Welcome to all of my new friends.

The past few weeks has brought a lot of new friends to the blog, so , I’ve collated some posts that my readers have loved and I hope you’ll enjoy too.

In the next couple of days, you can expect a new post from me. Thank you for your patience and your ongoing love. You guys make me happy.

Award-winning posts

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Remembering Doron

Not a day has gone by in nearly fifteen years that I haven’t thought of him. Not a day has passed without him visiting my thoughts and jolting my heart. Doron delighted in being alive and in nineteen short months he touched countless lives with his infectious joy.

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9 Things People Say to People with ADHD

Debunking ADHD Myths   Hi there! I have neglected you!   The past few weeks have been busy and overwhelming and when the overwhelm comes, I typically go hermit. I think its a fight or flight thing. It’s definitely an ADHD thing. This brain of mine, while capable of achieving incredible things, is also incapable of managing the mundane. Things like making sure there is enough toilet paper in the house and remembering to actually look at the to-do list I naively wrote on Sunday night, convinced that this time I’d actually look at it and cross things off. Read the rest of this entry

{GIVEAWAY & REVIEW} Disney On Ice: Treasure Trove

Just FYI, I was given tickets for my family and I to enjoy Disney On Ice, however, all opinions and experiences are my own and I have not been paid for this review.

Last night, I was surrounded by little Buzz Lightyear, Minnie Mouse, Little Mermaid, Princess Jasmine and Peter Pan lookalikes. My senses were overwhelmed by the aroma of popcorn and fairy floss and the flashing of twirling glowsticks.

The air was electric with excitement as the mini-princesses and superheroes entered the Perth Arena because the day had finally arrived: It was time for Disney On Ice presents Treasure Trove.

Disney On Ice Treasure Trove Read the rest of this entry

The “Perfect” Spray Tan

“Here ya go, just undress and put this on”, she nonchalantly said as she handed me a minuscule ziploc bag which contained what looked suspiciously like a tissue.

“Um, by undress, do you mean all my clothes?”, I stammered, nervously and naively hoping I was misunderstanding her words.

“Of course! But don’t worry, you will still be wearing those.”, she kindly reassured me, pointing to the little baggie I was clutching in my sweaty palm. The baggie that was so tiny that it couldn’t possibly contain anything that even loosely fit the description: clothing.

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What it Means to be Mummy

The first word I hear most days is “Mum”, followed by a tender “I love you” or “good morning” or “Do people eat breakfast in Heaven and who lays the eggs for their breakfast because everyone knows there are no chickens in Heaven?”

Before my eyes are even open, before my brain has fully adjusted to the reality of no more sleep, I am reminded that before all else, I am Mum and I have three little people depending on me to fulfil that role unquestioningly. There are days, of course, that I inwardly groan and silently beg for a break from this relentless responsibility to be their cook, cleaner, stylist, mentor, therapist, nurse, art teacher, entertainer, jailer, enforcer of unfair rules and referee in countless brawls over the middle seat in the car. When I wake up on these tired, uninspired days, I have to dig deep and remember that my children are innocent passengers in this trainwreck of my exhaustion. I have to be mindful always that even if it means regular visits to hide in the bathroom and silently cry for my lost, pre-kid independence, they need a Mum who looks at them with joy in her eyes. On those days, when I lose the battle and scream and yell because I’m not the perfect Mum that I aspire to be in the late, guilt-riddled hours before sleep, I will always take the time to apologise and explain that Mummy is tired and that just like them, I feel grumpy sometimes. I make sure they see that I am fallible and flawed and, more importantly, that I will always own my failures and apologise for hurt feelings. Read the rest of this entry

{GIVEAWAY} The Great Big Birthday Bounce

Last month, Miss M turned eleven and the party planning began in earnest. This was not an easy task because at this age, she judged every party idea as too babyish. We were completely stumped. As though by magic, that day I received an email announcing the grand opening of an exciting new entertainment complex in Perth. Problem solved! Read the rest of this entry

The Tween Parent’s Tug-o-War

Tween Parents Tug-o-war

Miss M is officially a tween. At eleven, she is beginning to show little hints of the woman she will one day be. Time has chiseled away at her face and is, startlingly quickly, revealing beautiful, angular cheekbones where chubby cheeks once were. Without me realising, she has grown in stature and is nearly as tall as me and only a shoe size away from becoming a sharing buddy. When she tries on my heels, she no longer totters around, comically playing at being a grown-up. My breath catches in my throat as I watch her instead, fitting almost convincingly into something that was once no more than a dress-up. Read the rest of this entry

Mornings With Kids Are No Fairy Tale.

Mornings With Kids Are No Fairy Tale

This morning, I woke up half an hour early, organised breakfasts, made school lunches and folded laundry. Feeling unusually ahead of my game and positive about the day ahead, I went to wake the kids. Mary Poppins-like, I woke the kids with smiles and kisses (everything short of scampering animated squirrels, I kid you not). They, in turn took a hundred years (not exaggerating, this is totally accurate) to do every. tiny. task. Read the rest of this entry

10 Ways to Empower Our Kids Against Predators

Daniel Morcombe murderer Brett Cowan

The past week, for us Australians, has been traumatic. We’ve been glued to our TVs as we’ve watched the final days of the Brett Peter Cowan trial. We’ve cried for the Morcombe family as they’ve had to face the monster who murdered their young son, Daniel, in court day after day.
This monster, Brett Cowan, showed not a shred of remorse for ripping away the life of thirteen year old Daniel Morcombe to satisfy his own sick pleasures. I won’t go into my anger at the justice system that released Brett Cowen twice after brutally raping two other little boys. One of those boys, Timothy Nicholls – only seven years old when he was abducted and raped repeatedly and so brutally that he almost died, says Brett Cowan took his life that day. For that crime, Brett Peter Cowan was sentenced to a hideously inadequate seven years in jail and was set free. I have chosen not to rail against this inept system here, however, because that’s a post that won’t achieve anything more than fuelling more anger and pain. What I will do is, in the small way I can, attempt to help other parents to arm their children against the sick predators, like Brett Peter Cowan, in our world. That way, something positive might come of the horror that Timothy Nicholls, Daniel Morcombe and countless other children have endured at the hands of these sick pedophiles. After much research, I’d like to share with you these 10 ways to empower our children:

1. Don’t force your child to hug sweet Aunt Bertha.

Why? we need to teach our children to trust their instincts – to listen to that inner voice that tells them that it doesn’t feel nice to be touched sometimes. Let them know that you back them up, even if it hurts the other person’s feelings. Chances are, Great Aunt Bertha isn’t a pedophile – but the lesson here is that they are allowed to choose who touches them and how they are touched. They need to know that they, and only they, are the boss of their bodies. They need to know, one hundred percent, that they have their parents’ backing to say “no”.

2. Teach your children to say NO.

Of course, our kids should have a healthy respect for authority, but they should also understand that that respect should never be at the expense of their own self-respect. Teach your kids to feel comfortable saying “no” if an authority figure asks them to do something that they are uncomfortable doing. Allow them the experience of listening to their instincts, acting on them and being supported. If they know they can say “no” and that their parents will support them and listen to them, they are less likely to be targeted. Pedophiles target children who fear authority and lack confidence to speak out.

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37 Lessons From the Internet

The internet is an incredible resource for learning. Also for watching wedding flash mobs and cats falling over. These 37 lessons are what I learned from the internet this week.

Oh, the confusion!

Oh, the confusion!

If you liked this, I’d really love to hear your comments, so please don’t be shy (comments make me do a happy dance).

If you liked this post, please don’t be shy (comments make me do a happy dance).

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Insensitive Things That People Say When You Have an Invisible Condition

Yesterday, I saw a woman at the grocery store. She was in a wheelchair and was struggling to manoeuvre around and between other shoppers but, with a smile on her face, she got on with her shopping. Every now and then, she would ask for assistance from a fellow shopper when something was out of reach. I observed her matter-of-fact manner and noticed that even though she was a little slower and less efficient than everyone else, she was getting it done all the same. As I watched, another woman boldly approached her and began to ask her a whole lot of questions about her wheelchair. She asked why she was in the wheelchair, for starters. She just couldn’t seem to comprehend that the wheelchair-bound woman was unable to walk. She seemed, in fact, rather irritated that this bulky wheelchair was taking up space in the aisle and interrupting the other shoppers. She then asked, bluntly, what it felt like to be unable to get up and walk. The woman in the wheelchair calmly and patiently explained that she had always been in a wheelchair and that she did the best she could to manage and that she felt she was doing just fine, thankyouverymuch. With that, the other woman sighed dramatically and said, “I could never live like that. No way could I ever be in a wheelchair…” Of course, the woman in the wheelchair was taken aback and didn’t reply, so shocked was she at this blatantly insensitive statement. Before she could catch her breath or formulate a response, the other woman went on to say, “How does your husband cope with you being in a wheelchair? It must be so hard for him to be married to you!” Okay, I lied. I’m sorry. That didn’t happen at all. There was no woman in a wheelchair. There was just me. With my invisible ADHD. The conversation was the same, though. Someone asked me to explain what ADHD feels like and after I explained my memory lapses, my time-distortion issues, my struggles with organisational anything, she replied, “Oh, I could never live like that…” and shook her head. As if my ADHD is a choice. As if I have the power to just ‘grow up get over’ all the symptoms with a little elbow grease and discipline. As though the physical make-up of my brain (the fact that my frontal lobe is smaller than a neurotypical one and is also under-stimulated) is somehow a character flaw. She then continued, “How does your husband cope with your ADHD? It must be so hard for him to be married to you!” I didn’t answer her because, frankly, I was stunned speechless. After crying onto my husband’s shoulder for the better part of an evening at the realisation that this may well be how the world at large  views me and receiving nothing but love and the assurance from him in return, I now want to say here what I wish I had the wherewithal to say that day. Let me be clear about this: I don’t choose to be disorganised, unfocused and forgetful. Yes, it’s hard to be married to me. Extremely. Know what’s harder? Being me Having ADHD means suddenly realising, with gut-wrenching panic, that I’ve missed a lunch date with a friend because four hours went by and my brain only registered a half an hour. It means that the three alarms I set to alert me that time was passing went unheard because I was hyper focused on the task at hand. It means being frustrated that yet another organisational system failed to work. It means being asked if I remembered to fetch the dry cleaning/pay the bills/go to an appointment and my stomach clenching because not only did I forget but I have no recollection at all of the entire conversation where I was asked because it fell into a memory hole. It means often feeling like I am losing my mind. It means setting alarms, making notes and writing lists and still forgetting to do something I promised. It means sinking into a Depression and wanting to never speak to anyone again for fear that I will disappoint them. It means waking up with fear burning in the pit of my stomach that I might let someone down today. It means profound guilt as I realise, at the end of the day, that despite my massive efforts, I still did let someone down. It means constantly losing track of conversations mid-way and filling in blanks. It means lying awake all night with insomnia borne from worried thoughts that swirl aimlessly around my head, demanding attention. It means constant self-flagellation. It means developing a thick skin because people regularly lose patience with me and cross me off their ‘friends’ list. Do you know what else it means? It also means I’ve had a lifetime of practice in seeing the silver lining around dark clouds. It means I have outstanding problem-solving skills and the ability to think on my feet. It means I’ll find any reason to smile and I’ll grab it energetically with both hands.It means that if you’re my friend and you accept me, warts and all, I’ll take a bullet for you. Without so much as a passing thought. It means that, as horrendous as I am at spreadsheets and calendars, I’m fabulous at painting and writing and free-thinking.It means I’m spontaneous. It means I’m generous.It means I am willing to fall down a hundred times and still get up and try again.It means I have an infinite capacity for love and forgiveness. Because I know only too well what it’s like to be shut out, judged and found lacking. I would like nothing more than to have the magical powers to ‘snap out of it’. My life would be exponentially easier, I can assure you. That’s not going to happen. My ADHD may not be physically visible to you, but it is a physical difference in my brain. It is not going to go away. No matter how irritated you are as you tell me to try harder, to write a list or to set an alarm. It isn’t a choice. If you wouldn’t tell someone in a wheelchair to just try harder to walk, to use discipline and willpower because her ‘paralysis’ is not really a ‘thing’, why do you think it’s it okay to say these things to me? My friend, it’s not okay. Invisible illnesses are far from invisible from those who live with them. Just because you can’t see ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Myofascial Pain or Colitis (just to name a few invisible conditions) doesn’t mean they are imagined. Please show compassion, love and forgiveness for the inconvenience they cause you. I can assure you, the carriers of these conditions are not having a party at your expense. I know you remember everything with ease and are incredibly organised. For this, I applaud you loudly. Really. I can’t even fathom those superhuman skills. I, on the other hand don’t remember what’s in my diary from day to day, what’s on my to-do list or where my car keys are hiding (I swear, I put them over there!) and I know this is frustrating for you. I’m sorry for that, truly I am. On the bright side, I also never remember to put my bitch pants on.

ADHD Depression Fibromyalgia Colitis

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The Extraordinary Man

        The Extraordinary Man Read the rest of this entry

The Last Snowman {Book Review}

BUY THIS BOOK.

Really. I mean it. Read the rest of this entry

The Masturbation Conversation

Masturbation.

This word strikes fear in the heart of most parents. It’s the kryptonite of the parenting fraternity. When most parents look at their children, the last thing they want to think about is that they – gulp – masturbate.

Because there seem to be such taboos connected with this topic, many parents are unaware that it is , in fact, totally normal for children to be touching themselves regularly at the age of three and then again, from twelve well into adulthood.

It’s bizarre, really, this fear of the masturbation conversation. I’ve seen friends freely post on Facebook about how little Sammy ate a cockroach today! Marcus fingerprinted with his own poo! Jenny had an epic diaper explosion (with attached photographs for evidence)! But when they discovered little Toby masturbating: silence. This little milestone is shoved under the rug faster than the most shameful family skeleton.

I was fortunate to have been raised by two incredibly open and honest parents and had benefitted from the freedom to be able to discuss anything with them, This led to some conversations that my parents probably didn’t enjoy much (sorry, Mom and Dad!) but I grew up unafraid of my body and free of misguided hang-ups. I decided, when I started this parenting journey, that I was going to be the type of parent that answers questions frankly and openly and without reservation. Yes sirree, I was evolved.

Masturbation conversation

So, when the day came that I discovered my three year old daughter with her hands down her pants, I took a deep breath, plastered a non-freaked out smile on my face and calmly told her that touching herself was a lovely and normal thing to do but that it was something she should do alone in her bedroom. “Okay”, she happily replied and skipped off to her room. Patting myself on the back for being so calm under duress (because the inner voice was shrieking “omigodomigodomigod!”), I  went about making dinner and praying that that was that.

The Masturbatory Gods had a good laugh at that one. As if. The next day, I unsuspectingly walked into the living room with a basket of laundry and BAM, there she was, hands in pants. Deep breath. Calm, cheery (slightly squeaky) voice. “Darling, remember how we talked yesterday about how if you want to touch your vagina, you need to do it alone in your bedroom?” Sweet, innocent eyes looked back at me. “Yes, mama, okay.”, and off she went.

Phew. Twice wasn’t so bad. Now, she got it. Excellent.

Until the next day. Three times. And the day after that.

By this time, I was getting so good at this conversation that I didn’t even bat an eyelid anymore. I knew this was a totally normal phase and I was proud that I was handling it with such grace and maturity. Mary Poppins herself couldn’t have handled it better. The new mantra in our home, repeated in sing-song voices multiple times per week, was “If you want to touch your vagina, you have to do it all alone in your bedroom.”

One morning, we were all eating breakfast before day care when down the pants went her little hands.

As I poured my cereal into a bowl, I said, “Honey, you can’t touch your vagina at the dinner table.” 

Chewing her Weetbix, she replied,“But why, Mama?”

Good question. Now how to put it into a social context that a toddler could understand?

I answered, “Okay, Sweetie, let me ask you this: have you ever seen ME touch MY vagina at the breakfast table?” 

(Brilliant, Michelle! If she understands this, then she’ll get why it’s an inappropriate social behaviour!)

Innocent eyes stared back, as she thought, then she grinned as the penny dropped,“No, I never seed you do that, Mama!”

I grinned triumphantly,“You see, touching vaginas is not something we do at the breakfast table.”

She smiled back and replied, “If we want to touch, then we have to go to our bedrooms!” 

Phew. FINALLY. She got it.

Off we went to day care. My little girl skipped in happily and put her bag in her locker.

Then she ran to her teacher and excitedly declared…

Wait for it…

You’re going to love this…

“Natalie! Guess what! My Mummy touches her vagina all alone in her bedroom!”

My mouth opened and closed. I blinked. I died a hundred deaths. I blinked and, fish-like, opened and closed my mouth again. I blushed furiously as garbled words of explanation fell out of my mouth in a tangled heap on the floor. I tried to explain that I REALLY wasn’t touching my vagina in my bedroom and my little princess hadn’t seen anything and ohmigosh am I really saying this out loud at daycare? I died again.

No amount of explaining was going to make this sound better.

The teacher laughed as she attempted to help me dislodge my foot from my mouth and she very sweetly reassured me that I wasn’t the first parent who had had this conversation with her, nor would I be the last.

When I left the daycare that day, I left knowing two things: 1) I had provided some outstanding staff room conversation and 2) This motherhood gig had finally stripped the very last bit of dignity I had left.

Motherhood: leave your dignity at the door

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Exciting News: Mama’s Getting Published.

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What I’ve Learned… (A Roundup)

       

Today I want to share with you my last two weeks’ weekly columns at BonBon Break Magazine. In a series called, “What I’ve Learned…”, I explore the little lessons motherhood throws at me each week. I hope you’ll enjoy them!

Original Badge aTwo weeks ago, I wrote about how we speak to our kids using accidental metaphors and pretty insane descriptors… and how they take us literally:

What-Ive-learned-She-Takes-Me-Literally Read the rest of this entry

The Day I Became a Mother

        The Day I Became a Mother Read the rest of this entry

What I Said When My Son Asked Me To Explain The Meaning Of Life.

       

Today’s post is the second in my weekly column at BonBon Break Magazine called, “What I’ve Learned…”

What I Said When My Son Asked Me To Explain The Meaning Of Life

After a Boys Only shopping trip, Little Man and Darren arrived home, clearly up to something. Little Man disappeared into the study and came out a few minutes later holding a gift-wrapped present in his hand. “Mum, you do so much for us and nobody ever even pays you! (He was outraged.) I asked Daddy if we could buy you this present because I know it’s one of your favourite things.” He held out his hand and presented me with my gift. I unwrapped it as he bounced beside me, gleefully. Inside was a dragon fruit  – a fruit we first tasted on a holiday in Singapore and that I fell in love with. From time to time, we see dragon fruit at our local shops but I never buy it because it’s expensive and frivolous. He had seen it and decided that I deserved something expensive and frivolous. He saw me as someone who deserves recognition and a little spoiling. The enormity of this, coming from my eight year old son, totally floored me. He demanded that I cut it open right then and there and eat it. I savoured every mouthful, we enthusiastically discussed the cool colours and textures and I thoroughly enjoyed the delicious experience of sharing this treat with the kids. Later that afternoon, Little Man very solemnly and seriously requested that Darren and I go to his bedroom together at bedtime because “there are some important things we need to discuss”. I wondered what on earth was so serious in his life that it would warrant a meeting, so I nervously asked. He replied, “I want to know what life is all about… you know. Why are we alive?”

To continue reading this post, visit BonBon Break by clicking the icon below:

The Naughty Spot @ BonBon Break

 If you liked this, please click the thumbs-up button at the bottom of this post. I’d really love to hear your comments, so please don’t be shy (comments make me do a happy dance).
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The Naughty Spot

       

Today’s post is the first in a weekly column I’ll be writing at BonBon Break Magazine called, “What I’ve Learned…” I hope you’ll enjoy this hilarious story featuring Little Man, the Terrible Threes and the infamous Naughty Spot. You will laugh and hopefully learn from mine and Darren’s misfortunes…

To read this post, visit BonBon Break by clicking the icon below:

The Naughty Spot @ BonBon Break

If you liked this, please click the thumbs-up button at the bottom of this post. I’d really love to hear your comments, so please don’t be shy (comments make me do a happy dance).
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Facebook recently announced it’s going to make fan pages
 (including this blog) PAY if we want our fans to read what we post.
 That’s not something bloggers like me can do.
 So if you want to know when I post, please subscribe to my blog, below.
Thanks and I hope you’ll join me!
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