New Release – In Another Life

In_Another_LifeI’m really excited to announce that my latest novel, ‘In Another Life‘, is now available on Amazon Kindle.

Lily hopes to find a connection with her late mother by doing a past life regression. She is taken back through her memories from childhood and then back to a previous life in the early 20th century in the country town of Bathurst in Australia. Lily is shocked to find out she was a male in her previous life and her Dad from this life was her brother. 

After the regression, Lily researches the places she saw in her memories and discovers her little sister from her past life is still alive as an elderly lady. Curiosity gets the better of Lily and she meets her sister from her past life to see whether they have a connection in the present.

As an indie author, I would really love your support in reading and sharing this new novel.

End of an era

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Today my eldest daughter has started her last week of school. I feel a bit like I blinked and suddenly she is all grown up.

I still remember the little blonde haired girl who cried and clung to me as I dropped her off to preschool, the same little girl who a few years later bravely started school in her little uniform and wide brimmed hat that seemed so large that she resembled a little mushroom. Fast forward a few years and she moved schools. I think back to the bribe of a new outfit and dinner in a fancy restaurant as a reward for her bravery to start afresh at a new school where she didn’t know anyone.

I think of the countless sporting carnivals, music recitals and awards ceremonies we have attended, proud of the effort she was putting in to her education.

I recall the ups and downs of her being a tween who lived through the dramas of friendship changes and issues that at the time that seemed insurmountable, which today she would be hard pressed to remember in any detail.

I think back to the day she was inconsolable over missing out on a place on the exchange program at school, although she had gone above and beyond to do all she could do to qualify. The flip side was the amazing trip she went on to China and the friendship she formed with a Spanish girl that she met over there that led to them doing a small private exchange. In hindsight, I think she actually was better off the way things worked out.

And now she is going through the routine of school for just one last week. It is going to be a huge week with muck up day, leaver’s ceremony and then the formal dance to finish off the week. Within a few months all her exams will be done and then she can focus on the path she chooses to start her life.

Although I’ve looked forward to this time, I also can’t believe it is already here. My little shy girl has grown into a confident lady and I’m so proud of the woman she is becoming.

I’m not sure where the years have gone, but as they say, time flies when you’re having fun!

Photo courtesy of stockimages, freedigitalphotos.net

Open Apology

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I have always laughed, but felt a tad annoyed, when people would ask me, ‘are ALL those children yours?’ – like having four children made me like the Duggars who have dozens of kids. The jokes of ‘haven’t you worked out how they are made?’ or ‘doesn’t your television work?’ or ‘are you trying to get a whole football team?’ all became old very quickly, so I’m usually sensitive to this with other parents.

However, the other day I bumped into a mother with whom I would sit when my oldest kids were learning to swim. She has a son my eldest daughter’s age, a son my second daughter’s age, a daughter a little younger than my son and the last time I saw her several years ago she had another baby son. So I was surprised when I saw her cradling a newborn baby. ‘Is that yours?’ I asked hesitantly, to which she replied yes. ‘How many kids do you have now?’ I asked insensitively. ‘Oh about fifteen,’ she joked then said this little boy was her fifth child.

‘Wow, a child finishing school and a newborn, that’s amazing,’ I went on, followed by, ‘you’ll probably have grandkids before your youngest kids finish school.’ This sentiment stems from my own thoughts that it is quite possible that my eldest could have a child before we are free from school commitments for our youngest.

After I walked away I was replaying our conversation over in my mind and came to the conclusion that I had acted in the exact way that I had always made a silence pact not to! What I should have said was what a blessing to have such a gorgeous child and what a lovely addition he would make to the family, instead in my shock at seeing this lady with another child I blurted out insensitive comments for which I openly apologise.

I know that when you give birth to any baby, you love them unconditionally and can’t imagine your family without them. This little boy is lucky to have been born into a family where he has many siblings to dote on him. I just don’t envy his mum having to sit through all those swimming lessons again!

(Photo courtesy of papaija2008, freedigitalphotos.net)

IN THE WAKE OF THE STORM

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Last week we were hit with a severe storm that saw major damage to people’s property through trees toppling over, water damage from driving rain and king tides and high winds literally tossing boats up onto the shore. Thousands of homes and businesses lost power as trees were uprooted and infrastructure was devastated.

We were in the lucky few that didn’t lose power, however the kid’s school was closed for two days. My kids were in seventh heaven! I guess it is akin to those in the northern hemisphere getting a ‘snow day’, although even more rare, because in my living history I don’t ever recall schools closing because of a storm.

Our home became a revolving door for people (those who weren’t trapped in their homes because of fallen trees) to shower, recharge electronics, refrigerate food and do washing. We averaged 16 for dinner each night and had multiple people bunking down to sleep. Whilst it was an anxious time with everyone on high alert as to what damage might next occur, my kids were largely oblivious to the carnage mother nature had caused and instead saw it as a mini-holiday with a house-full of guests.

Other people told me how it had brought them together as a family as they had to interact without electronics and play old-fashioned board games by candlelight due to the lack of power.

The local SES (State Emergency Service) workers and those working for the local power company worked tirelessly to clear fallen trees and reconnect power and services.

It was nice to see that when times were tough, our community pulled together to assist one another.

From my kid’s perspective however, they would have preferred if the school’s power could have been left disconnected for an extra few days!

(Photo courtesy of George Stojkovic, freedigitalphotos.net)

Pen Friend

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My daughter has just received her first hand written letter from a pen friend in England. This arrangement came about through a friend of a friend and both the girls on opposite sides of the world are excited at the opportunity to form a bond with each other.

The letter my daughter received was like a piece of artwork. It was beautifully laid out and the girl’s handwriting is so neat and orderly. I must admit, I think my daughter was a bit intimidated by how gorgeous the letter was, as my daughter doesn’t have the neatest handwriting as she has always been too focused on the content than the style of her writing. Also, she relies heavily on typing as she uses computers for all her assignments at school.

In an age where handwriting is becoming a bit of a lost art, I’m thrilled that my daughter will get the opportunity to express herself through writing, rather than through electronic media. Not only does a formal letter require proper handwriting, the language is also more formal – there won’t be any acronyms like IDK, BBS or LOL, nor any emoticons with winking eyes and tongues sticking out!

The lovely thing about the letter my daughter received is that the two girls seem well suited with their intelligence and interests. I’m looking forward to my daughter learning more about this girl’s life and how it contrasts to her life. Her pen friend is an only child, whilst my daughter has three siblings. The other girl lives in a quaint cottage in a village with only two roads whilst we live in a large two storey house on a busy road in a suburb just outside of a large metropolitan city. I’m sure their correspondence will be an educational experience for them both.

I just hope they continue to write and that these letters build the basis of a lifelong friendship. Wouldn’t it be lovely if one day they arrange to meet up either in Europe or in Australia to cement their friendship!

(Picture courtesy of ddpavumba, freedigitalphotos.net)

UNNECESSARY PAIN AND SUFFERING

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There are times as a parent when you know you will sacrifice your own happiness and be subjected to pain for the good of your child: pregnancy; childbirth; mastering breastfeeding; controlled crying etc, but today I unwittingly subjected myself to unbearable pain and suffering – I took my son and his friend to see the new Spongebob Squarepants Movie.

Don’t get me wrong – I love kid’s movies. The best ones appeal to adults on a whole different level than kids; they are clever, funny and cute. This movie was mind-numbing nonsense that left me thinking that the writers must have been seriously tripping on drugs when they came up with the weird (but not wonderful) scenarios in this films. As if a time-travelling master dolphin that shoots lasers out of his blowhole isn’t ridiculous enough, the pun-filled script leaves you thinking that hitting your thumb repeatedly with a hammer would be preferable than having to sit through the entirety of the film. There is a scene where ‘Plankton’ is subjected to the cruel torture of listening to Spongebob laughing – even the writers acknowledge listening to Spongebob is torturous! I can only think that someone has some serious dirt on Antonio Banderas to blackmail him into agreeing to appear in this film.

I know that I sound like a wet blanket and that someone should call the fun-police to arrest me, but another mother I was talking to at the end of the movie was equally as scathing in her assessment of the movie. That is 93 minutes of our lives that we will never get back!

Even my son was saying he didn’t really even understand the movie, which is no reflection on him. Unless you’re a tripping, cartoon-loving weirdo, I don’t think you would understand the film or the reason any movie producer would fund such rot.

Please heed my warning and save yourself the pain and suffering and go to see any other movie, because I guarantee, regardless of how bad a film it may be, there is no way it could be worse than ‘Spongebob Squarepants – sponge out of water!’

What kid’s movies have you loved or loathed?

EXCUSE THE MESS

I recently visited a friend with a toddler and upon my arrival, the first words out of her mouth were, ‘Please excuse the mess. You can barely see the floor through the toys!’ Luckily I wasn’t there to see her floor – I was actually there to catch up with my friend! To be honest, when I walk into a home that has toys on the floor, a washing basket of clothes to be folded or dirty plates in the sink, I don’t frown upon the housekeeping skills of that person, I actually think, here is a home. A place where people live, where mess is made and where people are juggling responsibilities. I feel like it is a glimpse into their real life, not the shiny sanitized version we would all like to portray to the world.

I think a true sign of a good friend is someone who looks past the mess knowing that although there may be crumbs on your kitchen table, you have managed to get your kids off to school and hang out three loads of washing! A good friend doesn’t walk around with a white glove checking for dust on your windowsills, instead they know their way around your kitchen to make themselves a cup of tea while you put your baby to sleep.

Anyone who is a parent knows how much work is involved in caring for kids and apart from the few with OCD, we all know that having kids in the house means mess. It reminds me of the quote “Excuse the mess, my children are making memories!” but I truly don’t think you should have to ask people to excuse the mess. Maybe a better mantra would be “Embrace the mess, my children are making memories!”

Of course in a perfect world our house would stay clean and tidy, but realistically kids create mess and a whole lot of work for us. Once our children are grown and have finally flown the nest, we will have all the time in the world to have sparkly clean houses. For now, let’s focus on being there to support each other and give our attention to our nearest and dearest. After all if people come to visit, they are there to see you, not the floor or the kitchen bench!

(Photo courtesy of Withaya Phonsawat, freedigitalphotos.net)IMG_6633.JPG

PHOTO PRIVACY  

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Where do you draw the line between sharing images capturing innocent kids having fun and overstepping the mark and violating their privacy?

In this day and age when social media is used to update everyone on every aspect of your life, people often take the liberty of taking photos of kids and posting them on the World Wide Web, without a second thought. Unfortunately, prowling through that same media are people whose actions are not very honourable.

I recently heard about a lady who took it upon herself to go into her child’s classroom and take photos of the whole class. Without gaining any parent’s permission, this professional photographer then published the photos as a photo book and put links up to every photo on her website and social media in a blatant attempt to make money. Not only did she exploit the trust of parents by taking the photos in the first place but she did it in an obvious attempt to promote her business and profit from this exploitation. She did not password protect the photos and put the photos in the public arena with an explanation of which school the kids attended

On every level what this lady did was unethical, but more worryingly is the fact that she did not take any safeguards to protect the privacy of these children. She instead handed out enough information to make tracking down these kids an easy task! A number of parents of children in that class don’t have social media accounts, as they are weary of giving away their personal information. Such an intrusion sent shockwaves through the school community and sparked a debate over when it is ok to show photos of kids.

The general consensus seems that you should always in the first instance gain approval from parents before uploading photos of their kids and should always check your privacy settings to ensure that only the intended recipients can see the images.

My daughter just attended a birthday party where photos of the group were taken. The mother specifically emailed all the parents to gain their approval to use the photos and asked whether the lady hosting the party could use the photos to promote her business. I was happy to oblige with letting her use the photos and was grateful that she sort out approval before doing so.

This post is a timely reminder to check your privacy settings on social media and ensure that before you post an image of any child (be it at a party, school event, in the sporting arena or in a personal environment) that the child’s parents agree to these photos being used.

 

(Image courtesy of Master Isolated Images, freedigitalphotos.net)

 

 

CHOOSING YOUR KID’S FRIENDS

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What can you do if your child becomes best friends with a kid who you think is a bad influence or who you don’t think treats your child well?

I once asked this very question of a child psychologist who was giving a speech at my kid’s school. His answer was that whilst you can’t choose your children’s friends you can influence with whom they choose to play. Of course if you say to your kid, ‘I don’t want you playing with little Freddie because he is mean’, the first person who will hear this comment is probably little Freddie (word for word straight from your babe’s mouth), closely followed by his mother. You can then expect to have world war 3 on your hands!

Instead you can talk to your child in abstract terms like, ‘What do you think makes someone a good friend?’ Let your child list what his criteria is, then add a few of your own. A follow up question might be ‘Who of your friends do you think has those qualities?’ This is a great opportunity to maybe list kids that you would like your child to play with and hope that your kid will question whether little Freddie actually is a very good friend.

You may also like to suggest a play outside of school with one of the kids that you would like to encourage your child to play with. There’s nothing like a play-date to cement a friendship. 

My final piece of advice is to acknowledge positive behaviour in your own child that reflects your values and hope that it will become clear to him that being rude or naughty are not properties that make people like you, nor that you should like in another person. 

You can’t choose your child’s friends, but hopefully you will give them the tools to make good choices and surround themselves with nice kids.

 

 

(Photo courtesy of Sujin Jetkasettakorn, freedigitalphotos.net)