What the hell is wrong with the world????

Wars. Riots. Protesters being attacked by police for no good reason. I just don’t understand so much of it. For the most part I am an extremely non violent person (I say for the most part because I occasionally have extremely violent dreams) and I just don’t get it. I don’t get how some guy down the street being gay affects me. I don’t get how someone believing in something different to me affects me. I don’t get so much of it.

But more than anything I don’t understand violence against children. I am not allowed to watch the news in this house (everyone else finds it too depressing) so in order not to feel completely disconnected from the world I have a news feed on my igoogle page. Everyday there are more news articles on children being killed by their parents, beaten by the babysitter or pimped out at 12 years old. It just makes me sick.

I come from an abusive home. My mum hit me whenever she felt like it, her boyfriends were violent or verbally abusive drunks and one of them even liked little girls more than he should. Statistically I should have continued this pattern. The girls father came from a horrendous home too. Together we could have continued the vicious circle of abused. But we chose not to. Don’t get me wrong – we are far from perfect. But we are more likely to implode on ourselves than ever raise a hand to our children.

Before you go thinking I am getting on my high horse – let me paint a picture of the most stressful parenting time of my life. We had just moved to Melbourne. Living with his biological father and his wife and kids. We had two toddlers – one toilet training still. I was breastfeeding the twins who were just 4 months old. They screamed if you put them down, so all day he would have one baby over each shoulder. They also woke up every hour through the night and wouldn’t take a bottle. Of course they didn’t wake up at the same time so I was up breastfeeding every half an hour. Oh yeah and our 2.5yo was starting to show a lot more symptoms of her aspergers (probably because of the stress). We couldn’t make much noise at night because the people we were living with got up at 5am to go to work. The wife was a neat freak – which meant she was constantly stressed with the mess. I was constantly stressed that we weren’t clean enough. We kept getting knocked back for houses and he was trying to find a job in a new place.

Not once in that time did I ever consider shaking one of the twins, hitting one of the girls or doing anything beyond shooting myself. Not once in anger did I lash out at my girls. Lash out in anger at their father, sure. Sit in the loungeroom crying my eyes out with two screaming babies and a toddler who was melting down and another who had shat themselves…sure.

And yet I don’t qualify for adoption, permanent foster care or even emergency care because I have a mental illness. I am not saying right now would be the best time, but surely I could do a better job than the mum who just beat her 8yo to death with a vacuum cleaner tube.

I understand that some women suffer severe post natal depression….I feel so bad for them. But the second you start thinking about hurting your children is the time to ask for help. See your doctor, tell your friends or even call DHS.

Our children didn’t ask to be born into this world. We should be looking after them.

a very, very sad project:girl

Advertisements

My Bipolar Story….and why I am coming off Medication

I was only diagnosed with bipolar a year ago, but my first manic period reared it’s ugly head in 2006. As someone who has always loved sleep (even though it never comes easy as I can’t switch off my brain) I wasn’t even close to prepared for my first manic period. It lasted around 9 days and I saw my dr. everyday for the last 7. I hadn’t slept in days. Each day my doc was trialling me on a different sleeping medication anything to get me to sleep as I was massively loosing the plot.

Everyone has those stories about partying for 1 or 2 days straight. But when you don’t sleep – actually no sleep at all – for 3 days you start getting loopy. I started hearing voices correction – VOICE. The voice was my own. Someone recently commented on another blog I follow (where the home ed mum has just been diagnosed with bipolar) that “depression is a lying bastard” and it is so true. The voice I was hearing was constantly telling me I was fat, ugly, unattractive, that my husband was cheating on me (when he didn’t leave the house without me as I needed a carer full time at that point), that I had no friends, that no one loved me and the real killer – that my kids would be better off without me.Basically all my worst fears were now bombarding me 24/7 with no break.

But that wasn’t all – I cleaned like a mad woman. I sorted this and that. I cleaned out the kids rooms, vacuumed the whole house, sorted the toy boy, cleaned out kitchen cupboards ect. Sometimes at 3am.

Around day 5 I was constantly screaming abuse at him, the girls were scared of me (can’t say I blame them) and was talking to myself frequently (as in I was responding to my own voice in my head). I was sitting in the bottom of the shower when I noticed the razor out of the corner of my eye. In an act of sheer desperation I cut into my skin, not deep – mainly superficial and experience instant relief. The voice stopped and I feel like every single stress in my life was lifted and I slept. Not long, maybe a few hours, but it was bliss. But I was still in the middle of my mania. By day 8 the dr. was really concerned and gave me some pills which he said “could usually bring down a psychotic patient”. It was one of the many medication samples he had in his office. He told me to take half, and if nothing had happened in half an hour to take the other half. I was now completely strung out and desperate for sleep. I took one whole one in the hopes I could just skip to the sleeping. 2 hours later I took two more. Nothing. By 5am I had taken the whole pack (I think it had around 10) and still nothing. So I cut myself again which ended with the same blissful feeling and I slept again for just a few hours.

When I woke up though it was different. I had no energy, for the most part the voice stopped and I had no real desire to do anything. I slipped into a pretty bad depression.

I have only had two extreme manic periods. That first one and the one I had last year that sent me straight to the psych ward. My other manic periods were milder (I have had up to 4 or 5 a year) usually with me not sleeping (or sleeping very little) but instead I see myself as highly functional. I ran a successful business (successful in that I loved the work, I had wonderful clients and I supported my family financially) for years and a charity and during those periods that I now recognise as “Mania” I would just work 24 hours straight. I would come up with new advertising campaigns and come up with fundraisers for the charity. But I still had a tendency to go crazy cleaning (I broke my oven door off during a manic period when I decided I had to clean beside an oven that was built into the bench….the oven was screwed in). I also tended to self harm during these times to try to get some sleep.

For the record I can’t actually remember the last time I self harmed. I stopped because it upset those around me. As I never endangered myself at all, I never used it in a hope of killing myself or anything like that, I still struggle to see the issue (don’t worry – that is one of the many reasons I am in therapy) but I stopped because I was asked.

I was diagnosed with bipolar when he went in to see the doctor for issues that he was dealing with (stress and anxiety with in our marriage and depression that had plagued him since childhood). He was talking about me (our GP always asks how I am and can sometimes act as a therapist for both of us – he is AWESOME) and my GP apparently started swearing. In that moment he saw all the pieces together. He realised that I most likely had bipolar and begged my ex to bring me in the next day.

Over the next few weeks I was spiralling down with a really bad depression. I didn’t want to get out of bed and I let all my work and charity responsibilities fall apart. It was awful. Not just because I was feeling so bad about myself, but people were actually emailing me to tell me what a horrible selfish jerk I was to let down the charity like that (for the record none of the services we offered were effected – it was purely admin and also the annual volunteer thank you program that I ran…which still ended up going ahead). Imagine feeling the worst you have felt about yourself and then having daily reminders about what a shit person you are come from people who you admire greatly. No one asked if I was ok.

So I had been put back on anti depressants, but they weren’t helping. Then I was put on another that actually made me happy and almost functional….but caused up to 5 migraines a week (I get stroke like symptoms during a migraine – fuzziness, garbled speech, numbness on one side of my body and extreme nausea) which could only be helped by sleeping for up to 24 hours.  Then my dr. realised that I likely had bipolar. I answered a series of questions and BAM diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 2. Then it was straight onto mood stabilisers.

Bbut by then I was too far gone. I went straight into a severe manic period. I sent an email to every member of the charity saying that I was resigning as president and then when straight on to researching easy and painless ways to kill myself. When I was discovered talking to myself in my cupboard he called an ambulance as I had checked out. I was taken to the local psych ward and admitted.

The next three days were spent in a vallium induced haze. In order to help me sleep and come off all the meds I had been on so they could reassess me and decide what medication I should go onto next. During that time I had a nurse decide to report me to DHS as she decided I shouldn’t be allowed to homeschool with a mental illness, the same nurse tell me I would be having ECT (also known as electro shock therapy), clients calling the psych ward to ask about when they would be getting their photos and the new interim president of the charity show up to drill me about non essential issues. I was under more stress that ever.

Psych wards terrify me. As an abuse survivor I need a clear run to the door. I get completely freaked out if someone stands between me and the only exit (which my ex has a tenancy to do in a fight because he knows my first instinct is to run) and in the ward the doors lock from the outside. The staff never lock you in, but the occasional patient wandering the halls at 2am sometimes finds it funny. I am an extremely introverted person when I am depressed and reading in my room is not acceptable according to the staff – I was threatened with isolation if I didn’t socialise (I would have taken it…but isolation also means no access to family until you are “compliant” again). I didn’t want to socialise….those people were crazy. (oh the irony) Two guys literally got into a punch up in the tv room because some guy wanted to watch neighbours. I just wanted to see my therapist, take my medication and sit quietly in my room.

After a few days the psychiatrist who was in charge of my case decided on a combination of anti depressants, mood stabilisers and vallium as needed (to help me sleep and relax when I got really upset). She also said I didn’t belong there. But she also said I wasn’t ready to go home either. I had hear a few people talking about this “amazing” place that was built up to the point where a lot of patients thought it was an urban psych ward myth. A place where you had your own room, which locked from the inside and had an ensuite and even a mini fridge. I hadn’t believed it (you have no idea of the weird shit that gets discussed in the dining room of a psych ward!) until she said that she was planning on referring me.

A few days later the ladies from “PARCs” arrived. It turns out the place was real. A 10 bed facility in Deer Park that was a step up/step down program (step up from home, step down from hospital). All the myths were true…right down to the mini fridge. I was told more about the program and accepted on the spot. I was told to be ready for pick up in two days. I was so excited to be getting out of that place. And sure enough two days later they came back and picked me up and took me to my new home away from home.

It had five rooms on either side with a common area in the middle which included a staff room, full kitchen, dinning room and lounge room. It had 2 staff on each day (and one over night) that were kind of like social workers. They were there to help with any problems that arise with yourself or another client. There was also a psychiatrist on staff that worked a few half days a week (you saw him on assessment and then as necessary, followed by family appointment at the end) and a GP who was there every weekday. I was assigned a case worker and shown to my room. I unpacked and opened my window and breathed in fresh air. It backed onto a huge parkland and I was so happy that I finally had a better place to see my girls (the family room at the psych ward was tiny and dingy). They also had a second living type room that was a family room with a tv, DVD player, small kitchen and a wii. There was also an amazing vege garden. I couldn’t believe that this was a public funded facility. I saw the GP straight away and she was amazing (she actually lives in the same suburb as me and I bump into her occasionally). She was there for day to day monitoring of meds as needed as well as any general health issues that cropped up. She also was able to refer me for things that I needed.

You were to help yourself to breakfast and lunch (the pantry would be unlocked then) and there was a morning meeting at 9am everyday. This took some getting used to. Dinner was prepared by “clients” and each week at the planning meeting everyone would select a night to make dinner (two staff on hand to help those who may not know how to cook) and write down ingredients for shopping day. But more than all of that…I had freedom. I could come and go anytime as long as I signed in and out so staff knew where I was. I would go for walks as well as jump a bus to high point to get lost in the crowd. They encouraged day release at first (going home for the day), followed by over nights and then weekends.They also regularly took day trips, went to the movies and had craft days ect.

For the most part it was amazing. If I ever needed more care I would gladly go back. There were a few tiny issues…but most of them were fixed when I somehow became the “voice of the people” which made me not the favourite of two particular staff members who I ended up complaining about (one because she twice spent the night in the other building instead of the staffroom in the building we slept with – the first time she did a client collapsed and we had to call an ambulance. The second time a scitzophrenic sleep walker let himself into a room calling out for his dead wife….naked).

After a few weeks it was deemed that I needed more medication than my anti depressant, mood stabiliser and now sleeping pills. So I was put on (what I now call evil) something called “seroquel”. It is used as a mood stabiliser, anti anxiety, anti depressant and anti psychotic all rolled into one. I was gradually weaned on it in the hope that it would eliminate the need for sleeping pills (I forgot to mention it is a hardcore sedative) and would help control the mood swings and the anxiety which had become really bad.

I accepted at that point that bipolar was for life. I wanted to get better so badly. I wanted to have a normal life. So I accepted any medication with no further thought in the hopes that it would improve my life. I accepted that medication would likely be a lifelong way to help treat my bipolar along with a lifestyle change and a good mental health support team.

When I got home I continued to increase my seroquel as I was instructed. When I got to 300mg a day I stopped. I was no longer feeling any anxiety….I wasn’t feeling anything. I slowly retreated to my room. I stopped showering. I stopped visiting anyone. I couldn’t finish any outstanding work. I became more and more detached to everyone and everything. For the last year I have left the house no more than 25 times and most of those were doctors or therapy appointments. I maybe leave my room once a week. I have trouble finding motivation to do anything. Not only does it have a strong sedative effect, it also slows metabolism and increases appetite. So put together a lack of motivation to move at all, an increased appetite and a slow metabolism and its no wonder I went from a size 14 to a 22.

At the start of this year I went off my antidepressants – and was able to cry again. I have come off antidepressants before so I knew what to expect. I cried for days and I felt so relieved. I have always been a big crier – an emotional person. To have that removed was bizzare. I hated not being able to cry. The anti depressants were only meant to be temporary and they did their job and then I was done.

Then I ran out of my mood stabilisers and decided on a whim to see how I would cope without them. It was a stupid move on my part as it could have been disastrous. But I honestly noticed not a single thing going off them – it’s been a few months now and no difference.

It was around that time I started to think about killing myself again. This time I wasn’t depressed. I just didn’t see the point any more. I may be alive, but I haven’t lived since the medication took hold. So I started to try research if there was anyway to treat bipolar naturally.There wasn’t much out there but I started piecing together bits and pieces. But there was a really disturbing statistic I kept coming up against….people with bipolar (and who have come off medication) have a MUCH higher rate of suicide than those with bipolar who have never been treated with medication.

Trying to make the decision has been incredibly difficult. But it was only after the girls father told me how much he has watched me disappear the last year that I started to head towards the final decision. Not just that – I have maybe 5-6 manic/depressive periods a year – roughly 50-60 days of being almost “non functioning” on medication I have managed to leave the house around 25 days (only ever half days) and maybe 5-10 days where I have functioned on a level high enough to use my brain so roughly 305 functional days vs. 35. Statistically I am better off just rolling with my mental illness symptoms when it comes to actually being able to live my life.

Once I made the decision I had to convince my mental health team it was a good idea. My psychatrist said there was no point in me seeing him if I wasn’t taking medication and disagreed with me without wanting to listen to anything I had to say about the life I was living. I stopped seeing my therapist after she enquired why I was so upset over my (7) miscariages and suggested I get a dog. So all the was left was to see my doctor.

I kept cancelling my appointments last minute in fear that he would refuse. But today I bit the bullet (and ran out of my medication…the last time I missed it I almost landed back in the psych ward) and went along to see him. I love my GP so much because he tells it how it is. After we talked about my brother and his girlfriend (who I sent to him as she has borderline personality disorder and self harms) for ages he asked why I was there. I launched into this massive tirade about all the things wrong with me, all the things I want fixed and told him I needed him to lower my dose so I can wean off safely or I would just do it cold turkey and probably go insane. We had a bit of a yelling match in which he told me it would be easier for him to make a decision on my medication if I showed up for my appointments and told me that I come in a railroad him and I just kept repeating over the top of him “so you aren’t going to lower my dose” he finally yelled at me to let him finish (yeah thats usually done in our appointments…sounds weird but I like that he can be firm and no nonsense and inform me and he likes that I am straight up and down with what I want and need from him) he said we can give it a try. I walked out of there with a script in my hand for 200mg.

Of course it could be too big a jump – we both know that – and things could end badly with me back on a higher dose again, but he is willing to work with me and knows when I make up my mind on something it’s best to get on board and support me than oppose me and be mowed down. He also knows that I would never have made this decision without a lot of thought and research.

I won’t lie and say I’m not scared, because I totally am. I am petrified. My biggest fear (beyond the suicide statistic) is that I will loose the plot and end up back in hospital where I will be considered non compliant if I won’t take medication. But I have to do something.

project:girl

 

What I Love About Christmas

Sensing a theme? Yes I love love LOVE Christmas. I get stressed over money, but that is nothing compared to the joy Christmas brings.

I am not religious. I understand the Christmas started with the Christian religion, I am not debating that at all, but I think for a lot of families it is no longer about that. In our family it is all about spending the day together, sharing a meal and giving gifts that we hope the recipient likes.

The tree and Decorations: I love Christmas trees. For years we used the fake tree we bought at the reject shop for $19 on our first Christmas. It was decorated with baubles we picked up cheap and some fairy lights (also from the reject shop). It was so dodgy, but it brings back memories of our first Christmas in our little flat. Two years ago I decided I wanted Christmas to be a bit more “Martha” so we purchased all new decorations in bright colours (purple, hot pink, orange and lime green) and wrapped every present in brown paper with a belly band in the same colours as the decorations. After the success of that I decided I wanted to be even more design-y  – so we snuck out and chopped down a bare little tree, stripped it and painted it white. It looked amazing decorated with only red & white baubles. Underneath all the presents were wrapped in red & white. It looked amazing! But as much fun as I was having the children were confused as to why they couldn’t put up their home made decorations and why we had a branch for a tree. Rather than be the Grinch who stole the Christmas tree, this year we are having a real tree (which brings back memories of my mum vacuuming under the tree everyday) and the girls can put anything on there they want. While I dream of a home right off the pages of Martha Stewart Living, the reality is as long as I have my kids at home…well unless I want to screech “Don’t touch that” all day, it just isn’t going to happen.

Food: Every year I put on at least 5 kgs on Christmas day and fall into a turkey induced coma by 2pm. Food is definitely a huge part of Xmas for me, and it has become that way for my girls as well. They love our pancake and ice cream breakfast tradition and help me plan the Christmas menu. Their father cooks most days, so it is the one time of year I really make a huge effort to feed my family. It makes me feel all warm and glowy to give my family a home cooked spread for Christmas. From Turkey to Ham to my mums potato salad and my chocolate Pav….I spend days cooking in the lead up so that on Christmas day we can eat together without the stress of me in the kitchen. It is also the one time of year my girls don’t eat to a schedule….they love being able to eat all day and have pav before turkey if they want. I also love that I don’t have to cook for a week after as all we eat are left overs!

Presents: I love giving presents. More than that, I love tracking down the perfect present for someone. Let’s say you casually mention through the year you are stopping the use of beauty products…you can expect to get a book on how to make your own natural beauty products (that was a scenario from last year). Let’s say your ex room mate is an uber geek and has spent months trying to track down an authentic Turkish Fez (a red hat with a black tassle)…you can expect that (and possibly two other authentic turkish hats) to be in your lap Christmas day (assuming they clear customs in time…I purchased them from Istanbul!). Whenever I get a card with money in it – I feel sad. I ramble on all the time about stuff I am interested in, and when someone I think I am close to hands me over a generic gift card it just makes me think they haven’t put any thought into it. I know it’s suppose to be the thought that counts….but even our ex room mate (who is single, lives alone and wears steam punk googles and a long black leather jacket everywhere and can’t cook or clean or talk to girls) takes the time to pick out a DVD he knows you will love and buys the girls a HUGE bag of craft stuff (that he then gets you to wrap because he is a guy who can’t wrap stuff)…well it makes you wonder why others don’t put some thought in. All year I keep a notepad on my computer with who I need to buy for and any time I hear someone mention something that would make an awesome gift it goes on the list. I know people are busy at Christmas – but I homeschool 4 kids, the twins are born in December and I organise secret santas for Christmas parties….well I am busy too. Even my nana who lives in Sydney (and until this year was the primary care giver to her son with schizophrenia, her father who was 94 and had the onset of dementia and a boyfriend who broke his hip and lived 6 floors up with no elevator) manages to get the girls thoughtful presents. I don’t think a present needs to be store bought, or be expensive…just thoughtful.

Wrapping: I practically bounce off the walls when it comes time to wrap things. When I ran my business every clients order was beautifully boxed and wrapped. It wasn’t a business decision so much as a compulsion. Last year (the red & white year) I ran all over Melbourne getting various red & white wrappings. I went to spotlight and bought red & white ribbons of every type and width. I shun little sticker tags that don’t go with my theme and even hand made over 150 tags for the bright colour year. But no matter how hard I try, they never look like Marthas *sad face*. A few years ago I ran into my Mother In Law (who hates me) wrapping presents at a little stall (fundraising for her church) set up in the local shopping centre. I almost had a heart attack at the terrible job they were doing so I took over….probably the only time she was nice to me and I was the bitch telling little old church ladies their wrapping was shit! I love making a present look beautiful. As with the present itself, I want the recipient to know how much love and care went into it….well that and I have mild OCD. Big bows and boxes and tissue and coordinated wrapping make me happy. I also love watching my girls rip through my handiwork to find out what they get. It’s a sickness I tell you.

Music: The girls father can’t stand Christmas music…especially when I put on the CD with the scary sounding children signing carols…but I love it. It makes me grin. I do tend to prefer classics sung by Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra…but even the anti Christmas Song sung by Blink-182 reminds me of my wayward brother so I love it. I keep my Christmas music on my ipod all year round and when it pops up randomly it makes me grin like a Cheshire cat (and possibly makes people on the train even more scared of me). My current favourite is “Baby It’s Cold Outside” Particularly this version with Rainn Wilson & Selma Blair for the Gap in 2008

Movies: I love Christmas movies. If it stars “The Muppets” and is a musical as well…well then you have checked all the boxes! If I had to pick a favourite it would be a toss up between “A Muppet Christmas Carol” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas. I love watching all the cheesey Christmas movies, I love it even more when the cheesey Christmas movie is aimed at kids and I can watch it snuggled up on the lounge with my baby girls. As a kid I remember watching movies on Christmas Eve the stop motion “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman”. Watching Christmas movies not only gets me in the spirit, it makes me hopeful…they always have a “Christmas Miracle”.This year we are planning on watching one a day in the lead up to Christmas complete with popcorn, snuggling, hot chocolate and me sobbing like a baby!

Books: Ever since the girls were babies I have read to them. Now they are older (and reading a 500page novel in a few hours) I read to them less and less. At Christmas things are different. We have so many Christmas picture books and I love sitting in bed with the girls reading to them. Even the older two who look at you funny when suggesting reading to them eventually sneak in to the twins room and get as close as possible. I never fail to tear up at the end of a book and thats when they snuggle me even more…which makes it the best part.

Myer Christmas Windows: This will be our 8th Christmas in Melbourne and the Myer Christmas windows have been apart of our Christmas traditions the last few years. My girls aren’t big on crowds so we avoid the parade and most other big Christmas events in Melbourne, with the exception of the Myer Christmas windows. They always do such an amazing job. I can’t wait to see this years “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” theme.

so what about you? What is your favourite thing about Christmas?

project:girl

 

My Christmas Wishlist

In a perfect world someone who loved me would buy me all sorts of pretty things and I wouldn’t even have to ask. But seeing as how that world only exists in my imagination I give lists to anyone who asks! So what is on my Christmas list this year? So much I had to break it into categories….I swear I’m not greedy….just terribly bad at narrowing down a list!

I am a total Tea addict. I own two full tea sets (a vintage and an everyday one) as well as several tea pots and individual tea cups. My favourite tea is Earl Grey and T2 do some awesome variations. Yup…all of these items are actually on my wish list.

  1. T2 Nine Black Teas Chest 
  2. Paris Tea in Vintage tin by Harney & Sons (have heard this tastes like strawberries & cream!)
  3. Earl Grey Tea in Vintage Tin by Harney & Sons
  4. T2 Plum Blossom Teapot in Orange
  5. T2 Plum Blossom Teacups in Orange
  6. T2 Paris Glass 1L Teapot
  7. T2 Paris Glass Teacups

While sipping on my tea I have to have something to read, right? Showing my love for all things vintage…as well as a desperate attempt to be able to bake bread without a bread maker….though if anyone wants to buy me one of those I am definitely open to it.

  1. Minxy Vintage by Kelly Doust
  2. Retro Make Up by Lauren Rennells
  3. Vintage Hair Styling by Lauren Rennells
  4. How to be a Hepburn in a Hilton World by Jordan Christy
  5. Dreaming of Chanel by Charlotte Smith
  6. Make Do & Mend by Ministry of Information
  7. Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg & Zoe Francois
  8. Vintage Modern Knits by Courtney Kelley & Kate Gagnon Osborn

Oh how I love shoes. Unfortunately I can’t wear heels – I find them too painful and it has only gotten worse since putting on weight – but thankfully there are so many options when it comes to flats.

  1. Varina Flats by Salvatore Ferragamo (in Blush Pink & Red Patent – not available online)
  2. Tina Flats in Raspberry Pink by Sambag
  3. Rum Flats in Dusty Pink by Wittner
  4. Kaiser Flats in Red Glitter by Wittner (*squee* ruby red slippers!)
  5. Juliet Ballet Flats in Spearmint/Blush Pink by Sambag

Since the derelict house photos I have been itching to get back into photography. But apart from my collection of (non working) vintage cameras and a Polaroid camera I don’t have anything to shoot with. So here’s hoping I get some camera goodies for Christmas.

  1. Yashica-24 TLR Camera 
  2. PX 680 Colour Shade First Flush by Impossible Project 
  3. PX 600 Silver Shade UV+
  4. Purple Holga 135
  5. Illford Delta 100ISO B&W Film

And the random bits and pieces that I would be very happy to find under the tree.

  1. Tassle Ear Plugs (inspired by “Breakfast at Tiffanys”
  2. Rockabilly Cotton Sleeping Mask
  3. Silver Tray (for my bathroom – to put my perfumes on)
  4. Leona Edmiston Gift Certificate
  5. Repco Traveller Ladies Commuter Bike (so I can go riding with the girls)
  6. Egyptian Cotton Towels in Duck Egg Blue

Finally my wishlist that goes well beyond what anyone would ever spend on me, or that I could ever spend on myself.

  1. Tiffany & Co. Paloma’s Hammered Circles Necklace
  2. Tickets to Paris
  3. Chanel Ballet Flats
  4. Wonder Woman Kitchen Aid (only available in Brazil *sad face*)

So those are just some of the things I am hoping to find under the tree this year. What about you?

project:girl

 

Christmas Future

Note: I am going to completely ignore my fears here. We have always said we will do Christmas together regardless of other relationships. So I am going to take him at his word … at least in this daydream.

Christmas future. If my great grandparents and great great grandparents are anything to go by, I could live to 101! So lots of Christmases to come. And for someone who (all to recently) no longer wanted to live, I am looking forward to every single one of them.

I would like to see the advent tradition continues all the way down to my grand kids. I hope the room mate finally finds a nice girl and she becomes part of our family. I hope that my brother and his girlfriend give me lots of nieces and nephews. I hope that as the girls get older they want to participate more in the preparations. I dread them finding out santa is us. I hope they give me lots of grand kids. My walls will be filled with portraits of my family. I want to see what they do with their lives.  I hope they all love pancakes and ice cream for breakfast.

I look forward to watching them grow into amazing women and being joined by partners and hopefully millions of grandchildren that I will love just as fiercely as my girls. I hope that where ever they are in the world they will trek “home” (which will hopefully be a nice big house in the country with vege gardens and I will finally have my own pony) for us to spend Christmas together. When they ask to have it at their house I will be there in a heartbeat.

I imagine the days before Christmas my girls trickling in with partners and beautiful grand children. I imagine a busy bustling house on Christmas eve…people sleeping everywhere. Wrapping presents with my girls for their children.Sitting down to a cup of tea after it all to hear about their lives before collapsing in a heap and sleeping.

The morning excited children will wake me up. I can’t decide if it will be more awesome for my girls to bring me weird trinkets from around the world following traditions from when they were little, or if they will search for the perfect present. Santa stockings will be opened. Presents will be exchanged. Then we will all have pancakes and ice cream for breakfast.

Toys will be assembled, whatever the current Nintendo system is will be played as well as monopoly. Kids will play, adults will chat. Lunch will be put out and people will help themselves. We will eat too much, wear paper hats and laugh at the lame jokes from the crackers that the kids think are awesome. We will eat the same things for dinner.

We will tuck our grand kids into bed and kiss our girls on the foreheads and tell them how much we love them and how much happiness they have brought to our lives.Then I will collapse into a heap and sleep soundly with a big smile on my face.

I can’t wait!

project:girl

Christmas Present

Christmas Now is a whole new kettle of fish.We recently realised not only could we have a completely awesome laid back super Christmas without our family….I don’t need to cook the same things everyone else likes!

This Christmas it will be us. Plus the room mate – he is awesome and now he is part of our little newly created family. I am also pretty sure my little brother (who lives with us) and his girlfriend (who also lives with us) will be here.

We have added a new tradition this year (from Martha Stewart Living – I am an addict) is an advent calendar….not the ones with chocolates from the shops – but a little present to open every day from December 1st to Christmas eve. We also have had a tradition of opening one present on Christmas eve which is usually a pair of new pjs and a book to read in bed. This is being incorporated into the advent calendar with the pjs & book being the final present.We also started making a gingerbread house together the last few years each one getting more elaborate – I can’t wait to see how this years turns out.

We have simplified our menu a bit and I have asked everyone in the house to contribute one dish. I think this is something the girls will really enjoy. They all love cooking and baking and there is a lot of pride in your dish taking pride of place on the table. I have been asked to make my chocolate pavlova again. My mum was known for her very traditional pav, I am getting known for my chocolate one and for my red velvet cupcakes (instead of creamcheese frosting I make 7 minute frosting, also known as marshmallow frosting).

The room mate will head over on xmas eve and will help us finish wrapping and have a few drinks with the girls dad. We will all fall in bed in a heap around midnight after finalising everything.

The girls will be up no later than 5:30am and we will all head out to the lounge room and find our place around the tree. The girls will then rip through their santa stockings. The we will go through and open every single present under the tree (last year that number was close to 150!). This year they have all asked for so many books that will be the majority of gifts. Our eldest has asked for a vintage sewing basket and some needles and thread. Our middle child has asked for a tool box and a power drill. The twinnies have asked for a big doll house. Their lists are always ridiculous and over the top, but their real requests, the things they ask for over and over in the lead up to Christmas are so minimal that we could never turn them down. They will be thrilled with everything they open, as they always are such happy, surprisingly unspoilt children (given how much we go overboard on Christmas).

The girls father will be thrilled with his presents as will the room mate. I love tracking down and finding presents that the receiver will be thrilled with. I will love the weird and random presents the girls get me (which in the past has been everything from army men to fluffy slippers). But more than anything I will be so happy to watch my children be happy and be grateful that I get to have a wonderful Christmas with my family.

Once the presents are opened – yup pancakes & ice cream time. Then the kids will read and play. The boys will assemble the doll houses or bikes or whatever else needs “man work”. We will all still be in our jammies (except the room mate that always wears his long black leather coat regardless of how hot it is….he is like a cartoon character I swear!) at lunch when things will be put out for people to help themselves. The girls will laugh manically when popping the Christmas crackers. We will wear our paper crowns and laugh at the lame jokes inside. We will eat too much turkey and I will probably have a nap. Dinner will be more of the stuff we had for lunch. The boys will have a few drinks (whenever the room mate comes over they have their weird concoction of energy drinks and vodka) and the wii will be played. We may play a game of monopoly. It will be laid back. Everyone will be merry (not drunk).

At the end of the day my girls will all pass out from sheer exhaustion. We will go together and look in on them sleeping and realise how truly lucky we are to have beautiful, amazing, kind, special, lovely children. I will kiss them each on the forehead and pull the covers up. It is especially awkward as they have bunks…but I climb right on up there.

It doesn’t matter that we aren’t “together” as a couple, we are together as parents. We both love our girls fiercely and we both know that they need both of us in their lives.

After all of that I will collapse in a heap and sleep solidly, possibly for the first time in months and I will be happy, possibly for the first time in months.

project:girl

Christmas Past

Can you believe Christmas is just over a month away??? I can because I am currently haemorrhaging money. But it’s all good…We don’t spend a lot on the girls birthdays (just a party and a small present) so xmas we go all out.

To see why we go all our we have to rewind 20 or so years (urg….I know I am getting old know when I can say 20 years ago…and remember it!). I have a really big extended family. I grew up in Sydney and we lived not far from my nan, her parents, her parents in law, her brother and his family (her brother was not much older than my dad…so his kids were more like my cousins) and my aunt and two uncles. My brother and I were the only grand kids on that side and Christmas was always filled with awesome chaos. First opening our santa stockings as soon as we woke up (which was usually around 4am) followed by opening presents at home. Then we would head to who ever was hosting Christmas for a truly OBSCENE amount of food, back yard cricket and more presents. Oh the food! My great nana (my nans mum) would make the yummiest fried rice, my mum made kick ass pav and my nan would always make some delicious salad. I remember not being able to sit at any table as it was covered with food. There was rarely any left overs though given how many of us they were. It was really, really happy times.

When I was about to turn 9 my dad left. Thing had been bad for awhile. While my dad was earning a lot of money, mum was putting it all in the pokies. To save some money he moved us into a caravan in his mums driveway. At this point my nan, mother of 4, had all 4 kids and now all her grandkids, living back at home. Dad had met someone else a few years back and eventually left mum for her. (20 years on they are still together and blissfully happy). Then we moved into my grandmas house. Then mum moved us to Melbourne for a bit. Then Tasmania. Then back to sydney for the last week of school…only to be told in the holidays we were moving to Coffs Harbour. Christmas was never really fun after that. It was the stress of my brother and I having to choose where we wanted to be on xmas. My dad didn’t believe in buying a bunch of crap for xmas so we were to select one gift. Mum didn’t have any money and was usually drunk by midday and stoned long before then. My dad stopped talking to me at 14 and mum let her boyfriend toss me out in the middle of the night when I was 15 (because I refused to sleep with his friends) and I was living on my own by 16. While my sad life was unfolding the girls father was living a life even worse….

His mum was living in housing commission flats in Williamstown. She had disappeared on his father overnight (he didn’t meet his father until he was 19), she was not only a drug addict, but also a dealer. His babysitter has been featured on underbelly (the first season). He had a baby sister. His mum had met some dude on a radio dating show and they married not long after….he was an inmate at Pentridge Prison. They married in the jail. When he got out they got into credit card fraud and for awhile the girls dad had some ok toys and stuff (after being poor for ever). But the heat was on, so they skipped parole and went on the run. When they were eventually caught (as they continued to steal cars and use stolen credit cards) they took everything. Every single thing he owned…including a remote control car his grandfather had bought him…his prized possession. He was only 7 or 8 years old. His new step dad took the fall for everything leaving his mum, him, his sister and the baby on the way in a caravan park in Grafton (they were caught in casino…but the nearest jail was Grafton). His step dad was shipped back to Melbourne and the next few years were spent in extreme poverty as his mum got clean and saved all her pennies to travel back to Melbourne to see him in jail…so he might now his first son. Even when they both had jobs, they lived almost at near poverty because they had both been “born again” and gave away a significant amount of money to the church each week as well as now having 4 mouths to feed and insisting on sending his two younger brothers to private school. His sister and him were now just bitter reminders of a past they longed to forget. They were excluded.

Can you imagine that – being poor is one thing, Being unloved, unwanted and excluded in your own family is a whole other kettle of fish. He may not be the apple of my eye, he may have broken my heart…but no child, no person deserves that. Which is why no matter what, he is my family and I am his.

So we meet, fall in love and like two crazy kids who have come from shitty families, desperate to be loved, wanted and accepted – we went ahead and had babies. LOTS OF BABIES! And we loved them to pieces. We were not well off by any stretch of the imagination…but when you live in a modest home, don’t drink, smoke, do drugs or give it all to church you can actually have an comfortable life. Everyday we get with our girls our love increases exponentially. It’s a feeling so intense it is hard to describe. Our lives revolved around them…not because they were demanding or because it was expected…but because we genuinely enjoyed their company. My mum always said (of all the bad things she did or let her partners do) that I would understand when I was a parent. I don’t. I understand even less now.

So we had our little town house (which ironically I had lived very much unhappily 3 years earlier and where my little brother once set fire to the carpet). We had our baby girl and another on the way and it was our first Christmas as a family. We went wayyyyyy overboard. We spent over $1500 on presents for our 9 month old. I was so excited I woke her up at 5:30am….our baby that happily slept from 8pm to 8am.So as you can imagine….she was pissed. While initially enthusiastic, she didn’t even make it half way through the presents before melting down completely and needing sleep.

We cooked every meat known to man. And for some insane reason we wanted our families to be there. So my brother came up from Canberra, My Aunt and Cousin Came from Sydney, Mum, her alcoholic boyfriend and my two little brothers came and his step dad borrowed the church can and bought his mum, his brothers, his sister (and her violent abusive drop kick boyfriend) and our baby niece (just 3 weeks younger than our baby girl). Our place was tiny tiny tiny. But we set up out underneath the carport. What a disaster. Mums boyfriend couldn’t drink as he was driving them home after lunch – so he was shitty. Ryans sister woke up our baby who had already been woken up once today – so she was shitty. My mum can’t stand his mum (and vice versa). I don’t know what we were thinking!

Every year we continued this charade as (surprisingly given our upbringing) we were both determined Christmas was for family. I even dragged my mum to his mums house one year. Urg! Every year we had high hopes and every year they were dashed apart from the lovely, lovely time we had in the morning as a family…just us.

Then we had the twins a week into December. The older girls were easy babies – the twins screamed if they were put down. We were exhausted. I didn’t get out of hospital til a week before Christmas and no shopping had been done. I was breastfeeding so we attempted to take them all with us while doing some shopping for family. Picture this – two screaming babies who hate the pram so one over each shoulder of their dad, two bewildered toddlers in the pram, a tourist town at Christmas time (population triples) and everyone wanting to see the twins. I felt like we were a travelling freak show. One lady followed me to the change room and watched me breastfeed (ick), once when the twins were in the pram screaming (and I was dashing to the changeroom to feed) someone physically grabbed the pram handle to stop me so they could look at the twins and another once pushed my 2yo out of the way so she could get a better look at the babies.

But something happened. We told the family given how sleep deprived we were, and how much the twins hated prams and car seats that we wouldn’t be going anywhere for xmas. That they could come see us if they want, but we wouldn’t be going anywhere. One by one everyone told us they couldn’t be bothered making the trip and I was devastated. Hormonal and sleep deprived I bawled my eyes out that no one loved us or our little family. Once I pulled myself out of it I decided we were going to have an awesome xmas and that year our first Christmas tradition was started. After presents we had pancakes and ice cream for breakfast. Our eldest girls thought that was the best thing ever. Food was put out and the girls could help themselves all day if they wanted. We were exhausted but it was such a lovely, lovely day.

In April we moved to Melbourne (note to anyone considering moving interstate with newborn twins and having to live with your in-laws while you look for a house….DON’T!). We ended up spending a few months with his biological father (who is such a nice man) and his wife (who is equally awesome…but a neat freak. Neat freak + newborn twins – aka poop machines + two toddlers…well it was a stressful time for all). We were finally settled, we got around to buying some furniture (after living in a practically empty house for 6 months) and we decided Christmas was going to be at home again. His biological family all do a post Christmas celebration so that was easy.We spent too much money on the kids (as usual), I cooked too much food (as usual) and we had pancakes and ice cream for breakfast.

I still longed for family acceptance and asked his parents every year to come. But we were happy with our little (or not so little) family unit. Christmas was laid back and joyful. We cooked in the days leading up with everything served cold (less stress), we got up super early (yes I still occasionally woke up the children), opened so many presents and had pancakes and ice cream for breakfast. We chilled all day putting together toys and letting the kids go nuts. We napped on the lounge while they played and had a few celebratory drinks after they were in bed.

Then we ended up with a room mate. He knew a guy from QLD desperate for a change of scene and willing to pay us to rent our spare room. After police checking him and working with children checking him he moved in and has been uncle to the girls ever since.

Two years ago my mum asked if she could come down for Christmas with my two little brothers. Then to my surprise my (we hardly ever see him and sometimes wonder if he is still alive) brother came to stay as well. Then his mum said she would come for lunch with his nan. All these years of begging and pleading and all I had to do was ignore everyone for a few years…but it was too good to be true. My mum stayed 5 weeks before admitting she had no money to get home. Our daughter with aspergers clashes badly with my mum and I was so stressed with my mum (she has bipolar and is an alcoholic and I walk on eggshells around her) putting on her best “woe is me” performances I ended up not leaving my room the final week she was there. My brother that we never see is a vegan and complained about the meat. My youngest brother is a spoiled brat and the girls wondered why he could stay up til midnight and they couldn’t (he is only 9 months older than my eldest). I feel sick just remembering it all. His mum came over and bitched at me – his nan sat chain smoking in the backyard ignoring everyone. The kids were stressed, I was stressed and the girls dad (who has the best talent in the world – he can wrangle my mum!) was playing peacemaker. Our normally peaceful household was turned upside down. But we still had pancakes and ice cream for breakfast.

project:girl