Saturday, 16 March 2013

Bear Cottage

Entrance to Bear Cottage, Sydney

A wall of teddy bears aptly greets you at Sydney's Bear Cottage 1 of only 2 paediatric hospices in Australia. Being a total novice to the area of paediatric palliative care didn't detract from the incredible impact Bear Cottage has on you when you spend time there.

A purpose built 10 bed hospice with home like bedrooms for sick children & adjoining rooms for their families plus home-like lounge rooms, art rooms, media rooms, a spa, multi-sensory room, a quiet room & beautiful outdoor spaces set in bushland surroundings with Manly harbour views - it couldn't be a more beautiful setting to care for your dying child.

It is a week today since visiting Bear Cottage & am still processing the profound impact. Queensland needs a similar facility. My mind races with ideas, models & ways we can create something similar here in our own state of Queensland. Am so very grateful and commend organisations such as Queensland Kids who have devoted their entire existence advocating for Hummingbird House to be established here in Queensland similar to the model of Bear Cottage.

As a parent visiting Bear Cottage breaks and fills you all at once. Your heart breaks for the children and their families there with life limiting illnesses and for their daily struggles with health and quality of life challenges, of making the most of time they have. However an incredible sense of hope, happiness and life in the midst of dying that is so beautiful words can't describe.

I have always been grateful for the good health of each of my four, the visit to Bear Cottage magnified this a thousand fold.

As a professional and passionate advocate for equity of access to palliative services visiting Bear Cottage also magnified a thousand fold how much we need to see Hummingbird House established for families here in Queensland.

With Australia’s population of almost 23 million there are only 2 children’s hospices nationally and none of them are in Queensland.  The UK’s population of almost 63 million boasts 44 children’s hospices.

As a lover of seeing dreams come true - reflect on the history of Bear Cottage and how it came to fruition only through tenacious commitment, sacrifice and phenomenal community support. Reflect on the conception of Hummingbird House and all that is ahead to see it become a reality so Queensland families don't have to travel interstate to access such excellent respite and end of life care.

To see dreams comes true sometimes is pure destiny, rarely per chance mostly only through vision, hard work, tenacity, perseverance, integrity, relationships, networking, partnerships and passionate people using their gifts, talents and positions to see a vision turn to plans turn to development turn to reality.

Can I encourage you to check out the websites of both Bear Cottage and Humming Bird House and join forces to see the dream become a reality. Helping kids and families who need hope.

Cherishing life impacting experiences
Cherishing the passion & drive of colleagues
Cherishing compassionate, professional care given at end of life

Monday, 4 March 2013


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Willingness is the key to open many a door

I think it would be fair to say everyone loves a willing participant, a willing volunteer, a willing employee, a willing lover, a willing friend, a willing teen, a willing son, a willing daughter, a willing heart?

What a difference it makes when one doesn't have to gently persuade or strongly encourage.

Or conversely feel nagged, manipulated, pushed, contrived or forced.

"Does anyone want to take the rubbish out?"

No response.

"EQ please take the rubbish out!"

From an options based question to a command like request when there is a void of willing participation.

As my children have grown over the years, my parenting style has changed with their age and their capacity to make choices more responsibly. However two principles have held fast & are now being tested in teen years.

I was very influenced as a young mum by the work and writing of Dr James Dobson. Two parenting tips {from many of his} that shaped my whole approach were and are;

1. Only discipline for direct disobedience, never for childishness (i.e. never discipline for a child spilling milk but if they directly say no to a reasonable request that relates to safety or intentionally disregard what you have said, there should be a consequence, a loss of a privilege etc).

2. When your children are under the age of 10yrs you don't need to be their friend. They need you to be their parent, to teach what is right & wrong & need to learn to respect you. When they become teens, win their hearts, be their friend, be their confidante, be present in their world.

These seem like two very simple tips. Simple in words. Hard in practise. I have tried to live and apply them. I fail mostly but keep on trying.

One of the many beauties of being human is freedom of choice.

I am learning as a parent of teens to win their hearts and to give them freedom in their choices. Love, limits & liberties.

Big and little choices.

Choosing their own school subjects is a big deal. Choosing to go up the coast with their mates for the weekend is a big deal as a novice parent of a new P plater! Especially driving in the pouring rain at night with a car load of 16yr olds!

Choosing to be helpful or not may seem like a little deal, but to me it is also a big deal & I think can reflect a willingness in other spaces too.

Last night, after a late dinner, a sink full of dishes and a week of rostering duties run out. I asked in almost a joking way, "Who wants to do the dishes?", truly expecting no reply & prepared to do them myself.

Instantly there was an, "I will," response. I was stunned, surprised & delighted. Melted by DW's willingness yet again.

It was precious. Blogworthy! Got me mulling on the beauty of a willing spirit. We all appreciate it, so let's cherish it when we see it and aim to be willing parents who model this to our toddlers & teens.

Cherishing a willing spirit
Cherishing the joys & challenges of parenting
Cherishing what my children teach me! 

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Marshmallows & butterflies

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Having one on one moments with my four is a rare and treasured treat. As anyone with multiple children will find. Often it's in the car doing drop offs and pick ups that we have these 1:1's. A captive space and time, no distractions, just talk time, or silence as the case may need.

Recently had 3 episodes of 1:1's that were very special. Maybe what made them so special was that they were on a weekend they were meant to be at their Dad's & missing them terribly, yet we managed to have time together, making it super special.

Last Friday night was Mummy & Sunshine time - she had a sleep over to get ready early for dance photos {Daddy doesn't cope with bun nets & makeup!}. A precious time of non stop chatter, like cramming everything in before the sun went down. Even Sunshine commented how good it was not to have to compete with siblings for 'talk time'! Priceless.

"So much to tell you, Mummy - I can't talk fast enough". Her youthful energy, exuberance & love of life spontaneous and contagious. We ate dinner together, iced her cousin's 1st birthday cupcakes & chatted the night away. Precious.

Saturday last week brought literal sunshine and with it the opportunity to mow the overgrown grass {helped along by all the rain & heat} along with everyone else in our street & probably south-east Qld! This is traditionally EQ's job. He mows the grass & I pay his mobile phone bill, at a capped rate of course!

So Saturday afternoon my mowing man son came to do the deed - again 1:1 time, though spent gardening rather than talking together was a very good time. In preparing for mowing I had to 'train' our  grape vine to climb the trestle rather than run along the grass - a lesson from nature in parenting, of how we too guide/train our children/teens to go a certain direction.......

Party time Saturday night and 1:1 time with Thoughtful Princess, only car time going to & fro my nephew's first birthday dinner, but a beautiful time of candid chatter. Thoughtful Princess was telling me about her school week, about situations that could have turned ugly and how she didn't get offended easily, or take things too personally. Needless to say I was delighted to hear this!

We all know what 14yr old girls can be like!

She coined the phrase, "I'm glad that I am not all marshmallows & butterflies".

I like the phrase and thought while we want to instill in our children to be tender, kind & compassionate, we also want them to be resilient & not melt like marshmallows under pressure or accusation nor fly away from difficulties like butterflies.

Being able to let offences slip you by and be assertive at the right time and in the right measure are very good traits and attributes. Grateful.

Cherishing chatter time
Cherishing 1:1 time with my children
Cherishing that my daughters are assertive