words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Archive for the tag “family”

Find your bliss

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My daughter made this for me last year.

As I sit here and write this, I am surrounded by a myriad of things.

There are reminders of my children — photos of them when they were younger, their first drawings, paintings they did for Mother’s Days past, handmade coasters and little notes they leave on my desk from time to time.

There are also books. Lots and lots of books on my desk. Some I have read, some are in the ‘to-read’ category. Some of them are related to my work, and some of them are for pleasure. Books give me a lot of pleasure.

I also have calendars, a diary, planners, paper, journals and lots of pens.  I love to plan and be organised. And being an old-fashioned girl, I like to do it the old-fashioned way — using pen and paper.

My favourite coffee cup sits on my desk, next to my hand cream, a candle and my ipod — things that I use on a daily basis.

Also sitting on my desk is my training program for the next 12 weeks, along with the goals I have set myself.

QUESTION: What do they all have in common?

ANSWER: They all make me happy.

One of my most favourite pictures of my kids, which sits on my desk.

One of my most favourite pictures of my kids, which sits on my desk.

Each day, we have choices to make. Very few of us are free to do whatever we like, whenever we like. We all have responsibilities and things we have to attend to on a daily basis — whether that means going to work to earn our living, raising a family, caring for loved ones, ferrying kids back and forth.

However, there is something that ALL of us can do to bring a little happiness to our days. Even if it is only having a coffee in your favourite cup, or listening to your ipod while you clean toothpaste off every surface in the children’s bathroom.

We all have different things that we love. Things we use, things we do, life choices we make that keep us happy.

We may not always understand why something makes someone else happy, but that’s okay.

For example, I don’t understand what part of bike riding is enjoyable. All I seem to get from it is a very sore backside. However, friends of mine are avid bike riders. They just about live in lycra. It’s their thing, their passion. One of my friends rides “Around the Bay in a Day” every year. That’s 250km in a day ‘for fun’. And he rides his bike from home to the start line, and then home from the finish line. So that’s more like 300km. I don’t get it. I admire him, but I don’t get it.

Just like some people don’t get why I love to lift weights. In some ways I don’t get it either. In my younger days I hated weight training. I would start a program but I would perform it half-heartedly, always having an ‘excuse’ not to do it. As I got older I knew I really should incorporate it into my exercise routine, if I wanted to stay healthy but I kept putting it off. When I was ready to tackle it, I told my trainer that I hated weights and that she would have to make it interesting if I was to stick at it.

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I had to include my son’s art work.

More than two years later, I now lift three times a week (soon to be four – WHOO HOO!) and I love it. In fact, I live for it. I love getting strong. I love feeling my muscles working. I love setting goals and working towards them. I love the place I have to go to in my mind before I lift something heavy. I love the feeling of accomplishment I get from lifting something that I thought was too heavy. And the masochist in me loves the sore muscles over the next two days.

(Some of you won’t get it. That’s okay.)

It’s part of my bliss. It’s also something new that I have found that I love.

But it’s not all of my bliss.

There are lots of other things that make me happy, some of which have made me happy for years.

Bliss for me is reading a book while enjoying a good red wine.

It’s a good coffee and some dark chocolate.

It’s planning and making lists and writing with pens and paper.

It’s a day on my own, just for me.

It’s a relaxing massage. Total bliss!

It’s cuddles in the bed with my kids.

It’s a great conversation with a good friend.

It’s sitting at my computer, free to write what I feel like.

My favourite beach.

My favourite beach – Caloundra.

It’s watching the ocean crash on the rocks.

It’s sitting in front of a campfire and laughing with friends.

It’s a warm bath at the end of a busy day.

It’s sitting on the couch, watching a great movie with my husband.

And it’s definitely all the reminders of the two little people in my life.

Bliss can be different things for different people. It’s not our job to judge whether the things that make others happy are good or bad, right or wrong. We just need to accept that sometimes other people do ‘crazy’ things because it makes them happy.

We all have a chance to have bliss in our days, even if it is only for 10 minutes.

The trick is working out what makes you happy, and working it into each day.

Where do you find your bliss?

follow your bliss2

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

 She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

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Head in the sand? Absolutely!

I’m usually not one for avoiding the facts. Sometimes I might put off unpleasant tasks (just take a look at my ironing basket), but most of the time, my attitude is ‘if it needs to be done, just get on and do it’.

However, there is something I have been putting off, and putting off. I’ve been burying my head in the sand and living in denial. I’ve been pushing the thought of it out of my mind over and over again. For now, it is working. But I know that one day all too soon, I won’t be able to deny it anymore.

You see, my oldest is about to finish primary school.

What a difference 6 years makes

What a difference 6 years makes

I know that some of you reading this have been through this in the past couple of years — and you can empathise with me. Thank you.

I know that some of you have children who haven’t even started school yet, so cannot possibly comprehend them being old enough to head off to high school. But think for a moment of your little one starting primary school. It’s a little like that — only worse.

And then there are some of you who are wondering why is it such a big deal.

I too am wondering the same. After all, my son is ready to go off to high school. He is looking forward to new things, making new friends and beginning a new chapter in his life.

So if he is happy, why aren’t I?

Well, I am happy — sort of. I’m happy that he is ready to go, I’m happy that he wants to go. I’m happy that he has the confidence and sense of adventure that enables him to look forward to high school rather than be afraid of it. But that’s where it ends.

Truth be told, I’m not really ready for my boy to grow up.

I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t enjoy absolutely EVERY single primary school activity. I mean, standing out in the driving rain, watching district cross-country is not much fun. Nor is being squashed in a gym for over an hour in 40+ degree heat watching over 100 kids receive basketball medals.

But overall, primary school has been a wonderful experience for both of us.

Events and activities such as the Prep Alphabet Concert, the Grade 1 Fairy Tale Ball, right through to the annual Christmas Concert, provided us with many laughs and fond memories (despite the headaches involved in sorting out costumes!).

Then there was the seemingly endless array of sporting activities — School cross country, District cross country, School athletics, District athletics, District tennis, Inter-school sport, After-school basketball, swimming, skip-a-thons, fun runs, etc. At the time, it seemed a big chunk out of my week to attend all these things. But really, they have come and gone in a blink of an eye and the only reminder is a bunch of ribbons and medals, and some photographs that showed just how little my boy was when he started school.

If the first year of primary school is a series of ‘firsts’, then the last year is a series of ‘lasts’. The last cross country, the last athletics day, the last school production, the last season of basketball.

I’m trying very hard not to think about these events as ‘the last’. For the most part I am succeeding. However, I know that when the school production is done and the last goal has been scored in basketball, a part of me will wish we could do it over again. I am sure there will be a tear in my eye.

As I sit here and write this, we have just under 18 weeks of school left for the year.

head in the sand18 weeks to enjoy.

18 weeks to savour.

18 weeks to pull my head out of the sand … somehow.

In the meantime, perhaps I’ll go and tackle my ironing basket.

 

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

 She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

 

Those you love are never far away

Pa and Nerissa

My grandfather and I … 16 years ago.

This past weekend, our family enjoyed a quick trip to QLD for my in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary. It had been a long-time in the planning, which meant that family from around the globe could come.

Firstly, my husband’s oldest brother and his family from Cairns. The last time we saw them was over six years ago. My husband’s other brother and his family live in QLD, but we hadn’t seen them for almost two years. Then there was an uncle who came from Scotland who we hadn’t seen in a few years and another aunt and uncle from New Zealand who we hadn’t seen since our honeymoon, 16 ½ years ago.

Needless to say it was a houseful of people, brought together because we were celebrating a special milestone. And while it was a very busy time (we were organising and catering for the celebratory lunch), it was also a great time of catching up, swapping stories and lots of laughter.

Our kids were particularly excited to see their cousins. Their oldest ones from Cairns are now adults (18 and 19), so they were keen to see ‘how big they really were’ as last time they were together my daughter was 2 ½ and the older cousins were about to enter their teenage years.

They were also excited about seeing their other cousins whom they hadn’t seen for about 18mths. Closer in age, they always get along like a house on fire.

I expected the weekend to be busy (after all, we were flying in on Friday morning and out again on Sunday morning and in-between we were catering for and organising a lunch for 42 people). I expected the weekend to be fun. I expected that there would be a lot of celebrating and I expected to see some familiar faces at the celebration lunch.

However, there were two guests I didn’t expect to see — and the fact that I saw them both on the same day, out of the blue was quite amazing to me.

The first was my grandfather who passed away just over 10 years ago.

No, it wasn’t a ghostly apparition. My mother-in-law had a photo she had taken of Pa and I, 16 years ago — shortly after Nan had passed away. She said she thought I would appreciate it more than she would. She was right. What a special photograph.

My grandmother, mother and aunty are all in this photo.

My grandmother, mother and aunty are all in this photo.

The second person I didn’t expect to see came along with a guest of the party. A lady called Judy, came up to me with a photocopy of an old photograph and asked me if I recognised anyone in it. To my astonishment, there was my Nan smiling out from the picture. It was a much younger version of her, as the photo was taken in 1962. On closer inspection, my mother and my aunty were also in the photo!

Talk about being gob-smacked!

Two guests from my past, but two very important people in my life, who had influenced me greatly as I was growing up. Two people who I miss most days were there with me unexpectedly. And it brought a smile to my face.

Since they have both passed away, my grandparents ‘pop up’ unexpectedly every now and then. Sometimes their ‘visit’ coincides with a significant event or date and other times, they appear out of the blue.

Just to remind me that those you love are never really far away.

 

 

Nerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

 She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

“I only belong in your heart”

Laura at 6 (with no front teeth)

One of my favourite pics of me and my precious girl on a Prep Excursion to the Zoo. I love it because her smile is so big (and gappy!).

I looked at my daughter’s face as tears welled up in her eyes. I asked her what was wrong.

“I don’t want to go to school because I don’t feel like I belong there anymore,” she cried as tears rolled down her face.

“Of course you belong,” I said. “You’re an important member of your class and the whole school.”

“No, I only belong in your heart.”

Then she sobbed.

My beautiful 8 year old daughter, then told me that a group of girls at her school wouldn’t let her play with them. According to her, they were being rude and telling lies about her. And so, she felt like she didn’t belong there anymore.

After we had talked a few things through, I asked her what she meant when she told me she belonged in my heart.

She replied: “Because we are connected, heart to heart.”

Now to explain to you what that means, I have to take you into a world of Barbie movies. I know, I know — Barbie movies are not award-winning material. But my daughter loves them and one particular movie is very dear to her heart — and mine.

It’s called “Barbie and the Diamond Castle”. Basically, it’s a story of two best friends who grow flowers for a living. They both love music. One day they find two heart-shaped stones which they turn into necklaces to symbolise their friendship. One of the songs they sing during the movie is about their friendship and the chorus goes like this:

I feel connected (connected), protected (protected), it’s like you’re standing right with me all the time.
You hear me (you hear me), you’re near me (you’re near me),
and everything else is gonna be alright.
‘Cause nothing can break this, nothing can break this, nothing can break this tie.
Connected…

This song is one of ‘our songs’, and my daughter still loves to sing it to me, in full.

The reason this song is so special for my daughter and I is we first saw this movie when she started school. That was a very emotionally draining year for the whole family, as my daughter cried every day for three months. Every day. Some days the teacher had to prise her from me, which was not pleasant for any of us.

But through it all, we used to remind each other that we were connected like the two girls in the Barbie movie — even when we were apart. We even bought one of those ‘best-friend’ necklaces in the shape of a heart that you split in two and give to your best friend. She would go to school wearing her half under her uniform and I would wear my half for the day. It was our way of ‘being connected, heart to heart’.

Three years later, she was standing before me, with tears rolling down her face, telling me she belonged in my heart because we were connected.

She knew that no matter what happened at school, or anywhere else, that she would always have a place in my heart.

I wasn’t happy to hear that she was feeling so upset. But I was happy to know that she feels like she ‘belongs in my heart’, regardless of whatever else is taking place around her.

Happily, that day in the playground was a ‘one-off’ and she is back to playing with her friends and going to school with a smile on her face.

But it was a valuable experience for her, to not just ‘know’ that she was important to us at home, but to really feel and believe that she can always count on us to make her feel special, loved and cherished.

Forever connected, heart to heart.

My daughter found this rock a few months ago. When she picked it up, it broke in her hands into two pieces. She gave one half to me and kept one half for her to remind me that we 'are connected'.

My daughter found this rock a few months ago. When she picked it up, it broke in her hands into two pieces. She gave one half to me and kept one half for her to remind me that we ‘are connected’.

Side note: For those of you interested in the rest of the Barbie movie plot, the two girls stumble across a girl called Melody who is trapped in a mirror. She tells them a story about how she lived with three muses in the Diamond Castle until one day, one of the muses turned evil because she wanted the music to herself. The other two muses hid the Diamond Castle before they were turned into stone. So of course the two girls head off to stop the evil muse, before she finds the Diamond Castle and destroys music (and the world). And of course, everything works out in the end.

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

Why you can’t judge a book by its cover (or a Christmas tree for that matter)

What does your Christmas tree look like? Does it look like one fit for a designer store? Is it a real tree or an artificial one? Is it colour-themed, or is it a hotchpotch of different decorations?

Yesterday was the 1st of December so according to our family tradition, it was the day to put up the Christmas tree. As part of our tradition, we put on some Christmas music, break out a few Christmas treats and get to work.

My husband assembles the tree, puts on the lights and the kids and I decorate it — along with the mantelpiece. Yes, we are blessed with a mantelpiece, which is lovely for Christmas time.

Each year in the lead-up to Christmas, when the shops are filled with fancy decorations and themed Christmas trees, I think, “I must buy some new decorations for the tree”. But, as I pull out all of the decorations we have when it’s time to set it up, I can’t bring myself to throw any of them away. So really, what is the point of new stuff?

On first glance, our tree is a bit haphazard. There is no obvious theme. It is not colour co-ordinated and there are decorations on it (and on the mantelpiece) that have seen better days.

So why don’t I just throw them away?

Because they mean something to our family.

Some of them are lovely, quality decorations given to me over the years by some very dear friends. Each year, as I hang them up, I think of them.

Some of them are the first decorations my husband and I bought as a married couple, which we bought for our tiny, little (live) tree. Sadly the tree has died, but the golden bells and little apples are still going strong and always bring a smile to our face.

We also have baubles with our names on them and a decoration that represents each of us. Trev — the bearer of gifts; Nerissa — baker extraordinaire; Josh — always our little boy; and Laura — our dancing princess. We even hang the decoration we bought for our dog when she was alive. Just another way to remember her.

Our family - in Christmas decorations

Our family – in Christmas decorations

But by far the most precious decorations (and also the most shabby), are the ones made by the kids. Our kids are (almost) 11 and 8 now, so their decoration-making skills have improved over the years. However, we still have decorations they made when they were toddlers. These consist of simple Christmas shapes, which they ‘coloured’, or pipe cleaners fashioned into some weird shapes.

We have decorations from their playgroup years, which include a nativity scene that Laura made (okay, it was me) complete with animals and a baby Jesus. (Don’t look too closely at the baby, as I had such a difficult time with him!)

We have umpteen Christmas wreaths ranging from the gold-painted, macaroni on a plate-variety, through to one with patty pans glued around the outside of it. One of the macaroni ones has hardly any macaroni left, but I still can’t throw it away. And needless to say, those patty pans have seen better days. We also have angels that hang on the tree, their wings being the hands of each of my children at the age of 3 or 4.

Most of our decorations are handmade by the kids

Most of our decorations are handmade by the kids

Once they were old enough for school, my kids became better at making decorations. We have half a dozen or so ‘Christmas trees’ that the kids made at their Christmas clubs. Some more ‘loved’ (tatty) than others. We have a multitude of Santas, several reindeer and a sleigh! In fact, there is a section of our mantelpiece that is dedicated to ‘school Christmas craft’. And in another week or so, we will have more in our collection.

Some of our decorations incorporate a photo of the kids at a certain age, which is really cute, yet also serves to remind us just how many years have gone by!

Some of the decorations I remember making with the kids, and some of them I remember ooohing and aaahing over when they brought them home from school.

One of the most beautiful things about our collection of decorations is how they trigger conversations and memories.

“Remember when we made this?”

“Look how small your hands were!”

I can’t believe I thought that was a good job.”

“Look how cute you were.”

While many of them are old, and fit only for the scrap heap, I cannot bring myself to throw them away. Discarding them for something shinier and newer would be akin to discarding my children, their memories and their creativity. Every decoration on our tree has a special meaning and a special memory tied to it. It’s almost like a time capsule.

A time capsule of our family (including the gold painted macaroni wreaths!)

A time capsule of our family (including the gold painted macaroni wreaths!)

So if you are at our place this Christmas, don’t judge my tree by looks alone.

Yes, to the naked eye, our Christmas tree and surrounding decorations are a mish-mash of everything — nothing tying them together and no real theme.

But the truth is, the theme at our place each Christmas is family — something that is never out of fashion.

Merry Christmas xx

Why kids deserve respect

Respect is a tricky thing.respect

Yet it seems to be twisted into a definition that suits anyone.

We need to respect their decisions

We need to respect their beliefs

We need to respect their right to express themselves

We need to respect the way they live their life.

What does it really mean?

Respect can be defined as:

  • A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

OR

  • Due regard for the feelings, wishes or rights of others.

While a lot of people talk about the need for respect, I don’t believe many people practice it anymore.

Instead there seems to be too much focus on ‘doing what makes you happy’, ‘living for the moment’ and forgetting about how that impacts on other people.

I’m not saying that you need to do what others want you to, or go and become a ‘people pleaser’.

What I am saying, is that we need to think about the impact our actions may have on other people — especially our kids.

Think about those ‘high profile celebrities’ who have been in the news lately, for their questionable actions. I am not going to name them, simply because I believe the reason they are engaging in their questionable behaviour is to gain publicity and get people talking about them.

However, if I used the words, ‘twerking’ and ‘joint-smoking’, I’m sure you know one of whom I am referring to.

Yet she is one of many. Listen to the lyrics of many popular songs, or watch the video that accompanies them, and there is often very little respect to be found.

Half-naked men and women, dancing around (often gyrating), singing about strip clubs, alcohol, and drugs. All the while objectifying women (and men), and passing it off as entertainment.

Think about some of our ‘sports stars’. Yes, they may be great at their sport, but are they really role models we want for our kids? Footy players getting drunk, or on charges of rape; a tennis star in trouble for hooning; a prominent golfer caught cheating on his wife a few years back. Yet these are the very people who are held up to be ‘heroes’.

TV shows are now being made from footage of drunken, foul-mouthed, disrespectful thugs having brushes with the law. While they may be televised after prime-time, they are still advertised when children watch TV. Do they really need to see that? Besides, are we really that desperate that we have to resort to that kind of stuff? Surely our combined level of intelligence isn’t that low.

What is going on?

Our kids are looking up to these people. What kind of qualities are these people exhibiting, that results in a feeling of deep admiration for them? Where is the regard for the rights and feelings of our children?

When we ‘normalise’ cheating, getting drunk or engaging in anti-social behaviour, our children learn to do the same. When film clips objectify women (and men) as objects, our kids learn to do the same.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my son growing up to only see value in a woman for what she looks like and how sexually attractive she is.

I certainly don’t want my daughter growing up to believe that the only worth she has is to be found in men ogling her, or being sexually available.

When we show footage of people doing drugs and making it look cool, then our kids want to do the same thing and be ‘cool’ too. It’s quite confusing for them to be told about the dangers of drugs on one hand, but then be shown footage of a celebrity lighting up a joint.

Parenting is not easy. Forget about the sleepless nights and toilet training — that’s a piece of cake.

The harder stuff is trying to teach a child right from wrong and to guide their moral compass. We are trying to equip our kids to negotiate the minefield of drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, anti-social behaviour, cheating, lying, and selfish behaviour. Yet in one foul swoop, another person’s actions can call into question everything we have taught.

As children get older, the outside world has more influence on them. Yet people wonder ‘what is going on with kids these days?’ Well, kids model what they see, and ‘respectful’ is not how I would describe our current society.

Many forget that the children of today will grow up to be adults. What we teach them about the world, and their place in it, is a very big deal.

If our kids grow up believing that it’s ok to disrespect others, then they will grow up to be disrespectful.

If our children see their role models have no self-respect, then how will they grow up to respect themselves?

If our kids think it’s ok to yell, and scream and swear and carry on when things don’t go their way, then what kind of adults will they make?

If we show our kids that it’s cool to be on drugs and okay to get drunk, then what kind of society are we creating?

If today’s celebrities are all about self-promotion, self-gratification, making money at the expense of others and not interested in the welfare of the people who have made them celebrities, then what hope do our kids have?

So, to all of you out there who thinks that it’s none of my business how you live your life — think again.

Most of the time it is not. However, it is my business if the way you act and behave is disrespectful to my children. It is my business if your actions have a negative impact upon my children. And it is my business if what you are modelling is against what I am teaching my children.

It most certainly is my business, if I have to explain adult-concepts to my children, well before they need to know about them.

Remember, most children don’t ask to see scantily clad women gyrating about. They shouldn’t have to see sex-shops in every suburb advertising their sleazy wares. Most children don’t usually ask to see footage of people doing drugs. And they certainly don’t deserve to be told that their only value in life is to be an ‘object’ for someone else’s gain.

Children are vulnerable. Children are innocent. Children are impressionable. Children are special. Most importantly, they are the future of this country.

Let’s treat them with the respect they deserve.

It’s Birthday Season!

I love this time of the year. In fact, Spring is my favourite season.birthday cake

In our family, it is also birthday season. October heralds the beginning of a run of birthdays that continues all the way through to the end of January. There are not so many now my beloved grandparents are no longer celebrating earthly birthdays — but still there are quite a few to get through by the time you count in immediate family, aunts and uncles and extended family. There are also a number of friends who blow out candles at this time of the year, so most weeks, there is some kind of cake on offer.

Growing up, my family always made a fuss of birthdays. There would be presents and cards, and cake and my grandparents would always come over to see us after school and stay for dinner. Mum used to ask what we would like for dinner and what type of cake we would like, and our birthday dinner was always something to look forward to. Birthdays were always exciting.

When I was young, I always knew when my birthday was coming up, simply by the changing of the seasons. I lived in Queensland, across the road from a golf course. As soon as September arrived, the golf course would get that sweet summery smell. The plovers would begin nesting and calling out at night, and the transition into summer PJs would occur.

A few days out, cards would arrive in the mail and the sense of excitement would begin to grow.

During my University years, the jacarandas would begin to bloom in October. If anyone has ever been to The University of Queensland in October, you know it’s a sight to behold. For most of my fellow students, it was a bad sign, as it meant exams were on the horizon. Me, I loved them. Not only did they remind me of the tree my grandparents had in their front yard, but they were yet another sign my birthday was almost here.

Even though the number of candles on my cake increase each year, there is still a sense of excitement. But it’s not about what presents I will get and what fuss will be made of me, as it was in my younger years.

The excitement lies in watching my children get excited when my birthday comes along. For a couple of weeks, they think about what to buy. A few days before, paper, pens and pencils come out to make birthday cards, and the night before, there is much secrecy in our bedroom as they wrap their hand-picked presents, ready to give me the next day. All part of the birthday traditions in our house.

It’s nice to carry on traditions, I think. And while each family develops their own birthday traditions, I hope that the traditional excitement that birthdays bring is one that will never die.

Tell me, what birthday traditions do you carry on?

Sorry. I’ve been too busy laughing.

This week the kids went back to school. After two weeks of not getting much writing done, I was looking forward to getting into routine. My husband was also travelling with his job that week, which meant the evenings would be even quieter than usual. (Yeah!)

My sister is one of the people in this world who can always make me laugh - big, deep belly laughs.

My sister is one of the people in this world who can always make me laugh – big, deep belly laughs.

Monday I greeted the day with enthusiasm (unlike my kids who would have loved to have another week off!). We quickly slotted back into the morning routine and got to school without any problems. I kissed them goodbye and waved them off, feeling quite cheery. I was really looking forward to my morning coffee in a quiet house.

But first, I had to go and do some grocery shopping seeing as the kids had eaten me out of house and home. By the time I shopped, brought it home and unpacked it, a few hours had disappeared. It seemed like I had only just got into the ‘zone’ for writing when it was time to down tools to pick up the kids and head off to basketball.

Tuesday I had set aside this day to go and help my sister with her business venture. My mum came as well, so I dropped off the kids, picked up my mum and drove to the other side of Melbourne (where my sister lives). Our day wasn’t as productive as we had hoped, but we did get some work done. Mostly however, it was coffee, cake and lots and lots of belly laughs.

Wednesday Not a lot of time for work today either and I felt mildly stressed that I hadn’t written this week’s blog. Up early for my workout, get the kids off to school, a quick stop at the shops, two loads of washing and a trip to the hairdresser. That was all before lunch. My parents were coming over for dinner that night for my mum’s birthday, so I whipped up a cake and got it in and out of the oven before school pickup. Then it was basketball training, get the washing in and organise dinner. Definitely no work being done today, but once again, there were smiles and laughter in my day. My two kids celebrated their Nana Jude’s birthday with their home-made cards, lots of hugs and kisses, games of cards and my daughter performed a song she had written especially for my mum.

Thursday My beautiful mum’s birthday today. My sister and I had organised to take her out for lunch with other members of our family. So up early, a quick workout, drop off the kids to school (yes, I was still hot and sweaty and looked terrible), and back home to shower and get ready. Lunch was lovely and yes, lots of laughs featured on the menu. Time flew by and all of a sudden, it was time to pack up and do school pick-up, and get my son to tennis training.

Friday What! Friday already? Where did the week go? Gym session at 5.30am, usual morning routine followed by a quick coffee with a friend and then a few more groceries. Today has been a better day work-wise, as I finally finished and submitted an article I hope to get published. Once again however, the writing time went way too quickly and before I knew it, it was off to pick up the kids and head off to my daughter’s basketball game.

And just like that, the week is gone.

As I look back over this week, it’s clear that I didn’t get done what I expected to get done. I have lots of leads and business-building activities yet to complete, articles to write, research to be done, not to mention a house that needs cleaning and a pile of ironing that is developing a life of its own!

But while my week wasn’t what I had hoped, it did yield things more valuable than what I had initially planned — time with family, time with friends and most of all the barrel-loads of laughter I shared with my mum and my sister.

And when you have laughed as much as I have this week, you know it’s been a good week.

The cupcake

Last week, my children’s school had a special ‘Winter Lunch’ day at the Canteen.IMG_1823

For $7.00 (or was it $8.00?), they could order a hot roast beef roll, two mini cupcakes and a can of drink.

My 10-year old son was on board with the offer. (Awesome! That means only packing half a lunch box the night before. )

My daughter was not so thrilled. “I don’t like hot roast beef rolls. I just want the cupcakes”. (Damn! That means I have to pack the full lunch box).

Of course she only wants the cupcakes. She hates meat! $7.00 (or was it $8.00) for two measly cupcakes that were most likely to be the awful, dry, tasteless ones available in the supermarket. So I said no. “No, I’m not paying all that money for two little cupcakes.”

She was devastated.

When I asked her why she was so upset about not getting a lunch that she didn’t like, she replied, “I’ll be the only one without a cupcake”.

Oh dear.

So I quickly promised that I would make some cupcakes the day before the ‘Winter Lunch’, so she would definitely have a cupcake in her lunchbox — and one that would taste nicer than everyone else’s and would be bigger.

That put a smile on her face. Phew! Problem averted.

For a week or so at least….

You see, the day before the promised cupcake, turned out to be a very busy day. I won’t bore you with the minute details of my life, but needless to say, baking cupcakes was the last thing I wanted to be doing, or had time for, for that matter.

I really must be more careful about what I promise.

But a promise is a promise. And it was all tied up (or iced up) in a single solitary cupcake. If I had promised to bake cupcakes, then a bought one — no matter how expensive or which exclusive bakery it may have come from— simply wouldn’t do. So during the course of the mixing, and baking and icing and decorating, (which were all interspersed with other pressing chores), I wondered: how many other seemingly mundane, ordinary things in our lives represent something more than what initially meets the eye?

You see, to everyone else, that cupcake was just that — a cake. Nothing more than flour, sugar, butter, eggs and milk, with a bit of icing and sprinkles on top.

But to my daughter, it was a promise fulfilled. It was the security of not being the only one without a cupcake. It was more evidence that she can count on me — that my word was worth something. And it showed her that I loved her enough to squeeze in yet another task in my busy day, because it would make a difference to her.

When I asked her on the way home from school if she enjoyed her cupcake, she said “Oh yes Mummy. Thanks so, so much for making it!”

And so with a smile on our faces, we continued our journey home, where a container of cupcakes were waiting.

After all, you don’t bake just one cupcake, do you?

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Allison Tait

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