Kewl had breakfast with us.
This morning, I set an extra bowl of fruit on the table for R, as well.
This morning, when it came time to help Daddy Kewl finish his breakfast, Miss V took a strawberry from his bowl.
She sat with it for a few minutes, thinking.
Then she looked at Mr R and said,

"I think my Daddy wants you to have this one."

And she handed Mr R her strawberry.

Navel gazing

The last few months have been kind of tough for this family. Parts of this toughness have resulted in lots of joy and lots of love coming into our lives. Parts have resulted in a little more healing. Other parts have just been tough.

Reading back over the last few months of blog posts, I realised that I've been kind of stuck. Almost every post is about grief or a dead member of our family. Warrior Wednesdays, things to or about Daddy Kewl... And not a whole lot else. Certainly not much evidence of the spectacularly magical moments the Kewl girls are (or should be!) reknowned for.

The last post I wrote was about wanting to go back - not just to the old blog, but to what life was like for us this time last year. When I reread that post now, I don't like where my thoughts were at. I know that time is perpetual motion. It does not stop and you cannot go back, the absolute best you can do is embrace the now and look forward to the future. I know this, but I don't seem to be living by it.
I think the title, "Back to the Future", was an attempt by my subconscious to articulating the fact that more than going back in time, I want to create certain feelings from the past in my future. I want the joy and that sense of family back in the here and now. Today. And living in the past is never going to achieve this.

So, as of today, I'm readjusting my gaze. I've had enough of looking backwards - my neck is sore and I keep tripping over things in the here and now - or worse still - missing the important bits, because I'm not paying enough attention to where I am or where I'm going.
I may not be surrounded by my freak family and I may not be watching Zy grow up - But I AM surrounded by an amazing family of little people, and I have the absolute privileged of watching them grow up.
My family is not stuck back at this time last year, and neither is the love and the joy that I want to fill my life with. Everything I want is right here, right now.

In fact, life is pretty spectacular, really. You just have to know where to look.

Back to the Future

Last night I decided I wanted my old blog back. The "purple page" (as the Kewl girls call it) with my favourite header image. I think the only reason it was changed in the first place was because I mentioned something to Sammi about wanting wider columns and wouldn't mind "a bit of a change", then turned my back for 5 minutes! Sammi is a bit of a whirlwind like that, and I am most grateful for her graphic energy and talent!

So, I changed the template and colours back and went searching for the original header (which Sammi also created) that I love so much. I fiddled with the html thingy until I accidentally on purpose made the header and columns wider, then I decided that the header image looked silly with a too large boarder, so I scaled the header up and now it's HUGE!!! But I love it. Actually, I didn't realise how much I missed the original purple page until I had it back again.

Another thing I didn't realise when I decided I wanted the old look back, was that it was this time last year when Sammi created the header image for me.
This time last year she had arrived for the Freak Fest, along with 40 other ex circus freaks.
This time last year I was surrounded by my freak family.
This time last year, we were all celebrating the surrogate pregnancy with Zy.
This time last year my two best friends in the world were on their way to becoming parents.
This time last year, I felt like I had finally made it through the worst of Daddy Kewl grief, and I could see the light again.

Now, as I look back on this time last year, the blog isn't the only thing I want to go back to.

Hippy Fathers Day

Parts of today will be happy.
Parts of today will be sad.
But all day, everyday, we love you.

Happy, hippy fathers day to you, Daddy Kewl.

Warrior Wednesday

Dear Zy,

Last week Bush Babe commented on WW and mentioned that she loved how you are always high in my heart. Her comment made me smile (thanks BB), because usually what is high in my heart isn't all that visible to the outside world, and I loved that someone else noticed.

You may not be here physically, Baby Warrior, but you are still here with me.
I still say good morning to you, every day.
At breakfast, I set the table for five children, and I set a place for you in my heart. A high chair, because you are not yet 1 year old.
When we are taking turns to feed the animals carrots, I hand one to each of the kids in turn, and in my heart I hand you one, too.

Getting into the car to head out on an adventure, I check to make sure everyone is there and ready to go. Miss J, Miss F, Miss V, TJ, R.... Check. Then I check my heart for you, to make sure you're still coming with us.

Shopping for summer clothes for the kids, I look for lots of sizes - the big girls', the small girl, the biggest boy, the small boy - and you. I scan the racks, wondering what size you would be now and picking out the colours I think would suit you.

At the supermarket, the kids all have their hang ups. Miss J and Miss F love the stickers, Miss V loves the dried apricots, TJ has a thing for cereals and R is impossible to get past the strawberries... And I wonder what would take your fancy? As we do our shop I scan the isles for things I imagine you could fall in love with. Last week I thought the dried bananas looked promising, so I bought you a bag to share with your surrogate sibling.

Our evening routine is now a scramble of different bedtimes and books and cuddles and good night kisses. Miss V first, then Miss F and Miss J, then R, then TJ, then you. I tuck your blankets into the corners of my heart, making sure you are warm and safe. I close my eyes and inhale, and I can almost smell the top of your head, where I would kiss you if your body were here.

Darling Zy, at the end of the day, whether anyone else notices or not, there will always, always be a place for you high in my heart.

Love me.

10 Questions About Dad

The amazing Planning Queen recently posted 10 Questions About Dad, as answered by her children and in honor of father's day.
I am always looking for ways to include Daddy Kewl in our lives, because even though he's no longer alive, our girls deserve to know their dad. I was a bit nervous about how the girls would go answering questions about their dad, but I'm glad we gave it a go anyway - because as it turns out - I think they know him quite well!

1. What makes dad happy?
Miss J - Seeing us happy.
Miss F - When he says hello and we notice.
Miss V - When we do fun stuff and think about him lots so he gets to do the fun stuff with us, too.

2. How does your dad make you laugh?
Miss F - Turning the music up! (Often, without anyone touching anything, the music volume goes up quite dramatically. It happens in lots of places, not just in our home. We think it's dad saying hello.)
Miss J - Leaving his shoes in the hall so mum trips over them! (This started as a game when the girls were little, I would leave their dad's shoes in the hall and pretend to trip over them. I've stopped planting his shoes in the hall but they keep showing up in different places throughout the house for me to trip over. If it's the girls' doing, they are very good at not letting on!)
Miss V - When we fly kites and farts on them! (This one is thanks to Mary, who was flying a kite with the girls and exclaimed, "Oh dad! Stop farting!" every time the kite took a nose dive.)

3. What does your dad do when you're not around?
Miss V - He flies, mostly.
Miss J - He just comes with us when we're not around.
Miss F - Yeah he comes with us. Or he stays with mum. He is always with mum when we're not around.

4. What is your dad really good at?
Miss F - Painting pretty skies.
Miss J - Making mum laugh. Sometimes it looks like she is laughing for no reason, but she's not, she's laughing at daddy.
Miss V - Dreaming with me. (Miss V recently went through a period of crying for her dad at bedtime, so we decided as I couldn't make it better for her, she could go and see her dad while she was dreaming and he would give her a cuddle so she could go to sleep.)

5. What is your dad not very good at?
Miss V - Doing the dishes.
Miss J - Holding his breath. (Sorry, no idea where this came from!)
Miss F - He's not very good at calling mum for her birthday. (Not sure about this either!)

6. What does your dad do for a job?
Miss J - He sings lots.
Miss F - Yeah he sings lots and makes people laugh.
Miss V - He goes in front of lots of people and does stuff so they can love him. (Er, no - it's not what you're thinking!)

7. If your dad were a cartoon character, who would he be?
Miss J - Just my daddy.
Miss F - He would have a big nose.
Miss V - A dead one. (LOL!)
(I think these answers say more about our lack of television than Daddy Kewl!)

8. How are you and your dad the same?
Miss V - We both like dreaming and we see good stuff that other people don't notice.
Miss J - We can fart without anyone knowing!
Miss F - We both love the same.

9. How are you and your dad different?
Miss V - We're not.
Miss F - He's a boy and I don't have a penis, hey mum?
Miss J - I have a body still but dad doesn't.

10. How do you know your dad loves you?
Miss F - He shows us all the time.
Miss J - I can feel it.
Miss V - Because I never get cold at night.

11. What does your dad like most about your mum?
Miss V - That they love each other always and always.
Miss J - That she still cooks him breakfast.
Miss F - How much birthday cake we eat!

Warrior Wednesday

Dear Zy,

I miss you. Every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day.
And I love you. Every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day.

I miss your bio mum, too. We used to have the kind of connection only the very best of friends could conduct. I never, ever thought it was something we would lose. I always thought that no matter what happened - we would come through it together.

The day we released your ashes into the river and walked with you, out to sea, was the day I realised your mum was no longer the same person I was connected to.
And I miss that person.
Maybe one day, we will find each other again.

How to give your mother a heart attack - 101

Miss V, "I just wanted to be in Mr R's pants, that's all!"

It doesn't matter that she was referring to the magnetic letter 'I' that fell out of Mr R's pants when I was changing his nappy...

I do not ever want to hear Miss V talking about anything being inside a boys pants, ever, ever, again!!!

Now, please excuse me while I continue breathing into a paper bag...

Living

Dear M,

When we first met, we were part of our circus family. It was a very large, very extended family - it's volume in numbers matched only by the volume of love generated by it's members.
I remember flirting with you across the dinner table at one of our big family get togethers, as eccentric aunts and overprotective uncles raised their watchful eyes at us. The sense of love and security I felt then was something I carried with me as we began our life - and our family - together.

We always talked about having a large family, and how it wouldn't be determined by genes. We talked about being a drop in place for our extended family of circus freaks and when we were deciding where we would build our home, you found land far enough away to be in the bush, and at the same time, close enough to a main town and highway to be easily accessible.

We talked about fostering, and we talked about being a safe place for the local kids to be after school and on weekends.

When you died, it felt like a lot of our dreams died with you. My dreams of family life, the way we'd imagined it, they died when I became a single parent. Not that there is anything wrong with single parent families - it's just not what we had planned.

Recently, Mr R and TJ have joined our family. Even more recently, the arrangement changed from something short term, to something medium, or even long term.

Tonight, 8 people sat at our dinner table, laughing and joking and teasing and talking. I know you would have loved it, and I would have loved to share it with you (more than you being there in spirit, anyway).

Then someone on an online forum said, "You are living my dream, Al."
And I had the spectacular, joyful, freeing kind of moment that blew the grief haze away and filled my body with energy and light.

It doesn't matter that I can't see you, or touch you, or hear you tell me you love me.
It doesn't matter that I can't share this life with you in the way that I want to.

Because I am living our dream.

The more I miss you - and the more you miss us - the more I will just have to live it for both of us.

I love you, M.

Five is way better than four

"I can't wait until I am five, because Five is way better than four, you know!"
Spoken by Miss J, on a daily basis.

The above quote is something that in the past, I have had trouble embracing. I am all for having things to look forward to, but I am also big on "living in the moment". I am one of those hippie freaks who doesn't believe in saying "I'll be happy when..."
Because if you're not happy now, you will always be searching for a new when.

A few weeks ago, the opportunity for Mr R to come and stay with us presented itself, and true to the moment, we embraced it. The addition of Mr R took the number of Kewl kids in our home from 3 to 4.

Today we embraced another opportunity and another addition. My 2nd cousin - 7yo Mr T - arrived from interstate and he will be staying with us for a while.

This takes the Kewl kid total up to 5.

As I looked around our dinner table tonight, I found myself agreeing totally with Miss J -

Five is way better than four.

The Zoo - Kewl Style!

The Kewl girls, Sammi, Mary Poppins and I went to the zoo yesterday! I am still not quite sure why we paid to go to a zoo, when we pretty much live in one, but as the youngest member of the Kewl family will tell you - "Sammi turned old!" - so we thought we'd better indulge her a bit.



When we arrived, the first thing Miss F spotted was the merchandise shop that you exit through. She squealed with excitement and asked, "Mummy! Can we go shopping?! Please?!"
I explained about the shop being the exit from the zoo, and that shopping would take place at the end of the day, once we'd seen all the animals. So naturally, the rest of her day went something like this...

"After we've seen the elephants, then are we going shopping?"

"After we've seen the crocodiles, then are we going shopping?"

"After we've seen the koalas, then are we going shopping?"

"After we've seen the tigers, then are we going shopping?"

And the killer, "We can see all of these animals in the shop you know - they have photos and toys and puzzles and everything."



Miss J was not at all interested in the shops. She was instead, obsessed with taking photos - which would have been a great way to learn about the animals - had it have been the animals she was interested in taking photos of. But oh no, my little home learner spent the entire day taking photos of signs.
Her favourite being this one...


I was pretty impressed by one of the few images that were not signage...


Me, "Kewl turtle pic, Miss J! I love the pattern the water makes."
Miss J, "It's not a turtle, mum."
Me, "Are you sure? It really looks like one..."
Miss J, "No. It's the pool filter."
Me, "Oh. So it is."



Miss V, at least, did not appear to be obsessed by anything in particular as we wandered around looking at the animals. Although, after asking her what her favourite part of the day was, I'm not so sure...

"The strawberries!"


"And the fruit salad!"


Fabulous.



The Kewl girls did show some interest in a couple of animals...

Miss F, "Look mum! There's you!"


Miss V, "Sammi, what are those kangaroos doing?"
Me, "Sammi, do NOT answer that."


Hmm.. Now that I think about it, maybe it was best not to focus too much on the animals!



So, our trip to the zoo turned out to be less about the animals and more about the adventure, but honestly, that's exactly how we like it.

B is for....

Lots of things, actually, but only three of them relating to this post -

Bronchitis
Boy
Busy

To put that into full sentences -

I have bronchitis, which Miss V affectionately renamed, 'bonk-itis'.

We have a temporary new addition to our family in the form of 2 year old Mr R. He is staying with us while his parents are away.

Between trying not to cough up my lungs, pretending to keep up with the Kewl girls and suddenly remembering what it's like to be responsible for a 2 year old (still in nappies and into EVERYTHING)... Well - we have been busy!!!

That's pretty much it, really. Just a quick post to say we're still alive!

Warrior Wednesday

Warrior Wednesday is at Always Kewl again this week.

Warrior Wednesday

Dear Zy,

My thoughts of you are slowly changing shape and form.
They are beginning to appear less conventional,
Less expected,
Less commonly accepted.

They are beginning to bring me joy,
In place of sadness.

They are still shaky,
And I'm not quite ready to defend them.
Or even to articulate them.

But I am enjoying their obscurity.

And oh boy, am I admiring your wings.

Love always.
Me.

Warrior Wednesday

Warrior Wednesday this week is posted at Always Kewl. This is a private blog, and due to some things from the Kewl blog being taken out of context in the past, I wanted a safer place to post this week's Warrior Wednesday.

If you don't have access to Always Kewl, but would like to, please let me know you email so I can send you the invite.

I Learned Something

So, we are a home learning family. I always planned to give the girls the option of home learning, and when I could no longer find a day care option I was happy with, we simply made home learning an option a little earlier than I had planned.
Now, the girls are happy, and I'm happy, we have loads of fun and the girls are not getting less intelligent, so we remain a proud home learning family.
As such, we are seen as slightly unconventional (which suits me fine!), and as slightly unconventional and unschooled children, you would expect their favourite pass times to be similarly unconventional, yes?

Er, not so.
The Kewl girls' favourite game at present, is "Schools". (Yes that's right - My unschooled children love playing schools. So what?!)

This morning, Miss J was being teacher. Her class of three (me included) sat before her and she gave her good morning speech....

Miss J, "Good morning class..." [expectant pause] "You've got to say good morning back!"

Miss F, Miss V and myself, "Good morning Miss J."

Miss J, "Good. I mean OK. Umm... Today we are going to learn about farts! I will demonstrate!"

[insert demonstration]

And this, I believe, is where Miss J took her unconventional badge and stuck it proudly on her forehead....

Miss V, "Eww! Miss J you farted!"

Miss J, "Na ah - I learned something!"

Class dismissed!!!

A Bag of Laughs

Originally posted at One Second.

Well, the latest One Second installation happened last night, and I must say it went absolutely nothing like I had imagined!

The aim of the installation - like always - was to provoke One Second of new thought in people that will spring to the front of their minds when it comes time for them to make their One Second count. The method this time involved a steel hospital table and a body bag, and asking people whether they trusted their friends enough to let them zip them up in the body bag - for just One Second.

We arrived at a popular Surf Club shortly after 6pm and decided to bring the table through the back entrance so as not to scare children out with their families. People looked on with interest as we set up the table and the body bag in the bar area.
By 7pm the club slowly started to fill with people, and an invisible barrier began to form around the table. People were hesitant to go near the body bag. Most were intrigued, but kept their interest for quick glances from a safe distance away.

As 8pm came around - with a few drinks under their belts - people started coming forward and allowing their friends to zip them up in a body bag. There was a lot of nervous laughter and most people made their friends promise, over and over again, that they would unzip them. People were nervous and many spent more than just One Second deciding whether or not they would get in the bag.

By 9pm, an abundance of liquid courage saw a constant stream of people being zipped and unzipped in the body bag. There was much laughing and joking and many profanities were exclaimed as people experienced laying on a hard steel table and having a body bag zipped closed around them.
As the evening progressed, the experience appeared to become more novel than thought provoking. People started requesting to be zipped up together, some pretended to fall asleep inside the bag, others wanted to know if they could borrow it to play a prank on someone, and I started to doubt the effectiveness of the installation.

Then a little before 10pm, someone went too far - They zipped up their friend and would not let them out.
At first, the persons muffled protests and awkward movements from inside the bag made people laugh. This laughter, mixed with a large amount of alcohol, spurred on the person responsible for keeping his friend in the body bag, and he continued to hold the zip closed.

Then his friend started to panic.

People stopped laughing and began telling the man to let his friend out, but the man seemed oblivious to the turn his prank was taking.

With all eyes on the body bag, the man finally released his friend, who emerged pale and shaky.
Breathing heavily, the friend's terror was replaced by rage and he unleashed a scathing attack on his 'friend', which ended with, "You can't screw with people's lives like that - It's not f***ing funny!"

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Nobody wanted to get in the body bag after that. Suddenly, putting themselves in the hands of their friends - after their friends had had more than a few drinks - didn't seem so funny.

They didn't trust their friends with something as simple as unzipping a bag, and I can only hope they valued their lives as much when it came time to getting home.

Wisdom


"This is mummy's horse and his name is Wisdom!"

"Yeah, but he's not very wise sometimes...... Sorry - But he's not."

True, he's not the cleverest, but he is certainly beautiful, and he has the most magical kind of wisdom I've ever experienced -

Horse wisdom.

Posted for Photo Challenge Friday, over at Mountaingirls.

Warrior Wednesday

Dear Zy,

I've been getting distracted by thoughts of you this week. This time last year, we had just announced your presence to the wider community. I'd been pretty sick with 24/7 vomiting and tensions and emotions had been running high - but the BBQ for Baby was the most spectacular day I could have imagined. Finally being able to share you with everyone somehow made everything that much more exciting. Your mum, your dad and I had been family for over a decade, and now we were welcoming the second generation, together, as a family.

So it didn't matter how sick I felt, or how cranky and tired and emotional we got....

We were pregnant.

You were our reality.

And that made everything seem right with the world.

This week - just one year later - I find myself once again feeling tired, and cranky, and emotional.

This week, I am grieving for the baby we announced, but no longer have to share with the world.

This week, I am grieving for the family that created you, but that is no longer together to love or remember you.

This week, I am not pregnant.

You are no longer living in my reality.

And that made everything seem a little darker in the world.

This afternoon, my thoughts had been hammering away at my happiness all day, and I no longer had the kind of perspective needed to create a joyful afternoon routine with your 3 big sisters - So I went outside and stole a sad moment.
I sat on the steps and cried and cried and cried, for everything that seemed wrong with the world.

When I was finally able to look out from my dark place, into the amazing place in the world that I call home, this is what I saw...


... And in that moment, I know I saw your smile in the sun.

Thank you, Baby Warrior, for reminding me that you will always be in my reality.
My world will always be brighter for knowing you.

Love me.

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

As a solo mum of 3 children, I am outnumbered, 3:1. Usually this is not an issue, as the Kewl girls are usually quite delightful, as far as 4 and 3 year olds go...... Yes..... Usually being the operative word there!
Sometimes, all 3 delightful Kewl girls throw themselves unto simultaneous meltdowns - and it's at these times that the 3:1 ratio does not work so well. So, instead of attempting to wrangle 3 screaming banshees children into a state of calm all at once, I have been know to - on occasion - wrangle my own 'calm' into a separate room and leave them to scream it out. It's really quite amazing how effective removing yourself from the situation can be sometimes!

Tonight was one of those nights where no amount of positive persuasion was going to result in the Kewl girls taking themselves delightfully off to bed. When it got to the point where Miss J was screaming, "I will NOT brush my teeth EVER... AGAIN!!! They will all fall out and then I WON'T HAVE ANY TO BRUSH!!! And YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!!!" ......
And her equally delightful twin was trying to fart on her delightfully unimpressed smaller sister......
Who was proclaiming rather loudly that she was, "Never going to bed, EVER AGAIN!" ......

Well - I decided to take a 5 minute 'calm' break.

Four and a half minutes into my calm break, relative quiet had settled over the banshees children and I was considering my reappearance, when smallest child piped up again....

"Mummy... I know you're in there... You have to come out eventually you know. [Pause] Mummy... You can't hide forever. [Pause] Muuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmyyyyy."

Now, just to be clear, if ever one of my children started to panic or worry, even for a milisecond, I would never stay removed from them - but Miss V was not at all concerned. In fact, her tone was bordering on taunting!

She changed her tactic and continued....

"Mummy... I know you're in there mummy. You might as well just come out now..... Mummy, you will fart eventually and then I will SMELL you out... Is that what you choose mum? The smelly choice?"

Classy little lady, yes?

Classy and impatient, it seems....

"Mummy! You please come out of there right now!!!! You have to come out!!!! MUM!!!! Come out now!!!! MUUUUUUM!!!!! COME OUT NOW OR I WON'T EVEN SAY PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

By this stage you might be wondering why I didn't just come out - my 'calm' place was obviously no longer proving very effective and going out would probably have stopped the situation from escalating - but alas, I was not coming out and Miss V was left to continue her shouting assaults....

"Mummy! You are not making me very happy right now mum! Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease come out mummy......... Puh-leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease..... Mummy!!!! I SAID PLEASE!!! NOW COME OUT!!!!!"

OK, so this is verging on ridiculous now, right? What do I think I'm playing at, leaving my youngest daughter screaming desperately for her mother to come out!

This has gone too far, right?

Yep, I agree. At first it was funny, then a bit annoying, but now it's down right insulting...

"I am right here, Miss V, but you'll need to turn around to see me, because no matter how hard you scream - I am not going to come out of the dog kennel."

Zy's cat

Dear Zy,

I'm so sorry.

I rang your dad today and asked him to take your cat back.

And I am so sorry.

This morning your cat stood at the door and began meowing to be let in. Instantly I felt a maternal tugging of my heart strings, and my boobs started leaking again. I let your cat in and went to get changed, but I had no clean clothes left. So of course, I burst into tears.
When I calmed down a little, I realised that I hadn't just run out of clothes - I'd run out of energy.

I can't keep leaking milky tears for you and be OK with it. I can't keep feeling that maternal tug and not be pulled back into immense grief for you. I can't hear you cry, and not be able to hold you.

I just can't do it any more.

And I am so sorry.

Juxtaposed Fence (sort of!)

Another Friday, another photo challenge! This week we could choose from to themes, juxtaposition or fence. We started of on juxtaposition because we love adding new words to our vocabulary, then we took on the fence challenge as well, because the Kewl girls don't like to miss out on anything!

I think we did pretty well! Not so much because we got a spectacular looking photo, but because the girls all understood the meaning of juxtaposition and were able to explain it in relation to this photo...


Miss J "One side is wet and rainy, but the other side is dry!"

Miss V, "It's a juxtaposed miracle!"

Miss F, "No, it's juxt-a-roof..... And a fence! Mum! We did it!"

Warrior Wednesday

Dear Zy,

When you died and it came time to leave the hospital without you, I got stuck. I got very stuck. I knew, on some level, that you were not in the hospital any more - that I was not really leaving you, because you had already left your body - but somehow in my mind I still managed to attach you to the hospital, and I could not leave. Maybe I thought that once I left, it was definitely over. No more pregnancy. No more baby. No more you. And no where to hide.

People moved around me, packing my things into my bag and doing what they could to get me ready. I spoke to a beautiful soul who told me everything I needed to hear and more. I held photos of my precious children, Miss J, Miss F, Miss V and you.

I just couldn't make myself leave that room.

I had been sitting on the bed for hours, bags packed, everything in order, ready - yet at the same time anything but ready - to leave. Just as another wave of grief threatened to drown me, the door opened and I heard the most beautiful, sweet and vulnerable cry in the world.
A tiny kitten, just 8 weeks old and missing his mum, was placed in my lap. I looked down at the fragile little being and felt the most intense kind of love rush through me - maternal love.
I held the kitten to my chest and he immediately began to purr. Without thinking I stood and moved to the door. The people around me - my incredible friends - recognised my cue to leave and came to form a guard around me. Around us.
That tiny little kitten, held close to my heart, stopped my soul from tearing in two as I walked out those doors without you.

From the moment he came to the hospital, he was known as "Zy's kitten", and in the days and weeks that followed, he never strayed more than a few meters from me. There was only one other person your kitten would seek out, and that was your dad. As time passed and plans were made for the future, your kitten started spending more and more time beside your father. The plans that were being made were for your surrogate sisters and myself to travel with our circus family, but your dad had decided to stay where he was. The gaping hole in his heart as he grieved for you was almost visible, and your kitten was the only one he would allow close to him.
When it came time for me to leave, it seemed as though your kitten staying with your dad was the only decision that could be made.


This week your surrogate sisters and I went to visit your dad and your kitten. It had been five months since I'd seen your kitten, and he has grown into the most beautiful cat I've ever seen. The moment I saw him I picked him up and held him close, and he rubbed his head against my chest, purring so loudly he made your surrogate sisters giggle.

Later that day, we were sitting in the kitchen when I heard your kitten meow for the first time since leaving him with your dad. I was instantly thrown back to the very first time I heard him meow in the hospital, and all the times that beautiful, sweet cry had bought me comfort in the weeks after losing you.
Your kitten meowed again, and I felt the tears spring from my eyes and fall freely down my cheeks. A moment later, I realised my eyes weren't the only things that had sprung a leak.

Even though my milk had dried up months ago, when I heard your kitten crying again, milky tears began seeping from my breasts.

I've been with your kitten for almost a week now, and still, every time he meows, my breasts cry for you.

Darling Zy, I guess what I want to tell you today is that I hear you. No matter who created you, or who's child you were supposed to be, or who was supposed to be your mother - I hear you.
And I always will.

Love me.

One Second for Twitter

Thanks to the suggestion from Trish, One Second has joined the world of Twitter! It's quite new to me and I must admit, I don't think I've quite wrapped my head around it yet, but I'm told it is a fast growing form of social media and communication, and anything that gets people thinking - even for One Second - is a great thing as far as I'm concerned!

You can see the One Second Twitter profile here.

And the One Second blog here.

A big thank you to Trish for getting behind One Second and helping spread the thought wave!
5bigpv6kru

(Technorati fiddling, please ignore!)

Warrior Wednesday

Dear Zy,

I've been thinking about your biological parents a lot lately, and I want to apologise to you right now, because my thoughts haven't always been nice ones.

Just recently I got a call from the hospital where you were born. More specifically, I got a call from someone in the accounts department. It appears there is money outstanding, and as I was the patient I am the one they called.
The laws around surrogacy in Australia are pretty shaky, to say the least. In the early days we went through an IVF clinic that supports surrogacy, but a lot of the legalities were left to us to sort out (with the help of solicitors). Part of our agreement was that as the pregnancy was really your biological parent's, and just happened to include me as an incubator, your biological parents would be responsible for everything associated with the pregnancy that was physically possible. Including the financial responsibility.

At six months into your growing, the first lot of 'complications' popped their head up. Too much amniotic fluid led to the discovery of a lump in your throat and a quirky esophagus that didn't quite go where it was meant to. At this point, your bio mother had just scared the crap out of herself by googling causes of polyhydramnios and was somewhat relieved when the news was nowhere near as bad as it could have been. Your dad, on the other hand, had a bit of a freak out and took of surfing.
For a week.
Without telling anyone.

Your bio mum and I were furious.

But we were furious together.

And he came back when it counted.

The day after your bio mum and I went to the big hospital to get results of the amniocentesis, your dad returned. The results told us that you had Cri-du-Chat syndrome. We all cried a lot, but your bio mum - she was crushed.
She was so crushed, that when we all went to speak to the specialist together, your bio mum asked me to leave the room so that she could ask the doctor about a medical termination and what that involved.

This time I was furious.

And we weren't in it together.

From that point on I no longer felt like I was just your incubator.
My maternal instincts kicked in - or rather, I let them kick in - and I felt like the person who was carrying you, and giving you life, and protecting you, and loving you.

I felt like your mother.

I gave birth to you. I stood by you and fought with you. I loved you with all of my heart and soul.

I felt the hairs on the back of my neck prickle when your bio mother finally entered the room for the first time - hours after you were born. I resisted the primal urge to growl and bare my teeth at her as she stood in the corner, refusing to look at you.

I held you to my heart and rocked you gently, as you died in my arms.

I cried a river of tears for you, and I let the river carry your ashes into the ocean, so you could be free.

I will cry many more tears for you, so that the rivers will keep flowing and can take you wherever you want to go.

I will love you, with all of my heart and soul, for all of eternity.

And I will pay the hospital account.

Because I cannot bare the thought of your parents not taking responsibility for you.

Love me.

Beezie the Beetroot

What happens when Sammi the crazy artist lady offers to give the Kewl girls a "practical art lesson"?


Beezie the mini foxy, becomes Beezie the mini beetroot!!!

Bush

Today, being Friday, is photo challenge day over at Mountaingirls Musings. Each week there is a new theme - this week's is 'bush' - and the challenge is to come up with a relevant image. It's turned into a great learning project for the Kewl girls (and me!), as we've come across new words, new places, new ideas and new concepts... And we've had great fun coming up with our photo this week.
First we thought about what a "theme" meant, then had a brainstorm about what could come under the theme of "bush". It was great to see the girls' minds firing as they tackled the photo challenge pretty much on their own this week.
They had acquired more than a few pretty typical images of various shrubs and bushes around our home, before Miss V has a somewhat spectacular brainwave.
Coming home in the car one afternoon, we turned into our drive way and began the descent to our home, when Miss V exclaimed, "Hey! We live in the bush!!!!"
Naturally I stopped the car immediately and we all got out and stood on the roof so as to get a good picture of the bush, where we live.

So thanks MG, for a great challenge, some great learning, and of course - great fun!

Warrior Wednesday

Dear Zy,

Life has been pretty full on this week. It's been a good kind of full on though, with lots of forward movement and life embracing thoughts and ideas. You and I haven't had an outwardly spectacular Warrior moment, like the heart bubble last week, but lots of little things have let me know you are still around - Because even with all of this week's action swirling around in my head, you have never been far from my thoughts.
It was as I sat down to write this post to you that I realised how comforting this is.

For the first time since you died, I think I am getting a sense of what it is like to love you, to miss you, to think of you and to embrace life's forward movement, all at once.

I don't have many more words for you today - although my new found sense of life with you is quietly comforting, it is still somewhat shaky, and I don't want to confuse it with cold and boring head talk.

Darling Zy, thank you for always being here. I am so glad you are coming on this journey with me.

Love me.

Cheers!

Last night (Sunday) I re-entered two worlds that I haven't been part of for quite a while, and I entered for the first time, a new world that is waaaaaaay outside of anything I ever thought I'd experience...

I went to a bar.

I ran a performance installation piece (no - I'm not really sure what 'performance installation piece' means either).

And I spoke to a bar full of total strangers about the last moments of Daddy Kewl's life.

To put that all together (partly for my benefit as I am still not sure I understand exactly what I was thinking or doing!) - last night I went into a bar where total strangers were eating and drinking, I cut the lights at 20 minute intervals, and during those black outs I told the story of Daddy Kewl's last day with us.
It started off as a bit of fun - the black outs had people curious and the beginning snippets of the story were light hearted and fun. Right before the last black out I handed out free beers to everyone. Naturally, this was very well received.

Then for the last time, the lights went out and I began speaking...

"One second... he said. He sounded distracted. Worse - He sounded serious. There was screeching. Then crunching. Crackling through the phone line. Then nothing. Oh no."

An uncomfortable silence settled over the bar. The lights came up slowly as I continued speaking - getting voicemail, putting the children in the car, driving, the rising panic, seeing the flashing lights, the crumpled metal, finally, seeing M and finishing with the words, "He is gone. He is dead."

Once I stopped speaking, I took a moment to compose myself, then the lights went down again and a spotlight came up on a small stage where I was now standing. I explained that the man who killed my husband had been drinking, but decided to get in the car anyway. He relised his favourite TV show was about to start, so he put his foot down. He was one block from home when he ran a stop sign and hit M's car.

M was killed instantly.

He did not get to see our twin daughters turn one.
He was not there for the birth of our youngest.
He will never be here for birthdays.
For Christmas.
To hear the "I love you"s.
See the smiles.
Give the cuddles.

He'll miss every second.

The other guy was physically unharmed.
But he did miss his TV show.

I went on to mention the free beer people were holding, and the split second it took them to decide whether they wanted it or not.

I asked them to hold the bottles up and look underneath.

To the people with a black dot under their bottles - I'm sorry - You were just hit by a drink driver. But don't worry, you didn't suffer. You were killed instantly.

To the people with a red dot under their bottles - Opps - You just drove drunk and caused an accident. But don't worry, they didn't suffer. They were killed instantly.

To the people with a white dot under their bottles - Congratulations -
You have just won a $50 Taxi voucher, and you won't kill anyone on your drive home tonight.

Finally, I asked people to remember how easy it is to make split second decisions without giving them much thought.

And I asked that next time, when they have to choose, they make their second count.

There was a round of applause that was hesitant, as if people were not sure whether they should be clapping or not, then without me even realising what was happening, people started emptying their beers.

They tipped them down sinks behind the bar, over the veranda, down drains and gutters and into toilets.

As I watched the people around me emptying their drinks, I felt as though all of the emotions that had been bottled up in order to put together and present the installation were being released. I exhaled, for what felt like the first time in weeks, and just like that, it was all gone.

When the last bottle was emptied another round of applause erupted in the bar, and this time it was packed with energy and intent.

***

Tonight, I am absolutely exhausted... But I feel better than I have done in months.

One last thing... To everyone at the bar last night, and to everyone who helped make the installation successful, and to everyone who has put up with me while I've had my head so far up the proverbial backside of this new world -

Cheers!

To making every second count.

Upside Town

Another Friday, another Photo Challenge!



This week was a collaborative effort on our part.
First, I took the girls to our town market last Sunday.
Then, Miss V insisted we ditch the crowds for a while and roam free on the oval.
Then, Miss F put her photographer's hat on and captured eleventy-hundred more than a few images.
And finally, Miss J asked Sammi the crazy graphic chick to teach her how to make funny photos on the computer.

Sammi taught her the 'hysterical giggle inducing' trick of turning photos upside down, and when Miss J tried it on some of Miss F's town market photos, my 4yo sense of humor kicked in and dubbed this one, "Upside Town" (It's so lame, it's actually funny... Right?!)

Photo Challenge Friday is hosted by the gorgeous Mountaingirl from Mountaingirls Musings.

Sale

We had to go to the shops yesterday to get the Kewl girls a new t-shirt each. I don't particularly enjoy shopping and the girls don't particularly need new t-shirts, but last week we learned about "bets", and of course, being all about 'practical learning' I made a bet with Miss F...
I said, "I bet it will rain only 2 days this week, and she said, "I bet it will rain every day this week."

Apparently the weather God's like Miss F better.

It rained everyday and Miss F won a shopping trip worth a new t-shirt of her choosing for her and her sisters. To be honest, I was actually quite happy about Miss F's choice of betting stakes - Not the shopping part, but the part where she wanted to choose something for her sister's, too!

So yesterday we wandered into Miss F's favourite clothes shop, Miss F on a mission and leading the way, Miss J, Miss V and I happy to hang back and leave the expert to it.
Naturally, Miss F selected the most gorgeous and most expensive top in the entire world store for herself. (But it's not about the money, right?!) She then proceeded to hold various garments up to Miss J, making comments like, "No, this colour does nothing for your eyes," and, "Oh yuck, this cut is less than flattering," before finally selecting, "A rather elegant vest in a brilliant shade of aquamarine, because it makes her eyes look spectac-li-ar!"

Great! Two down, one to go.

Now, Miss J is quite used to her sister's rather, er - strong - passion for fashion. She is usually quite happy to let Miss F take hold of the reins and steer her toward particular clothing choices, and long as she can choose her own accessories, she is happy.
Miss V, however, is not quite so open to her big sister's 'direction' (well OK - Miss V likes what she likes and couldn't care less about Miss F's 'fashionable' opinion), so Miss F wanting to choose a shirt for her little sister was a lot like taking a recipe for disaster, throwing all the ingredients into a container and shaking it.

Violently.

From the first shirt Miss F pulled off the rack, Miss V was determined to exercise her vocabulary of 'negative connotations'. Unless of course, Miss F didn't like something, in which case Miss V thought it was simply divine.
After about 20 minutes of conflicting opinions and Miss F trying in vain to make her sister surrender to her obviously superior knowledge, taste and overall supremeness find something they both liked - Miss F was over it.

She looked at her sister, then looked at me, then looked back at her sister, then looked back at me, sighed, and said, "You know, sometimes I just can't believe she's actually related to me."

Oh dear.

Just as I was about to attempt an intervention, Miss V pointed to a t-shirt on a manaquin and exclaimed, "Oh kewl! I want that one!!!"

To my complete astonishment, Miss F looked at the t-shirt for a moment, before a huge grin spread across her face and, matching her little sister's enthusiasm, she exclaimed, "Oh! It's perfect!!!"

To my dismay, this was shortly followed by, "And you can stand in our window when we get home!"

You see, Miss V didn't point to just any t-shirt... She pointed to the bright red one, with big, bold, white writing on the front...

The one advertising, "SALE - 25% OFF!"

And I'm almost certain that if she had been allowed, Miss F would have put her sister in the window, sold her to the highest (ie, first) bidder, and used the money to go shopping.

*Sigh*

You know, sometimes I just can't believe she's actually related to me...