Kiva Lending Day is here!

Well it’s that time of the month again! Don’t stress I’m not going to talk about a girl’s monthly visitor… just my monthly visit to kiva.org where ‘The Batchelor’s’ lend $25 to a person or group of people less fortunate than us.

If we didn’t support Kiva, we would have a child sponsor which would cost us $30 per month. I feel that I get to support so many more people this way because parents are able to borrow money to increase income which in turn feeds their kids and so on. Not only that, when the money is paid back, I can relend it so the money just keeps working for us all.

The question I face each month however, is who do I lend this money to when everyone is so deserving? This brings me to my set of criteria that I developed for myself to make the decision much easier.

Since children are my biggest passion (I feel I was put on this earth to nurture them and protect them), the person I am loaning to MUST have children in their care. They also get bonus points from me if they mention that they want to use their profits made to send these children to school (kudos all round here!).

I like the person to be asking for money that will be used to generate more income for themselves as I believe that microfinancing is the best way out of poverty. Being smart, in my opinion, with their money shows that they aren’t just going to go and spend up big with nothing in return. They must be entrepreneurs.

The final thing I look for (although I often overlook as it is of minor importance to me), I prefer to lend to single or widowed women or men. Meeting this criteria, I’ll admit, is just something that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy about the loan. I know that to live in poverty is tough but to live in poverty alone with kids in your care is even harder.

So if you were lending some money through Kiva, what sort of things would you look for when lending someone some cash?

Today it went to Mariam from Mali.

To check out Kiva and make a loan today, click here (yes I get a kickback- the ability to loan another $25 of someone elses money but that’s a win for everyone isn’t it?)

Image courtesy of: fairviewhs.org

The breakup

Mirena.

That is such a dirty name for me. I shudder just thinking about her.

She had made me suffer for the past 12 months in ways that totally flawed me. She interfered with my ability to breastfeed my daughter and caused me to suffer from depression and anxiety. I only realised 7 weeks ago what was causing all this! (aside from the breastfeeding bit which you can read about

I decided to remove Mirena from my life. I wanted her gone.

BUT… She was ‘lost’. She had ‘migrated’ apparently.

I began wondering, as anyone does when they’ve started a relationship they begin to regret, ‘Why? Why me? Why does she have to be so damned horrible to me?’

Mirena has an effect on people… women more directly, men more indirectly. You either love her or hate her. I used to be in the ‘love’ camp… that was until she turned on me. It was as if she had decided that having kids had changed me, you know the friends I’m talking about, the ones that feel you have ‘changed’ and you’re no longer the same person they grew to love.

She was the one that changed on ME! We had it all worked out. She had a purpose in my life and despite not needing her for about a year, I thought she had welcomed me back with open arms.

I spoke with my Doctor about our complicated relationship and he practically didn’t believe me! I felt like a little school girl pleading her case to the principal. ‘Please Sir! You must believe me! She isn’t as nice as she portrays. She is evil.’ No doubt I would have gotten an afternoon detention for that one.

After some convincing, the Doc agreed to help me part ways with Mirena. He slowly broke the news, ‘I think we will need to operate.’

The reality of the situation began to dawn on me slowly. I had to leave PNG. I had to go back to Australia to ‘deal’ with her.

The Doc offered to speak personally with a specialist back in Australia, who deals with these breakups regularly in the hope that he could fit me in. Stat.

Five days later, we embarked on the exploration. I woke up some 25 minutes later to be told the news.

They had found her!

I was ecstatic!

In my Fentanyl induced intoxication, I wanted to do the victory dance (which I pictured to be much like Flashdance with me singing, “What a feeling!” along with it).

Mirena was gone. kaput. dead. (to me).

I’m now 4 weeks post… her… and I feel great!

Have you ever had a difficult relationship with someone/something that you have had to end? How did it go for you?

Image thanks to: http://www.someecards.com

Goodness Gracious! Where have YOU been?

Dear Sir/Madam,

It has been a very. long. time.

I last spoke to you about 6 weeks ago and boy do I miss you!

I have a wonderful picture of myself being an avid speaker who will have something to say at least 3 times a week. It’s a great picture where all my readers love me and beg me to just post some more! more! more! And I get freshly pressed like every month week. *sigh* It’s lovely…

Oh.

Reality.

So here I am… I haven’t spoken to you in about 6 weeks. Possibly more.

And what do I have to say for myself… (little missy)?

I’ve had minor surgery. I’ll elaborate once we are reacquainted a little more (next week) but everything is mostly ok.

I’ve started job hunting. Writing cover letters takes all my blogging speaking time!

I’ve packed the house. The removalists have packed the house. I’m headed back to Australia in just 2 weeks exactly but who is counting?

As a result of the packing I have a 1 year old with very few toys and a teething temper to join it. My creative juices have had to be redirected and juiced in my living room. So far they have produced playdough (ok that’s easy), attempted bubble painting (epic fail), and homemade, edible paint.

I’m slowly sinking into the oblivion much like my time with you has.

What do you do with your kids on (4 weeks straight of) rainy days? I’d love to hear from you!

So hello (again) and I hope to see more of you soon.

Love Brooke xxx

Image thanks to: http://www.clipsoflogic.com/2012/10/busy-busy-busy

There’s a bear in there…

…and a chair as well… there are people with games… and stories to tell!!!!! Open wide! Come inside! It’s PLAY SCHOOL!!!!!! Lalalalalalala!!!

Oh sorry… you caught me singing the theme to like the BEST show ever! haha!

It’s sad. Very sad. I now find myself belting out children’s show tunes with equal enthusiasm to how I used to belt out tunes by Alicia Keys or Beyonce. Am I embarrassed about it? Hell no! Do I find it funny? Totally.

I have started a new routine over the past month with BG- at least in the morning. At about 9.20am I turn on Play School and snuggle up with her on her little orange couch. I give her some juice and snacks- if I’m feeling nice, she gets her first of about 5 serves of blueberries… her poop has left a purple stain in her cloth nappy/diaper already! How does one curb such an addiction in their 1 year old?- back to the point… so she gets a little something to enjoy while watching the show. I get a much needed coffee.

We settle in for a good 20 mins to half an hour to enjoy the songs, dancing, stories (Ok, M hates that bit), craft, cooking and sometimes a visit from some animals.

I have my favourite presenters and others that irritate me throughout the show. Some are great singers while others couldn’t hold a tune for anything. They also make mistakes here and there and I love spotting them. Sometimes the presenters have their own personal jokes or double entendres thrown in, I guess, to entertain the likes of me because lets face it, BG isn’t going to understand that the Bull needs to be seperated from the cows on the Play school farm because he is randy, she thinks it is exactly what they say, ‘he’s getting a bit roudy so he needs to be seperated until he calms down.’ For a 1 year old, they think he isn’t playing nice with the other cows so he needs time out. I try to chuckle with a concerned look on my face so as to not confuse her… 🙂

I’ve also noticed a few agendas like striping down the gender stereotypes and doing things their own way- who said a boy can’t enjoy dress ups? The main agenda however is to educate kids and show parents that they don’t have to have a lot of money to set up fun and educational activities for their kids at home.

So why do I enjoy my daily dose so much?

Firstly, I get to snuggle with BG and boy does she snuggle well (unless she wants to dance along with them). We talk about what they are doing as we watch the show so that BG feels she really is interacting with them.

Secondly, I get so many ideas from the show. Everything is home-made and sometimes there is a theme that gives me lightbulb ideas for things we can do later. It really is a great resource for parents needing some ideas.

So if you get a chance, watch some Play School with your child and sing along with me 🙂

Do you have a favourite kids show you look forward to everyday?

Striding Along

I haven’t been participating in ‘regular’ exercise for the past 4 years or more. I used to be really fit about 10 years ago due to having personal training 3 times a week and springboard diving training twice a week but what good is it to live off your glory years?

I participated in a group fitness thing for mum’s with strollers back in LA and realised that just because I have a baby/toddler in tow doesn’t mean I can’t work out and achieve the goals I want to achieve (like a body from my glory days… ok maybe I’m aiming to high after carrying a baby but I can dream!).

I compiled an email to send out to all the parents in Port Moresby Parent’s Group (a list of 100 or so parents) and to send to the Australian High Commission community- that’s one way to make sure you stick to your fitness goals!. I committed to doing it 3 days a week for 1 hour each morning but now I have just been chatting with another mum in the compound who doesn’t come due to work commitments and she would like me to do it on a Saturday too! Aparently there are a few mum’s who want to do it but can’t due to work so it looks like the idea is starting to take off 🙂

It took a while for people to jump on board. Many said they would like to join me but… and others simply felt it wasn’t for them. I was ok with this as I felt that by leaving it open for them to turn up only made me ‘have’ to turn up in case I was letting them down! haha!

After a few weeks I had my first fellow strider (FS) and we’ve been doing it together for 3 weeks now. My FS has now turned into 2 and another possible 2 on top of that! It is going really well and I have found that we push each other to just give it that extra go to achieve a moderate to high impact workout. We push our kids in their strollers around a circuit (approx 400m) at the bottom part of the compound before walking up the VERY steep hill within the compound a few times (that gets your heart going!). When our kids start to fall asleep or complain we stop and do squats, boxing, knee ups or something on the spot so the kids can have a break and look at each other. Then we set off again.

After we all say our goodbyes I usually head home, watch Playschool with BG, put her to bed and then start a 10 minute abs workout DVD (I can recommend a fantastic one for postnatal to get your muscle seperation back together- PM me or comment on this post for details) and a 45 minute Yoga DVD session.

I’m beginning to feel the difference! Last Friday I pushed it so hard for myself that I was on the verge of throwing up. I feel a little fitter and I’m pleased with the results I am already seeing. They say it takes a month to start a habit so I’m hoping this one sticks for many years to come. I definitely want to approach the next pregnancy much more differently, fitness-wise, than I did with my first (no I’m not pregnant but I’m starting the fitness planning early).

What have you done to get back into shape post-baby? If you don’t do anything… are you inspired?

Featured photograph is from dealsmagazine.com

Combatting Bullying in PNG

Earlier this year I attended a BBQ with my husband to watch one of the State of Origin Football matches. My husband, BG and I were the only expats there so we stood out like a sore thumb. Some of the kids were keen to engage me in conversation- probably because I was the ‘white lady’ haha.

Anyhow, a little girl of about 9 years old started to tell me about school and how she was being bullied by a boy in her class. We chatted about how bullying isn’t right but that it seems to be in every school. She went on to tell me that this boy, ‘had an operation when he was a baby and has a cut here…’ (she drew a line across her mid back towards her front which indicated to me it was probably his kidneys) ‘…and he has to go to the toilet a lot because of it…’ (yep! his kidneys!) ‘…we told the teacher he is being mean to us and she said…’

So this is where the punch line comes in but I’m not going to tell you just yet what the teacher said. At this point I began to wonder just how they might tackle bullying in PNG. Back in Australia, everyone has their opinions on how to tackle it and generally speaking, none of the theories seem to be sticking (except for the few triumphs here and there). It seems that with every step forward, there is also a few steps back. So I wondered… could PNG have a great example of how to deal with a bully and put an end to their disruptive behaviour?

The teacher responded with the following (this is word for word on what the girl told me)…

‘…she said, “Well next time he does it, you tell me so that next time he asks to go to the toilet I will tell him he cannot so that he will wet himself and you can laugh at him.’

Hmmm… somehow I don’t think PNG can offer a great solution just yet.

Featured image is thanks to the Holland Elementary School’s article on bullying.

Autobiography: An opening sentence

I saw a tweet yesterday from @plinkyprompts asking, ‘You’re writing your autobiography. What is your opening sentence?’ I thought this was a fun prompt for a blog.

Cheers to Life as I know it

My autobiography would have this photo or one like it. An autobiography would be a toast to ‘moi’ wouldn’t it?

I came up with the following options for my opening sentence:

  • I sang, I danced (terribly) and I came to realise that neither pays well… so I did other things instead.
  • The rollercoaster of life happens for us all… this is my rollercoaster.
  • Hello.
  • Thank you for reading this autobiography.
  • This is my story.
  • Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother, Cleaner, Teacher, Nurse, Knitter, Blogger.
  • From the crazy life to the mellow life, I’ve done it all. (This one probably sums it all up the best).

So what would you write as your opening sentence?

Dear Pebbles… For your 1st Birthday

                                BG blowing raspberries at the airport in August 2011

I am writing this just over a week after your birthday because I have struggled to put my thoughts into words. How do I express just how much I love you or how much you have changed my life?

Two weekends ago was your first birthday which also marked my first birthday of being your Mum. I knew that when you arrived life would change but I didn’t know how much you would change me… for the better.

You have brought so much happiness to my life that I feel like I am going to explode whenever you are around. When you are asleep I miss you. When you are awake and you smile or dance or do something incredibly cute or funny, I just fill up with joy.

You are a very funny girl and I think you already know that even though you can’t talk yet. Like the other day when I was washing up the dishes in my undies and you tried to use my undies to pull yourself up but they fell down instead. There I was stuck with my hands in the basin, with my undies around my knees and you started slapping my butt and giggling! I get the giggles just thinking about it.

I love looking at the world so differently- through your eyes. Going for walks takes so much longer but I don’t mind stopping to look at every flower, or waving goodbye to complete strangers- you have an art for finding all the wonders in this world.

You make cooking more interesting like the other day when we were making soup and I was cutting up all the veges. You tried to show me a much easier, faster way where we don’t cut up the veges and just put them whole and unpeeled into the saucepan… why didn’t I think of that? 😛

Baby Girl (or Pebbles, not Bam Bam anymore because your Dad cringed at that nickname- aparently Bam Bam is a boy)… you are such a joy to have in my life and so I wanted to say,

Happy Birthday gorgeous girl!

Love Mum xxx

P.S. Some things you might want to know one day:

  • 10th September 2011 – you took your first steps (4 of them!) at a friend’s house and then another 4 at home for Dad
  • The week of your birthday- you started walking for good
  • Your first word- this is a tough one because you said ‘Mumma’ and ‘Dad’ but don’t use them all that much (now I get ‘Me-me’ pronounced with an ‘e’ like the first e in ‘every’); you said ‘ball’ in July but then stopped saying it after a week; you said ‘Bup’ for ‘up’ from 24th September and you have said ‘Nam Nam’ when calling out for your cousin Jasmine just the one time in August 2011. So pinning down your first word is a tough one!
  • You had a dummy until you were 4 months
  • You started sleeping through (most nights) from about 5 months when we sleep trained you.
  • Your first sign was ‘milk’ and you started doing that at 10 months followed by ‘more’, ‘bath’ and ‘all done’ before you were 12 months.
  • Your favourite show is ‘Play School’ (but you loved ‘Signing Time’ for about 3 months at 4 months of age)
  • Your favourite food is ‘blueberries’ although you will eat ANYTHING (you little Italian)
  • Your favourite song is ‘My Body makes Music’ (I have a lot of fun with that one so thank you)
  • You have lots of friends but there are 2 in particular that you play with called Jesse and Emily.

Cake Balls

I’m sure you have all heard of Cake Pops, the cakes on a stick invented by Bakerella… well I’ve had a problem with these since I wanted to make them. I love the idea of Cake Pops and I love how cute they all look (if only I could make them look so gorgeous!) but…

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Isolation

It’s that time again… when we are about to get on the move to another posting. Next year we will begin a new life in Townsville, Far North Queensland. We have moved cities (the number of houses is another thing!) a total of 4 times in the past 5 years because of Daryl’s work.

There are pros and cons to moving all the time. You can start with a clean slate for each move for example, or you can run from the awkwardness that may have developed among friends. I usually try to focus on the positives and not get caught up in the negatives. It doesn’t do anyone any good. A great positive is that I have some great friends in each place that I keep in contact with regularly. I would never have met them if I hadn’t lived all over the place and that’s another positive… I have lived in some far off places that I would never have dreamed of living in and I have LOVED it.

The hardest thing about living such a nomadic life is that I have always found making friends with people a tough business. It is really difficult to infiltrate that inner circle. I often think I have and that I have some great friends again but only to discover that they don’t feel the same and I am merely an acquaintance in their eyes. Each time I feel gutted but most times I understand it. If you aren’t in need of friends, you don’t place as much importance on your new friends.

Why is it that women make it so hard for one another to get on the inside though? I have watched Daryl in each move and admittedly he usually has friends from ADFA (The Australian Defence Force Academy) or RMC (The Royal Military COllege) who are posted to each location (something I get incredibly jealous of) however he doesn’t seem to have trouble invading a mate’s circle of friends. That’s what it is for women isn’t it? Invading…

So that is my greatest challenge as a Defence wife and I am finding it a lot harder now that I am a SAHM.

I was given a choice a few months back by another mother over here. She told me, ‘You should get a Pikinini Meri (PM- nanny) because you will regret it if you don’t especially when you see all the fun us other Mum’s are having at all those lunches where kids aren’t invited.’

I trialled a PM and it went terribly. It was incredibly stressful watching someone care for my daughter to a standard well below what I believe is basic… maybe I just had bad luck or maybe my standards are set really high but then again I felt, ‘Why on earth do I need a PM when I do nothing at home anyhow?’ I had a Haus Meri (HM- cleaner) at the time so I wasn’t even cleaning my own home nor was I working! I figured the lunches were something I was willing to sacrifice and to this day I know I made the right choice for both BG and I BUT it has certainly put me on the outter edge of the circle and some days that is just plain lonely…

But alas… I start again in 12 weeks don’t I? And that’s the positive I am going to focus on…

(not the fact I just started a sentence with ‘and’ for the very first time in my life… the perfectionist in me wants to rub it out now! OMG!)