Words are the new sticks and stones.

Everyone’s heard that saying:

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

I’m sure the expression was created with the best of intentions many years ago, with the message that it’s important to be resilient and have a tougher skin when people say mean things (which is fair enough on some levels and that’s for a whole other blog post), but in all reality, words are so important and shouldn’t be given less significance than physical hurts. It is our responsibility to use our words wisely. I know that as the Little Mister grows up, that is one very important thing (of many) that I want him to know.

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While we’re always drilling home the important idea that we must be strong and choose the way we react to a challenging situation or person, we need to remember that we also need to be considerate of what words we put out into the world for others to react to. Should we be hurting them in the first place? Of course not. Will everyone in the world be nice to us and use kind words? Of course not. But should we try to do/be better than that? F*ck yeah.

Even though, we are supposed to all be ‘tough’ and ‘strong’, some of the worst hurts we look back on in our lives can be very emotional or involve something horrible someone has said that has made you feel a certain way. While in my mind, physical violence is abhorrent and should never ever be tolerated, we need to also remember to never use our words violently – even in the heat of the moment.

Words can constitute emotional violence and abuse. Yes. It’s a thing. A very real, awful, damaging thing. People don’t realise it, but physical violence is actually a tool that abusers use to reinforce their verbal and psychological bullying. It can make or break a person’s self esteem, whether it is a child or a partner. You can only put a person down or use controlling language and threats for so long before they start to believe what you are saying, too afraid to escape a situation. According to the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics), one in four women report to having experienced emotional abuse, and one in seven men. We need to teach our children not only to not accept this behaviour from others, but also to never be the perpetrators. It starts now. While they’re young. We need to teach them that words matter.

“Whatever. It’s just words. It’s not like I hit anyone…” should never be uttered as an excuse. Ever.

Personally, my worst memories involve the words that people have used. They are the hardest to shake. Sometimes people don’t mean to use their words hurtfully, but can be careless. Once something is said, it cannot be completely unsaid. We need to think before we speak (or type). Especially in this modern age of social media and internet anonymity. Of trolling and cyber bullying.

Think words aren’t that powerful? That words should just be ignored? That people should just ‘get over it’? Maybe consider these things:

Words can make or break a politician’s career. How many times have we judged them on what they’ve said and whether they’ve meant it or not? How many times have we seen a pollie crash and burn because they’ve said something completely intolerable or ridiculous (I can think of several very recent examples)? Or remembered the politicians who said such powerful things that they are forever immortalised by their inspiring speeches?

Without words, blogs (and bloggers like myself) would not exist (nor would lively debates in the comments sections). Books wouldn’t be so powerful. When’s the last time you read a book and thought, ‘Wow. That was so amazing that I couldn’t put it down. That writer really brought the story to life. I shall never read another book again because no book could ever be as good as the book I just read!’
Unless it was a picture book…I’m pretty sure the words mattered the most. With the exception of 50 Shades of Grey of course – I’ve heard it’s terribly written, but somehow it’s sold about a bajillion copies. Still, it consists of words. Words that make people feel things *shudders*.

Same goes for the scripts of TV shows or movies. We fall in love with, or loathe, characters because of the words they use. The way they speak. The stories they tell. We quote them and they become iconic. Sure, there are a lot of things we can like about movies without even hearing the dialogue (hello Channing Tatum!), but it’s the things characters say that tell us the most about them (um…every word ever in The Notebook)!

Without words, we wouldn’t be sucked into clicking everything on the internet ever. Have you ever heard of click bait? Those few words designed to lure you into clicking a link to a blog about something that’s ‘sure to go viral’? You know the type. If it wasn’t for those ‘You’ll never believe what happened next…” thingies, you wouldn’t waste hours of your life in a rabbit hole of crazy internet stories that may or may not be true.

*ahem* not talking about myself here of course *cough cough*

Words are how we sell something. Sure, people would argue that sex sells, but work with me here. If you walk into a store, who is going to convince you to buy that thing? The person who mumbles, accidentally offends you, doesn’t know what they’re talking about and sounds like they’re lying? Or the person who is confident, well spoken, whose words seem honest and genuine? Communication skills are important.

If we’re worried about a loved one, perhaps they’ve gained a little weight or we’re worried about some of their habits, do our words matter then? Um, hell yes. What do you think makes things better?

“Honey, you’re so fat now. Go to the gym. You’re hurting my eyes.”

or…”Honey, I’ve noticed you are not feeling like yourself lately and you’ve lost a bit of confidence because you seem self conscious about your weight. Is there anything I can do to help? Wanna work out together?”

I know what I’d rather hear!! Even for selfish reasons, we need to consider what our words can do. If the result we want is for someone to do something for us, will insults and put downs really work or will kindness and sensitivity get us the results? The way we speak to someone we care about truly matters. It can definitely make or break a relationship. Tact can go a long way.

Why do people go to therapy? Because talking is important.

I can only imagine how many family feuds began because somebody said something that hurt somebody else. Hello, Dr Phil would be out of business if that wasn’t the case!

If words were not a thing, we wouldn’t be able to sue each other for saying nasty, untrue things about each other in the public eye. If words are not that important, we wouldn’t be outraged when somebody writes offensive things on picket signs at funerals or abortion clinics.

We can’t just stand there, quoting our ‘sticks and stones’ crap while living a life that says we do actually really really care what people say. It would be hypocritical. Language and words exist for a reason.

We care if someone is telling us the truth or lying. We care about those text messages that come without emoji to tell us whether it’s a nice one or a mean one (and we won’t admit that we sometimes lose sleep over it). We care about the passive aggressive tactics someone uses to make us feel bad about ourselves (have you ever seen the mother in law on Everybody Loves Raymond?). Entire social movements and campaigns have been created, based on some careless words somebody has said somewhere in the world. For better or worse.

I want my Little Mister to know that words matter. That he can be strong when somebody uses them badly, but that he shouldn’t tolerate it either. I want him to know that if he speaks ill of somebody it will come back to bite him. I want him to know that he can enrich his relationships by using his words lovingly. That if he speaks out of line, he should be quick to mend it with an apology and a heartfelt, “I’m sorry, what I meant to say was…”

That what he writes on the internet can stay there forever.

I want him to be clever. Not to resort to physical blows over some horrible words that have been thrown around. It’s not enough to tell boys and young men to just punch someone to fix a problem. Even if the other person is in the wrong.

Words are used to convey our emotions. To clarify something. To present ourselves in resumes and job interviews. To tell people who we are. To show we care.

I want to use my words to encourage, inspire and uplift my child. I don’t ever want to squash his spirit or hurt his confidence. My words will matter too. There is a best way to use your voice or to say anything important that you feel (even if it’s a touchy subject or it’s not what someone wants to hear). I hope I can lead by example and that person by person, we might make a difference in this world where people seem to have forgotten that words have so much power.

Let’s think before we add more meaningless noise to the world (and even the internet)! Who’s in? x

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Stuff to love this spring.

I don’t know about where you are in the world, but over here I have been thoroughly enjoying amazing bursts of winter sunshine. Gosh, I love that Vitamin D. I actually wake up giddy when I see the sun out. I don’t know if this is all one big tease before the rains come back or if it’s truly the beginning of an early spring, but it is beautiful. It has got me so excited and inspired. I don’t want to see grey and black anymore!

Here are some of the things I am excited about for this spring/summer:

Neon coloured nails:

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I used to think that neon was kind of tacky, but when applied on well shaped nails in block colours? Divine! I can have a bit of youth on my fingernails without looking ridiculous (can anyone say mutton dressed as lamb?) and I can’t wait to buy ALL THE COLOURS.

Bright lips:

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I always love a good red lip, but I’m really into the idea of trying some pink and orange hues. A bold lip is really in right now and I love that everyone is getting adventurous. While the models pictured above are blonde and well…modelly and I am not, I would love to find the right  shades of pink and orange for my warm skin tone. I love the way a bright lip always makes me feel confident and polished. Like I’ve finished my look. It dresses you up instantly. Also, lipstick doesn’t care how big you are (and let’s face it I am carrying a few extra kilos – oops). It will always fit and make you feel great!

Gorgeous sandals/flats:

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Galibelle

I am in love with the Galibelle brand right now and I just ordered the sandals above! The cool thing? Those straps with the beautiful butterfly like design are all detachable and swappable! I am so stoked because I am going to be wearing all three colours (plus a black one) this coming summer! I love that I can swap the straps to match my outfits. Also? The straps come in small, medium and large which is amazing news for my broad feet (I’m a medium FYI). Some dear friends have brought the brand (which is Brazilian) to Australia and you can find out more on their Facebook page. These are seriously heaven sent because I can never find summer sandals that are both attractive and fit my short, broad feet (because of the designs I imagine they would be just as heavenly for a slim footed person too – magic). I am not being paid or sponsored in any way to promote this (and have not been approached), but I genuinely am in love. Usually I hate when friends try to sell me stuff but this is not one of those times. You do not know how long I have been wearing ugly sandals because that was all I could get. We’re talking YEARS. YEARS! It shouldn’t be that hard, shoe makers. It really shouldn’t. I am beyond excited.

Not wearing stockings/tights/sleeves/jackets if I don’t want to: 

Seriously. I want to go out and not feel like a freak because my legs are bare (in clothing of an appropriate and tasteful length of course haha) or I don’t have a jacket on. If there’s anything that annoys me, it’s winter clothing. I’m not a winter person. I do not do winter clothing. I feel frumpy in too many layers (I think my height and my current weight do not help my cause). I feel like jackets/blazers etc never fit me quite right (I have narrow shoulders but I’m bigger everywhere else and sleeves are always too voluminous or long). I hate trousers, because of muffin top (and yes I have tried every kind of style and taken every piece of anti-muffin top advice and it still doesn’t seem right – except for ONE pair of pants from Target that I daren’t ever wreck). I wreck stockings and tights constantly, despite having worn them successfully all throughout high school. Oh, and most of my shoes are peep toes and while I know that they sell tights with no toes just for that reason, I am never convinced I can pull them off.

I also loathe the passive aggressive comment, “Aren’t you cold in that outfit?”

I’m always, “What? What are you saying? Are you saying I’m slutty because I’m not cold? Are you saying I’ve made a very bad decision?”

*head explodes thus keeping me warm*

So I do look forward to leaving home in nothing but the one layer of clothing. Legs out, just doing the whole walking around thing.

Play time:

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I just love the fun that can be had in the sunshine. I look forward to beach time, playground adventures around the neighbourhood, long family walks, and checking out the local markets on the foreshore on a Sunday. Sitting out in the backyard having a quiet beer/cider, listening to music and watching the Little Mister play. I can’t wait until it becomes more of a regular thing :)

What are you looking forward to this spring? x

Three in three months.

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filling his pockets with shells

Something has happened in the last week or two. Suddenly I realise that my (mostly) terrific two year old is almost three. In three months he will be three years old. That is just positively ancient and very very grown up. I don’t know if I’m ready! I’ve been watching as the baby section of each store I visit becomes a more distant experience (apart from the times I buy gifts for the massive baby boom my friends are having). The toddler section seems to blur into the ‘big boy’ stuff. The Little Mister is getting a big boy room soon (it’s half done). With full sized furniture. No cot/toddler bed. No change table. No port-a-cot shoved in the cupboard. NO NURSERY.

It feels like overnight he has become this new little person. He’s still got the same gorgeous soul he’s had since he was born, but he won’t let me do anything. Won’t let me put him in the car seat. Won’t let me lift him into, or out of, the car. Won’t sit in a stroller (he’s getting so big for it that he can ‘brake’ it by planting his feet firmly into the ground). Won’t hold my hand when we’re out (or even let me touch him or imply in the slightest that I am somehow assisting him in any way). Which makes for great car park arguments. Safety is not a toddler’s priority.

He wants me to read him his bedtime stories over and over for infinity so he won’t have to go to sleep (luckily he does most nights). He tells me when I’m wrong (even if I’m right).

Getting him ready to leave home is quite time consuming. It involves a lot of chasing, firm words (both of ours), grovelling on the ground (both of us), trickery (both of ours) and patience. Shoes and socks? That takes a while. Typically it goes like this:

Me: Time to put on our shoes and socks! Can you sit down so I can help you, please? 

He gets distracted by something. Runs away all cheeky like. Sometimes grovels on the floor underneath the chair in his room. Sits on the chair…facing the wrong way. I attempt to put one of his socks on backwards. He then gets off the chair, grovels around a bit, gets distracted. Repeat for the second sock. He runs off before I can put his first shoe on. Comes back because he realises he is “needing shoes” (he knows shoes mean he gets to go out and do fun stuff). Insists on putting on the shoe by himself. Bats my hand away. 

“Little Mister do it!”

Decides that putting his own shoe on is too hard. Asks me to do it. So I do. I deftly apply the second shoe while he’s already making a move for it. If I’m lucky. 

So if that’s just shoes? Imagine everything else!

The Little Mister refuses to leave home without his car keys. A big, colourful toy set of keys designed for babies (he doesn’t have to know that). He wants to be like me, because I always grab my keys on the way out of the house. Cue meltdown if he’s misplaced them and we are running out of time to be somewhere! When we get home he insists on taking off his shoes and lining them up on the garage step next to Mr Unprepared’s old work boots. He’ll scrunch up his socks and shove one in each shoe. Just like Daddy.

The Little Mister’s imagination has just suddenly become so huuuuuuge. He sees things that the boring adult cannot see. The bubbles in his bath become Peter Rabbit’s house. Dinosaurs. Cafés with coffee served outside on little tables. Couches. Mummy and Daddy’s house. Trees. Train tunnels. Cars. Boxes and washing baskets become cars for teddy bears and trains. I am always calling teddy bear on his toy phone to come and assist because a train carriage has tipped over. The Little Mister will pick up his Mickey Mouse lunchbox (given to him by flight attendants recently on a flight home from Singapore) and jump into his bubble car to go to ‘work’ just like Daddy.

Some mornings, I’ll have had requests to go to five different places (library, playground, Nana and Poppy’s house, the shops, to see his friends) before we (I) can even wake up properly.

Last night he ran around the house wearing an old lady wig (complete with bun) that he found in my wardrobe, lashings of hot pink lipstick (his insistence – he doesn’t see gender – just bright colours and stuff that one of his favourite big people – yours truly – does), a coral coloured handbag draped over his shoulders, his dad’s old sunnies on (upside down of course) and no pants (par for the course). I think a dress up box will be in order soon. Oh, the pictures I could get for his 21st birthday! The joy!

When we go to playgrounds or peoples’ places, if there is a rideable car, tractor or bike, he is going to hog it and defend it to the death (without adult intervention). He has been learning about sharing, but still doesn’t realise it applies to him. He just thinks everyone else should share. We’re working on it! He’s so sweet, in all other areas of playground matters, though. He says sorry and thank you and please (most of the time). It kind of balances out a lot of the ‘no’s or the NOOOOOOOs or the nopes or the nahs that I get served up daily, anyhow.

He is still a chatterbox (always has been), but now the words he uses are getting clearer and occasionally he’ll come out with some hilarious things. He’s learning how to play games. Hide and seek is the latest.

Hide and seek with the Little Mister:
I have to close my eyes and start counting. He goes and hides in the kitchen (the same place he ‘hides’ every single time). Then he runs out very loudly and conspicuously to find me with an excited grin on his face before I even get to the count of five.
I guess he likes doing both the hiding and the seeking all at once. Funny little man. – Awesomely Unprepared Facebook page.

This latest development spurt has been an adjustment for me too! Each time the Little Mister makes a leap, I am forced to catch up. Fast. From my Facebook page last week:

When the Little Mister has a developmental spurt he is usually a bit more of a handful for a little while until he settles into it and let’s just say that has been the issue most of the week! So I reach Friday night and I am all exhausted but excited to have a nice big sleep and wake up a bit more refreshed. So what do I dream about? I dream that I’m toddler wrangling…how (un)lucky!

I’m getting there. While the Little Mister’s crusade for independence (regardless of whether his current skill set can allow it) is certainly a challenge, even for a saint like me (HA HA HA HA HA), he more than makes up for it with his humour, affection and quirky ways. I love that he has so many awesome ‘firsts’ to experience no matter how grown up he seems.

Goodness knows what is in store when he turns 3 for real.

So, if you’ve had a three year old at any point, what can I expect?

Tuesday thoughts.

I’ve decided I need a hit of inspiration to keep me going this week. Here are the things I am going to focus on…

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Sometimes in life we are forced to wait for the things we’d like and just like anything else in life we have a choice to handle it with positivity and grace or we can just be miserable about it and throw our hands up in the air and be shitty about it (making those around us miserable too)! It is what it is, so we might as well find a way to enjoy life in the meantime, see the bright side or even just learn something from it. We are only wasting our own lives if we choose to spend the time waiting being negative, angry or increasingly agitated. If you think about it, we spend a lot of time waiting in lines, waiting on public transport, waiting in peak hour traffic, waiting for someone to call back, waiting for that next great purchase, waiting on someone else, waiting, waiting, waiting! It’s a part of life, because the world doesn’t revolve around me, and I choose to spend it being happy (or at least not an a**hole).

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There’s a saying that ‘there’s more than one way to skin a cat’ and while that’s a horrendous saying (am I right?), it basically means that there is always more than one way to do something or to solve a problem. Our way is not the only way and we needn’t despair if something we try doesn’t work out right away. Perhaps someone else might have a great solution we’ve never thought of before. Sometimes being open minded and having a little bit of respect, tact and sensitivity with others can go a long way in achieving what we want to achieve. You never know just how refreshing another person’s approach might be. It’s good to remember where another person is coming from in a situation. It can prove very helpful when dealing with others. Don’t be too quick to write off somebody else’s perspective. You never know what they might be able to bring to the table.

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It’s so important to look for the good in the people we care about. It can be easy to get bogged down in our own concerns and feelings, but sometimes it can really make another person’s day if we pay them a compliment and really notice and appreciate their strengths. It can really enrich any kind of relationship.

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Sometimes we focus so much on the superficial that we forget about what’s really important. We need to stop comparing ourselves to others who appear to have it all and start appreciating what we have. It’s not about always thinking the grass is greener on the other side. Maybe the grass on the other side has just been spray painted green – we’ll never be able to get close enough to see the truth, because it’s not our grass and it’s aaaalll the way over there. That’s someone else’s grass, man. Maybe it’s time to make your own grass as green as you can. For real. Water that shit and make it grow into something you can appreciate for yourself, not just for how it looks to everyone else. All that stuff about not comparing your life to someone’s highlight reel yada yada.

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To me, a person isn’t just who they think they are. Who I am is what I do and what I say to people. My actions. Just because I appreciate someone or love someone inside my head, does not mean I am showing it to them or making them feel appreciated or loved. Over time, it’s those actions that really prove who the real person is. Gotta make those things work together so they translate to those around me.It’s so important to be as authentic as we can be. To say what we mean and SHOW how we feel. To use our words wisely and sincerely.

Hope you have a great week, full of positive inspiration xx

All images sourced from Pinterest. I have posted them (with links to pins) in good faith that they have not been doctored or stolen from others x 

Why I Write Blog-hop (better late than never)!

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About a month ago, I was approached by Seamus of Dadinating the Country Side to take part in a blog-hop with the theme of ‘Why I Write’. He was so kind and patient as we emailed back and forth, with me wondering if I’d already exhausted that topic in a post I’d written a little while back…on the topic of Why I Write! He reassured me that it was a little different and with that, my arm was twisted (wasn’t going to take much convincing to be honest).

I love reading his blog because it is filled with honesty and humour, it gives a dad’s (and a good one at that) perspective on life with kids and it is pretty cool how he’s made a tree change with his family and he gets to do weird and wonderful stuff like making salami and growing an orchard!

I was so flattered to read Seamus’ glowing review of my own blog and finally after a month of shamelessly reliving my holiday in Korea and Japan through blogging (I really need to let it go haha), I am ready to do my part and complete my contribution to the blog-hop! To be honest, I don’t even know if anyone cares about this anymore and I fear that most of my favourite bloggers have already participated, but I shall do my best! By the way, I would have totally nominated Seamus first if I’d had the chance!

Here we go!

What am I working on?

Right now I’ve just finished documenting my huge family journey overseas to Singapore, Korea and Japan. Now, I’m just trying to get back to real life and finding inspiration in the ‘every day’. I am trying to up my game a little bit and blog more often than my previous once-a-week on average – writing is just a great ritual each day (when I can fit it in).

How does my writing differ from those in my genre?

I suppose my genre is mostly ‘parenting’, but I think my blog encompasses all parts of my life. I don’t know that I’m anything really revolutionary or completely refreshingly unique, but I suppose I am me and no-one else is me or has my exact life or writing style. I talk about being adopted and what it means for me as a grown person and now a parent. I write about life with my toddler the Little Mister. I share how we bumble through life and I try to be really honest about it – for better or…not so better. I don’t believe in stupid ‘mummy wars’ – there’s enough of that out there.

Why do I write?

I write because writing is such a massive part of who I am, that if I couldn’t I would be a certifiable mess (and I’m not even joking). I love sorting my thoughts out by writing. I express myself the best when it’s in written form. I might not be amazing at drawing, painting, or using my hands to create things, but writing? Writing is my way of being creative. It’s an amazing outlet for me, especially in my role as a SAHM or as a mum in general, and I love blogging because I get to not only share my writing with others (and have an excuse to do it regularly) but I get to be a part of a really cool blogging community!

See more of why I write here.

How does my process work?

I don’t know that I have a set process. I’m always looking for inspiration. Sometimes something funny will happen that I want to record, or there will be some kind of event in my life that I want to talk about. The Little Mister might go through a milestone and I might want to share that. I might just have a thought on a certain ‘hot’ topic that I need to vent about. I sometimes write a note on my phone or simply make a mental note. If I don’t have time to blog right then or the mood hasn’t really taken me, I will open a new post and draft a couple of words so I remember to come back to it.

It might take me days to finish one post, because I’m busy catering to the needs of the Little Mister and trying to keep things afloat on the home front, but that’s OK with me! It can sometimes improve the quality of my bloggings because I can look at a draft with fresh eyes the next day.

I just write to my heart’s content! I spend a while proof reading and trying to make sure it’s not too hard to read. Sometimes I’ll edit it a few times before clicking ‘publish’ because I can be a perfectionist. Other times, I will say, “NOW OR NEVER” and click it with my eyes closed because if I don’t I might chicken out!

Who do I want you to meet?

Here are the three bloggers I want to introduce you to. There is no pressure for you to participate in the blog-hop if you do not wish to (or already have), but I just wanted to pass on the love. Let me know if you do, so I can promote the crap out of it :)

Sweet Mama M

This lovely woman is someone I’d definitely consider a friend, even though we’ve never met! She is definitely as sweet as her blog name suggests. Her blog is fantastic as it chronicles her life as a wife and new mama to the gorgeous baby CJ. She writes really useful reviews of great local NZ parenting products and places to shop/eat (and how child/baby friendly they are) too! If only someone would do that for where I live (I’m too lazy for now haha). She sadly lost her mother to cancer two years ago and the courage she shows in writing about her journey through the grief is inspiring. I have no doubt it will help others out there who have been through something similar.

Bec from Seeing the Lighter Side of Parenting 

Bec has been a great inspiration. While she had me at her blog title (who doesn’t want to see the lighter side of parenting in this crazy world?), I have loved watching her blog grow. I love her humour, her honesty and her blogging community spirit (I am so honoured that she takes the time to read my blog too). I was so excited and cheering her on when she popped up as a guest blogger on Woogsworld and iVillage Australia recently. She’s definitely one to watch!

I know she has already participated in the blog-hop but I really wanted to mention her x

Lisa from Two Point Five Kids 

I know it’s a bit of a theme with me but I really really love blogs that include both honesty and humour. Lisa’s blog has both. I love reading about her life as a police wife and mum. She really doesn’t hold back much and I love it. She’s the blogger I wish I was brave enough to be! She has even been known to make me laugh, get misty eyed and say, “OH NO SHE DIDN’T!” (in a good way) all in one sitting! I love her sense of integrity as a blogger too.

A special mention also goes to Bruce of Big Family, little income  who wanted to nominate me, but I was too busy ignoring his email (accidentally of course) while I was travelling – guess what…his blog contains honesty and humour just like all the others I have nominated – what do you know??

We broke all the rules, but that’s OK.

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Before we headed away on our big holiday, things were going quite well in the toddler stakes. The Little Mister hadn’t needed a dummy (when not sleeping) in a really long time and he was toilet training like a little champion! He’d even recovered from his night time anxiety and was sleeping again after a rough few weeks (his last molar not doing us any favours with teething). Things were looking optimistic!

We’ll just give him his dummy and his giraffe blankie (“Giraffey”) when we’re in transit (on trains or planes) in the hopes he’ll nap and we’ll figure out a way to get hold of a cheap potty training aide of some sort (like a toilet seat or a portable potty) to take around the place with us for the hotels. Easy, I thought. 

YEAH RIGHT.

One thing about life is that you can never fully predict how things are going to be when you jump into the unknown. Especially when a toddler is involved!

Of course we got overseas and everything went right out the window! The Little Mister wanted his dummy EVERY minute of the day and everyone knows that Giraffey comes too! It was hard to accept because it felt like a massive backwards step for him. He was dribbling everywhere (despite not teething anymore), you couldn’t understand any of what he was saying on account of the dummy, and he was chewing on it when he was anxious, which seemed dangerous when he broke them. If I’m honest, the ‘from back home’ me was also expecting to be judged for it like I am at the bloody supermarket here. Silly, I know. If someone was to ever judge me, I should have just thought my usual mantra, “F*ck them. I know my truth,” but I think I was feeling vulnerable with the whole ‘visiting my place of birth for the first time since I was adopted’ thing. I wasn’t my fierce mama self and we were all in a crazy, new situation to adapt to. It was no surprise that the Little Mister was searching for more security and comfort too. Besides, it wasn’t even an issue in the end. No-one cared. They still thought he was incredibly cute. They saw past the dummy and blanket and that was it. A kid is a kid. In fact, it was refreshing!

May I also add that the fear of losing the one and only Giraffey was nerve-wracking haha. Our whole family group was always on Giraffey patrol which could be exhausting! Make sure he doesn’t drop it on the train tracks boarding a train! Make sure he doesn’t drop it when he falls asleep in his stroller! AAARGH! We had to rig up a complex (haha) system where Giraffey was attached by the neck to one end of a safety restraint (a wrist to wrist strap designed for parents and toddlers) and the other end hooked over the handles of the stroller (or to him when he was walking)! I have done some scary things before in my life, but nothing was as important as keeping Giraffey in one piece!!

As for toilet training, well that was a bust. We had hoped that he would toilet train when back in the hotel and that we would just use nappies when we were out and about. In our minds, we thought it would help keep his training topped up and we could just be more intensive when we got back home. I didn’t want him to forget any of the progress he had made before we left home.

In reality, this wasn’t going to happen. We were always on the go. We changed hotels every 3 days on average (sometimes more than 3 and other times less). We were always in transit. It wasn’t the ideal ‘toddler friendly’ holiday but we had so much to see and it was a group effort. The Little Mister was often overtired or looking for comfort and familiarity. He was also intimidated by grown ups’ toilets (as opposed to a smaller potty – something we had a hunch would happen before we went away). We did find a rather nifty toilet training seat at Gangneung (where my brother was born) on one of our crazy looking for ‘diapers’ missions, but would he have a bar of it? No way! He did love that the seat had Pororo (a friendly cartoon character) all over it, at least.

Not-so-helpful (or even slightly rational) thoughts ran through my head when I was tired and weary.

What if he never toilet trains again in his life?! What if he takes a dummy with him to high school?! THIS IS A DISASTER! 

But let me tell you, Holiday Kez. Everything will be OK.

The Little Mister was obsessed with his dummy and Giraffey for maybe 3 days when we got home. After that? Back to normal as if nothing had happened. On our first longish outing since we’d got back, I did secretly pack them in my bag in case of an all out, ridiculous meltdown but that meltdown never happened. Awesome.

Oh, and 3 days before we headed for home, the Little Mister asked me out of the blue if he could use the toilet. And sat on it. And did a wee on cue. And was so proud of himself. I wanted to jump up and down and throw a parade, I was so proud of him!

We’ve been home a month now and toilet training is progressing. We had some accidents as he tried to adjust back to winter weather and the need to wear warm pants around the house (he now has learnt how to take them off properly and is working on going on his own without being scheduled or prompted again). It feels like we’ve started again in some ways, but it’s great because he’s a few months older than when we started and understands so much more easily. The world did not cave in on itself. I know am hopeful that we’ll be kicking arse at it by the end of the coming summer. Everything’s coming together. Yay!

Another thing we did while we were away was to try and save money by sharing a bed with the Little Mister. We tried to get twin double rooms in some places and king sized beds in others. Sometimes I shared with the Little Mister in our own bed and other times the Unprepared Three huddled in together. We did struggle in Tokyo with a rather small bed between all of us (the cute little improvised bed we made for him on the floor was great until he woke in the night and thought he’d fallen out of bed and got back in with us EVERY TIME). He got used to being with us in bed and it comforted him as we were in all these strange places, with no room being the same as the last. When we got home? He wasn’t that anxious at all. He knew he was home and while he wanted his room floodlit (I hear it’s a pretty normal phase for this age anyway), he started to settle well within the week.

Discipline wasn’t always easy while we were away either. There’s no place for time outs – something that had been so effective at home. That was difficult. I would have to continue to cuddle him while he played up because we were stuck together, so he’d get more hyped up and think he was being rewarded for his behaviour. It made life harder for us as parents too. We had nowhere for ourselves to get away for a few minutes and cool down when we felt our patience evaporating. We’d feel shitty and be like, “UM – I’M GOING…TO THE OTHER CORNER OF THIS SAME TINY ROOM BECAUSE I’M MAD. DON’T LOOK AT ME.”

Cabin fever did become an issue!

BUT…The Little Mister has come home and is his good little self (as good as a 2 and 3/4 year old can be haha). He hasn’t suddenly become some kind of monster who will never be reformed.

GUYS, WE DIDN’T BREAK HIM!!!

Also, I learnt a lot too. I learnt to just go with it. Remind myself it’s not forever. Have faith in him. Have faith in us as parents. Not feel guilty for not being able to provide him with the creature comforts of home. Remember that this was a once in a lifetime journey and sometimes you have to compromise more. The Little Mister was SO GOOD for a two and a half year old. He adapted as well as he could, with a couple of compromises (i.e. constant bribery and sometimes fast food was the only option) and a couple of tools (dummy and Giraffey). He was happy. He loved seeing so many new things on our daily adventures. He went with the flow as best he could. He didn’t go to bed at the right times and he didn’t always have a day time nap, but he was loved and he was protected and we had a lot of help which we were grateful for. We did our best to keep him happy and catered to (which wasn’t always easy). He bonded with my parents and my brother so well and that was really special. He got to be so much more of a ‘big boy’ and do so many more things than he’d experienced at home. He loved it.

EVERYTHING IS FINE!

While it was stressful bringing a 2 year old on this kind of journey, we learnt so much. If we hadn’t taken the opportunity, citing having a toddler as an excuse (and a valid one at that), then we would never have done something so meaningful with my family and we would have never learnt so much about ourselves and about the amazing places we visited. I feel so happy that we went. I don’t regret it one bit and we feel proud. We could conquer anything now! Although, we’ll wait a few years before doing something like that again!

I will never take the fact that I live in a house (with different rooms in it) for granted again!!

I always say that you make the rules (and routines) so you can break them. This holiday was a perfect example.

Have you ever travelled with a toddler? What weird things did you worry about? Was it all smooth sailing? x

 

Oh, deer.

One of my favourite spots to visit in Japan was Miyajima. We took a train from Hiroshima, then a ferry. I knew about the beautiful Torii gate that you see in all the iconic photos of Japan, but not much more than that. It turned out to be the most beautiful little place – somewhere I would definitely like to visit again one day.

We would have loved to see the gate at high tide (a time of day when it looks like it is floating in the ocean), but that was at like really early in the morning and we were all tired so…um…not gonna happen. I know. Where’s the dedication, you ask? Um…never mind. We got there just before the tide became low, so it wasn’t too bad. It was great to get some photos. It is honestly just spectacular. It just felt magical.

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If we hadn’t been so pushed for time (i.e. had a toddler), I think we would have all stayed a lot longer. There were little cafés, restaurants, shops full of souvenir trinkets. It was really cool. I don’t know how to describe it exactly, but it was a peaceful place (at least it was when we visited in June). It just felt…nice. The energy about it was so inviting.

Oh, and there were deer.

Just roaming around the place. Some of them were really cheeky and wanted to see if we had treats in our bags. They were SO CUTE. Or should I saw, kawaii (Japanese word for ‘cute’)? At one point, a deer tried to eat my shorts. Just came up for a friendly nibble of my shorts pocket. I was looking at it, laughing and thinking, “Oh that’s adorable.”

Until the deer started taking the whole leg with it. Just a mouthful of denim mum shorts. Like disappearing before my eyes into its gullet. It wasn’t so cute imagining myself walking around in no shorts, so I had to put a stop to it. BUT MAN, IT WAS SO CUTE THAT I WAS THINKING ABOUT LETTING IT JUST TAKE EVERYTHING. A deer tried to eat my shorts, guys.

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When we first came across the deer (plural), I had flashbacks to some kind of deer park I’d visited as a kid. The poo everywhere and all of that kind of thing, but Miyajima was so clean! I saw deer poo maybe only once. Gotta hand it to the Japanese peeps for keeping the place so lovely!

Anyone want to pack me in their case and smuggle me back there? Anyone?

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum.

One place that we all wanted to see while we were in Japan was the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. It’s one of those places you put on bucket lists (if that’s your kind of thing). It’s quite the experience and while it is confronting, you walk away feeling like you opened your eyes to something that needs to change in this world.

When we got to Hiroshima, we were a bit early to check into our hotel, so we dumped our stuff and headed straight to the park. As soon as you see the old Atomic Bomb Dome (the only building left standing), you start to feel the feelings! It’s like this quiet just falls over you and it’s a combination of awe and sadness. It is said that they will leave that building standing until all the nuclear weapons of the world are gone. Sadly, I fear it will remain standing for far too long, for generations to come.

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We also visited the museum. In the entrance there is a clock. Underneath this clock, you can see the number of days it has been since the bombing of Hiroshima (in 1945). Underneath that is like a kick in the guts. It is the number of days since the last nuclear testing occurred around the world. At the time we visited that figure was a pathetic 282 days. Really makes you think.

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A few things really stand out in that museum. There is a watch, with the hands stopped at the exact moment the bomb hit. There are walls filled with copies of protest letters (written by the mayor of Hiroshima) sent to different world leaders every time they perform a nuclear test. These letters plead with them to remember the horror of the 6th of August, 1945 and to rid themselves of such dangerous weapons. It’s quite sad to see just how many letters there are (with room left for the inevitable future letters that will need to be written).

Another really profound and confronting experience is the section of the museum where there are artefacts from the bombing. Personal possessions of the victims, paired with stories. Really human, real stories. Stories of the many school aged children who were working at the bomb site when it hit. Stories of how their parents searched for them, found their possessions later and kept them. How children stumbled home and passed away from the horrific burns only days later. There are photos of the victims’ burns. If Hiroshima wanted to make the consequences of an atomic bomb seem really real (and not just some dry information in a history text book) then they really succeeded. These were real people, innocent people, who suffered such cruelty. It reminds you that every news story about those foreign people far far away who are killed or harmed is real.

We had to zoom the Little Mister past some of the exhibits and either Mr Unprepared or I would go ahead and make sure it was safe for toddler eyes before we moved through. We avoided the burns photos and the mannequins that simulated what the victims would have looked like, walking injured and shocked afterwards. The Little Mister was non the wiser and I felt relieved about that. It was a little dilemma being there with a toddler, because we wanted to have that experience but obviously not at the expense of our son’s ability to sleep at night and stay innocent for a little bit longer to the horrors of war in this world (obviously that is a privilege I do not take for granted). It is possible – just have a strategy.

It was very moving to see Hiroshima’s pleas for peace. As much as their efforts seem futile, I really admire the fact that they have taken this tragedy and resolved to do better in the world. Their passion for achieving peace and the eradication of nuclear weapons is impressive.

I definitely recommend that you see this place at least once in your lifetime.

Have you been? How was your experience? Do you hope to go one day? 

Trees are green.

I have a problem. I really like trees. I don’t know how this happened. I mean, I care about the environment but I’m not exactly into botany. I don’t know the names of trees. I can’t even keep them alive if I’m really honest with myself. I don’t even spend all of my spare time looking at them. It is a little bit of an obsession that has crept up on me. I think I just really like the colour green. Which helps.

So you can imagine my joy when we were in South Korea and Japan (and even Singapore). Trees. Everywhere. Beautiful trees. If you were to ask me to sum up the scenery in one word, I’d say trees. I love the trees. The greenery. OK, so that’s more than one word. Whatever. Which surprised me because if you had asked me what I thought the scenery would be like before the trip, I would have probably thought of cityscapes. Skyscrapers, apartment living, the occasional cherry blossom (at the right time of year). Maybe a river or two.

When we got there I could not stop myself from taking photos. It’s an addiction and you (and Facebook) are lucky that I did not post every single one. OMG everything was so beautiful and green, you guys.
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Really really really old trees. Trees on cliffs. Trees in the middle of RESTAURANTS. Trees at temple sites. Trees near the beaches. Trees in the middle of bustling cities. Trees on mountain tops. Trees in parks. Trees trees trees. That’s a lot of beautiful foliage everywhere, y’all.

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Does anyone else love trees as much as I do? Are you another unlikely tree fan?

Busan: The city I was born in.

So I have already blogged about all of my mixed up feelings about visiting the place I was born (before being adopted and becoming the superstar that I am today :P ), but now I will show you what it is like from more of a tourism point of view.

Honestly, I loved where we were staying – right on the beach. It’s a really popular destination within Korea (and even for people from the US and other parts of the world). We were there right before the peak summer season and it seemed like the perfect time. When I’d heard that Busan was known for its beach, seafood and shopping, I was stoked. I felt really excited because I got a kick out of the fact that I was born in a place that has all the stuff I love. I really wanted to enjoy the place I was born. I may have had a whole lot of crazy emotions kicking about inside my head, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying so much about it.

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On the top right is the Sea Cloud Hotel where we stayed. We were somehow upgraded to a suite and it was reeeeeally nice! It looked out onto the beach and had big windows that made us feel so alive after staying in a few little shoeboxes! One highlight was visiting the Busan Aquarium (the Little Mister LOVED IT). It wasn’t much different from all the aquariums at home, but it was a great experience and to see the Little Mister running from display to display with such joy was worth it. On the bottom right is the Little Mister doing his favourite activity – smashing Mr Unprepared’s sandcastles. It was great. You could buy a little beach bucket and spades etc really cheap at a convenience store under the hotel and we had a beautiful, relaxed day playing on the beach (that was the day I was a leeeetle hungover so it worked out well).

Why was I hungover? Um…so one night, my parents generously offered to look after the Little Mister so that we could head out and see what the night life of Busan had to offer. My brother, Mr Unprepared and I were so ready to let off a little steam.

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In my defence, I did not plan on getting so tipsy that night. But a few factors didn’t help.

1. Street drinking is legal. Like, you can walk down the street sipping a beer and no-one will arrest you or make you pour it out. Yet, we only ever saw one person on the streets who was really drunk in a sad way. We knew street drinking was legal because we totes did our research. Aren’t we good? If we hadn’t known this, we might not have enjoyed cocktails that were made at a street stall and poured into convenient plastic bags with straws in them (bottom right).

2. Alcohol was CHEAP AS. On the bottom right you can see my Busan BFF making those cocktails in plastic bags. He’d shake up a good quality cocktail and it only cost about $3.50 Australian!!! Of course, this made it easier to indulge in cocktails throughout the night. I may have overindulged as a result. I do not generally condone binge drinking and it’s certainly not something to brag about, but as a lover of cocktails it really was so easy to *ahem* sample all that was on offer. Although I do regret trying this thing called ‘Hooch’ (bottom left). It was made somewhere in the Netherlands and tasted like weird orange lolly water and I had no idea what liquor was even in it, but it was gross and it was cheap and it was something we found in the convenience store and bought for the name alone.

We stopped off at the Fuzzy Navel, a small bar where the cocktails were great and there was a DJ upstairs who played awesome remixes of American R&B songs. I think we were having the most fun of anyone there, because we were a bit early (us parents had to make sure we started early in order to finish early – glam life). We then headed to Thursday Party (it was a Friday night but that wasn’t stopping us) – a chain bar that had an American influence. It was playing all our favourite songs from around the time I was 18 and partying (so please don’t do the maths) and it had a fun atmosphere. That’s probably where the most damage was done, as my brother and *darling* husband decided it would be fun to keep buying me random things off the cocktail menu every time I looked away. Then I decided I’d like to drink them. I couldn’t resist being a bit greedy because at home I’d buy two good cocktails and be broke for the rest of the evening. In Busan, I felt like I was living the high life.

We watched some girls play a beer pong game and tried miserably to be my brother’s wingpeople, but they liked us better than him at first because he was a stickler for the rules. Great fun. Sadly, our carriage was going to turn into a pumpkin soon (and we didn’t want to get too nuts on account of the whole ‘being parents’ thing) and we reluctantly left my brother to head off to a nearby university precinct for more shenanigans with our new friends.

The next day I felt a feeling I hadn’t felt since BC (Before Child). That really really seedy feeling. Not sick, just bleeeergh. Thankfully we had planned ahead on having a quiet and relaxed day. I had a great pedicure by a slightly adorably awkward guy from the hotel across the road and we sat on the beach, even enjoying fish and chips (not something you find easily there) for lunch. It felt like we were at home, which is not the point of travelling, I know, but it was nice when we didn’t have the energy to expend on anything crazy and new. It was comforting! I also remembered why I hardly ever drink more than a couple of cocktails at a time…

It was a fantastic way to end our experience in Korea (apart from an overnight hotel stay near the airport) and we were growing more and more excited to see Japan. I was so glad that by the time we left, I had made peace with the place that I had been born.