Thanks for stopping by. Mummy Mayhem is no longer updated. I now have a new, albeit smaller blog over at www.jodieansted.blogspot.com.au.

Drop by anytime. :)


Friday, April 29, 2011

On Mummy Mayhem This Week

So, what did you miss on my blog this week?

Actually, I'm going to cover two weeks here, seeing that I had a lovely little break over Easter and didn't post this last Friday. (Hope you all enjoyed a break too!)

Some of that time may have included another camping trip, which, to be honest, hasn't yet convinced me that camping is a 'real' holiday. Let's just say if you'd been there, you probably would have heard me mutter under my breath, 'I really hate camping,' a number of times during that trip. Like when Hubby returned to the campsite after taking the boys for a shower, only to announce that the 4yr old - wearing his only set of PJs and only jacket, and after being instructed explicitly what not to do whilst waiting for his brothers to finish up - had slipped and fell in the urinal, covering himself in wee. Nice. *sigh*

On that note, on to my latest posts...

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how grateful I was for no routine. (Now the school holidays are over, I'm kinda glad for the routine again, actually. There's just no pleasing some, is there?)

A fellow blogger asked for your advice on her family member who is currently suffering from depression.

How much do you love it when your kids finally 'get' something either you, or their teacher, has been trying to educate them about?

Leading up to Easter, I thought it important to write a post about my sister's death on Good Friday forty years ago. (Thank you for all the lovely comments. xx)

In the third of my 'Meet My Friend' series this year, I interviewed my old school friend Natalie about her 27 year battle with anorexia.

Ever thought about selling stuff you make at home online? Want to know how to set up an online store? My bloggy pal, Thea, shares her story.

Now, next week, I've declared it BOOK WEEK here at Mummy Mayhem! I have a couple of interviews with two very talented authors lined up that I think you'll really like, as well as some books to share with you. So pop back then if you'd like (no pressure!) and we'll chat then.

Enjoy your weekend, people!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

How You Can Set Up Your Own Online Store

Ever thought of setting up your own online store?

One of my fave bloggers is Thea of Do I Really Wanna Blog? In fact, I refer to her as the "Blogging Queen", because she has, like, 342 blogs....or something close to that anyway. ;)

She also has her own online store.

I admire people who can sew and knit. My mother used to. So many of my childhood dresses were home made by my Mum. I remember impatiently waiting for her to finish pinning dresses on me so I could go out and play. I also recall one time on holiday - the persistent rain keeping my niece, nephew and I from venturing outside the caravan - my Mum helping me to knit a doll (I could never cast on or cast off).

When I moved away from home to Sydney, my Mum made me a bunch of aprons from various leftover material she always kept a stash of. (At 83 years of age, she no longer sews.) I still have a couple of them. I've always loved aprons. I guess they remind me of my Mum.

So, when Thea had a giveaway on her blog recently, and asked everyone to choose something from her online store that she could send if we won, I couldn't resist choosing her red apron.

Turns out crossing fingers and toes does work after all!

Doing my best Martha Stewart impression
in my Sew Thea original.

I asked Thea if she could explain here how she started her online store. I figured there might be some of you out there who, unlike me, may be a bit crafty/handy (yes, I'm thinking of YOU my dear friend, Jen!) and would like to find out how you could possibly sell items you make at home.

Thea writes...

Not long ago I had a giveaway on my blog, and I was delighted when Jodie's name was pulled out of 'the hat' by my six year old boy. Over Christmas I made a lot of aprons for gifts and put a few on my shop, Sew Thea on Made It. Jodie is now the proud owner of the last one...and she looks fabulous in it, just like I knew she would! (Aw, shucks. Thanks, lovely Thea! - JA)
Jodie asked if I would share how I set up my Made It shop, for anyone who may be interested in doing something like that themselves.  
After my first giveaway (for my 1st Blogoversary) I was so happy with the response to my knitted scarves that I decided to start my own shop on Made It. I was a little lot nervous about it! I've always loved to make things and people often told me I should sell them. But I didn't really know how. I'd considered eBay...then Etsy...then I looked at Made It and knew it was for me. 
It really couldn't have been easier  You just register, click on 'sell' then follow the prompts. They have a great help page that answered all my questions. The hardest part was coming up with a name (I have to thank Allison for that!) Sew.....once Sew Thea was decided upon, I just did it! 

I'm not selling enough to make a living, but it's nice to have a hobby that others can benefit from.
If you are considering setting yourself up on Made It and have any questions, I'm very happy to help.
And once again, congratulations, Jodie! Hope the apron helps you to cook up a storm.

Thanks so much, Thea! You are one clever chooky, in my opinion. I LOVE my new apron. Thank you again :) x

Check out Thea's store, Sew Thea, HERE. Also on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE. Also see Thea's profile page on Blogger for her contact details.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Meet My Friend: Natalie - Her 27 Year Battle with Anorexia

Warning: This post contains details and pictures of a person with anorexia, which may be distressing or triggering to some people. 

My friend Natalie has struggled with anorexia for close to 27 years.

I met Natalie, at the age of 12, in 1983 when we started high school together. We became good friends that year and remained fairly close during those early years at school.

When we were both 14-year-olds, Natalie became anorexic, and has had this insidious disease ever since.

After school finished, Natalie and I gradually saw less and less of each other, until we got to the stage of only seeing each other at various friends’ weddings etc. We recently reconnected on Facebook.

I think, during the process of writing this post, I’ve come to realise that I’ve not been completely honest with myself over the years. I’ve always put the distance between Natalie and I down to a natural parting between high school friends. Even though that’s probably partly the case, it’s also likely a little more than that.

Watching Natalie treat her body the way she did back then was not easy. In fact, at times it was nothing short of frustrating. I never saw Natalie as ‘fat’. Never, ever, ever. I can still recall the fun-loving, full of life 12-year-old I met in Year 8. I don’t think, in those early days of Natalie’s disease that I fully understood what she was going through. I recall thinking she was ‘silly’ for wanting to be so thin. ‘Ridiculous’ for wanting to be able to bend over and see her backbone jutting out, as she observed herself in the mirror, standing next to me at a friend’s birthday party in the late eighties one night.

The fact that during school I was the victim of cruel taunts about my own weight – ironically, being called anorexic myself (I wasn’t) - and trying desperately to gain weight – I just couldn’t relate to Natalie wanting to not only look like me, but look even thinner than I did.

I think that – without admitting it to her or even to myself at the time – I opted out of being Natalie’s friend because I found it ‘too hard’. (Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be the last to do that.) I didn’t get it. At the time, I thought a few harsh, “Don’t be silly, Nat,” comments would work.

I really knew so little about the mental illness side of anorexia.

So many years later, slightly wiser and far more understanding than I was as a young, at times fairly selfish teen and young adult, I am so thankful I’ve been given the opportunity to reconnect with Natalie.

I recently asked Nat if she would agree to me writing a post about her struggle with anorexia. She immediately agreed and has been nothing but candid, honest and so very helpful (as well as patient!) through this whole process (as you will see). It hasn’t been an easy post for me to write. I doubt it’s been easy for Natalie to answer my questions either.

It’s fair to say that I had no idea just how much Natalie had been through during those years we lost touch.

This is Natalie’s story.

*   *   *   *   *

When we were both fourteen, Natalie struggled when she was teased about her weight by a few boys at school. She was not ‘fat’. Not by any stretch of the imagination. However, she was below average height, and had started to develop physically earlier than most of her peers, and the boys played on that.

Kids can be cruel.

Natalie in 1983. When Nat saw this picture
recently, she described herself as 'huge'.
Although Natalie and I recall differently where we had the conversation, we both clearly remember the day Natalie announced her plan to become an anorexic. We were at school one day, and Natalie was telling me how angry and upset she was about the boys teasing her, and said, “I’ll show them. By the end of the year, I’ll be anorexic.”

She was.

“I wanted them to pay for being so mean [to me],” she explains. In addition to that, the fact that she had put herself on a diet and people had started complementing her on her weight loss, only fuelled her desire to lose more weight.

By 1985, Natalie’s condition had worsened and she was admitted to hospital for the first time. During her stay, Natalie claims she was both physically and mentally abused. “They did…things to me like tie me to the bed, throw me in a cold bath fully clothed and proceeded to put paint in to the bath…[which was] supposed to cheer me up. Yeah, right.” As an outpatient after her hospital stay, a doctor touched her inappropriately. “Back then I didn’t know if that was just part of the treatment.” Natalie was only fifteen at the time.

Since then, Natalie has been in and out of hospital at least ten times.

After that first hospital stay, Natalie went home and, in a desperate attempt to lose the weight she had gained, started making herself sick. For the next nineteen years she would suffer from bulimia as well as anorexia.

Eventually, this all took a toll on her body. In December 2004, after all the pressure her body had been under from both diseases, Natalie suffered major liver and organ failure. Her friends and family – including her husband - were advised to say goodbye to her. The doctors gave her only 48 hours to live.

However, Natalie survived, and only then – after already twenty years of living with the disease - she decided she wanted to get better. “Since then, [I] have been trying to beat it, but…the last five to six years have been the hardest part of my life. Before [that], I was happy being an anorexic, bulimic, alcoholic and taking lots of prescription drugs I shouldn’t [have] been taking to keep me slim.” Stopping the bulimia, Natalie admits, continues to be a challenge for her.

The disease affects the way Natalie sees other women’s bodies.

“When I see overweight people, I’m a little disgusted, but I know some can’t help it because of medical reasons. When I see skinny people I get quite jealous, or wonder [if] they have a problem too, so it’s a bit of a mixed bag on that one.”

Natalie admits that her disease has seen her lose some of those previously close to her. “I have lost some friends over the years, but that’s understandable as they don’t understand [my anorexia], or it’s all too hard for them to deal with. My only regret is losing R (Natalie’s ex-best friend) about ten years ago, and to this day I’m still not quite over it, but I have to respect that she couldn't take it any longer.”

However, Natalie still has a sound support network. “My friends are very supportive, especially my closest ones like P and B (Natalie’s friends from a young age who are also mutual friends of ours) and the girls I’ve hung out with for years. Plus we have a variety of friends and close family - for example, cousins - who are always there for me.”

Although still underweight at around 42kg in this photo taken
in 2009, Natalie believes she was the healthiest she'd been in years.  
As Natalie explains, it has been difficult for her family to watch her struggle with this disease for so long.

“My family… are very supportive, even when it gets to the stage when we all have had enough. My brother [and I were] estranged…[over] the last year but [he] is now coming around again and we seem to be good [now]. [My sister] never stops worrying to the point it gives me the shits, but I know its because she cares so, so much.”

Natalie’s parents have always been very supportive. “Mum and Dad are brilliant, and when it gets all too hard for [my husband] they are always there to take me home to give him a break. I couldn't ask for any more.”

Natalie admits that her disease has been, at times, a strain on her relationship with her husband. Together for 23 years, and married for 13 of those years, means her husband has been by her side for the majority of the duration she has had anorexia.

“When [my husband] and I got married, I [told him that] I would get better. Not long after [our wedding] I went to the Psych ward [at a local hospital] to give it a go, but they weren't geared up for eating disorders [there], and I really wasn't ready to give [up anorexia at that stage], so I only lasted one week.”

For the next few months, as Natalie explains it, her husband would hardly speak to her. Natalie says he felt as though she had let him down. “The first year of our marriage was hard, but over the years it got better. Before we were married we broke up twice - both times for about a year - before officially getting back together, so it did take its toll in the early days.”

These days, Natalie describes her husband as her ‘rock’. “He suffers from the effects, but only really has a hard time when I’m wanting just to die...[when] I just don’t want to be here anymore as it’s all too hard. I tell him this constantly and usually I’m hysterical as well, so it [has] taken its toll on him over the years, especially the last few.”

Natalie admits her relationship with her husband, although obviously challenged by her disease, is what gets her through from one day to the next. “When I’m really bad, and depressed, I quite often tell [my husband] to leave, and go find a better wife who will make love to him and have kids [with him] etc. The things I can’t give him. But he still insists on hanging in there [which is] so lucky for me, because without him I would let myself just die, I think.”

Natalie says her husband’s family is also there for her with love and support.

“I’m a very lucky girl [with all this support], but I still can’t seem to break the nightmare I live in daily.”

Natalie, who recently spent eight weeks in hospital after hitting her lowest weight to date (31.3kg), says that much has changed with treatment of people with eating disorders since that first hospital visit in the mid-eighties, including better medications, regular therapy sessions and visits by her doctor, as well as a more pleasant experience overall.

“Now the treatment [is] a lot more friendlier. I tell the girls [in hospital] they’re on a holiday camp compared to what I went through. They are allowed up to walk to meals and [move] around the ward, [whereas] in 1985 I was in bed – full time – for six weeks.”

Even though Natalie knows she must maintain a good weight, it is a constant battle for her. She did not quite meet her 43kg goal weight before leaving hospital, reaching just 38kg. “I should be at least 40kg, but that’s freaking me out at even getting there.” She admits she hasn’t come out of hospital as mentally healthy as she’d like to be. “But [I] had to come home as being in the clinic was doing my head in.” She has already lost 2kgs, but knows she needs to put the hard work in to gain weight again, and hopes that starting back at work will provide the distraction she needs right now from her disease.

Natalie knows only too well what the disease will continue to do to her body if she doesn’t maintain a healthy weight. At age 40, she has osteoporosis to the point that her body is the equivalent of a 65 to 70 year old, and by the time she reaches 60 years of age, she has been advised that her spine might start crushing in to itself.

After Natalie collapsed in 2004 following her liver and major organ failure, her body was opened up at the time to find the cause of her collapse, leaving her with a scar from her breast to her pubic bone. “Luckily I was already in…hospital [at the time] or I wouldn’t [have] survived.” After complications following her body shut down and subsequent operation, Natalie’s feet and hands turned black due to the lack of circulation. Her right foot eventually developed a bone disease and gangrene, and as a consequence, half of her foot was removed. Her blood circulation – especially to her feet – remains far from adequate, with only one working artery in each leg instead of three.

This photo of Natalie (with her niece) was taken just prior to her recent
 hospital stay after she reached her lowest weight to date at 31.3kg. 
Natalie has had so many operations and procedures that she has lost count. Her teeth have been badly affected. She has all the traits of a diabetic, even though she isn’t one, eg prone to ulcers, doesn’t heal well and prone to infections.

Natalie’s whole digestive and bowel tract doesn’t work, so she takes medication and laxatives as a consequence. She also suffers from a constant itch on her arms that doesn’t go away.

“I do want to say goodbye [to anorexia] this time, but I don’t think that will ever happen. I might be able to manage it better, but I really do feel I will never be rid of this nightmare no matter how much I try…the voice never goes away.”

Natalie speaks of the ‘voice’ (or ‘voices’) as if she is controlled directly by them. As Natalie puts it, the voices are constantly telling her what to eat and when, as well as controlling her to the point of telling her what she can and cannot do physically. “I’m constantly hungry, even after I’ve eaten, but I’m only allowed [by the voices] certain things and certain quantities. Unless I’ve been quite active, I’m not allowed any extras, so it gets very frustrating, especially when [I’m] hungry and all [I’m] allowed is a coffee and maybe one rice cake as a treat - or a tiny piece of fruit to try and fill myself up [with]… between my main meals.”

Natalie describes her main meals as being set by the voices in her head. “[The meals] are very rigid…usually the same thing every day, and if I change my [dinner], my head [the voice] is trying to justify the change and making sure its the same calorie wise etc so I don’t put on an ounce of weight.”

Natalie admits to still using laxatives to make sure her weight does not increase substantially. “But I’m only trying to use them every second or third day, as I’m trying not to abuse them like I used to.”

As Natalie is not working many hours at present, she finds the extra time she has on her hands make the voices more prominent. “Because I’m not busy…my head [tells me] that…I should be eating even less, because I don’t deserve to eat as I’m not doing anything.”

It’s a vicious circle for Natalie. Not eating means that Natalie feels even weaker. Therefore, she does less activity, and the voices then tell her she must eat even less – because she’s not using up the energy. “It never stops. It’s like a double-edged sword - I just can’t win, and then I…lose weight and it goes on and on and on…it never stops!”

When I asked Natalie how people can help her, she replies, “Just be there for me, because there is nothing anyone can do or say that will change the thoughts in my head. I have to be the one to do that and that’s why it’s so hard, because those thoughts are so severe.

When someone is in the grips of [an eating disorder], it doesn’t matter what you say to them, they will think, ‘It will never happen to me.’ Well, I thought that and look at what has happened to me in the last few years. If I was to do a talk to a school, I would go through my life story, show them the battle scars, tell then the ongoing issues I have now and how I could die tomorrow if my heart or liver packs it in again. If I could just save one girl from this nightmare of a life, I would be a happier person to know I have touched someone.”

Thank you so much, Nat. xxxxx

If you think you might suffer from an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia, or know someone that does, you can visit The Butterfly Foundation for more information, or contact their support line on 1800 ED HOPE or 1800 33 4673.

Top image: We Heart It

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Sister, Valda - Forever Our Dancing Queen

My sister, Valda, was one busy girl as a teenager.

She was a hairdressers’ apprentice by day. (She once coloured her hair pink, and when stepping off the bus shortly after she did, a man walked up to her and said, “I gotta tell you, honey, I don’t like it.”) By night (and any time she could fit in otherwise), she was a ballroom dancer.

She was Western Australia's amateur Latin champion and was one of the youngest State champions to come out of her dance studio. (My parent's favourite dance she performed was the paso doble.) In 1970, she flew with her dance partner, Gary, to Sydney to compete in the Australasian Ballroom Dancing Championships, taking home a trophy. She won a bunch of trophies and medals for her dancing over the years and was crowned Ballroom Queen at an annual ball at Canterbury Court in Perth that same year. (Hence, my mother's favourite ABBA song is Dancing Queen. 'Dancing Queen. Young and sweet, only seventeen.')

Whilst running from one thing to the next one day, my Dad turned to Valda and said, “Honey, you have to slow down or you’ll make yourself sick.” My sister just smiled at him and replied, “Dad – I have to live life while I can.”

Neither my Dad or my sister had any idea just how true that statement was.

On Good Friday, 1971, Valda (17) and her boyfriend, John (20), set out in their car to drive from Perth to Geraldton (430kms away) so that they could compete in the Northern Star dance festival. 
They never made it.

Their car was involved in a collision with another car (containing a family of five who were injured, but not seriously, and all of whom survived) and both Valda and John were killed instantly. This April (the 9th) marked forty years since my sister’s death.

In the days that followed, my sister’s photo was splashed across The West Australian newspaper – she and John touted as the young glamour couple whose youth was stolen by the Easter road toll. A reminder to all how quickly a life could be taken.

Every day for weeks after the accident, my parents would receive sympathy cards in the mail. Years later, when I was in my early twenties, my mother and I sat on the floor of my bedroom (the same room Valda and my sister, C, shared growing up) going through all of them. My Mum explained how there were so many, the postie would deliver them to the door, as they wouldn't fit in our letterbox. 

Two cards in particular touched my mum. The first was from a woman who was an ex-customer of Valda's. She wrote how she had told Valda - whilst my sister cut her hair one day - that she was unsure whether to stay in her marriage or not. My sister convinced her to return to her husband and give it another go. She did, and she wrote that it was Valda who had saved her marriage. 

Then there was the card that was written by the ambulance driver who attended the scene of the accident. He expressed his heartfelt sympathy for my parents’ loss - no doubt forever affected by what he saw that day.

The funeral was attended by many. Valda was, by all accounts, a very popular young lady. She was outgoing, fun-loving and full of life.

Valda's boyfriend, John, was also a ballroom dancer. He was the 1970 professional state champion, and Festival of Perth ballroom champion. My mum believes Valda and John would have become engaged once John turned 21. 

John was to celebrate his 21st birthday that year. For some reason (my Mum can't recall why) my sister held an early celebration for him. His parents, who had planned to give him a special watch on his birthday, gave it to him at that party instead. John's parents (Aunty Joy and Uncle John as I still call them - though we are not related) remain close friends of our family. In fact, they used to send me a birthday present every year (usually something lovingly handmade by Aunty Joy) until, at age 30, I begged them not to go to so much trouble anymore - a card would suffice nicely! After John and Valda's death, they would express their gratitude that Valda had organised that early celebration, as John's 21st birthday would never arrive. 

At the time of Valda's death, my sister, C, was pregnant with her second child. She had not yet told Valda of the pregnancy. Whilst telling John's sister about how she wished she'd told Valda she would be an aunt again, John's sister looked puzzled and said, "But, C, Valda knew you were pregnant. She told me you were."

Not long after the funeral, my Mum came across a book in which held a receipt for a lay-by Valda had been paying off. My Mum called the store, explained the story of my sister’s death to the salesgirl, and pleaded with her that the exact same product be given to her to purchase. The salesgirl went out to the back of the store and returned to tell my Mum she had my sister's lay-by. It was a large stuffed toy giraffe. 

A gift that was intended for me.

It is the one toy from my childhood that I packed when Hubby and I moved from Perth to Sydney in December 1995. Since then, it has sat by the bedside of all my three boys following their births. It, and a porcelain egg cup my sister purchased for my first Easter that year, a reminder of how much my sister loved me.

After the birth of my first son, I was changing his nappy when he was around four weeks old, and he looked off to the side and smiled. I said, "What are you looking at? Is Aunty Valda making you laugh?" About a week later, I was talking to my Mum on the phone, and she told me that my niece had seen a psychic medium a few days before. The psychic had asked her, "Is there someone who died quite some time ago, starting with the letter V?" My niece explained it would be Valda. The psychic then asked, "Is there a new baby in the family?" My niece replied, "Yes, my aunty Jodie just had a baby boy. That would be Valda's nephew." The psychic said, "Valda said to tell you that she makes the baby laugh."

When my Mum told me that, tears immediately sprung in to my eyes. After I hung up the phone, I cried. I'm a healthy skeptic when it comes to psychics and mediums etc, but I took comfort in hearing this. 

The reason for writing this post is two fold. Firstly, I am thankful that my parents educated me on my sister's death and that they spoke about their feelings openly. I'm glad I came to 'know' my sister through their words (I was not quite 7 months old when she died). Therefore, this post is written partly for posterity. I hope it will help explain a little of who Aunty Valda was to my boys some day (and I will continue to talk to them about her as well.) 

Secondly, I would like to think my sister's death can have a positive outcome. Perhaps someone will read this, and whilst traveling this Easter, might stop and think about what happened to my sister. 

The reality is, that most of the people who will lose their lives this Easter time will lose them on country roads. Remember: getting to your destination at all is far more important that getting there as quickly as possible.*

Put it this way: as much as I love and will always cherish my toy giraffe, I’d much rather it was Valda sitting by my children’s bedside.

Easter is a special family time here at Chez Ansted. I'll be taking some time out from my blog to spend it with my husband and our boys. I wish all my readers a very Happy and safe Easter. I'll see you next week. xxx


* Speeding was not considered to be a contributing factor to Valda and John's accident. It was determined a 'freak accident'. However, many lives are lost on our roads through speeding and/or not stopping to rest. Remember: Stop. Revive. Survive.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

When They Finally 'Get It'

We had a couple of reasons to celebrate a little here this week. 

For those of you who have kids...you know that feeling you experience when your child just doesn't quite get something? For example, when a baby commando crawls, and just when you think he'll never get up on his knees and you're just minutes away from strapping a cleaning cloth on his front - I mean, you may as well get some use out of this and finally clean those floors that have been making him so dirty - and suddenly up he goes. He's on his knees.

Well, we had a couple of those moments this week.

On Saturday, the 9yr old went to his friend's birthday party. It was held at an indoor rock climbing centre. We've been to the same centre a few times with the kids ourselves. In fact, we were there to have a mini-birthday party for our 7yr old back in February. (By mini, I mean the kids, Hubby and I.)

The 9yr old has never really been a risk taker. It's difficult for us to convince him to challenge himself, and when we were last at the centre he would only climb the walls about half way up. On a large ladder that reaches the ceiling, he did manage to push himself to climb to the top of it - twice - but once there, he refused to jump from it - even after reassurances by one of the employees he most definitely would not hit a wall opposite the ladder (the 9yr old's fear), and instead he chose to climb down about ten to fifteen steps before finally letting go. We knew it was hard for him watching his younger brother act like a monkey and just climb the wall with ease.

Well...on Saturday, although I wasn't there, Hubby assures me it was like a new child climbing those walls. He was climbing to the top - and without hesitation - and this time he jumped freely from the ladder without having to move down any steps. Amazing! I'm guessing being surrounded by his peers may have had something to do with his new found confidence, but whatever it is...we're over the moon for him. He came home from that party happy with a sense of achievement, and that's what we want for our kids.

Yesterday, on our way to the 4yr old's swimming lesson, I once again thought about the fact that we've been doing the same lesson, week in week out for over a year now. Although, initially, he got off to a good start, there was that one teacher who put his progress back a number of paces, and since then he hasn't really improved much at all. The same old thing was occurring each week: he'd put his head down in to the water for a few seconds, but refused to try and swim unassisted.

As I pulled in to park at the swim centre, I considered pulling him out by the end of the month. I figured we could just start up again when he started school next year. Until then, Hubby could continue to take him to the pool on weekends, and perhaps I could do a swim with him during the week?

As I sat flicking through a magazine (something I've never done before at the pool, actually) glancing up occasionally to see how he was going, I was surprised to see my son SWIMMING. Like, head down and dog paddling his way through the water for a really good distance...without his teacher holding him. I sat mesmerized, expecting that at any moment he'd change his mind and refuse to swim another inch, but he just kept going. I was ecstatic, and I praised him afterwards like you wouldn't believe - after taking video footage as evidence to show Hubby.

So take heart. If you think you're child's never going to 'get' something...you may be surprised. Today, tomorrow...soon. It'll happen.

Now, if I could just get the 4yr old to eat some solid pieces of fruit...

Do you have kids? Have they taken longer than others to 'get' something?

Image: We Heart It

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Fellow Blogger Needs Your Advice

My friend, Ami, sent me an email the other day asking if I would mind posting something here on my blog for her. 

Quite frankly, it wouldn’t really matter what it was that Ami sent, because I love her writing and her own blog is one of my all time faves. But when I read what she had written, I really wanted to help her – and her family. When you read this, you’ll understand why she’s not comfortable posting it on her own blog, and why she really needs your advice.

Ami writes…

I don't have depression. I'm not going to pretend I know what it's like to have irrational thoughts and I don't know what it's like to not want to get out of bed and take care of your children. But I do know what it's like to watch a person and their family go through a living hell.

Someone in our family is suffering. Suffering from anxiety and depression. It began about 4 years ago as postnatal depression. It got better. And then it all came crashing down again about 12 months ago. She has a loving husband. Two gorgeous children. A successful business. A wonderful life. A wonderful life, that is, from the outside looking in. But on the inside she's not coping. Her husband is struggling with the thought of mental illness. I sometimes wonder if he believes that mental illness exists at all. While he’s supportive, he is exhausted. Exhausted from essentially being a single parent, trying to run a business and look after his wife. Unfortunately he has said he has no faith in the mental health system. At the end of last year she spent over a month in hospital. She was in hospital for Christmas, which was devastating for all the family. Hospital doesn’t seem to have worked. She believes when she was in hospital she was "just a number".

Her psychologist wants her to go back to hospital. They are refusing. When asked why, he said if she goes back to hospital it won’t just be for a few weeks, it could be for months. And as horrible as that may be, a few months out of their lives now is nothing compared to having this continue for years to come.

So for nearly 12 months we've watched the situation deteriorate. We've had suggestions knocked back and we've had a number of family numbers on the phone crying. Grown men sobbing. We've spent hours and hours talking about it wishing something would improve.

They resisted for ages getting any type of professional involved and I think that was their biggest mistake. Her husband leaves making psychologist appointments etc up to her, and she told me last week she stopped making her doctor's appointments and then when she tried to get back into her psychologist she's booked out for a couple of months because she stopped making them in advance. It’s not for us to say, but clearly someone needs to be keeping on top of this, for her.

I've sat on her lounge room floor with her and cried. Cried because she doesn't want to go on. Cried because she wants her old life back where depression wasn't an ugly black cloud that was swallowing up her and her family.

But as upsetting as this is, it is equally as frustrating. That's very easy for me to say. I'm the outsider. An outsider looking in, not living in the reality of a life that has totally fallen to pieces. This family is in crisis. Our family is struggling to know how to support them. To watch your wife have a kicking and screaming fit on the floor saying she is going to kill herself is beyond heartbreaking. To hear their 4 year old daughter witnessed it and tried to comfort her sobbing mum... I, I just don't have the words to describe that kind of pain.

I desperately wish we could help. The whole family has offered numerous sensible suggestions like putting the kids in daycare to lighten the load on them so they can both go to work. (Yes, she’s still going to work). But the idea of daycare makes her feel like a failure as a mother. And I guess when you’re depressed you can only see the negative of everything. All we seem to be able to offer is a friendly ear. But it just isn't enough. We feel helpless. Because really, we are. We're not in the situation and we aren't mental health professionals. We might see things from a different perspective that they may not see, but getting that message through appears to be mission impossible.

They’ve recently visited a naturopath and some deficiencies have been identified. I truly hope it will be that simple to get her on the road to recovery. But pinning all their hopes on some supplements is risky.

Every night she goes to bed and prays for a miracle. I wish it were that simple. I wish the old her would come back. The one that loved socialising, chatting, catching up for afternoon tea. The old her that laughed. I wonder when the last time was that she laughed?

I wish they could get their lives back on track. I wish we could get her back. Our family just isn't the same.

I’ll be honest. I have no idea how to help Ami’s family. I really don’t. And I completely understand how Ami just can’t sit back and leave it up to this couple to sort this out. There’s just too much at risk.

If any of you - my lovely readers - have any suggestions as to what Ami could do to help ease her family's situation, I know Ami would appreciate your thoughts.

Friday, April 15, 2011

This Week I'm Grateful For...No Routine

It's school holidays. That means: no routine.

No soccer training. No swimming lessons. No getting kids to school by 8.50am. No library bags to remember. No homework to supervise. No ironing of school shirts. No lunches to prepare and pack. No searching for missing lunch boxes, school jumpers or hats. No sports class for the 4yr old. (Actually, I miss that one. I get to sit in a cafe for an hour writing - iPod on - whilst the 4yo does his thing.) 

We're currently getting up when we're ready. We're enjoying a lazy breakfast every day. We're spending time together. Sweet, precious time with lots of hugs and reading books and just being a family. 

Lovin' it. 

Thanks to Maxabella for hosting her weekly grateful post. 

What are you grateful for this week?


On Mummy Mayhem This Week - And the winners of Libbi Gorr's new book!

Time to catch up on what you might have missed this week on my bloggy.

I can't believe how quickly I've moved in to RE-LAX mode this week. Even with the kids at home 24/7. (Nothing short of a miracle, really.) And we've even gone through the whole first week of the school holidays without a Pyjama Day too. Can you believe it? (It's coming, people. It's coming.)

So, the blog has had rather light posts this week. I've just been enjoying time with my boys to be honest.

I'm still working on that post about my friend I mentioned last week, so I didn't get to post it this week. We've been emailing back and forth as I've discovered more questions for her, and I just want to get it right. I think, with Easter around the corner - and a few planned posts for next week, you'll be reading it after Easter.

The interview, that I've mentioned previously, with the best-selling author will hopefully (fingers crossed) be up next week. Don't worry, I'll definitely keep you posted on that one! I can't wait to share her story and her new book. Awesome.

Ok, let's talk this past week now.

Coffee. Don't you love it? I've rediscovered it fairly recently, and I'm grateful for the little break it provides me most days.

You may have noticed a little pic on the top of the RHS of my homepage for the X-Factor Awards. I vlogged about it. (Co-starring Talking Carl and the 4yo.)

Since attending a rather sparkly event last Sunday, the 4yr old has a new obsession. Seriously. SO obsessed. Find out what it is.

The school holidays have been, so far, filled with milkshakes, cake, books and sleeeeep. (Nice.)

Ok...now it's time to announce the three WINNERS of Libbi Gorr's fabulously funny new book, The A to Z of Mummy Manners. They are:

Mumma's Mini Me's - Kym

Congrats, ladies! If you don't hear from me anytime soon, please email me your postal details to mummymayhem@bigpond.com so I can organise your copy to be sent out ASAP. Thanks to all who entered! (Sorry @Denwise1. I Know you really wanted a copy...it's, literally, the luck of the draw!)

Now, at this stage, I plan to do a grateful post tonight or tomorrow morning. But...then again...you never know at the moment. School holidays and all, you know? ;)

Have a great weekend, people!