Six years on

It’s the beginning of a New Year. An auspicious time to make new resolutions and new commitments; to gently blow the burgeoning flame of new hopes until they become habits… well, that’s the general idea, anyway.

This time of year also reminds me of the time I started blogging.

December 25, 2010.

It was for a blogging challenge started by @FiFYI -#blog12daysxmas – and I’d thought, “Well, why not?!”

And that was that.

Day 1. I’d decided to be literal and write a post a day on the Christmas carol ‘The 12 days of Christmas’.

Day 2. Two turtle doves and questions of ‘devotion’…

Day 3. And I’m stumped as to why we have mundane hens on the list. French ones, at that.

Day 4. My humble thoughts on the differences between blackbirds and crows, and how many blackbirds might comfortably fit into a pie…

Day 5. And I bet you thought that the ‘five gold rings’ meant jewellery, didn’t you!

Day 6. Six geese a-laying. That’s a lot of eggs between now and the end of the song. And a lot of ankle-biting, too!

Day 7. Swimming swans are given by the True Love to the singer… and several hundred years later, the family and I escape floodwaters and arrive home to relish the feeling of dry clothes and mud-free sheets 😀

Day 8. The singer is given eight maids a-milking, and I ruminate on what it is that defines a person.

Day 9. Nine ladies dancing – and a quick tally of what the singer now has at her house. It’s getting crowded in there!

Day 10, and I’m in awe of the sheer organisational ability of this ‘True Love’. Honestly, it’s incredible!

Day 11. In which bagpipes enter the cacophony, and I speculate on what the ‘True Love’ may actually have been devoted to… and

Day 12. The inevitable conclusion to the challenge; and one in which I find my opinions of the carol quite at variance to what I thought I would be thinking!

I always find it fun, going back and re-reading stuff I’d written years before. Remembering what it was like: Hubby and I stranded in our caravan at 1770 with three very young ones, no bread, little milk, and no spare petrol, in the middle of the craziest floods so far this century. Remembering how my opinions of the song changed dramatically, but my desire to blog, and my love for writing, deepened.

Well, that was a look back. Now it’s January 2nd, 2017, and it’s time to look ahead. Here’s hoping that the coming week is a brilliant one, for you and me both, dear reader!

Yours,

KRidwyn

26 lessons from God’s metaphors: #10

I have three children: Miss11, Miss8 and Mr7. I love them more than I could possibly imagine, and want to protect them from the evils I know exist in the world. I’m sure all parents feel the same. Before becoming a parent, I never felt this way. I didn’t know it was possible to feel the overwhelming love that would sacrifice everything for this child who relies on you so utterly.

As a teenager in High School, I once heard the story of a man who controlled the switch at a train track. He was about to switch the track for a passenger train to pass safely by, when he realised that his four-year-old son was playing on it. Now that’s a dilemma! Choose who dies – a train full of passengers, or your own child?

That story has remained vivid enough that I could remember it this last week, and use it for an illustration today. Snopes though, tells the background to the story, as ‘story’ it appears to be.

JNonetheless, it is a relatable illustration of God and His choice – to send His son to Earth, knowing He would be killed the most excruciating way possible. For us. Because it was the only way that He could save us from the consequences of our sin. And Jesus – who knew, and obeyed.

Now I’m a parent, God’s choice confounds me and humbles me. There’s no way I would voluntarily sacrifice my one of my own children for strangers. Not even for friends. And yet – that’s what God did. And Jesus – who knew, and obeyed? The mind reels.

God loves us, did you know?

I’m humbled by that.

And that’s my takeaway lesson for today. J, for Jesus. Who obeyed.

Children, animals, and the joys (?!) of combining the two

Children love animals, I’ve noticed. Well, mine do, at any rate. I probably shouldn’t speak for others’! But my three kids ADORE animals, and would make each one that they encounter, a ‘pet’, if they could. But they can’t. Because of me.
You see, I’m a middle child. Of three. Who had always promised herself that she would never have an odd number of children. (Whoops! That one didn’t work out too well, did it?!!) and something else I had decided in my pre-kid days, was that I would try my utmost to keep things fair in my parenting. To keep it consistent.
To that end, when I was pregnant with Miss 7 all those years ago, I sat down and wrote out a list. The ‘ages and stages’ at which things would happen. How much pocket money, how often, at what age, and for what types of chores. When they would be allowed to get their ears pierced. When they would be allowed to go out with their friends, with no adult supervision. When they would start cooking a weekly meal for the family. That sort of list. And also on the list was ‘when they could get their first pet’.
As they have grown, we have often spoken about the list, and they enjoy adding to it when they want something but know that they’re still too young. Thus ‘going in the chicken pen by myself’ (a desperate ‘need’ when she was just 4) Miss 7 gave an ‘age 6’ and ‘driving a tractor’ (again – Wha? Huh?!) got 18, and so on. And because these new additions to ‘the list’ are negotiated prior to being written down, everyone’s happy, knowing that the same rule applies to everyone.
It’s the rules that I made up, so many years ago now, that appear to be a sticking point. Rules like: ‘first (individual) pet when you turn 13’. Because, as I’ve blogged before, my children all receive pocket money (well, from the age of 3, so Mr 2 won’t start getting any for a couple of months yet) and it’s really quite difficult to say ‘no’ to a pet when they can save up and buy one themselves, if they’re disciplined enough. And Miss 7 is.
When she was 5, the nagging started. “Please, Mummy, can I buy a pet? Please?! I really want a pet!” ad nauseum, with all the promises of ‘taking care of it’ thrown in. She wasn’t satisfied with the ‘we have family pets’ argument, and – let’s face it – she was determined enough to save up sufficient pocket money. So I caved, and at the grand age of five-and-a-half, she became the proud owner of ‘Snappy’, a Venus Fly Trap. Apparently Snappy was a girl, although I’m still unsure to this day whether carnivorous plants are gender-specific. She lasted a week. She drowned, literally, in too much love.
Devastated, Miss 5 wanted something hardier, so she begged until I submitted and allowed her a fish. So she started saving, and paid for tank, filter, pebbles, food, and fish out of her own pocket. Really, with such diligence, how could I not reward her!? And several months ago, she became a pet owner once again.
Whitey, the goldfish, is now a prized possession. And the lessons on responsible pet ownership were learned quickly and with good grace, on the most part. But try as I might, I couldn’t convince her that she was feeding Whitey too much.

“Why does my fish tank need cleaning more than yours does?” “Because you feed your fish too much” was met with disbelief. Perhaps too much reading of “A fish out of water” by Helen Palmer – a favourite story, with illustration at the top of this post – had convinced her that she could feed Whitey lots, and he wouldn’t grow like the fictional Otto had. Nevertheless, Miss 6 continued to feed him a large pinch of fish food, twice daily, and by the time we were decorating the house for Christmas, Whitey had grown fat and difficult to see in his often dirty tank.

Two days ago, Miss 6 turned into Miss 7 and, as Whitey’s tank needed cleaning, I asked her if she would like me to do it. (It’s normally a job we do together.) Of course, she said yes, so I cleaned the tank, remarking on Whitey’s weight, and comparing him to Max, our very old and sadly, very fat Labrador who we buried just three weeks ago. I reiterated her need to feed him less.
Yesterday, Miss 7 was looking at Whitey’s tank, when she called me into her room.”Mummy, I can see what you mean now! Whitey’s fat, isn’t he? I think I need to feed him less. Will he ever lose weight?” An answer in the affirmative had her smiling. Then she added, “And he keeps on decorating his tank with lots of poo. Look at it all!”

I had to laugh. Lesson learned, maybe?

On the sixth day of Christmas…

I’m getting a little confused. Travel at odd hours, lack of sleep, sleeping at strange times in weird positions, tends to do that to me, I find.

So from what I can work out, it’s now December 30, the sixth day of Christmas. Friday. I’m back at home, and in spite of Hubby’s best efforts to secure last minute accommodation for this weekend on Fraser, it looks as though we’ll be spending New Years at home. Which is good, in a way. I need to get my head straight again!

Not that it’s been bad – I’ve had a blast! Once hubby finished his Gold Coast conference on Dec 10, we left Dec 11 for Goondiwindi on our way to Dubbo. A few days there, exploring the Western Plains Zoo in absolutely GORGEOUS weather (although it was a pity we had to drive through a hailstorm to get there) was then followed by an allnighter trip to Ballina, where we again spent a wonderful few days. New South Wales. LOVE the jumping pillows (never been introduced to the concept before) but found the fact that while driving I was *forced* to restrain my lead foot rather frustrating. Twas good to be back in QLD where the cameras are fewer and far between – not so good to cope with the roadworks and traffic again. Ho hum.

(Jumping pillow. Struggling to insert image, as for some reason Ow.ly doesn’t want to play nice with me at the moment. ow.ly/i/nBhg )

A few days back at home, with time for Speech Therapy appointments (that nodule on my right vocal cord seems to be getting smaller – yay!); a hospital visit to remove the glittery purple cast on Miss 3’s arm, and the wires that were holding her elbow together; and a family Christmas get-together, then it was off to Hervey Bay, minus hubby who was keen to tackle the big surf. (It’s so rare here on the Sunshine Coast, and he misses it now he works such long hours.) So it was me and three young ‘uns headed north amidst the rain. Luckily the weather cleared, so by the time hubby joined us, it was perfect.

What wasn’t so great was the phone call from our neighbour on Wednesday afternoon, telling us that one of our dogs had died. Max. 11 y.o. black lab, whose health has been declining rapidly over the last year or so. He was underneath the Pajero (a favourite sleeping spot) but he apparently wasn’t breathing. So hubby decided to go home early. And take the children, so I could pack / clean / lock up in peace.

The kids’ clothes / bedroom etc was all packed in into the car when our neighbour texted. Max was up and about; it had been a false alarm. But we didn’t really want to unpack the kids’ stuff again, so we fed them dinner and then they all left, Miss 3 screaming all the while. She’s the clingy-est.

So I packed. I cleaned. I locked up, and left around 3.30am. Missed my family too much. But the long hours were more draining than I had anticipated, so I had to pull over at the Arbor Ten intersection and power-nap. Which worked, but boy did it hurt my neck! (I’m pretty sure I’d never slept with my head in quite THAT position before! But I made it home by 6.30 – perfect timing to surprise hubby and delight my children before breakfast. Which was great.

So now it’s Friday. The bags are unpacked, the clothes are washed, and we’re headed to Nambour Hospital this afternoon for (hopefully!) the final time for Miss 3’s elbow – bandage removal.

And we’re not going to Fraser tomorrow morning. Hmmm… maybe we’ll try for New Year’s on Bribie instead? (Ha! Stay still? Me? Not likely!!!)

Til tomorrow, readers!

O Danny boy…

The pipes, the pipes are calling… For today’s gift, the second last, the true love adds eleven pipers to his collection of partridge, pear tree, two turtle doves, three hens, four blackbirds, five pheasants, six geese, seven swans, eight milkmaids (and accompanying cows), nine ladies, and ten lords. Just what I’d need, were I her. Imagine the ruckus, the sheer density of sound assaulting your ears on a minute-by-minute basis. Add in the sound of a bagpipe or eleven. Wow. Pretty insane.

I have suffered from the odd headache (or several) in my life. Actually, that’s a bit of a massive understatement. I used to get headaches very frequently. A stress thing, combined with a LOT of lack-of-sleep thing. At one stage, my daily dose of panadol stood at 8. For days (actually, more like weeks) on end. Then I went and had acupuncture on my shoulders / upper back / neck, for a pulled muscle. About three weeks later, I realised that I hadn’t touched the panadol packet for ages, and worked out that my last tablet was the day of the acupuncture. So you’re reading the words of someone COMPLETELY sold on the benefits of needles. Just so you know.

Anyway, I would say that the singer may also need some pampering after being around all this noise. I’ve listened to someone playing the bagpipes close up, and it was loud. Ever heard that joke, “Why do bagpipers march when playing? To get away from the noise!” Well, I get that. But to have eleven pipers close by, and presumably standing still? Well, I’d be hoping that the tune they were playing was a short one. With no encores.

I know… that’s pretty harsh, and it sounds as though I’m not too fond of the bagpipe and its resulting sounds. Well, I’ll admit to the harshness, but I’ll negate the opinion. I actually love the sound of a bagpipe. But eleven may be too many. And when that gets included to the bird calls, the cows lowing, 32 milkmaids nattering with 27 dancers and all of them flirting with the 20 lords, I’d say the resulting noise would be fairly cacophonic. Makes me wonder why the true love was sending them. (And tomorrow we’re going to get drummers added to the mix?!) Maybe we’ve got it all wrong, and he wasn’t devoted to her at all? Rather, he wanted to break up and was devoted to the idea of sending her insane? Hmmm…

Oh well. Let’s see what tomorrow brings. Have a lovely rest-of-the-day!

Ten Lords a-leaping?

A bit of a disclaimer for starters: I am NOT a Maths teacher. In fact, I’m pretty hopeless at Maths, failing it as a subject from Semester Two of Year Ten, onwards. So, although it is rather embarrassing to admit the error in my tally yesterday (there should have been 16 milkmaids by Day Nine, not 8!) it’s no surprise. Expect more of the same, when it comes to anything numerical. And sorry about that, folks!

Still an’ all – the idea I was trying to get across was just how insanely full the singers house was getting. I postulated that the sheer number of birdlife, plus the milkmaids and their accompanying cows, was the reason behind not only the ladies needing to dance (quickstep around the others!) but also why the ten Lords today (and the ten tomorrow, and then the ten of the final day’s worth of gift) all need to be gifted in leaping. Let’s face it – there’s probably very little floor space left!

But back to today’s gift; ten Lords a-leaping. I’m not sure what the word ‘Lord‘ conjures up in your mind. In mine, (besides the ‘LORD’, as in, the one whose birthday season we’re blogging about!) I think of a Lord from dear Old England. One of those sedate, stately figures who are seen to always be ‘in control’ of their expression, their behaviour, even their thoughts. Austen’s ‘Mr Darcy‘ springs to mind, and others of his ilk. So when I try to picture even just ONE of these Lordly figures leaping, the incongruity jumps up and slaps me in the face. I mean – seriously – when EVER would you catch sight of a Lord ‘leaping’? Hmmm…???! (Let alone TEN of them! And don’t forget there’s going to be 30 by the end of the gift!)

So now I’m thinking that today’s gift is a truly remarkable one in its rarity. I’m thinking that it must have been incredibly difficult for the True Love to find. A very difficult challenge he set himself, to prove his love. Wow. I’m a little taken aback, aren’t you? Surprised by the depth of his commitment. Heck – I’m brand new to this ‘blogging’ bit, using #blog12daysxmas as my incentive, and I can’t even blog for ten days straight without submitting yesterday’s just before bed. And here he is sourcing all these birds, cows, people (and rare ones, too!) every single day?!! (And I thought I was organised. He must have been planning this for about a year! He had probably bought out all the swans in Europe by now!)

Anyway, just thought I’d share with you my incredulity today. Have a lovely one, and I’ll meet you back here tomorrow, same time, same place, ready for Day 11’s gift…

Wouldn’t it be nice…

… to win a million! (How ‘bout that 31 million last night?! But bummed I didn’t win it. Oh well.) What would YOU do with that much money?

Me? Well, after the mortgage and paying off the vehicles, credit cards, etc and donations to worthy charities (not forgetting my bank account, of course!) I must admit that one of the first things I would do is to get a housecleaner. I quite despise cleaning. Sad, and very un-motherly, un-wifely and all the rest, but very very true. So to be given, like the singer, eight maids, would probably be a dream come true. (Although I wonder. If I had eight today, eight tomorrow, eight the days after etc until I had 40 of them, would that be 39-odd too many?!) And are ‘milk’ maids different from ‘normal’ maids?

Hmmm… what do they do when they’ve finished milking? Go on to the next cow, or bludge for the rest of the day?! (Heck, with 40 of them, there’s almost enough for them to form a union on me!!) And does the cow or cows come supplied WITH each maid? Because if not, there’s not a whole heap for them to do. After all, the singer mentions nothing about her true love supplying the cows as well…?

Interesting concept, to be defined by what you do. It’s something I’ve been mulling over for the last little while. You see, for the last month, I’ve been ‘unemployed’. As in, no certainty of what paid work I’ll end up with this year. (I finished up at both Coolum Beach Christian College and Glasshouse Country Christian College in the first week of December, deciding that I needed a three-day-a-week job with ONE employer, rather than two-and-a-half days over two employers.) It’s the first time in 15 years that I’ve had no real inkling of what my future entailed. I have a B.Ed degree, so I guess that makes me a ‘teacher’ – but if a teaching job is not what I end up with this year, should I still be defined by my degree? I’m studying a M.IT majoring in Library / Information Services, and would LOVE a job in the LIS field somewhere – but again, should that be my identifier? I’m a wife, a mother, I run the goodoldtalk.com website, and hubby and I are the QLD distributors for Mosquito Magnet machines – so what, exactly, should I choose to define myself by?

It’s a pity, but I guess it’s the way society works. People are defined by what they do. These eight maids are known by the fact that they milk. Me? Well, I am known for… hmmm…

Dear readers, I will let you make up your own minds. (Feel free to let me know your opinion, by the way. And of course, any offers of employment are also extremely welcome hehe!) Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you all tomorrow. Have your dancing shoes ready!

 

Seven swimming swans (make sure they’re swimming now, mind!)

Well, today spells the last of the bird gifts. Some interpretations of the meaning behind the song state that each gift represented something special for each month. Meaning that the swans would have been a gift for the seventh month. July. (Although I’ve also heard that October used to be year’s end, just a few hundred years ago, so maybe the seventh month for the ‘true love’ and his ‘singer’ wasn’t the same as the seventh month for us? I wonder…)

Anyway, why swans? Unlike the partridge, the hens, the ‘rings’ (pheasants) and the geese, they’re probably not edible – well, they’re not known for it, are they?! So maybe, like the turtle doves, they were included for aesthetic reasons, instead. (Their swimming abilities, methinks?! Hehe!) And I never quite decided why those Colly birds were included on Day 4, did I? Oh well… Swans, for me, remind me of that Fairy Tale “The Ugly Duckling”. I loved that story. The duckling had so much to be bitter about, but wasn’t. Something to aspire to!

Interestingly enough, that was one of the DVD’s I played for my kids in our long drive home, late last night. (Yes, we’re no longer flooded in – yay! As of yesterday, 4am, we were still on the “island” of 1770 / Agnes Waters, but by 6 had sneakily crossed over to Miriam Vale, by midday were doing a reccy of Gin Gin, and by 4pm had made it through Gin Gin and headed home. Twas a very late night, but SO worth the huge drive just to get to dry clothes and mud-free sheets!)

But back to the song. It looks like tomorrow’s on to the people. Maybe the ‘singer’ told the ‘true love’ that she’d had enough of birds?! But that, I guess, is a ponder for another time.

See you tomorrow, folks!

So it’s half a dozen geese today

So now it’s geese. Bigger birds, this time. And laying ones. (Hmmm… was that ‘Goose that laid the golden egg’ fable was around when this song was first created, by any chance?) But that brings us to six days of birds, with one more to go. Interesting, really. And I wonder if this song is the first example of when birds were associated with Christmas?

Never had geese. My only experience with them was a couple of years back, when my next-door neighbour had a small flock of them, half a dozen or so, visit her back verandah and swimming pool area. Being in her mid-60’s, she was powerless to drive them away. So there they stayed, all afternoon, apparently making the most horrendous noises, until their owner came home from work that evening, realised they were missing, and collected them. She didn’t mind too much – but wasn’t particularly impressed when she realised their deposits had stained her concrete. “They must do acid poos!” she kept on saying. We both just laughed.

No – my experiences are with ducks. As a kids, Dad brought home two of the cutest little ducklings for us one day. These two soft and fluffy creatures were quickly joined by another two (seriously – who could resist that softness?!) and we kids had fun making dams for our ducklings in the backyard. Another one joined them, and then two drakes, so we ended up with seven large white ducks within just a few months. Which was wonderful fun. Well, up until the drakes (Donald and Bilbo, from our interests at the time: Disney and Tolkien) learned how to nip at our ankles – and then, nip at any other part of our bodies they could reach. Hoo boy – then we were in for it! We quickly built a pen for them. And when they got out, there was a lot of squawking trying to get them back in! (From both two-legged species, let me tell you!) Still… they are some good memories. (Glad I’ve decided to bring my kids up with hens, though. Much safer than ducks!)

Well, I guess geese provide good meals. Both in eggs and in meat. And seven of them! For the next five days?!! That’s a lot of geese. A lot of noise. And a lot of acid poo!

Til tomorrow, folks!

(Oh, and if you’re interested, we’ve been able to re-supply with more fuel this morning, and milk too. Yay! Hopefully enough for another few days, at least…)

gold = yet more birds??! You’re kidding, right?

So what’s with all these birds? According to the ever trustworthy Wikipedia, “The fifth day’s gift of gold rings refers not to jewellry but to ring-necked birds such as the ring-necked pheasant; or to “five goldspinks” – a goldspink being an old name for a Goldfinch.” The entry then goes on to say “When these errors are corrected, the pattern of the first seven gifts all being birds is restored.” So again, I ask you – what’s with all these birds? Hmmm…?

So yes, that was a bit of news for me. I had always thought that the ‘golden rings’ were just that. Gold rings. So finding out this next bit of trivia didn’t surprise me in the slightest:

The ‘Christmas Price Index’…

“Since 1984, the cumulative costs of the items mentioned in the song have been used as a tongue-in-cheek economic indicator. This custom began with and is maintained by PNC Bank. Two pricing charts are created, referred to as the Christmas Price Index and The True Cost of Christmas. The former is an index of the current costs of one set of each of the gifts given by the True Love to the singer of the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” The latter is the cumulative cost of all the gifts with the repetitions listed in the song. The people mentioned in the song are hired, not purchased. The total costs of all goods and services for the 2010 Christmas Price Index is $23,439. The original 1984 cost was $12,623.10.”

In 2009, this article was written: “Making one’s true love happy will cost a whopping $87,403 this year… according to the latest cost analysis of the items in the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

That’s the grand total for the single partridge in a pear tree to the 12 drummers drumming, purchased repeatedly as the song suggests, according to the annual “Christmas Price Index” compiled by PNC Wealth Management.

Jim Dunigan, managing executive of investment for PNC Wealth Management… has been calculating the cost of Christmas since 1984. And the reason for the increase in 2009? He writes, “The main driver behind the higher cost is that the price of gold has increased 43 percent, bringing the five gold rings up $150 to $500.” Ha! I was not alone in my misconceptions then!

Still, for the gift to be 5 more birds – I guess the singer must be fond of eating bird meat?! I must confess – all birds, to me, taste like chicken. Hehe!

See you tomorrow, folks! (P.S. The rain seems to be stopping. The Laundromats all have queues out the doors, the bread’s all gone, and the local servo’s run out of petrol, but there’s hope that maybe we’ll get to something other than longlife milk yet!!!)