Weekend Alone!

BerlinBoy is back from Germany for 7 weeks holiday.  It’s been a mad few days of jetlag, heat & humidity, family  of 4 fun and everybody getting used to each other again!  Well, it has been almost 4 years!  Boys, boys, boys!  When did they all turn into men?  My constant thought, when they are together is – Something is going to get broken!!  They are all so big and my little unit is so small!  So far so good.

This weekend, they have taken themselves off to the Jungle Love  Festival, where BabyBoy and his band, In Void, will be playing.  The other 2 have gone as Roadies… They are camping – not something they are overly used to doing and storms are predicted – BUT they are not here and I have a glorious few days alone.

I am looking forward to a weekend of writing and thinking and planning.  This little blog will be going through some serious changes over the next few weeks.  A bit of a makeover for The Mandy Diaries, with the addition of its own Facebook page and email, as well as changes to the format of this page.  There will be regular posting days and maybe a weekly newsletter.

No need to worry … I will still be Me, writing about my perspective on my daily life.  I would hope that the changes will generate more conversations with you, my Readers, but if not – I will continue to write and publish my words because I think that is what I am – a Writer!

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Sneaky photo taken by my friend Marg, late one night and yes, we were at Macca’s! I had no idea these words were on the wall behind me – but so appropriate.  Thanks Marg xx

Can you detect a change in me?  Well, over the last few weeks I have been on a journey with my mental health practitioners.  And for the first time in a long time, I feel like I am winning.  More on that in another post after the relaunch in January.  I’m still travelling on that journey and I don’t want to jump the gun and go to early.  Needless to say, I feel excited and happy leading into Christmas.

This weekend, will also, see me doing some other of my favourite things.  Watching the Cricket Test between New Zealand and Australia; eating fresh Summer platters of food that I have prepared for myself, even though it is still Spring; decorating the house for Christmas – although this will be modified as I will not be home for Christmas but will travel to New Zealand to spend it with my extended family and friends; and wrapping gifts, as my Australian Christmas celebrations begin next week before I fly out in 2 weeks time.

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I hope your weekend will be a great one?

What will you be doing?

Soul Music!

I’m a feeling person.  Things move me.  I cry … a lot.  When I’m happy and when I’m sad and when I’m really angry and when I see or feel injustice. I love a good drama show on TV.   I laugh … a lot.  I like to play with words and I admire well written humour.  Sometimes, my heavy feelings get the better of me and I forget the things that make me laugh or make me happy.  Sometimes, I need to remind myself of the things that lift me up and twirl me around.  Music moves me more than anything else I know.

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We are a musical family and have been for a couple of generations.  Adrian was an incredibly talented pianist, who played all over the country in his younger days in talent shows and competitions.  My mother and her only sister, loved to sing and perform at Church concerts and youth gatherings in their younger days.  Of my generation on my mother’s side, many of my cousins sang and played guitar for church and youth nights and for our own enjoyment.  The next generation, however, have taken it to the next level and have been gigging in bands since they were at school – and still are.  They have taken their music to London and Berlin and continue to work towards fulfilling their dreams.  While some of their music is not my thing, the joy I get from seeing them develop and create is definitely my thing.

Jon Singing
BossBoy
Patdog drums
BabyBoy

Music takes me places.  It transports me to and fro through the years and the memories.  I can be 14 years old going to my very first live concert, the minute that I hear Bennie and the Jets by Elton John.  Or at the local movie theatre at the beach watching Easy Rider when I hear Born To Be Wild!  The Beatles – Hello Goodbye – quickly transports me to a bus trip home from church, where I remember singing that song loudly all the way home!  I must have been about 9 or 10 years old and I thought I was singing out of the window and no none could hear me!  Sorry to all those passengers and thanks to Mum for not stopping me!!  Anything by Nirvana and I’m immediately the mother of an angst ridden 14 year old boy, who only wore black and appeared to not come out of his bedroom for about 3 years.  Sheena Easton takes me to a before kids, holiday in the South Island in New Zealand with Adrian. I could go on and on …..

Too often, I find myself in the grip of sad and heart wrenching songs that trigger memories of my marriage and the subsequent illness and death of my husband.  But as a tribute to him, every year, the Boys and I celebrate music appreciation and a glass or two of Port in his honour.  The music on those nights isn’t sad or morose.  No!  It’s mainly Graceland by Paul Simon or Captain Jack by Billy Joel  or anything by Elton John.

I need to constantly remind myself, that music can lift my soul and should be used for good!  It can make me want to dance, as I was reminded by an old friend the other day.  It helps me to feel alive and keeps me growing.  Many times the background noise of the TV, replaces the sounds of joy and happiness music can bring.  It’s time to switch off the TV and turn up the music.

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It’s time to sing and dance!  It’s time to lift off and twirl!  It’s time to turn those corners up and smile!  It’s time to feed my soul ….. with music!

“The Plane Is Hovering!”

Last week I was so tired that I could not function!  I was unable to string two words together coherently or move without bumping things.  Thinking clearly was just not possible.  I was physically and mentally shot!

It had been a busy weekend, which included, a quick flight to Adelaide and then a hire car drive to Murray Bridge to visit my mother-in-law (MIL) who had had another fall and was in hospital.  BossBoy and BabyBoy accompanied me and I could not have survived without them.

Sleep is my number one stress release and when stress increases, so does my need for sleep!  When you are on a quick trip – jam-packed with activity, sleep is not a priority but stress is high!  It began with Brisbane being hit by some massive storms, which closed the airport for 4 hours!  Free wi-fi was found.  Junk food was eaten.  People watching took place.

You would think that when we eventually boarded the aircraft, I would feel relief?  Not so!  Flying is not my thing and walking out on the tarmac in driving wind and rain, made me pray that the Valium I had just taken would kick in quickly!  Of course, squeezing into budget airline seats and having to ask the cabin crew for a seatbelt extender did wonders for my stress levels.  I have never ever seen anyone else ask for or be given one of those things.  My stress levels continued to rise.  It was a bumpy flight with plenty of turbulence and my sons held my hands.  I couldn’t sleep and was happy to get off.

By this time it was almost midnight, we were 4 hours late, our phones had run out of battery and no one could remember the name of the rental car company!  BabyBoy began the arduous task of entering every rental car premises in the airport car park and asking if they had a booking for us!  The very last one did!!!  We checked into our hotel and then wandered out to find somewhere to eat – none of us had really eaten since breakfast the previous day.  It was after 1am before we climbed into bed.  I was exhausted before we had even seen my MIL and we still had an hour or so drive in the morning before we got to the hospital.

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A midnight Pie Floater – meat pie, mushy peas & sauce. Their father would be proud!

The next two days was a mixture of lovely family time, beautiful Autumn scenery, pub food, out of date packet food, remembering, meetings to decide important care issues, trying to do the best for MIL, trying not to step on anybody’s toes, bad beds, hospital visiting, encouraging, listening and talking, talking, talking!  We were grateful for the small band of distant relatives that live closer than us and had put their hands up to help with the care of our 96-year-old MIL and Nana.

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Nana and her Boys!

By lunchtime on Monday, we were all packed up and back in our rental car to return to Adelaide for our flight home.  We took a more scenic route back, thanks to BossBoy’s creative navigating!  Note to self: BossBoy is a useless navigator!  The Boys wanted to visit some of their father’s old haunts so a brief visit to the Sturt Football Club, the old Luther Seminary and a meal at The Welly were squeezed in before we all hit the wall of exhaustion together.  It was decided that any other planned activities would not be fulfilled.  We would head out to the airport and find somewhere to sit/lie and wait for our plane.  It was about this time that BabyBoy remembered that we still had an ancient computer in the boot of the car to dump!  I smiled to myself as I watched my sons, under the stealth of darkness, wait until there was a break in traffic, then deposit the offending computer and monitor into someones wheelie bin that had been left at the side of the road.  They were in their father’s territory …. he would have been proud!

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Luther Seminary aka Australian Lutheran College.

We returned the rental car, more easily than picking it up – we remembered the company this time.  We found our boarding gate and sat for an hour before a change of gate saw us moved then boarded.  I took my Valium, but no longer cared that I had to ask for an extension belt.  I closed my eyes but my mind would not close down.  The flight was smooth but my son held my hand for take off and landing.  I do believe that if you are flying on a budget airline and the flight is only 2 hours, you should NOT be allowed to recline your seat!  For 2 hours I could not move my legs or use my tray table.  I got fidgety and jiggly.  I tried to distract myself by looking out of the window.  It was pitch black and I made the comment to the Boys that “The plane is hovering!!”  The looks of shock that came back from the Boys, gave me the first inkling that my brain and body was no longer functioning properly.

I was quiet on the taxi and car ride home. At 1:15am, I sank into my bed but my over stimulated body and mind was not conducive to restful sleep.  I had to attend work in the morning and I knew in my gut that my job was no longer going to be available for me.  I eventually fell asleep just before the alarm went off.

Work went as I had expected.  I almost fell asleep at my computer screen.  When the news about my job was confirmed, I cried!  I felt weary beyond anything I had ever felt before.  My drive home was not a safe drive.  I couldn’t concentrate.  When at last I sank into bed, I did sleep, but it took until Friday for my body and mind to feel normal.

In the last week and a bit, I had stretched my mind and body further than I thought was possible.  I had made it through and come out the other side with no sense of despair or failure.  I enter into the next scary part of my life knowing that the two things that I thought have been my weakest – are strong enough!  I am strong enough!

Always remember ...

Loving my kids! Loving myself!

Loving my kids is something that I have always found easy to do.  Liking them …. sometimes, not always so easy!

When my boys were little, although my heart was often breaking for them, I felt  like I could usually fix things for them when they were in need.

Not in a Christopher Pyne kind of way ….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hc9NRwp6fiI

Hungry?  Easy – bread was my go to filler. Although frozen poppas and frozen tubs of yoghurt took a lot longer to eat!!  Injured? Usually a hug, a kiss and sometimes a band-aid did the trick.  Tired?  A cuddle on the bed with a book was often enough.  Lonely?  I would sit on the floor for a play.  Sickness?  I was the one they wanted  and I could comfort and reassure them and get them the medical help they needed.  Of course with 3 boys, fights were a big deal.  They weren’t so hard either because I had one that was quite happy to go to his room and be alone – so the reverse was required of him.  He had to spend time out in the kitchen or wherever, with me!  And I had one that always wanted to be where the action was – so, of course, he was sent to his room for a while!  The littlest one was usually  left to continue playing!  Being 6 years younger had to have some perks!

As the years moved on, the needs were pretty much the same, with the addition of a few new ones.  Transport, school requirements, money, sporting disappointments, broken hearts were added.  But I still felt like I could help!

Now my boys are men!  I still feel like I can help when there is a need.  If they find themselves in the middle of a problem and they share it with me, I immediately want them close to me.  I want to give them that supportive hug.  That listening ear.  That nourishing hot meal.  That few extra dollars.  Those familiar things that I did when they were young.  I want to do the thing that will take the pain away from them and build them up with love and comfort.

So the question that I am posing to myself is …… Why don’t I do this to myself when I am in need?

The things that I do for my sons, are exactly what I need when I am feeling down.  I need to do the thing that will take the pain away from me and build myself up with love and comfort.  I need to be  kind to myself.  I need to eat nourishing food.  I need rest.  I need to listen to myself.  I need to give myself a hug.  But I find myself, thinking negative thoughts and eating crap (or not eating at all) and not sleeping and berating my attempts to move forward and isolating myself from everyone!

Recognising my needs and listening to them is the only way to love myself.  That doesn’t mean that the needs of others are to be pushed aside.  Never!  But if I know how to and can recognise when to, take care of myself, I am much better equipped to serve the needs of others.

Treat yourself

The Abi Diaries (part two)

I really don’t get it!  Having only been the mother of sons, little girls obsession with changing their outfits multiple times a day is a complete mystery to me.  Now I know I am generalizing here but it’s my Blog so I am allowed!  Don’t get me wrong, I love clothes as much as the next girl but I do not remember wearing more than one outfit a day as a youngster, unless I was going out or swimming.  You also, need to know that all the boys in my life, when little, have been only too happy to dress up when the time was right.

Jon Andrew Dress up
BerlinBoy and BossBoy – early days!
Andrew dress up
BerlinBoy – legs for miles! It must be the heels because he is the shortest!
Patrick dress up
BabyBoy had expensive tastes!

My gorgeous god-daughter, Abi, is a totally different level of fashionista!  She loves clothes and at 4 years of age, has a very definite opinion of what she will and won’t wear.  Did I mention accessories?  That girl knows what she wants!  So after having spent a wonderful day with Abi, while her Mum & Dad were at work, I decided to look back over some of her best outfits and the reason she gave for the fashion story!  Some are from awhile ago but they are too good to ignore.  Some of the photos are taken by her parents and sent to my phone to enjoy.  Others I have taken when babysitting!

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The first series of photos show Abi’s frilly frou frou stage.  If there was a tutu to be found – you should definitely wear it or them!  Over your pj’s, your nappy, your mother’s boots or if the occasion was really special – over another few tutu’s!

As Abi grew – it became all about the accessories!

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Abi fashion accessory 3

They are pretty she says!  Too much?  No she says!  Abi loves to clash her colours and accessories.  Almost but not quite, matching colours and BIG flowers are the go!  Any colour big flowers because they are pretty and make you smile she says!

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One of Abi’s favourite things to do is costume dress up.  Whether its a party, a game or just to read a story – dress ups are a favourite.  Life is one great big occasion!

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Abi fashion pirate

I love this little fashionista with all my heart and if she continues to bring smiles and colour and happiness to the world with her outfits – I can cope! But I don’t think I will be following her beauty tips any time soon…….Abi cream

FurBaby Fev.

I have a FurBaby called Fev.  When we first got her, she belonged to BabyBoy but seven years on she is well and truly mine. I’ve always been a cat person and have always had one or two cats in my life but never have I had a cat like Fev!

Fev was a rescue kitten from a litter given to our Vet to dispose of and man, did we hit the jackpot!  Just as we rescued her, so to has she rescued us.  Firstly, BabyBoy during those particularly tough years after his Dad passed away and secondly, ME – every minute during and after.  She was small and cute and mildly fluffy and had the best nature.  She was different to any of the other kittens/cats we had owned in that she was social …… all of the time!  If I was there, Fev was there.  If I moved to another part of the house, Fev followed.  She wanted to be near me all the time.  She quickly became my FurBaby.  My love for her grew.

Baby Fev

Fev is a totally indoors cat  because her ‘mildly fluffy’ fur became a ‘you must be joking furball’, that would pick up every grass seed, prickle and small insect nest if I let her outside.

Furball Fev

She has the most beautiful green eyes, is really tolerant and she is gentle – except when BabyBoy comes home for a visit!  I have hardly ever (maybe 3 times) heard her hiss or spit.  She plays ball and will bring it back to me if I throw it for her.  She likes to drink from the bathroom tap, even though she has her own running filtered water fountain.  She then likes to curl up in the cool basin for a snooze.

Basin Fev

Fev doesn’t really miaow either – she talks.  We have many conversations and we completely understand each other. She replies to all my questions and mostly tells the truth.  She runs to greet me after work and is quick to inform me when I have been on my laptop for too long!  She has a fun relationship with the birds and kangaroos that visit my yard.  They chat to her through the window and she chases them from room to room.  Fev always lies on top of me, if I am watching TV and accompanies me to bed each night.  I love her!  She is my best friend and my comfort.

But there are some things I do NOT like about Fev!  I don’t like that she leaves fur … EVERYWHERE!  On the bed, the furniture, the bathroom basin, my clothes, in the drawers.  I have even found fur in my fridge and pantry!!  I don’t like that she scratches my chairs and will not use a scratch pole or even a mat.  Sometimes, when I’m, not looking, she scratches other precious things that I love.

Abi scratch

I have a FurBaby called Fev, and yes she has an unfortunate name – thank you BabyBoy for that!  But  she has helped me in ways I did not think possible.  I get unconditional love (yes this is a cat I am talking about) and the ability to cuddle something whenever I want.  My home is never empty when I come home and I always feel needed.  She gives me far more than she takes from me.

Don’t make me choose, people!  Because as my Boys already know and my Body Corp found out.  I will choose FurBaby Fev – every time!

Curtain Fev