Week 2

Or should that be weak 2...

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


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
Small lollies with at least some in green, red and orange - here we used M&M's
Access to a microwave

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!