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The polite goodbye (Alzheimers sucks.)

by Caz on October 27, 2014 · 3 comments

There is not much that can compare to the hole left in your heart when your own mother says goodbye to you with the polite calmness and awkward laughter once reserved for strangers.  In an apparent effort to engage in small talk  she gives a coy embarrassed laugh and asks me when my children’s birthdays are.     I want to shout FOR GOD SAKE WOMEN THEY ARE YOUR GRANDCHILDREN.  But I know it won’t help.   I know she knows  – but in that moment she just can’t remember the details.  They’ve disappeared into the fog of a brain living with alzheimers.  It doesn’t help that I’ve already told her (and watched her write in down) perhaps seven or eight times over the past few  months.   In that  moment the details are gone. 

Just in case you didn’t know polite calmness and mothers should never go together.    Passion.  Crossed purposes. Explosive interdependent arguments.  Yes to all of them – but not  over polite calmness.   That is just all types of wrong.

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The thought that pierces my heart more than most is that I know, without doubt, that she still loves me just as much as she always did.  You can’t turn that off.   While huge chunks of her personality seem to be slipping away into the ‘never never’ she is still that same old person she always was.   The person I have loved and hated, treasured and rolled my eyes at.   It’s just that she doesn’t always remember who she is herself.

Confusing hey.

 I desperately wish this process was easier.  But let’s be honest it is simply not.  My emotions are as much of a mess as her memory is.  But I guess that’s the way it should be.    When I give it space, thoughts of my mother forgetting me torment me.   The knowledge that one day I will walk into a room and there will be no light of recognition in her eyes.  I will just be another person.   My kids will just be someone’s kids.  Our family won’t be special to her – we’ll just be people.    It’s to horrible to contemplate – so most days I choose not to.    Most day.   But then some little moment will adhere itself to my mind in post-it-note  fashion and I’m forced to deal with it.    To respect the process and allow it to teach me something new about myself and about what the future holds.  Those days are hard.  I flail around in my messy emotions and try to shed to many tear around the girls.  I try to move on and remember this too is just a part of our journey through life. 

a promise to remember

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Running – the (almost) 10km edition.

by Caz on October 20, 2014 · 6 comments

Today I ran 9.5 kms.    Surprised?   You should be considering my lack of running blog post over the past few months.   Well let’s be honest it even surprised me – and I’ve been there for every run I’ve ever done!

Apart from a few months off over last summer I’ve been hitting the pavement for just over 12 months now.  From the very humble beginnings of running laps of my front driveway, to today almost cracking the 10km mark.   It’s been 12 months of hard work and to be honest there have been a number of times I’ve had to do serious battle with my mind not to throw in the towel – permanently. But something deep down inside me keeps drawing me back and keeps me moving.

Running is such a metaphor for life.  I have learned things about myself in the past twelve month that I had no knowledge of before I stared.  I have found a mental strength I had no idea I possessed. I have learned that I can do things that seriously seemed impossible.

Now let’s get things straight here.  I am no super runner.  I am possibly the slowest runner that ever graced this earth.  But I am still a runner and I am learning to love that about myself.   I love the strength I feel in my muscles and the way running changes my outlook on my day.   I also love that I have three small sets of eyes watching every move I make and that I am inspiring them to know they to can do all things.

There are still many questions for me about my running future.  My left knee is knackered.  It has no cartilage and the bones reportedly rub.  I also have Hashimotos (thyroid auto-immune disease) which means I have to be very careful not to stress out my adrenal with  excessive exercise.   But I am also addicted to running endorphins and the feeling you get when you finish a long run.   I don’t think I could turn my back on all the good that running has given me – even if I tried. 

So today I very almost ran 10kms.  (9.46 to be exact – and totally would have done the extra .54 if Runkeeper didn’t flip out and confuse me!)   I am one happy runner.

learning to run stories

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Let’s talk about guilt …..

by Caz on September 11, 2014 · 2 comments

 Well okay – if we have to then.  

Guilt is the other ‘G’ word affecting my life right now.    Guilt and Grief – I suspect they’re a common coupling when it comes to having an Alzheimer’s victim in your family.

I guess for me I am becoming more and more aware that time is short.   The fading has begun and though none of us are sure when, we know the day is coming when our names will be added to the list of those she doesn’t remember.   I’ve seen it starting already and I’m struggling to rationalise the pain it causes me. 

But back to guilt.  Right now I could sing you an entire country and western  song about how many ways I feel guilty.  I should be doing more.   I should be working harder to make her life easier.  I should be the one putting up their hand to be the long-term carer.     I should be careful not to allow my own children to feel neglected – they’re still too young to take second place.  I should be spending less time thinking about myself, my career and my family and more time thinking about her. 

I should.  

I should.  

I should.  

If I let them,  all  of those ‘I shoulds’ could squash the life out of me about now.

The things with guilt is that sometimes you have to listen to it and take the time to measure out just how much of its shouty voice is truth and how much is weighty overload.   I truly should and can do more to make her life easier right now.    I should determine that I am going to let the lumpy bumpy bits of our relationship go and choose again and again not to let her words or actions settle negativity into my soul.  I can do that – I know I can.   And it’s something I know I won’t regret.

With guilt I think the tricky part is in the knowing.  Which parts to keep and which to throw away with the other slimy trash.  My  guess is that learning this is just another step along this journey we’re travelling together – especially as I suspect guilt  and I will be keeping company for a little while to come.

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Fading away ……

by Caz on September 1, 2014 · 22 comments

fading away story

Grief and I have lived together before.    As a teenager I lost my big-sister, father and grandfather within the space of four years.  Rough – yes it was.   So much sadness in such a little space of time changes you and I still live today with the impact it all had on my life.   But hey, I’m fully aware every one of us has our own story and many of them are littered with hardship – sadly that’s just the way life is.   My own personal millstone’s name just happens to be grief.

But this time it’s different.  About nine months ago my mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  At around about the same time I went into denial and decided that, in the words of Scarlet O’Hara ‘I’d think about that  another day’.    It’s too much.    And because my life is busy with kids and work and stuff it’s not that hard to hide from reality.    Sure my head knows all about it, and tries to do the right thing, but my heart – well that’s another story altogether.

The fact is though that I know for my own health’s sake I have got to get a grip and deal with this.    But if you had a choice to hide from the pain of watching your mum slowly disappear from her body wouldn’t you take it?  

I can go for months just pretending she’s doing fine.  She’s coping.  She’s still  reasonably independent – surely that means everything is okay?   But then something will happen to force me back into reality.  She’ll come for tea and spend most of the night sitting, staring and smiling.  Her conversation is getting more and more limited and her ways more and more structured and intolerant.   Little by little the woman I’ve known all my life as ‘mum’ is simply fading away.  And try as I may to stop it,  my heart is silently breaking.

But as I desperately try to avoid the pain I’m noticing my stress levels rising.    Things in the rest of my life that wouldn’t normally offer any resistance are worrying me.  Deep down I know it’s really mum I’m stressing about, I’ve just transferred it onto something more manageable.  I also know this is not good and will damage my health if I don’t deal with it. 

So here I am. Back to my chosen form of healthy self-soothing – blogging it out.   Perhaps, just perhaps, this is even one of the reasons I stopped writing.  Because when I write the truth comes out of my finger tips!

Mum’s sister came to visit this week and we’ve spent time talking.  It’s been good for me – but hard too because it’s made to face reality.  (Reality can be such a bitch.)  I need to grieve again.  But this time there are no boundaries and no real concept of an end.   How do you watch your mum fade away?    If she had died there would be closure.  Intense pain – but closure too.  This is like chopping your arm off with a nail file.  Slow and agonising.   

Like many mother/daughter relationships ours is fraught with lumpy bumpy issues too.  I love my mum and know beyond doubt she loves me too – but we’re very different people.    Does this make it harder?  Or am I lucky because at least I get these ‘fading years’ to work out my lumps and bumps?  I don’t know the answer – but I have a feeling I’m going to find out.

Today I have taken the first step.  I’ve acknowledged the pain and informed grief that he and I are going to talk about how to get me through this in the healthiest and most holistic way possible.    This is part of my and my mum’s journey through life and I want to be as positive and real as it can be.   No regrets. 

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Hello Did you want something?  

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Yes us Kangaroos have taken to readings maps – but only after stealing them from little girls hands!

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Pretty aren’t I?

Ballarat wildlife park Kangaroos feeding

 Feeding time at the zoo.

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 The cute factor just went into overdrive.

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What’s up sleep head. 

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 Emu times two.

20140421_094235The bushman’s hut.  

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Post image for Moving Bodies Moving Boundaries {e.motion21 ~  Ballarat}

Today I want to share with you about an amazing, energetic and boundary pushing organisation that teaches dance to children and young adults with Down syndrome. I would love to be able to convey just how special this program is, and how much it means to those involved, but in all honestly I know words won’t do justice to what happens during an e.motion21 class. Seriously, if you could bottle the energy, enthusiasm and delight shown by these dancers you could probably solve world peace before you finish your morning coffee! It’s really that extraordinary.  

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But high wattage smiles and funky dance moves aside e.motion21 is all about sharing the amazing abilities of its dancers and using these abilities to change outdated beliefs about just what a person with Down syndrome is capable of doing. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in our local Ballarat dance group for a little while now. I’ve gotten to know the people behind those massive smiles and been blown away by the skill and dedication of the dancers and their families. I’ve also volunteered in the class room and watched first-hand the commitment and skill of the dance teachers as they present dance and movement to their students with fun, excitement and an understanding of Down syndrome. Such an amazing experience and one I’m so glad I’ve had the opportunity to be part of.

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 There are many reasons this program is so special.  It was founded out of one family’s need for their own daughter and has grown explosively because it mirrors the needs of many other families. (You can read more about Cate Sayers and this amazing journey here.)  It also connects deeply with the common human love of music, movement and fun and crosses all boundaries when it comes to building self-esteem, peer groups and personal wellbeing for people with Down syndrome. These are not just empty words either.  Last year, RMIT University conducted research in to the effectiveness of the program and the results were eye-opening. (You can find out more about the research by visiting the emotion21 website here.)

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So how did you go?  Can you get a sense of just how special this program is?  I hope so because what e.motion21 Ballarat really needs is for more people to get involved and support the program. That might mean considering becoming a volunteer mover in the classes.  If you have a heart for dance or people with Down syndrome I think this option would suit you perfectly. Full training is offered and the experience is amazing. Or perhaps you could offer a donation. As a not-for-profit organisation money is always tight and all donations, big and small, make a huge difference.  Donated funds are used to train new volunteers, buy dance class equipment and support the dancers to perform in the community. If you are a business owner and would like to be involved, I would love to talk to you about working in partnership to secure and build the future of the program in Ballarat. This might mean sponsorship or ‘in-kind’ donations of goods and services – all support is gratefully received and truly appreciated for the difference it makes.

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 You can find out more about e.motion21 by visiting the website . If you’d like to ask a question or offer support for the Ballarat site you can email me at ballaratrm@emotion21.org.au.  e.motion21 also is also on facebook and instagram – both awesome ways to stay in touch and show your support too.

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Post image for For the love of sausage (gluten free ones!!) + $100 giveaway pack {Congratulations Rachel}

This is a sponsored giveaway for Peppercorn Foods

I love a good snag, especially if it’s cooked on the BBQ.    Not surprisingly  when I embarked on my 2014 unprocessed challenge sausages were one of the things I dithered about most.    Dropping the bread and sauce didn’t really phase me, but the actual sausage that was just asking a bit much.   So as a way of compromise I decided to look for a good quality gluten-free alternative that would help nourish my body – rather than filling it with fillers and low quality meats. 

Peppercorn gluten free sausages

The Pepper Corn Food Company produce sausages (as well as burgers and meatloaf) made from best quality local ingredients that have the heart foundation tick of approval and  are completely gluten-free.    And as an extra added bonus, that really speaks to me, they also use fully biodegradable and compost-able packaging.  Now I think you’ll agreed that’s a huge step in the right direction when it comes to company ethics.

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Peppercorn sausages come in extra lean beef, chicken, pork and Italian style – all of which are available at your local Woolworths.   Don’t be fooled my by cruddy barbecuing skills (I usually leave the BBQ to the Nature Boy) because they cook up a treat and are absolutely delicious.     Their claim to being ‘extra lean’ proved to be pretty much spot on as they didn’t leave a single drop of fat on the grill.  

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Not only are the sausages lean and gluten-free but they are also flavoured beautifully.   Chicken with lime and spices or pork with ginger and shallots anyone?   We cooked up the chicken, pork and beef and then had a small family fight about which one was the best.  It ended up being three votes for the pork and two for the beef.   (Sorry chicken you were good too – just not as good as your sausage cousins!)

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Cannot tell  you how happy I am to have found Peppercorn sausages.  $7.99 per package is a little more pricey than the regular ‘run of the mill’ BBQ snags – but the quality and taste by far makes up for the squeeze on the purse strings.  In future I’ll probably freeze the Peppercorn sausages in small two packs, so I have a little supply for myself when the hankering for sausages kicks in. 

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the giveaway

 Would you like to try out some delicious goodies from Peppercorn foods?   I have a $100 gift pack of food products and merchandise to giveaway to someone who reads this review.   Want to enter?    Just follow the four steps below.   ( PS: If  you live outside a capital city you will receive  a Woolworths gift voucher plus merchandise to the total value of $100 –  as fresh product can not be transported to regional areas).

  1. In the comments tell me your favourite simple sausage meal for the kids or your best memory about sausages from your own childhood. The best comment,  as judged by me,  will win.
  2. Be kind enough to like Peppercorn Foods on facebook.
  3. Follow The Truth About Mummy in any way you like (Facebook, Twitter, Feed, email or Pinterest.)
  4. Please leave an email address  that you check regularly – as all giveaways are redrawn if you don’t respond within 5 days.  
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  • Giveaway is open until Midnight  26th of March 2014
  • No entries will be accepted after this time.
  • All decision are final and based on skill not luck.
  • (Check the T&C tab for full T&C).
  • Disclaimer: This is a sponsored giveaway.    From time to time I accept payment from companies that I feel fit within the demographic of my blog to post about their products.  I retain all  creative rights and all opinions are my own.   Payment does not purchase my opinion. 

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Beading is beautiful

by Caz on March 10, 2014 · 6 comments

Post image for Beading is beautiful

 These beautiful trays of beads arrived at our place a couple of weeks ago and the girls have been using every inch of pester power they possess to get me to let them create with them.

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 Finally this weekend they won and they got to spend a few hours in beautiful beading heaven!

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Needless to say they loved it and spent hours  matching and threading those pretty little beads into necklaces, bracelets, anklets and headbands. 

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 I was truly impressed with what they came up with.  These girls of mine have style – much more so than their mother!

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 A huge thankyou  Craft Direct  for sending us these lovely beading kits  – the girls loved them.    You might like to check out their website for these and other fun crafty activities you can receive by mail. 

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 It also gave me a chance to break out my camera again.  I’ve got so used to just taking snaps with my phone and forget how amazing it can be to use a real camera.

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 Now all three of my little ladies has a unique collection of jewellery they made themselves.  Along with a few random dolls and teddy bears that make their home at our place. 

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And because the boxes are so generous we still have plenty more beads to bring out another day.  Love knowing I have something to pull out when the ‘I’m boreds’ strike.  

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Do your little people like beading? 

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Post image for Parenting: the days are long but the years are short.

So here I am.  A mum of three school kids.  (Thankfully three happy school kids.)  I have spent the past couple of weeks kicking back a bit.  Enjoying space and time to do exactly what I feel like.  I did have a million little projects I thought I’d get finalised before I geared up for work and more study – but instead I’ve just been enjoying listen to the clock ticking and the fridge whirring and doing what ever boring old thing I please.  Blissful.  Ten years of being home with little people and I’d almost forgot how amazing prolonged silence can be. 

Next week I start my new job.  Next month I start a new course at Federation University.  (So I best enjoy this stillness while I can.)   I’m excited about having a new focus and the change it will bring with it – but also just a little nervous to see how it all unfolds.  I’m not sure what it will mean for this little space. I hope to keep popping in and connecting with the blogosphere – but I know it will be much less frequent.  This blog and been such a huge part of my life for the past five years and I’m so grateful I stumbled into writing it.  The friendship, fun and extra income it’s provided have been such a blessing to me and my family.   I’d hate to let go of any of that – so I won’t.

For now though I’m just sitting around pondering it all.   Thinking about the changes that are about the happen and how lucky I am to have been able to spend so much time at home with my girls.  I can still clearly remember sitting at my work-desk day dreaming about being at home with a house full of kids.  I craved it.  Now, ten odd years later, I’m at the other end of the journey and ready to move back on into the workforce.    Before my big girl was born someone told me it would be the hardest and the most  wonderful thing I would ever do, and you know what, they were 100 percent right.  I never done it so tough or enjoyed anything as much as being home with my kids.  Exhausted and frustrated by constantly living life at the end of my coping ability but amazingly glad and grateful I did it.  

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Post image for The best days of your life are ahead of you {Sponsored}
This is a sponsored post for Nuffnang Australia
 

Right now, I’m at one of ‘those’ times in life when I’m forced to think about the future. For almost ten years I’ve been raising babies, toddlers and preschoolers and then watching them head off to school.  A few days ago, my last baby donned her uniform and gave me two thumbs up as she lined up in front of the junior kids classroom. No tears, no concerns and a whole lotta happy!    

 I am an optimist by nature.  I live my life in a general knowing that there are always better things ahead.   Now that’s not to say I haven’t felt a little sad about the passing of a huge chunk of my life.  Because trust me, there have been a few tears and a lot of contemplation.  But I’ve also secretly been a little bit excited about what lays ahead for me.

 As you’d know, if you follow along here regularly, last years I headed back to study.  I figured a new stage in life deservers a new and exciting focus.  So I went and got myself a sparkly new Diploma of Project Management. (Might as well put my obsessive organisation skills to good use!)  And this year I’m planning to follow it up with an Advanced Diploma of Management and Marketing, while also hopefully working part-time at a fabulously awesome job I’ve just been offered. (Shhhh – it’s not all finalised yet – so I don’t want to jinx myself by talking about it.)  It’s exciting.  Such a rush to be thinking about myself and my career again and to realise you don’t have to be assigned to the work-yard scrap heap just because you’ve been out of the workforce and home with your kids for ten years. 

 What about you?  Do you have dreams and ideas for the future? Goals that make you suck in your breath and think ‘if only’. Tell me about them in the comments if you do.  Sharing your ideas is often the first real step in making them happen.

 One amazing way to turn dreams into reality is to follow my lead and head back to study.  Open Universities Australia has a flexible range of online courses from a whole host of Australian universities that cover pretty much the full scope.  Maybe you’d like to bring your own blog into a new era by studying Creative and Professional Writing or Short Story Writing through an Undergraduate Art and Humanities program.   Then again maybe you’d prefer to turn all of your experience and time on social media into a dream career through an Internet Marketing course.  Or maybe your dreams involve something completely different? 

“There’s always time to grow into the person you want to be, because at Open Universities Australia, we believe your best days are ahead of you.” 

If going back to study seems a little daunting Open Universities Australia also has some pretty snazzy looking support services aimed at helping you reach your dream goals.   Things like preparatory units to help you understand academic requirements, student support and counselling, FEE HELP and a dedicated success hub for students .    

So do you think your best days are ahead of you?  Given the chance what would be your ultimate dream job and what’s stopping you going out and getting it?  Tell me – I really want to know!

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I have always loved reading to the girls.  I started with my eldest when she was three months old!  Yeah I know – a little too keen. But I loved doing it and she was happy just to be snuggled up close hearing my voice.   And do you know what – nothings changed on that front.   At nine she is  the world’s biggest bookworm and still begs me to read to her.  (Mission accomplished.)    In fact all three of my girls love being read to.  

Over the Christmas holidays we were lucky enough to get sent a copy of the first book in a  brand new kids series The Tinklers Three (A Very Good Idea) by Meredith Badger  to review.   The girls decided it would be the prefect opportunity for mummy to read to them and so we did just that.   Hello lazy summer hours sprawled on the couch together – how I love you.

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I would suggest The Tinklers Three books suit a reading age of grade two to grade four. It’s easy reading with big words that flow well.   My seven-year old re-read it herself immediately after we’d finished.   But having said that all three girls (5,7,9) loved the storyline and couldn’t wait to start each chapter to hear more about the crazy lives of the Tinklers.   

Marcus Tinkler has two sisters. His big sister has an idea every time she sneezes. And his little sister … well, she thinks she is a turtle.  Marcus thinks that he is the most normal of the Tinkler children. But let me tell you a secret. Come closer so I can say it quietly: Marcus Tinkler is not really that normal. None of the Tinklers are.
Do you read to your older children?   I blame my own addiction to reading and stories on a teacher I had in primary school who read to us every day between 12.00 and 12.15.  Oh those where the days – when someone actually read to me.   Bliss. 

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In the words of Scarlet O’Hara …….

by Caz on February 2, 2014 · 1 comment

i'll t hink about that tomorrow

Well that’s it.  I just put a preschooler to bed for the very last time.   As of tomorrow morning I officially have no stay-at-home children and therefore am a fully fledged school mums.  Wow – where did the time go?   In May it will be ten years since I waddled away from my job at 36 weeks pregnant and embarked on the journey of motherhood. – TEN YEARS!

I can’t decide if I’m ready or not  (Little Pink on the other hand is 100 percent ready) .  I’m a swirl of emotions and think I actually need to grieve the passing of this phase of my life.  But I’m also ready.   Ready to me more of my own person and claim back some of my life.    It’s such a surreal place to be right now.

I’m excited but also challenged by what lays ahead for me.   I plan on returning to work – but will I be able to find a job?  It’s been a long time.  I’ve only worked outside of our home for one year out of the past ten.   I feel like I’m stretching the friendship with all of my referees and despite never having had trouble securing work in the past am really doubting what I have to offer.   Will my skills still stand up?  Has the work place changed while I’ve been away raising my babies?   Oh lordy I’m full of apprehension.

Being a stay at home mum has been the fulfilment of my dreams.   It’s what I always wanted to do –but now I’ve done it and ready or not it’s time to move on.  Over the past ten-years I’ve learned so much about myself and about life.  I would be lying through my teeth if I told you it was always easy.  So not.  Living through sleep deprivation and the relentlessness of life with little people is hard hard work – but it’s also something I know I will never never regret.  Not even those moments when I was literally slapping myself in the face with frustration as a little baby girl refused to sleep for night after night.

But what now for me?  My plan has always been to just sit back and relax for the first month of having all three babies at school.  (Yes I started planning that years ago.)  But now I’m almost there I feel so nervous and simply cannot stop myself looking for what comes next.  I keep calling myself back to the present and reminding myself that I should only be worried about today.  So tomorrow I will take my three babies to school and for the first time leave them all there.  And the rest, well in the words of Scarlet O’Hara “I’ll think about that tomorrow”

goodluck

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