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!

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

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.

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!

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.

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.

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?


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?