Everything’s the same, everything’s different

The world is a place where everything can feel so nebulous and yet our feet are so firmly on the ground, somedays so heavy they feel gripped by roots, dragging us deep into the earth.

The world is a place where everything can feel so nebulous and yet our feet are so firmly on the ground, somedays so heavy they feel gripped by roots, dragging us deep into the earth. How can two extremes play out at exactly the same time? How can it feel like everything can disappear in an instant and yet onward we tread, as if there is no choice.

Discovering that there is comes from a dark loneliness deep in the woods of our minds, where there are voices and terrifying sounds and not a glimpse of sunlight to guide the way out. I’ve been there, too many times as if once was not enough. The pain of that place is excruciating, like there is a vice around your head and nowhere to run. The news about Robin Williams has rocked so many of us. If someone so talented, so successful, so revered can’t find his way out of that forest what hope is there for the rest of us battling those demons every day? One of the oldest friends of a friend of mine took her own life two weeks ago. A month ago a plane of innocent people was shot out of the sky. At the moment there are innocent people of a religious minority trapped by religious extremists on a mountainside in Iraq.

It goes on and on. What on earth are we to do? Somehow we get up and live another day. We love our kids, we speak with loud voice when things are not just and fair, we make dinner, we eat all the feelings and despite the most of unlikely of odds we keep going. Sometimes doing that is so very hard. But we make that choice.


A new day

So much has happened, so much is going to change but as I type it is all the same. And that’s OK.

I learned – in a very hard way – that some of my relatives read this blog. It appears that when they read this post they didn’t see a daughter deeply concerned for a parent, they saw someone saying dreadful things about someone else.

Those of you who know me know that could not be further from the truth. Your comments confirm this – offering advice and insights from your own experience or just empathy for when you are in a stressful situation with one you love.

It appears those relatives then decided, instead of calling me and asking what was going on and if there was anything they could do, advice they could offer, shoulder to lean on or ear to hear with, rang their own mother asking how and why I would say such dreadful things about my mine.

I want to say thank you to all of you who have commented, sent private tweets, emailed me, sent me texts and (gasp) spoken to me over the last stressful week to ensure I was OK, to see where things were at, to offer an ear or advice and to just show me that you care.

Your concern, understanding, love and empathy has been invaluable.

There are some very exciting times ahead.



Tightening the belt

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Most of you know that this year has been all about tightening the household budgetary belt and you know, we’ve actually done incredibly well. I mean, we haven’t saved anything but we have not spent beyond our means for a whole 11 months. Pretty amazing huh.

So I thought it would be the perfect place to start in my series looking at the concept of ‘value’. Most of these are completely obvious and there are probably loads more ways we could be saving money so please, share your tips via comments too OK?

allconsuming’s Top 10 ways to tighten the family budget

  1. Set a weekly menu plan and shop specifically to that list. Oh, and back away from the brand names.
  2. Buy a decent brand of coffee and/or tea and cease and desist buying one every time you leave the house.
  3. Have people over for morning or afternoon tea rather than meeting at the coffee shop. Making a slice or cake or batch of biscuits is far more economical than the $$ you will dole out at a cafe.
  4. Stop buying magazines. Depending on your want (fashion, food, gossip, lifestyle/home) there are plenty of blogs and/or online options which.are.free.
  5. Review all your plans – phone plans, pay-tv plans, insurance plans, utilities – take the time to investigate better options. You don’t need to do them all at once, just tackle one at a time. We took a long hard look at our pay-tv subscription, questioned what we would miss versus how much it cost us and well, we ditched the whole thing. The only thing we miss: Grand Designs, AFL, SpongeBob. Hardly life-altering or unbearable.
  6. This one has been tough but absolutely necessary: no more take-aways. I mean, take-away for seven people, five of those essentially eating adult portions is incredibly expensive. Instead we try to really create variety with weekly dinners at home. I must say, I really yearn for one night a week where I say, ‘let’s order take-away’.
  7. Review extra-curricular activities – can it be done better, how much is too much. Now this is a bit laden as it cuts right to the core of giving your kids a range of experiences and activities. We had to reach the decision that each child got 1-2 activities they could do, ideally a sport and an arts orientated one. Oscar’s taken care of mostly through free activities due to his special needs, Felix has done drama and football. Jasper has just picked up dance and Grover is none the wiser at this stage but I think the two little fellas will do gymnastics next year.  I ditched the swimming lessons for the little boys which some would say was foolish. But really, having done swimming lessons with three of the boys surely I had taken on enough to be able to teach them water safety when we’re in the pool at my in-laws or over at the ocean pool or in the surf the several times a week we are there during summer? Instead I’m investigating a week-long intensive option over the school holidays as Jasper is now in need of some stroke lessons. That and the swimming club offers free lessons (gold coin donation) at the ocean pool every weekend during summer. Tick.
  8. It’s not where you shop but how you wear it. No really. It is.
  9. Plan plan plan. Life throws enough curve balls so let’s try and limit their impact. I have a list of bigger ticket items that are going to need replacing at some stage in the near future. Then I keep track of prices of that item and how often there are sales on. I’ve also signed up at two online sales websites: brandsExclusive and buyinvite and if something comes up there which is on my list it may get ticked off (if the price is right as it were).
  10. Homemade is not a dirty word. Now look, I know many of you are not crafty and do not cook/bake, but I do (definitely more of the latter than the former) and so this is a case of playing to my strengths. If you know me then you just have to accept that a birthday gift or a thank you present or a contribution to a hamper or some such is going to be made by me. Yes, I will try and make it look nice but it will always taste good and was made with love. I reckon that’s far nicer than another bloody teatowel/vase/dust-collector.

This post was sponsored by KIA. To celebrate the great value of KIA’s new car – the Cerato Hatch, a website has been launched so you and your family can get some great value offers and deals. Check out my favourite deal for this week: Purchase the Mountain Buggy Swift from Baby Village.com.au and receive a FREE Storm and Sunshade valued at $79.90 at www.getmorevalue.com.au

A whopping big can of worms

Yesterday a friend on Twitter re-tweeted a post from the UK Telegraph about ‘the world’s smallest mum’ having had her third child and not ruling out having a fourth.

Curious about just how you get the moniker ‘world’s smallest mum’ I checked it out and have not been able to shake the story out of my head since.

Stacey Herald is 36 and has a rare genetic condition called Osteogenisis Imperfecta, which according to the article stunts her growth and causes underdeveloped lungs and brittle bones.  

From my very cursory research this condition is what we commonly hear referred to as brittle bone disease.

According to the Osteogenisis Imperfecta Foundation people with this condition:

  • In addition to fractures people with OI often have muscle weakness, hearing loss, fatigue, joint laxity, curved bones, scoliosis, blue sclerae, dentinogenesis imperfecta (brittle teeth), and short stature. Restrictive pulmonary disease occurs in more severely affected people.
  • OI is caused by an error called a mutation on a gene that affects the body’s production of the collagen found in bones, and other tissues. It is not caused by too little calcium or poor nutrition.
  • OI is variable with 8 different types described in medical literature.
  • The types range in severity from a lethal form to a milder form with few visible symptoms.
  • The specific medical problems a person will encounter will depend on the degree of severity.
  • A person with mild OI may experience a few fractures while those with the severe forms may have hundreds in a lifetime.
It goes on to say that the characteristics of the disease vary from person to person – which is to be expected in any genetic condition as we all bring our own genetic material to the party. The key health issues commonly seen in people with OI include:
  • Short stature
  • Weak tissues, fragile skin, muscle weakness, and loose joints
  • Bleeding, easy bruising, frequent nosebleeds and in a small number of people heavy bleeding from injuries
  • Hearing loss may begin in childhood and affects approximately 50% of adults
  • Breathing problems, higher incidence of asthma plus risk for other lung problems
  • Curvature of the spine
The website points out that childhood and adolescence are particularly difficult for people with OI but that most go on to lead “productive and successful lives”. 
So, with all that said if you had this condition, would you a) try to have a baby when doctors advised you against it and b) there was the chance your child would inherit the condition? 
My answer to a) would be probably as I know how strong the desire to have your own child can be. 
But my answer to b) is absolutely not. If it was possible to undergo IVF procedures which ensured the embryo did not carry the mutation then I may barrel on down that ethical minefield of genetic selection. But would I have a baby knowing it was pretty darn likely they would inherit what is clearly a painful and debilitating (there are different types of OI with varying levels of severity) condition? Absolutely not. 
Hear that kebang? That was the lid popping off and those darn worms heading in every different direction.
Of Ms Herald’s three children, two have inherited OI. Her second child does not have the condition and at age two is already taller than her mother. Ms Herald says in the article: “I can’t physically stop Makya if she’s upset,” said Mrs Herald. “She’s too big for me now, so Wil has to take care of that.”
Here’s hoping Makya only gets upset when her dad is home from work. 
It is so not my place to stand in judgement on this family but man is it wreaking havoc with my brain. 
Who am I to say she should not have had children. I mean, plenty would stand and look at my history of depression and anxiety and point an accusatory finger that I should not have had children for fear of passing on any genetic predisposition to these conditions. 
I mean, where do you draw the line? 
If say, a permit to procreate came into affect which meant we all had too undergo genetic testing in order to be allowed to have a child then I suspect very few of us would ever become parents. 
Oscar’s genetic disorder is a rare, freakish result of chromosome four getting carried away way back when he was just a moosh of cells. No hereditary predisposition. No dodgy chromosome from mum or dad. Just ‘one of those things’. 
Had I undergone genetic testing with that pregnancy and discovered something was wrong would I have terminated? Yes. Why? At the time, at the tender age of 24 it probably would have been because I didn’t think I would be able to handle it. At the wise age of 37 and now far more experienced in the world that is having a disability it would have been because I did not want my child to have to suffer all that comes with having a dodgy chromosome. When I see how hard the world is for Oscar …
Now look – many will argue that the idea of not wanting our kids to suffer is universal and undergoing trials and tribulations, tragedies and all the rest are what make us stronger and better people. Absolutely. 
But would you knowingly inflict it on your child? And rather than those hurts and hardships come from life experience have it stem from part of the very fibre of their being? For me the answer is a resounding no. 
I keep looking at the photo of this family and there are two children there who are going to endure endless painful procedures and myriad health issues for the rest of their lives. Then there is another child who by the miracle that is genetics dodged the bullet. I can barely imagine the ‘issues’ that child may have down the track. And for what? Because this couple wanted a family? 
It just doesn’t feel right. 
Your thoughts?