Creating change.

If you could be anything you want to be what would you be? If you could be anywhere in the world where would you be? If you could change anything about your life what would you change? These are all questions that everybody has asked and everybody has answered but have you ever thought about what those answers mean?

Let’s start with the first question if you could be anything you want to be what would you be? I am guessing your answer is to do with your job. Maybe you answered with a midwife, a racing driver, a footballer etc. Now my question to you is why can’t you be who you want to be? I imagine that your answer will involve some sort of limitation you have placed on yourself. Perhaps you need a degree, perhaps you feel you are too old, perhaps it’s too expensive to change your career at this point. Try to imagine the steps you would need to take to become who you want to become. Does it seem more achievable now?

As a teenager I dreamt of being a journalist, that was my ideal job. I placed limitations infront of myself. I told myself that the course was too long, I told myself that I wasn’t smart enough to do it. The truth was I was scared. I was terrified of failing and because I was scared of failing I failed anyway but without even trying. That dream never went away, just because I created an obsticle and convinced myself that I couldn’t jump over it, I still dreamt of being a journalist. At twenty seven years old with four children I realised now was the time. Age means nothing, time means nothing, nearly ten years had passed and I could have done that course three times. I got the English degree I always wanted and I work in schools teaching the subject that I have always loved. I am not a journalist yet but I am definitely closer than I have ever been.

The second question is a question that I have asked so many times. If you could be anywhere in the world where would you be? Most people will choose a beach somewhere that resembles paradise. A tropical haven that seems too perfect to be true. Maybe the Maldives? The Bahamas? Tropical white sand, beautiful people and yummy cocktails. Now ask yourself why you haven’t been there yet? What reasons do you give? Maybe, you can’t afford it? Maybe, you don’t like flying? Maybe, the time off work is impossible? Are these obsticles real or have you placed them there because its easier? If you want something enough go for it. Life is too short to spend money and time on things you don’t want, on things that don’t make you happy. What if you stopped smoking, could you afford that holiday then? Only you can make it happen.

The final question is the scariest. If you could change one thing in your life what would you change? Not your bed sheets. What part of your life do you least like? What part of your life do you want to change? Take a minute and really think about it. Perhaps your answer echoes the answer to your first question. Maybe your job makes you unhappy. Whatever your answer maybe why can’t you make that change? What obsticles are in your way, and have you placed them there, or has someone else. Is life long enough to make do? I don’t think so, I think if there is something in your life that makes you unhappy you should be able to change it.

Our dream had always been to live in Australia. We had spoken about it for years and years. Researched it and sent propably 200 CV’s off to prospective employers and then we finally moved over ten months ago. Life is too short to be stuck doing the things you don’t want to do. If it doesn’t work out have you actually lost anything? You are more likely to regret the things you don’t do than the things you do.

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Kids on long-haul flights.

Flying to Australia with four children may be every parents worst nightmare, but I promise it is not as bad as it sounds. So, if you are thinking of making the trip down under, it is definitely possible, even with little ones. We have done it twice now, the first time our children were 11, 8, 6 and 4. We then flew, again, a year later. We chose night flights on both occasions, the idea was that we could wear the children out during the day before the flight making them too exhausted to moan.

The first time we flew to Brisbane via Dubai. I was as organized​ as I could be. My biggest fear was that the children would get bored, begin bickering, and end up having a complete melt-down on the plane. I had visions of the children screaming until their faces turned blue. Us, their responsible parents, would be unable to calm them, resulting in all four children running up and down the aisles screaming and throwing themselves on to the floor. Hearing and feeling distressed by these four monsters, the other passengers would press their hostess call lights in unison, and the flight attendants would be buried under a sea of complaints and requests to have us thrown from the aircraft. In response to this, all six of us would be fitted with both terrifying and reliable parachutes and evacuated from the plane into the ocean without so much as a compass to help us find our way. Needless to say, I was a nervous wreck.

In response to my fears, I did what any normal parent would do, I spent a lot of money on a lot of brand new treats. I armed each child with a trunkie for their hand luggage. About three weeks before we were due to fly, I hid their trunkies in the top of our wardrobe and filled them with brand new toys, books, colouring pens and then bought snacks at the airport to sneak in for a surprise snack too. My theory was to give them lots of new and interesting things to postpone their cries of “mummy I am bored” because we all know that a child’s own cure for boredom is to annoy the brother or sister to the left of them that is not bored by any means possible, usually a quiet pinch or elbow followed by a loving smile in their parents’ direction to mask their mischievousness​. In their box of goodies I included things like Lego, activity books, mini-games​ such as: connect four and shut the box.

I hear your thoughts, “this sounds like a fantastic idea,” “what a clever mother she is, I must copy these tricks.” Don’t. After intercepting the delivery man at the front door, and whispering at him like a crazy woman because I couldn’t let the children, who were in the other room, see the treats he was delivering otherwise the whole flight would be lost and consequently, the entire holiday ruined. After smuggling the packages upstairs and fearing for my own life after tripping up the stairs and then calling to the children through my own tears of pain, “it’s ok, carry on watching the film. Please, don’t come through.” After successfully getting all the way through customs and onto the plane without one child taking a sneak peek even though they had ridden​ them all the way through the airport. The plane takes off, the seatbelt sign removed, I am incredibly proud of myself as I declare “right, shall we get your trunkie’s down?” they all don’t even look up from their screen’s and just respond with a disgruntled “no thanks.” Not once did they look in those damn trunkies, not once! They stayed in the hand luggage compartment above our heads the entire flight.

Another problem that a parent with a large family is faced with on a long-haul​ flight is the best seating arrangement. This is because a row is either made up of three or four seats, when there​ are six of you this means you need to be split up in some way. After much deliberating we decided that two rows of three one behind the other would be best. The idea was to have an adult in the middle with a child either side of us limiting the amount of touching, poking, hitting, kicking, kneeing, spitting and breathing on each other. Hoping that this would keep the flight as calm as possible. This, unlike the trunkies, was a success. The children were able to rest their heads on us equally, preventing any screaming of “I want Mummy, you have more of her!” It also allowed us to help each child equally without reaching over the other one. The only downfall was when we needed the toilet and the children were asleep, trying to creep past them like a ninja without waking them, at times, was impossible. It is also nearly impossible to get comfortable with a 5-year-old​ and 9-year-old sprawled out on top of you, but it was all worth it because we had no fighting and the children managed to sleep.

The next problem I felt I had to solve was how to prevent jet lag. Thousands of questions that I had no answer to, Google​ had no answer to and even my Mum had no answer to. The questions swam around my head before I went to sleep each night. They tormented me with “you will never solve me” on repeat in a croaky witch’s​ voice ringing in my ears. Do I encourage the children to sleep on the flight as much as possible? Do I try to get them straight into Australian time as soon as we step foot on the plane? Do I limit their sleep? Do I wake them for food? Do I encourage them to cat nap and wake them up after an hour or so in the hope that this will wipe their sleep pattern clean? The only problem is with four very excited children how would I get them all to sleep at the same time? What do I do? Basically, when we arrived in Oz we had lost a day it was first thing in the morning but bedtime back in the UK. We decided to try and wipe our slates’ clean. I thought the best way to do this would be to grab bits of sleep, every few hours on the plane, in the hope that when we land our bodies’ would be so confused, we could just start all over again. This is what we did: we let the children fall asleep whenever they wanted to, sometimes resulting in missing meals, but that was fine because they feed you so much on those flights that they didn’t need to wait long until they came around again. I would love to say that I have an answer to jet lag but instead, the result of our plan was (drum roll please) that we were jet-lagged for three days!

When I say jet lagged I don’t mean, “Oh, I am slightly sleepy I think I will go to bed at 8 pm instead of 9 pm” Oh no, this was tiredness like we had never experienced before. We all decided to keep as busy as possible (by we I mean me, this was all my idea and I sold it as the answer to our prayers) when we got back to the house the excitement kept us going for a while. We all unpacked and went for a swim in the pool. After that, it was time to go food shopping, by now it was probably about 11am. The boys and I decided to sit down while hubby and the girls were still getting showered and dressed. After sitting I remember nothing! I don’t remember closing my eyes’, I don’t even remember blinking. All I remember is waking up on the sofa and everyone else was sprawled out on the sofa too, snoring. It was​ getting dark outside. I was so cross with myself because I had not followed my own plan! I got up and made my way to the kitchen. Hubby had done the shopping while I slept, I must have been completely out of it. I was devastated we were never going to get acclimatised.

I prepared tea with a new plan in place, a late night and a lay-in​, fingers crossed. It didn’t happen like that. The boys were so tired that it was impossible to wake them. However, the girls, Mike and I managed to eat tea and go into the pool. It got to 10 pm, the boys were still fast asleep and the rest of us joined them. I would love to say that was it but the night was a nightmare! The boys woke up at 11 pm hungry for tea, they finally went back to sleep at 1 am and the girls woke up for breakfast at 3 am. This went on for two days but by the third day, we were all back in line with Australian time.

When we repeated the flight this year, I was much more relaxed. The children still brought their trunkies’, but instead of filling it with treats, they had a few snacks for takeoff and landing, a pillow, blanket and a change of clothes in case​ of any accidents on the flight. Although I was less obsessed with keeping them entertained my obsession with combating jet lag was still alive. This time I thought I would encourage them to sleep, we had a different stopover to last time which meant we were doing the longest flight first. It was amazing, both the youngest and oldest had a full 13 hours sleep on the way to Singapore and the rest managed to have between 6 and 10, brilliant. I felt very smug with myself. I was patting myself on the back for definitely conquering jet lag this time around. Er, no! When we landed I would love to tell you that we were jet lag free, this wasn’t entirely the case, but we did feel a lot better than the first time. We managed to stay awake until 6 pm, that alone was an improvement, but for four days we were up at 4 am ready for breakfast. By the fourth​ day it felt like we would always be in bed before 7 pm and up before the sun but suddenly it all clicked and everyone was in sync.

So, if you are planning a trip with children down under, my advice would be to try not to over think it. The staff on board know what they are doing which means the children are not going to get bored. My children have said they would rather fly to Australia than drive from Suffolk to Cornwall and so would I. It is less hassle and, for us, less bickering! You will be jet-lagged so make sure you are staying in Australia long enough so that losing a couple of days won’t matter. We stayed for three weeks the first time and well, the second time we moved here. Don’t pack too much, you really don’t need it. The flight is so much easier than you are imagining it, and the time really does fly by (excuse the pun). It’s so worth it, so if you are considering it, stop considering it and do it!

Adam.

Adam.

The door slams open hitting the wall with a loud bang, here we go again. I follow her into her room. Her body is stiff and full of anger.
“Why would you do this to me? What’s wrong with me?” She is screaming through her sobs. Her footsteps are heavy on the floor. She slams the door behind her and throws her body onto her bed. She reminds me of how she was as a child, so dramatic, so sensitive she would listen to everything and cry for everyone. I can see her heartbreak, it’s there in her eyes. She tries to fight her feelings but she can’t hold it in much longer, her face crumples and her whole body sobs.
She forces herself up, onto the end of her bed, her legs dangle over the edge and she places her heavy head into her palms. She is blocking me out, blocking us out, trying to forget. I look around her room, it feels like a lifetime ago that I was in here. Her bed is unmade the covers lay cascading like a waterfall of yellows and blues falling to the floor. The room is untidy, clothes thrown in a pile on the floor, empty mugs of various colours dotted on every surface. The sun beams through the window behind her, warmth and light shining onto her back. I can’t help but stare at her, time seems to be standing still. Her golden curls are pushed forwards as she bows her head, they bounce in time with her sobs, her eyes are hidden from me still cemented into her palms.
I should feel sorry for her, I should want to wrap my arms around her and make her feel better, I would if this didn’t happen at least once a month. I am begging her to stop, to let it go, to let me off the hook when she lets out a painful cry. Her voice is shrill like a child wailing, she hugs her knees tightly to her chest, I can finally see her face. “Why would you leave me all alone? Why wouldn’t you want to stay with me? Why? What’s wrong with me? Why am I always left alone?”  The same questions I have heard over and over again. The same self-pitying episode that would once have brought me to her side. She won’t look at me, she never looks at me. Her eyes are pouring tears down her wrists which she just leaves to fall down the length of her arms to her elbows. They must be tickling but she lets them escape one after the other. I move from the door to stand in front of her, to look down on her, but she doesn’t move. 
“Stop blaming me for everything, stop telling me that if I were here things would be different.”  I am begging her to stop, pleading with her with everything I have. My heart would bleed for her if I hadn’t heard it all before. I would join her, I would fall to my knees and join her in her misery if this were the first time. I did join her the first time. Something changes, her breath becomes quick, her tears are louder than before. She begins wringing her hands, her gaze moves from her palms to the corner of her room. On top of the table sits a picture of her and I. I must be fifteen and she is thirteen, my arm is wrapped around her neck playfully and she is picking my nose, I laugh at the memory. I remember the day, we were at the beach, it was hot and we had spent the whole day in our own world, swimming, building sand castles and laughing. We laughed a lot. Whenever we were together people would say, “that’s what happiness looks like” we would make people smile just by being us, brighten people’s day just by being us. It was the last picture we had taken of us together, the last day we spent alone, the last time we were us. As though she is reading my mind she says, “I haven’t laughed that much since” neither have I. 
She seems to have calmed, her breath has slowed but her gaze stays on the picture, she licks the silent tears from her top lip. Her eyelashes are clumped together in response to the floods of water that has passed through. Her green eyes are red with sadness, her skin is blotchy and swollen, she sniffs. The air changes and I feel her losing control again, more tears begin to flood her eyes and she begins again. Words try to escape in between sobs “if I could go back to that day I would, I would, I would spend my life on that beach with you.” She is getting me, I feel a lump in my throat, “Me too,” I whisper. “What did I do to make you want to leave, why didn’t you fight, fight harder?” She’s off again, louder than before. Her howls pierce through me I can hear the pain in her heart I can see it in the clenching of her toes but it has been so long. She needs to let go, she needs to forgive me and forgive herself. 
She falls back on the bed, defeated and exhausted by her emotions. She is lying on her back now, staring up at the ceiling, she is trying to get lost in the stillness in the purity of the white above her. I dare to move closer, I dare to stand at her feet. She pulls her legs up to her chest as I stand over her. She hugs her legs tightly to her chest, soothing herself like a child, she is quieter. “My life would be so different if you were here, I wouldn’t be what I am now. We would have laughed” tears slide down her cheeks fast, she wipes them away quickly trying to control herself, trying to gain control. “You would have protected me, why, why did you leave?” She sits up so quickly that I am forced to step back, she doesn’t look at me, she never does. Her legs dangle off the end of her bed, her face looks directly up as she screams at my silence “I hate you, I hate you, I will never forgive you for what you have done to me, what you have made me become, never ever!” She stares right through me.
Anger boils inside of me, I know my anger will make no difference but neither does my silence. I decide to move closer, to risk being close to her. As I step forward she bows her head once again bringing her head to her knees and covering her eyes with her palms. I haven’t been this close to her in so long. I am so close that if I move my hand up I could stroke her hair. I kneel down so our faces are inches away from each other, I can feel her warmth. “Why, why did you leave me?” She is quieter now, my closeness has soothed her. Although I have heard it all before her pain feels more real this time, we feel closer this time. I reach out to touch a curl that has broken free from the rest “I didn’t leave you” I say clearly, I need to keep control, I need to make her listen. She raises her head so quickly that I gasp, she is looking directly at me, her eyes meet mine. This is the first time she has looked at me. She says nothing, but her expression has changed as quickly as her head has moved. The red anger in her cheeks the puffing sadness in her eyes has gone, it has gone, and been replaced with fear, white pale terror. I gather the courage from deep within and stare straight back at her “I didn’t leave you” I repeat. 

“I died.”

Me, me, me!!!

I thought I would begin my blog with a short introduction. Introducing yourself, at the best of times, is tough let alone getting something on paper. I suppose I could start with my age, that is where most people begin. I am thirty years old, gosh I don’t feel that old at all but I have four children which keep me moving.

I am currently writing this in Melbourne. My family and I have been living here for three weeks, well three weeks and two days technically. I suppose the next question I should answer is why am I writing this blog? I have blogged before, about three years ago before I began my university degree. Now, more than ever, our little big family is facing so many changes I thought some of you might be interested in them.

The truth is, writing is my therapy. I have always written since I could first hold a pen. If I am upset, happy, angry, whatever, I write! So why not publish it to the world? Oh, my! Some of my posts will be about our experiences in Oz, others won’t be. Some of my posts will be true, others won’t be. When I write even I am surprised at what appears on the screen, so here goes…

Nicole.