Thursday, 28 June 2012

You've got this!

EQness strikes again. How I love this boy! Sometimes his take on the world and perspective truly astounds me. Truly, truly. Last night in the pressure of finalising an academic essay, his quirky 16year old comments kept me going. His goodnight words to me being, "Mum you've got this!" - inferring don't give up, keep going. 

Earlier in the evening he had likened the pain of writing to the lactic acid burn in sport. Fresh in his mind from survival camp and PE physiology lessons. I loved his analogy and how he could apply it to another situation. "Push through the pain", he encouraged! 

He had what he called, a 'Kerri Dooley' moment of serendipity yesterday too when thinking about his mate, the same one I blogged about! This mate called him to invite him over to check out his newly built skateboard ramp! He even arranged for his own way home after being at his house so as not to disturb me. Ohhhh when they demonstrate selflessness my heart doth melt! Maybe we are in sync!

My children are amazing. I know that I sing their praises in every post and on face value they are ordinary kids who live an ordinary life, they still rage, get moody, complain and say things I would prefer they didn't, they are far from perfect, but in my mind they are absolutely amazing. They have spent these rainy day holidays for the most part amusing themselves with, Thoughtful Princess a leader on camp, EQ at work, Deep Waters & Sunshine reading, iPoding and watching movies. Thankfully it hasn't been wonderful weather or else it would make it even more difficult to focus on study and not want to go out and do normal holiday stuff together.

"Moral of the story, Mum, - don't leave your assignments to the last minute"! How many times have I said this to my own children, so now to have my own flesh and blood say this to me was almost an insult. But he is right!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Reverse, reverse psychology

Inspired by Deep Waters (DW) playing a family game of, Fact or Crap - we found this game, brand new at a Lifeline store for $3, so though the name is a little edgy thought it would be a fun way of learning bits of trivia that would make us all laugh and think together as a family. 

The rules are simple, one person reads out a statement from the printed cards and everyone has to guess if it's fact or crap. Something like, "When soldiers join the French Foreign Legion their passports are taken away", fact or crap? Everyone is given 2 tokens and if you guess right you get another 2 tokens, if you guess wrong, you lose 2 tokens. The winner has the most tokens at the end of the game.

Fact is often stranger than fiction.  In this fast-paced trivia game, your aim is to dazzle the opposition with how much you know about the world we live in.  From the day to day to the truly bizarre, you will be asked the one question that really counts— is it Fact or Crap?

It's a really fun game and we have had some hilarious laughs and also some great debates playing it. A lot of family bonding time and fun for only $3! So here we are first night of winter school holidays playing and DW the academic of the family trying to psych us all out by the way he reads the question using inflection in his voice or choice of question or something, so he coined it, 'reverse, reverse psychology'! Quite clever and innovative I thought. He managed to succeed for a few rounds, until EQ read his cues and outwitted the reverse, reverse psychology and won.

Got me thinking about parenting styles and how we often use reverse psychology with our children to gently persuade them to stick with something or give up something. The old adage of planting seeds in their minds so they think they have come to the idea themselves. Or acting all non fussed about something when inside you are really churning and wanting them to change their attitude or behaviour but cannot 'force' them too.

Parenting is so complicated sometimes isn't it! Sometimes the burden of responsibility weighs heavy on me as a solo Mum. My children do spend 50% of their time with their Dad so it's not a total solo effort, but when they are with me it's often in the on-the-spot decisions that need to be made that create the most angst. With big decisions, I do consult their Dad, he is a wonderful father to our children. Am so grateful for his input into their lives and feel for those who are flying totally solo as parents as surely it is a huge job at hand. Hopefully if you are in this situation you have extended family or friends that can be a support network to help carry & debrief when the burden gets too heavy.

I have read parenting books that describe parenting styles such as passive agressive, diplomatic, autocratic etc and wondered which category I fit into - I hope I am diplomatic, though my children would definitely feel like it's a dictatorship at times! EQ will often defuse me by asking, "stressful day at work, Mum?" when I err on too intense or strict about something. His approach to life is so chilled and relaxed that it often abates my sometimes serious approach. I love him for it as he makes me laugh at situations, myself and see the lighter or even the pragmatic side of life.

Isn't it wonderful and challenging that our children are mirrors to our souls, our own attitudes and behaviours? If only they could take the strengths from each parent and not the weaknesses they would be perfect, right! Not! Perhaps we could use some reverse, reverse psychology to enhance our parenting although it's not about winning or outwitting, it's about moulding, shaping, nurturing, caring and cherishing. I cherish holiday moments, and creating happy memories, hope you do too.  

By the way, it's a fact that the French Foreign Legion soldiers have their passports taken away!

Monday, 25 June 2012


Serendipity according to the Macquarie dictionary is, the faculty of making desirable, unsought discoveries. A dear friend thinks, serendipity should be my nickname as it seems to follow me. 

Spontaneous, unexplainable events and connections happen to me/us all the time. Maybe it describes the realm of mysterious connections that exist between us as human beings. We are all spiritual, emotional, social beings as much as we are physical. Maybe some of us have eyes to see or imagine it more just as others see a world of facts, stats and hard evidence. Both are equally good and keep us balanced.  

I love exploring the connections between us, the different types of relationships and friendships we form over the course of our lives. Pause for a moment and consider the individuals who make up the tapestry of your life.................

Family, close & extended, old school friends, university & work colleagues, sporting companions, mother's groups, church groups, mentors, acquaintances, even the lady at the bakery you see each week when buying bread, each one being a unique, coloured thread woven into the fabric of your soul and life.

Have you ever had the experience of thinking about someone you haven't seen for a while, then a day later bump into them at the shopping centre? Is this as the French coin it, deja vu? Or is it a part of our souls yearning for connection, seeking out others consciously and subconsciously? As a Christian I see this as a part of prayer,  as the mystics call it, holding prayer. Where simply the thoughts of someone, if held up before God, are as prayers for them.

Recently had this wonderful experience thinking about a young lad, mate of EQ. We were driving to work and saw a young man that looked like my son's mate. It wasn't him but asked EQ about him, if he'd been in touch with him lately, "no", came the reply. This lad had dropped out of school, got a job and was living with his older sister after losing his mum. Was thinking of this young man, holding him with prayerful thoughts. A few hours later pick my son up from work with the remarkable comments from him, "guess who came into work tonight?" You guessed it.

John O'Donohue puts it beautifully saying that our relationship with the invisible influences so much of our lives. We can become both artists and pilgrims in this realm. I like to believe that our spirits connect with a greater being than just ourselves, this gives me and my family great comfort, hope and meaning. Also knowing  that everything happens for a reason and a season, surrendering to this is better than resisting it. Perhaps this is serendipity when we see it for what it really is.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

I don't want too....

Ever hear these words? "I don't' want too!" Sometimes it's a matter of too bad, too sad, suck it up and just do it. One of my 4 said this phrase this week in regards to ironing his work shirt about 30mins before we were meant to walk out the door. 

Hmmmm I was tempted to give in and do it myself, it was early morning, the household was frantic to all be ready on time and it really would have been quicker and easier for me to do it. There is a certain amount of energy and patience required to combat negative attitudes and behaviour don't you think and sometimes we have to dig deep as parents to find that! Thankfully sense and sensibility took over, and was able to navigate the moment with a verbal reminder that we all don't want to do things at certain times, but we have to just get over ourselves and do it whether we want to or not! Said very sweetly of course! Nike sure got their marketing campaign right with the phrase, Just Do It!

Do you as a parent ever feel like this? I just don't want too! Cook diner after a long day at work, clean the long forgotten windows of the house, weed the neglected garden bed or sort the overcrowded linen cupboard, or like me, get assignments & essays done in due time. After negotiating with my son about ironing his own shirt, felt the sting of reality bite me. Here I am trying to teach him self discipline and felt it slap my own face.

I am glad he didn't get out of it, but who disciplines us? Odd thought as adults, perhaps. Self discipline is a desirable trait in anyone, especially our own children. Some seem to be born with an incredible drive, tenacity and bent towards always doing their best, natural high achievers, others seem so chilled & relaxed with laisez faire attitude that self discipline is as black is to white.

Reflecting on parenting as an exercise in give and take. Sometimes to keep the peace we give a little slack to our children, recognising they are after all, just children. We cannot discipline for childishness, this would be unreasonable. However as they mature into their teen years, the degree of responsibility inevitably has to become more as they approach adulthood and independence.  The delicate balance is knowing when to give into human tendency to shirk responsibility and when to be resolute and say, just do it!

We'll get it right sometimes and other times we'll miss the mark & opportunities, but all in our best efforts to cherish and teach out children. Happy parenting!

Sunday, 17 June 2012


In our ego driven, self absorbed, often thankless society, it's a beautiful and sometimes rare but precious thing to be grateful and to appreciate. To foster gratitude in ourselves first and then to model this to our children is never to be underrated. Valuing an attitude of gratitude in family life is so important that I wanted to blog about it.

In our family we have adopted saying,  "thank you for saying thank you" -  it may seem a little OTT (over the top) as my kids call it, but will often say this to my children if and when they do say thank you. It also maybe seen as a little old fashioned but have from babes taught my children to especially be thankful after a meal. To thank Mum, Dad, Nana or whoever the cook/preparer of the food is, and though at times we get a little slack with this, my children say it by habit now, unprompted. Manners are often remarked upon by parents, whether good, bad, ugly or indifferent, so it is worth the effort to instill in our children young that being thankful, genuinely appreciative & polite are manners that stand one in good stead for life!

It's easy to grow lazy with thankfulness or to think that it isn't necessary, yet I think we would all rather hear an avalanche of, "thank-yous" than none at all! An overdose of gratitude to some may seem insincere but far better than to be ungrateful, complaining or even apathetic. It warms my heart immensely every single time I hear one of my children say, thank - you, I dare not take it for granted! 

Gift giving is another area where we sometimes get a little over expectant and under thankful. We have all attended birthday parties where especially young children (toddlers) have not learnt the etiquette of waiting and opening presents later, instead they rip open the present almost before you have finished handing it to them and then before they have had time to really appreciate the current gift, move quickly onto opening the next present, then the next...... sometimes feel we overindulge rather than truly appreciate. It's almost like we have to intentionally fight against the tide of selfishness that can engulf us. I wonder if  fostering gratitude is one way to counter balance the propensity we all have to want more and simply be content with less?

As a child I was taught to write, Thank-You cards or letters after a birthday to personally thank each relative and friend that had come to a party or given a gift - we used to do this as a family, but with time constraints, perhaps pure forgetfulness or even a sprinkling of ingratitude festering have lost this art. Maybe finding creative ways to be thankful and appreciate the little along with the big things in our lives; acts of service by another, compliments, gifts and even just being there can become an individual and family lifestyle choice.  

In recent 'gentleman lessons' with my sons, Mr EQ opened the car door for his sister upon return home from camp in a comical gesture but with the giggles & laughter came much appreciation, of a simple wordless act that meant so much!  

Princess Thoughtfulness said thank you last week for something that seemed really insignificant at the time, but during the week it has come back to me over and over like an echo, how lovely it was. Guess that's what got me thinking about the value and beauty of gratitude, let it overflow from our hearts and lives like a bubbling spring so that others also are caught up in its flow...........

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Sweet & Sour

Every family creates their own folklore. I often tell my children that life is full of sweet and sour - we now call it the sweet and sour principle of life. If everything was sweet and rosy all the time, then it would soon not be, as how quickly we adjust to it, thinking it's the norm and most likely take it for granted.  

We need the sour things of life to help us truly appreciate the sweet.

We have had many 'sweet times' together as a family; memorable holidays, moments of sporting, academic, musical, dancing and personal achievement by each of my four, moments that create certain 'highs' of life, special times of just 'being together' laughing or playing games, working together, driving together, giving together and even in the ordinariness of everyday life there are plenty of sweet moments of pure satisfaction and contentment when life is good, things are stable and everyone is healthy and happy.

There have also been plenty of 'sour times' which have coloured our world, family life and memories. Separation and divorce no doubt the most significant that has changed and marked each of us indelibly. Though the agony and consequences of this never goes away, it gets integrated into our lives by the attribute of resilience that dwells within each of us. My four are amazing. There is no doubt they have each been scarred by these sour experiences, but how each of them have turned this into something sweet in their lives, leaves me humbled and in awe of the human spirit.

Humbled by the grace of God who does turn what is meant for harm to good when we ask Him, humbled by answered tear filled prayers that my children would be buffeted, balanced and well adjusted, humbled that they use their difficult circumstances to now help others. Choice is a contributing factor here - thankfully my four don't feel sorry for themselves as I too have never indulged them this, yet seeing them choose turning sour to sweet, nothing cheers a mother's heart more!

Thoughtful Princess is now sought after by her peers for her counselling advice - everyone comments on how fun yet 'mature beyond her years' she is, a result of living through sour times and allowing it make her sweet not bitter.  An attitude of gratitude despite many things that could make her otherwise. Mr EQ, empathetic and a confidante for many of his mates who have gone through or are going through parental separation and divorce.  Deep Waters, astounds us often with his understanding, awareness and words of wisdom for others in difficult circumstances. And Little Miss Sunshine ever ready to pray for her friends in trouble. 

Life is sweet and sour whether we like it or not. Despise not the sour as it makes the sweet, sweeter. Let's keep encouraging our children to turn their sour moments  and experiences into character building opportunities.......