Sunday, 1 March 2015

The light at the end of the terrible threes tunnel

Hello again people, I'm back again, less than 12 months after my last post, so this has to be a good sign for me right?

So for anyone who has kids, you'll know what the phrase terrible threes means. It's that horrible 12 months where your child has a birthday and then all of a sudden turns into the spawn of Satan.

Ok saying all of a sudden isn't entirely accurate, the terrible threes more sneaks up on you. At first the temper tantrums your newly aged up child displays seem fairly similar to the ones you saw when they were two. Hopefully you've even gotten to the point where you recognise the first signs of a temper tantrum giving you a bit of an edge when it comes to diffusing a bad situation. However very slowly the three year old tantrum sneaks its way into your life. And this one is nothing like a two year old tantrum.

Image courtesy of
Pictured: a typical three year old temper tantrum

For one the intensity and duration of a three year old temper tantrum can be more than twice of that of a two year old. The child is just that little bit older, with just that little bit more stamina, and they use this to their advantage. They also get that rage strength that makes drunk angry people so scary, so fighting them is like wrestling with a live crocodile. But the worst thing about a three year old temper tantrum is that you can never guess what is going to set them off. It could be because you've asked them to pick up their blocks, or put on their pants, but it could be because their favourite pyjamas are in the wash and every other night time outfit you've bought them is boring. (I get the complaint that everything is boring a lot.) 

The first time you see a real three year old temper tantrum you're so caught off guard you end up giving in to your darling child just to get the screaming to stop, and hopefully save your glasses from shattering with the noise. The second time it happens, you're slightly more prepared and you try to reason with your kid. But your kid is even more prepared than you are, and now knows that you will give up eventually. This knowledge gives them the strength to out-scream you for the next thirty minutes, because they know that eventually you will break. The third time your kid throws a tantrum, you're so shell-shocked from the first two it takes all your strength to not pack your bags and run away to the circus. 

This is the point where all your helpful friends and family decide to chime in with "I told you three year olds were worse than two year olds last year..." and you'll smile grimly all the time punching them in their smug faces silently in your head while you try to wrestle your darling child out the door. You will start to read parenting advice blogs desperately trying to find the right advice to turn your newly minted devil back into the darling child they were yesterday. You'll try the naughty corner, you'll try reward systems, you'll try reverse psychology, you'll try walking away. You will curse Super Nanny each and every time one of her methods fails miserably. You'll start collecting brochures for military school just in case this isn't just the terrible threes and things get desperate. Your Google search history will become incredibly bizarre as you try to figure out if the latest tantrum is a sign you need to contact a priest, or just limit the amount of yellow food dye you're feeding your kid. You'll start looking forward to bed time more than ever because while they're asleep they look more like that beautiful child you have been raising all this time than during the day.

Life will become a mine field, and you're the brave soldier tip-toeing through it trying to figure out which patches of ground aren't going to cause a major explosion. And to make things harder, the temper tantrums aren't constant. (I know what you're thinking, how can only occasional tantrums be better than constant ones?) It's because when things start looking normal again you let your guard down. You enjoy having your sweet loving child back and begin to forget the monster that hides under their skin. You'll even bend the rules more than you would before, just because it is such a relief to have your obedient, helpful child back. But they are expecting this, and this is when they strike again. The tantrums come in waves, and the space between them can be as little as a week or as much as a month. But you never know which one it's going to be until it's too late and you're scrambling for a safety helmet in the middle of a toy storm. (trust me books hurt when being hurled by a three year old)

But one day a miracle happens. You ask your child to do something that on any other day would result in a meltdown of epic proportions, but instead of screaming and crying and telling you they don't love you anymore, they just agree to do what they are told, and wander off happily. You will nearly pass out from the shock of it all, but you don't mention it to them because you don't want to remind them they have the power to refuse this. But it happens again, and again and again. That's when you realise you've left the terrible threes behind, and you are now the parent of a beautiful four year old. That is one of the best feelings a parent can experience. 

Now I'm still the parent of a three year old for another month, and given that Miss K has always been up to 6 months behind most children her age developmentally, I don't know if that means I get an extra 6 months of terrible threes behaviour or not, (lucky me.) But I will tell you that as recently as two weeks ago, I finally managed to get her to start dressing herself, and this week she ate a slice of apple for me, something I have never been able to get her to do before. As a battle weary mum, I am happy to take both of these things as a major victory and not question things much further than that.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

How to co-parent like a boss

Whew my last post was pretty cathartic for me. I don't know about you guys but I felt amazing once it was done. I even managed to have a grown up conversation with my friend, and we both got a few things off our chest. I don't know where we will go from here, but it was one of the most honest conversations we had ever had.

Given that my aim at the moment is to get back into the swing of writing again, and I really have no idea how many people are still reading my stuff, I've decided to keep with the theme tonight and provide some advice for any one out there who is trying to co-parent with  an ex. I will preface today's post with a warning that what I am about to share in no way constitutes legal advice and I am in no way qualified to give any legal advice. This information is purely for entertainment purposes. If you or anyone you know is currently going through a custody battle, please seek advice from a qualified lawyer if you are having any issues.

Now that I have the formalities out of the way I should probably explain for any of you who are new to my special corner of the Internet that this conversation happens to be one of my specialities.  Not only do I see all kinds of custody battles all day thanks to my job as a legal clerk for a family law firm, but I then get to go home at the end of the day and deal with my own custody battle with Miss K's dad, Red. Of course given we separated before Miss K was born, I've been living this reality for over 4 years now. So what you are about to read are tried and true nuggets of wisdom.

1. Realise that you two have the same common goal in mind

This seems to be the hardest thing for anyone who has separated from the other parent of their children to ever accept. You've gone from being on the same page together, and creating the same life together to all of a sudden being on opposite sides of the fence, and it becomes easy to forget that just because your exes feelings towards you have changed, doesn't mean he or she doesn't love your children just as much, and they still want the exact same things for your children as you do. Once you can realise this, it can become easier to see their side of any argument. For the parent who is now removed from the family home, they have realised that they have to work even harder to maintain their sense of identity as a parent because their kid's lives will now be happening mostly out of sight. And for the parent who has just become the primary carer, they have just realised that their work load has increased tenfold, and all of the burdens and work that the two of you shared is now solely on one person's shoulders. Put this on top of making sure your kids emotional needs during a separation are taken care of and both parents are faced with a mammoth and daunting task. But you both still just want your kids to be happy, healthy and safe, and you both still want them to know how immensely they are loved and cared for. You both want to share in their joys and tears, and make sure they grow up to be good people. Take the knowledge of this fact and hold on to it tight. Repeat it to yourself as often as you can, especially if the two of you begin to argue, because that seems to be the first thing people lose sight of when battles begin over the kids.

2. Don't put the kids in the middle of your fights

Speaking of fights there will be lots of fights. Even Miss K's dad Red and I argue, on an occasional (or sometimes regular) basis, sometimes about the most trivial things. You've got a lot to defend now that your former partner is now an ex, and things can get heated. Neither of you is going to want to compromise now, and the stakes are higher than ever before because it's your flesh and blood you're fighting for. It is important that the kids aren't made to pick sides if or when this happens. As far as they are concerned, they still love both of you the same as they did when you were together. They don't see what either of you did to fall out of love with each other, because as far as they are concerned you two are both awesome. So to all of a sudden try to make them pick sides is unfair. In order to protect your children from your fight don't make them spy for you when at the other parent's house. Nor should you let them hear you speaking badly about each other. Red and I made that a part of our parenting plan when we drafted it up, that we'd never speak ill of each other or any other family member whenever Miss K was around. What's more we also promised in the plan to stop anyone else from doing the same. Miss K loves her whole family, and neither of us want that spoilt.

3. Don't try to be the "Better Parent"

It is so tempting to try to one-up each when it comes to currying favour with your kids. Non-primary caregivers will use the excuse that they don't see the kids as often anymore, so it's their right to spoil the kids a little more when they do see them, to make up for lost time. I can see the logic in their argument, but it serves no one in the long run. Children are very good at manipulating the system, and will quickly learn how to use your desperation to prove you are still a good parent to their own benefit. It is important to remember that just because you are now a single parent doesn't mean that your children no longer need rules or boundaries. Nor does it mean that just because they ask you for something that you absolutely must get it for them. When the three of us get together, Miss K loves trying to bounce both Red and I off one another, and if one of us says no to something the first thing she does is go straight to the other parent and ask them for the same thing. We've had to learn to tell her that we're both the boss, so if one of us says no, then the answer is no from both. If we think the other parent is being unreasonable we will discuss it, but for the most part we're both happy to back each other up. So far Miss K will still run straight to me to dob on daddy if he says no, but soon she'll learn that I'm not there to undermine his authority.

4. Learn to pick your battles

This one is tricky. There can be a lot of anger surrounding the ending of a relationship, and when there are children involved, it is even easier to transfer this anger towards the other parent's capability to care for the kids. Total bans on junk food, changes to a child's appearance, and the kind of people you associate with when the kids are around can be common limitations that parents try to put on each other, and fights like this never end well. It is important that you remember that trying to enforce restrictions like this can always turn around and bite you in the rear. It is more important to try to learn to compromise with each other. Making life difficult, and punishing your ex for the breakdown of your relationship through the children serves no good purpose in the long run.

5. Accept that you and your ex will need to have a relationship forever

Once upon a time that sounded like a favourable prospect. But now you have severed all romantic ties with the father or mother of your child, and yet you're still stuck having to see them regularly, and talk to them constantly. Even once you've navigated the initial mine field that is the custody battle, you will still possibly have to associate with them at handovers, school concerts, sports days, birthday parties, and one day when they get married, they will hopefully want both of you there. Then come the grand kids who will hopefully love both of their grandparents as much as their mum or dad does, so you need to start the cycle again for the next generation. My parents have been separated since I was 12, and every single time one of us kids has a birthday, both of them show up. Same for the grand kids. Same for every other special events any of us hold. So even 21 years after their marriage ended my parents are stuck having to see each other. Of course it's not as regular now that we're all grown up and making families of our own, but it still happens and will keep happening until one of them dies. And of course they don't really enjoy seeing each other, and there are times where I wish I could choose to invite just one parent instead of having to deal with the guilt of sticking both of them in a room together, but that's just the facts of life when parents separate. I was actually very lucky growing up because there was less arguing between my parents once their relationship ended. They were able to move past it and focus on raising us as civilly as possible quickly. It is because of their relationship that I have managed to create a strong co-parent relationship with Red.

6. Accept that you will both make mistakes

You are both still human. You will both still screw up because of this. I remember when Miss K was younger, her and Red were roughhousing together on the carpet and he actually managed to give her a carpet burn thanks to carelessness. I was so furious at him for hurting her, even though she didn't even seem to notice the abrasion. I didn't let him forget about it for months afterwards, even though it wasn't a major injury. Since then Miss K has given herself carpet burn on no less than two other occasions, but these were never the same big deal because it was self-inflicted. Had we still been together, I probably wouldn't have reacted as strongly, because I only started thinking of him as a giant incompetent child right before we broke up, so his mistake would have simply been human error and not a major blunder. Just as we need to learn to forgive ourselves for making mistakes, we need to learn to forgive our exes. None of us know what we're doing when it comes to raising our children, and that seems to magnify the minute you become a single parent.

If anyone else can think of anything that I have missed then please feel free to drop it in a comment below. I love hearing how other single parents cope with the battles that come with our territory, so come on in and have a say.

Well that's all from the front lines for now. Stay awesome people!

Friday, 13 February 2015

What women want

So I disappear off the face of the planet entirely and you guys keep coming and visiting. Thank you. I'm sure you're all wondering where I've been, and I sure wish I had a good story to tell you, sadly the truth is I was beginning to find myself with too many fingers in too many pies, and I started to feel burnt out. What's worse I was starting to let people who were actually relying on me down, and the minute I start that I know it's time to reorganize my priorities. But after a year long break I finally feel that I'm getting the hang of this whole juggling multiple projects thing so I thought it was time to dust the cobwebs off my old keyboard and reconnect with you awesome people. I want to give a huge shout out to bubz'n'mumz who seem to have been the largest driving force behind my traffic lately, as they featured me in an article called "15 of Australia's best Mum and Baby Blogs". So props to you guys for recognizing brilliance when you see it.

So this blog post comes to you courtesy of being jilted by a male friend, who cancelled our Valentines Day plans the minute something better came along. So I bring some advice for men everywhere. If any of you guys know what's good for you, you'll pay attention today. and ladies, get your men to read this because it could be the best thing he'll ever read.

So if American television shows are anything to go by, men are completely mystified by the fairer sex. Apparently we are mystical beings that are harder to figure out than a Rubix cube. Hell you need an engineering degree just to undo our bras. Excuse my French for a minute, but I call bullshit. We're not that complex, hell if you look close enough you might even realise we're more similar to you than you realise. Luckily for you Auntie Erin is here right now to help blow away the myths and give you a few hard truths. And just because I love lists, these truths will be numbered. So prepare yourselves ladies and gentlemen for a little list I call What Women Want.

1. We want to know we're special.

Everyone wants to feel special. This is regardless of age, race, gender or sexual orientation. Show me a person who doesn't want to feel special, at least in one person's eyes and I'll swear off chocolate for the rest of my life. (That's how convinced I am of this fact.) And the beautiful thing about this piece of advice is that it doesn't only count for your wife or girlfriend. This goes for your mother, your aunts, your grandmothers, your sisters, your daughters, your nieces, every woman you know (and every man) wants to feel special, and you have the power to make this happen. It doesn't even have to be a grand gesture. It can be the squeeze of a hand for no particular reason. A thank you for the coffee she brought you even though you didn't have to ask. It's so easy to take the people in our lives for granted. We spend every day looking over the table at each other, it all gets so same old, same old after a while. But our need for appreciation and recognition never fades away, no matter how old we get, so let the women in your life know that they are special to you. This week I actually got to witness my sister receiving her anniversary/Valentines Day present from her husband in the form of the most beautiful pair of earrings, and it is always such a wonderful thing to see.

2. We want you to notice the little things

It could be as simple as changing the toilet roll if you use the last of the old one, or noticing that we've put perfume on today. It could be seeing the stack of glasses on the coffee table and carrying them to the kitchen instead of walking past them blindly yet again, or remembering that gerberas are our favourite flowers and buying them on the way home for no reason (that one has actually happened to me, and I couldn't wipe the smile off my face for the rest of the evening). It could even be remembering your anniversary. Put it in your phone for goodness sake, they all have calendars now people.

3. We want to know we're not alone

Sometimes life is hard. There is no denying that. But having support in the form of your family and friends always makes the load easier to bear. When my brother in law's younger brother died unexpectedly last year my sister rallied by her husband and supported him through the hardest thing he'd ever had to face in his life. She helped him grieve, and then she helped him get the professional help he needed when coping got too hard. It was really one of those make or break moments for their relationship, and they struggled through it for 12 months, but they managed to come through the other side stronger for it. For me I always know I've got my mum, my big sister and Miss K's dad on my side when things get too hard. In fact Miss K's dad was the third person I spoke to after I got shafted by my friend, and after 5 minutes on the phone with him I had new plans to crash his daddy daughter date with Miss K on Valentines Day and I was laughing again. It's the little things like that which can make the rough roads a lot easier to navigate.

4. We want respect

By respect I don't mean fear. Nor do I mean unquestioning and absolute blind adoration. What I'm talking about is the recognition that we have needs, and feelings, and opinions and emotions, That these things are important regardless of our age, race, gender, religious beliefs or anything else. You may not agree with us or even understand us sometimes, but that doesn't mean you have the right to dismiss us outright. (By the way any guy reading this will probably say "me too" right now, so I absolutely recognise that this again is a want that goes both ways.)

5. We want you to hear us

This one seems to be one of those things you hear all the time. Women talk too much and men don't listen. Well if you want to understand us gentlemen, then for goodness sake, actually hear us. We say so much without even speaking, and if you pay enough attention you can really learn about the women in your lives, even when they are totally silent. This is my problem now. For months I've been unhappy with my friendship with the guy who ditched our plans on Saturday, but I've just swallowed my feelings as if they don't matter. That doesn't mean it wasn't obvious at times that I wasn't happy with him, body language speaks volumes of course. But because I never came out and said I'm not happy, he was blissfully ignorant of this fact. And now I can no longer keep silent because I deserve better. I'm sure there are countless men out there who have experienced the same out of the blue barrage of abuse from someone you thought was perfectly happy with the way things are. The thing is, we might have been telling you our feelings for months or even years before we finally explode, you just weren't hearing them because they weren't being spelled out to you.

6. We don't want grand gestures to be saved for anniversaries and Valentine's Day

Once upon a time I had a massive crush on a guy I had met through work. I thought the sun shone out of his unmentionables and I would have walked to the ends of the earth for him. Unfortunately he didn't feel the same about me, so nothing ever came of my feelings. He was however excellent at grand gestures. One morning I was texting him and complained that I had a terrible sleep the night before. Several hours later there was a knock at my door and a florist was standing there with a bouquet of long stemmed roses. The note attached read "Sorry you had a bad night, hope these make your day better." To this day that remains one of the grandest gestures I have ever received, and it was from a guy who wasn't even interested in getting into my pants. The reason a lot of women get excited about events like Valentine's Day is because it's the only time they are guaranteed a show of romance from their significant other. This should never be the case.

Well I think I'll leave it with those 6 for now, they seem to be the biggest complaints I hear from the women in my life, so obviously they were the ones that warranted the biggest mentions. Thank you all for bearing with me and a special shout out to Tamara from Confessions of a part-time mum who took the time to contact me a week ago reminding me of how much I loved and missed writing. We've had a few late night discussions over the past week, (well late night for me given she's in Switzerland and not crazy enough to be up at 2 in the morning like some people) and the company and humor she brings to the table have been much valued.

Well stay tuned people because I'll be rejoining the Secret Subject Swap, Fly on the Wall and Use your Words blog posts ran by Karen at Baking in a Tornado in March, so there will be more hilarity to come real soon.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

February Use Your Words The Very Bad Day

Hello and welcome to the February edition of the new blogging game Use Your Words. It looks like this series was another winner for Karen at Baking in a Tornado, so she's decided to keep it around for now. 

This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now. 

So allow me to introduce you to the other bloggers participating in todays challenge. Be sure to visit them all and see how they manage to mold a group of random words into something beautiful.                   Baking In A Tornado                 Just A Little Nutty             Battered Hope          Juicebox Confession      Black Sheep Mom   Stacy Sews and Schools              Confessions of a part time working mom     Evil Joy Speaks         Spatulas on Parade                     The Bergham’s Life Chronicles                      FBX Adventures (In Parenting)                     Healing Tomato                Dates 2 Diapers 2               Follow me home . . .                       Outmanned

Now the other thing you need to know is what words I have been given to include. This time my words were submitted by Spatulas on Parade and they are:  calendar ~ time off ~ jerky ~ teriyaki ~ hot dang ~ slammin 

So I mentioned in my last post how we had the worst bush fires in five years over the last week. I had to go to work on Monday despite the fact that the town I worked in was closed off from all freeway traffic and authorities were telling everyone to stay away from the town. Off course with all of this in mind, I had gone to bed the night before assuming that my boss would tell us to stay home the next day. Despite the fact that I figured I had some time off on the Monday, I was still up at 7am like I always am on a work day. (Trust my stupid body calendar to know it's a weekday) so I texted the office manager asking for confirmation that I should stay home and not do anything insane like drive directly into a fire affected town. Sadly for me she told me I HAD to go to work, and I would need to leave early because I'd have to find an alternate route into town. 

Now I don't know what any of you would do in this situation, but my natural response is to panic. I started tearing around the house madly trying to find clothes for me and Miss K and trying to remember where I put my shoes on Wednesday night after I finished work. I grabbed Miss K and started to take her nappy off, so I could get her cleaned up and ready for day care. What I didn't realise at the time was that I had grabbed her and ripped her nappy off mid bowel movement, when she was beyond the point of no return. I was so distracted and complaining to mum I didn't realise anything was wrong until I noticed the nugget on my carpet, looking a lot like a piece of teriyaki chicken. "Hot dang!" I yelled as I scrambled to pick it up. (Actually what I really said was a lot ruder and more appropriate for when you have a lump of turd on your carpet, but this is a child friendly place right here you know?) By this time Miss K was crying because she was upset she had just done a poo on the carpet, I was crying too from sheer frustration. I sat on my couch with my head in my hands heaving huge jerky sobs and just wishing I could go back to bed. (Or at least crawl into a dark corner and start slammin back the vodkas).

This was the point where mum stepped in and took Miss K off my hands so I could focus on getting ready for work. I had the quickest shower I have ever had, and then raced out the door while wearing my little sister's shoes (I never did manage to figure out where I'd hidden my own shoes until the next morning) and started the long and often terrifying drive to work along some of the most treacherous roads I have ever driven. A trip that normally takes me 15 minutes took an hour and a half of winding, narrow, unfamiliar roads in towns I'd seen on maps but never had the urge to visit for myself.

You'll be pleased to know I made it to work in one piece, and while the office manager was totally unsympathetic to the rough start to my day, my boss was a lot more understanding when we spoke about it the next day. When the freeways were finally reopened and I never had to make that drive ever again. I think the next time the town decides to combust I'll be telling the boss to close the office for the day and just let me go back to sleep.

Well that's all for now, I am off to go share a single bunk bed with a two year old because that's what you do when you visit family for the weekend. Thanks to Spatulas on Parade for my words, especially because I've never been given the opportunity to compare bowel movements to Asian food before, so this was an exciting first for me. Now go on and visit everyone else and enjoy the rest of the festivities.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

The good, the bad and the natural disaster

Hello again lovely people, I've come here tonight with a sad story and some scary photos. For any of you in Australia, you will know that Victoria has spent the past week battling hundreds of bush fires and dealing with the devastation that fire brings. You will also know that last Saturday was the 5 year anniversary of the Black Saturday fires that claimed 173 lives and destroyed 2029 homes. The fact that it was also the day that began the worst rash of bush fires since Black Saturday was just cruel irony.

Just one of the many fires from Black Saturday.

A lot of the fires were very close to the town I live in, and the town I work in, which is just 12 kilometers down the road from my home was shut down completely as fires threatened homes. This town is actually a coal mining town, and there are two power stations in the area, which provide electricity to a large portion of the state of Victoria. Sadly one of these power stations caught fire, as did one of the coal mines. As of writing this post, the coal mine fire is still burning and it will be for a long time to come. This is just a fact of life when you're dealing with coal, and fires in the mines aren't uncommon. Fires of this size are however.

What a burning coal mine looks like.

There is also a paper mill and the plantation which houses the timber for the mill. This too caught fire, causing a lot of damage. Another fire caused by a lightning strike managed to reach the freeway which links my home town and my place of work, which is how the fire got so close to us. They closed the freeway from right before it reaches the opposite end of my town, right up to the next town on the other side of my town of work. That is about 25 kilometers of road that was being threatened. The freeway was closed for two whole days while they fought the fires.

How the world looks when it's totally surrounded by fires.

The thing that saddens me is how many of these fires were deliberately lit. There have been reports of two young gentlemen driving around with lighters and toilet paper starting fires along a stretch of highway in another town nearby, which caused several thousand hectares of bush land to burn down.

Now I mentioned the Black Saturday fires at the beginning, the loss of lives, and the loss of property that it caused. I can remember that day clearly, and it was horrifying. Luckily for us again our town wasn't directly in the line of fire, but we were under ember attack, and I remember watching the debris fall down from the sky as the wind carried it over to us from surrounding towns. When it rained in the afternoon that day, the rain was black as the water mixed with the ash and soot in the air. The sky glowed orange all day and the atmosphere was suffocating. Back in 2009 our emergency systems were basic at best. There was no efficient way to relay information to people in danger and part of this is the reason why Black Saturday was so devastating. There was an inquest after the dust had settled, and the next few years were spent creating new ways to inform residents of current fire activity and impending danger. This included of course a Facebook page (where would we be without Facebook?) and a new emergency services website with constant updates which tells us exactly where in the country there are fires, and what it means for people in surrounding areas.

What the website looked like on Saturday. The red triangles mean get out now, the orange triangles mean be alert.

It is sad that it took a widespread tragedy to let people know that we needed a system like this, but hopefully the changes that have been made will mean that we never have a repeat of Black Saturday ever again. If this past week is anything to go by the changes are certainly positive. So far we have had one loss of life due to bush fire this year, which is a huge difference to the 173 lives that were lost in 2009. 

So now the rebuilding begins. Teams have already started cleaning up the freeway, and although it looks like a barren wasteland now with nothing but charred trees lining the roads, in a few weeks the green will start growing back and the trees will heal like they do every time there is a fire. The people will heal too. We're used to fires, we do live in the country after all. And as soon as the smoke finally clears we'll all be able to breathe a little bit easier. 

This is what we're breathing in at the moment.

I would like to take a minute to give a huge thank you to the heroic members of the Country Fire Association and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade who have come all the way down from Melbourne to help us fight these fires. Without these fearless men and women I'm sure this story would have a different ending. This includes the people working in the command centres, organising the information updates and making sure everyone knows how to stay safe.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Secret Subject Swap - Romancing the Stone (Hearted)

Hello again my lovely readers, I am back for the February round of Secret Subject Swap. You would all have to know the drill by now wouldn't you? I'll explain it for any of the new comers anyway (welcome newbies) Twelve lovely and brilliant bloggers all get together and send a subject they want another blogger to write about to the lovely and endlessly patient Karen at Baking in a Tornado. Karen then distributes the subjects evenly between the twelve of us, and we simultaneously post the end result. I have been doing this for 9 months now and each month is more fun than the last.

So first things first I will introduce the rest of the team to you, once you have read the fun that is my blog, you really need to go visit everyone else, even if just to find out who got my subject and how she or he managed to mold it into something cohesive. Spread the love far and wide and let them all know they are awesome.             Baking In A Tornado                          The Momisodes           Follow me home . . .                      Dinosaur Superhero Mommy             Dates 2 Diapers 2 Confessions of a part-time working mom                         Spinster Snacks  FBX Adventures (In Parenting) More Than Cheese and Beer                          Small Talk Mama             Juicebox Confession          Spatulas on Parade

So today's topic for me is: Tell me your ideal romantic day.  Your time spent preparing for the day, the events, and the day itself. And it was submitted by Evil Joy Speaks.

I actually wrecked myself with laughter when I opened the email with this subject in it, as I am truly one of the least romantic people I know. This is the absolute truth. When Miss K's dad proposed to me at Arthur's Seat (a tourist attraction based around one of the most breathtaking panoramic views you will ever see) all I could focus on was the fact that he kept mucking up the words, even though I know he had been practising exactly what he was going to say for weeks before hand. It was still beautiful and I did cry, but I'm sure the sentiment behind it all would have been less wasted on someone else.

That's not to say I don't appreciate if a guy makes an effort for his lady, I'm just not as big a fan of all the gushy stuff. So my idea of a romantic day may be totally different to what the rest of you would actually call romantic. (Is this a bad time to mention I've only ever had one valentines day when I got a gift from a boyfriend, and only two boyfriends who have ever bought me flowers?)

Now if we're going out in my life currently, the first thing I'd need for a romantic day would be a date to take me out. Sadly given that I have decided to focus all of my attention on being a part time secretary/part time business owner/part time mum, it hasn't left much room in my life for persons of the opposite sex. Add in the fact that most of the men I see during my days are in the process of divorcing their wives and you come home feeling as romantic as a wet sponge on most days. But for the purposes of this post I'm going to pretend that the guy taking me out on this date exists, and he is even going out on this date willingly. 

Now I don't know how other women prepare for dates. I'm assuming you spend hours doing hair and make up, choosing your outfit and practising your best come hither smile. My current beauty regime since Miss K was born consists of picking something out of my floordrobe* that doesn't smell like sweat and isn't decorated with last night's dinner thanks to my finicky daughter. Make up is a real luxury for me these days, and given what I have planned for this date, I think I'd probably wear minimum make up, and something comfortable but flattering. (That is actually harder than you think with my current range of clothes.) It will probably take longer to bribe someone from my family to take Miss K for the day so I can have some alone time than it will take for me to actually get ready for this date. 

So the thing that impresses me the most about a guy is when he takes the time to listen to the woman he is trying to please. You want to make me happy? Take me to the beach. And not just in summer either. I love walking through the waves during winter. So the rest of my preparation would probably consist of dropping constant hints to my beau and hoping he gets the point that I want to walk along the beach with him. Now I know the old walking hand in hand along the shoreline is actually a pretty big cliche when it comes to being romantic, but I'm more likely to be the one kicking the waves and splashing the person I'm walking with, so that really doesn't leave much room for holding hands and staring wistfully out to sea. 

Now we'd spend maybe two hours driving to this beach in the morning, (well he'd drive, I'll be too busy looking out the window at all the pretty scenery going past.) so there will be about an hour to walk along the beach before I'll start getting the munchies and need to stop for lunch. Depending on the season will depend where I want to eat. If it's summer we HAVE to have fish and chips on the sand. You're just not Australian if you don't eat fish and chips on the shoreline when you go to the beach. If it is winter however, I'll probably not want to sit out in the elements just to eat, so we'll need to find a cozy little pub somewhere for a sit down meal. The atmosphere in some of these tourist town pubs is just amazing and I love finding one that I could just sit in all day. 

But despite what some people think, for me sitting in a pub all day isn't really the most romantic thing to do, so I'll probably suggest we spend our afternoon exploring the town attached to the beach we have come to visit. Beach side towns are always such beautiful places to explore, and not just because of the shops (although that is always a bit of a draw for me) but the houses are usually not too shabby either, and I love looking at houses. (call me weird, I don't care. One of my favourite places to visit when Miss K and I visit her Melbourne family is the upper class part of Sydenham just because the houses there are breathtaking. They seriously all look like massive convention centres.) 

Now you may be reading this now and thinking to yourself that playing tourists isn't romantic at all. What you're forgetting is I've orchestrated a situation where for a lot of the time it's just the two of us, and all those hours spent driving leaves a lot of room for talking. And one of the most romantic things for me is a man who can hold his own end of a conversation for hours. It doesn't have to be all deep and intellectual, there can be a few fart jokes thrown in for light entertainment, but to have someone to talk to that you never run out of things to say to is a pretty rare find, so it always excites me to find someone like this. There will be moments of silence too, because you need to find someone you can have comfortable silence with. (One of my closest friends is my favourite person to be silent with. I go to his house when I'm tired of noise because we have lots of long spaces without any conversation. We don't need to talk, we're just happy to have each other's company.)

So we're done with being tourists, it's getting late and we need to go home, but that doesn't mean the day is over. The last thing you must do if you want to impress me is put up with watching a chick flick. When I'm in a relationship I will put up with lots of terrible blokey films, and sometimes I may even enjoy them, but every now and again I need to feel that my man will take an interest in the things that make me happy to watch. I won't even crack it if he points out the plot holes (I see them too, I just don't let them ruin my experience) and he'll get bonus points if his comments make me laugh. (A little tip to all the men out there, I am not alone in this wish. If you really want to make your lady happy, suggest you two watch one of her favourite movies together every once in a while. You might even get us in a frisky mood if you pick the right movie :D)

Because this blog is a G rated blog I'm going to say the evening ends with a quick kiss goodnight and I go to bed with my integrity intact, but if you want my evening to go a different path, please feel free to use your imagination. I for one would be more than happy to just collapse into bed and pass out for six hours before Miss K comes in at 6 to watch Despicable Me 2 for the millionth time in a row.

Well that's it for me, be sure to visit everyone else on my list and enjoy their offerings too. For any real romantics out there who are getting all excited for the most romantic day of the year, I hope you have a wonderful Valentines Day, think of me as I try to survive three days with Miss K's Melbourne family while you're having your oysters and champagne. This year is especially awkward for Miss K's dad and I because had things gone differently we would have been married three years this Valentines Day. We tend to try to avoid eachother on February 14th but this year the calendar gods were against us and it happens right on a scheduled visit. Stay awesome and be sure to check back here on the 14th because Use Your Words is back again and I'll be participating again. 

Sunday, 2 February 2014

News from the front line

This is Searching for Sanity reporting to you live from a war torn home in a tiny town in country Victoria. This once peaceful place has been ripped apart by conflict between two former allies. On one side you have the young (and very good looking) single mum, trying her darndest to provide a nice life for her and her people, and on the other side, you have a two year old dictator who is determined to overthrow the single mum's power and replace her as ruler of the house. The battles are frequent, loud, and full of tears.

Officials of the house say the worst time for skirmishes has been at bed time, and also when it's time to get out of the tub, but there have also been conflicts over the two year old not eating her vegetables, not sharing her toys, and of course playing too roughly with the kitten. The single mum is desperately trying to regain her footing as ultimate leader of the house, but admits that the two year old is certainly her toughest foe to date.

There have been several attempts by the single mum to extend an olive branch to the two year old, these have come in the form of delaying bed time by up to an hour, and also reading one more book before leaving the room, but the effects of these peacekeeping missions are always short lived and the two year old is soon back to her tyrannical ways. Other citizens of the house live in constant fear for their ear drums, and are always on high alert for yet another temper tantrum. Luckily these are a people who are not unfamiliar with the antics of two year olds, so evacuations of bystanders is always quick and there have been few fatalities to date.

Officials are warning visitors to avoid visiting the house unless absolutely necessary, to prevent the risk of death or injury to any innocent people, and if you know anyone who lives in the house, you should contact the house's embassy for further information about the current situation.

We will have more news as it breaks, but until then, this is war correspondent Searching for Sanity wishing you all good health.

Pictured: An artist's rendition of current events in the war torn house.

For anyone wondering, Miss K is going through a particularly defiant stage of the terrible twos, and tonight was a bad night. Instead of sitting here stewing in my own juices I decided I needed to lighten up my mood, and because this place feels like a war zone right now, this post just seemed appropriate. We'll all get through this I'm sure, and I know by tomorrow morning my sunny little girl will be lying in my bed waiting for me to get up so she can smother me with hugs, but poking fun at the situation will be enough to keep me sane for now. Stay awesome everyone.
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