Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Good guys ... kapow!

Here's a violent story we use to help our children when they're sick.  
I know that sounds terrible.  I'm usually a pacifist.  But please read on ...

We missed gymnastics and soccer yesterday.  Both kids had fevers and sore throats, and by last night Jasmine was screaming with an earache.  The after hours GP said both ears were red, and the worst one was fire engine red.  Jasmine took some Panadol twice yesterday, but despite the pain, no way would she have Nurofen.  She flatly refused all efforts to convince, bribe, threaten, explain ... she finally agreed to try, but only let a drop in before she pulled a face and covered her mouth again.  The only pain relief she would accept were Panadol, prayer and cuddles.

Anyway, the GP sent us home with penicillin, and it was time to try a trick we learnt when Elijah had frequent tonsillitis and needed convincing to take his medicine ... let me introduce the GOOD GUYS.  

There are germs inside you at the moment.  
They are naughty, mean, smelly bad guys and they're making you sick ... 
but here are some good guys who are on your side.  They'll help you win the battle.  
Antibiotics are good guys.  
They run around inside your body and fight all the bad guys which are making you sick.  
Kapow!  Boom!  
Gotcha!  Take that!  
You can't get away from me, bam!  
Sshhhh, listen ... did you hear that?
I think they're working already.  Hooray!!

This story (and many variations of it) used to be enough to convince my kids to take their antibiotics.  They could still have a reward afterwards, but rewards alone didn't work.  They needed the good guys versus bad guys story too.  

It's oversimplified and probably scientifically inaccurate.   I know the good guys also kill other good guys, but we deal with that (and have told the kids about probiotics) after the bad guys are gone.  However silly it seems, it worked with toddlers.  Would it work with a stubborn, tired, fussy little girl?

Mean parents that we are, we told Jasmine she couldn't go to bed until she'd had her antibiotics, even though she was begging to lay down.  We insisted, pleaded, raved and asked nicely.  After all that, only the story worked.  The good guys won her trust with their promise to help.  Plus she liked my idea of sneaking them in quickly when Daddy left the room!  It took half an hour to get that first dose of penicillin in last night (around 1am, so it's no wonder I'm feeling a bit fuzzy today).  Hooray for the good guys!

Jasmine's cooperating today, taking her medicine when asked to, and recovering very quickly.  
Elijah slept through all the commotion last night and said he feels better too.  Praise the Lord!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Birthday Girl

Our sweet Jasmine is five.  Her birthday was last week.  We can see the lovely young lady she's becoming alongside traces of the baby she was.  Snuggly, bouncy, lively, sleepy, talkative, imaginative, purposeful, cheeky, fussy, loving, demanding then helpful.  Using 5 syllable words in the same sentence as ambliance and b'sketti.  Five is such a joyful, exciting age.  I'm energised and exhausted, enraptured and exasperated by my little darling.

Jasmine is such a puzzle.  Sometimes so shy, but when comfortable she's a little whirlwind!  We used to affectionately call her our "wooshka-booshka".  I don't know if that's a new word, but there wasn't an invented word adequate to describe her mischievous, exuberant playfulness.  Almost naughty.  Often dangerous.  Only by the grace of God has she made it to this age without breaking a bone or needing stitches ... thankyou Lord!

Jasmine age 2

We had a couple of Jasmine's friends over for afternoon tea to celebrate her 5th Birthday.  Because of the small number of guests, she only took half an hour to get into the swing of things (in the picture below she's still warming up).  Elijah greeted guests at the door wearing his Knight costume.  The Princesses ate dainty cupcakes, fairy bread and fruit on pop sticks ...

... then played statues, puzzle races, a hula-hoop relay and ring-a-ring-of-rosies.  Jasmine didn't want the same games as Elijah had at his party, and sagely requested the last one saying it would be "good for when everybody's too excited and overwhelmed"!!

Since I'd made 60 cupcakes (new recipe meets absent brain, oops!), the girls each decorated a few extras to take home (or quietly lose, if so wished by the parents, ha ha).  I had made an icecream cake by starting with a frozen Sara Lee strawberry swirl cheesecake, then adding smarties and layers of white and strawberry icecream topped with sprinkles.

Ah, sweet love!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Crocodile Eggs for Writers

by Vanessa Preston, 2006

Have you ever had the most BRILLIANT IDEA? 

Bursting with energy, you rushed off to show it to someone.  You couldn’t wait to see the look of awe and admiration on their face.  Then …


With one derisive snort or roll of the eyes, they ground your idea to a pulp.

“That’ll never work,” they say of your invention.
“It’s … interesting,” delivered with a fake smile.
“No-one reads fiction anymore,” and they hand back your novel with a sigh.

Sadly you sweep the remains of your idea and ego into the dustbin, and limp away nursing hurt feelings and wounded pride.  And you wonder … are they right? 

Press the pause button on this sad scenario, and imagine this …

Your new story is a baby crocodile.  Once upon a time it was barely an inkling.  But you patiently nurtured and protected this curious creature.  Now it is squeaking, ready to hatch at any moment.  You’re about to watch it break out into the big, wide world.  It seems like a lifetime since you discovered the egg.  Mysteriously it just appeared, but you had an inkling it would be something special one day.  Something a bit like a baby crocodile …

In the beginning …
The shell was paper-thin.  Transparent enough to see the forming skeleton.  Before the egg became cloudy and strong, you glimpsed the form of a tiny reptile.  So fragile.  You tenderly wrapped it in tissues and tucked it inside your shirt. 

Weeks later …
You are excited.  The egg (which you’ve named Inkling) is gaining weight and growing rapidly.  You spend hours looking lovingly at the pearly white shell.  Like a proud parent you long to show off your little one.  It’s getting hard to keep such a spectacular secret. 

Surely it wouldn’t hurt to let a trusted friend take a peek at the little Inkling?

At this point the story is up to you. 

Like a pick-a-path adventure, YOU decide what happens next.  Read the choices at the top of the columns, choose one, and read on to see how the story ends.

A.  You show a friend.  She cringes and comments on every blemish.  You’re convinced a closer look will convert the sceptic.  You hand her your Inkling.
B.  Again you show a friend.  This time, when he starts to poke and prod the Inkling, you make a hasty retreat. 
C.  You hide the Inkling away from prying eyes.  When someone spies your treasure you ask them to wait just a little longer.
Surely once your friend feels the tender heartbeat and silky smooth shell, she will have to agree this is the most wondrous thing she has ever seen.

She’ll have to understand how precious it is.

But your friend isn’t as sensitive as you. 

She squeezes a bit too hard, and SQUIRT.

Clumsily she misses the point and SPLAT.

After a quick glance, she leaves it on the windowsill and SIZZLE.

You are devastated.  All that is left of your Inkling is a sticky puddle and a shrivelled up shell.

Sorry, but it’s impossible to revive this one. 

You have rescued the egg … but damage has been done.

Your trust your friend, and his  opinion is important to you.  You start to question your unconditional love for the little creature. 

Maybe you are paying it too much attention?

Maybe it really is a bit ugly?

You start to neglect it, forget about it, starve it.  Or maybe you try to make it more appealing to others with popular colours and a fashionable name.

The once-translucent shell is now blurred by fingerprints, scratched and scarred. Lonely and unloved, your Inkling is fading.

Some careful nursing might save it, but the odds aren’t great.

You nurture and protect your Inkling. 

Safe from harm, it develops legs and flexes it’s muscles.

You pay no heed to pessimists.

Your job is to keep the Inkling warm, and shelter it from predators. 

In time the Inkling will outgrow it’s shell.  With pecking and poking it will at last wriggle free. 


The Inkling has a good chance at survival.  For now, you’ll still have to feed it, rescue it when it strays too far, and teach it to fend for itself. 

But it may one day grow up to be the biggest, boldest crocodile in the river.

Inklings grow into ideas, like baby crocodiles forming inside their shells.
Perhaps the analogy goes too far – but those baby crocodiles are just so cute!
So, how do you look after them? 

Ideas are fragile, and like crocodile eggs they need:
-       time – don’t be too quick to expose them to the harsh light of day
-       attention – play with them, feed them, marvel and enjoy them
-       protection – guard against vandals, predators, thieves and critics

Ideas differ from crocodile eggs in these important ways:
-       you can shut an idea in a drawer and still maybe revive it years later
-       one idea can be divided into a crèche-full of inklings and inspirations
-       ideas are easier to find than crocodile eggs – if you know where to look!

Writers, thinkers, artists … keep a notepad or sketchbook handy, and write ideas as they come.  Later might be too late.  Jot down one-word, or do a quick draft if you have time.  When you make a habit of acknowledging ideas as they come, they’ll come more often. 

Treat your inklings and ideas like crocodile eggs.  They might be grand one day, but as infants they need protection and nurture.  Sit on them.  Keep them warm.  Believe in them.
Hopefully they will survive, and when they grow up you’ll be the proudest parent alive!

Getting back into writing?

I read Kez's post about getting back into writing this morning ... I think it's awesome!  And inspiring.  Go for it Kez!!

I hope I don't sound like a copy-cat, but I might soon be doing the same ... I haven't said much about the 'writer' part of myself in this blog.   Mostly because I haven't been writing for the last few years (unless you count home school forums, blogs and emails).  There's some negotiating and stock-taking to be done, but the momentum is building.

For the record, I stopped writing because:

1.  It took too much of my time and attention away from my family.  They were jealous and probably had every right to be.  I needed to get back to basics and be a good mum and wife first.

2. I started to question myself about the 'what' and 'why' of writing, and couldn't answer my questions well enough to justify continuing.  I was stuck on the "all is vanity" soundtrack, and didn't want to waste the time God had given me.

3.  Life was fast and frantic at home with two toddlers, Pete returning to work (after being a full-time dad) and starting our home-schooling journey.

4.  I chickened out.  I had a publisher accept a proposal for some short stories (for an education series), but I froze because I was scared I wouldn't do a good enough job.  I pulled out rather than risk failing. 

5.  I had a lot of writing projects in progress at once, and couldn't decide which ones to develop and which ones to set aside.

I'm determined not to think myself into a hole over all of this.  But I think I might have moved on to a healthier frame of mind since then.  I'm ready to take myself less seriously and have fun with it.  

So all things considered, maybe I'm ready to jump back into the inkpot, and take stock of where I got to.  I have a shelf full of drafts, plot plans, and rejection letters.  Some of my stories were good training ground and are better left unfinished.  But I'm hoping there may be a few projects with potential in amongst the mess!

While I'm at it I have some things to share.  A few years ago I wrote some articles about WRITING.
 Some of them were published in writer's magazines, e-zines or newsletters.  But that's long ago and there's no point in them gathering cyber-dust if they can be of use to someone.  I'll post the first article today.  If you have any friends who write, feel free to send them a link.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Birthday boy

We've been celebrating Elijah's 6th Birthday for weeks!  He had an early party with friends and family a couple of weeks ago, which was a ton of fun!  Here's the birthday boy with his cake ...

... a freshly baked banana cake filled with cream and bananas, dusted with cocoa powder and decorated in a 2 minute frenzy while the guests were outside taking turns to launch a rocket (a pump action toy from National Geographic).  I'd forgotten to look for the birthday candle box, but Elijah didn't seem worried.

We had another cake on his actual birthday, shared with new friends (a home schooling family from Darwin who are traveling in a caravan for over a year ... we met them at our church conference on the weekend).  How exciting to have them visit our home and hear about their adventures, which are just like the dream we're working towards!  I'm sure we could've talked for a week.

Here's Elijah on his new bike yesterday ... we took it out the front and he just jumped right on and took off!  Not even a wobble.  That was a cool moment!  He wasn't expecting a bike either, which made it even sweeter.

Since Pete was home I grabbed my bike and took Elijah for a spin down to the park.  Being mid-week, we had the place to ourselves, and went silly trying out the BMX jumps.  Pete helped Jasmine adjust Elijah's old bike to her liking (attaching her pink bell and doll carrier, and putting the training wheels back on).

It's been a GREAT couple of weeks celebrating this birthday.  Now we're swinging into action for Jasmine's 5th birthday, soon to be upon us.  Jasmine was born when Elijah was 1 year and 10 days old.  She's enjoyed making his birthday special, and I'm so glad for her that her turn is now here!

While I can't believe they're already 6 and almost 5, it's so incredibly wonderful to think about their lives so far, and to snuggle in the love we share.  Sure there's conflict and stubborn standoffs and selfishness, in all of us, but above all it's just TOO amazing, such a privilege to be their Mum.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Glorious rainy days

I meant to jot a quick comment in response to Renelle's lovely Wet, Wet, Wet post and got totally carried away, so thought it'd be better to share here instead.  

We live in the same region as Renelle, and have enjoyed the recent rain too ...

Across the road from us is a bush reserve. We went over to play on the grassy footpath when the sun came out one afternoon (since the creek, normally a dry ditch, is too full to cross into the bush itself). Elijah delighted in riding his bike back and forth in the mud, slipping about in the boggiest bits. Jasmine enjoyed squelching and sliding in the mud with almost-bare feet. A warm bubble bath followed, of course!

Another day they played for a wonderful hour in the backyard, in the pouring rain, on their swings and dinkies ... without raincoats which were snug and dry in the car, which Dad had at work! Jasi and Elijah's favourite discovery after rain is always is a bucket (or dump truck) full of rainwater. These become the basis of many of their favourite backyard recipes (just add fern leaves, bark, a sprinkling of gravel, and unfortunately once, several handfuls of clean tissues).

And I mustn't leave out a very brave under 6's soccer game, played in freezing rain a couple of weeks ago. We arrived early to have the team photo taken (in the rain), then waited around under the clubhouse awning. We really expected an announcement that all games were cancelled. But no, the game must go on! So we set up and waited for a team to play against. I guess most people assumed it would be cancelled, but enough kids turned up to play, even if we did swap players to make up numbers (4 a side). The game was slightly chaotic (with kids running off if the ball hit them, which REALLY hurts when you're cold). The teams were well-matched, and a few goals were actually kicked. We were wet and freezing, but smiling, and proud of our muddy little boys.  

Yep, kids know how to make the most of rainy days!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Time for living

G'day.  I've been a silent blogger for a while ... only just finding time to read blogs.  For all the blogs you write, many of which I haven't left comments for recently ... thanks for writing them, I enjoy reading them immensely!

We're finally all better (after a minor but prolonged virus), hooray!  Our holiday in Coffs Harbour was brilliant, so good that I couldn't blog about it, because I wanted to stay there forever.  The weather was perfect and so deliciously warm, and in every direction there were adventures to have and places to explore ... but I feared to write that would make me sound ungrateful for our pretty terrific home life.  Which isn't the case, I really love my home and family and lifestyle.  Thankfully after a few days back at home I regained my contentment and got stuck into LIFE again.

My problem then was winter ... it always gets to me, and I end up wishing we could move somewhere warm for just a few months each year (and perhaps one day we will).  But after a week of grumbling about being so cold it hurt, I decided to embrace it.  Life's been easier since making that choice, with the help of some long cosy jumpers, fur lined boots, a hot water bottle and plans for our first trip to the snow.

So back to LIFE.  May and June have been (and will be) busy in a good way, with lots of excursions, kids competing with me for computer time, play dates, creative projects, FBI co-op, sports, coordinating childcare for our church's state conference (next weekend) and celebrating our children's birthdays (which are later this month but that hasn't stopped us getting in early!)

What's happening with school you may ask?  I asked myself that too.  It sometimes seems like the last item on the agenda, so I've returned a routine.  I've scheduled in our outside activities and TV times which are fairly predictable, plenty of free time and even meal times (mainly because Jasi gets remarkably tired and grumpy when her blood sugar drops).  I can already see it is helping.  All term the kids have been a bit unsettled, arguing and attention seeking, but today they asked to do 'schooling' and got stuck into their work and have played more happily together too.  That's not to say we'll keep to the routine ... a sunny day will always entice us outside!  Our recent home ed. recipe has been perhaps 50% natural learning, and 50% eclectic homeschool ... shared books, unit studies, posters, craft, games, excursions, workbooks, computer, conversation, TV, music, storytelling.  Having said that I'm not as hung up about what to call our method of education.  Learning is happening and life is good!

I hope to get back into more frequent writing in July.  I like a record of what's been happening, so I don't think back and wonder where all the days went.  Also it's nice to look back on the fun we've had, changes, triumphs, adventures, decisions, challenges etc.  Writing helps me make sense of things.

Well for a short post, this has ended up pretty long!!  It's fun to be back.  I might be a bit more random in the topics I write about when I get around to it, because whilst home schooling is a HUGE and wonderful part of my life and is often the easiest thing to share, I didn't intend for it to be the only thing I write about.  There'll probably be a few out of order snapshots to catch up on too.

See you round!