November 21, 2012

Holiday Hookey

John and I decided to play hookey with the kids this week and head up the coast to indulge in a bit of fishin', surfin' and relaxin' . . . (and a whole lotta eatin' and drinkin' too if truth be told!)

And now I'm playing hookey on the holiday (don't tell John!)

I've just had to duck into the Crescent Head post office to do a couple of bits of business and thought I'd do a quickie blog post too. Just because I can. And please don't fall off your chair in disbelief. Two blog posts in one month! Ye Gods - the woman is prolific!!! What can I say, I'm inspired. But don't get too excited. It really is a quickie.

We're in Crescent Head on the mid north coast of New South Wales - a little coastal hamlet we've been visiting for 12 years together (and John for many more years before that). I'm going to post some pics when we get back as well as a few more details but suffice it to say that the weather is fine, wish you were here!

The smile on this kid's face is exactly the outcome we wanted from this holiday
How good is this holiday? Well I'll tell you . . . as I sat in the spa bath in our holiday house with the kids before lunch, soaking my sun-kissed body in what was no doubt a cocktail of sunscreen, mint bath gel and toddler wee (I swear none of it was mine!), listening to Jack under-arm-fart the Transformers theme song and having endless 'cups of tea' poured for me by Francesca, I thought "it doesn't get better than this". Then John brought me a glass of cold sauv blanc and it did.

See ya x

November 12, 2012

A Lesson In Courage from a Warrior Mummy

So last Monday, I tweeted . . .
The marriage between a tissue and a laundry load of darks is not a happy one. But just you try and convince them to divorce!
Because I was having such a hard day, and getting tiny pieces of tissue all over the washing was such a disaster. Yeah right.

On Tuesday I discovered what a hard day is really like. 

I was fortunate enough to attend a Melbourne Cup fundraiser for Motor Neurone Disease at my son's school. The guest of honour was Lisa, one of our school mums who has been living with MND for many years. 

Just writing that sentence seems too trivial. Living with MND. But once you meet Lisa, once you hear her story, you can't help but be blown away by how this amazing woman is not only living with MND, but really living. And not just with MND, but with cancer. Life has thrown this gal curve balls that would make David Beckham look like a straight shooter. 

And then there's the strength of the woman! Look up guts and determination in the dictionary and you will see this picture . . .

The beautiful and amazing Lisa in her Melbourne Cup finery
Like many people I didn't know much about MND. But as I discovered last Tuesday, it's a progressive disease that attacks the motor neurones, or nerves, in the brain and spinal cord. This means messages gradually stop reaching muscles, which gradually affects how you walk, talk, eat, drink and breathe.

In short, it affects every single thing you do, from taking your first breath every morning, to walking to the bathroom, to speaking to your children. But Lisa not only has MND, she has a whole lot more on her plate right now. More than you or I could ever imagine having to deal with.

In her own words, taken from her blog Diary Of A Warrior Mummy, this is Lisa's story . . .
First and foremost I am an incredibly proud mum of two awesome children, I’m also a wife of the most magnificent husband who has stuck by me through thick and thin, better and worse.
I happen to have some health challenges but that is not who I am, it is what I have.  I have been defying Motor Neurone Disease (MND) for many years, 18 months ago I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and had a mastectomy and chemotherapy and was cleared only to have the cancer return in my brain this September.

Currently I am having whole brain radiation and I intend to kick cancer in the arse!

My first encounter with cancer was at age 22 when I was diagnosed with Stage 3B Hodgkins Lymphoma which was treated with extensive chemotherapy.  It was at this time that I decided that any future health challenges would be counteracted by setting myself a personal goal to aim for.  This was my positive way of coping.

During this part of my life I refused to let it stop me from pursuing a career in the fitness industry so I strapped my wig on and taught aerobics all the way through.   Once I went into remission I thought I was invincible and could do anything so applied to university and achieved a Bachelor of Sports Science, this was my personal challenge.  I worked in health and fitness for 25 years.

When I was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) my personal challenge was to raise my children to be confident, independent, fearless, compassionate and kind individuals that never thought of my health as an issue.

When I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer my personal challenge was study to become a Catholic.  Over the next 9 months I completed all my sacraments with the final Eucharist held in June this year.

My personal challenge after my recent diagnosis of metastised breast cancer (brain) was to give back to all the people that have helped me, in particular the Motor Neurone Association who have provided unlimited support.

See? Amazing or what?! And these are not just a few brave words. On Tuesday, we heard from Lisa's closest friends and she really is this positive. Every single day.

Here is a story they told that is typical of Lisa. When one of her best friends was heading off for a holiday, Lisa said her farewells and asked her friend all about her upcoming trip, neglecting to mention that she, Lisa, had broken yet another bone in her fragile body earlier that day. She didn't mention it because she didn't want to spoil her friend's holiday. Holy ouch! I've broken a bone before. It's agonising. But for Lisa, it's a regular occurrence. Just another annoying little glitch and another example of how she pumps her fist at the universe, not shouting "why me?" but proclaiming "lucky me" instead.

But Lisa's message is strong. Do not pity her. Do not feel sad. Instead, Lisa wants her story to help anyone who is dealing with anxiety or negative thoughts in their life. That's why she started her blog which I urge you to follow. Lisa is finding it difficult to speak at the moment due to the oral thrush she's contracted - a side effect of brain radiation - but her lively, positive, fun personality leaps out at you from her writing, which her carer and friends help her to type.

Lisa and her two miracle girls
I'm so glad I attended our school Melbourne Cup lunch. I have a toddler and a business and life is crazy busy. I could so easily have found a reason not to go. But I would have been so much the poorer for it. Lisa and the beautiful, generous women who surround her like a personal army wielding the big guns of love and support, gave me a lesson, not only in courage, but in the power of love, friendship and positive thinking.

And the next time I hang out a load of washing full of tiny white flecks because someone left a tissue in the pocket of their jeans, I will remember Lisa and be grateful; grateful that I have those 'someones' in my life; grateful that I can hang out washing; grateful that there is a next time.

Thank you Lisa xx

There are two causes close to Lisa's heart - the future education of her two gorgeous daughters and the MND Association. You can donate to either here at Lisa's Wish.

Our Special Melbourne Cup Lunch (oh, was there a horse race???)

Some more snaps of Lisa and the yummy mummies from our school at our Melbourne Cup fundraiser. Photographs by the amazingly talented Danielle Fleming of Pandanus Photography. For the most incredible family portraits for all your relatives this Christmas, or as a very special gift to yourself, run don't walk to her website now.

Lisa and her sister Kerri

Lisa and her carer and friend Cherloe

Photographer Danielle Fleming (left) and Lisa's army member Angela (right)

High tea indeed!

Choc covered strawberries (of which I ate at least four! In the interest of fairness I felt I had to try one of each kind)

Event planner extraordinaire Donna (right) and Leanne (a fellow school mum who is not only lovely but also responsible for keeping my roots under control!)

The guest of honour arrives!

Your blogger and the ever-glamourous Felicity

Lisa's army of BFFs

Angela (left) and our fabulous MC for the day Melinda Gainsford-Taylor

More gorgeous mums
Our fantastic & supportive principal Josie (right) and Leanne (mother of 4 including twins & therefore a superwoman!)

Lisa's friends Ange and Elizabeth holding hands on stage during an emotional, funny, inspiring speech

Your blogger (far left) thinking that getting the heels off is a marvellous idea!
BFF Cindy gives a tired Lisa a cuddle
Don't forget to donate here if you want to support Lisa and/or MND. You can also follow her blog here.

November 4, 2012

Bye Bye Lullaby

You CAN stop the music. Apparently.
 John and I have always sung to the kids at bed time, sending them off to the Land of Nod on dulcet waves of softly crooned lullabies.

With Jack, my train-obsessed boy, I could do no wrong with a little engine action via Morning Town Ride, the Thomas theme song and, at Christmas time, a medley of both popular and historical carols. In fact, even at age 9, Jack still insists on a couple of tunes before I'm allowed to leave the room each evening.

But that's it! I am only allowed to sing at night, in the dark, and very quietly. At any other time, singing from Mum is not allowed. I'm not sure whether it's because my singing is embarrassing, or unpleasant to the ear (gasp!), or he's just envious of my fabulous singing voice (possible but unlikely!), but Jack really, really dislikes me singing along to the radio in the car, the ipod in the kitchen or ANY OTHER TIME. He tries to be polite about it, bless his Catholic-school-manners, but judging by the way he cringes/grinds teeth/leaves room/turns radio over, my singing voice is somehow equivalent to nails on a blackboard to my first born.

Which is fine. I'm still the boss of him so I'll sing if I want to. Suck it up kid. Besides, I have to put up with his endless (ENDLESS I TELL YOU!!) renditions of Gangnam Style so I reckon a little pay-back is in order.

But it makes me wonder, is my voice less melodious and more malodorous?

Evidence For The Defence

When I was 11, I sang Christmas carols and strummed along on my guitar at the family Chrissy bash and my nan told me I had a lovely singing voice. That, in itself, is a winning testimonial but it gets better.

When my aunt then questioned where I got my lovely singing voice from because "it couldn't be from her mother", my mum took umbrage and, well, let's just say that ensuing events culminated in half the family walking out and going home while I plaintively warbled 'Away In A Manger' amidst the rapid disintegration of Christmas cheer.

So people actually FOUGHT over my lovely singing voice. I bet Beyonce couldn't lay claim to that!

In somewhat more convincing evidence, I have regularly been able to achieve SINGSTAR status ($$ka-ching, ka-ching$$) on the PS3. And everyone knows you can't argue with Singstar. It's not your Nan. It doesn't care if your feelings are hurt. It tells the TRUTH goddammit!

Evidence For The Prosecution

When Francesca came along, I decided not to tempt fate. I got in early by singing to her while she was in utero and I sang to her from her very first day out in the world. I went with the ultimate silky-voiced songstress, Norah Jones. The song of choice? 'Come Away With Me'. She LOVED it. It would always calm her down.

But then somewhere along the way, it didn't.

In fact, she would hear the opening lines "Come away with me in the night" and she'd get upset. I maintain it was due to the association of me singing that song and imminent cot-time. That song equalled being put to bed and was suddenly anathema.

Way-hay! I thought. No problemo! I'll just start the good ol' winning combination of train and Christmas songs. But no. Francesca now speaks. As soon as I start singing, she yells "NO MUMMY SONGS. DADDY SONGS!!" and continues to chant "DADDY SONGS! DADDY SONGS!!" until John comes in and rescues her from Mummy's shitty medleys and crappy singing voice.

Good grief! Is that why she came a week early? She needed to get the hell away from 24/7 contact with my voice?! Or do all kids hate the sound of their mother's singing? I bet JLo's babies cry when she sings. Really. I bet they do.*

So John sweeps in with his deep, melty Kamahl voice and croons a blend of Gordon Lightfoot, Bruce Springsteen and the Beatles and she freaking loves it! In fact, he has to go back in for an encore every single night. And even after the encore, she's still calling "DADDY'S SONGS!" like some demented One Direction fan.

Meanwhile, I shuffle off to drown my wounded vocal chords in sauv blanc and, in a little while, I smile smugly to myself. Neither John, nor Jack, nor Francesca have ever beaten me in the independent, unbiased, all-knowing, very-clever game of Singstar. Ka-ching!

* Don't take that bet. Please. I beg you. Just agree with me.
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