Sunday, September 23, 2012

I Don't "Get" Smoking?

There.  I've said it.  I've said it before, to many people, but am just going to put it out there here - I just don't "get" the appeal of smoking.  I don't understand why people start.  I don't understand why they continue.  And I mostly don't understand why they don't give up when their health has been jeopardised.

The reason I am now making these statements on a public forum is because my dear old Dad is still sitting up in a hospital ward, waiting for approval to have a triple bypass.  He has been smoking for over 55 years.  He had a stroke about ten years ago, which obviously wasn't a big enough scare for him to quit - but this week's health problems have him throwing away his tobacco and plastering himself in nicotine patches.  But really, isn't it just too late now?

Not only is his heart in dire straights from all the smoking, his kidneys are up shit creek too - which he seems to think is against him being a good candidate for the surgery.  Now, obviously I am not in Queensland with him, so getting a clear picture of how things are going is not an easy task.  There's only so much the nursing staff can explain over the phone, but the general picture is that they have done all their assessments and sent them to the specialist hospital in the city to await their answer.  What happens if they say no?  

I was talking to my sister the other day, giving her the run down on where things were at with Dad's condition, when we nearly got in to another philosophical conversation.  Only nearly because I was at work, and really couldn't spare the three hours the conversation could have taken!  We do like a chat.  But basically, the crux of my argument always leads me back to:

Why would you willingly do something to your body that you know will more than likely kill you?

Why?  I need people to explain this to me.  Yes, I understand it's an addiction.  Yes, I understand that kicking a habit is hard work.  But why?  Why not kick it to the curb?

My sister has been living with half her lung capacity for years now.  And I have no doubt that the sorry state of those said lungs will be what takes her from this world.  And I don't get it.  I hate knowing that she, my brother and my Dad's health has been shot just because of a choice to take up something they KNEW was dangerous.  Well, Ok, I'll give my Dad a semi-leave pass because the 50's loved glamorising smoking!

It's not too late.  This is my mantra.  My Mum gave up smoking years ago and her health has been so much better.  My late Nanna gave up at age 80!!!!  NEVER. TOO. LATE.

Soooooo......wait a tick whilst I climb down off my soap box.......

Now feel free to bombard me.  Tell me WHY?  Why do you smoke?  Why don't you give up?  And if you have given up - what was the catalyst?  I really would like to understand!

**** Disclaimer - Ok, so I'm not perfect.  I have been known over the years to get wildly drunk and shove a cigarette in my mouth.  But I have certainly regretted it every.  single.  time.  Lucky I don't get wildly drunk any more!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

On A Brighter Note....

I like to take photos on my iPhone.   In fact, some days I wonder what the hell we all did before we had cameras on our phones?  Anyway, it's great to be able to look back through your photos and see what the past few weeks have brought.....

I took this photo because I wonder if anyone actually makes stroganoff from scratch - you know, without a packet mix?

Something super yummy I whipped up for our staff meeting!  A pumpkin and spinach frittata - Yummo!

Wouldn't it be great to be able to sleep so well, so uncomfortably?

Chloe has discovered the little garden area down the side of the house...

And the following day claimed it as her fairy garden.....

This photo was sent to me by Andrew.....Cadyn out with his Dad, Uncles and Pop at the pub before the footy.  DISCLAIMER - the cider was NOT drunk by him!

One of the easiest but most effective birthday cakes I have ever made!

What to do with a 13 year old's day off school?  Send them out to rip out a garden...

My very exciting purchase...
The new baby!  Which I still have to learn to use to its full potential...

New range of handmade goodness at Ms Midge

What to do whilst waiting for stitches in emergency?  Dance!

And watch dvd's...
All glued up and ready to go home!

A divine custom order - made on the new machine !

The "after" shot of the garden bed above.

Who else whips out their phone at random opportunities?  And are you surprised sometimes by what you have captured?

Chapters of 2012

Just when you think you're drained, something else happens and it starts all over again.  Yesterday was a taxing day, the end to a taxing week.  I thought by the time I had finally gone to sleep last night, I'd shed some good tears, and had a good de-brief with my husband, so today would be the start of another week.  Fail.

This morning brought a phone call.  I had just bought a few plants and was madly trying to plant them before Chloe's dentist appt when it started raining.  So I jumped in the car and saw I had a missed call - from my Dad.  Strange.  I called him straight back and then came the beginning of the next chapter of the tale that is 2012.

Dad has had what they think is a heart attack - on Sunday.  He's been in hospital since then, but thought he'd wait til he found out what was going on before letting me know.  Thoughtful yes?  Anyway, turns out the old man's heart is blocked to within an inch of life and he now requires triple bypass surgery.  I sat in the driver's seat of my car whilst his lady friend filled me in on what had been happening.  There are some if's and but's, because you see, Dad has been a heavy smoker for some 50 odd years.  And he also has a lot of chest congestion, which does not make him the prime candidate for serious kick arse surgery.  So it's a little old waiting game. 

I was very brave, I uttered a few "ah-huh's" and a couple of "okay's", but I really just wanted to cry.  My Dad is sitting in a hospital 1345 kilometres away (yes I did just google that statistic!) waiting for a thumbs up, or down, to surgery.  All three of his children are interstate.  And his lady friend tells me that if he has the surgery, he will need full time care for two weeks afterwards - translated to: Your Dad needs you.

I tried calling my sister.  No luck.  I rang my Mum, who hasn't been married to my Dad for over 25 years, and told her to call my brother.  And then I just got on with it.  I got on with cancelling his flights down here in October, that I only booked last week.  I rang Andrew and filled him in.  I began the mind boggling task of working out how on earth I would be able to drop everything here and relocate to The Gold Coast for a week or so?

My sister called me back.  We came up with a plan.  I cried and gave her a serve for being a smoker.  I cried and told her that my family were all going to die because they make stupid choices and that I will be left all alone.  I went to a funeral exactly one week ago for a beautiful woman who died basically from smoking.  It was very close to home.  I cried and told her I was sick of having unreliable siblings.  And she apologised.  And we laughed.

My brother called back.  He agreed to the plan but won't be an active participant because he can't leave the state at present.  I'll leave that with you to put two and two together.  But he did offer to listen to me when I was balling my eyes out.

I called Dad back.  Relayed our plan to him.  Assured him that if and when he has surgery, I will fly up there, rent an apartment (Nope, I won't be caring for him in his caravan!) and care for him and then my sister will fly up and we'll play tag team so she can take the second half of the job.  I think he was a tad speechless.  But very grateful.

I only re-connected with my Dad about nine years ago, which I sort of wrote about HERE.  I'm just a little bit worried that things may not go well and I will once again, be Father-less.

I'm TRYING to be positive!  And I'm ever so grateful for an amazing bunch of human beings who just happen to be my friends for sending me wonderful little messages of support!  Including this little gem....

I know I'm a lucky girl.  But sometimes, just sometimes, I would like some time to breath between chapters.  Just a little.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Breaking News

I was wasting time this evening wandering through Myer and was suddenly smacked in the face with this COMPLETELY OUT OF PLACE scenery!

Seriously - It's September 14th - WTF?!?!

And then found this explanation......

Oh, of course, we're early!  Apparently we have to wait until the 20th of September to buy our Christmas decorations.  How remiss of me!  Lucky I'm not easily inconvenienced Myer!
 Honestly......what hope do we have in this world when we are at risk of being inconvenienced by NOT having Christmas decorations in store by the 14th of September?!?!

Is the world getting crazier?  Or am I getting crankier???

Competition Shmompetition

I'm not a competitive human being.  At all.  I've always sort of known it, but have now confirmed it by my laziness.  I see so many fabulous competitions through Facebook and in Blogger world, but am just too bloody lazy to enter.  I also figure why waste my time when I know I'm not going to win, yes?  Hell, I don't even buy Lotto tickets!

I've also never been a competitive Mother.  In the almost fourteen years I have been a Mum, I could not tell you how many times I have had other Mums throw out competitive statements - Ooh, my little Jimmy is walking, talking, saving the gorillas.  It's rather never ending.  I get the proud moments.  I'm happy to say I will tell anyone how wonderful my kids are and how they are doing beautifully at the things they excel at, but I don't think I've thrown the sucker punch at the end - and questioned another Mum straight afterwards to compare.

I suck at being a competitive friend too.  I've "let" friendships fade away at times, because I'm not interested in others making friendships in to a competition.  Sure, when I was a kid, when it's almost acceptable behaviour, I was a part of the "three's a crowd" rule.  Two of my bestest friends ever (and still are) will tell you - we lived in a type of Bermuda Triangle, where one of us would be left out at some stage.  Sort of on a revolving friendship wheel!  But as an adult, no.  You want to spend more time with my friend?  No worries, go ahead, I'll just get on with life.

I've been watching quality television lately - Farmer Wants A Wife.  Go on, admit you have too.  I sit glued to that screen each episode, and cringe every.single.time. one of those girls starts crying about the situation they are in.  Helllllloooooo!  It's a competition - that YOU entered!  Derrrrr!

I was a Tupperware Manager a number of years ago.  Yep, I sold the super plastic stuff.  It was fun.  I met some unreal women.  I also found out that sales is a competition.  And once the competition was on, I was out.  

And now that I find myself running my own little hobby business, I have noticed the unbelievable level of competition between handmade businesses.  It's unnerving - to me anyway.  I have realised I need to put myself out there to sell what I make, but I find myself in a tug of war at times - with myself - because I don't want to have to compete for people's attention!  Stupid huh?

So, instead, I find myself plodding along quite happily just doing my own thing.  I've been buying the fabrics I fall in love with, making the outfits I love, and hoping that there are people out there who really love what I'm doing and will make a purchase.  And instead of stressing about the possibility of not selling everything, I'm embracing the fact that I have a rack full of handmade goodness to give away as gifts to friends or to charity.  It's quite liberating!

And on a winning note - Chloe WON the draw at swimming lessons on Monday and came away with a................colouring book!!  Winners ARE grinners!

Are you competitive?  Would you like to win something just by commenting on my blog?  Hmmm, just thought of that - now I'll have to find something to give away!  Watch this space!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

You Can Leave Your Hat On - Hat Sew-Along

Today I'm linking up with Solomon Sewing.  Carmel is having a hat sew-along this month, and it piqued my interest basically because I had never made a hat, nor ever thought about making a hat, until I read her post!  And then I thought, if I can actually make a hat, it would be THE perfect gift for birthdays and Christmas - so I got a move on.

If you read the sew-along post HERE, you will see that Carmel has given some fabulous examples of hat patterns and tutorials.  I chose to make the Oliver + S Bucket Hat firstly because it was FREE and secondly because I have made a few of their patterns and Love them!  They've won me over again with this little beauty.  It was very simple to follow and the sizing was pretty spot on - for my kids' heads anyway.  Obviously all children have different sized heads, so best you measure yours before you decide on a pattern!

The only thing I did differently during the process, was to follow another BLOG POST so that there was NO hand sewing involved!  Much more my style.

This is the end result....

One side

And the reverse side!

I have mentioned many times my dread of all things fiddly.  This was not too fiddly at all - so it's a winner!  Christmas - sorted!

If you wish to join in the sew-along, pop on over and link up!


Friday, September 7, 2012

Oh Brother

I have a brother.  This is a fact that is quite easily forgotten by many and will more than likely be news to others.  In fact, I was telling a workmate today about this drafted post and she was rather intrigued about this brother she had not heard of - we have been working together for years.  He is my younger brother by three years.  So a little brother to two big sisters.  When those who know I have a brother, ask me about him, the general reply is "I have no idea where he is at the moment, or what he is doing".  And that's the truth.

He called me the other day.  I don't think I had heard from him in about a year, so it was a pleasant surprise.  I never know when it is him calling, because I don't have a saved phone number for him in my phone.  Every time I save his number, it is superseded by a new number - so what's the point?  Anyway, I digress.  My Mum had told me he'd found a place to live, which is great.  I told her to tell him that we had a garage full of stuff we didn't want, including a fridge, that he was welcome to - hence the phone call.

Yesterday morning rolled around, and my "little" brother arrived in a white van, ready to fill it.  We got to work and within five minutes, he had a fridge, coffee table and two book shelves.  I threw in an oil heater for free!  Oh hang on, it was all free!  He was stoked.  As we stood in the drizzling rain, chatting, I couldn't help but stare at this man, and wonder who he really was?  How did it happen that in 34 years of knowing this guy, I really didn't know him?  I stared at his features, and recognised the freckles and the shape of his face.  But what I missed was the sparkle in his eyes.  He used to have the most beautiful blue/grey eyes, and now they are dull.  It makes me sad.

I have two siblings - I am the middle child - and both of them could not be any more chalk to my cheese.  We have all lived extremely different lives, the result of many circumstances, however mostly of choice.  I describe myself as "the white sheep" of the family.  For I, in many ways, am the odd one out.

Growing up, I never would have dreamt the three of us would lead the different and varied lives we have.  But it is my normal.  I have an older sister whom I have only become close to in the past five to ten years.  By close I mean we live in neighbouring suburbs, and when we do chat on the odd occasion, it's usually quite lengthy and deep.  I am fiercely protective of her.  And I have a younger brother I share nothing in common with, except that we come from the same DNA, and that despite everything, we still say "Love you" at the end of each out of blue phone call.

Families are very funny things.  We are only three siblings, and all are so completely different.  I know this is not a rare occurrence.  I know each and every family has its differences, it's strange dynamics.  But I also know that I have learnt not to dwell on them.  It is what it is.  And it's probably not as strange as I used to think it was!

So for now, I'll be happy for a half emptied garage, a quick chat and the knowledge that he has a roof over his head and a fridge to keep his milk cold.  No expectations means no disappointment yes?

Do you have siblings?  And what is your Normal?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Happy Father's Day - the late edition.

As I start to type this post at 10.44pm, my darling husband is finishing up ironing a week's worth of work clothes for himself.  I know it was a week's worth, because I sat on the lounge next to him watching Foxtel, and pulled out the hanger-upper part at the end of the ironing board when I noticed he was wandering around downstairs trying to find somewhere to hang the finished shirts.

Yes, today was is Father's Day in Australia.  And I made sure that the few hours I was home this morning before I left for work were as wonderful and relaxed as the man I am lucky to call my husband.  The 7.30 wake up call from Chloe holding her laminated hand prints and poem were enough to snap me out of my usual automatic response of "get back to bed!"  Instead, I directed her over the other side of the bed to wake her Daddy up.  The other kids followed shortly after, showering Andrew with their hand made cards and school stall bought gifts (Note: their new school's Father's Day stall kicks arse!!!!), and I then presented my gift - a pair of Hawthorn PJ pants.  These were purchased mainly for my own amusement, but the kids found them equally as amusing when he wandered downstairs wearing them.  Win win.

We headed to the shops for a quick morning tea, before I left him with the three kids and a trolley, bidding them farewell as I skipped towards my car.

I've heard Father's Day is supposed to be relaxing?  Well, I get the impression Andrew's wasn't so much.  I got that impression when I called at around 5.30pm from work to ask how his day was going? Oh, and what was for dinner?  I didn't quite fully get the response.  Something about him cutting back and pulling out all the plants in the backyard, finishing off the letterbox he somehow miraculously (impressively) put together yesterday and mowing the lawns.  Then I heard tacos, he was starting to cook tacos.  So I asked if he had taken the washing off the line........ Cue the sound of exasperation.

I wonder if that's what I sound like when he calls me in the early evening?

Anywho - I hope you've all had a FAB Father's Day and that above all else, you have spent the day appreciating the important men in your life.  All of the above drivel clearly spells out my appreciation and adoration, for the Father of my children.  I'm a very happy, and lucky, woman.  I've also taken the time today to phone my Dad in Queensland, who informed me it was a public holiday there on Friday, hence his card didn't get there in time.  Another phone call to my Step-Dad, whom I informed had a card sitting on our kitchen bench, that he would receive in due time.  And did a shout out to my Father in law on Facebook.  All Fathers covered.  Phew.

And to all of you who are missing an important man in your life.  I hope today brought some happy reflection.

How did you spend this Father's Day?  Did your other half bring the washing in and does he wear pj's??

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Too School for Cool?

The discussion going on in our household (and work, and on the phone) is about schools.  To my shock and amazement (and relief), Lochie's Dad told me Sunday night that he was not thrilled with his school and that he would be looking for another school.  I did answer that perhaps WE should look for another school, and perhaps talk about it??  Anywho, after a brief discussion on all things uncool about Lochie's school, we agreed to look into some alternate educational solutions for our almost 14 year old. Which translates to - I spent the week looking into some alternate educational solutions for our almost 14 year old, then shared this information with Lochie's Dad.

I spent a couple of hours on line looking through Catholic school websites.  I sent messages and chatted to friends who have children at said schools, questioning their happiness with the education provided and also querying the terrifying price (OK, not so terrifying, but certainly thousands more than we are paying now) we would have to pay to get a better education?  And I then called schools only to find out that they have waiting lists.....

Sooooo, this week I will be photocopying reports and filling out application forms, trying to say all the right things, in the hope that my intelligent young son will gain a place at a school that will not tolerate the type of classroom behaviour my son's current school seemingly does.  I will then sit on the edge of my seat for the following months wondering if I wrote down all the right things and whether his great reports (in my unbiased eyes) are good enough for him to be allowed a better education?  And if he DOES gain entry into one of those schools, I will then panic about always being able to pay the fees required to keep him at a school that offers more than what he is getting at present?

What has become clear to me, and many parents I have spoken to, is that you really don't know what a school is like until your children are actually attending.  Which, I guess, is the same as life in general?  You don't know what people are like, until you get to know them.  You don't know what a job is like, until you're working it.  And you don't know what the future holds, until you're living it.

Have you had to change your kid's schools part-way through their education?  Do you think we need to set the bar higher in terms of Government school expectations?  Discuss.....
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