Calm in the Chaos

Hello again!

It has been a while since my last post, January in fact. I have missed writing, though life has been very busy and it was easy enough to just let blogging and writing slip to the side.

Right now I’m exhausted, though somehow I feel compelled to write – even if I do not know how or when I will finish this post!

In the last 3 weeks I have had only one day off work, and as you can imagine, life has got rather chaotic in the process.

Running a business alongside my husband, taking on extra event work on weekends, working a second job, being a Mum, “attempting” to stay on top of the washing and cleaning pile, and remembering to take a moment to breathe in among  it all!

It has been almost a month since I have completed a full grocery shop for our house, finding only time for a few top up shops when I can.

My patience wore thin days ago, and it seems as we get more exhausted, the kids tempers begin to rise and they test their boundaries and commence on a long stream of tantrums.

I have found myself lying on the kitchen floor in pure exhaustion more than once.

Though in among  all the chaos and rushing and stress, I have found calm. I guess I have had to.

Over the years, I have learnt the hard way that whilst I see myself as a people person, I need the odd moment alone, just by myself to recharge my batteries. I think in my job especially, where I am serving hundreds of people a day, I take on too much of their energy, and a times that can leave me very drained.

So I need to find calm- and it needs to be only in a short space of time, it really is not as hard as it sounds.

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Just a moment stepping outside can do the world of good, above are all photos I have taken recently from my own yard. Once you take the time to open your eyes to all the wonderful things around you, it is amazing what you can find.

Reading a bit of my library book at the end of each day (if I can) helps me relax, so does any little activity such as arts and crafts that I do not need to prepare much or think much (like drawing).

Making myself a cuppa and forcing myself to sit down to drink it can recharge the batteries.

Going for a walk to the park with the family.

Though one thing I have done recently that is new to me is just being.

Getting to that point in which you do not want to do anything, talk to anyone, read anything or think about things. All you want to do is simply just sit, and be.

Sometimes it is hard when everyone else around you wants a piece of you and wants to chat, and sometimes it is impossible to find a quite place just for yourself, but the moments that I have done this, it has helped greatly.

Silently sitting in the one spot, being mindful taking deep breathes and taking the moment to just be calm.

Well I have to rush now, need to wake the kids up, and deal with all the other rushes of the day, I am hoping that the double shot coffee I just had propels me along for a while before I need my next caffeine hit.

I do not really have the time to proof read this post, and I fear in my sleep deprived haze it may only make sense to me, but I’m hitting publish anyway.

Take care everyone, and I hope that whatever Chaos is currently being thrown at you in your life, you are able to find some Calm, even if it is just a moment.

A new beginning

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Tomorrow my baby starts school

Where did that time go?

It seems to have flown faster than it did with my eldest, as she was home for an extra year, missing out on starting school the year before she did by a small 10 days.

There was a time in which I thought I would never get a full nights sleep again.

Changing nappies and dealing with teething babies seemed to go on forever……. and then it became a thing of the past.

People told me when both of my children were babies to remember that it did not last for long, it seemed like it was forever at the time, but now on the other side, I realize that it really was just a short window of mine and their lives.

I am thankful that Noah is excited about school, that makes this new beginning so much easier, and I am also very grateful that Kiara is excited about embarking into Grade 2.

A quick trip to the supermarket today to pick up some supplies for back to school lunch boxes soon became the social event of the month, with countless amounts of familiar faces in there. One fellow Mum confided that her son refuses to even talk about school, and other friends have told me that their little ones have been so anxious about this next step in life.

And it is a big step, for parents and kids.

Tomorrow is also a new beginning for me personally, as I set back to full time work.

Whilst I have had many part time jobs to assist with our family income in the years since becoming a Mum, including setting up our very own business with my husband. I have not had the opportunity to return to full time work until now.

I have been grateful for the time I got to spend with both of our children before they embarked into their schooling life, and I am so excited for both of them as they continue to grow and develop into unique, individual human beings.

It is going to be a big ride for us all this year, I am sure there is going to be many afternoons with exhausted family members, and a new routine to get into for all of us, not to mention the drama of getting Mr Noah to keep a pair of shoes on for an entire day!

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As we stand together on the precipice of a new beginning, I am both nervous and excited.

It only seems like yesterday that I held both those little people for the first time in my arms , and now I am sending the last one off to school.

In a way life is getting a little easier, but it is also getting a little harder (not to mention more expensive!)

Regardless, as we stand here together, I am not going to mourn the end of an era.

I am going to celebrate new beginnings.

I feel so very fortunate and grateful to have been such a huge part of my children’s first years, and I feel so proud to watch them continue to grow and prosper.

Tomorrow I will  probably shed a tear, but the tears will not just be sad ones.

There will be proud tears in my eyes, for my kids and us.

We made it.

To new beginnings.

I can’t make you love me.

Life would be so different had my sister not passed away.

But she did.

There would be a teenage girl out there with a Mum to watch her graduate from school.

There would be a lady in her 60’s, who had not been made to Mother her Granddaughter.

Maybe her hate for the world would not be so strong.

Maybe she wouldn’t hate me.

I would still have a sister, she would have got to be a Mum for longer than 2 years.

She would have got to be an Aunty to my kids, a sister in law to my husband.

A sister to me.

But life does not always turn out to plan.

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My beautiful sisters body slipped from this world after a brave battle with cancer.

A toddler needed someone to care for her- My Mum took on that role. A hard one anyone would admit- no one wants to outlive their children, and no one expects to have to raise their own grandchild.

Life since my sister passed away became a roller coaster.

I grieved in private.

Mum grieved in public.

Neither way was the right way- but sometimes the fact we did things differently led to confusion with each other.

As the years went by, I met my husband, moved out of home- and out of my sharing role as caregiver to my niece.

We had her come for sleepovers, and tried to assist as best we could.

Little girls grow up into teenagers, with minds of their own.

Tensions soon rose, and an extra generation gap made things hard.

We offered to take my niece on, and into our home.

We thought we were helping, we thought we were giving them both a break, we thought we were going to allow Grandma and Granddaughter to work on being just that.

We thought wrong.

I was accused of kidnapping, of taking a teenager on in hope of making extra money.

I was degraded and put down and shut out.

I was belittled and yelled at.

It hurt.

It cut deep inside me.

I thought I was helping.

It seemed others felt differently.

I live in a fairly small town, and the words and whispers about what was being said about me got back to me regularly.

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I would be honest in saying some would hurt so much that they would leave me huddle in the corner for hours in a mess of tears.

I became depressed, and prone to panic attacks.

This was no ones fault- I had just been trying to be strong for too long.

After 8 months my niece ran away from our home- no goodbye, no “lets keep in touch”, no reasons.

It hurt.

It really did.

It especially hurt my two kids who loved and adored their cousin and did not understand why she no longer talked to them.

She moved to her Grandparents 2000 kms away.

She deleted me off Facebook, stopped following me on Instagram and ceased all contact.

This was almost a year ago.

2 weeks ago she came back for a short visit to see some friends and attend a party.

I heard from other people.

There was no phone call, no “lets catch up”, nothing.

It hurt.

It really did.

Meanwhile, my Mum is still painting me as the most negative person she knows.

She tells others that she attempts to contact me, and I shut her out- she doesn’t.

We attempted mediation.

4 hours of facilitated mediation was more of an excuse for the woman who brought me into the world to label every little minute detail of what she hates about me.

Some people are Motherless Mothers due to their Mum passing away.

I am a Motherless Mother because mine wants nothing to do with me.

I cant make her love me.

That makes me sad.

I worry about her health.

About never regaining a healthy relationship with her.

I worry that my kids have 4 Grandparents in close proximity, and not one is an active part of their lives.

There is a young Woman in the other side of the state either about to, or already having Graduated from school.

No doubt she will look stunning in her formal gown.

It will be a special night for her.

I held that girl when she was 2 hours old, changed her nappies, read her books and sung her songs to go to sleep.

She was a huge part of my life, and a little reminder of my sister who is no longer here.

It makes me sad that she does not want to be in my life anymore.

I can’t make her love me.

I worry about my Mum too, health problems, being lonely and of all the things left unsaid.

Time got to the point that I had to ask for respect.

I had to say I was worth more then being put down and ripped apart.

The comments still flow through the pathways to me.

For a long time I let them slide off my back, but at times, like now they hurt me.

The tears have flown a little too freely of late.

I cant help that it hurts,I cant make that stop.

I cant stop wondering how different things would be had my sister never passed away.

Oh how I wish she never left us- but she did, and I cannot change that.

I also wish I had a functional relationship with two very important people in my life.

But I don’t.

I just need to accept that I can’t make someone love me.

It hurts.

But it is real.

I can’t make you love me.

I wish I could.

But I can’t.

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Beauty

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I told my daughter today that she had a beautiful heart.

This comment left confusion on her face.

“But you cant’ see my heart Mamma, how do you know it is beautiful?”

I told her that beauty is not always the things we see.

Beauty is the things we feel, the nice gestures we do for others, and  the gentle way in which we talk to, or treat other people.

Having a beautiful heart and soul simply means that you are a lovely person.

To yourself and to others.

This made her smile, and she went on to tell me a story in which she shared her book at school with a class mate who did not have one.

She told me how happy this made him, and how she felt good to help someone else and share.

I was pretty proud that my little girl had got the concept of having a beautiful heart.

The whole topic of Beauty, and how it is perceived by various people has been on the forefront of my mind, after I listened to some random woman ring into the radio station yesterday and remark that she is so gorgeous that she can never find any men to date whom are in the same league of looks as her.

I was really saddened by her comment.

In looking at the cover, or shell of people, and in making such a huge emphasizes on looks, she was missing out on interacting with so many potentially amazing people.

I think she is probably also missing out on experiencing real life.

While self confidence is awesome,

Being full of yourself most certainly isn’t.

Once again I am brought back to my sisters favorite saying, which is inscribed on her headstone:

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Such simple, yet such true words.

As always, one simple topic left my mind whirling in many directions and many thoughts.

I thought about what beauty really is, and how society puts such a huge emphasis on looks rather than what is inside.

I wondered what a list of beautiful qualities would be.

There are many.

I came up with some:

I think a person who gives unconditional love is beautiful,

Someone who is generous and kind,

Gentle with others hearts and feelings, yet not allowing people to walk over them.

A person who will lend an ear when another needs someone to listen.

A person who sees the good things in the world, even when the hard times are happening.

I do not think a beautiful person is perfect- no one is.

I do think that imperfections and experiences in life add to a persons internal beauty.

A smile that has struggled through tears is beautiful.

Courage in the face of fear.

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I think of all the people who many think that their beauty has somewhat been tarnished by life.

Those with internal scars of heart break and loss,

Of hurt and despair,

And those who have been disfigured or marked in some way by either an accident or disease.

So many people think these marks that life has left on them or in their souls makes them less beautiful.

So many people think that these moments or experiences have simply left them scarred.

I look at people whom have come out the other side of adversity,

Who have fought and won a huge battle.

So many people are made to feel that they are full of scars.

I stopped for  a moment in my deep circle of thoughts and came to the realization:

These are not scars

They are beauty marks.

Let us each walk our own individual paths.

I have been watching from a far lately, and as always, this has led me to do a bit of thinking – this time it is not that type of over thinking that ends up making problems that are not there.

Of recent times, I have constantly been presented with people giving opinions on how others live, or choices they make in life.

And you know what?

I’m a bit over it.

I am not going to sit here and pretend I am all high and mighty and that I have never done the same, but I do realize that is is pretty dumb.

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More often I am heard uttering the words “Different Strokes for Different Folks” and each time I say or think those words, I realize how true they really are.

It goes without saying that each and every one of us has a different path in life, with different goals, things we hold important and different ideals on how to live life the way we want to as individuals, or as a family group.

For the last few months I have been on the receiving end of these stupid questions and moments of people just not getting me, but deciding that they wont give up until I prove my views or decisions to them.

And you know what?

I don’t have to do that.

Yes we purchased a business, and yes we work many hours.

Yes it is hard, and right now life is a bit of an extreme juggling routine, that sometimes gets rather stressful.

Yes it means in school holidays they kids have frequented vacation care, and yes it would be awesome to take time off and just hang with friends over the holidays, but new businesses don’t work unless you do.

Yes money is tight when starting out, but our Profit and Loss margin is none of your bloody business.

Yes I am enjoying working for myself, and getting out in the sunshine daily, but no I am unable to guarantee you that this is what I will be doing for the rest of my life – right now that is of no importance to you or me.

Perhaps you think our families choice in life is not the right one, but we are not asking your opinion.

Yes I am a tad crazy to add a Business Course into an already tight mix, and perhaps doing my assignments at 11:30 pm, was not the wisest idea – I worked that one out when I proof read them in the light of day.

Yes I am tired and not quiet there when it comes to finally catching up with you and I am the first to admit I am a bit of a bore to be around at the moment, when the exhaustion kicks in, my usual chatty self shuts down.

No it does not mean that I do not value our friendship, or that I do not want to be around you.

It does mean that I am wanting to just chill with my little family and soak up some time with us all four together.

Yes, you probably are right that I should get a second job.

Paying the bills has been rather tight with a new business.

You know what though? If and when I do that, it is up to me.

No, we are not having any more kids, we love our two children and are happy with our family unit of 4. Even before becoming parents, we always pictured ourselves with two.

That does not mean if someone chooses to have 8 kids (or none)  that their choice is wrong.

Wow, I  really am blabbering here again, but my message is rather simple.

Let’s stop judging each other and our choices in life.

Just because someone else is doing something that you perhaps would not choose to do yourself.

IT DOES NOT MEAN IT IS WRONG!

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Chances are that person is judging themselves way more harshly then you ever will, and regardless, life is one huge wonderful challenge as it is, we really should be here to help each other out, not bring each other down with petty comments or judgments.

So I have made a decision, it is a pretty simple one.

Let us each walk our own individual paths.

We all have different ideals and goals in life. We all make different choices, and while I may not understand some that others make, as long as their life choices and pathways do not harm others, as long as they are happy with their choices, then I need to be happy for them.

Stop the judgment people.

Imagine how boring life would be if we all lived it exactly the  same?

Don’t Presume

As I sit here on a Friday evening, flitting between office work, laminating new price tags and getting myself organized for an early start for work tomorrow, I cannot seem to shake of this icky feeling that has been creeping up all day.

Hundreds of fellow franchise partners are currently kicking back in the middle of Australia, enjoying all that Uluru has to offer a the annual National conference.

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The day has been full of photos of the rock, of camel rides around the rock, of games and goody bags, of limousine rides from the airport and cocktails by the pool.

Right now they will be dining at a gorgeous outdoor buffet, and tomorrow will be once again filled to the brim with activities, and a formal Gala dinner.

But we are not there.

It’s funny how others like to presume why, because it was expensive, or out of our reach – it wasn’t, it was very cheap, cheaper than we will ever be able to travel there again.

I will tell you why we are not there.

Because no one will look after our kids.

This leads to another presumption.

That we must live in a different city to our family.

We don’t, the closest family member is approximately 200 metres  down the road from us.

We just do not have family members that wish to play an active roll in our lives.

They loved to tell us their opinions of our children’s names, or our parenting styles, the love to make comments to others about us, or complain about things that affect them.

But they play no active part in our lives.

It is amazing the Facebook profiles that display family members hugging up to and playing with our children, the ironic thing is that may be one out of a handful of times in which they have done that.

We have a new business, and with any business, it has been a lot of hard work, many days in a row.

People presume we have a team of babysitters on call.

We don’t.

We have taken the kids to events with us on the weekend, kept them out way past their bed time, or tag teamed with each other so one is at home with the kids and one at work.

And others presume that the fact we have a business means we have unlimited supplies of cash to get a babysitter at any price.

We don’t.

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Our business website and details mainly only show Jamie’s name, he was the only one who went to Sydney for the franchisee training course.

The franchise face book page ran hot that fortnight with photos of Jamie’s endless Barista training, and business training. The head of the company was photographed at the end of the training handing Jamie his certificates and gifts.

People think I was not there because I was not interested.

Purely, I could not go because no one would look after the kids.

Others presume that as individuals, we get plenty of “me time”

We don’t.

A recently single friend told me that only now she has become a single Mum, has she got so much more time to herself.

Ironic I know.

You see, like me, she had a husband whom worked long hours, leaving her to have main care of the kids.

Now she is single, people are offering assistance left, right and centre, and her ex has the kids at times too.

She has been on regular nights out, weekends away and even holidays.

I have been a Mum for 7 years and in that time have not had one whole child free weekend.

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Others presume that the fact our daughter has not filled in any names for the form for Grandparents day at school is because her Grandparents are deceased, or live miles away.

They don’t .

She has not even asked to bring any of them along.

They just don’t play a part in her or her brothers life.

People presume because Jamie and I have been together for so long, our journey has been easy.

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It hasn’t.

We have had our hurdles, and a lot of them, but we have stuck it out, and continued to grow.

It hasn’t been easy, in fact sometimes I have to say it has been bloody hard!

I bet you read this post and think I am a whinger.

A thankless/ungrateful whinger.

Perhaps I am.

Despite it all,

The missed chances, the hardships and hurdles.

I have one thing to be grateful for.

For being part of this awesome little gang of 4 people whom I get to call my family.

The way in which we have been treated, the things in which we regret, we get to make sure are not repeated.

While the unfortunate thing is too many people do not play an active part in these two gorgeous children’s lives.

I am so very grateful to be a part of theirs.

And while I moan and complain about the things we do not have in life, I never, ever, not once take for granted the fact that we were blessed enough to be parents to not one but two amazing little beings.

And when the tears are threatening to fall, and the dirty green eyed jealously monster comes out to play, and when I get away from Facebook so I can no longer play the “comparison game”, we take a moment to look at each other, and six simple words are said that make it all worthwhile .

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“At least we have each other”

And you know what?

That’s worth it all.

Staying Soft in A Hard World

Thursday afternoon school pick up started as usual, Noah played on the playground while we waited for Kiara to finish school.

Then thisnews story  http://au.news.yahoo.com/latest/a/-/latest/18708796/cairns-gunmen-sighting-scares-kids/ developed, forcing the parents and students into “lock down” at the time in which the school bell would usually be ringing.

We hid under desks in the darkened, locked classroom for over 45 minutes, with the lock down siren blaring the whole time, and getting updates every 10 minutes over the school loud speaker.

When the police gave permission, we were all allowed to go.

The gunmen did not venture anywhere near the school, our school, along with other schools and businesses were put in lock down as a precaution, yet for hours afterwards I could feel my heart beating so loudly in my chest, and my nerves felt very shaken.

For days afterwards I felt as though tears were constantly threatening to spill from my eyes, and I found it really hard to articulate why, especially since others who went through the same thing seemed to be calm about it and moving on with their lives.

Then I realized what it was that got me feeling like this.

It was seeing my little girl huddled in a ball under her desk, giving me a feeble smile when I walked in.

It was watching my son’s wide eyes as he wanted to know what was going on.

It was the little girl in Kiara’s class who would let out sobs every now and then, and had a face white with fear.

It was the confident student teacher who came in for placement a few weeks ago, and choose Thursday to come back and visit this class, only this time she was huddled in a ball, looking absolutely terrified.

It was leaving the school at last and seeing a young boy whom had almost outgrown his Mum in height, absolutely sobbing in his Mums arms, and seeing his Mum holding back her tears at the same time.

It was answering my kids questions about the gunmen, and lying to them that they had been arrested, when in fact they hadn’t, purely because I did not want them to fear anymore.

It was the fact that although we live in a part of the world that many people only dream of visiting, although we feel safe as we walk our kids to the park, or play with them in the front yard, you can never ever really say that you are 100% safe in any place.

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It was thinking of all those darling little kids and teachers whom have gone through school lock downs that have not had such a happy ending.

It was imagining what it must be like for some people in various parts of the world who have to live in fear every, single day.

It was the fact that my son has since had nightmares about gunmen, and that the kids at a birthday party we attended yesterday were role playing that a gunman was on the loose and they had to have a lock down.

Their pretend screams sent shivers up my spine.

Then I saw this picture on the internet.

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I have seen it before, I love this quote, and I think it was just what I needed to see at that point in time.

When our kids practiced the Lock Down drill last year- (something I never even knew about when I went to school), a few of them were scared even in the practice, it was something we as parents imagined they would never have to use, and hope they never will have to use again.

I spent my time focusing on all the fear the whole situation instilled into these little people, but then I took the time to think of the great moments I also viewed.

I saw a group of 6 and 7 year old’s pool together their left overs from lunch and share with each other.

I saw my daughter passing her drink bottle around to those who were thirsty.

I saw a lovely girl crawl under the table with Noah and read him book after book.

I saw classmates cuddle their friend whom was very upset.

I saw a group of little people come together in a scary situation, and remain brave and calm, and beautiful.

I witnessed staff and teachers at the school put their own fears aside to look after the well being of their students.

I felt part of a community, that are there to look after each other when things get tough.

The tears are still threatening to fall at times, at moments when I catch myself thinking too much.

I’m not being naive or melodramatic, I know there was no moment of almost dying that day.

The thing I feared more than anything, was that somehow this whole thing would make innocent little kids start to believe that they live in a really horrible world.

And while there are some horrible people and horrible things that happen in this world.

It is not all hard.

We just have to remind ourselves of the soft parts.

 

Sparkles

As many of you know, my family and I have been fostering  rescue cats through  North Queensland Animal Rescue  for a little while now.

All up, we have fostered a total of 10 cats now, and it has been a truly rewarding experience for our entire family.

It is also very ironic that before fostering cats, I had never ever owned one, to be honest, I actually thought cats hated me!

February this year one of our foster cats was delivered to us.

She had been found wandering the streets, and once more research had been done, we realized that she had been missing for 6 weeks, being fed by lovely people in a nearby old peoples home.

She shot out of her cat carrier the moment she arrived,  running to hide in the darkness under Kiara’s bed. Whenever anyone came near, she would howl in fear and visibly shake. There was even a very cranky hiss to be heard at times.

Though I wasn’t ever scared of her, I could tell the poor thing was just so frightened.

It was our daughters turn to name a cat, so she choose “Sparkles”

Hiding in our bathtub

Hiding in our bathtub

It took forever to gain her trust, and still for weeks she would hide away.

That serious look never left her face.

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Then slowly she got a bit more used to us, allowing an occasional pat, but any sharp movements would have her sprinting off scared.

I did all I could to show her I could be trusted, and to help her feel safe.

I made sure she had easily accessible hiding spots, and I would talk to her in a soft soothing voice.

Slowly, we got there, though some days I felt it was one step forward, two steps back.

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She started to come out of hiding more often, however, whenever someone other than family came over, she could not be found again.

I also was afraid to admit, but I was falling in love, and hard.

A few people showed interest in Sparkles, but the moment they would come, she would run off again, sometimes just crying loudly from her spot, and being visibly shaken for hours to come.

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In July, Jamie made the executive decision and suggested we adopt Sparkles, neither of us could see her easily transferring to yet another new home when it had taken 5 months of hard work for us to gain her trust.

For a while I really thought her name did not suit her, many people would say

“Sparkles is not really very “Sparkly” is she?”

Now I realize it suits her to a tee.

We were fortunate enough to watch an amazing transformation.

We were lucky enough to watch a scared little kitty turn into a lovely,trusting cat.

I think we got to witness the wonderful.

We got to witness Sparkles Shine.

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Then it was real!

We owned our first cat!

My Sparkles and I

My Sparkles and I

Jamie chuckles to himself quite often when Spakles runs after me in the house, or when she jumps on my lap as we watch tv, she has also taken to sleeping at my feet every night.

“To think you used to think cats hate you” he says

“That one is in love with you”

I proudly reply back

“And I am in love with her”

How can you not love a cat who makes a pile of laundry look glam?!

How can you not love a cat who makes a pile of laundry look glam?!

Kiki Koala

7 years ago life was full on with a little baby girl.

A little insomniac, colicky baby girl.

We named her Kiara, we had a few names to choose from, but when we uttered the name “Kiara” to her when she was freshly in our arms, she blinked.

To this day, and forever, we will tell her that she choose her name.

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On one of the many days that I was pacing the house attempting to calm my little screaming, overtired, upset girl, I found myself whispering “come on Kiki, it is all ok”

By the time my husband returned home, the name Kiki had stuck, and from that day forward, our little girl had a nickname.

Sometimes I found myself calling her “Kiki Koala”, after all, the cuddly Koala is  my all time favorite animal, and my little Kiki sure clung onto us like a Koala.

A friend overheard the new nickname and asked if I had heard of the Australian teddy, also named Kiki Koala.

I hadn’t, and as I was attempting to find something/ anything to help my now 6 month old sleep, and had also read that a baby can sometimes be comforted by their own teddy or blankie, I was desperate to see if I could find a said Kiki Koala in our town.

Turns out a soviner shop stocked them, and I raced in to purchase this beautiful, soft, pink Koala teddy.

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I hoped and prayed it would help in some way with the sleeping of my little Kiki.

It really didn’t help in that department, (though you wouldn’t tell by the photo above!)  but it was obvious that she liked this lovely new toy of hers.

image (3)Kiki Koala came on family holidays, outings, trips in the car.

She was hugged when Kiara felt sad, or tired, or hurt.

Before we knew it, Miss Kiara was a big sister to Noah, and Kiki Koala joined them on quiet movie days, or craft activities.

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As Miss Kiara grew, Kiki Koala faded with the many washes, and sagged a little more as time wore on.

She joined us camping, and on many other adventures.

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Everyone started calling Kiara “Kiki” too, friends, teachers, people who had just met her.

In fact, when a friend made her birthday cake, she didnt even ask, she just wrote “Kiki” on top.

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Kiara seemed to love Kiki Koala more and more each day if that was possible.

If she could not find Kiki at bed time, she would not go to bed until house wide search had found her.

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I love watching my big girl fast asleep cuddled up to her teddy.

She acts like she is all grown up, experimenting with jewelry and fashion, but I know she is still a little girl, my little girl who needs a teddy to hug up to at night, who will soothe her to sleep when she is tired, chase away those bad dreams and make her feel better when she is sick.

Kiki Koala was starting to look a bit old and tired.

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I searched the internet to find a new one.

The toy maker had gone out of business, and the new ones cost a fortune.

I left it for now.

Then this weekend something amazing happened.

We used our family locals pass to go to the zoo.

We enjoyed looking at all the amazing wildlife, including my favorite, the Koala’s

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Our Kiara had taken her wallet along with her, certain that there would be something in the zoo souvenir shop for her to spend the last of her birthday money on.

In we walked, and there we saw an amazing sight.

A Kiki Koala display, complete with various size and coloured teddies, books, pens, magnets, key rings, jewelry and more.

Squeals from my little girl left Japanese tourists looking around in alarm.

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She took time to look at each item, smiling with excitement the entire time.

In the end she choose a smaller Kiki Koala than her original and a necklace, bracelet and ring set.

We knew where to come back for Christmas pressies.

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Squeals and chatter of excitement came out of Kiara for the rest of the day. I knew she wasn’t just excited about finding a new “toy”. I know for her it was like finding a room filled with her old friend.

She even went to bed talking about how amazing it was to find a new Kiki Koala today.

I realized then that this little pink Koala has become so much more than a teddy over the past 7 years.

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It has been worn out and faded, the old one is a lot more rougher than the nice smooth new one, but Kiki Koala has become a friend, and a part of our family.

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Kiara got sauce on her new Kiki at lunch time, so she made her first trip to the wash and was still too wet at bedtime.

So old Kiki Koala took her routine spot, in her owners arms, ready to fight the nightmares, give the cuddles, and be there when my little girl wakes up in the morning, ready to face a new day.

Kiki Koala, I want to thank you.

For being more than a fluffy toy to my girl.

For filling her arms for years as she drifts to sleep.

For making her happy when she is sad.

For taking away the pain when she is hurt.

And most importantly, for being much more than any other teddy could be.

As I look through Kiaras photo albums, I see so many photos with you, this little pink Koala alongside her, facing life’s adventures together.

Thank you Kiki Koala for being one very special Koala, and most importantly, for being my little Kikis friend.

Grateful for My Life Lines

While not exactly over the hill yet, I am 32 years old, and gradually more and more lines on my face appear.

It may sound weird to some, but I actually like them, I call them my “life lines”, a sign of having lived life, having cried, laughed, stressed, rejoiced, having just experienced emotions.

As a child I wanted so desperately to have dimples in my cheeks, it is one of those things that friends who were lucky enough to have them, wished that they didn’t.

I would be found standing still, concentrating as I poked the tips of both index fingers into the sides of my cheeks, hoping that if I did that often enough and long enough, I would eventually get myself a set of my very own dimples.

As you can imagine, it did not work!

Now in a weird sort of way, my smile lines look a little like those dimples I envied for years, sure you can tell they are NOT dimples, but I like them all the same.

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Only recently, my daughter Kiara asked me why I had lines around the corners of my eyes.

Some may call these “crows feet”, but I shall call them ” laugh lines”.

I told Kiara this, and she said she thought I was pretty lucky.

I asked why.

Her answer was simple.

“You must have laughed and smiled many times in your life to get those lines, I cannot wait until I have smiled enough to earn some lines for it!”

And you know what?

She is right!

As a  young teen, I participated in a makeup and deportment course. The teacher told me one day that I really needed to work on the emotions I showed on my face, she said that I moved my forehead up so much that the lines would become permanent over time.

I was worried about this, and tried so hard to keep my face still, and free from lines, but really that was never meant to happen.

Those who know me, know that I am a little loud, and prone to making funny faces.

I make jokes a lot, especially when I am the subject, and you really cannot do that with a smooth forehead!

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The lines are slowly becoming permanent there, but I really don’t mind.

They remind me of all the fun times.

I feel blessed to have some lines to show I have lived.

My sister died at 22, never getting the chance to see these small wrinkles appear on her face.

She never got the chance to grow old.

She was never given the chance to earn her lines.

I am not old, I know that, and I know that my wrinkles and lines will only grow more as the years dwindle on and my age ticks by.

You will never find me in the queue for Botox.

I like that you look at my face and you know I have lived.

Too many people are not given that privilege, and I am grateful for my small blessing.