How to get out the door with 2 kids in 30 easy steps

How to get out the door with 2 kids in 30 easy steps
(Cue the Benny Hill soundtrack)

Out the door
1. Bounce out of bed at 5:45am to the ‘alarm’ of youngest child screaming for boo boo.
2. Try to trick youngest child into falling back to sleep by sneaking him into your bed for a snuggly breastfeed.
3. Just as you think youngest might actually be nodding back off to sleep, be woken by eldest child poking you in the back with a wooden block.
4. Give up on the dream of going back to sleep and get everyone up.
5. Throw food in the general direction of children. Expect to have it thrown back at you.
6. Make coffee.
7. Chase youngest child around the lounge room in an attempt to change his nappy and get him dressed. Succeed in removing the nappy but have him slip out of your grasp before you get a fresh one on.
8. Clean up pee from the kitchen floor, hallway and lounge room rug.
9. Finally succeed in fully dressing youngest child. Place him on floor in front of TV.
10. Chase eldest child around house waving pink leggings and a t-shirt in her general direction. Finally catch her in her bedroom, where she pretends to be asleep and completely ignores you.
11. Dress ‘sleeping’ child, which is akin to stuffing a doona into a too-small doona-cover.
12. Return to lounge room to find youngest child has removed his trousers, although somehow still has his shoes on.
13. Re-heat coffee.
14. Re-dress youngest, scoop eldest child’s hair into a ponytail amidst much screaming and flailing of arms (yours and hers).
15. Realise that you are still in your pyjamas. Quickly get dressed in pre-selected work-appropriate outfit, do 1 minute make-up job and bunch hair into a ‘messy bun’ (as described by Marie Claire).
16. Commence countdown of “we are leaving in 5 minutes”, at least 15 minutes before required departure time.
17. Ensure kindy bags are packed with required changes of clothes, water bottles, hats and nappies, after first removing yesterday’s artwork from bags.
18. Re-heat coffee again. Drink half of it in one gulp. Burn mouth. Swear and pour the remainder down the sink.
19. During a particular riveting moment of Peppa Pig, sneak out the door and place kindy bags and your handbag into the car.
20. Bring toothbrushes into loungeroom so children can brush teeth in front of TV.
21. Brush your own teeth while ensuring all doors are locked and lights are off in the house.
22. Turn off the TV, chase children out the front door, get eldest child to climb into car while you strap youngest into his carseat.
23. Remove eldest child from the driver’s seat where she has pressed all the buttons and moved your mirror.
24. Run back inside with eldest child who suddenly declares she needs a wee.
25. Rush back outside (leaving eldest child teetering precariously on toilet seat) after realising you’ve left the youngest child strapped in his carseat in the car… with the engine running.
26. Remove youngest child and carry him back inside under your arm in the football hold.
27. Help eldest child wipe bum, pull pants up and wash hands.
28. Lift a child up under each arm and carry them both out into the car, strap them into their carseats and prepare to leave.
29. Get back out of the car and close the front door.
30. Exit the driveway… and don’t look back.

Bio:Rachel McDougall is Mumma McD, a working mum of two cheeky kids – Little Miss (3.5) and the Stuntman (nearly 2) – blogging from the ‘burbs in Sydney, Australia. She’s a dairy free coffee addict with a penchant for red wine, foul language and laughing in all the wrong places. Find her blogging at Toilets Aren’t For Turtles, Facebook, and Twitter.

Are We There Yet?

IMG_4214“I’m so happy!” I told people, when I was one week, two weeks, a month postpartum. But I was also kind of miserable.

“A little sleep-deprived, but I’m ok,” I responded, when someone asked how I was doing with a newborn. But I wasn’t ok, floating through the house in the middle of the night unable to sleep even when my baby was.

“Breastfeeding is going well!” I chirped, not sharing that I cried about it – sometimes while nursing – at least once a week. And then once a day.

It only hit me recently that first time motherhood has a lot of universally shared experiences that encompass more than the joyful, humorous, and proud moments.

I had my baby at the same time several of my friends were having theirs. We all disappeared, disconnected from each other, for a few months, and slowly began to hear from each other again.

We all agreed on a few things: we loved our children more than anything. We were loving being moms more than we could have ever imagined. And our first few months were punctuated with sadness, uncertainty, and, in many cases, recovering physically and emotionally from our birthing experiences.

We’d whisper admissions to each other, ashamed that we weren’t as happy, functional, and Loving Life as we believed we were supposed to be.

I still have panic attacks when I think about the pain of childbirth.
Sometimes when my baby cries, I’m too tired to go to him. So I let him cry until I can get up.
I thought I wanted to keep working but it’s too hard doing it all.
I thought I wanted to stay at home but I’m so bored being with a baby all day.
I feel trapped in my house.
Sometimes I don’t want anyone to touch me ever again.
I cry for no reason. A lot.
I don’t want to breastfeed anymore but I’m afraid I’ll regret it if I stop.

Some of these are my feelings, while others are what moms have confided in me.

It wasn’t until some weeks ago, when Olivia was over four months, that I realized I was starting to have fun. Starting. Which meant I wasn’t really having all that much fun before. Coping, yes. Loving, absolutely. But fun? That felt like a destination that was still some miles away.

I understand now that my newborn had to mature into an infant, with increased soothing abilities, independence, and spaced-out feedings. She started to recognize me as “Mom” and not just “Food Source.” She’s becoming a cuddle bug. I savor it when she nuzzles into my chest or shoulder, content to be held, instead of headbanging my collarbone blindly, demanding that the Food Source feed her again. And again. And again.

And I understand now that I had to get through those newborn days the best way I could, reverting into survival mode. We aren’t used to being that sleep-deprived, to sustain another’s life with our own food and fat stores; white-knuckling it through our postpartum hormonal fluctuations; and being so profoundly fixated on the care and well-being of this small creature’s that we neglect our own.

I’m not complaining. I’m not saying it could or should be different.

But let’s talk about it. Let’s acknowledge it. Let’s admit that it’s really fucking difficult to care for a newborn and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it.

When someone asks you how you are, or worse, makes assumptions like, “Aren’t you loving it?” it’s ok if, nope, you’re not loving every second of it.

And I want to tell anyone who is still muddling through the first 12 weeks, I promise you it gets better.

I knew I was starting to truly enjoy my life again when I found myself having enough energy to cook dinner for my husband and I, stay up late on the weekends, and watch a movie together.

I had my sense of humor back when I realized that Olivia and I were cracking each other up over the silliest, smallest things.

My patience had returned when I could sit and make farting noises and fish faces at Olivia for 20 minutes because it keeps her wildly entertained (she thinks I’m a comedic genius; it’s very flattering).

My energy was back when I used her nap time to sit down and write, instead of worrying about cleaning, or passing out in my own bed.

Now, instead of handing him the baby when he walks in the door, because I’m desperate for a break, I want to be home, together. Husband and I can sit and watch our girl experience the world, much of it for the first time, appreciating the still-new dynamic of our family of three.

We’re there.

That sweet spot.

I’m chasing a feeling, not a look or appearance or façade.

I don’t need to worry about looking like I’ve got it together, because I don’t care anymore.

I’m having too much fun.

Bio: Jessica Roberts is a new mom, writer, and business owner. In addition to working as a Higher Education Consultant and running Aim High Writing College Consulting, she is a regular contributor to various online and print publications. She maintains a personal writing website, Absurd, She Wrote, where she explores the intersection between professionalism, motherhood, and body image, and how these three impact a woman’s sense of self-worth. Find her blogging at Absurd She Wrote and Aim High Writing, on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

A Feminist Marriage Reflection

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Photo by Justine Montigny (www.justinemontigny.com)

Time flies when you are having fun! At least for myself and my life partner we have had one crazy and adventurous first year of marriage. Last year around this time we shared our special feminist wedding ceremony with the world which we felt needed to be shared. This year to honor our relationship I thought I would share a few things I have learned throughout the last 365 days of matrimony.

A Feminist Reflection:

1.) If you’re going to do anything make sure you’re laughing while you’re doing it.

2.) You can’t make anyone happy except yourself. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t be everything to someone else. You can support and love someone to help facilitate their happiness but you can not change their emotions.

3.) Sex it up when you feel like it, not when you think you should be doing it. There is too much pressure to do the deed a certain amount of times a week. Who cares what other people are doing (or saying what they are doing) and figure out what works best for you and your partner. Quality over quantity, I say.

4.) You are going to fight. Perhaps a lot, perhaps every few months. It happens. It’s how we handle the aftermath that really matters. Look into why you are fighting and try to solve the issues. Also keep in mind that some fights are going to get ugly. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve made a mistake or that the love is gone, it just means you will have to do your best to repair the damage afterwards.

5.) Accept and navigate all of life’s ups, downs, hurdles, and triumphs together!

6.) Love is a gift. Make sure you are giving it and doing so with positive intent.

7.) Marriage is work. It takes a lot of energy and commitment to have a successful marriage but with dedication from both partners it can be done.

8.) Marriage is a crazy thing, but it’s also extremely fun. There are times when you might not be crazy in love with your partner, but then just when you get worried about losing those loving feelings, they come flooding back. It’s awesome and surprising every time!

Bio: Samantha graduated from the University of South Florida, obtaining her Master’s degree in Women’s and Gender Studies with a focus on Sexology. She continues her education at Mercer University in Atlanta by getting her LMFT and sex therapy certification to help individuals looking to explore their sexuality and help couples regain their magical spark! Find her blogging at A Feminist Life and on Twitter @AFeministLife.

Invisibility: The Internet’s Greatest Gift

Here’s a question for you:

Why does anyone blog?

Put more specifically, why does a person with no celebrity status ever think that people (aside from their parents and closest friends) will want to stop by the little corner of the internet they’ve set up to share photos of their living room or their garden or their summer vacation, to explain their thoughts on common core or marathon techniques or the minimum wage or homeschooling or the particular merits of a neutral color scheme in the living room (spoiler alert: it lets you change your look seasonally at low cost with accessories in “pops of color!”)?

It sounds ridiculous.

And yet perhaps one of the most fascinating phenomena of this particular moment in time is that, apparently, the person who believes that people care enough to follow their little story is not crazy. Folks will follow. Some point to the social media frenzy as a narcissistic tragedy of modern culture. Perhaps there are elements of truth there. But it’s not the whole story.

What seems both more apparent and less traumatic is the complete fascination that we have with each others lives. If internet behavior is to be believed at all, people do want to know what you did over the weekend. They’d like to see pictures and read about your mishap with the dishwasher. They want to sign on to Facebook and hear about how potty training your toddler is going. They want to know who you’re planning to vote for in the upcoming election, what type of shampoo you just switched to, what articles you’re reading, why you’ve decided to stop eating gluten, and how you made that quilted table runner.

Not everyone, of course. Some will scroll through or will jump off a page after a quick scan of the photos, but a shockingly large number of people – more than most folks could rally on a street corner with a flyer that promised “Come see photos of this stranger’s holiday decorations!” – are showing up to read the stories, from the short twitter versions to the multi-scroll blog post versions, of people they don’t even know.

* * *

In an episode of This American Life, John Hodgman asks people whether they’d rather have the ability to fly or the ability to make themselves invisible. Through the responses, a picture emerges of the people who choose to fly as bold and guileless and the people who choose to be invisible as ashamed perverts (who want to watch other people have sex) or thieves (who want to steal clothes or sneak into movie theaters without getting caught). As someone who instantly chose the invisibility cloak, I questioned this outcome.

There is no doubt why I want to be invisible – to spy on other people’s lives. In fact, for weeks after hearing the episode, I caught myself in moments of fantasy where I had the power to stand hidden in someone else’s living room and watch them have dinner with their spouse.

I’m not denying the sneakiness factor, but spying is such a sinister word – what I’m really talking about is an intense curiosity about other people. How do they behave when they’re alone washing the dishes? What do they talk about with their spouse at night after the kids are in bed? What makes them cry or dance around the kitchen? And perhaps, yes, what is it like when they have sex?

Of course, there’s no doubt some self-comparison in it: Does she eat spoonfuls of peanut butter straight from the jar after a bad day too? Does that couple also fight about drawers left open in the kitchen? Does he talk to himself in the mirror? Are they like me? Am I normal? How much the same are we? How much different?

* * *

The internet – for better or for worse – is a giant invisibility cloak. Slip it on and cruise around other people’s lives unannounced. See what they had for dinner last night, what made them cry, what they’re fighting about, and even what turns them on if you want. They’ve put it out there for all to see, but chances are, they’re not thinking about you showing up. They don’t even know who you are.

Much has been written about how the anonymity of the internet turns people into the worst versions of themselves, and there are truly deplorable instances out there. But the vast majority of internet perusal appears to be of the invisible sort. We “like” a birth announcement, retweet a funny joke about our favorite tv show, comment on our best friend’s blog. But for the most part, we scroll through unannounced. We lurk. We stand silently in someone else’s living room and satisfy our curiosity.

And maybe that’s not a bad thing.

In all the fear of anonymity and the “selfie culture” and the concern about a tragedy of narcissism, the incredible gift of invisibility gets forgotten. Perhaps curiosity killed the cat, but it’s also responsible for the majority of human progress. It is by being curious that we learn. And here, on the internet, we can satisfy that curiosity without being perverts or thieves. We don’t have to sneak into someone’s house under cover of dark to find out if they’re pacing back and forth, paralyzed with fear about the zombie apocalypse.

Nope. They have kindly invited us in by sharing their entire zombie apocalypse strategy (minus the exact location of their safe house, of course). People share their stories of depression, and we find comfort in the knowledge that someone else’s brain works like ours or we realize that the way we’ve been telling our friend that it’ll all get better hasn’t been helping, or we file it away in the back of our mind and remember it one day when our ten year old says he wants to die. A woman posts on Facebook about her kid’s struggle at school, and we give our coworker a break the next morning when she’s cranky because we remember that she had to get two children into their clothes with lunches packed and onto a school bus before we were out of our pajamas.

Someone posts about their mother’s death and we include them in our prayers that night (after we call our moms). We read tweets from gay people if we’re straight, black people if we’re white, disabled people if we’re able bodied, people who have mental illness, people who have kids when we don’t, and we get a glimpse. We get perspective. We get knowledge. If we’re having a good day, hopefully we say a quiet thank you to them for sharing their lives so we can learn from them.

Our curiosity is our connector. It’s what gives us the desire to learn. And social media is curiosity’s workhorse.

Through Twitter, I travel to Iraq, the Gaza Strip, a gluten-free kitchen, the bed of a depressed author, the streets of Ferguson, the writers room of my favorite tv show, the hallway of a high school, the desk of a jewelry maker. And I go many of those places with not just a media-approved story. I go there with a regular person whispering 140 characters into my ear about their opinion or their experience, what they think is funny or sad or poignant or unacceptable. And every one broadens my understanding of the human experience – even the ones that make my jaw clench.

Every one helps me better understand what it means to be a person muddling through this confusing landscape.

On my best days, they allow me to see the world through someone else’s perspective. On my worst days, they confirm that there are others out their grappling with similar demons.

This is me, taking off my invisibility cloak, walking into your living room and giving you a big juicy kiss on the cheek.

Thank you for the photos of your child in their Halloween costume, for all the Facebook posts about how much you hate your job (though I hope you aren’t friends with your boss or coworkers on there), for the tweets about your morning coffee habit, for the blogs about your home renovation, for the posts calling for prayers and assistance, for the times you told us what you had for dinner, who you voted for, how you fell in love, how you fell out of love, why you started meditating, how to build a compost bin, what you believe (or don’t) about God, why you homeschool, how to make your grandmother’s cornbread, and on and on and on.

Thank you for letting us in.
Thank you for your stories.

I have some I’d like to share too.

Bio: Katie Taylor writes at the intersection of making with your hands and feeling with your heart. You can find her at KT Made, blogging about cooking, crafting, gardening, and the spaces in between, shining light on the messy and joyful process of creating. You can also connect with her on twitter, instagram, and facebook.

Notations On Our World: On Iran

Iran has been in the news for a very long time. All have been privy to the news on the nuclear negotiations that have been going on for the past 2 years since the election of a new President in Iran. This is as there has been fervent opposition in the United States Congress and a profound concerted effort by Israel to thwart any deal.

Why does Iran matter? For one thing, it is the largest country in the Middle East with almost 80 Million People. It is home to a growing start-up community which the government has nurtured that President Rouhnai underscored with a speech over a year ago. It has a powerful military force that has seen it develop and launch its’ own ships and missiles. It has been at the vanguard of fighting against Daesh (also known as the Islamic State/IS in the West). It is now the de facto power in Iraq as some have called the Commander of Iran’s Quds Force, General Qassem Soleimani, the most powerful man in Iraq today. General Soleimani had a recent interview whereby he noted that the United States does not have the will to fight Daesh. It must be noted that the Quds Force is the external Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corp that was formed as the vanguard of a new Army after the 1979 Revolution. Elements of the Quds force are also fighting in Syria and an Iranian General was killed in an Israeli Strike inside Syria.

Since the election of Hassan Rouhani, there has been a concerted effort to transform Iran’s image. One very interesting development has been the replacement of death to America murals with murals of Picasso and Matisse. It underscores the continued transformation that continues. The nuclear question remains the crucial question before the country right now.

It is ever so interesting to note how the same level of rhetoric in the United States is also observed in Tehran. There are very conservatives elements within the ruling circle in Iran that are adamantly opposed to any deal. So far, the Supreme Leader (also referred to as the Supreme Guide) has backed the negotiators. Although the Supreme Guide noted recently that military installations will never be inspected, the Deputy Foreign Minister came out and noted that Iran has agreed in principle to allow “managed visits” to nuclear sites as they have already agreed to dismantle and transform a number of key installation and to also be subject to an aggressive inspection regime.

As The pivotal deadline of June 30 is at hand, the United States Congress has passed a law giving it a say over the agreement especially as the so-called US Senate Presidential Caucus (Marco Rubio; Rand Paul; Ted Cruz; Lindsay Graham) will have their say on the matter. Lindsay Graham came out and said that he believes all Iranians are liars because he got to know them from working Pool halls. This is a taste of what is to potentially to be expected as the World awaits the day after a deal is signed.

It will be a very interesting July in Washington and Tehran.

Bio: Mike Pouraryan writes about politics on The Daily Outsider

What I Learned From Being Called Fat

“She’s huge.” “He needs a gym membership.” “She doesn’t need to be wearing leggings.” “He should probably stay away from the fries.”. Wouldn’t it suck to be those people? I’m not talking about the “fat” ones, I’m talking about the ones talking about the “fat” ones.

When I was called fat, that girl didn’t know I was on a medication that made my body change drastically. She didn’t know that I was working out constantly to try to counteract the inevitable weight gain. She didn’t know that it was common for me to skip out on lunch or dinner because I didn’t think I needed the extra calories. She didn’t know cause she didn’t ask.

For anyone who has been put down because their body doesn’t fit somebody else’s standards, this is what I want you to know: that person called you fat because they could not find any flaw in your character to criticize you on. When someone knows you are good person, you are smart, you are talented, you are generous, you are thoughtful, “fat” is a last resort attempt at an insult. They know that being “fat” is nothing compared to being mean, or heartless, or spiteful. They know that the word is insignificant, and that it does not reflect who you are or how successful you are going to be. They know that it is going to hurt your feelings and that is absolutely the only reason why they said it.

It’s important to remember that being called fat once, twice, or a hundred times still does not make it true. My freshman year of college, I did a project on body image and my goal was to show my class how people view their own bodies. I sat in the lobby in my dorm building and asked participants to anonymously write down one word to describe the “ideal” body and one word to describe their own body on slips of paper. That night, I recorded the words that were used. For the ideal body, the top word choices were fit, healthy, toned, normal, beautiful, and athletic. For their own body, the top words were fat, chubby, big, average, pudgy, and large. These answers came from the same girls I passed by in the building all the time and thought to myself, “oh my gosh she has amazing legs,” and “I wish I looked that good in a crop top.” My point is, it’s normal to feel like your friends, family, boyfriend, or girlfriend are lying to you when they say you’re perfect the way you are after you’ve been called fat. But they aren’t. What you hate the most about yourself might just be the exact thing that someone else loves the most about you.

I believe that because I experienced first hand what one word can do to your self-esteem, I was able to take that word out of my vocabulary completely. I also believe that because someone else was so quick to judge me, I do not assume that I know the reason why a person looks the way that they do. I believe that because I was called fat, I am not one of those people who jumps to the conclusion that weight gain is just the repercussion of laziness and overeating. Because I was called fat, I understand that people are trying. I understand that there is a struggle. I understand that it was probably very hard for them to walk down the street in shorts. I understand that sometimes you can workout until you feel like passing out everyday for a month and still see no results. I understand that all bodies work at different paces. I am more empathetic. I think more before I speak. I am able to recognize that the story a person’s physical appearance illustrates is often very different from the real story. I learned from being called fat, and I am thankful for it.

Bio: Carli Katz is your everyday college student living off Easy Mac and Pop-tarts. She is currently a gymnastics coach in Charlotte, NC and an aspiring journalist studying at the University of South Carolina. You can find her and her dad blogging at This is What We Hate

The Pigeon Saga

pigeonGod give me strength! I have the most determined pigeon pairs—if you’d care to count the entire pigeon population of Lismore 2480—creating families in the tiniest spaces of my roof. Particularly in those god-forbidden, unreachable places, where no hand—besides God’s—can possibly reach.

Why don’t they choose trees?

Like the bushtit that nests in sagebrush around the Himalayas? Suspending their feather-lined, bag-like nests of woven cobwebs and lichen from the tips of slender branches as they utter quiet songs?

Or the chestnut-headed oropendolas of Nicaragua? Those observed weaving lengthy labour-intensive basket nests of fibres and vines from the end of a branch? Making beautiful, melodic calls like R2D2’s utterances?
Tic-tic-glik-glak-GLUUuuuuu

Why not incubate their eggs on a loosely arranged platform of sticks? One positioned on a horizontal forked branch of a mature tree by a Tawny Frogmouth? Making repetitive low-pitched, breathy calls at night?
Whoo-whoo-whoo-whoo-whoo.

****

With God’s help I may have branched out in many financial ways in my otherwise singular life beneath the dappled shade of a White Cedar: towards the purchase of soft furnishings, foreign artworks and garden statuettes. Allowing God to throw open the floodgates of Heaven and pour out such blessings onto a singular divorcee, I have hardly room enough to contain what’s been bestowed.

Yet I’ve lost count of the dollars I’ve spent on metal spikes to dissuade the brooding pigeon pairs from their rooftop endeavours. But I know it’s surely beyond two grand! Such an outlay of Aussie bucks makes my roof-line partway resemble the noucentista design of the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona: one combining Gothic and curvilinear art nouveau forms in its architectural design; being the only construction on Earth to rival the artistry of Wat Rong Kun in northern Thailand, the so-called White Temple designed by Chalermchai Kositpipat near Chiang Rai.

While Nature may have been the inspiration of Antoni Gaudi in Catalonia, nonetheless because I can hear the romancing and nest building of plump common pigeons in newer and different places ten metres above pug Australian soil, I ring Erez.

Swarthy and of Hebrew descent—and with a name deriving from the arboreal, ‘cedar’—when charged with thwarting future twig carrying or egg-laying attempts, he ascends his ladder with Mediterranean pizzaz. Even agrees to disassemble existing homes; tossing out the egg-babies; trusting we’re narrowing down every pigeon-nesting-option. And though buildings and window ledges may mimic the rocky cliffs originally inhabited by ancient European ancestors, go-find-another-roof-you-skitterish-muttering-feather-fluttering-foes!

All done, Erez’s handed a fistful of crumpled dollars.

******

But they’re determined critters.

Undaunted, the dynamic, ambitious and spunky Erez returns. A man of conquest—a seducer, quite stimulated by a novel challenge—he ascends his ladder and secures more spikes.

No doubt when viewed by the eyes of an understanding God, my roof now resembles a giant silvery pincushion; perhaps a collection of stationary echidnas on ridiculous territorial guard.
Still the avian mewing continues over the ensuing week-end, stretching the stability of my mental health to that of a twig perched on a needle point.

I decide to watch an entire day of baseball because the only extension ladder I possess doesn’t reach high enough for me to ‘do the job’. Besides I can no longer bear the merry-making—the incessant coo r-r-r-roo, coo-r-r-r-rooo chorus—while attempting to read a book. Or while trying to write one.

Of course Erez again rises to the occasion: partly as a redeemer from perceived despair; elsewise as the determiner of my financial ruin.

And for a time the army of spikes does the trick. All is quiet; on both the western and eastern fronts.

*****

The chirruping begins anew. As a summery day otherwise dawns I hear brittle baby-bird sounds; those echoing as pleas of starvation from the vicinity of air vents set high on my bedroom wall.

I move in slippers, nightie and curlers to the corner of the garden, attach the hose, set the timer, turn on the tap and spray the penetrated roof space, full bore. But what’s to be gained from such a futile exercise other than soggy slippers, bubbling paint work and disintegrating timbers?

When the sound continues beyond lunchtime, a paintbrush-toting, Lilian Medland facsimile—indeed the only woman in the team of painters who’ve been hired to redecorate the interior of No. 26 in flamingo colourings—takes the initiative and climbs a tottering ladder positioned like a cannon on the front landing.

Above naked legs and short shorts, peering eyes notice a smudge of grey feathers tucked around a sharp, dark corner.

‘There’re birds sitting on tiny branches in there!’

‘Thanks for the confirmation,’ I say.

Still it takes a geriatric Rodney to scramble in sandshoes and brimmed hat beneath a fierce mid-day sun to measure and build a mesh cage designed to block off the main nesting place set deep in the cavity above the main doorway; where the roof-line branches out like the needled limbs of a contorted weeping larch, carving arches of COLORBOND® steel across the skyline. The same nest from which the hand of a neighbourly Darren wrenches two overgrown babies; the necks of which he wrings before headless bodies land with a thud on the gravel driveway at my feet.

‘Pass me an old rag so I can wipe up the blood,’ he calls, his toes gripping the corrugations like talons.

Job No. 4 dusted off, he disposes of the remnant bodies in his compost bin before his dog has the slightest inkling it can finish them off.

You could think it was now all over.

Throughout the weekend I hear at least one of the long-endured-feathered-enemy negotiating the narrow space above the veranda roof as it fits below the overhang of the main roof; though moving about, on possibly-ubiquitously-deformed toes well beyond the suspect northern opening barred by metal spikes.

Armed and yet hardly dangerous, I position an extension ladder against the side wall of the house. Even when fully extended it’s a little short for me to fully check out the ‘vulnerable-to-roosting’ space at close-enough range; but long enough that I can put a cobweb broom in place, its bristles mounted on the drawbridge-of-sorts like a full splay of porcupine daggers; its handle stretching across the void to rest on the topmost rung.

The scratching and cooing continues throughout the day until I hear the broom fall.

I run downstairs to find a pigeon (having negotiated the spikes and the bristles) dangling from the guttering; one foot caught between guttering and metal fascia; possibly pre-empting the burden of a further pedal deformity of a preferred foot.

Nothing I do shifts the pigeon, so I pop next door to alert Wife of Darren; to book him up for an evening kill (sounds brutal, but I’m over liking these birds).

Wife comes over to see just what’s required. In the meantime Enemy has regained some poise, turned itself upright and scrambled back onto the edge of the roof space, still with foot jammed, though now resting quite forlorn with wings spread.

As we watch the unfolding shenanigans, it pries its foot free, leaving behind a trail of blood before waddling off into the cavity.

All does not end there.

A version of Indiana-Jones—yet with no hidden cities or crystal skulls to be uncovered—when home from work the ruggedly-tough I. J. of Lismore journeys to No. 28 with his dog and whip. A fedora gracing his shoulder-length mane, he bears leather jacket, ladder and bag of appropriate tools. With the late afternoon already settling in he climbs a longer extension ladder, spies the enemy at reasonably close range and states, ‘It’s just lying there. It could already be dead.’

Not to be stopped from his derring-do, Darren taps the fascia and the pigeon responds. It raises its head then scrambles further into the cavity, well beyond the reach of Man or Prying Beast.

With darkness approaching fast enough to forestall an urban adventure, there’s nought to do but to bar the exit with a tight-fitting metal strip cut with tin snips then deftly screwed to the rafters through pre-drilled holes (Did I mention our I.J. is a backyard welder? That he has a power drill with attached light?).

‘A day or two without food (and perhaps foot) might bring it to the exit … then I’ll branch out into traps, fishing lines and spikes …’

****

Around mid-day agitated scratching reverberates incessantly between rooflines; with Enemy seemingly trapped between metal door and spikes at the southern end of the cavity. But don’t start feeling sorry for this pesky feathered critter, y’ hear!

Anyway, somehow during the early afternoon—perhaps since God is indeed a kind God of All Creatures Great and Small—the spikes are breeched. I know because I see two leaves float down, dislodged from the ruthless spikes by dithering feathers.

****

Perhaps the saga is finally over.

But wait. Is that the same pigeon I observe branching out elsewhere—for now—as it flies with a tiny White Cedar twig in its beak?

Mon Dieu

*****

Bio: Meg Heggen is a child of the ’50s born in Sydney, Australia. Now a grandmother and carer in her sixties, she lives an idyllic life sharing a tropical garden with a schizophrenic son in far northern NSW. She spends her time writing books; and more-than-occasionally travelling abroad to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Thailand to create additional footsteps on the earth. Next exploratory steps will be throughout Myanmar. Find her on Facebook and Twitter

Late Versus Recent

“The age of a woman doesn’t mean a thing as the best tunes are played on the oldest fiddles”

At the age of 97 she sat by her window watching the moving men place the few pieces of life she was able to take on to one truck while the cleaning company filled the second much larger one with possessions that must be discarded. 50 years in this house and all the things I accumulated. Are you sure no one can use an electric can opener? The driver of the moving van with a tear in his eye said I can use it. Every neighbor that came to kiss her goodbye left with armfuls of canned goods, knives, dishes and as many things she could find homes for. She smiled feeling happy a few of her treasures were avoiding the trip to the dumpster.

She was a wonderful friend of my Mother and I was happy when I saw her phone number appear on my caller I.D. as I knew a learning experience was shining on my day. After the standard greetings the strong voice for which I received much advice in past informed me on our latest chat she had sold her home and would be moving into an assisted living community. She invited me to come on her moving day to spend the last few moments with her.

Her body was wearing down and she could no longer handle the steps in the three floor house but her mind was sharper than many much younger. She ignored her stiff joints and rose from the chair upon seeing her worn bathroom scale on the incorrect pile. I received this when we first got married and it works perfectly fine and is coming with me!

She lived in the house 40 years a widow but did not feel sorry for herself. She used her time putting together care packages to send to our troops as well as crocheting booties and blankets for unwed mothers. She enjoyed trips to Manhattan, taking yoga class, painting portraits, reading and was always learning something new. Her dream was to go to college and she earned her degree at the age of 75.

I held her hand asking how she was holding up and she said lately all people want to do is talk about their aches and pains. I don’t want to cry about things over and done. I continued to say that this move was going to be wonderful as she will be in a community sharing activities with so many her age. She immediately stopped me saying do not worry about age as you go on with life. I never let a number be the deciding factor in any decisions and it still isn’t. I am moving because I do not want to depend on this silly chain as she points to the life emergency alert around her neck. Goodness, the other day I hugged my granddaughter and I heard the guy asking if I was OK? After a good laugh together she looked me in the eye and said know when it is time to change something and accept it.

The trucks were filling up and it was time to take the chair for which she was sitting. She agreed with her daughter-in-law the shame it was to discard an unopened pint of blueberries and accepted them placing fistfuls into her mouth. She was not concerned it was getting late and traffic on the highway would be starting on this Friday afternoon as she sat on the bottom step of the staircase which led to the bedrooms. God has the book with the date we are leaving so no sense rushing. She was appreciating her last snack and moments in her home and the hour on the clock was not changing it.

She heard the trucks pulling away as she rose asking me to please go upstairs to be sure all the windows were closed. I asked if she would like to join me for one more walk through and she replied no. I said my farewells to each room already. Her family had the car waiting in the driveway as she walked down the front porch. Just shut the door behind you she said, it locks automatically and waved saying goodbye old house, onto my recent chapter.

Holding back tears I gave her a good-bye hug and kiss and helped her into the car. As I was closing the door I heard her say to her family I sure hope the case with my address book, notecards and stamps made it onto the correct truck.

Yesterday I let my tears out but still smiled as I am happy to say I received my first note from her recent home. Written in her perfect penmanship “you came at a critical time to help me for which I am grateful. Together we made it happen. With true appreciation and warmest thanks to you. Let peace and harmony reign.”

I learned so much that morning about not fearing unknown places I may be headed in my own life The experience reminded me not to get attached to things as at the end of the day it is all just stuff. Take the important things and know when it is time to let everything else go. Circumstances cannot stop us from singing as each day holds the lyrics of the songs of our life.

I look forward to her recent telephone number on my I.D. box as I know that fiddle has many memorable tunes to teach and I am ready to continue memorizing every note.

The best tunes are definitely played on the oldest fiddles. Goodbye late, hello recent.

Bio: My name is Donna Ryan and I have always thrived on inspiration. I love reading it everywhere I can find it. I am 55 and it has been a journey with many twists and turns. Our road ahead is fun and exciting because these truly are the best days of our lives. I write at 50 Plus Sticking Together

 

Never A Dull Moment

IMG_0888The top two silence fillers from strangers: “Looks like you have your hands full!” (I have heard this one, even with only two children) and, “Never a dull moment, huh?” When did people decide everything needs a comment? Sometimes a helpful hand would go further – but that’s a rant for another time. I don’t know that people intend such comments to be condescending, perhaps they are trying to be encouraging in some small way.

However, several times this week, I’ve found myself thinking “never a dull moment” in response to the daily goings on around here. Then I think of defining the word “dull.” The ordinary. The mundane. Would the dull moments be while doing laundry with help, or not so much help, of a two year old sorting (un-sorting) the clothes – mixing the dirty back with the clean, playing in the dirty ones, and running away with the laundry basket right when you need it? Or would the dull moments be when your big kid creates an amazing train track with tunnel and platform and five minutes later the aforementioned “babyzilla” swoops in, leaving no survivors on The Island of Sodor? Is the dull moment when the potatoes are boiling over, the phone is ringing, and the toddler is tantruming? Could it be when she refuses to eat supper every single night for no apparent reason? Maybe it’s when the big boy’s loose tooth finally comes out, during meal time. Is it the new found stalling tactics at bedtime, getting in and out of bed, slamming doors, climbing into brother’s bed, putting random things in bed with her like shoes? Maybe the dullest of all the moments is when the six year old is jabbering about who knows what and the two year old opens a draw, pulls out the super glue, gets the lid off, AND licks it! (This resulted in a “just in case” call to poison control. By the way, if your child licks super glue, it should immediately crystallize. Wipe off the crystals and have them drink plenty of fluid. No need for other precautions or procedures). Why she licks everything right now, I will never understand. My big kid didn’t do that! Other Babyzilla antics of late include running away in parking lots, eating off the floor, licking cars, smearing bananas on the table, splashing in puddles with both her hands and feet then licking her hands (also all things big brother never did).

These are the moments that make up the days of the stay at home mom. These moments keep life going at a crazy pace where the days are long and the years are short. These moments make the quiet of the early morning or late night a time to breathe in peace and joy and thankfulness. Such “dull” days are exhausting, but also full of fun and laughter and snuggles and learning. I wouldn’t trade my dull days for anything.

Bio: My name is Angie and I write at The Caswell Clan. I consider myself and my writing platform to be a work in progress. I am first and foremost a Christian, a wife, and a mom. Like most women, I struggle to balance those roles and I write as a way of sharing what I’ve learned and what I want to do better. Find me on Twitter and Facebook

9/11 Fox and Me

 

11NEWSCORP2-master180 The New York Times reported on April 12 that two of the crown jewels of the Rupert Murdoch media empire are negotiating to relocate their headquarters to 2 World Trade Center WTC, as the remaining section is being built:

News Corporation and 21st Century Fox, two giant media companies controlled by Rupert Murdoch, are considering building a joint headquarters in a new 88-story skyscraper at the World Trade Center, real estate executives and government officials said this week. If a deal is struck, the move by the companies from Midtown Manhattan to a new tower downtown would complete the rebuilding of the office complex destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001.

If the deal goes through, it would be a fitting rebuke to the dark forces that destroyed the WTC on the morning of September 11, 2001. I was there that day as well as the day of the 1993 bombing. I was deeply affected then and still now, by the loss of so many friends, coworkers and others unknown to me, working, visiting or merely passing through the Twin Towers.  Innocents, going about their business with no warning about what was to befall them.  Their full potential never fulfilled. Their lives snuffed out, in some cases torturously, as many who were face with no options but death by fire leapt to their death. It was horrific. Unbearably sad. Rage inducing. Resolution forming.

The response by New Yorkers, America at large, and people throughout the world was the antithesis of the murderous and cowardly attack, a dramatic reminder of the better angels of our natures. A reminder of why we will prevail in the end.  It told us why what we have is worth fighting for–if need be dying for–and how morally bankrupt are those who attempt to force us all to kneel before their deadly, apocalyptic vision.

It may seem strange but I often of a pair of my shoes, now lying under the Freedom Tower. They were sitting in the repair shop I passed daily, the cordovan penny loafers I wore as part of my daily “uniform”, waiting to be shined. I think often of how fortunate I was not to have been in those shoes when they were incinerated, turned to dust. The buildings and shops inside the WTC formed a neighborhood for those of us working there.  It was my neighborhood for two decades.  My neighbors mercilessly murdered.  I never learned the fate of the man who was about to shine those shoes.Freedom Tower

It remains agonizing to look at photos of the twin towers, but thankfully not of the Freedom Tower.  It represents renewal both physical and spiritual. Resilience. To me it is the quintessential representation of the American spirit, concretized magnificently, rising above my city, a gleaming beacon for an unbowed people.

Fox, a subsidiary of News Corporation, is the network most associated with the notion of American Exceptionalism.   I hope they close that deal.

Bio: Ron Comerchero writes about politics on his blog, The Rage of Reason. You can find him on Twitter