Always quirky, sometimes sweet speculative fiction

Category: My Family (Page 2 of 4)

thoughts and experiences on being a wife, being a mother and trying to make a family work

The Good News About Why I Haven’t Been Posting

goodnewsIt’s not like me to post so little. I’ve mentioned in a few of my more recent posts that the lack is due to illness. Don’t panic it’s not my vertigo, it’s a good kind if illness. Not that being sick is good, just the cause of the illness is good.

Xander is going to have a younger sibling soon!

It’s been a very rough first trimester. Way worse than when Xander was the belly bean. I’ve still been doing some writing, editing and submitting, but all my author-energy has gone there not posting here. My priority will always be my actual writing, not blogging, but I hope to return to a regular schedule soon. Almost as fervently as I hope my morning sickness(which is certainly not restricted to only the morning) will end soon.

Uber October Round-Up

I didn’t post even once last month o.0 that’s not like me at all!

I was busy, organising a big holiday, experiencing the big holiday, getting back and unpacking and recovering from aforementioned holiday, an MRI, the Brisbane Writers Group Convention, driving down south of the border for a close family friend’s 60th, and of course endless agonising over whether or not to do NaNo while I’m as sick as I have been the last 2-3 weeks.

P1220005The holiday was Xander’s first time on a plane. He loved it when  we were flying through the clouds like Hiccup on Toothless’s back. Luckily we had no popped ears so tear free – thanks to his chewy straw drink bottle and lollipops ;p . Plus the plane ride being a short affair definitely helped.

BSCIt was pretty awesome when we came across a bush stone-curlew too ;p (if you’re not sure why I care, check out this post, this one, this one, and this one – long story short though, I’m obsessed).

I spent a long time agonising over whether I would be able to do NaNo this year, and I figured, heck I might as well try. You can check out a bit more about what I’m doing here.

As for this month, I’m looking forward to several games releases (though thanks to NaNo I’ll probably not do much playing), and thought I’d share this amazing trailer with you ;p

I would play the hell out of that game ;p

First Camping Trip

This weekend just passed we(myself, my husband and my parents) took Xander on his first camping trip. He had a blast, but of course all he wanted to do was touch the campfire and run around exploring, so we parents are exhausted.

average quality, but the best I could do on a phone at a distance

average quality, but the best I could do on a phone at a distance

One very interesting thing also occurred. You may remember my many prattles about the Bush Stone-Curlew (here, here). Well at the camping spot we selected there was a wildlife sign announcing this area was one of the few places were you could find the rare and reclusive Beach Stone-Curlew.

I swear I didn’t know this until after we got there!

Only seven breeding pairs have been seen on the Northern Coast of New South Wales (where we were camping) but luckily we saw two, each on separate days. The first day we took Xander to the beach and saw one back in the dunes. I didn’t realise it was a stone-curlew but looking at it I thought it looked like a softer-hued bush stone-curlew. My father had the same suspicion.

the sign at the camping spot

the sign at the camping spot

So he read the wildlife sign later that day and we discovered we’d been right.

On the second day we were taking a walk back from the beach and spotted another one. Sadly, we only had our camera phones with it so the best picture I got was this one, but still, it was fun to spot a new type of stone-curlew. And to take Xander on his first camping trip 🙂

One Person’s Meh is Another’s Trigger

how-to-train-your-dragon-2-poster1-690x1024Our local cinema is doing some advanced screenings of How To Train Your Dragon 2 this weekend, including some yesterday. Since our little man Xander is a mad fan (owns most of the toys, seen all of the TV show(like ten times each episode), and watched the movie at least once a week since he first watched it over a year ago) we knew we had to get in on that action.

Xander watches movies at the cinema well enough. He’s watched Despicable Me 2, Cloudy With a Chance Of Meatballs 2, Monsters University (and a few more I can’t recall right now) without disturbing other patrons, but still we picked a session during the day when we were sure there wouldn’t be too many other movie-goers (we picked well there were only six other groups in the whole cinema) just in case this was the one time he didn’t do well.

This was the one time he didn’t do well. We had toys, food, drink, loving parents to assure him all was safe. He loved the start, grinning, bouncing in his seat, but then his trigger happened.

Xander can’t handle kidnappings (this includes dragon-napping). Giant scary freaking monster – he doesn’t care. Someone dies – he doesn’t care.  Someone gets hurt – he doesn’t care. Someone gets their heart broken – he doesn’t care. Someone get’s tied up and/or dragged away – the world is burning OMG OMG OMG!

The first time we heard chuckles from those near-by, amused  that he was so upset by the first dragon-napping (I assure you, my spoilers will get no more specific than this). By the third or fourth time he was getting so upset he couldn’t calm down before the next would happen, so my husband and I tried to leave to calm him. But no, Xander knew this movie was too awesome to leave in the middle of. If we dared to walk out the door he would lash out, struggle out of our arms and run back in. So we moved to the seats in the cinema furthest from the other patrons to try and soothe him, to try and avoid his crying bothering the other people.

Mostly he cried during action scenes, so the sound shouldn’t have been audible, and no one approached us to complain or did the snide, sotto voice walk by where they whinge about ‘that noisy kid’ so I’m not sure if we did bother anyone for sure, but I worry that we did and wish I could talk with people and explain that for Xander the most horrible thing imaginable is not injury, not death, but kidnapping.

What seems unremarkable to one person can be a great fear to others.

Another example, I’ve cared for pet snakes in the past – but for some they are a terrifying creature. It’s hard to understand something someone else fears when it’s not scary to you, but that doesn’t make their fear less valid.

I can’t help but wonder when I’m writing how many scenes I create that might trigger someone. We writers can’t avoid it really – after all who wants to read a book where basically nothing happens? Even going out the front door can be terrifying to some people. But where’s the line? Some people say that certain triggering events should be removed from fiction altogether, but that is like denying that these awful things happen. It’s certainly walking the razor’s edge.

I hope by the time the movie comes out on bluray Xander will be able to handle watching it again, because it’s awesome and I can’t wait to see it some more ;p

My Son Is A Skeksis

Warning: this post assumes you have watched The Dark Crystal and thus know what a Skeksis is. If you haven’t seen it, go watch it and reclaim your childhood.

dapper gentlemanLook at this little guy. What a cutie. You’d never think he was a skeksis inside.

My son makes the little ‘Hmmm?’ noise of a skeksis when he likes the look of something. He also points and uses that noise to ask for things sometimes.

At least once a day he walks around talking to himself in a quiet, hissy language (sometimes I call him my little parseltongue).

He can be a real tyrant.

Sometimes I feel he is sucking the life out of me (only when I’m in a bad mood and he’s in a tyrannical one, the combination of which is rare, but I’m trying to make a lost of comparative traits here ;p ).

The only problem is he’s so damn cute.

I should show him The Dark Crystal. I’ve been worried he might be scared of the skeksis so have been holding off. Or maybe I was more worried he’d try to hug his bretheren ;p

he loves to play with swords too

he loves to play with swords too

Animal Encounters

curlew2I would have posted this sooner, but at the moment my website keeps dropping out on me, so unless I’m lucky when I try to post, I get a 503 error. >.< I’m working on it, but I’m only slightly tech savvy, not champion level ;p

I had some luck on Monday night trying to get some photos of the bush stone curlews (no idea what I’m talking about? read my last post). While T-J and Xander played in the park I crawled around on the grass trying to get close enough for a good shot without scaring the birds. Some of them even stopped, looking at me curiously as I lay stomach down on the dirt with my camera watching them. Still not the best shots, but for an amateur with an old camera the results aren’t too shabby.

curlew1My encounters with wildlife did not finish there however. Earlier that day my husband walked through the door between the living room and the kitchen and suddenly yelled: “Snake!”

With his reaction I expected a big fella, maybe not as huge as some we’ve had in our old house (which backed directly onto a creek and bushland)(we once had a carpet python on the back stairs so large we actually called a professional because we were genuinely afraid for our dogs (beagles)) but certainly not a little juvenile snake barely the length of my forearm.

The poor little guy disappeared under the fridge before I could get a good look at him, so we had to take precautions for catching him because I couldn’t say (at that point) that he wasn’t a venomous species. SIDE NOTE: you may think a juvenile venomous snake is less venomous than an adult. Not true. They can inject less venom because they are smaller, but if it’s a venomous enough snake you’re still going to need a hospital.

So my very stylish and totally professional precaution was to put two large bedsocks on my arm (the thickness of which should ensure the fangs wouldn’t reach my skin). With a stunning teal forearm we got him out from under the fridge and he tried to hide in the pantry. The bedsocks worked perfectly as when the poor little guy (frightened out of his mind) tried to bite me the only reason I knew I’d been bitten was because I could see it happening.

Once captured I gave him a quick look over to make sure he wasn’t immediately identifiable as a venomous snake. He didn’t have the black head typical of a juvenile brown snake or the distinct belly of a red belly black snake. I’m not a professional herpetologist, but I grew up on a farm so do know some of the identifiers. He looked like a little tree snake, so we took him to the nearby bushland and released him by an old log.

I love wildlife stories, so if you have any, feel free to share them in the comments 🙂

My Baron

Baron and I

Baron and I

From yesterdays post you might have assumed I was chipper and up beat most of the day (if a little busy) but shortly after writing my post I came across a terrible discovery. My cat Baron had passed away during the night. This year has not been a good year for my cats.

Just like for my poor Grum I need to process things and I want to do that in the method of a tribute to Baron’s life.

Baron was a grief relief cat. We’d lost Xavier, a fluffy gray cat, only a month before and we saw a fluffy grey kitten in the pet store and snapped him up. He was named for Baron Humbert Von Gikkingen the third from Studio Ghibli’s wonderful movies ‘Whispers of the Heart’ and ‘The Cat Returns’ (even though his colouring was much more like Prince Lune’s).

Baron napping with 3 month old Xander (for anyone worried, no I never left them unattended like that, I was always writing right beside them when they napped like this)

Baron napping with 3 month old Xander (for anyone worried, no I never left them unattended like that, I was always writing right beside them when they napped like this)

When my parents moved in with us (yes that way around) Baron took a liking to my parents and received the nick name ‘comrade Baronski’ and the influx of adoring pats that came with it.

Baron was always a laid back cat. He didn’t have the wild adventures of being lost and found that Grum did (or perhaps he kept his adventures secret better than she did) so there isn’t quite as much to write, but that doesn’t mean he was less loved.

When Xander would nap on our bed or the fold out couch bed, Baron would often curl up near by for his nap too. Actually now I think of it, he was a very sleepy cat, ninety percent of the pictures I have of him are him napping in funny places. He was also fond of hugging things while he slept, like remotes. There’s a sad symmetry that it seems as though he died in his sleep, lying down like he always did, snuggled up on a towel. My poor sleepy Baron will have all the time in the world for napping now.

 

The Importance Of Not Stunting Imagination Under Peer Pressure

I wrote this post today inspired by catching up with an old friend on the weekend with whom I used to have the grandest adventures.

Me up a tree in my school uniform, because that was 50% of my school life.

Me up a tree in my school uniform, because that was 50% of my school life.

I grew up with a great attitude. In primary school I was a tom boy, and just didn’t care about much but climbing trees, playing soccer and reading. I loved to climb camphor laurels and mango trees and read up in the branches until I was too sore to sit up there any longer. I had a patch in early high school where I was teased(who hasn’t?), but then it clicked in my head that I didn’t actually care about those twits who called me names and I did as I pleased.

I’m so grateful for that, because it means I have never stunted my imagination. My best friend and I would run about our forests (we each lived on farms which had plenty of forest and swamp and creeks in them) and have adventures. Yes, like little kids. We quested for treasure, fled from monsters (that were actually pets just chasing us for affection), had sword fights and hunted the Tuckean Swamp monster late at night.

I will never deny those things. OK, by some people’s view 17 is a little old to be hunting a monster on the back of your friend’s farm, but you know what? I never stifled my imagination. I let myself play. I let myself believe. I let myself live without letting peer pressure change who I was and wanted to be.

And this is who I am today.

I hope I can pass this on to my son.

Tea and Book Questionnaire

Tea and BooksI originally saw this on Stuff With Thing and thought it looked like something really cool to do. If you want to join in you can throw a link to your blog post doing this questionnaire in the comments.

How do you organise your books?

Novels are sorted alphabetically by author surname then by series order and date of release. My non-fiction is grouped by topic (eg/writing, small business, pets) then author’s surname. My manga is sorted alphabetically by title then number within series. My graphic novels are sorted by publisher (DC, Marvel, Image ect) then into character related series by in-story time line.

Is it weird to be so specific but so different? I might be a little OCD.

Do you prefer series books or stand-alone books?

I’m not particularly partial to one over the other, however when it comes to series I vastly prefer the pre-planned series when the author knows exactly what point they will finish at, like most fantasy series (Tamora Pierce’s quartets, Robert Jordan’s truly epic Wheel of Time), as compared to the never ending series (The Sookie Stackhouse mysteries(I don’t mean I don’t like them, just making an example nearly everyone would know)). There is something much more comforting in reading something planned to only be 3, 4, 14, what-ever many books long when compared to a series which is totally open ended. Maybe because the cynic in me thinks those other series feel like cash-cows after a certain number of books.

Do you have a favourite time of day and/or place to read?

I’m the mother of a toddler. I read whenever I can find the time! I’ve even read a book once when Xander wanted to be pushed on the swing without end. He wanted to keep going so I read a book and pushed the swing with the other hand. He got to swing for ages like he wanted and I didn’t get exasperated by the monotony.

I do also like a tea and a book, or a good soak in the bath with a book too (can’t be interrupted by a toddler in the bath ;p )

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?

I can read a non-fiction book in tandem with a fiction novel and also be reading a manga or graphic novel (and playing an RPG with a great storyline too!), easily, but I struggle if I try to read two fiction books at the same time. The recent purchase of an ereader has made it a little easier, but it’s still a stilted process.

What is the last book you bought?

The last book I bought for Xander is a picture book, Sora and the Cloud by Felicia Hoshino. It was recommended to me by Jen at Perogies & Gyoza. It is a lovely story with beautiful art and is bilingual. I want to buy him the first ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ book since Xander is mental about the movie/TV show, but have only been able to find the later volumes so far.

The last book I bought for myself was the Story Bundle eFantasy set technically, but for proper paper books my most recent purchase was The Stone Key, the fifth book of Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn Chronicles because somehow I’ve got every other book in the series apart from that one, yes, including the sixth in the series… how I missed the fifth I’ve no idea.

What are you currently reading?

In manga I’m just finishing off Kobato by CLAMP, I’ve read the first five before, but only recently got a hold of the final volume so finally get to find out how it all ends. CLAMP are always great with crazy complex endings.

In fiction I’m reading The Keeping Place, the fourth book in Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn Chronicles(in paper book form) and Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself in ebook form.

If you’re ever curious as to what I’m reading you can keep an eye on my on Goodreads profile.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?

If I can gather the meaning by context no(but often will write it down on a near-by notepad so I can look up the precise definition when I have a chance – there is always a notebook nearby in my house), but if it stumps me I will look it up.

When I was a kid I read way above the ‘normal’ level (like The Never Ending Story at 9) and I used to lie down with a dictionary and whatever book I was tackling and look up the words immediately without having to pause too long. In primary school(and some of high school) I was frequently accused of ‘reading the dictionary’ because of my vocabulary.

Do you snack while you read? If so, favourite reading snack?

I try not to snack too much because the food often ends up on the book and I’m a little OCD (little? Probably not the most apt word) about keeping my books tidy. Well-read creases in the spine are fine, but food splotches are not cool. However as a mum now I often have to combine activities, so eating and reading occur a lot more together than they used to. I love to drink a chai or earl grey tea while reading. I’ll sometimes dunk choc-chip bikkies in said tea if I’m hungry, but I have to be careful the soaked bikkie doesn’t fall back into the tea and splash the book.

Overcoming Obstacles – Indies Forward

I’m joining the team of Duolit and all the other indies at Indies Forward today to help promote The Cell War Notebooks.

 

The Cell War Notebooks cover.

The Cell War Notebooks cover.

The Cell War Notebooks was written by Julie Forward DeMay in the last seven months of her life while she battled cervical cancer. Julie can’t promote her own book like most indie authors because she is no longer around to do so, so the blogging community is doing it for her. If you already want to check the book out, here it is on Amazon (this is not an affiliate link).

For the promotion we are supposed to write about a difficult time in our lives when we were inspired to overcome adversity. I’m certain there are going to be heaps of post out there about tougher obstacles than mine, in fact the more I think of it the more I feel like I’m ‘letting the team down’ by not having some Everest-esque problem that I had to overcome, but I feel the heart of this question is in the overcoming, not the obstacle (if that makes sense to anyone but me).

I have always wanted to be a writer. Even before I really knew I did I was telling stories. My parents told me I used to sit on the end of the guest bed and tell stories to those who had stayed the night and that, young as I was, I still spun an entertaining story. I remember watching the generator indicator at my uncle and aunt’s house waiting for the generator to reach ‘float’ (which means fully charged FYI) so I could use their computer to write my Goosebumps-inspired horror stories. I remember getting a typewriter and when our family went camping giving up my leg room in the car so I could take the typewriter along with me (why I couldn’t just use a journal don’t ask me, ask ten year old Kirstie).

With age comes procrastination. Though my talents and ideas blossomed, I kept finding other things encroaching on writing time, movies, socialising(not always bad things), chores, reading – even sometimes sitting around and fantasizing about being an author took precedence.

I kept writing, but it was piecemeal, a bit here, a few pages there, months flying between chapters with nothing written.

When I gave birth to Xander I despaired. Prior to having a child I was well aware I would lose massive chunks of my time to raising another human being – I wasn’t THAT deluded – but I had no idea how tired you could be running on 5 or less hours of sleep every single night, keeping a child happy and healthy and the house clean. I had no time for anything I thought. I gave up on doing anything but ponytails or buns for my hair, I never wore make-up (not that I tended to much before that anyway) and fashion became forgotten due to a need to always be wearing something I could breast feed in.

I even read less.

To anyone who hasn’t had a kid yet you are probably shaking in your boots. To those with more than one kid, you’re probably laughing and telling me to take a concrete pill and harden up.

Xander passed his first birthday and I was depressed. Not out of any lack of love for my family, but because there was no ‘me’ anymore, only mummy and mummy was nothing like the woman she had been.

Mummy became determined to prove there was something else to her other than just her title.

I took the aforementioned concrete pill and pulled myself up out of my self-inflicted swamp of sadness. I made a website. I wrote a second book. I edited my first book and made some substantial changes. I joined a writers’ group. I took on the challenge of NaNoWriMo and came out a winner with a third book.

Basically, I kicked ass.

I was determined to be the author I spent all my life dreaming of being, and instead of just sitting around fantasising of how cool it would be to be Stephen King or JK Rowling I took action.

All of my goals are not yet achieved, but there are many lofty goals I have and I am making strides toward them. I may not achieve them this year, or even next year, but it sure as hell won’t be for a lack of trying.

I’ve spoken earlier about how having Xander solidified my determination. I know I have very little time and so I make sure I use it as productively as I can. No more lazing around all day trying to watch entire seasons of Doctor Who and Supernatural (as awesome as those days were). No, instead I throttle every drop of time out of each day that I can and use it.

So my obstacle was myself. Kind of lame compared to something as dreadful as cervical cancer. I can’t even fathom how Julie kept herself moving forward and writing The Cell War Notebooks. But that’s what we need to consider. There are people out there worse off than us and they aren’t letting their circumstances stop them, so why the hell are we letting ours stop us?

So you don’t have to waste time scrolling up, here’s the link to buy The Cell War Notebooks, so buy it, read it, review it and start overcoming your own obstacles, no matter how small or large they are.

You can read other posts by other bloggers about overcoming obstacles here on Indies Forward. You can also go to Facebook and Like Julie Forward DeMay’s page, or talk on Twitter about her book using #indiesforward or #cellwarnotebooks.

On a small side note, if you want to listen to an inspiring tale of an author fighting against the odds, listen to this podcast interview of my friend Talitha Kalago. If you come out of listening to that not feeling inspired I will be genuinely shocked!

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