Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Simplifying Life (64/365)

I've been amazed at how little I've needed or missed of our "stuff" while it's been shipped from the UK. My Mum has leant us some kitchen essentials and linen, and while I do miss my memory foam mattress and 4-season duvet, and constantly reach for kitchen items we don't currently have (making pizza without a cheese grater was interesting)... Having far less choice of clothing has been liberating. I miss having some more of Pickle's favourite books to read (it's a good thing I like The Gruffalo) but he's got more than enough options for toys - I've been dreading where to put everything when it arrives!  I could do with a couple of extra tops and shoes, but everything seems such excess in hindsight.

And then, via Twitter, I discovered Free Our Kids - this Mum has set herself the challenge of not spending anything for a year on stuff for her son (food and medicine essentials aside of course). I've often dressed Pickle in hand-me-downs and bought second hand for him to wear and play with, it's certainly made me think hard about other excesses. We have been living frugally, and will continue to do so - moving from the UK to Oz has been expensive. Though the cost of buying our mattresses alone in Australia has almost matched the cost.
64/365 - Drowning in a sea of boxes

Having unpacked about two-thirds so far, there is only just over a box marked "garage sale". Mind you, I haven't started on our (mainly my) clothes yet *gulp*.

I have been investing in swimming classes for Pickle, but other playgroups here are expensive compared to so many free or inexpensive playgroups, soft-plays etc.  in London - not to mention the FREE museums and galleries that are already sorely missed. The Hervey Bay Cultural Centre doesn't quite match up *stifles snigger* - though the DO get some good exhibitions, on occasion.

We are going car-free as soon as my Cargo Bike arrives (blogpost on that drama soon, promise). I'll still have access to my car when it's needed - trips desperately seeking culture and old friends in Brisbane and Sydney for example - but as well as the Grandparentals needing to use it, I really don't want the responsibility or the expense.

So while not spending anything on Pickle for a year would be a bit too much of an additional challenge at the moment, it's flagged my attention to some excesses in our lives that can be moderated. 

Most importantly, I don't want Pickle growing up believing he needs material possessions to be happy.

There will be a garage sale in my near future!

Loving having a simplified life, so would be thrilled with any additional tips you could offer?

Cheers, KangaRue :)

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Introspection (Tough Times)

I'm very good at keeping myself busy. Busy enough that I don't have time for self-reflection. Not blogging much in February - not even my Project 365 photos - is another way to avoid this, as I find blogging carthartic.

However yesterday, my work day, I sat down to answer a number of emails and also do some blog work that had me writing openly and honestly. And last night I had a proper cry.

The past year has been tough.

This time in 2012, I was midway through a two month trip from the UK to Australia. Sounds idyllic, right? But travelling on my own with a baby was nerve racking. The idea of it was far worse than the reality, though I didn't get much sleep in the 36-hours of door-to-door travel.

We visited Sydney, Hervey Bay, Sydney again, then Perth. All in all, there were seven flights. Pickle is a well-travelled munchkin. The last week in Perth with the Outlaws, was some of the most relaxing. Though I was still paranoid about my Mother-in-law judging me, not least when a newly mobile Pickle bumped his head on the coffee table. True to form (from my experience, not the stereotype), my MiL was ├╝ber supportive and basically told me there would be lots more bumps and bruises and to let him get on with it.

So two days after arriving back in London, my then husband BoyWonder, announced that he no longer wanted to be married. This in it's own right was stressful as I'm sure you'd understand. But I still hoped we'd work things out. It wasn't to be, and our relationship counselling turned into divorce counselling on the second visit. Those fortnightly appointments were stressful too.

Meanwhile, remember I'm still raising an active and demanding baby.

So divorce proceedings with the ensuing paperwork, resigning from my job and explaining why, planning a relocation across the world... All while living in the same house as my ex; all stressful events right?

Don't get me wrong, BoyWonder and I have had the most amicable divorce of anyone I know - with the possible exception of my brother and his wife, who still run a business together. They were certainly our inspiration, but I doubt anyone wants to compete for that award.

I'm thankful every time I hear another divorce drama story. And there have been quite a few of those.

Leaving my adorable friends was certainly stressful. I miss them regularly. I've luckily made a few good friends already in Hervey Bay, but they can't replace the ones, in my heart, that I left behind.

Arriving to a "fresh start" (and remembering the 36-hours of travel with a now-toddler) wasn't quite what I'd anticipated.

I've struggled how to address the difficulties I've encountered, as it's not necessarily my story to tell. So I will cut to the chase and just say that, after an immense amount of additional and extremely unexpected stress, Pickle and I ended up living in emergency accommodation a week before Christmas. I'm lucky it was a house and not share accommodation - I'm really not sure how I would have coped with that (SilverLining anyone?!).

Trying to find rental accommodation was far more difficult than I'd imagined. It was just the wrong time of year and very few places were listed. It came down to the wire, as the emergency accommodation was only for ten weeks - I moved out the day before expiration.

I'd ordered a cargo bike as a car replacement. There were months worth of dramas there, which deserves it's own post and will arrive in due course. I'm starting from scratch on that front.

My shipping from the UK has been in the country since 5th January, but still hasn't been delivered. After chasing yet again, I found out yesterday that it's now "probably" due Monday. Which means I've had to reschedule appointments and don't have any childcare for Pickle.

Oh and I've got a frozen shoulder - an increasing interference and a painful one at that. Chiropractic treatment and one cortisone injection later (I've had to reschedule the second injection due to the imminent shipping delivery), I'm still in pain and I sometimes feel like I'm haemorrhaging money.

So that, in a nutshell, has been the past eleven months.

Yet, I'm still - relatively - positive. I'm enjoying a simplified life. I'm actioning my career change. Pickle has started day-care one day a week (hence my work day). I'm ready for him to be in day-care, which I certainly wasn't six months ago.

Sure, it's hard work being a single Mummy. I often don't get a break until an hour or so after he's gone to bed. But after washing up, folding laundry, putting his toys away, etc., I can have quality me-time. Or - most likely - quality vegging time.

And quite frankly, Pickle is frigging amazing.

So enough self indulgent rambling from me. Time to finger paint...

Cheers, KangaRue

Friday, 1 March 2013

Sydney Mardi Gras and LGBT Youth Support

I thought it would be timely, with the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade occurring tomorrow - and not due to my complete slackness of blog posting in February (yeah, right) - to comment on my friends vlogs and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender) support.

My friend Brett is doing the slightly crazy admiral task of a daily vlog (video blog for the uninitiated). In a recent post he talked about gay youth support. Brett also referenced his brother Kevin's post which stated the irrelevance of whether sexuality is a choice. I wholeheartedly agree with both their posts. Kevin in particular makes some really well thought out and articulate posts about same-sex marriage.

I grew up in the unusual position of knowing a number of gay and lesbian family friends. I've only come to discover in adulthood, that this actually was unusual . I presumed most people knew someone not straight*.
As part of my counselling studies I undertook a research project focussed on the LGBT community. I was horrified to discover that it was an anomaly to personally know anyone LGBT before coming out; it was pretty much non-existent. This impacts who LGBT youth come-out to, and potentially unsafe introductions into LGBT life.

The presumption of heterosexuality and the need to come-out is a whole other discussion in itself. I wrote a paper on the negative impact homophobic-bullying (the second most common form of bullying after weight, in UK schools) can make on young people questioning their sexuality. The use of the word gay as a negative, is never OK.

I'm passionate about working with youth, particularly LGBT youth. But I'm wondering if I'm going to encounter resistance being hetero myself? Is there a place for a straight* but supportive person to work in a niche where I'll likely be the minority? I hope so, especially as I'm now living in a semi-rural community; I believe these kids need to know there are supportive people in the normal* world.

I love the Mardi Gras. I'm gutted that I'm not going to be there again this year, especially as I'm now in the right bloody country! But if young people only get to witness the extreme images, and not the day-to-day of openly loving families of all descriptions, then I will despair. For this very reason, I'm hugely excited that the Australian Armed Forces are finally able to walk in uniform. I have also explicitly told Pickle's nursery that I'm happy for them to discuss families of all descriptions.

I would love to know your thoughts? Will you tell your children's school that you're explicitly happy for them to discuss families of all kinds?

Cheers, KangaRue :)

* I could honestly rant for ages on the use of words like "normal" and "straight" in this context, but I'll spare you. For now.

Sleep Easy, Breathe Easy (Olbas review)

Before heading to sunnier climes, I was invited to attend an Olbas Round-table event, hosted by sleep expert and child paediatrician, Kathleen McGrath. Now Pickle hasn't always been the best sleeper.  Kathleen (who has also worked with The Sleep Council) gave advice that was logical and common-sense, but sometimes it's good to hear from someone "qualified" that I was doing the right thing. Since a couple of weeks before Christmas, Pickle began to Sleep Through The Night. Yes, this deserves capital letters, as I'd previously been surviving on less than six hours of broken sleep each and every night!

Any disruption to Pickle's sleep not only means we could both be cranky in the morning, but also that his recovery process will be longer. While he has a pretty good constitution, he has been prone to the odd cold, and is only just learning to blow his nose. Snot Suckers are fantastic - I'm sure there's a more official/marketing preferred name, but that's what I'm going with - we have a basic one, which looks like a miniature turkey baster. Totally gross, but strangely satisfying at the same time - a few other trusted Mummies agree, so it's not just me, OK! I've known of and used Olbas Oil with Pickle, placing a few drops on the corners of his cotbed sheets, as well as in his humidifier.

Made with a combination of essential pure plant oils, such as eucalyptus, mint, clove, juniper-berry and cajuput, Olbas products are formulated to help noses large and small breathe easy and aid in a good night sleep. What I didn't realise was the variety of products in the Olbas range. As well as the usual Oil, there is a lower strength version for children, an Inhaler, Pastilles and Lozenges, a liquid for the Bath (from 3-years old... so I might be pinching some of this for my own use) and Tissues (though I've been warned to make sure these aren't the only tissues in my bag if I'm caught short at a public toilet sans toilet paper - eyes wincing at the thought).

Here are Kathleen’s Sleep Easy, Breathe Easy tips...

And while we are in Oz, Pickle has had a night or two with a stuffy nose after catching a chill post-swimming or just from getting caught in the rain (it is the wet-season after all) - so I am very glad I decided to pack the Olbas Oil in our luggage.

I'd love to know any other suggestions you have to help kids with blocked noses? Or just assisting them to sleep better generally?

Cheers, KangaRue :)

Disclosure: Sponsored post, though all views are my own.