Sunday, July 28, 2013

Story Chapter 30- The stories in my story

One of the things I am most passionate about is reading.

It is a absolute waste of a life to be illiterate. And it's crime in my book (pardon the pun) to not read if you can. There is so much treasure in amongst the pages of books that you cannot be wealthy no matter how much cash you have if you don't read for pleasure.

My favourite books of all time are......

... yeah right- as if I could list off just a few, I don't have all night. 

I am most passionate about Children's books. Picture books, Sophisticated Picture books, novels, and Young adult fiction. I'm not biased particularly to any one genre- I grew up reading Fantasy, Sci-fi and historical novels among many others. I once read from the 'A' authors through to around 'T' from my not small public library children's section over the course of a Christmas school holidays. I discovered many gems of literature that I may not have stumbled across otherwise, including Daniel Manus Pinkwater and Rummer Godden- still very firm favourites.

I did have a bias towards New Zealand authors- it's hard not to go past: Maurice Gee, Margaret Mahy, Joan deHamel, Elsie Locke, and Jack Lasenbury. But there's so many more out there and in this internet age the truly good ones are so much easier to find.

Sophisticated picture books are a relatively new genre of children's books- and to be honest I feel a bit cheated that there weren't more when I was a kid. The pleasure of reading a book that has a story you can sink your brain into AND numerous rich illustrations is something very special. 

My favourite author of sophisticated picture books is Shaun Tan- who actually comes from Perth. His illustrations are incredible and his stories are everything from quirky to thought provoking- and both combined. And when I go outside and look at all but the bluest of skies I appreciate where he got his love of clouds from.

Fairy tales seem old hat but are still very much worthy reading material- and modern takes on old tales make them even more fun.

Children these days are so lucky that there is so much more diversity in picture book publishing. What I recall from my childhood were very conservative and almost quite 'english' stories very focused on traditional children and traditional children's interests.. Now days you have the likes of Oliver Jeffers who picture books are so fun and silly, Mo Willems- with the mad pigeon, Jennie Barkers detailed, wordless stories with important messages about conservation.... Gary Crew, Chris van Ahlsberg, Lauren Childs, Julia Donaldson and oh so many more. There's so much more whimsy, and also so much more 'meat' in children's books now days.

Children's books are little slices of heaven on earth- the only problem with them is that more adults don't read them- both for themselves and to their children...

There's not much I enjoy as much as curling up in our reading corner or in bed with a warm child and a stack of good books.

If you want some one else's opinion on all this try Neil Gaiman here.
If you want some recommendations:

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013

Monday, July 22, 2013

Postcards for Tama

Tama and I have spent a LARGE amount of time watching heavy machinery of various sorts and types and in various locations. I wanted to be able to do something with all the great photos I had taken. Something that both allowed him to enjoy them and also to build on the knowledge that he already had. It needed to be heavy duty to stand up to his attention and I wanted the option to be able to add to it. Hence the project Postcards To Tama was born. I printed a batch of the photos we had so far as 8x6 photos (Hooray for Harvey Norman specials!). I then glued them onto some medium weight thick cardboard. Each week I try and write out 2-3 cards and then post them back home to Tama one every couple of days.

He talks endlessly about the Po-post (Postman), the Ma-may (Mail), and his le-lers (Letters).

Tama knows when the mail is for him-
"T- Tatum" (T is for Tama)
We race inside and he opens them up.


  I try and keep to the same format in my text each time:

Dear Tama,
Something about what we saw. 
A question that will lead to some discussion.
Love Mum xo

He opens the letter... checks out today's picture and various conversation ensues about what it is and what it does. Then he turns it over and 'reads' it: 

"Dear Tatum. Luff Mum. Tiss, Ta-tuff"
Dear Tama. Love Mum xo

After he's done savouring I punch a hole in the corner of the card and add it to a book ring with all the other cards on it- by the time we're done he'll have quite a collection.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Story Chapter 29- Jim

So this post was scheduled to go out in July- and that's where it will end up in my blog. But the reality is that I am writing it in October because I am WAY behind. And lately what I've been doing here in the future is a class called Book of Stories. As part of the class I've been given a bunch of images and quotes that are intended to trigger stories that are important to me to tell on Scrapbook pages. One thing that has come up a lot via the triggers for a variety of reasons is Jim. And I figure if he's on the list- and I'm not yet ready to dig out the photos and do a scrapbook page then I may as well write the story here now so I'll have it for later. 

When I was in my final year at University I was incredibly fortunate to be granted my wish. The wish was thus: When I was in my second year at teachers college I got to do a teaching practice in an amazing class, in an amazing school, with a truly extraordinary teacher. So when my final year posting was coming up I asked (begged and pleaded) to go back to Arthur Street and learn everything I could about teaching from Neil Clayton who is one of the most respectful teachers I have ever had the good fortune to know. 

As an extra special bonus my school had a Montessori satellite class when had grown too big in numbers and so the older children were spilling over into Neil's class and he was adapting his already fabulous teaching style to accommodate the learning style and delivery that these kids had grown up with. It also meant that our class was right next door to the Montessori class and working relatively closely with them. 

And we went to camp with them too!

In the class next door was Sophie- quite possibly the cuddliest student I've ever met and maybe the curliest too. :-) And in my class was David- somewhat aloof, quite charming and very smart. 
David and Sophie's Dad is Jim.

When we went to camp Jim came too. 

I do believe he gave me endless shit about all sorts of things from my dress sense (or lack of) to who knows what. Therefore we totally hit it off.

I became a friend of the family and kept in touch after I left town to bigger (but not better) things.
And now 21 years on I'd say that Jim is one of my best friends. A bury the body with me friend. A trust my dumbest moments to him friend. One of those people that comes round only a few times in a lifetime- if you're lucky.

 I can't say I would have expected this. And sometimes I'm not even sure how it came to this. But I'm glad it did. 

We share a love of: pretty things, typography and interesting graphics. Photography, nature, antiques, and ephemera. Bizarre adventures, crazy ideas, swear words, and road trips. Starbucks, long grass, writing, reading and Indian Takeaways.

Jim is my go to person for advice. He's generally one of the first in line to hear my good news. He's the first to call me out when I'm doing something daft. And he also knows my boundaries, my sore spots and sensitive points better than anyone else I know. He's also my personal geek- who doesn't need one of those?

As I came up with writing this post on the spur of the moment I can't think of any specific Jim stories off hand- this is something I'll definitely have to think on. That said it's never been about the epic stories it's mostly the small stuff- that's actually really big.

Maybe one day we'll  kill off our respective spouses both be widowed then we'll travel the world taking photos of weird shit and laughing at stuff that no one else would find funny- and drinking a lot of Starbucks- that would be cool.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Story Chapter 28- Anxious

Since I've been in Perth I've had two experiences that come pretty close to what I understand is an anxiety attack. Not really bad ones- just very stressful. They both occurred in situations where there were a lot of people and I couldn't reasonably get away.

One hasn't had too much impact but it stems from something I feel quite strongly about and was really hard at the time. I don't want to go into too much detail because there's personal information involved.
  1. Someone possibly acted in a potentially risky manner that needed to be dealt with urgently.
  2. Someone lets call them Mr X knew about this and contacted me leaving a message on my phone: "Please give me a call about person 'A'".
  3. Not realising this was an urgent matter due to the nature of the message I delayed returning the call.
  4. I eventually returned the call and found that action needed to be taken.
  5. Thankfully everything was basically ok but we needed to do some follow-up.
  6. A few days later I spoke to Mr X and suggested that I wouldn't have known what to do in the same situation. But with the benefit of hindsight I recommended should they ever face that situation again they needed to leave a more detailed message highlighting the urgency. And they should have also contacted Les and if they failed to reach him some one else.
  7. Mr X immediately went on the defensive- a result of the highly risk adverse culture we have here. Mr X  replied that they "followed procedure". 
  8. In this case the procedure followed sucked.
Five months down the track and for the first time I am in a situation to be in direct contact with Mr X who is a relatively central figure in our life. And Mr X still on the defensive practically ran past me throwing a hello as they unfalteringly moved on. This was not a situation where Mr X could not talk to me- in fact it was a situation where one would have expected they absolutely would have talked to me. But the nature of Mr X STILL in his defensive state made me 'persona non grata'. I felt like shit. And I wanted to get away as fast as possible. I was desperate to get out of the room. But wasn't allowed unless I left the event completely which I couldn't do as I needed to see Person A do their thing and transport them from the event. I literally hid in a corner behind a table on the floor and pretended I was playing there with Tama.

The second incident at Will's school I have come to realise has impacted very strongly the way I interact with the other parents each day at drop off and pick-up. It was way back around Mother's day. All of the class's Mum's gathered to enjoy looking at the work the kids have done and a musical variety concert. One of the things the kids had done was a poster talking about how their mum's smell. All the other Mum's got roses, perfume, flowers, and lollies.

I got "Steamy female smell".

I was supposed to like the honesty and thoughtfulness of Will's idea.

I didn't.

Other Mums pointed and laughed at 'my smell' on the poster.

I felt paranoid and awful. I wanted to run away.

Far away.

And never come back.

It was compounded after school when one of the class mums who is also a hockey mum was telling me how funny she thought it was and how she took a picture to show some of her fellow classmates at teacher's college.

In a situation where I was trying so hard to fit in and be friendly and make friends and be a part of this community this was a massive blow to my confidence and my just basic ability to even go physically near other people. I'm still stand off-ish months down the track.

So why tell this story?

It's good for me to get it. To think about it, turn it over in my mind and see the impact it has had. In the case of the first story I can see that I didn't do anything wrong and the issue lies with Mr X and his defence mechanism- a direct result of the culture he exists in. When I look at it like that I feel a lot better about the whole incident.

In the second case looking at my behaviour helps me to understand the barriers I have put in place and how they are impacting my ability to be a part of Will's school community and to make friends with other parents. I have some work to do- but at least I know the what and the why of it all- and now just need to figure out how to move past it- and maybe understanding what I've been doing will be enough. 

 I hope it is.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tiny Tales from Week 24

Another fairly quiet week. Artwork.

Tickle work.

All the fun of the supermarket.

It wouldn't be a week without sand and diggers.

I think the guys doing the drain left this in the playground next to the area where they are working- Tama worked hard to fill it up and enjoyed knocking it over!

Choices, choices, choices... Kieran went to a careers expo.

Noah came to play.

Box fun.

Phone fun.

An impromptu lunch at Dad's work.

Watching the game.

Taking a break.

Stealing Oranges by cute-stealth.

Playground action with Dad at the Netball courts.

Will's friend from Hockey and Kindy- Kieran's not the only one with a little, little brother.

Les' new favourite dog- White Border Collie.

Hot Wheels!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Story Chapter 27 - Be careful what you think

"You can limit yourself by the story you have created about you. Here are some simple examples of how the story we have created about ourselves can limit us:
I am no good at math. I have never been able to dance. I am not a very good writer. I am very stubborn. I don't sleep well. I am very moody. I struggle with my weight. My English is not good. I am always late. I am not a very good driver. I can't see without my glasses. It is hard for me to make friends. Money seems to slip through my fingers.
The moment you become aware of what you are saying, you can delete these things and rewrite your story!"

In a nutshell. Don't Bullshit yourself. And that goes both ways- there's no point in standing in front of a mirror repeating positive affirmations to yourself either. If it's not true it's not true. And there's no point coming down on yourself for things that are over and done.

So how does all this play into my Story? I have to be mindful because I am prone to telling myself that I haven't done enough or that I am not enough. I also have a terrible habit of reliving situations that didn't go the way I wanted. Trying to get my point across long after a conversation has finished and the other participants have gone home. Often this happens around situations where I feel that I or someone in my family has been unfairly treated or misunderstood. It doesn't help. Especially as what I remember isn't always what actually happened. It's what I felt happened but most likely the person on the other side saw and heard something else. And what felt big and hurtful to me- is a non event for them. Rehashing things doesn't make me feel any better- in fact sometimes it make me feel worse. I'm investing energy and emotion in the past with no hope for success in the future.

To move my story positively forward I need to adhere to one of my favourite adages: "When you know better, you do better". Learn from my mistakes and don't repeat them.