Thursday, July 20, 2017

Finding my Zen (Do Kai)

I don't look like this. At all.
It may go down as yet another thing I've started and never finished (oh, hello half finished coffee table from my woodworking days), or it may turn out to be that I've finally found something to get me moving, but I've started Zen Do Kai.

I hear you. WTF is Zen Do Kai? 

It's mixed martial arts. Bits of lots of styles thrown in together to suit the environment you're in. It started in Australia in the 70s. 

Twice a week I learn how to kick ass. I've been doing this metaphorically for a while (heh), but now it's literal. 

I've been going for about six weeks now and I've learned a whole bunch of moves and sweated from places I didn't even know had sweat glands. 

MapGuy and I joined up together when the dojo that Tricky trains at had a half price special on. MG was looking for a new activity after growing a little bored with squash and when this 50% off deal came up I flicked it through to him via email saying I'd found his new sport. 

He was very in to it and said I should join too.

Which of course, filled me with absolute dread. Sport and Glow do not mix.

Chronic pain, a fucked up brain that always tell me I suck at everything, and I'm gonna sign up for a six month contract? Pffft you're kidding, right? 

I'd already been to one class with a friend a few months prior to see what it was like, and I went so hard trying to keep up with the others, which was a huuuge mistake. I had to come off the mats, and then puked on my way home. Everyone tells me that spewing when you work out is "weakness leaving the body" and I'm all "no, it's my lunch leaving the body". 

But I joined anyway thinking it's six months and let's give it a whirl.

I was absolutely petrified at my first real class. To the point of tearing up. It was a mixed level class so I was in there with a few other beginners but also some people going for black belts. It was super intimidating at first.

Then I met everyone and those huge guys and gals with their green and brown belts that you would not want to cross turned out to be bloody lovely people who would give me hints and tips whenever the poor bastards happened to be paired with the overweight, middle-aged woman shitting her pants.

So I've learned to take some people down and I gotta say, that feels kinda cool. I'm getting stronger slowly, and, um, I'm actually enjoying going. I come home sometimes with bruises, bloody toes, and grazes... but it's really fun being able to beat people up! 

Tricky thinks it's great that his parents are both learning the sport he is dedicated to... and I'm pretty sure he's well chuffed he's an orange belt while we're still white belts. But we're catching up, Tricks! 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Letter to Tricky - seven years old

Hey Dude,

Seven years ago today you made me a mother, and I am so incredibly grateful for that. Here's what has happened with you in the last twelve months (well, the last six, because my memory sucks).

You lost your first tooth! Finally! You were one of the last of your friends to even get a wobble going on, so you were super chuffed when it happened. But then you became really concerned about some random fairy coming in to your room at night. The idea of a tiny person with wings taking your tooth freaked you out, and the notion that she would give you a coin did not ease your worries. 

So I told you that the Tooth Fairy was a thing that parents made up to make their kids brush their teeth, to calm you down. I don't regret telling you that, but then it immediately made you re-question the idea of Santa. For months you'd been asking for explanations on how the big guy in red gets to every house, how he knows who is who, how he knows if you're on holiday etc for months and you weren't satisfied with my "because he's magic" and "the elves help him" explanations. You wanted answers based in physics. 

You turned to me and said "So parents make up Santa, too, right?". I wasn't ready for it, but I told you the truth. That Christmas is magical because we make it magical by being together and loving each other. We both cried. I told you that the job of older kids and adults was to keep the magic alive, and in the months since then you've spoken to your sister about Santa/the Easter Bunny/the Tooth Fairy without skipping a beat, then when she wasn't looking, given me the cheekiest wink. We're in a secret club now, you and me. 


Whilst you enjoyed footy last year, by the end of the season you were very much over it. By chance we saw a display for a local martial arts centre and you wanted to give it a try, and buddy, well, it looks like you found your thing.

You have gone ahead in leaps and bounds. You have gotten so many awards, badges and certificates, because you try SO hard and you're actually pretty damn good at it. Just this week they pulled you aside to test early for your next belt and you flew through. After the ceremony, you'll be an orange belt. Well done!!! But mostly, we can see the incredible difference to your confidence. 

It's not to say there haven't been hiccups in your Zen Do Kai adventures. You absolutely hate some of the warm ups where the instructors are trying to distract you while you have to keep a straight face. It quite often ends in tears before it has even begun because you don't like it when you can't do something. Even when none of the other kids can do it either. You hold yourself to such a high standard even though your dad and I have always said we don't care if you're the best, we only care that you have fun and try. But still you are a perfectionist - and I'm so sorry, because you totally get that from me. 

School continues to be awesome for you, and you have an insatiable desire to learn. Your reading is through the roof, and you are on to novels. The teacher pulled me aside last term to say you are being "extended" now, and I have to tell you, as a child of nerdy parents who signed you up to the library as a baby and have read to you at least three books a day since the day you were born, we were so excited. Just last week you were taken to the other year two class when their teacher was unwell and the children had to read to you! You thought you were hot stuff, and I teared up. Nerd FTW! 

You have a great group of pals there, and it was very hard for you to choose only three to come to your birthday party which will be in a few weeks time. You wanted them all to come, but it's a sleepover and my hard fought for sanity is valuable to me, so I was very firm on the number! It's a gamer sleepover, because you're all about Forza Horizon, Minecraft, Pokemon and all things games. 


Speaking of sleep, you are seeing a paediatric sleep specialist so we can figure out why you don't. Every night it takes you hours to fall asleep, and you wake up multiple times a night and lay awake for hours. I don't know how you function on such little sleep, bud, because I sure don't. We have tried lots of things together to solve this issue; reward charts, co sleeping, not co sleeping, tough love (read: yelling at you), sitting with you until you fall asleep, completely ignoring you, you name it, and nothing has worked. You had a sleep study a few weeks ago, and it was pretty traumatic to be so wired up, but I was so astounded at the way you kept your head still anyway. We'll get the results soon, but in the meantime, you've started on Melatonin with mixed results. So we'll see what happens, and we'll figure it out together. 

You're a lovely kid, Tricks, and I really enjoy seeing the way you're changing and growing up. I love the way you're getting in to singing, writing songs and music. They're usually about love or cars, or the love of cars. Heh. You are either helping your sister and cheering her along or teasing her and correcting her (to which I usually sigh and say "Mate, she's only little, she doesn't know how to spell Koenigsegg yet OK, give her a break". There is no inbetween. Playing 'Danger Devils' nicely or trying to punch her. Asking for two snacks so you can share with her, or dobbing on her for breathing on you wrong. Ahhhh sibling love.

I'm so proud of the clever, funny, confident, caring kiddo you are. Happy birthday, smunchy bum.

Love, Mama x

Thursday, May 25, 2017

I had IPL and found my glow

This is a C2 post: I received a complimentary treatment.
#C2 for full details please see my disclosure policy


When I started this blog seven and a half years ago (!) I asked the world/the two people reading: "Where's My Glow?". I was preggers with Tricky and the movies had promised an ethereal pregnancy glow, but all I got was a sheen of sweat and heartburn. This illusive glow was how I became known as Glowless, which in time got shortened to Glow. Because Straya. We shorten everything, even when doing so completely reverses the meaning.

But now, I've found my glow, and can well and truly be called Glow without any hint of irony. 

I was approached to have a consultation at Skin Resus, a premiere Perth cosmetic medicine clinic and review it if I liked the results. Which seemed like a pretty sweet offer to me! For half of last year self care wasn't even something that entered my mind let alone practised, so things like washing my face and even putting on sunscreen (that I am usually hyper vigilant about) didn't happen.

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know I haven't stopped raving about it, so I figured I'd put it all here to make it easier to compare the videos.

Consult
I had a no-obligation, free consultation with Nurse Katie, at Skin Resus last month and at that appointment we discussed that I'm not a fan of the whole Freckles McGee thing going on.
"We can leave your beauty spots alone, too, if you like." 
"Oh bless! You called them beauty spots, I've always just said MOLES."
I was told my uneven pigmentation could be helped in a number of ways including peels and IPL, and I was told the processes, side effects, and costs for each.

I was hesitant to even ask about Botox/Dysport because my only experience of people using it, as far as I knew, was frozen faced actors. I didn't want that at all, I still wanted to look like me, and be able to silently tell off my kids with my eyes in public! Ha! But my grumpiness is etched on my face so I asked what could be done about my frown lines. Katie put my mind at ease, telling me exactly how it all worked and what I could expect - no new lines for the next few months, but it doesn't fill old lines that are there, and that I would not look plastic at all.

FYI Botox and Dysport are the same thing, Botulinum Toxin, but they are different brands. By Australian law, prescription medication cannot be named on a clinic's website as it would be considered advertising. I'm not advertising, I'm just telling you about my own experience, so I can legally name it, but I will use the generic term "wrinkle relaxer".

After I left with my recommendations and paperwork, I put out my feelers to ask if others would consider having wrinkle relaxers. There were a whole heap of answers and reasons, and I loved hearing all the different ways we approach this whole ageing thing. I even found out a few friends already use them and I had no idea!

I had to think long and hard about whether to get it done or not. I was all for the IPL, but I was conflicted about the wrinkle relaxer initially, so it took me a while to get back to them and let them know that yes, I was going to give it a go. Spoiler alert: very glad I did!

Treatment
On the day of the treatment I was both excited and nervous as I headed in to my consult with Dr Paula Barrie, as by Australian law, wrinkle relaxers do require an actual physician to prescribe it and a doctor or nurse to administer it (so be wary of beauty salons offering injectables!). She ran through all the information for me and made sure I understood exactly what I was getting done.
"You will look like you have sunburn for an hour or so." 
"That's OK, I don't have anywhere special to go... ever." 
After the formalities I was placed in the capable hands of Nurse Donna for the treatments. 

IPL
First up was IPL which stands for Intense Pulsed Light which targets pigmentation and redness, and stimulates collagen. Donna covered my face in goo not dissimilar to ultrasound goo, and placed shields over my eyes to protect them, then it was go time.

It feels like a teeny tiny hot rubber band slapping your skin, but it is so quick that the feeling is gone as soon as it registers. I wouldn't say it was painful, but it wasn't pleasant. It did sting a little bit around the more sensitive areas (under eyes/upper lip) and that did make my eyes water. But my eyes water when I get my eyebrows waxed!

They were right; it does feel like sunburn. My face felt hot and puffy, and a bit raw. Donna reassured me again that it would only stay like this for a little while, and most people are fine by the time they get home. I'll admit that in that moment, as I felt my pulse in my face, I didn't really believe her, but sure enough by the time I was half way home it had stopped stinging, and by the time I was in my own suburb, my face only slightly warm.

Wrinkle Relaxer
After the goo was wiped off it was time to get the wrinkle relaxer injected. As I made some frowny faces, Donna lifted the skin gently and injected straight in to the muscle... well I assume she did because I actually didn't feel it through the post IPL sunburn feel! Winning! Three little injections took about 15 seconds? Amazing. 

The results
Shall we let the videos speak for themselves?

40 minutes post treatment

A post shared by glow (@glowless) on

5 days post treatment:


A post shared by glow (@glowless) on

My eyebrows evened up by themselves, which is why any free touch ups that I was talking about in the video are done after ten days. The stronger muscle side (a result of me raising one eyebrow 1000 times a day to say WTF?) took a day longer to fully immobilise which you can see in these later videos below.

10 days post treatment:


A post shared by glow (@glowless) on


A post shared by glow (@glowless) on

Where's my glow? RIGHT HERE, BABY! I look like I'm airbrushed! But that's ME! I suppose it's lucky that little zit popped up or I would be thinking there was some serious Instagram filters happening.

It feels sooooo soft and smooth. Whenever I put on moisturiser I must look a little strange because I end up stroking my own face. The IPL encourages collagen so it's all dewy, plump and delicious.

I am so blown away by the results of just one treatment. Seriously scroll up and look at the before video again and compare. There is still some pigment left, such as the spot under my right eye, but it has faded considerably. Generally, three treatments are recommended and I'm ready to sign up for the rest.

I'm also testing out some of the Dr Aspect skin care range available at Skin Resus, but I've only just started that so right now all I can say about it is that it goes on lovely and smells so good I want to eat it.

I'm so thankful to the team at Skin Resus for the opportunity to try this out. The whole experience has been wonderful not only because of the results, but because each staff member is extremely knowledgeable and genuinely kind, which made the experience relaxed and fun. Now excuse me while I go stroke my own face some more.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

An open letter to Bobbin's favourite day care educator


Dear T,

When I met you for the first time one year ago, I was in the throws of an enormous mental breakdown as I brought my youngest, Bobbin, to day care for the first time.

You knew I was low; it was quite literally written across my face in streaks of tears, red eyes, and a puffy nose. But you don't know that you're one of the people who helped save my life. 

I felt like I was getting "neglectful mother" stamped on my permanent record when I walked in there that day. Not because I was placing my child in to day care, but because my doctors and the government agreed I was so unwell that the public purse would pay for her to be cared for by someone else three days a week for six months. That it was in everyone's best interests; hers, mine, even the taxpayers.

As welcome as financial assistance is to a single income family in a low socio-economic area, qualifying for it under those circumstances was demoralising.

Parts of that time are a tear-stained blur to me, and others I can replay in my mind as if they happened yesterday. One of the things I do remember was that day care was a blessing, giving me time to attend appointments, go to therapy, and focus on recovery. I also clearly remember that you stood out amongst the staff. Not just to me, but to Bobbin. And I believe children are excellent judges of character. 

You were kind, relaxed, and soothed my fears in a way that didn't patronise. You swooped in, a smiling angel in hot pink, and made Bobbin feel safe and secure at a time when she really needed it. At a time when I couldn't do it as well as I'd like to.

The way you cared for her, and helped her transition to having more weekdays away from me than with me was invaluable. On good days you would chat, and on bad days you'd appear as if from nowhere with a cuddle for Bobbin to make the separation easier for us.

Some people might say that's your job, but it felt like so much more. 

Bobbin would come home and talk about you endlessly; telling me stories of painting, playing, and learning songs from you. You quickly learned what she liked and incorporated it in to the activities. I remember one day you made extra playdough in yellow, her favourite colour, because she'd told you it wasn't as fun when it wasn't yellow.  

On the days you weren’t there, the others were capable, but they weren't you. You always went that extra mile. You even swooped in to the kindy room a few times after she’d left your toddler area when you could see either she or I were having a rough drop off, and I can tell you that it didn’t go unnoticed.

Our chats were sometimes the only non-therapy adult conversations I’d have in the early days. To be treated like a decent human being helped me to realise that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t terrible after all.

As time wore on, those small chats became conversations full of laughs, and littered with our mutual obsession with all things Disney, wild hair colours, and tattoos. Drop off and pick up times got longer and longer as we shared stories. The drop and run was not on the cards when there was an Alice in Wonderland party to discuss! As I recovered and was able to step back in as a full time parent to Bobbin and she attended the centre less and less, the care you gave her continued, and drop offs got even longer as you'd excitedly explain a tattoo idea, or listen to my thoughts on Beauty and the Beast.

I’ve tried to tell you this in person a few times, but I keep faltering. Two words, thank you, just seem too small to convey the enormity of what you did and the depth of gratitude that I feel. You helped teach her the alphabet, got her back on the toilet training wagon, but more than anything you made her feel secure.

You raised my child when I couldn’t.

Your kindness shone brightly through the clouds of my dark days, and I will be forever thankful.

With more thanks than you'll ever know,

Glow x

Friday, April 7, 2017

Trying not to raise assholes


Tricky has his first girlfriend and it is the cutest thing ever. No, really. Cat videos have nothing on this.

Previously he's called his favourite people his "best buddies" whether they be boy or girl. On Valentines he gave little homemade gifts to three girls and one boy, because he loved them the most. But he has never used the words girlfriend or boyfriend.

When he accompanied me to an Equal Love rally he expressed great disappointment that he couldn't legally marry his male friends, and was very relieved when I let him know that by the time he was an adult, I was sure it would be legal and he could marry whomever he loved. (Hey government, don't make me a liar, OK?)

But now, he says he has a girlfriend.

And she says Tricky is her boyfriend.

Her name is Ruby (used with permission), but Tricky calls her Beautiful. She calls him Tricky Eagle. Pet names? Geez. This must be serious. Heh.

They write each other love notes. They chose Easter presents for each other. They steal glances, then ignore each other for most of the day. Not unlike some marriages, really. Adorable.

Ruby's mum and I were chatting about how they will remember each other's names forever and that it is so lovely.

You remember the firsts. Your first boy/girlfriend. Your first teacher. Your first best friend.

I'm hoping the other firsts Tricky remembers are these first conversations we've started having about consent when it comes to girlfriends and boyfriends.

Shock, horror, she's talking to her six year old about consent?!

You betcha. And guess what? We've been talking about it since he was about two or three because one of my main aims of parenthood is not to raise assholes. Toddlers are assholes by default, I'm talking about when they become adults.

Our conversations around consent started out by letting him (and obviously Bobbin, too) know that he doesn't have to kiss or hug anyone he doesn't want to. We've always respected it when he has refused a hug or kiss, and even when he has declined a high five despite part of me wanting to say "don't leave me hangin', bro!". The exception to this is a game we play called Surprise Cuddle, where you randomly go up to someone in our family and shout "SURPRISE CUDDLE!" (we are not very inventive game namers) while wrapping your arms around them. It's an exception because so far it has been enjoyable for all and no one has said stop.

From there we've also always respected that he hates being tickled, so we don't do it. On the other hand, Bobbin looooves being tickled, so for her we stop when she says stop... which is usually followed by her saying "TICKLE ME AGAIN!".

So now we're talking about what is and isn't OK in terms of having a "girlfriend" which is actually no different to our conversations around how we treat friends, but he kinda likes hearing the word girlfriend so I'm going with it. It hasn't been a sit down, formal talk; it's us, together, having a chat about his day and when he mentions her, I take the opportunity to say a few small things.

Like "You have to ask her before you hug her" and "Just because it was OK to hug her yesterday, doesn't mean she wants a hug today, so you should check again".

I've also said "You're both allowed to say no to having a hug if you don't feel like it, that's OK" and "When she says she doesn't want a hug, say that's OK and find something else to do". I've reminded him that no one likes to be pestered when they've said no, though this usually applies to him asking me to play Minecraft for the 1352nd time in an hour.

Just tiny little things, slotted in to a conversation.

I believe having conversations about consent with kids in age appropriate ways is imperative. Teaching both boys and girls to respect the word no, actions that indicate no, and us as parents respecting their right to say no, even when granny might get upset, will help counteract the rape culture that still surrounds them, where members of my own extended family have said that a boy hitting Bobbin is a sign he likes her (don't worry, that was dealt with very quickly).

Do you talk about consent with your kids? How do you bring it up?

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