We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
[Marianne Williamson]

Friday, July 20, 2007

Poetry is...

My favourite day of the week is here again! Not because the weekend is coming (weekends are pretty much the same as any other day when you don't go out to work or have kids in school). No, Friday is my favourite day of the week because I get to read lots of poetry!

My offering today comes from Carl Sandburg, author of my all-time favourite quote about poetry:

"Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air."
Who Am I?

MY head knocks against the stars.
My feet are on the hilltops.
My finger-tips are in the valleys and shores of
universal life.
Down in the sounding foam of primal things I
reach my hands and play with pebbles of
-- Carl Sandburg

And for my own offering this week - a cinquain.

cockatoo calls,
screeching from the treetops.
Golden crest flashes. Ready for


Today's Poetry Friday round up is hosted by Mentor Texts and More.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Inside out and upside down

13 things that are making me feel in a muddle this morning
  1. Wombat had a really hard night (teething?) and didn't sleep at all well. Lots of cuddling and crying.
  2. When I went to sterilise Wombat's bottles this morning, there were five bottles and four teats. I know I used five bottles yesterday so there should be five of each. I've looked everywhere and can't find it.
  3. When I dried Yeti's mug the handle came off in my hand.
  4. I didn't get any exercise done this morning. I haven't made my to-do lists this morning.
  5. Wombat is awake and calling for breakfast but his bottles are still in the steriliser.
  6. I didn't get to 'swish and swipe' this morning.
  7. My brother wants my help with a school assignment and I haven't answered his questions yet.
  8. My sister has written two entries and I haven't commented on them yet.
  9. When I went to feed the chooks this morning I found that Ruby (who has been sitting on her eggs all this time and is STILL sitting on them) had actually hatched a chick... I found the dried out little body.
  10. I hadn't checked Ruby closely for a few days. I might have been able to save it if I hadn't been lazy.
  11. Term 3 starts today and I teach in an hour.
  12. My lesson is prepared but I didn't finish doing the work in my own book to show them.
  13. I have lost that lovely organised feeling I have had all this week....

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Folding and FLYing

Have you ever pulled a crumpled king-size bedsheet out of the laundry basket and tried to fold it yourself? It's a struggle, and even when folded, it still looks crumpled. When you take it from the linen cupboard and put it on the bed, it will not feel smooth and fresh like a clean sheet that has hung in the sun should...

Have you ever wasted time ironing a sheet? There's a simpler way!

I fold my sheets before I take them off the washing line!

First, unclip the pegs and pull the corners of the sheet together so it is hanging straight. Take one edge where it is folded over the line, and pull that across to meet the other edge - all four corners together, with the doubled sheet still on the line. Your sheet is now folded in quarters. Reach up and grasp the two edges you now have resting on the line - one in each hand (the doubled edge and the folded edge). Pull the sheet off the line (it may tangle, so ease it off, don't tug). Fold in half and in half and then in half again - put it in the basket & then straight into the linen cupboard - no further folding needed.

When you make your bed with it, it will be wonderfully smooth and fresh because mother nature has ironed it for you!

PS. The Fly Lady is amazing - and addictive. Previously, my mornings used to dissolve into the blogosphere. Now I find myself eagerly swishing, swiping, shining and decluttering... and then sitting down and making lists for my next PODA: Parade of Daily Adventures (To do list). In just one week, I have babystepped myself into actually enjoying housework! Sure, my house will never win any prizes and is still in a state of CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome)... but I can see the difference and it makes me FLY (Finally Loving Yourself). I've still got a long way to go, but this new adventure is really working for me!

Find more great tips over at Rocks In My Dryer!

Monday, July 16, 2007

In case anyone hadn't guessed....

You May Be a Bit Histrionic...

Dramatic and over the top, you crave attention.

And you'll do anything it takes to get noticed.

You love to be seductive, even when it's inappropriate.

If you're ignored, you're easily hurt ... and act out even more!

Hiyaaaaa CHOP!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Delicate Balance

In this case, I think the title says it all!

(It's worth clicking on the photo for the full macro experience. I was amazed to catch a shot of this winged queen and her paramour. It's a natural history lesson in itself!)

Saturday, July 14, 2007


This has been a real emotional rollercoaster of a week with some momentously life-changing decisions made. I'm still feeling pretty shell shocked and all my habits have suffered. If my ego thought it could just swan into a new life as supporter rather than supportee, it was wrong. Each day I am reminded that you don't become a new person simply by turning your face in a different direction and saying 'I want'. Even hard work alone won't do it. It is necessary, but not sufficient (that's a term lawyers use meaning that you have to have it, but it's not enough all by itself.)

Thankfully, Yeti says my only work for this week is to rest and get my head together, bless him. He pointed out that I haven't had a proper break from studying in 15 years (I nearly bawled when he said that - I guess that shows just how much I need one!) I can't possibly expect myself to adjust to being a dropout non-student overnight. However, he also suggested I start thinking of ways to be more efficient, more effective in my life. To think about becoming the person who can achieve all the things I want to do. This reminded me of a long-term goal... a seed sown long ago that has been lying on rocky ground waiting for some rain.

Years ago I first read of Stephen Covey's Seven Habits for Highly Effective People. Everytime I forget about them, they pop up somewhere else. I think it is time I started making them mine! (I probably should buy the book, but at the moment I am stuck using internet resources. Luckily there are some great summaries out there.)

"The Seven Habits move us through the following stages:
1. Dependence - the paradigm under which we are born, relying upon others to take care of us.
2. Independence - the paradigm under which we can make our own decisions and take care of ourselves.
3. Interdependence - the paradigm under which we cooperate to achieve something that cannot be achieved independently."

I would like to think I am independent, but when I look at myself honestly, I am really still in a stage of dependence.

The first habit is:

become proactive

You can either be proactive or reactive when it comes to how you act about certain things. Being "proactive" means taking responsibility for everything in life. When you're reactive, you blame other people and circumstances for obstacles or problems. ... Between Stimulus and Response, we have the power to choose the response. [Wikipedia]

"Our response to what happens to us affects us more than what actually happened. We can choose to use difficult situations to build our character and develop the ability to better handle such situations in the future.

Proactive people use their resourcefulness and iniative to find solutions rather than just reporting problems and waiting for other people to solve them.

Being proactive means assessing the situation and developing a positive response for it. ... Once we decide to be proactive, exactly where we focus out efforts becomes important. There are many concerns in our lives, but we do not always have control over them. ... Proactive people focus their efforts on the things over which they have influence, and in the process often expand their area of influence. Reactive people often focus their efforts on areas of concern over which they have no control. Their complaining and negative energy tend to shrink their circle of influence.
Change starts from within, and highly effective people make the decision to improve thier lives through the things that they can influence rather than by simply reacting to external forces."

Up to now, I have definitely indulged in a reactive mentality. Too often I function on auto pilot. I don't give myself time to assess a stimulus and decide how best to respond.

"Covey contrasts ... having a proactive mentality with being reactive. Reactive people, he says, are those who are resigned to the truth that whatever they do in the present can have no effect on their circumstances. And interestingly, for reactive people, it really is a truth, for whatever we believe in our heart affects our thoughts, words and actions.
Proactive people ... will point out that there are always choices. It is by the decisions we make, our responses to people, events and circumstances that proactive people can and do affect the future. We may have no control over what life throws at us but we always have a choice about how we are to respond.
this notion that having a particular attitude of mind (which is really where this habit begins) can make such a huge and positive difference to almost everything we experience in life ... is also completely liberating.

When we are finally prepared to accept full responsibility for the effects that are manifest in our lives; when we have the strength of character to admit it when we make mistakes (even big ones); when we are completely free to exercise the options available to us in every situation; then it can be said that we have finally internalised this habit. The other six of the habits require that we first work on our basic character by becoming proactive and thereby transforming ourselves into men and women of integrity."
[White Dove Books]

So that is my challenge, starting this week. This (and the next 2 habits) "are the "private victories" required for character growth. Private victories precede public victories." [ProfitAdvisors]

On a daily basis, I need to focus on my circle of influence - look at my world, see what bugs me about it, identify little things I can change, and act on them. I also need to take a moment to choose my response to stimulus, rather than just reacting. That's enough to concentrate on for a start. We'll see how I go.

(Sorry about all the long quotes, they are really reminders for my own reference, as this is the most convenient place for me to store them.)

SMART habit progress:

Visit Lara at The Lazy Organizer to join in Smart Habit Saturday - it will change your life! (Find out more about Smart Habit Saturday here: Getting Started with Smart Habit Saturday.)


This week's Poetry Friday Round Up is at Chicken Spaghetti. Each week I seem to be very early or very late with my Poetry Friday contributions... it's rather obvious which one I am this week!

First, from Aboriginal poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal - also known as Kath Walker:

‘I will bring you love’, said the young lover,
‘A glad light to dance in your dark eye.
Pendants I will bring of the white bone,
And gay parrot feathers to deck your hair.’

But she only shook her head.

‘I will put a child in your arms,’ he said,
‘Will be a great headman, great rain-maker.
I will make remembered songs about you
That all the tribes in all the wandering camps
Will sing forever.’

But she was not impressed.

‘I will bring you the still moonlight on the lagoon,
And steal for you the singing of all the birds;
I will bring the stars of heaven to you,
And put the bright rainbow into your hand.’

‘No’, she said, ‘bring me tree-grubs.

[Oodgeroo Noonuccal, ‘Gifts’, in My People, p. 39]

For more Aboriginal poetry, I recommend this essay by Adam Shoemaker: The Poetry of Politics: Australian Aboriginal Verse.

And for my offering today:

New songlines stretch across an ancient land -
no sacred trails recorded in the stone,
no tales of dreaming written in the sand,
but tight strung wire announcing "this I own!
This property is under my command!"

No more the faithful quester's quiet tread
will trace creation's map in dots and string
bright beads of waterholes on story's thread,
ancestral spirits teaching through their prayer.

A corroboree of breezes left to sing
the ceremonial rules of 'taking care';
to strum the fence wires, humming as they play
for tiny feathers flitting light as air;
to wonder why the elders went away...


Thursday, July 12, 2007

"What do we live for...

...if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?"
(George Eliot)

Thirteen reasons why I am thankful to be withdrawing from the College of Law.

1 - I have chronic IBS. Ever since I was 16, I have felt stress as a large cold rock just under my ribs. For many many many years it made me physically ill. I would put food into my mouth and chew, but that 'rock' would choke me when I tried to swallow. I would get stomach cramps so bad that I would end up in hospital. There was never any actual problem. It was just my body's way of (not) coping with stress. No matter how much I tried to fight it mentally, my body would collapse underneath me. When I became pregnant, the rock magically melted. I have not felt its presence since Wombat arrived in my life. Until recently. About three weeks ago, the rock was back, bigger and colder than ever, getting worse every time I thought about my exams and the expensive prospect of dragging Yeti and Wombat into town for two weeks. The moment Yeti asked me to justify why I was continuing with this course, the rock started to shrink. When, after much soul searching, I made the decision to withdraw, the rock was suddenly no longer there.

2 - I want to be a whole-hearted mother, not a half-hearted law student.

3 - I never wanted to be a solicitor. After I finished this course, I was supposedly going to read for the Bar and become a barrister, and then I would have to establish myself in a practice - this entailed actually moving to town for several years, and would be a lifestyle totally incompatible with becoming pregnant again, or providing a healthy lifestyle for my family.

4 - Whenever I thought seriously about this vision of my future, I started to cry.

5 - I felt trapped by the decisions I had made, so I kept forcing my nose to the grindstone and trying not to think about it, at the same time drifting into procrastination as a way of escape, like a rat scrabbling around the blind alleys of a maze.

6 - We want to have at least two more children - and in a month's time I will be 34. I don't want to wait until I am over 40 before Wombat has siblings! (it is worse in Yeti's case, as he is 20 years older than I!)

7 - I want to write. I have four unfinished manuscripts - some fiction, some non-fiction - which I have been unable to work on while studying. All have good prospects of publication, if I can just get them finished.

8 - I get an average of 20 visitors a day to my home website, mainly coming to read my university essays. I want to tap this resource. I plan to finish updating the site, making only an excerpt from each essay available for free, and charging a small fee for access to the whole paper.

9 - I am a specialist. I am good at tunnelling down into a topic, finding out the minutiae, covering the field and consolidating my research into a very readable exploration of a problem. The College of Law course requires me to be a generalist. My notes are constantly too detailed - I can't seem to just skim the surface, no matter how I try. Then, every time I get comfortable with a topic, I have to move onto the next one. The course also jumps around between many topics all at once. No matter how competent I felt at the start, after a few months of this, I have become harrassed and helpless.

10 - When Wombat wakes crying in the night, I want to go to him and comfort him for as long as it takes. I don't want to be grinding my teeth and thinking "Go to sleep, I have to work." I need to be relaxed so that he can relax and know that all is right with the world.

11 - I want to spend time with my husband again. I want to support him and his plans for the future instead of always demanding support for me. His plans involve home, and family and togetherness. The only justification I could find for continuing with the course and qualifying as a solicitor was so that I would have a fallback career to support Wombat in case something ever happened to Yeti - it was hardly a plan for togetherness. I have two honours degrees. If I needed a good job, I could have one tomorrow. I have a wonderful husband who has provided a comfortable life for me. While he is here, my work is to love.

12 - My mother-in-law is 85 and still slaving to care for this family. It is time I took the burden from her. It is time I became an adult and took charge of my house instead of always being distracted by external demands.

13 - Once I made the decision, the relief from tension was immediate for all of us. Wombat certainly felt it. When Yeti and I were playing with him after dinner, he kept going from one of us to the other and giving us kisses. That has to be more important than anything else I can think of!

(I am glad I have done the work for the course so far. I do not think it is wasted - I have learnt a lot about myself and the law, and gained several useful skills that I don't need to be a qualified solicitor to use. I also now own the materials, so I can keep reading on my own, without having to take notes or panic about being examined on them.)


To the Anonymous commenter who sent me a link to the words and sheet music for the Hymn to Our Lady of Good Counsel:

Thank you so very much and God bless you. I will say the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary today for your intentions.

(For non-Catholics, here is an explanation of the Rosary.)


In case you were wondering, I will be maintaining this site, as it is an important way for me to keep contact with my sister, and Yeti agrees that the new habits it is fostering are worth pursuing. I will be setting a strict limit on how much time I spend here, though - and only after more important things are done. I am starting early on my next SMART Habit, by creating a schedule for myself.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Reality interruptus

It's worse than I thought - my father's visit this weekend seemed to be the breaking point (especially my going to bed with Wombat & leaving Dad to argue with Yeti until after midnight) - and the stress of having to spend over $2000 and 2 weeks in town for the College of Law...

Yeti is furious with how much of my time the 'law study' is taking when I told him it would only be 3 hours a day.

He is furious that I am not working on the book I promised to write from my thesis.

He is furious that his 85 year old mother is worn out from doing all the housework.

He is furious that they both spend all their time supporting me and I give them nothing but bad attitude in return.

He is furious that he never sees me, and that if I keep going in this law career we probably will never have any more kids because I will always be too busy and too stressed to even think of getting pregnant.

We had a huge argument tonight and he basically gave me an ultimatum - prove why I should be doing the law and that I really want to do it & fight for my right to, instead of constantly complaining like I'm being forced to do it.

Immediately investigate things I can do straight away with my degrees - I am going to write to nearby universities after I post this and ask about lecturing/tutoring, just to find out if I DO have the possibility of an academic career.

Quit studying before I spend all Wombat's money on myself (my only income is the government parenting payment) and become a housewife, giving my full attention to mothering & being supportive of others - but if I take that (very attractive) option I have to be the best housewife the world has ever seen - and I have NO practice at that. It would also require me to justify why I have spent 13 years and run up a $36,000 study debt gaining two high-level honours degrees, with no intention of ever using them... giving up my law studies this year would waste $6000 in fees (I didn't pay them upfront - they are added to that immense aforementioned study debt - but if I ever go back and start this course again I would have to pay them upfront.)

If he knew the reality of my procrastination, I think he would demand I leave as I am obviously uninterested in being married to him - he would see it as that much of a betrayal of 'us'.

Whatever way I look at it, big changes are going to have to occur. I need to do some serious work and thinking. I have a lot of investigation to do before we can make informed decisions. I can no longer keep drifting along in my comfortable life, pretending to be so focussed on the grindstone that I can't see how miserable I am making those around me. As tempting as it is to throw in the towel and 'make the stress go away' I can't keep making spur of the moment decisions and then forcing everyone else to live by them - that's how I got into law in the first place - it was not from any idealism or desire to be a lawyer - it was just a quick answer that seemed to satisfy other peoples' idea of what I should do with my life.

Please pray for us - I will try to keep you informed of how things go. There's a brand new ending out there for us... I just have to find the right path to start on - but first I need to find my 'Big Gold Star destination'... and that's going to require some divine assistance.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Beaded Medicine Bag and a dose of self pity

I haven't finished any new projects this week. I have been working with a new material, and it is very difficult to sew. I shall show the results when I get something I am happy with.

In the meantime, here is one of my favourite items, finished a few years ago: a beaded medicine or amulet bag.

It is just the right size to store a small keepsake - I use mine to hold a little turquoise stone given to me by a friend, which has the word 'SUCCESS' carved into it.

It is relatively simple to make. I love beadweaving and made several of these bags (the others were all given away as gifts) a few years ago. Unfortunately, beadweaving is not a craft I can practice with Wombat around... one bump and beads go everywhere!

I love the colours of this bag - a mix of my favourite blues and greens, with accent beads of peacock irridescence on a purple base. The bag hangs on the wall in front of me, and it makes me happy to look at it.

I've just wasted more time than I can possibly afford searching the net for a tutorial to link to - it would have been quicker to write one myself, but now I am out of time.

I am getting depressed about my procrastination levels lately, and when I start to feel low, it seems to get worse - I stop doing all the things that make me feel good - like exercising, taking care of myself & dressing warmly, getting my work finished. Instead I sit here and drift the hours away doing nothing - which only makes me feel so much worse. This morning I didn't even make myself a cup of tea.

As the panic builds up in front of this onsite school I must attend, instead of attacking the work and preparing properly, the stress seems to paralyse me. I feel like curling up into a ball & crying (tears are not far below the surface today) or staring at a spot on the wall. I know that all I need to do is shake myself and concentrate on the next task, babystepping myself through to the finish and I don't understand why I keep handicapping myself like this. The stress and depression will build up into despair and I will make myself sick. I know I can't afford to get sick, can't afford to take a break, and that makes the stress worse, so I procrastinate and get no work done - which means all my efforts in getting up so early are for nothing. I should have stayed in bed and rested.

This self-sabotaging funk is what the quote at the top of my sidebar is all about.

What would it matter if blogs went unread, the internet went unsearched, entries went unwritten? I would still be 6 units behind on my property-law study, and I would still have an assignment due tomorrow which hasn't been started - I haven't even opened the reading for it.

I was doing so well, feeling really proud of myself for coping, and now all my priorities have become twisted around again. I had such good intentions this morning but they went nowhere.

Time to start making a brand new ending again, because this road I am paving at the moment sure feels like it's leading me to hell. Does anyone know what I mean?

Monday, July 09, 2007

My Meez

I've seen these popping up around the place and thought they were cute.

This is me & Wombat - though Wombat is really only half that tall... my post-baby-body is not that thin... I normally wear my hair in one ponytail, not two... my eyebrows are so pale they are almost non-existant... and I don't wear make-up except on very special occasions ;P

Wombat has been worrying me lately, as his normally fantastic eating habits seem to have disappeared. He only nibbles at his food, rejects most of it, and makes a big fuss about pointing to things on other people's plates, even when what is on his plate is exactly the same.

I couldn't work it out as for the past few months his appetite has been immense and he would eat almost anything put before him - especially vegetables at dinner time.

At the same time, his normally erratic sleeping habits have suddenly done an about-face. He is sleeping in until almost 9 or 9:30 every morning, and having a 2 - 3 hour nap almost every afternoon - never less than an hour and a half. Previously he was skipping naps altogether and waking up at 7am!

I considered all sorts of causes - was this a side effect of weaning? or cutting him back to one nap a day? (I decided to cut out the morning nap as it made things easier for me - having been up since 3am myself, by afternoon I really need a little break from him or I get grumpy. Also, all the activities in the neighbourhood - such as Mass or storytime at the local library - coincided with his morning naptime.)

Then, as I was thinking about my sister and newborn niece, it struck me! I suddenly remembered how Wombat, as a baby, would go through regular cycles - one week he would be driving me mad with his insatiable appetite for food and learning - he would always be awake and always hungry. Then just when I got used to that, I would have to start worrying because he was sleeping the day away and hardly feeding at all. During this period, I would often be aware of him changing - almost visibly growing and developing, putting the things he had learnt during the previous few weeks into practice.

I realised that the cycle goes on, and that is probably what I am looking at here - he has been going through a growth spurt - first tanking up on the fuel he needs to grow - both physically and mentally - and now resting while he makes it all part of himself.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

A Fine Line

This week's challenge at Macroday is A Fine Line.

There are several fine lines here - the edge and veins of the leaf, the silk thread of my scarf, and strands of my hair.


Here is the full photo - Wombat, holding a leaf as he always is when outside, was also playing with my hair. I just wish I'd managed to get his fingertip in focus - that would have been perfect for this challenge! But the moment was gone, and he wouldn't hold still to recreate the shot :) I cropped from the section that was most in focus (the bit furthest from Wombat's moving fingers!) and made the picture feel more balanced by rotating to put the 'heavier' element at the bottom (if that makes sense). I love the contrasting texture and colour of the result.

Tip Junkie Giveaway

Today I found The Tip Junkie - another great blog with many helpful ideas... (perhaps it should tell me not to get distracted at the computer at 3:30 am in winter before I put my shoes and jumper on...)

Laurie, who owns the blog, is running a contest for a the kind of shirt I REALLY need for my fortnight at the College of Law. (I am still panicking about clothes. MIL has brought home a few shirts, and pulled a pin-stripe suit out of her cupboard - a man's suit, that was bought second-hand in case it fit my hubby many years ago, but which fits my post-baby-body pretty well - I guess there might be some reasons to appreciate hoarding...)

I don't know if she will post internationally, but if you leave a comment on her contest entry and say you were referred by me, there's a tiny chance we might both be wearing something classy!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Tomato Staking

This week my Positive Parenting Rabbit Trail led me to read about 'Tomato Staking':

"Well, your child is similar to a tomato. Without your constant good parenting, he'll grow wild and end up rotten. You need to be his stake. You need to be constantly keeping him with you as he grows, and training him, just as the tomato stake trains the tomato plant, to be as you want him to be - as you know he will need to be later in life." (from Raising Godly Tomatoes)

I started with this discussion on the 4RealLearning forum, which opened with a question about a screaming 18 month old. Wombat doesn't scream (yet) but I was attracted by the 'Child Training' topic, and I usually find the mothers at this forum give good advice.

Then I followed a link here: Unholy Anger: Disciplining Ourselves Before Disciplining Our Children. This article from the Catholic Education Resource Centre discusses St. John Bosco's method of discipline for children. I particularly liked this quote:

"The gentle appeal to the child is full of a mysterious authority and persuasive power, whereas the loud anger just serves to estrange the child from the [parent] and to undermine the [parent]’s authority in [the] child’s eyes."

I also found the name of a book that sounds very interesting. I am adding it to my 'want to read' list: "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk" by Adele Faber.

Finally, I started working my way through this site: Raising Godly Tomatoes - I will say now that I don't agree with everything said on this site. The basic technique of keeping a child with you and directing their behaviour strikes a chord with me, but some of their methods would not be mine. Having said that, it makes interesting reading and has given me ideas - for both what I do and what I don't want to try with Wombat.

I was interested in the author's rules for starting early in teaching obedience:

You can start by teaching your child "no" and that he must respect that word. Once your child has learned to obey the word "no", you can use it to teach him almost anything. Decide what you would like to see him do or not do and use "no" to teach him.

I actually tried it out for a day, out of curiosity. I found that before long, I was saying "no" more than any other word, and while I was having some success with getting Wombat to listen to me, my own mood was getting sourer and sourer as a result. I did find it helpful to remember the advice to outlast the child, by saying 'no' in a calm, firm, gentle voice, and then repeating the instruction until it was obeyed... but I have decided to save the technique for the few things I really want him to do (or not do), rather than for shaping every element of his character!

I haven't finished reading all the material on this site. I plan to do a little more browsing around, though not necessarily read it all. My personal conclusion from what I have read so far is that it is more important for me to train myself to be a consistent, reliable, strong stake that Wombat can rely on for support - since I don't really want to train him to be a tomato, godly or otherwise! The approach is a bit too authoritarian for me, with not enough emphasis on the dignity of the child.

I will give the final word to Elizabeth of Real Learning:
"What's a tomato farmer's nemesis? The computer. I can't give them full time and attention when my face is turned to the screen."

Confessions of an heriditary hoarder

I am a hoarder. My sister is a hoarder. My mother is a hoarder. My grandmother was a hoarder. If you traced my maternal line back to the stone age, I am sure you would find the cave of my ancestress filled with rocks, stones and pebbles, leaves, dried flowers and grasses, scraps of fur, bone and sinew, twigs and sticks, and anything else you might think of because it glitters prettily in the sunlight or just might come in handy one day.

The problem is, my husband is also a heriditary hoarder. Between us we manage to have "stuff" overflowing from every surface, box, cupboard and drawer - most of which has not been touched by anything except dust since it was originally placed there.

Even with things I use regularly - Wombat's clothes for example - the "stuff" tends to accumulate out of control. I only sorted out and tidied his drawers two weeks ago, and already I am battling to close them, and having to pull everything out to find the item I need...

So my new habit for this week is going to be one of the hardest things I have ever attempted. I am going to DECLUTTER (ignoring the tiny shrieking self who runs for cover in my innermost being leaving handfuls of torn-out hair behind her)...

That's right. On at least three separate occasions each week, I will attack a different drawer, box, container, shelf or surface, throwing out, giving away or selling anything I can bear to part with, folding, sorting, dusting, tidying and rearranging. (I had thought of doing it every day, but the chances of that happening are miniscule, and then I would get caught in that procrastinating perfectionist trap of "I failed yesterday so it won't matter if I don't try today".)

Other habits are going well this week. A number of you expressed interest in reading more about Positive Parenting, so I have decided to keep track of my 'rabbit trails' (a term popular with homeschoolers, referring to how research on one subject often leads you down a rabbit trail to something else.) I think writing it down will also help me to remember, so each week I will post links and a summary of my research in a separate entry so as not to clutter up :) this one.

This week's Positive Parenting Rabbit Trail is: Tomato Staking.

I am also enjoying my daily prayer with Sacred Space, and thought I would end by sharing this snippet from today's meditation:
In God's loving presence I unwind the past day, starting from now and looking back, moment by moment. I gather in all the goodness and light, in gratitude. I attend to the shadows and what they say to me, seeking healing, courage, forgiveness.

SMART habit progress:

Visit Lara at The Lazy Organizer to join in Smart Habit Saturday - it will change your life! (Find out more about Smart Habit Saturday here: Getting Started with Smart Habit Saturday.)

Friday, July 06, 2007

Truth and Beauty

Today's Poetry Friday round-up can be found at Farm School.

Wombat has a book of patterns, which he likes me to draw for him and which he attempts to copy. He likes dots and stripes and wiggles, but his favourite pattern of all is a spiral. Looking at pictures of nature in his books, he loves it when I point out the spiral in a seashell or flower. Yeti is a mathematician, and many years ago he introduced me to the wonderous truths of fractals and natural geometry. When I think of truth and beauty, I start spouting Keats and Wordsworth and the English Romantics. Today I thought I'd go looking for some new (to me) inspiration.

Each and All
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

The delicate shells lay on the shore;
The bubbles of the latest wave
Fresh pearls to their enamel gave;
And the bellowing of the savage sea
Greeted their safe escape to me;
I wiped away the weeds and foam,
And fetched my sea-born treasures home;
But the poor, unsightly, noisome things
Had left their beauty on the shore
With the sun, and the sand, and the wild uproar.
Then I said, "I covet Truth;
Beauty is unripe childhood's cheat,—
I leave it behind with the games of youth."
As I spoke, beneath my feet
The ground-pine curled its pretty wreath,
Running over the club-moss burrs;
I inhaled the violet's breath;
Around me stood the oaks and firs;
Pine cones and acorns lay on the ground;
Above me soared the eternal sky,
Full of light and deity;
Again I saw, again I heard,
The rolling river, the morning bird;—
Beauty through my senses stole,
I yielded myself to the perfect whole.


My personal offering this week is a fibonacci poem.

tight furled
whorling curled
geometric world
uncoiling mysteries beyond
truth beauty unfolding behold golden spirals turn.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

13 Things to Love about a Whining Toddler

1. He's so pleased when he learns something new.
2. He gives you the sweetest hugs and kisses (when he's not pushing you away, pulling your nose or thumping you to see how you will react).
3. He's so adorable when he is asleep, and so happy to see you when he wakes up.
4. Everyone makes demands of him, all through the day. Why shouldn't he make some in return?
5. If you think you are frustrated at his inability to communicate, just imagine how he feels!
6. Before you know it, he will be talking - and then you will face a whole new challenge.
7. If you can't work out what it is that he wants, chances are he probably doesn't know what he wants either.
8. His smiles and laughter are made so much brighter in contrast to his grumpiness.
9. He's alive! Just think how empty life would be without him!
10. He's curious about the world and wants you to name everything he points to (not necessarily to hold it in his own little hands - often just knowing what it is called is enough to satisfy him).
11. Distraction tactics usually work - especially if they involve a new book.
12. He'll co-operate if you ask him nicely - 50% of the time, anyway.
13. If you start thinking he'll never grow out of this stage - remember how far he's come already!

This video was taken at the start of June, when a new musical mat arrived - a present from Auntie Steff... Wombat was quite sure it was NOT a good idea. I was surprised, because he normally loves things that make music...

Ten days later, he had conquered his fear - I now get asked for the mat several times a day (this involves pointing at the top of the cupboard where it is stored and saying "buh" - his all purpose word.)

(Sorry about the awful picture quality - they were a bit long so I cropped and optimised them to load quicker.)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A Peg in a Pinch

This is my first 'Works For Me Wednesday' but I hope to make it a regular feature.

Recently, Parent Hacks asked about uses for clothespins.

It has been wet and very cold here lately - and on the rare sunny days I try to get Wombat out in the fresh air as much as possible. Since I also prefer to dry his clothes and nappies on the line, this means letting him wander around and explore while I hang the wash.

The sun was out, but the wind was still fiercely cold. Wombat was well-rugged up, but his hood kept slipping off his head. Ear infections were the bane of his Daddy's childhood, and I really wanted to keep him warm, so everytime the hood slipped off, I would have to stop pegging, run after him and pull it back up again. After this had happened about five times, I realised I had a peg in my hand, and necessity being the mother of invention...

It worked extremely well. He was comfortable, and I was able to get the rest of the washing hung without continuous interruption. So there we have a 'works for me Wednesday' and a 'parenthack' all in one - clothespins (or pegs as Aussies call them) make great emergency clothes-adjusters!

'Works For Me Wednesday' is hosted by 'Rocks In My Dryer'. You can find out how to participate here.

(Of course, I chose the wrong week to join in, since the Americans are taking a break for Independence Day :P but hey, it still works for me!)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Knitty Kitty - in crochet!

This week, I have been making kittens. They are adapted from this Knitted Kitty pattern.* I didn't have any knitting needles, so I tried it in crochet, and I think it worked out quite well.

I had planned on sending it to my newborn niece, and then making another one (in a different - non-pink - colour) for Wombat.

The moment I finished & he realised what I had been making, however, little Kitty was firmly adopted.

First, he hunted around and introduced Kitty to all his other cats - the one in his other hand in this picture is a cardboard cutout from a catfood box - one of his favourite 'toys'...

He then sat down and read his cat book to Kitty...

I am nearly finished making another one for my niece... this one will have a jaunty tail, like the original - Wombat's started out with a raised tail but he has been chewing on it ;P He seems to like chewing on wool when he is teething and Kitty's tail is perfect - it is good Tasmanian Merino wool, so I am not complaining.

I do want to experiment a little more - the crochet leaves a few 'holes' where little fingers could pull the stuffing out. I am going to try washing Kitty in hot water and see if I can get her to 'felt' a bit more - I will then be happier making her as a present for babies.

*The pattern is quite simple and good for a child or novice knitter - however there is a small amount of adult language in the instructions, so you might want to visit and write the instructions down when the kids aren't around :)

Monday, July 02, 2007

A meme and a minor miracle

First, a bit of silly fun - create your own South Park Portrait.

Wombat and I went to Mass yesterday, for the first time in two months - with Wombat teething and the horrible weather, combined with Yeti's dislike of me driving in heavy rain, I just haven't had the chance for ages.

I have a choice of three churches I can attend:

- the closest at 8am is a beautiful old building, but very small and claustrophobic. There is no room for Wombat to sit at my feet, so he has to stay quiet and held on my lap for the whole hour. This means we hardly ever get to stay for the whole Mass, as he gets increasingly wriggly until finally I have to take him outside. It is also very cold at that time of the morning, and I have just gotten Wombat used to sleeping in until 8, so getting him up and ready at 7 so he can sit still amongst a group of strangers is a bit much to ask.

- the second option at 10am is a big church, with a congregation of over 500. There is wonderful singing, but the crowd is really too much for Wombat. He gets scared and refuses to go in the door. If I get him inside he cries. Even if I get him settled, I am not happy, as there are a lot of children there who don't behave in a respectful manner - running up and down the aisles, talking loudly, throwing things, eating constantly. I find it really gives Wombat the wrong message.

- the third option, also at 10am but in the opposite direction, is a very plain, no-frills kind of place - appropriately called St Joseph the Worker. There is no beautiful stained glass. The few statues are simple, with chipped paint. But the congregation is only around 80 people - which while still scary, is survivable for Wombat, and there is a crying room - a small room at the side, separated from the main church by a glass wall, where parents can take children if they get restless so they can still participate in the Mass without disturbing everyone else.

This last church is obviously the best option for Wombat, so that is what I chose - but with a heavy heart, because there would be no singing. For me, music is an integral part of worship. I love singing the parts of the Mass, and the hymns, and Wombat loves it too. As I drove along, I kept praying, "Please, Lord, let there be singing. I know it is a lot to ask, and I really don't expect it, but it would be so nice."

We got to the church, and Wombat - still traumatised from his experience at the big church at Easter when there was over 1000 people trying to cram in for Mass - started pulling back before we even got in the door. I carried him in, but as the seats filled, he started to get upset, so we moved to the crying room, which we had all to ourselves. I noticed with curiosity that there seemed to be more people there than normal, and many of them were of Asian appearance - very unusual in that little rural town, where most of the congregation are retired coal miners & their families.

What do you know! God had arranged for a special visit from a Phillipino choir - just for me! I know it was just for me, because the sound system in the crying room hadn't been turned on. I really had to strain to hear the priest, but I could hear the music and singing clearly. When we went out to communion, I discovered why. The volume in the church was painfully loud. No-one else could have been enjoying the music as much as I was because in the crying room it was muffled to exactly the right level!

It took Wombat about half the Mass to settle down and it was VERY cold in there - he was rugged up, but next week I will make sure he wears his scarf and llama jacket as well. Eventually he relaxed and had a lovely time reading his books and looking at all the people through 'his' window. It helped that we had the room to ourselves. I will be trying to go back there each Sunday so Wombat gets some consistency and gets used to the smaller crowd. I won't expect music next time, but it was very nice to have my prayers answered.

No... I don't think God transported 20 people from the Phillipines that morning just for me - but He is omniscient and omnipotent, so He would have known in advance what I was going to ask and arranged it months ago... I start getting all tangled up in thinking about answered prayers and free will - but perhaps it's like a tree structure - I am standing at point A with, in this case, 4 possibilities stretching out in front of me - three different churches or stay at home - whichever one I choose will have certain consequences and questions associated with it - I guess God just plans for them all!

As Sister Mary Martha would say:
we don't know how it works. We Catholics have a saying for these kind of questions: "It's a Sacred Mystery." "Sacred Mystery" is "Catholic" for "let it go."

So I'll just say - THANKS, LORD!

Sunday, July 01, 2007


After I bought my new camera - a Nikon Coolpix 7900 - earlier this year, I became addicted to photo challenges. Then I forced myself to give them up because they were taking too much of my time. I miss them! My favourite was Macroday, so I have decided to continue participating in just that one challenge. I do so love having a camera that takes macro shots ;D

This week's challenge is 'hygienic'.

Here are my secret weapons in the battle for Wombat hygiene - vinegar and bicarb soda.

I use them to clean his highchair & his potty... I use them to clean his bottles and his bath... I even use them washing his nappies (I use bicarb in the presoak cycle to get out any stains, a normal washing detergent in the main wash, and the vinegar in the rinse cycle to remove any soap residue. It also acts as a fabric softener.)

In case you are wondering what you are looking at in the photo above - I poured some vinegar into a saucer & dropped some bicarb in, then photographed the bubbles.