Thursday, June 4, 2020

Letter to Tricky - ten years old

MATE, YOU ARE TEN!

Two whole hands. Though it's been a few years since we've counted in hands, isn't it? You're a tween now and as I look back on photos, it is so hard to believe we have spent an entire DECADE loving you.

The last few months have been very strange. By the time you're reading this you'll probably go "oh yeah, that was the Covid19 year". We isolated early to protect you, your grandparents, and the community. You were sad to leave school as your teacher this year is amazing and has been the first to ever "see" you.

We had three amazing weeks of homeschooling. I genuinely adored it. You became pen pals with your friends down the road, baked, learned all about climate change, did amazing art, AMEB music, and went on socially-distant adventures. You rode your bike, played make believe, read books, did martial arts, and never have I been happier that your Dad and I have strict screen rules. You barely touched a screen (outside of education things like Reading Eggs and Mathletics) the whole time, instead using your marvellous imagination.

Our school holidays were unlike any we've ever had. Instead of going out every day to do an activity, we stayed home. And much to my surprise, you said you like it better. So I am keeping it in mind for next time. After a few more weeks it was time to go back to school... and you didn't want to go. Which was weird because your home teacher was very sweary and a bit shouty and your school teacher (your favourite teacher EVER) is never like that ;) But it was a lot safer now, and, well, after seven weeks with us all crammed together, I was hitting my limit. You and your sister can be annoying as fuck sometimes, either besties or bickering and picking on each other - but that's your job, you're a tween (but seriously, stop picking on your sister).

I hope you remember this strange time fondly. There has been some real shitty moments - being home all the time, in each other's faces has put a strain on everyone, and martial arts online has been VERY hard for you (and me). But there has been so much good. Like secret adventures, camping and bonfires in the backyard, picnics in the park and tying string to a bag and hoisting up presents to your grandparents on their third floor balcony. I really hope you remember Nanna saying she'd throw some chocolate down and us all shouting out no... only for her to do it and it land on the bloody awning below (a nice man got a ladder and rescued it!). 



You have gotten in to body boarding - and it seems like we're at the beach every week now. You used your own money to buy a lime green board, even splurging for quick shipping (are you even my kid?). When you found out one of your besties body boards too, well, it was even more fun then. You are unrecognisable from the kid you were a few years ago. The kid who refused to get water on his face. Who screamed at every hair wash. Now? You're getting in the waves, getting dunked and loving it. A few times you've gotten out of the water and I've asked you "Hey, where did that kid go?" and you positively beam with pride. BEAM.

Your hair is past your shoulders (this week you were proud to have it long enough for a man bun). When people meet you for the first time, most of them call you a girl. "Girls, can you bring your books here" or at Christmas time "Did you want a photo of your girls with Santa?". You've shrugged it off. You and your sister have been raised as feminists and know that gender is displayed in myriad ways, and sometimes people make assumptions.

This time last year I said you were near your brown belt and now you are over half way through and nearing your black belt. You have four tips on your brown and despite this hiccup (the afore mentioned online classes being awful for you), it's likely still on track. Your Muay Thai grading is all over the shop thanks to continual administrative errors, and different people telling us different things – it has thrown you, but as it’s not your main discipline, you’ve been able to move on pretty quickly.

You entered two events in the latest ISKA tournament, coming first in traditional katas (Lull Before The Storm) and second in sparring - it was controversial, quite a few people thought you should have won, but things have fallen in your favour before when it came close to the line and this time it didn't. So we chalked it up as experience and focused on the fact that holy shit, you came second in a field of twelve in your "weakest" area, against a kid who had a good 10kg on you. You nailed that second and deserved your place on that podium.

You were chosen to be a part of the music program at school and selected trumpet, just like your dad. You wanted cello but I didn't want to lug one around - you can do that one later. For Christmas Dad passed his trumpet down to you and it's really cool to have it in the family. I always feel so proud when I hear you play, but dude, I’d love to hear it more. You HAVE to practice, mister! You've taught yourself piano... a friend showed you a piece he'd been learning in his piano classes and you copied him. So, that was, um, interesting. You watch YouTube, learn the pieces you like in a day or two, and commit them to memory. I'm astounded. You have musical genes, but bloody hell, mate.

Your perfectionist tendencies are still there, stronger than ever, and whilst they reflect very positively on your report card (almost straight As except for the C in sport which is hilarious since you're a brown belt), it causes you a great level of anxiety if you mess up. You like things to be right and pick on your sister if she gets things wrong, even though she hasn’t learned what you’ve learned yet. The mantra we say together now is “does it matter?” and you are getting better at thinking whether this grievance actually matters in the moment or if it’s something you can let slide (again, stop fucking picking on your sister - and don't you worry, I say this to her, too). 



Our old boy, Sprocket died in January and it was an incredibly sad time. You were so brave. You patted him and said your goodbyes despite wanting to run away as far and as fast as you could. I was so proud of you for making the choice to stay in the room so he could be surrounded by his favourite people as he took his last breaths. Sprocket was older than you and you didn’t know a world without him in it. You weren’t besties with him like Bobbin, but you loved him, you loved him being around, and you miss him.

I wonder, as you’re looking back on this (are you 18? 19? when you’re reading this?) if you remember your toy giraffe Jeramy (yes, that’s how you spelled it). Jeramy was lost. You were absolutely devastated. You made him years ago at a school holiday bear workshop and had celebrated his birthday every year since. He was the only stuffed toy you ever paid any attention to, and when you realized he was gone we moved heaven and earth to find him. We pulled the house apart. Three times. I emailed local shopping centres and put out the call over Facebook in case anyone had found him. But he couldn’t be found. You wrote him a letter and it was the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever read. You hoped he was safe; on an adventure instead of wet or burned or laying in the dirt somewhere. You apologised just in case you had done something to make him leave. You wrote about how he brought you comfort and held your secrets, and signed off saying you were his dad, that you’d always love him and that you’d never give up hope of finding him. You knew he was a toy and yet he was so much more. We still celebrated his birthday with a cake. It was a bittersweet day. After four months of him being gone you asked for a new soft toy and chose a Zebra, because it was the type of animal to hang out with giraffes. You called him Smartie. He sleeps in your bed and has brought you comfort as you’ve transitioned through these periods of grief and isolation stress.

Your resilience, in light of your struggles astounds me. Getting back up after the falls is what true resilience is, and whilst you might see it as being knocked down more than others, I see it as getting back up more than others. Many things are not easy for you, and you keep trying. It’s amazing. You’re fucking brilliant and I’m in awe of you. I know that you will continue to try and I will help you along the way as much as I can.

The next year will no doubt bring just as many highs and lows as this year. You’ll probably be roaming the streets with your mates, zooming around the bump tracks with Dad with your brand new bike (it’s red, it goes faster). Playing Rocket League and asking for more screen time. Kicking your way through the tips and ranks at martial arts. Powering through school and trumpet. Reading like there's no tomorrow and engineering some wild and creative construction with Lego. I am so privileged to be able to watch you grow. My kind, funny, thoughtful, smart, sensitive, sporty, focused, beautiful boy. I love you more than you could ever possibly know.

Mum x

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Letter to Bobbin - six years old

Hey Smalls,

Another year around the sun! You are six years old today. Another year stronger, smarter and taller.

It's been an up and down year for you (but that's usually the way for everyone, so that's ok).

You have developed a perfectionist streak. Your mother's daughter, hey? You are very focused on doing everything right and getting upset when you spell words wrong. I adore phonetic spelling, it shows that you understand sounds and we can all figure out what you mean - plus English is a stupid language where cough, through, plough, though and hiccough don't rhyme. So we've all been working on making it OK to make mistakes. I mean, you're on an IEP (Individual Education Plan) (yeah, your mama just used her blog to brag a bit then) along with a few others in your class because you're streaks ahead of where you should be for your age. You're reading proper books and you're not even in year one, mate. You're nailing it, kiddo, we just have to always remind ourselves that we don't have to be perfect.


Martial arts has been both amazing and scary for you. You're a blue belt and very close to green. You got a black tip in class today and now you only need your red tip to graduate. It would be very tricky to get that in the next two weeks, so you'll probably grade in December. Your pushups are killer - knuckles and toes, and you're very proud of the six pack that is starting to develop. You want to be strong and you are, always volunteering to lift things (including your friends).

You participated in the ISKA tournament (International Sport Karate Association) twice. The first time you took home a first in sword fighting making you the state champion for your age group... there were only two of you in the category but it sounds good! You ended up with two trophies at that one. Then the next tournament you got first in sword fighting again - defending your title! Again, only two people in your category but back to back state champion sounds better haha! You ended up with five placings over those two tournaments and proudly stood for photos with your trophies and medals.

Earlier this year, just after Mum was having a hard time with her brain misbehaving, you got very scared of going on the mats at the dojo. You didn't want to perform your kata in front of the group and the parents. It terrified you. No amount of convincing you that it was just like the tournaments would placate you. You would get on the mats and be fine until the end when you had to perform. You refused to get up. This transitioned to refusing to get on the mats and the beginning of class. You cried a lot. It took instructors, Sempais, Senseis and even a Renshi to get you on the mats. It was the same every time for almost two whole months, refusing to get on the mats. You even hated in the in-house tournament and took a lot of convincing to get on. You did, and I was so proud of you. You didn't place, but you did your absolute best that you could on the day, and that's why I was so proud.

The struggles continued at the beginning of class, but once you were on the mats, you were completely fine and would smash out the session, trying so hard and nailing it. And you even filmed a pep talk to yourself after one lesson because you would come off the mats beaming. I started filming and it was like you were a TV presenter - straight in to it! I laughed so hard. If I'm honest, I think the tears became a habit for you. You worked hard with your instructors and you got through it. You're back on the mats now without issue... but you don't want to do the next ISKA tournament in a few weeks. And that's OK. Life can be tough and we don't always have to win... we don't even have to enter!

You continue to exert your independence. So much so that one day earlier this year you decided to walk to school. By yourself. You usually wait at the bottom of the bridge for me when we walk, but you didn't this time. You kept going. The thing is, I didn't know which way you'd gone. I looked everywhere for you. Up and down the small streets, and then the bigger street. I was so afraid I'd find you squished by a car as sometimes when you're excited you forget to look both ways. We did finally find you. One kilometre away. In your classroom. By then I was crying and you didn't know what the fuss was about, but when you saw my tears you cried too, giving me the biggest of hugs and promising you wouldn't do it again.

You love to make your own food. Whether it's sandwiches, wraps or just cutting up fruit, you insist on doing it yourself. Up until recently you were scared of being burnt on the frying pan, but you got past it and flipped your own pikelets - the look on your face when you did it was just brilliant. You were unbelievably proud. I admit to still worrying that you'll slice your hand open, but so far so good.

Crafting absolutely anything is your go-to activity. Give you paper, scissors and sticky tape (lord, so much sticky tape!) and you are happy. In fact, you got sticky tape as a birthday present and you were SO HAPPY! You make me the most random creations and they are divine. Giant posters with bits stuck on. 3D castles with entire packets of stickers over them. Then you head outside, jump about playing "Jumanji", zoom up and down the street on your bike, climb the nearest tree, flip up and down on monkeybars, and climb on the roof of any playground structure, terrifying other parents watching. I just shrug and know you'll get down safe because climbing is what you do.

Your obsession with all creatures great and small continues. You've gone off your original Spiny Leaf Insects (they are apparently too spiny to touch now so you don't), but you don't mind their babies that are small. Other than those, you pick up or pat everything you can. Catching frogs is your favourite thing to do so sometimes we go down to the local lake at night with our headlamps on and see how many we can find. You are quick at catching them, hold them for a moment then release them, usually after naming them.

You are bloody funny. You make me laugh so much with your weird antics. Whether it's quick retorts with the beginnings of sarcasm (that's my girl), a raised eyebrow, or a silly story, your sense of humour is developing rapidly. The fart jokes are still popular, as is you introducing your farts. As in you say "Here comes Frank" and then you fart loudly and laugh your head off. It's a different name every time.

That Queen Bee tendency is still there, but you have such an empathetic soul that it has balanced out to a nice assertive quality. You like to get what you want, but you also take care of your friends. And I'm not gonna lie, that's been a weight off my shoulders. Not to say you can't be a little turd sometimes when you don't get your way, but you're not mean. PHEW!

You care deeply for your family, and you express it bringing flowers, cards and any trinkets you've found as gifts. You are thoughtful, and always share willingly with Tricky, even halving your own things with him (y'all fight a lot, too, it's not all rainbows). When I was bed-bound after my ankle surgery you would come and check on me, give me a cuddle each time you walked past, and bring me food just because you were hungry and thought I might be, too.

I was trying to explain Harmony Day to you, and how racism exists and I did a really poor job of it... so for a moment there you thought it was a day to exclude your friends according to their skin colour. You were very upset at me, saying you didn't want to not talk to your friends that day because they were darker than you. A quick explanation later and you were so relieved- and I could not have been happier.  Every day we talk about what's important, and you always reply "it doesn't matter what you look like or what you do, as long as you're kind". Because we've repeated it to you daily and it's a Pavlovian response now! Ha! I hope that stays with you. Both for how you treat others and how you treat yourself.

I hope you have a brilliant year of being six, my chickadee. I promise you'll have your mermaid party soon, when I'm back walking properly. Your sass is still there, just sometimes hidden under a thin layer of self-doubt. We'll keep working on that. You'll make some amazing mistakes this year, and over your whole life, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Love Mama x

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Letter to Tricky - nine years old

Hey Bigs,

Your mama doesn't blog anymore, but the idea of not writing you a birthday letter just did not sit well with me. So here goes.

You are nine. You are so big, and wise, and worldly, and yet, at the same time, you're small, meek, and naive. It has been fascinating watching you navigate this inbetween stage. Giving you more and more independence and watching you navigate the world by yourself. You're not a little kid anymore, but, well, you are, actually.

Martial arts continues to be your passion. You have dedicated so many hours to it, training eight times per week right now, getting each tip on your green belt at the first possible opportunity, and you've now progressed to Grading Prep Group to get you ready for your brown belt grading in September. It's gonna be big, and you're very nervous, but you have the support of us, your instructors and your dojo family. You have started Muay Thai to improve your sparring confidence, and each class you get in there and try so hard, despite being absolutely terrified. We haven't managed a class without tears yet, and I am amazed at how much resolve you have, to keep getting back in there. I think this time next year I'll be writing about how you've started preparing for your black belt.


You entered the ISKA tournament again, participating in three events; extreme weapons, traditional katas, and traditional weapons, taking home a first, first and fourth respectively. You've qualified again for the national championships - we didn't go last year but we'll see what we can do about getting over to Sydney this year since you placed first.

Our house continues to be the place to meet for the kids in the street and each time the doorbell rings I don't even bother getting up because it's almost always for you, and when it's not, it's for your sister. It's a ragtag bunch of kids with different age groups from different schools, but you all seem to get along pretty well; whether you're riding the streets, doing tricks on the ramp in the front yard, or playing computer games.

You are a voracious reader and are zooming through anything Paul Jennings at the moment. You love going to the library with your Dad, but most of the time he ends up picking the books while you play with the retro gaming machines and smart board. You love to play all the Retro Rewind games, Minecraft, Lego City Undercover (against Bobbin), and whatever else the games are called. You even play Race Day against me and you manage to hide your frustration at how bad I am pretty well. The one time I beat you, you were so happy for me. If Bobbin beats you, that's another story. We'll work more on losing this year, bud.

You are doing well at school, being awarded Aussie of the Month by your peers for being a kind and approachable friend, nailing NAPLAN to get in the pointy triangle for most of the sections and band 6 for the other one. You've taken to music with much enthusiasm and have played countless pieces on a tiny electronic keyboard that you got ages ago as part of a science wiring kit. Oh, and let's not forget that fucking recorder. Hot Cross Buns at any time after 8am. I don't want to stifle your musicality or creativity, but sweet jesus I will if you play a loud instrument when I'm barely conscious. Today you were given a big electronic keyboard and your face just lit up. You want piano lessons but you're not willing to give up a martial arts day just yet, so we'll see how we go later in the year after you've graded.

There just isn't enough hours in the day to do all the things you want to do! Skateboarding, scooting, bike riding, martial arts, gaming, drawing, music, LEGO, reading... and let's not forget annoying your sister. That takes dedication, too.


Anxiety can kick your butt sometimes. You are your mother's son, after all. So we have worked hard on growth mindset talk, and I bring in cognitive behavioural therapy tricks at every opportunity - I figure you learning these now can only be a bonus. We sought professional help as I was very worried you'd end up just like me, but they were pretty good at allaying my fears, letting me know that yes, you are a bit or a worrier and a huuuge perfectionist, but that doesn't mean you will go down the same path as me, mental health wise. You have a strong sense of self and a strong connection and trust with me, so you have a much better starting off place than me.

I am trying my hardest to model making mistakes and pushing through the tough times, and I really hope the message gets through that you are enough no matter what you do. We are celebrating your failures more than your successes right now to emphasise the message. "You went to martial arts and cried and got back on the mats even though it was tough? YEAH! WELL DONE!". Of course I'm proud of the times you do great, but I know just how hard it is for you to push through those self doubts, so that is what I'm focusing on. The strength and bravery you show to keep pushing through your doubts and anxieties is truly inspiring.

You are responsible, caring, goofy, resilient, silly, smart, creative, strong, dedicated and amazing. I can't believe how lucky we are to have you in this family. You bring so much joy to my life, and whilst I roll my eyes that I still sit with you for you to go to sleep, I know one day I'll miss you asking for "mum cuddles" every night. I hope I continue to be your safe space and soft place to land.

Love you, bud.

Mum x

Monday, December 31, 2018

19 Resolutions for 2019


I haven't done any New Year's Resolutions for what seems like forever. Nothing official, anyway. There's always the same ol' "do better" bullshit that lasts a few days, but I'm going to toy with the idea of writing shit down to see if it magically keeps me accountable.

But my Resolutions are not going to be the type that shame the current me (or you, which I ridiculously have to say because INTERNET - just because I'm saying I want to do something doesn't mean I'm automatically judging you for NOT wanting to do it. OK? Are we clear? Because the hate mail that comes with a blog is a HUGE reason why I don't update this very much).

So, where was I? Ah, yes. Resolutions. Things to hopefully tick off as another year zooms by.

19 Resolutions for 2019

1. Stream of Consciousness Journaling
I have done this before years ago and recently restarted after a little mini yoga retreat. It was confronting, cathartic and empowering. Setting the clock for ten minutes and just writing out all the rubbish in my head.

2. Weekly Scheduling
It is boring AF but I want a washing day. A clean sheet day. I want it all planned out and I want to tackle it in a no excuses way. We have sports days and library days already, so it isn't a lofty goal. The issue is my champion procrastination skills getting in the way. A super pretty calendar will help, yeah?

3. Meditate and Breathe
I've been using Headspace and Kardia a little bit over the last few months and I want this to continue but in a more regular fashion. I introduced it to my little stresshead Tricky, too, so perhaps we can set aside time each week to do it together. With Bobbin in full time school in 2019 (wait, what?) I can do it solo too.

4. Yoga
I have dipped in and out of the Yoga pool over the years, doing it through pregnancies and in between, and always found that because I'm so bendy I tend to overstretch to feel anything. So I'd like to start doing Yoga, even if it's just joining in with the Cosmic Kids Yoga I make Tricky and Bobbin do, and listen more to my body as it is happening. Don't over do it just because I can.

5. Martial Arts
I have been doing Freestyle Martial Arts for 18 months now. Woah. Did anyone think I'd stay at it this long!? Not I! I had a few months off with a torn calf muscle (OUCH!) that saw me on crutches and off to physio for a while, and I'm out right now with torn ankle ligaments but I am aiming for my green belt this year. The belt is more psychological for me than anything because I still don't feel like I deserve to be a blue. I'm not a great blue belt, but I have passed every test to get there and train twice a week, yet I can't shake this imposter syndrome. Not giving up, training harder... that's gotta help, right?

6. Buy Less Shit
I'm a frugal gal by nature. I don't buy expensive clothes or shoes (my sandals are seven years old), because I'm just not in to fashion. I can look at the beautiful people and appreciate their aesthetic, double tap to like their frock, but I generally don't go out and buy it. I find it such a waste of money. My downfall is cheap shit. Bargains that I don't need. I'm aiming to make more conscious spending choices this year, which may end up meaning the things I do buy are more expensive but higher quality and will last.

7. De Clutter
I haven't gone through the kids' wardrobes since we moved house. Bobbin has a bunch of crop tops that look on trend, but are actually just two sizes too small. Getting to this before winter is a must.

8. Organise The Garage
There isn't too much in the way of storage in our house and that's a good thing because it means less crap. We have had to be ruthless and I love that we don't have as much "stuff" anymore. I've added a little storage; some shelves here, a hook there, but I want to tackle the garage. I need shelving for the long term no touch items - like Christmas decorations, seven years of tax receipts and that sort of thing. I have a drill and I'm not afraid to use it. It will be done. There will much Instagramming of me holding said drill.

9. Sleep
I let y'all know that I had a sleep study recently and the results were absolutely atrocious. Well, the good news is I've got a sleep apnoea machine now. My Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or CPAP machine sits next to my bed and I am vowing to use it every night. The only night I have missed so far was when I didn't actually go to bed, so that doesn't count. I have so much more energy, and my circadian rhythms are even starting to even out. I do have about twenty years of sleep debt to catch up on, so I'm still a little bit tired, but waking up feeling refreshed is EARTH SHATTERING AMAZING. After the first night I said to MapGuy "I can see in colour now" and I meant it. Everything is brighter. I am hoping it continues to improve from here too. I'm still embarrassed, but I need to keep going.

10. Get Closer To Nature 
The past twelve months I've been booking the kids in to nature camps and trying to facilitate their love and respect for the environment and as a result it has encouraged MapGuy and I even more. We've always been big recyclers, but now we are better recyclers (making trips to the local recycling centre to take all those things that don't go in the general recycling bin), have two thriving worm farms, and of course the beloved Spiny Leaf Insects. But I want more! I really want to head out to the lake more often, to cycle around it and just see what is there; how it changes over the seasons. Visit the beach and watch the sunset just because. The kids play outside a lot, but I'm always inside. I need to get out.

11. Less Phone Time
I have my head buried in my phone too much. I use it as a distraction tool when I'm feeling overwhelmed, which is fine, but then it becomes habit to pick it up. Randomly scrolling through Facebook turns in to clicking an article, then another, and another. Looking at Instagram is no big deal... but then I'll log on to my work accounts to check them and get distracted doing work things when I should be present in the moment. My phone is usually always on silent and most notifications are off - only text messages get through, so I just have to PUT IT DOWN.

12. New Pet
I don't know if this really counts as a resolution, but I definitely want it to happen! I have had my eye on a new pet for about twelve months. It's a Bearded Dragon. They are the cutest little things and I was lucky enough to hold one recently and it absolutely cemented my love. They are cute and quirky, which puts it right up my alley. I have to get a license, so that is the first step. It's pretty down there in terms of priorities, so if it doesn't happen it won't be awful, but it is on the list.

13. Finish The Home Office
Our master bedroom in the new house is a big one with a small walk in robe, so to better use the space we added a wall of wardrobes and I've turned the walk in robe in to a little office. I have a desk and some drawers, plus some organizational tubs just crying out for new stationery, heh.

14. Become More Active In The Buy Nothing Community
I'm an admin on my local Buy Nothing page because I love the concept so much. Making community bonds stronger while clearing my house of unused bits and pieces. Win win! I want to put more things on the page to give away after the big de-clutter works.

15. Go To The Dentist
It's been a few years. Oops. With all the dental work MapGuy needed after his bike crash, then finding out this year that after zero issues with his baby teeth that Tricky's adult teeth are coming in without enamel and will need ongoing work (and has already been under GA to have a crown to stop any further deterioration of one tooth, the poor thing), I put myself on the back burner. Because mum life amiright? I WILL GO THIS YEAR. Just as soon as I save some money.

16. Eat Less Meat
I'm not becoming vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination, but eating less meat is great for the environment so I want to do that. We generally try for Meatless Monday, but I think we need to throw in a few extras, too. I'm not the head chef here, so this suggestion was MG's as he's the one who will be doing it. I am boring with food and he likes it a little more exotic, so he cooks!

17. Shout Less
I am a shouter, I admit. I can keep my cool, and very nicely discipline my children most of the time, but at least once a day I can get a bit shouty. I parent a lot with sarcasm, which is probably not fabulous either, but let's focus on one thing at a time. I'm hoping the meditation can help with this, and the CPAP machine is already helping because a tired Glow is a shouty Glow. I went to a parenting seminar last year and it was very reaffirming in that I'm doing a pretty good job in the non-shouty times.

18. Eat More Mindfully
I'm not going to promise myself to eat less sugar or carbs, or just less food, because hello it's me. I did give up sugar once and the results were fab, but food is also a huge tool for me when I'm stressed so just saying I won't eat xyz anymore is not an option. I want to eat more mindfully though. Recognize when I'm stress-eating or binge-eating and instead of beating myself up, perhaps bring in a more appropriate coping mechanism. A bad day will end in me eating an entire block of chocolate, so this year I'd like to have a bit of chocolate, then stop, recognize the thoughts, whip out the journal, flick on the meditation app, have a bath, do something other than finish the entire block. Even if that means only having half that will be a win.

19. Cycle More
We are so lucky to live less than 2km from the kid's school and whilst we can't cycle every day due to needing to go straight from school to sport after school, but we can do it twice a week and I'd really like to make that a priority. Tricky rides his bike all around the suburb to his friends' houses but Bobbin is too young to go out solo, so I need to lift my game and go with her either on the bike or the scooter.

So there we have it. 19 for 2019. It's a challenge but also very doable. I figure if I can get through the shit of the past few years then I can get through at least some of the things well, and maybe even half arse the rest.

Do you make resolutions?

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Names on bank accounts don't matter. ASK ME HOW I KNOW.

I have a story to tell you. It's been twelve months in the making because it's taken me this long to get over the trauma.

A combination of time and my go to coping mechanism of humour means I can now make bad jokes about it, but I can tell you at the time I was rocking in the corner.

Lemme take you back to December 2017...

via GIPHY

They say buying a house is one of the most stressful life events and I can 100% confirm this.

We had been looking at houses on and off in our preferred high school catchment. Our record was 13 houses in one day, expertly scheduled by MapGuy. We were having a weekend off looking while we did some Christmassy things and checked out Santa's Enchanted Wardrobe. Spoiler: it was Narnia and it was awesome. While we waited for the kids to finish the last of their play, MapGuy was checking his phone and saw a house in the suburb we were eyeing off was having its first home open... if we left now, with a 25 minute drive, we could get there five minutes before it closed.

Lock and load, baby, let's do it.

We got there and raced in. We liked what we saw. It ticked a lot of boxes. Great, quiet street. Close to public transport. A bit of yard. Four bedrooms. Modern (after renovating we didn't want to do it again!). It was 1.5km from the primary school and 1km from the high school we wanted the kids to go to. It was small and didn't have a pool - tick, tick and tick. We don't like giant houses where you might not see each other for days, and we didn't want a pool because of the hassle and expense, but, you know, feel free to invite me to yours.

A few days later after double checking finance we put an offer in and the agent was pretty dismissive of it, thinking it too low (well duh, it's her job to get them the highest price) but rang back that night to say it had been accepted. That was twelve months ago this week.

It was time to get the finance locked down. This is where shit gets cray. Try to keep up.

My parents had sold us our previous house (they had built it in the 1970s and I grew up in it - you should click this for super cute pictures of Bubba Glow) and our loan was through them. We had about $100k left owing to them. They had just sold their investment property and their home was on the market getting ready for their new house that they'd move to in the new year. So they had a chunk of cash sitting in the bank and my Dad offered to loan us $50k to put a deposit on the house, go toward all the fees, and to get us over the line with the bank loan that wouldn't quite cover the cost of this house we wanted. He'd be repaid the full original loan plus the new loan on the sale of our house, which was expected to be (and was) in early Feb.

With me?

So I told my Dad our bank details and he set about transferring a head spinning FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS to us for this super short term loan.

The transfer should have been pretty quick, but the money wasn't showing up no matter how many times I refreshed.

So we double checked the account number.

You guessed it.

I told him the wrong number.

I was out by one digit.

I can honestly say I have never felt such terror.

My mind started to spin, the room grew dark and I fought off fainting. I could feel my body flush with adrenaline. I retched over and over, standing in my kitchen with my Dad as he too was processing that he'd possibly just transferred a shit tonne of money to a stranger.

I fell to the floor and struggled for air. It was all very dramatic and if I'd started beating my chest no one would have been surprised.

Tricky and Bobbin, had come running on hearing the commotion, and asked what was wrong.

I tried so hard to hold it together.

"I've just lost some of Pop's money so I'm a bit upset."

Bobbin ran off somewhere and Tricky rubbed my back reassuringly and said as many comforting things as he could think of as I sat on the ground with a few tears down my running down my cheeks.

Bobbin came back and handed me the 20c she had gotten earlier in the week.

"Here, Mum, you can have this."

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Yep. All the ugly crying you can imagine. I cried so loud I scared them.

My Dad was holding it together, saying it would be OK, but I could see from the tension in his jaw that he was pissed. And rightly so.

It was past 5pm so I couldn't contact the bank. Even the emergency numbers couldn't help me at all. I texted my bestie and let her know what happened, needing to share the burden with someone. She rang me back immediately (possibly our second ever phone conversation since we are text peeps) and all I could do was sob in to her ear. She spoke quickly but calmly, saying that she was going to put her husband on as he's an accountant.

He reassured me the likelihood of the number being an actual account was super low. He told me all the times that people write down the wrong number on a form, or key it in wrong, and it bounces back after a day or two. Even with garbled replies between sobs, he kept repeating how it was so extremely unlikely that it would go through. And it is unlikely. I'm told the way accounts are set up they generally don't have consecutive numbers, so getting the final digit wrong by one like I did, should be cool in most cases.

There was much crying and wailing over how stupid I was, but this is already going to be a huge story so I'll fast forward to the next morning.

At 5am I rang my east coast Bank #1 to find out what I could do from this end. I needed to know if it was a real account or if the money would ping back like it does 99% of the time. For privacy reasons they couldn't tell me anything and much to their credit they listened to me cry about it. On hearing how much money it involved the person on the phone asked me to tell her the number that had been entered accidentally. She typed it in and I'll never forget what she said:

"Privacy laws prevent me from telling you if this is an account... but I'd get Bank #2 to stop payment IMMEDIATELY if I were you."

Cue breakdown in 3, 2, 1...

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I rang Bank #2 (my Dad had been doing the same thing over at his place) to be informed that that I couldn't speak to anyone in the Accidental Idiotic Internet Transfers Department because they had closed for the Christmas break, but would I like them to call me back on the 6th of January?

The most awful noise I've ever heard escaped my lips and I started to violently shake again. The person on the phone tried to reassure me that it was illegal to spend money accidentally put in an account to which I strangled out between sobs "that.... never.... stopped..... anyone..... beforreeeeeeeeee" at which point I successfully became his weirdest phone client ever.

All I could think was that someone would get a nice $50k bonus in their bank account, withdraw it all, spend up big and we'd spend years trying to get it back and end up with a random $2 a week pay back scheme set up by the court.

Every person I spoke to was genuinely trying to help, but no one could. One even called me back later just to check on me. Which OF COURSE meant I cried some more.

At the same time that this was happening, our loan had not yet been approved because most of the staff at Bank #3 (there are four banks in this story) had gone on leave already and it hadn't even been marked as received yet. The days were ticking away and the day to have finance sorted by was zooming toward us. We had an emergency meeting with our broker who advised us to put in a brand new application with Bank #4 because it was obvious that Bank #3 just didn't give a shit at this time of year.

Thank fuck for that because Bank #4 got on it right away and we had pre-approval in hours and full approval in a day... but without that $50k, we wouldn't be able to do anything.

Insanely, my Dad had another $50k in the bank (if you remember from up the top he'd just sold his house and wasn't buying the new one until Feb, so he had a super healthy bank account for a while there) and said he'd transfer it over.

At this point Bank #2 called me and said "the money has gone in!!". Is that not the best customer service? He'd been monitoring the account, probably out of morbid curiosity. At which point I had to explain it was a different $50k and he no doubt went away mumbling about rich people problems.

Because who has $100,000 that they can just transfer around willy nilly? Usually we don't, it was just this random set of circumstances that meant we did.

I spent my birthday in a pit of despair. I was helping ticket sales for a school function and even pay pass transactions made me nervous. If there was a way for it to go wrong, I'd find it! I would over charge people. Or refund people that weren't meant to be. You name it, if it was bad, I was thinking it.

I was responsible for losing more money than I had ever contemplated. And it wasn't even my money to lose. I'd lost my Dad's money. I forced myself to put on a brave face for the most part, and threw myself in to advent activities for the kids.

The next week I had to transfer money to a friend and I had a genuine trauma reaction when putting the numbers in. Nauseated and trembling I quadruple checked, then quadruple checked again, sweating bullets as I hit transfer on a piddly $20. Thankfully this reaction hasn't continued.

Christmas day came and went, and whilst I do think I faked it well, it was always the first thought I had every morning; the last thought every night; and at least half my waking thoughts each day. It consumed me.

Finally, in the second week of January, when were packing up the old house getting ready to move in a few weeks time, I got the call I'd been waiting for. My Dad informed me the money was back in his account.

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If you take anything away from this, I want it to be that you should not try to buy a house at Christmas time; always check the account number at least fourteen times before you give it to someone or hit transfer; and to never, ever, under any circumstances, lend me money.

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