Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A letter to dad

Hi Dad,

Hope all is well wherever you are - I don't think you are very far away because I feel your presence everyday.

The past three years have both flown and dragged by. When I look at the kids, it seems as if time is getting away from me. You would be so proud of them - even though they would probably annoy you with their loud voices and sticky fingers. You always did like your peace and quiet - and hands off the audio-visual equipment!

Gromit is now a big 7 1/2 year old. He has your eyes - although green, not light blue - and your build. In fact, I think he will probably end up even taller than you were. He towers over his friends, of which he has many, and I'm always afraid he is going to hurt then with his exhuberant play. But, despite sometimes being too rough for his own good, he's basically a gentle giant who is not aware of his own strength. When he does hurt someone - usually me - he is mortified.

His size helps when it comes to his passion for sport - cricket mainly (can you believe I bred someone who likes cricket???? No, me neither). When he's not playing, or practicing, he's watching sport on telly. And he will watch anything (his current passion is the English darts competition!). He also loves the statistics involved, and how fixtures and ladders work. Maybe we have a future sports journalist in our midst?

It's summer break now and when school returns he will start Year 3. Can you believe it? It seems like yesterday that I was waiting (impatiently) for him to make his entrance! He's a smart kid (and, let me tell you, there is a fine line between smart and smart alec), and skipped straight from reception to Year 2. I hope we won't regret agreeing to that as he gets older, but his teachers have all assured me he will shine. In fact, his Year 2 teacher was amazed that however high she set the bar, he reached it. I just hope we can channel all those brains and that strength into making him one of the good guys as an adult. You were one of the good guys, and the world needs as many as it can handle.

Missy is....Missy. She really is unique. As one of the daycare workers mentioned - she really does know her own mind. She loves Dora, and the Wiggles and all things girly. And just adores her big brother. It makes for an interesting mix of tomboy, when she's playing with Gromit, and ballerina, when she's playing by herself. She has a very active imagination and does a lot of role playing - I must have sat through 1000 tea parties by now. She also enjoys being read to and listening to music - she has dance moves to die for, especially when she wiggles her hips. And, unlike Gromit, who used to stare at pre-school TV shows, completely absorbed, she follows the presenters' instructions to clap, or jump, or spin 'round.

She turned three not long before Christmas and you would have got a huge kick out of watching her grow up. You might even think I had been given my come-uppance for all the grief I caused you and mum. She certainly keeps us on our toes (the other day, we found her in the bathroom with a sink full of water and suds everywhere - she had emptied the liquid soap and was "washing" her toothbrush). And she has a temper of which I have never seen. She already screams at us, then goes to her bedroom and slams the door. What will she be like when she's 13?

Mum has had a few health scares lately but she is on the mend. Honestly, I think she's a little cross at you for leaving her when she needed you most. She has to pay someone else to vacuum these days istead of getting your assistance for free! I try to make sure she sees the kids weekly because they help keep her young (unlike me, they seem to be making me older by the day). She has some good friends in the retirement village and I am so pleased that the both of you made plans for her to move in there. Of course, at the time, we thought you would both move, but we didn't know how quickly the bitch called cancer would claim you (I know, I know, you hate swearing, but, seriously? I think I get a pass on this one).

The winemaker and I are pottering along, some days are good, some bad. This parenting of young children is a tough job - I can't imaging what people are thinking when they have a baby to save a marriage. But things are fundamentally strong, and we both look forward to the day when we can sleep again. Both my parents-in-law are now dead too, which makes mum the last living grandparent. Serves us all right for having kids are such as advanced age!

Anyway, this letter is longer than I had expected when I started it, so I had better sign off now (need to get some work done - procrastinating as usual),

Miss you all the time and love you as much now as I always did.

All my love and kisses


Monday, November 21, 2011

A window to the future

So, it's been a while since I blogged - life took over. Kids, work, family, friends, you know.

This post is very rushed and I apologise for that, but I know some people want to know what's going on with mum.

So, I had a bit of a fright today. Mum was with some friends on an outing to a historical house and she collapsed and was taken to hospital. So I get this phone call on mum's phone from a friend saying she was in emergency at the Royal Adelaide Hospital (about an hour's drive away - not the one near us) after being taking in by paramedics, vomiting and semi-conscious. Friend was in hospital waiting room and knew nothing else but wanted to know how quickly I could get there.

Of course, me being my mother's daughter, I went to the worst possible scenario. Rob came home from work to watch Missy and pick Gromit up from school and I cabbed to the hospital (too shaky to drive - longest cab ride of my life, with a lovely driver. Set me back $76 - but no option really). On the way, I rang my aunt who lives nearer the hospital and asked her to meet me there. If it was bad news, I wanted a familiar, friendly face.

Anyway, I got there and my aunt came out to meet me and tell me mum was OK. We went in to see her and she was sitting up attached to heart monitors etc. Turns out a new blood pressure medication for her atrial fibrilliation had drastically dropped her blood pressure (Dr said it was about 70/40 when she got to hospital). She's home with an appointment this week to see heart specialist and GP. I am at home with wine.

My  mum is 80 next year, so I had a bit of a window into the probably not-too-distant future and I'm still a bit shaky. Especially after her stroke a few months ago. As much as mum and I clash (and we REALLY clash), I'm not quite ready to be an orphan.

Rob, however, thinks she will live to 120 just to spite him. Let's hope he's right.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A catalyst for change

The 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon has got me thinking about how life can change in a second.

And I'm sure I'm not alone.

Ten years ago, we watched wall-to-wall coverage of the astonishing events. Yesterday, our televisions were filled with both tearful and hopeful interviews with survivors, and those who lost loved ones.

It was the children who were babies - or still in-utero - when they lost a parent that hit the hardest. The lives they were meant to live, and the world they were meant to live in, no longer existed.

In the 10 years since 9/11, I have got married, had two children, six houses (in three states), four jobs.

And lost my father.

I was one of the lucky ones, I had my father with me for 40 years.  But his death hit very hard and was a catalyst for things to come.

Whether it's the death of a loved one, the birth of a child, permanent injury or disability, a move overseas or interstate, divorce, marriage, you name it, there are many things that will happen to all of us that make us question our lives and motivations.

When dad died, I suddenly became the only child of an elderly parent, with the responsibilities that come with that. It also meant that my husband and I had little childcare support for two youngsters (mum helps when she can, but it's not easy for her). It became difficult for us both to work long hours in stressful jobs, as well as be successful parents. Yes, we could have continued as we were - but at what cost?

Something had to give, and for a while, it was my health and sanity.

Then one day, I woke up and decided this was "it". I wasn't going to slave away for someone else any more, and Black Coffee Communication was born.

What makes me sad is that it often takes tragedy and grief for people to have a good look at the lives they are living and prioritise what is important. And trust me, taking that business call at 6pm, when there are kids to be fed and bathed, and books to be read, is not important.

While we can't live in fear of the "what-ifs", I wonder what the traders at Cantor Fitzgerald, the emergency service workers, janitors, airline passengers and others might have done differently had they known that they would draw their last breath on September 11, 2001?

RIP - the world has not forgotten you.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A little bit "woo"

Those of you who know me will know that I am about as "crunchy" as yogurt .

I don't place much store in crystals or Feng Shui or homeopathy; I only did the parts of attachment parenting that suited me (baby wearing frees the hands and breast feeding is, well, heaps more convenient and cheaper); and my wardrobe is bereft of anything made of jute, hemp or kapok.

Something happened this week, though that made me question me steadfasted cynicism about all things "woo".

I went to my regular chiroprator, who is very good at manipulating the bones in my lower back and neck in order for me to carry around 20 kg of toddler (hence the need for a chiropractor).

He  cracked a couple of bones then turned me on to my back, and asked me to put one foot on the other knee and resist him pulling them away. Easy.

Then he lightly pressed two fingers in the diaphragm area and pulled again. Resistance was useless and my leg was like jelly. Huh?

The chiropractor pronounce my adrenaline glands "rooted" (well, he didn't use those exact words, but that was the gist) and said I had been under so much stress lately that I had been pretty much running on adrenaline and my stores were empty.

Anyway. He got out two bottles on herbs and asked me to do the leg thing again. He placed one bottle on my diaphragm and my leg didn't budge. He then took it away and placed the other bottle in the same place. I couldn't resist. Hence, that was the herbal remedy I needed.

I was gobsmacked and walked away $35 poorer but with a bottle of miracle herbs.

Please, someone, give me a rational explanation for this. My pragmatic brain needs it before it implodes. Tks.

(He also suggested I reduce my caffeine intake. I'm still thking about that. If it wasn't for caffeine, I would barely be upright.)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

My so-called (freelance) life

So, it's been a little over a week since I jumped of the treadmill to launch Black Coffee Communication ( - shamless plug) and here are the things I have accomplished:

1. Rearranged the furniture in the house so that I now have an "office". Problem is, the office still contains six amplifiers, three bookshelves, an extra (unconnected) computer and about a bajillion bottles of wine (I'm sure some of you will help with that). What the office does NOT contain is a desk.

2. Offered three new freelance gigs - Facebook marketing for a previous client, a regular blog about industrial cleaning machines (seriously!), and a brand new Fleurieu Peninsula website, launching tomorrow.

3. Cooked some real meals, from scratch, with vegetables.

4. Went to see a grown up movie with the winemaker during school hours...there wasn't an animation in sight!

5. Had my hair cut.

And this is what I have learned.

1. No matter how much you plan to put your feet up between jobs, the universe has other plans. First mum's mini-stroke and then a child at home with the cold put paid to most of my  "me" week. C'est la vie.

2. You can write a blog post for a client while cooking dinner.

3. People want writing services for all sorts of subjects (see above re industrial cleaners!).

4. There's a massively supportive work-at-home parent network out there willing to help a newbie, even if it means taking a risk.

5. This move might turn out to be the best thing I have ever done (bar marrying the winemaker and birthing the kids, naturally).

You can find me blogging about professional stuff these days over at Black Coffee Communication - but I will still be dropping in here at A Small Drop of Ink to vent about personal issues. Hope you don't mind :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Meat in the sandwich

They call us the sandwich generation. Those of us who had children later in life and are thus caring for preschool-aged kids and at least one elderly parent.

My youngest is 2.5, my mum is 79. Hello sandwich!

This was brought into sharp contrast yesterday.

Missy had to get more grommets so I left Gromit in the care of my mum and headed to the hospital. The surgery all went well (I didn't even cry) and we were heading home about 3 hours later.

On the way, I called mum to see how everything was just to be told that her doctor wants her to go to emergency because he thinks she had a mini-stroke. Great.

So the winemaker knocks off work a little early, picks up Gromit. I get home, dump Missy and turn around to take mum to emergency at a different hospital.

Two hospitals in one day. Is that some kind of record?

Naturally, mum and I sat in the waiting room for about three hours (actually, I tell a lie because I nicked off for a bit to go to the Target toy sale and pick up something for us to eat).

One thing about emergency rooms waiting areas - they are great placed for people watches like mum and me. We saw a man being escorted in by the cops, a young girl with a broken arm and a entourage of family and an elderly bloke who, apparently, knew what needed to be done to save the world from the idiots.

Anyway, once we got in, it was pretty quick. The doctor (who looked about 12 but spoke of a wife, so I guess not) got mum's history - and she's a walking dispensary - did some neurological testing, whacked on a heart monitor and proclaimed, yes, looks like a mini-stroke but we won't know for sure until she can get a CT scan next week. He wasn't too concerned about immediate risks because the episode was minor, so that's the good news.

Four-and-a-half hours later, we were heading home - 10 hours after I first trekked into town to my first hospital of the day.

Oh - should I mentioned this all happened on my first day of wage-slave freedom?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Older and wiser

One of the positive things about growing older (and let's face it, there are many negatives) is the ability to roll with the punches when life throws its little curve balls at you.

I'm not talking about those life-changing curve balls like death or divorce, but rather those little disappointments which once made us feel inadequate, unloved or friendless.

For example, nowadays, if I'm at a party and not having a good time, I just go home. Once upon a time I would have stuck it out to the bitter end, in case something good happened and I missed it. It usually didn't (in my experience, if a party starts off kind of sucky, it's probably going to stay that way).

If I miss out on a job, I just shrug and try and improve the next time. If someone at work doesn't like me, tough, we still have to work together. The 20-year old me would have been shattered by these experiences as it would have been some kind of proof that I wasn't worthy of the new job, or the friendship.

I was reminded of this last night when we were out to celebrate a friend's birthday.

The night did not start well, as we arrived to learn the only option was a seafood buffet for $45. Several of our party didn't eat seafood. Others baulked at the cost - they were saving their pennies for the drinking, after all :)

The younger me would definitely be in the latter category. The 43-year old me just hooked into the prawns!

We managed to convince the restaurant manager to reduce the cost for the people who didn't want seafood (there were pasta and salad options), a pretty reasonable outcome, I think.

Anyway, the night settled into a comfortable mood, and I ate my $45 worth of shellfish, salmon and dessert. Unfortunately for one of our friends, the wine and the smell of the seafood turned her an ugly shade of greeny/grey with a bit of blue thrown in for good measure and she need to be taken home - about  45 minutes drive away. Some fantastic ladies (you know who you are) willingly left dinner to accompany her home.

After the bill came and was tallied (a whole other nightmare), some of the younger ones decided to brave the nearby nightclub. Me? I know when I'm beat, so I headed home.

I haven't yet heard the postmortem from those who went out afterwards. I sincerely hope they had a fantastic time to make up for teh earlier parts of the night.

Me? Once I would have felt I had missed out on something by going home early. Today I am just grateful I got a decent night's sleep.